MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Health Update <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ha ha. Just kidding. It will be several months before we know how effective the new chemo meds are. However, I can tell you that (a) so far I'm suffering no side effects, (b) my routine lab tests are all fine, and (c) I feel pretty good. I'm sleeping OK, my energy level is nearly back to normal, my stomach has finally recovered, and my hair is growing back.</p> <p>And speaking of hair, that's the real purpose of this post. My hair has now grown back to the point that I have a decision to make: keep it as is, or let it grow to its old length? It's not like my old hair was any great shakes, but still, after 55 years you get accustomed to things. On the other hand, the new do does have advantages. Easy upkeep. No worries about wind or hat hair. Cheaper haircuts.</p> <p>Comparison photos are below. Anyway, feel free to vote in comments. Old hair or new?</p> <p><img align="left" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kevin_head_2004.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 4px 5px 60px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kevin_head_2015_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 4px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 30 Aug 2015 00:52:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 282981 at Inflation Is Low? Let's Tighten Monetary Policy Anyway. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer comments on <a href="" target="_blank">inflation and monetary policy:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Federal Reserve&rsquo;s No. 2 official said <strong>there is &ldquo;good reason&rdquo; to think sluggish U.S. inflation will firm and move back toward the U.S. central bank&rsquo;s 2% annual target,</strong> touching on a significant assessment facing the Fed ahead of its September policy meeting.</p> <p>....When the time comes to raise rates, Mr. Fischer said, &ldquo;we will most likely need to proceed cautiously&rdquo; and with inflation low, &ldquo;we can probably remove accommodation at a gradual pace. <strong>Yet, because monetary policy influences real activity with a substantial lag, we should not wait until inflation is back to 2% to begin tightening.</strong>&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>A lot of people think the big problem with Fischer's statement is the first bolded sentence. There's been "good reason" to think inflation will increase for a long time. And yet it hasn't. Why are we supposed to believe that this year's good reason is any better than previous ones?</p> <p>That's fair enough. But I think the real problem is in the second bolded sentence: Fischer is intent on tightening monetary policy well <em>before</em> inflation shows any sign of hitting 2 percent. This illustrates a serious asymmetry in the Fed's decisionmaking. If inflation goes below the 2 percent target, they're willing to wait things out. But if it shows even the slightest sign of maybe, someday going a few basis points above the 2 percent target, then it's time to tighten. The net result of this is that inflation won't average 2 percent. It will swing between 1 and 2 percent, maybe averaging 1.5 percent or so.</p> <p>That's a bad thing, and it's especially bad if, like me, you think our inflation target should be more like 3-4 percent anyway. But that's the way it is.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pce_2006_1H2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 10px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 29 Aug 2015 23:42:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 282996 at Question of the Day: With Friends Like This.... <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_iowa_state_fair.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Last month, Donald Trump said he didn't consider John McCain a war hero because "I like people who weren't captured." <a href="" target="_blank">Who said this afterward?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Mr. Trump's remarks were insulting to me as a veteran and as a person whose family sacrificed for 25 years as I missed anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, Christmases and Easters....I was offended by a man who sought and gained four student deferments to avoid the draft and who has never served this nation a day &mdash; not a day &mdash; in any fashion or way.</p> <p>....Why should I not be suspicious of an individual who was pro-choice until he decided to run for president? Why should I not be suspicious of a person who advocates for universal healthcare? Why should I not be suspicious of someone who says he hates lobbyists and yet has spread millions of dollars around to Republicans and Democrats to enrich himself? Why should I not be suspicious of someone who cannot come to say that he believes in God, that he has never asked for forgiveness and that communion is simply wine and a cracker.</p> <p>....[Trump] left me with questions about his moral center and his foundational beliefs....His comments reveal no foundation in Christ, which is a big deal.</p> </blockquote> <p>If you answered Sam Clovis, the conservative Iowan who is now Trump's national campaign co-chair, give yourself a gold star! The <em>Des Moines Register</em> says dryly that this raises questions about whether Clovis was motivated to join Trump's campaign "less by ideology and more by the promise of a big paycheck from a business mogul who has said he is willing to spend as much as a billion dollars to get elected."</p> <p>Huh. I guess it does. You really think that might have been in the back of Clovis's mind?