MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/wp-login.php/favicon.ico http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Either 35, 36, or 39 Percent of Psychology Results Can't Be Replicated http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/either-35-36-or-39-percent-psychology-results-cant-be-replicated <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/08/27/trouble-in-science-massive-effort-to-reproduce-100-experimental-results-succeeds-only-36-times/" target="_blank">The <em>Washington Post</em></a> informs me today that in a new study, only 39 out of 100 published psychology studies could be replicated:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_psychology_replication_wapo.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 50px;"></p> <p>I wonder if I can replicate that headline? Let's try the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/28/science/many-social-science-findings-not-as-strong-as-claimed-study-says.html" target="_blank"><em>New York Times</em>:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_psychology_replication_nyt.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 50px;"></p> <p>Huh. They say 35 out of 100. What's going on? Maybe <a href="https://www.sciencenews.org/article/psychology-results-evaporate-upon-further-review" target="_blank"><em>Science News</em></a> can tell me:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_psychology_replication_science_news.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 50px;"></p> <p>Now it's 35 out of 97. So what <em>is</em> the answer?</p> <p><a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6251/aac4716" target="_blank">Based on the study itself,</a> it appears that <em>Science News</em> has it right. It's 35 out of 97. Using a different measure of replication, however, the answer is that 39 percent of the studies could be replicated, which might explain the <em>Post's</em> 39 out of 100. And it turns out that the study actually looked at 100 results, but only 97 of them had positive findings in the first place and were therefore worth trying to replicate. But if, for some reason, you decided that all 100 original studies should be counted, you'd get the <em>Times'</em> 35 out of 100.</p> <p>So there you go. Depending on who you read, it's either 35, 36, or 39 percent. Welcome to the business of science reporting.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Aug 2015 05:04:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 282876 at http://www.motherjones.com Joe Biden Not Sure He Has "Emotional Fuel" To Run For President http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/joe-biden-note-sure-he-has-emotional-fuel-run-president <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_joe_biden.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">This is the first hard evidence we have that Joe Biden is <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/08/biden-may-not-have-emotional-fuel-for-2016-run.html" target="_blank">seriously thinking about a presidential run:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>On Wednesday he made his first public comments on his potential 2016 run &mdash; though not intentionally. CNN posted audio recorded during what was supposed to be a private conference call for Democratic National Committee members in which the vice-president confirmed that he's actively considering entering the campaign....<strong>"We're dealing at home with ... whether or not there is the emotional fuel at this time to run," Biden responded.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>I've got nothing but sympathy for what Biden is going through right now, but the fact remains: If you're not sure you have the fuel for a grueling presidential campaign, then you don't.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Aug 2015 03:10:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 282871 at http://www.motherjones.com Undercover Video Exposes the Dark Side of Chicken McNuggets http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/08/undercover-video-exposes-dark-side-chicken-mcnuggets <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-UWcQLtpAKU" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Back in 2013, a proposed law that would have criminalized the act of secretly videotaping&nbsp;abuses on livestock farms&mdash;known by critics as an "ag gag" bill&mdash;<a href="http://grist.org/news/ag-gag-bill-chokes-in-tennessee/" target="_blank">failed in Tennessee</a>. A least one of the state's chicken operations has reason to lament that defeat. An undercover investigator with the animal-welfare group <a href="http://www.mcdonaldscruelty.com/" target="_blank">Mercy For Animals</a> managed to record the above footage at T&amp;S Farm in Dukedom, Tennessee, which supplies chickens for slaughter to poultry-processing giant Tyson&mdash;which in turn supplies chicken meat for McDonald's Chicken McNuggets.</p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">For those too squeamish to watch, the video opens with a worker saying, "You don't work for </span>PETA<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">, do you?," before proceeding to pummel a sickly bird to death with a long stick&mdash;which, for good measure, is outfitted with a&nbsp;nasty-looking spike attached to its business end. More beatings of sickly birds proceed from there.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Both the poultry giant and the fast-food giant quickly cut ties with the exposed Tennessee poultry farm, <em>The Wall Street Journal</em> <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/mcdonalds-tyson-sever-ties-to-poultry-farm-over-alleged-animal-abuse-1440696266" target="_blank">reports</a>.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Thu, 27 Aug 2015 21:44:53 +0000 Tom Philpott 282851 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Trump: The Bible Is Great, But, Um, Let's Not Get Into Specifics http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/donald-trump-bible-great-um-lets-not-get-specifics <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As a blogger, it's hard not to love Donald Trump. Here's the latest, <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/videos/2015-08-26/donald-trump-the-full-with-all-due-respect-interview" target="_blank">in an interview with Mark Halperin and John Heilemann:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>I'm wondering what one or two of your most favorite Bible verses are and why.</strong></p> <p>Well, I wouldn't want to get into it because to me that's very personal. You know, when I talk about the Bible it's very personal. So I don't want to get into verses, I don't want to get into&mdash;the Bible means a lot to me, but I don't want to get into specifics.</p> <p><strong>Even to cite a verse that you like?</strong></p> <p>No, I don't want to do that.</p> <p><strong>Are you an Old Testament guy or a New Testament guy?</strong></p> <p>Uh, probably....equal. I think it's just an incredible....the whole Bible is an incredible....I joke....very much so. They always hold up <em>The Art of the Deal</em>, I say it's my second favorite book of all time. But, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_god_sistine_chapel.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">uh, I just think the Bible is just something very special.