MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Iowa GOP Official Warns That Child Migrants Might Be Highly Trained "Warriors" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Iowa Republican National Committee member Tamara Scott has a special theory about the <a href="" target="_blank">flood of child migrants</a> entering the United States: What if they're secretly ninjas?</p> <p>Republican congressmen have previously argued that the 70,000 youths who will come across the border in 2014 are being brought over to <a href="" target="_blank">bolster</a> Democratic voter rolls at some point in the distant future, or that they are carrying a deadly disease that <a href="" target="_blank">does not actually exist</a> in their home countries. Scott, in a Thursday radio segment flagged by <a href="" target="_blank">Right Wing Watch</a>, sought to outdo them all:</p> <blockquote> <p>For us just to open our borders it's chaos we don't know orderly who's coming in, who's not. When we see these kids, you and I think young kids, we think maybe 12-year-olds, maybe even&hellip;middle-schoolers. But we know back in our revolution, we had 12-year-olds fighting in our revolution. And for many of these kids, depending on where they're coming from, <strong>they could be coming from other countries and be highly trained as warriors who will meet up with their group here and actually rise up against us as Americans.</strong> We have no idea what's coming through our borders, but I would say biblically it's not a Christian nation when you entice people to do wrong.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is a terrible idea for a <em>Red Dawn</em> sequel.</p></body></html> MoJo Immigration child migrants Fri, 22 Aug 2014 20:25:35 +0000 Tim Murphy 258991 at Friday Cat Blogging - 22 August 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's Domino helping Marian with a bit of gardening in the front yard. The days may not be sunny and warm forever, so she's taking advantage of whatever ones are left to her.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_domino_2014_08_22.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 22 Aug 2014 18:55:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 258971 at Conservatives Want to Wipe Out Coal Rules…Over a Typo <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="" target="_blank">story</a> originally appeared on </em><a href="" target="_blank">Grist</a> <em>and is republished here as part of the <a href="" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a> collaboration.</em></p> <p>If you can't beat 'em, point out their typos.</p> <p>That seems to be the lesson of the D.C. Circuit Court's recent decision in <em>Halbig v. Sebelius</em>, which could render millions of Americans ineligible for health insurance subsidies on the basis of some sloppy syntax in the Affordable Care Act. After surviving more than 50 repeal votes in the House, a Supreme Court challenge to its constitutionality, and a famously rocky online rollout, health-care reform may end up hobbled by a mere drafting error. And the anti-regulatory crowd wasted no time in launching its next AutoCorrect attack: A <a href="" target="_blank">new suit</a> asks the D.C. Circuit to nix the president's biggest climate-change initiative&mdash;EPA's "Clean Power Plan"&mdash;due to a 25-year-old mistake in the text of the Clean Air Act.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/environment/2014/08/conservatives-typo-unravel-obama-climate-law-epa-coal"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Environment Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Fri, 22 Aug 2014 18:37:29 +0000 Jack Lienke 258951 at Did Obamacare Wreck a Baseball Game? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A few days ago, a Chicago Cubs game was called in the fifth inning after the grounds crew had so much trouble spreading a tarp that the field got soaked during a <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_wrigley_field.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">rain delay and play couldn't be continued. The Corner reveals <a href="" target="_blank">what <em>really</em> happened:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Insiders at the ball club report that the real culprit is Obamacare. Because the Affordable Care Act requires offering health benefits to employees who work more than 130 hours per month or 30 hours a week (&ldquo;full time&rdquo;), the Cubs organization reorganized much of its staff during the off-season. Sources that spoke to the <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> claimed that, on Tuesday night, the crew was drastically &ldquo;undermanned.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Huh. What do you think of that, <a href="" target="_blank">Dean Baker?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The problem with this story is that employer sanctions are not in effect for 2014. In other words, the Cubs will not be penalized for not providing their ground crew with insurance this year even if they work more than 30 hours per week. Apparently the Cubs management has not been paying attention to the ACA rules. This is yet another example of the skills gap that is preventing managers from operating their businesses effectively.