MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Nobody Knows What Makes a Good CEO <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ceo_pay_performance.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Bloomberg has done a bit of charting of CEO pay vs. performance, and their results are on the right. Bottom line: there's essentially no link whatsoever between how well CEOs perform and <a href="" target="_blank">how well they're paid:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>An analysis of compensation data publicly released by Equilar shows little correlation between CEO pay and company performance. Equilar ranked the salaries of 200 highly paid CEOs. When compared to metrics such as revenue, profitability, and stock return, <strong>the scattering of data looks pretty random, as though performance doesn&rsquo;t matter. </strong>The comparison makes it look as if there is zero relationship between pay and performance.</p> </blockquote> <p>There are plenty of conclusions you can draw from this, but one of the key ones is that it demonstrates that corporate boards are almost completely unable to predict how well CEO candidates will do on the job. They insist endlessly that they're looking for only the very top candidates&mdash;with pay packages to match&mdash;and I don't doubt that they sincerely think this is what they're doing. In fact, though, they don't have a clue who will do better. They could be hiring much cheaper leaders and would probably get about the same performance.</p> <p>One reason that CEO pay has skyrocketed is that boards compete with each other for candidates who seem to be the best, but don't realize that it's all a chimera. They have no idea.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:51:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 256811 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for July 23, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>US Navy sailors honor <span id="yui_3_16_0_rc_1_1_1406123148702_1478">Pearl Harbor survivor Motor Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Wesley E. Ford at a memorial service at Pearl Harbor. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan.)</span></em><br> &nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Military Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:51:31 +0000 256801 at That Antioxidant You're Taking Is Snake Oil <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Plants can't move. They're sitting targets for every insect, two- and four-legged creature, and air-borne fungus and bacteria that swirls around them. But they're not defenseless, we've learned. Under pressure from millions of years of attacks, they've evolved to produce compounds that repel these predators. Known as phyotochemicals, these substances can be quite toxic to humans. You probably wouldn't enjoy the jolt of <a href="">urushiol</a> you'd get from a salad of <em>toxicodendron radicans</em> (poison ivy) leaves.</p> <p>But other phytochemicals have emerged as crucial elements of a healthful human diet. Indeed, they're the source of several essential vitamins, including A, C, and E. But according to an eye-opening <em><a href="">Nautilus </a></em><a href="">article</a> by the excellent science journalist Moises Velasquez-Manoff (author of a<a href=""> recent <em>Mother Jones</em> piece on the gut microbiome</a>), our view of how these defensive compounds benefit us might be wildly wrong.</p> <p>The accepted dietary dogma goes like this: The phytochemicals we ingest from plants act as antioxidants&mdash;that is, they protect us from the oxidative molecules, known as "free radicals," that our own cells produce as a waste product, and that have become associated with a range of degenerative diseases including cancer and heart trouble.</p> <p>It's true that many phytochemicals and the vitamins they carry have been proven in lab settings to have antioxidant properties&mdash;that is, they prevent oxidization. And so, Velasquez-Manoff shows, the idea gained currency that fruits and vegetables are good for us because their high antioxidant load protects us from free radicals. And from there, it was easy to leap to the conclusion that you could slow aging and stave off disease by isolating certain phytochemicals and ingesting them in pill form&mdash;everything from multivitamins to trendy antioxidants like resveratrol. "A supplement industry now worth $23 billion yearly in the U.S. took root," he notes.</p> <p>And yet, antioxidant pills have proven to be a bust. In February, a <a href="">group of independent US medical researchers</a> assessed ten years of supplement research and found that pills loaded with vitamin E and beta-carotene (the stuff that gives color to carrots and other orange vegetables) pills are at <a href="">best useless and at worst harmful</a>&mdash;that is, they may trigger lung cancer in some people. Just this month, a <a href="" target="_blank">meta-analysis</a> published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that antioxidant supplements "do not prevent cancer and may accelerate it."