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 29 Aug 2015 20:12:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 282991 at GOP Hauling Out Tired Old Weapons to Sink Iran Deal <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The <em>Wall Street Journal</em> reports that as the Iran deal looks increasingly impossible for Republicans to defeat, they're thinking of <a href="" target="_blank">new ways to undermine it <em>after</em> it goes into effect:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>As their chances dim, they are preparing to push a rash of new legislation for the fall to increase sanctions on Tehran for its role in supporting terrorist organizations and militant groups active across the Mideast, which could cause Iran to back out of the deal. These politicians also are devising new ways to target the finances of Tehran&rsquo;s elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.</p> <p>....The fresh sanctions push has the potential to put the White House and leading Democrats, such as the party&rsquo;s presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, in a quandary. Those supporters of the deal could later face a tough decision over whether to back increased sanctions against Iran.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's possible that Republicans can scrounge up enough Democratic support to overcome a filibuster and force an Obama veto on some of these measures. But I assume they don't really care about that. Obama's coming up on his last year in office and probably doesn't care much if he has to veto a few bills. Rather, as the <em>Journal</em> suggests, this is just normal election-year game-playing. Republicans want to introduce bills that will force Hillary Clinton to take a stand that will hurt her no matter how she responds. Oppose the sanctions and she's a Hezbollah lover. Support the sanctions and she's an AIPAC stooge.</p> <p>There's nothing very original about this. Both parties do it whenever they can, and if Hillary Clinton is even a half-decent politician she'll be able to maneuver her way through without any big problems. As long as Republicans don't threaten to shut down the government over this, it probably won't be a very big deal.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 29 Aug 2015 19:00:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 282986 at Palin Ponders the Infinite: Does the Lamestream Media Ever Ask Hillary About Her Favorite Bible Verse? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe>Huh. I almost forgot about the Palin-Trump lollapalooza. But it's all on YouTube, and it was pretty boring. Palin's word salad was subpar and it was just the same-old-same-old from Trump. My favorite part was this bit from Palin:</p> <blockquote> <p>So you get hit with these gotchas, like most conservatives do. For instance, asking what's your favorite Bible verse. And I listen to that going, what? Do they ask Hillary that?</p> </blockquote> <p>Indeed they do! On August 27, 2007, in a nationally televised debate, Tim Russert asked every Democrat on the stage to <a href="" target="_blank">share their favorite Bible verse:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>RUSSERT: Before we go, there's been a lot of discussion about the Democrats and the issue of faith and values. I want to ask you a simple question.</p> <p>Senator Obama, what is your favorite Bible verse?</p> <p>OBAMA: Well, I think it would have to be the Sermon on the Mount, because it expresses a basic principle that I think we've lost over the last six years.</p> <p>John talked about what we've lost. Part of what we've lost is a sense of empathy towards each other. We have been governed in fear and division, and you know, we talk about the federal deficit, but we don't talk enough about the empathy deficit, a sense that I stand in somebody else's shoes, I see through their eyes. People who are struggling trying to figure out how to pay the gas bill, or try to send their kids to college. We are not thinking about them at the federal level. That's the reason I'm running for president, because I want to restore that.</p> <p>RUSSERT: I want to give everyone a chance in this. You just take 10 seconds.</p> <p><strong>Senator Clinton, favorite Bible verse?</strong></p> <p><strong>CLINTON: The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I think it's a good rule for politics, too.</strong></p> <p>RUSSERT: Senator Gravel?</p> <p>GRAVEL: The most important thing in life is love. That's what empowers courage, and courage implements the rest of our virtues.</p> <p>RUSSERT: Congressman Kucinich?</p> <p>KUCINICH: I carry that with me at every debate, this prayer from St. Francis, which says, Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, and I believe very strongly that all of us can be instruments of peace. And that's what I try to bring to public life.</p> <p>RUSSERT: Senator Edwards?</p> <p>EDWARDS: It appears many times in the Bible, What you do onto the least of those, you do onto me.</p> <p>RUSSERT: Governor Richardson?</p> <p>RICHARDSON: The Sermon on the Mount, because I believe it's an issue of social justice, equality, brotherly issues reflecting a nation that is deeply torn and needs to be heal and come together.</p> <p>DODD: The Good Samaritan would be a worthwhile sort of description of who we all ought to be in life.</p> <p>RUSSERT: Senator Biden?</p> <p>BIDEN: Christ's warning of the Pharisees. There are many Pharisees, and it's part of what has bankrupted some people's view about religion. And I worry about the Pharisees.</p> </blockquote> <p>Hillary Clinton's choice wasn't very original, I admit, but neither was Obama's. Biden, as usual, provided the most entertaining answer: "I worry about the Pharisees." I guess we all do, Joe. In any case, the lamestream media had no problem asking, and the Democrats all had no problem answering. See? It's not so hard.