</p> </blockquote> <p>Quite so. My guess is that this is just another installment in the long-running effort of American corporations to use Obamacare as a scapegoat for everything under the sun. Usually this has to do with raising copays for their employees or something like that, but the ingenuity of American capitalism knows no bounds. Why not blame a rain delay on Obamacare too?</p> <p>For a more likely cause of penny pinching on the grounds crew, <a href="" target="_blank">the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> has you covered.</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Sports Fri, 22 Aug 2014 18:20:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 258961 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for August 22, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>The USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic, performs a live-fire exercise to prepare for future deployment. (US Navy Photo)</em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:47:15 +0000 258936 at Chart of the Day: Welfare Reform and the Great Recession <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href=";id=3566" target="_blank">CBPP has posted a series of charts</a> showing the effects of welfare reform on the poor over the past couple of decades. In its first few years it seemed like a great success: welfare rolls went down substantially in the late 90s while the number of <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_tanf_great_recession_0.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">poor people with jobs went up. But the late 90s were a boom time, and this probably would have happened anyway. Welfare reform may have provided an extra push, but it was a bubbly economy that made the biggest difference.</p> <p>So how would welfare reform fare when it got hit with a real test? Answer: not so well. In late 2007 the Great Recession started, creating an extra 1.5 million families with children in poverty. TANF, however, barely responded at all. There was no room in strapped state budgets for <a href=";id=3566" target="_blank">more TANF funds:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The TANF block grant fundamentally altered both the structure and the allowable uses of federal and state dollars previously spent on AFDC and related programs. Under TANF, the federal government gives states a fixed block grant totaling $16.5 billion each year....<strong>Because the block grant has never been increased or adjusted for inflation, states received 32 percent less in real (inflation-adjusted) dollars in 2014 than they did in 1997.</strong>&nbsp; State minimum-required contributions to TANF have declined even more. To receive their full TANF block grant, states only have to spend on TANF purposes 80 percent of the amount they spent on AFDC and related programs in 1995. That &ldquo;maintenance of effort&rdquo; requirement isn&rsquo;t adjusted for inflation, either.</p> </blockquote> <p>Welfare reform isn't a subject I know a lot about. I didn't follow it during the 90s, and I haven't seriously studied it since then. With that caveat understood, I'd say that some of the changes it made strike me as reasonable. However, its single biggest change was to transform welfare from an entitlement to a block grant. What happened next was entirely predictable: the size of the block grant was never changed, which means we basically allowed inflation to erode it over time. It also made it impossible for TANF to respond to cyclical economic booms and busts.</p> <p>Make no mistake: this is why conservatives are so enamored of block grants. It's not because they truly believe that states are better able to manage programs for the poor than the federal government. That's frankly laughable. The reason they like block grants is because they know perfectly well that they'll erode over time. That's how you eventually drown the federal government in a bathtub.</p> <p>If Paul Ryan ever seriously proposes&mdash;and wins Republican support for&mdash;a welfare reform plan that includes block grants which (a) grow with inflation and (b) adjust automatically when recessions hit, I'll pay attention. Until then, they're just a Trojan Horse for slowly but steadily eliminating federal programs that help the poor. After all, those tax cuts for the rich won't fund themselves, will they?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:04:41 +0000 Kevin Drum 258926 at These Climate Scientists Are Telling You What They Really Think <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>Angry</em>. <em>Worried</em>. <em>Frustrated</em>. <em>Anxious</em>.</p> <p>Such are some of the words that Australian climate scientists use to express their feelings about the dysfunctional climate debate (which, in Australia, has recently seen the <a href="" target="_blank">repealing of a carbon tax</a>, a chief objective of the current Liberal Party prime minister Tony Abbott). Their writings appear on a <a href="" target="_blank">new website</a>, entitled "Is This How You Feel?," run by Joe Duggan, a master's student in science communication at the Australian National University's <a href="" target="_blank">Centre for the Public Awareness of Science</a>. Reached by email, Duggan explained that he "wanted to give scientists the chance to step away from the dry data and clinical prose that laypeople find so hard to engage with."