</p> <p>And a <a href="">2009 study</a> found that taking antioxidant supplements before exercise actually <em>negates</em> most of the well-documented benefits of physical exertion: That is, taking an antioxidant pill before a run is little better than doing neither and just sitting on the couch.</p> <p>So what gives? Velasquez-Manoff points to emerging science suggesting that phytochemicals' antioxidant properties may have thrown us off the trail of what really makes them good for us. He offers two key clues. The first is that plants produce them in response to stress&mdash;e.g., pathogenic bacteria, hungry insects. The second is that exercise itself is a form of self-imposed stress: You punish your body by exerting it, and it responds by getting stronger.&nbsp; Leaning on the work of Mark Mattson, Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging, and other researchers, Velasquez-Manoff proposes that phytochemicals help us not by repelling oxidant stresses, but by <em>triggering them</em>.</p> <p>Consider that exercise actually <em>generates</em> free radicals in our muscles&mdash;the very thing, according to current dogma, that makes us vulnerable to cancer and aging. But a while after a bout at the gym or on the running trail, these free radicals disappear, replaced by what Velasquez-Manoff calls "native antioxidants." That's because, he writes, "post-exercise, the muscle cells respond to the oxidative stress by boosting production of native antioxidants." And these home-grown chemicals, "amped up to protect against the oxidant threat of yesterday&rsquo;s exercise, now also protect against other ambient oxidant dangers" like ones from air pollution and other environmental stressors, he writes. In the exercise study, the supplements may have interrupted the process, the study's main author, Swiss researcher Michael Ristow, tells Velasquez-Manoff&mdash;they prevent the body from producing its antioxidants, but what they deliver doesn't offset the loss.</p> <p>Yet phytochemcials found in whole foods&mdash;"the hot flavors in spices, the mouth-puckering tannins in wines, or the stink of Brussels sprouts"&mdash;may work on our bodies much as exercise does. Velasquez-Manoff writes: "Our bodies recognize them as slightly toxic, and we respond with an ancient detoxification process aimed at breaking them down and flushing them out."</p> <p>To bolster his case, Velasquez-Manoff cites the example of sulforaphane, the compound that gives broccoli and other members of the <em>brassica</em> family of vegetables&mdash;such as Brussels sprouts&mdash;their sulfurous smell when they cook. It's what's known as an "antifeedant"&mdash;i.e., it's pungency discourages grazing (and makes many people hate Brussels sprouts, etc). Unlike many phytochemicals, sulforaphane isn't an antioxidant at all, but rather a mild oxidant&mdash;that is, it mimics free radicals and thus under the old dietary dogma, we should avoid it. And yet...</p> <blockquote> <p>When sulforaphane enters your blood stream, it triggers release in your cells of a protein called Nrf2. This protein, called by some the &ldquo;master regulator&rdquo; of aging, then activates over 200 genes. They include genes that produce antioxidants, enzymes to metabolize toxins, proteins to flush out heavy metals, and factors that enhance tumor suppression, among other important health-promoting functions. In theory, after encountering this humble antifeedant in your dinner, your body ends up better prepared for encounters with toxins, pro-oxidants from both outside and within your body, immune insults, and other challenges that might otherwise cause harm.</p> </blockquote> <p>In this theory, what causes cancer and general aging isn't oxidative stress itself, but rather a poor response to oxidative stress&mdash;"a creeping inability to produce native antioxidants when needed, and a lack of cellular conditioning generally." And that's where the modern Western lifestyle, marked by highly processed food and a lack of physical exertion, comes in.</p> <blockquote> <p>[The National Institute on Aging's] Mattson calls this the "couch potato" problem. Absent regular hormetic stresses, including exercise and stimulation by plant antifeedants, &ldquo;cells become complacent,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Their intrinsic defenses are down-regulated.&rdquo; Metabolism works less efficiently. Insulin resistance sets in. We become less able to manage pro-oxidant threats. Nothing works as well as it could. And this mounting dysfunction increases the risk for a degenerative disease.</p> </blockquote> <p>While this emerging view of phytochemcials is compelling, Velasquez-Manoff acknowledges that it isn't fully settled. For one thing, it's unclear why isolated phytochemicals in pills don't seem to work the same magic as they do in the form of whole foods. Here's Velasquez-Manoff:</p> <blockquote> <p>Proper dosage may be one problem, and interaction between the isolates used and particular gene variants in test subjects another. Interventions usually test one molecule, but fresh fruits and vegetables present numerous compounds at once. We may benefit most from these simultaneous exposures. The science on the intestinal microbiota promises to further complicate the picture; our native microbes ferment phytonutrients, perhaps supplying some of the benefit of their consumption. All of which highlights the truism that Nature is hard to get in a pill.