</p> <p>What's <em>your</em> favorite Bible verse? I'd recommend Mark 12:38 "Beware of the scribes." I think Palin would agree that it's good advice for any era.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 29 Aug 2015 16:37:47 +0000 Kevin Drum 282976 at Quote of the Day: "Love, Fidelity, Devotion, Sacrifice and Family" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>This is becoming a favorite prologue to wedding vows <a href="" target="_blank">across the nation:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_same_sex_marriage.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">two people become something greater than once they were.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's from Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion in <em>Obergefell vs. Hodges</em>, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. At the time, Antonin Scalia mocked Kennedy's writing for its "straining-to-be-memorable passages," and it turns out he was more right than he knew. Both gay and straight couples around the country have begun incorporating it into their wedding ceremonies:</p> <blockquote> <p>The night the high court's ruling was announced, Sandy Queen of Weddings by Sandy called Craig Lamberton and David Ermisch, whose wedding she was performing in Rockville, Md., the next morning. She suggested including Kennedy's opinion in their ceremony.</p> <p>The couple immediately agreed. "We thought it was perfect," said Lamberton, an administrative officer at USAID. He and Ermisch, a cartographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have been together 15 years.</p> <p>....She isn't the only one. "Honestly, in the 14 years I've been ordained, there has not been a passage that struck a chord as quickly as Justice Kennedy&rsquo;s statement," said the Rev. Pamela Brehm of Berks County, Pa. "Perhaps there may never be another quite so touching."</p> </blockquote> <p>Who knows? This may just be a passing thing. But if it's not, Anthony Kennedy could end up as the most famous Supreme Court justice of the early 21st century, quoted in hundreds of marriage ceremonies every day. Kinda nice.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Interactives Sat, 29 Aug 2015 15:35:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 282971 at Here Is a Video of Sarah Palin Interviewing Donald Trump. It Is Bonkers. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Hahahahaha.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Contributor Education Top Stories Donald Trump Sarah Palin Sat, 29 Aug 2015 14:01:39 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 282966 at Music Review: "Sign Spinners" by Natural Information Society and Bitchin Bajas <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><strong>TRACK 4</strong></p> <p>"Sign Spinners"</p> <p>From Natural Information Society and Bitchin Bajas' <em>Autoimaginary</em></p> <p>DRAG CITY</p> <p><strong>Liner notes:</strong> Spectral keyboards, hypnotic bass lines, and lighter-than-air percussion make for a spooky-fun instrumental.</p> <p><strong>Behind the music:</strong> Joshua Abrams launched Natural Information Society to showcase the guimbri, an African lute. Cooper Crain started Bitchin Bajas as a low-key alternative to his techno band Cave.</p> <p><strong>Check it out if you like:</strong> The Doors' "Riders on the Storm" (minus Jim Morrison).</p></body></html> Media Music Sat, 29 Aug 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Jon Young 280631 at A Syrian Photographer Survives to Show His Country's Destruction <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Mahmoud al-Basha wore a camera around his neck and an easy smile when I first met him in southern Turkey in the summer of 2014. Four months earlier, he had <a href="" target="_blank">escaped a kidnapping attempt</a> by an armed group in Syria allegedly associated with the Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. Basha and British reporter Anthony Lloyd had been sold out by a rebel commander they'd come to trust, taken at gunpoint, and stuffed into the trunk of a car. Basha seized an opportunity to break free,<strong> </strong>kicked open the trunk, and fought off his captors.</p> <p>Eventually, fighters from the Islamic Front, a rebel group that controlled much of northwestern Syria, helped Basha and Lloyd reach the Turkish border. It was the second time Basha had been kidnapped, if you don't count the three months of torture he endured in one of Assad's jails.</p> <p>Four years earlier, when Syria's revolution began, Basha had rallied in the streets during the first demonstrations against Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. His activism led to him getting kicked out of his university in Homs and being imprisoned by the Assad regime. He then returned to his hometown of Aleppo to document the war that has now claimed more than <a href="" target="_blank">210,000</a> lives and turned another <a href="" target="_blank">4 million</a> Syrians into refugees. He used hidden cameras, formed secret groups of activists and citizen journalists, and helped establish the <a href="" target="_blank">Aleppo Media Center</a> to provide the rest of the world with a rare glimpse of the carnage in Aleppo:<strong> </strong>government barrel bombs falling on homes, children torn apart by explosives, a man beheaded by ISIS militants in a case of mistaken identity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bashadoctors.