</p> <p>Here are some particularly striking emotional expressions from the researchers, expressions that the climate "skeptic" blogger Anthony Watts <a href="" target="_blank">has said</a> make him want to "hurl":</p> <blockquote> <p><em>I feel a maelstrom of emotions</em>.</p> <p><em>Life would be so much simpler if climate change didn't exist.</em></p> <p><em>I am <u>infuriated</u></em><u>.</u> <em>Infuriated we are destroying our planet.</em></p> <p><em>I often feel like shouting&hellip;But would that really help? I feel like they don't listen anyway. After all, we've been shouting for years.</em></p> <p><em>It makes me feel sick. </em></p> <p><em>I feel betrayed by our leaders who show no leadership and who place ideology above evidence, willing to say anything to peddle their agendas.</em></p> <p><em>We have so much to lose.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>And, perhaps most memorable of all:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>I see a group of people sitting in a boat, happily waving, taking pictures on the way, not knowing that this boat is floating right into a powerful and deadly waterfall.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>You can read all of the letters <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>. People often allege that scientists can't communicate, but as these letters show, that's not really true.</p> <p>When they're actually speaking or writing in the language that they use with other scientists, then yes, scientists can seem incomprehensible. But when they're speaking simply as people, freed up to express emotions, they share thoughts and feelings that we can all instantly understand.</p> <p>"This is not the only way to communicate climate change, but it is one way," says Duggan. "We need to kill apathy through death by a thousand cuts. Maybe this can be one cut."</p></body></html> Media Climate Change Climate Desk Fri, 22 Aug 2014 15:04:11 +0000 Chris Mooney 258891 at Obamacare May Not Be Popular, But Its Provisions Sure Are <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Brian Beutler on the way health care reform is playing out in the <a href="" target="_blank">Arkansas Senate race:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><span class="dropcap">T</span>he most interesting thing about Senator Mark Pryor&rsquo;s decision to tout his support for the Affordable Care Act in a well-financed, statewide television ad isn&rsquo;t that he stands apart from other embattled Democrats this election cycle. It&rsquo;s that Republicans scrambled to spin the story, insisting to reporters that Pryor couldn&rsquo;t possibly be running on Obamacare if he won&rsquo;t refer to the law by name.</p> <p>....Instead, Pryor says, "I helped pass a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if you get sick or deny [sic] coverage based on pre-existing conditions.&rdquo; Maybe he shouldn&rsquo;t have said anything about &ldquo;a law&rdquo; at all, but that&rsquo;s a niggling, semantic critique. That Republicans working to defeat Pryor are asking reporters to squeeze the word &ldquo;Obamacare&rdquo; into this sentence is an admission that they&rsquo;ve lost the policy fight. They criticize Pryor for eschewing the label, because the label&rsquo;s just about the only thing they&rsquo;re comfortable assailing.</p> </blockquote> <p>I suppose this isn't the biggest thing in the world, and as Beutler says, Republicans <em>did</em> manage to talk several reporters into mentioning this. So from their point of view, it's just savvy media strategy. Besides, the truth is that Republicans have always focused on only a few things in their critique of Obamacare. That's because polls have shown for years that most of the <em>provisions</em> of the law are popular even though support for the law itself is pretty shaky. This causes Republicans endless grief, since Democrats get to harass them relentlessly about whether they <em>oppose</em> closing the donut hole; whether they <em>oppose</em> subsidy assistance; whether they <em>oppose</em> guaranteed issue; and so on. Republicans can hem and haw about how they'd keep all this stuff and only get rid of the nasty taxes and mandates, but even the dimmer bulbs in the GOP caucus know perfectly well that this is untrue.</p> <p>In any case, other Democratic politicians have touted their support for specific provisions of Obamacare, so Pryor isn't really doing anything new. He's just being smart. He knows that denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions is extremely unpopular, even among conservative voters, and he'd love to draw his opponent into a debate about exactly that. Tom Cotton has so far refused to take the bait, pretending that he'd somehow keep that provision while repealing everything else. This is a bald-faced lie, of course, but if he sticks to that story like glue he can probably avoid any serious damage from Pryor's attacks.