</p> </blockquote> <p>But human nutrition is a deeply interesting topic precisely because it resists being settled. As Michael Pollan showed in his 2008 book <em>In Defense of Food, </em>humans have adapted to a wide variety of diets&mdash;from the Mediterranean and Mesoamerican ones based mostly on plants, to the Inuit ones focusing heavily on fish. The one diet that hasn't worked very well is the most calibrated, supplemented, and "fortified" of all: the Western one.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Health Top Stories Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:00:12 +0000 Tom Philpott 256746 at Contact: Gene Ween Grows Up <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/14.05web.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Ween co-founder Aaron Freeman in Brooklyn. </strong>Jacob Blickenstaff</div> </div> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/contactgraphic_0.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-255666"> <li><a href="/media/2014/07/contact-puss-n-boots-norah-jones-sasha-dobson-catherine-popper-no-fools-no-fun"> Puss n Boots</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-255441"> <li><a href="/media/2014/07/contact-holly-williams-hank-country-music-legacy"> Holly Williams</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-254381"> <li><a href="/media/2014/06/contact-hendra-ben-watt-everything-but-the-girl"> Ben Watt</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-253316"> <li><a href="/media/2014/06/contact-producer-joe-henry-interview-invisible-hour"> Joe Henry</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-252881"> <li><a href="/media/2014/05/contact-interview-photo-gabriel-kahane-the-ambassador"> Gabriel Kahane</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-252426"> <li><a href="/media/2014/05/contact-photo-jolie-holland-wine-dark-sea-interview"> Jolie Holland</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-251906"> <li><a href="/media/2014/05/contact-photo-interview-nashville-country-songwriter-rodney-crowell-emmylou-harris"> Rodney Crowell</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-251116"> <li><a href="/media/2014/05/contact-jill-sobule-dotties-charms-photo-interview"> Jill Sobule</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-247801"> <li><a href="/media/2014/03/contact-tom-petty-heartbreakers-benmont-tench-you-should-be-so-lucky"> Benmont Tench</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-244541"> <li><a href="/media/2014/01/contact-leyla-mccalla-langston-hughes-carolina-chocolate-drops"> Leyla McCalla</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-243496"> <li><a href="/media/2014/01/keith-tex-jamaica-rocksteady-reggae"> Keith &amp; Tex</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-242361"> <li><a href="/media/2014/01/contact-irish-singer-songwriter-declan-orourke-interview"> Declan O'Rourke</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-239901"> <li><a href="/media/2013/11/snapshot-bluegrass-guitarist-michael-daves"> Michael Daves</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>As Gene Ween, <a href="" target="_blank">Aaron Freeman</a> was the co-leader of the long-lived alternative cult band Ween, which he started with friend Mickey Melchiondo (a.k.a. Dean Ween) when they were middle-school students in New Hope, Pennsylvania. In 2012, after more than 25 years of recording and touring, Freeman left the group as part of his effort to get sober.</p> <p><em>Freeman</em>, out this week, is his first album of original songs since leaving the band. It is an openly biographical and personal album that nonetheless utilizes Ween's ability to inhabit numerous styles and eras of pop music. The musical reference points of post-Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney ("All The Way to China"), Donovan ("Black Bush"), and Cat Stevens ("Golden Monkey") indicate inspirations that helped carry Freeman through his escape from addiction. I photographed him in Brooklyn, and we spoke again by phone from his home in Woodstock, New York. The following is in his words.</p> <blockquote> <p>Going through the Ween breakup was really tough. Getting sober was a whole different thing. So there were two levels of it.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>For me it's a lot of patience, because I honestly didn't know whether I was going to write again. When I write, it always kind of happens all in about a three- or four-week period, where I'll just go into the zone. A lot of musicians talk about that. I think Bruce Springsteen said that no matter what's going on in your life, it's important to keep that one little radar up, because you don't know when the universe is going to hit you with stuff to write. I really stuck to that concept, and I just waited, and waited, and waited. I would write little things, and record them on the voice memo on my iPhone, little scattered ideas. Then it came.