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>"#Syria Before the war there were about 2,500 doctors in #Aleppo ... today are just 100 ..." March 12, 2015 </strong>Mahmoud al-Basha</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Aleppo has "completely changed," he says. "The city's neighborhoods are devastated because of daily shelling and the use of barrel bombs by the Assad regime." Amid the horror of the war, Basha also focused on the <a href="" target="_blank">White Helmets</a>, a group of volunteer rescuers <a href="" target="_blank">who tunnel into bombed-out buildings</a> to save the people trapped inside. He also turned his lens to children, who "have lost all kinds of fun and happiness in childhood" but still have "big dreams after the end of the war."</p> <p>After four years of covering the war, Basha has moved to Gaziantep, Turkey, where he works as a fixer for foreign journalists<strong> </strong>along the border with Syria. He recently returned to Syria, but to be married, not to work.</p> <p>When he was kidnapped last year, Basha lost his entire photo archive. Below is a selection of images he took and posted to <a href="" target="_blank">Twitter</a> during his time covering the war in Syria.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bashadolls.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>"#Syria The dolls in a normal world represent the life .... the joy ... in Syria represent death." February 16, 2015 </strong>Mahmoud al-Basha</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bashadouma.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>"#Douma_Exterminated #Syria In Douma today: 56 killed by #Assad airstrikes." February 10, 2015 </strong>Mahmoud al-Basha</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bashascd2.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>"#Syria #Aleppo White Helmets of race to the danger to the aid of those in need ...@SyriaCivilDef." September 22, 2014 </strong>Mahmoud al-Basha</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bashachildren.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>"#Aleppo Children take on the task of bringing supplies home..." August 11, 2014 </strong>Mahmoud al-Basha</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bashabomb.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>"#Syria SNHR has documented the killing of 130 people yesterday, August 3, 2014 ..." August 4, 2014 </strong>Mahmoud al-Basha</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bashabuilding.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>"#Aleppo Rescuers continue 2 search for bodies amid the rubble of more homes destroyed in the latest regime airstrikes." July 31, 2014 </strong>Mahmoud al-Basha</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/basha41.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>"Today in #Syria 41 people get killed including two women and two children by ASSAD shelling bomb ..." April 19, 2015 </strong>Mahmoud al-Basha</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/basha1.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>"In a normal country used to transport building materials ... #Syria is used to carry the dead and wounded." April 11, 2015 </strong>Mahmoud al-Basha</div> </div></body></html> Politics Foreign Policy Human Rights International Top Stories ISIS Syria Sat, 29 Aug 2015 10:00:07 +0000 Bryan Schatz 280171 at Judges Give NSA More Time to Suck Up Your Data <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A federal appeals court in Washington, DC, on Friday <a href="" target="_blank">tossed out</a> an injunction over the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of American's phone records, but left open the question of whether the program itself is legal.</p> <p>From&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>Politico</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>The three appeals court judges assigned to the case splintered, with each writing a separate opinion. But they overturned a key ruling from December 2013 that critics of the NSA program had used to advance their claims that the collection of information on billions of calls made and received by Americans was illegal.</p> <p>That ruling, issued by Judge Richard Leon in Washington, sent shockwaves across the legal landscape because it was the first in which a federal court judge sided with critics who questioned the legality of sweeping up data on vast numbers of phone calls--nearly all of them completely unrelated to terrorism.</p> <p>The new decision Friday from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit did not kill the lawsuit brought by conservative gadfly Larry Klayman. The appeals court voted, 2-1, to allow the lawsuit to proceed in the district court, but the judges left doubts about whether the case will ever succeed.</p> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">In June, Congress</span>&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">phased out</a> the NSA's controversial program with the passing of the USA Freedom Act. The new law&nbsp;forced the NSA to obtain private phone records for counterterrorism&nbsp;investigations on a case-by-case basis through a court order.&nbsp;After the&nbsp;law <a href="" target="_blank">mandated</a>&nbsp;a six-month transition program for the new program, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court <a href="" target="_blank">ruled</a> that the NSA could continue its existing bulk collection program&nbsp;through November.</p> <p>The American Civil Liberties Union <a href="" target="_blank">has also filed</a> an injunction to&nbsp;block the program, arguing that the surveillance court should not have reinstated the program after a federal appeals court in New York <a href="" target="_blank">found it to be&nbsp;illegal</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Tech Top Stories Fri, 28 Aug 2015 19:18:37 +0000 Edwin Rios 282901 at