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Elections Health Care Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:56:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 258921 at Drought Weighing You Down? Nope, It's Lifting You Up <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's a odd piece of news: According to a <a href="" target="_blank">study</a> published Thursday in <em>Science</em>, the water loss due to this year's drought has caused the entire western side of the United States to literally rise. After examining data from nearly 800 GPS stations across the country, researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography found that the area west of New Mexico has risen by an average of four millimeters this year. In the Sierra Nevadas and along California's coast&mdash;two areas that have received far less precipitation this year than normal&mdash;the land rose 15 millimeters.</p> <p>Adrian Borsa, a coauthor of the study, explained what's happening: "The earth is an elastic material just like a block of rubber. If you put a water load on it, the earth deforms, if you take the water away, the earth will come back." Using the GPS data, the researchers estimated that the Western United States has lost 62 trillion gallons of water to the atmosphere this year because of the drought. That's enough water to cover the entire Western US in six inches of water.</p> <p>The earth rising seems not only vaguely biblical, but also counterintuitive; one might expect the earth's surface to fall if water is being taken from it. In fact, the ground is falling in some places: Some GPS stations in California had to be left out of the study because farmers are extracting so much groundwater that the ground is literally caving in. But this study didn't examine the ground at a surface-level&mdash;it showed that the earth's crust and mantle are responding elastically to the drought. So while some areas may be falling because of man-made changes at a local level, the West as a whole is rising.</p> <p>As it turns out, the rise and fall of the earth due to water loss actually happens a little each year with the change of the seasons: Land is heavier in the winter and spring, and when water evaporates in the summer and fall, land is a little lighter. But the annual variation in California's mountains is about 5 millimeters&mdash;not this year's 15. The difference "sounds tiny," said Borsa, but from a geological standpoint, "it's a whopping signal" of the amount of water lost to the drought.</p> <p>Contrary to most drought news these days, this rise of the West doesn't have looming disastrous effects in and of itself: The researchers, for example, don't think that this change will cause more extreme earthquakes.</p> <p>But Borsa says that using GPS data on the rise of the earth could help regulators to understand how much water is being used in the West&mdash;particularly in California. California is the only Western state that doesn't measure or regulate major groundwater use; if you can drill down to it, it's all yours. A report produced for the state's Department of Food and Agriculture estimated that California's farmers will pump about 13 million acre-feet of groundwater this year&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">enough water</a> to put a piece of land the size of Rhode Island 17 feet underwater.</p> <p>With no regulatory system in place, though, it's challenging for officials to know if these estimates are lining up with reality. "The extractions aren't monitored, so no one really knows how to monitor the water supply," says Borsa. Using GPS data "could be a great tool for water managers."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Econundrums Food and Ag Top Stories Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:00:16 +0000 Julia Lurie 258881 at House Candidate Called Female Senators "Undeserving Bimbos in Tennis Shoes" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Republican congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn could face a major obstacle in his race to unseat Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz: conservative blogger Jim Hagedorn.</p> <p>Hagedorn, the son of retired congressman Tom Hagedorn, was a surprise victor in last Tuesday's GOP primary. But he brings some serious baggage to his race against Walz, a four-term incumbent. In posts from his old blog, <em>Mr. Conservative</em>, unearthed by the Minnesota politics blog <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Bluestem Prairie</em></a><strong>*</strong>, Hagedorn made light of American Indians, President Obama's Kenyan ancestry, and female Supreme Court justices, among others, in ways many voters won't appreciate.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/08/minnesota-gop-congressional-candidate-jim-hagedorn-mr-conservative-blog-tim-walz"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Elections Gay Rights Race and Ethnicity Sex and Gender Supreme Court Top Stories Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:00:15 +0000 Tim Murphy 258856 at