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>Last summer I was just sitting around, doing my thing, and then all of a sudden I picked up my guitar and boom! The obvious thing would be to put pressure on yourself, like, "Is this record going to be good? It's the follow-up to 27 years of Ween, and now I'm doing this&mdash;what if it sucks?" When I finally got to the point where my subconscious could free itself of that, and it took a while, the songs started coming. I'd go into my room&mdash;the typical fucking artist thing&mdash;and scream and play my guitar, then come out six hours later, frazzled hair, not showered. My wife and son would look at me like, "Oh hey, he's out. Do you want any food?" And I'd be like, "Aaaagh, gotta go back in!" That's how I worked.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>I'm thinking, "If I get one song, at this point in my life, that'll be fucking amazing for me and my journey." That one concept led to a whole record. I'm really proud of it, and really grateful I wrote it. It's stripped down, no bells and whistles to it. I just wanted to go in, pay attention to the songs, get 'em on tape, and then move on.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>No matter what goes on, I've written the songs that I love. They're not very complex. I like to keep the words simple so they're not too identifiable, and so they'll last longer. I'd like to think that a kid could listen to it, or a bunch of old bums gathered around a trash can fire keeping themselves warm, they would both fully get it.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>One of the things I've wanted for years, especially during the last five or so years of Ween, was more honesty. For me, it wasn't getting sincere. We'd just put on our token songs that were kind of goofy, like "<a href="" target="_blank">My Own Bare Hands</a>." Toward the end, it was just kind of&hellip;mundane. It would distract from the best parts of Mickey's and my music.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>This record is very autobiographical, it's like a journal for me of things that I was <em>really</em> into in the last year or so&hellip; spiritual things and severe, gut-wrenching love songs.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>That first song, "Covert Discretion," is absolutely typical of me. There's always been a whole bipolar thing going on with me: I&rsquo;m pretty shy, or soft spoken, and then there's the other part. A friend who does astrology told me, "You're a Pisces, you're totally water, and then you've got this fire planet." A lot of stuff at the end of Ween was just brutal. I have to write about that stuff, or else I feel like I&rsquo;m not being honest. If this is a song that calls for fucking brutal honesty, then the most important thing is to do that, and take it so far over the edge. That's what people love about Ween, they love the honesty and not being scared to go there.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>I was susceptible to hard-core addiction because my personality is that way. I think a lot of addicts, serious addicts, have that. They go full throttle and then they are coming down and they are trying to deal with it in a quiet way. It's typical: I was either fuckin' naked with a cowboy hat on looking for cocaine all night or I was just completely quiet in my room. And that's a scary way to be.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>The most wonderful thing about recovery is that you learn to maintain a steady way of being. There is always stimulus, whether it's positive or negative. Buddhist philosophy really dives deep in to that: You sit with it, you meditate on it, and you let it pass. It is really difficult because you've never done that before. In the early stages of recovery, I'd have to go up to my room and just sit there in so much fuckin' agony and just wait, recognize it, and let it pass. I had this mantra: Just be accountable. I wanted to be accountable for more than a week. It seems so simple, but it's easier said than done.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>In rock music, you don't have to be accountable for anything! [<em>Laughs.</em>] It didn't matter as long as I got on stage. For many years, I was fooling myself into thinking that I was going to lock myself away in my dressing room and help myself, and I never did because deep down I wanted to party just like everyone else was.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>I think if this album sounds more derivative in certain ways it was because I was more clear-minded. I leaned on music that I loved. There's a lot of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, XTC, and David Bowie&mdash;the things that I hold dear. The whole point of this record was to chill the fuck out. For some reason something made me want to record doubled vocals on almost the entire album, which is awesome. I've always had this weird desire to conquer and make perfect double vocals. To get spiritual on you, I really let the universe dictate how this whole thing was going to turn out.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>If the music sounds like something I'm influenced by, I accept that and try to make it as sincere and honorable as it can. If it's going to sound like John Lennon, I'm going to fucking make it sound like John Lennon. I'll never say, "Oh, this kind of sounds like a Lennon song, so I better make it sound different." That's not the way I look at music. I consider myself as kind of a vessel of all these beautiful things that I've always heard, and I let it go through me. Of course, it always has my stamp on it, my creativity, but it honors what I love.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>Fortunately, I've had the ability to never think too much about where I'm going. In Ween, my thing has always been: It doesn't matter what kind of song it is or where it goes as long as it's a good song. That's what Mickey and I always adhered to.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>The foremost thing is just writing music, and I've been very lucky to have 25 years of that under my belt. The Ween audience is very loyal and they're great. I want to keep making music for them. I don't want a big, bombastic career. I've been through that. If people want to come, they come. If they don't, they don't. I want to do great live shows, because I love performing, and I hope to write songs and maybe have other people pick them up, and make a living off of doing that.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>But we'll see. I have to pay the bills. When I lost Ween and decided to get sober, I had to embrace the fact that my income was going to be a tenth of what it was, but it was still worth it. I really believe if you do the right thing and you make yourself accountable and available, then good things will happen.</p> </blockquote> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src=";color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/14.05.20_FreemanE10web.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Aaron Freeman </strong>Jacob Blickenstaff</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Media Interview Music Contact Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:00:11 +0000 Jacob Blickenstaff 256641 at How America Finances the Destruction in Gaza—and the Clean-Up <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Monday, Israeli warplanes fired 182 missiles into Gaza, Israeli ships launched 146 shells into the territory, and Israeli tanks shot 721 shells, with all these attacks striking 66 structures and killing 107 Palestinians (including 35 children), while Hamas launched 101 rockets toward Israel, and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed. That day, the State Department <a href="" target="_blank">announced</a> that the United States would be providing $47 million "to help address the humanitarian situation in Gaza." A third of these funds would go to the <a href="" target="_blank">United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East </a>(UNRWA), which is providing food, water, and shelter to tens of thousands of war-affected Palestinians in Gaza. So once again, US taxpayers are in an absurd place: They are partly paying for the Israeli military action in Gaza <em>and</em> funding the clean-up.</p> <p>Each year, the United States gives Israel about $3.1 billion in military assistance, a commitment that stems from the 1978 Camp David accord that led to peace between Israel and Egypt. Those billions are roughly divided into two funding streams. About $800 million underwrites Israeli manufacturing of weaponry and military products. The rest finances what is essentially a gift card that the Israeli military uses to procure arms and military equipment from US military contractors. It can be safely assumed, says a US expert on aid to Israel, that all units of the Israel Defense Forces benefit from US assistance&mdash;and this obviously includes those units fighting in Gaza. So to a certain degree, the destruction in Gaza does have a made-in-the-USA stamp.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/07/israel-gaza-united-states-assistance-unrwa"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Foreign Policy International Obama Top Stories Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:00:11 +0000 David Corn 256721 at Watch Abortion Access Vanish in Texas (GIF) <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Last Friday marked one year since Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed into law one of the nation's harshest abortion restrictions. The law, which state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) famously denounced during <a href="">an 11-hour filibuster</a>, imposes onerous restrictions on abortion clinics that are designed to shut them down. A year later, it has profoundly limited&nbsp;abortion access for Texas&nbsp;women: When Perry&nbsp;held his signing ceremony last July, Texas had <a href="" target="_blank">40 licensed abortion clinics</a>. Today, only 21 are still providing abortions. By September, when a section of the law requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers takes effect, there may be only six.</p> <p>The first wave of clinics closed or stopped providing abortions due to a provision of the law that came into force in November 2013 and required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/tx_clinic_gif_latest.gif"></div> <p>You can see women's abortion access trickle away in the interactive map above. Some things to note: Before the state required admitting privileges, 13 cities had abortion clinics. Now, just seven do. After September, only five Texas cities&mdash;Dallas, Forth Worth, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston&mdash;will will have abortion clinics. Women in the Rio Grande Valley must now travel to Corpus Christi, a two-and-a-half hour drive, for abortion services. Soon, there won't be a single clinic providing abortions west of San Antonio. A clinic in Dallas that will operate as an ambulatory surgical center opened after the state's new law passed and does not initially appear on the map.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/07/watch-abortion-access-melt-away-texas"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Maps Health Care Reproductive Rights The Right Top Stories Rick Perry Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:00:10 +0000 Molly Redden 256626 at In Georgia, Perdue Win Ends One of the GOP's Craziest Senate Primaries <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In the run-up to last May's primary to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republicans flirted with a large field of candidates that included Reps. Paul Broun (who once called evolution a lie "from the pit of hell") and Phil Gingrey (who once defended Todd Akin). But when the dust settled, it was <a href="" target="_blank">former Dollar General CEO</a> David Perdue and 11-term congressman Jack Kingston who went on to a top-two runoff&mdash;a decision framed at the time as a victory for the Chamber of Commerce Republican establishment over the tea party fringe. On Tuesday, after trailing in every poll, Perdue won a narrow victory to claim the GOP nomination. He will take on Democrat Michelle Nunn (the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn) in November.</p> <p>But the real story may be the lack of influence wielded by Kingston's biggest supporter, the US Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber backed Kingston to the tune of <a href="" target="_blank">$2.3 million</a> in TV ads during the primary, only to see him use its most precious issues as mallets with which to bludgeon Perdue. Take the Common Core State Standards, a set of national math and language-arts benchmarks for public schools that have become a bogeyman for conservatives. The Chamber supports Common Core and recently poured $1.38 million into a PR campaign to promote it. But that didn't stop Kingston from characterizing Common Core as an abomination and <a href="" target="_blank">attacking</a> Perdue&mdash;who himself has been highly critical of the standards&mdash;for supporting "the Obamacare of education." In the final days of the race, Perdue fought back, running ads depicting Kingston as soft on immigration because of his support from the Chamber, which backs comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. "Kingston's pro-amnesty vote is bought and paid for," one ad <a href="" target="_blank">warned</a>. Kingston, in turn, had <a href="http://sat%20on%20a%20board%20promoting%20amnesty%20for%20illegal%20immigrants" target="_blank">falsely</a> accused Perdue of supporting amnesty during the runoff.</p> <p>Kingston will likely land on his feet&mdash;11-term congressmen beloved by the Chamber of Commerce tend to do pretty well in Washington!&mdash;but his days in Congress are now numbered. At least we'll always have this video of him explaining why evolution is a myth&mdash;because Jack Kingston is not descended from an ape.</p> <p class="rtecenter"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Congress Elections Top Stories Wed, 23 Jul 2014 08:11:03 +0000 Tim Murphy 256771 at Will Republicans Finally Find a Tax Cut They Hate? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Charles Gaba makes an interesting point about today's <em>Halbig</em> decision: if upheld, <a href="" target="_blank">it would amount to a tax increase.</a> Everyone who buys insurance through a federal exchange would lose the tax credits they're currently entitled to, and losing tax credits is the same as a tax increase. This in turn means that if <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_grover_norquist.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Democrats introduce a bill to fix the language in Obamacare to keep the tax credits in place, it will basically be a tax cut.</p> <p>This leaves Republicans in a tough spot, doesn't it? Taken as a whole, Obamacare represents a tax increase, which makes it easy for Republicans to oppose it. But if the <em>Halbig</em> challenge is upheld, all the major Obamacare taxes are unaffected. They stay in force no matter what. The <em>only</em> thing that's affected is the tax credits. Thus, an amendment to reinstate the credits is a net tax cut by the rules that Grover Norquist laid out long ago. And no Republican is allowed to vote against a net tax cut.</p> <p>I'm curious what Norquist has to say about this. Not because I think he'd agree that Republicans have to vote to restore the tax credits. He wouldn't. He's a smart guy, and he'd invent some kind of loophole for everyone to shimmy through. Mainly, I just want to know <em>what</em> loophole he'd come up with. I'm always impressed with the kind of sophistries guys like him are able to spin. It's usually very educational.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Supreme Court The Right Wed, 23 Jul 2014 01:38:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 256791 at Seven Hours of Sleep Is Just About Optimal <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>How much sleep does a normal, healthy adult need? <a href="" target="_blank">The <em>Wall Street Journal</em> reports:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Several sleep studies have found that seven hours is the optimal amount of sleep&mdash;not eight, as was long believed&mdash;when it comes to certain cognitive and health markers, although many doctors question that conclusion.</p> <p>Other recent research has shown that skimping on a full night's sleep, even by 20 minutes, impairs performance and memory the next day. And getting too much sleep&mdash;not just too little of it&mdash;is associated with health problems including diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease and with higher rates of death, studies show.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's sort of interesting. In the past, I would have had no idea how to guess at this. I always slept exactly the same every night, so I always felt about the same every morning. Over the past couple of years, however, my sleeping habits have become far more erratic, spanning anywhere from six to eight hours fairly randomly. And sure enough, I've vaguely come to the conclusion that six hours makes me feel tired throughout the day, and so does eight hours. Seven hours really does seem to be pretty close to the sweet spot.</p> <p>Unfortunately, I don't seem to have much control over this. I wake up whenever I wake up, and that's that. Today I got up at 6, tried to get back to sleep, and finally gave up. There was nothing to be done about it. And right about now I'm paying the price for that.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Science Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:11:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 256786 at The Late Historian Who Predicted The Years of War After September 11 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website. </em></p> <p>In December 2002, finishing the introduction to his as-yet-unpublished book The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People, Jonathan Schell wrote that the twentieth century was the era in which violence outgrew the war system that had once housed it and became "dysfunctional as a political instrument. Increasingly, it destroys the ends for which it is employed, killing the user as well as his victim. It has become the path to hell on earth and the end of the earth. <a href="" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="" title="" width="100"></span></a>This is the lesson of the Somme and Verdun, of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, of Vorkuta and Kolyma; and it is the lesson, beyond a shadow of a doubt, of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." More than a decade later, that remains a crucial, if barely noticed, lesson of our moment. Jonathan Schell died this March, but he left behind a legacy of reporting and thinking&mdash;from The Real War and The Fate of the Earth to The Unconquerable World&mdash;about just how, as the power to destroy ratcheted up, war left its traditional boundaries, and what that has meant for us (as well as, potentially, for worlds to come). In The Unconquerable World, published just before the Bush invasion of Iraq, he went in search of other paths of change, including the nonviolent one, and in doing so he essentially imagined the Arab Spring and caught the essence of both the horrors and possibilities available to us in hard-headed ways that were both prophetic and moving. Today, partly in honor of his memory (and my memory of him) and partly because I believe his sense of how our world worked then and still works was so acute, this website offers a selection from that book. Consider it a grim walk down post-9/11 Memory Lane, a moment when Washington chose force as its path to... well, we now know (as Schell foresaw then) that it was indeed a path to hell.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/07/jonathan-schell-predict-war-september-11"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Afghanistan Iraq Military Tom Dispatch Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:43:58 +0000 Tom Engelhardt 256736 at