</p> </blockquote> <p>OK, it's not only Trump I love. Props also to Heilemann for asking Trump if he's an OT guy or an NT guy. Who talks about the Bible that way?</p> <p>We've seen this schtick from Trump before, of course. He's stunningly ignorant, and routinely refuses to answer whenever someone asks about a factual detail more than an inch below the surface. Needless to say, he refuses because he doesn't know, but he always pretends it's for some other reason. "I don't want to insult anyone by naming names," he'll say, as if this isn't his entire stock in trade. Or, in this case, "It's personal," as if he's a guy who leads a deep personal life that he never talks about.</p> <p>The interesting thing is that this schtick also shows how lazy he is. It's been evident for several days that someone was eventually going to ask him for his favorite Bible verse, but he couldn't be bothered to bone up even a little bit in order to have one on tap. Ditto for everything else. Even when he says something that's going to raise obvious questions the next day, he never bothers to learn anything about the subject. I guess he figures he's got people for that.</p> <p>Of course, there is an advantage to handling things this way. By shutting down the Bible talk completely, he guarantees he'll never have to talk about it again. I mean, today it's Bible verses, tomorrow somebody might want him to name the Ten Commandments. And since it's pretty obvious that he hasn't cracked open the Bible in decades, that could get hairy pretty fast. Better to shut it down right away.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> So which <em>is</em> Trump? OT or NT? I expect that he admires the OT God more. <em>That's</em> a deity who knows what he wants and doesn't put up with any PC nonsense about it. Plus they built a lot of stuff in the Old Testament: towers, walls, arks, temples, etc. That would appeal to Trump. On the other hand, the New Testament has all those annoying lessons about the meek inheriting the earth, rich men and needles, turning the other cheek, and a bunch of other advice that Trump has no time for.</p> <p>So: Old Testament. Definitely Old Testament.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Aug 2015 21:30:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 282861 at http://www.motherjones.com Monsanto Halts Its Bid to Buy Rival Syngenta—For Now http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/08/monsanto-not-buying-syngenta <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>After four months of hot pursuit, genetically modified seed/pesticide giant Monsanto formally ended its bid to buy rival Syngenta Wednesday&mdash;at least for now. Earlier in the week, Monsanto had <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/24/us-syngenta-m-a-monsanto-idUSKCN0QT1UR20150824">sweetened its offer</a> for the Swiss agrochemical behemoth&mdash;most famous for its controversial <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2011/11/tyrone-hayes-atrazine-syngenta-feud-frog-endangered">atrazine</a> herbicide and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/25/syngenta-exemption-neonicotinoid-insecticide-ban-oilseed-rape">neonicotinoid</a> pesticides&mdash;to $47 billion, in an effort to convince Syngenta's management and shareholders to accept the merger. They balked, and Monsanto management opted to halt the effort, declaring in a <a href="http://news.monsanto.com/press-release/corporate/monsanto-reaffirms-opportunity-standalone-growth-plan-and-ability-lead-next-">press release</a> that it would instead "focus on its growth opportunities built on its existing core business to deliver the next wave of transformational solutions for agriculture."&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">However, Monsanto may just be pausing, not fully halting, its buyout push. The company's press release states that it's "no longer pursuing [the] </span><em style="line-height: 2em;">current</em><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;"> proposal" (emphasis added) to buy its rival, and quickly added that the combination "would have created tremendous value for </span>shareowners<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;"> of both companies and farmers." And as Dow Jones' Jacob </span>Bunge<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;"> </span><a href="http://www.morningstar.com/news/dow-jones/TDJNDN_201508269083/monsanto-drops-46-billion-bid-for-syngenta-3rd-update.html" style="line-height: 2em;">notes</a><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant "has coveted </span>Syngenta<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;"> since at least 2011, and said in a June interview that he viewed the effort as 'a long game.'"&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">The logic that has driven Monsanto's zeal for a deal remains in place: It wants to diversify away from its reliance on seeds by buying </span>Syngenta<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">, the world's biggest purveyor of pesticides (more on that </span><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/05/monsanto-syngenta-merger-45-billion-pesticides" style="line-height: 2em;">here</a><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">).&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">Meanwhile, Monsanto has been </span><a href="http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/540136/the-next-great-gmo-debate/" style="line-height: 2em;">actively hyping up</a><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;"> a new generation of pesticides, still in the development stage, which work by killing crop-chomping pests by silencing certain&nbsp;genes. But the company doesn't expect the novel sprays&nbsp;to hit the market until 2020&mdash;a timeline that may be overly optimistic, as I show </span><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/08/coming-farm-field-near-you-gene-silencing-pesticides-RNA-RNAi" style="line-height: 2em;">here</a><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">.&nbsp;</span></p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Thu, 27 Aug 2015 20:17:13 +0000 Tom Philpott 282826 at http://www.motherjones.com How Much Is 1.6 Months of Life Worth? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/how-much-16-months-life-worth <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/08/27/cancer-drugs-arent-just-really-expensive-theyre-a-bad-value/" target="_blank">From Carolyn Johnson at Wonkblog:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>With some cancer drug prices soaring past $10,000 a month....</p> </blockquote> <p>Hey, that's me! A friendly FedEx delivery person just delivered this month's $10,000 supply to me an hour ago. So, what's up?</p> <blockquote> <p>With some cancer drug prices soaring past $10,000 a month, doctors have begun to ask one nagging question: Do drug prices correctly reflect the value they bring to patients by extending or improving their lives?</p> <p>A study published Thursday in <em>JAMA Oncology</em> aims to answer that question by examining necitumumab, an experimental lung cancer drug....in a clinical trial, researchers found that <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_drug_cost.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">adding the drug to chemotherapy extended life by 1.6 months, on average.</p> <p>....In order to estimate what the price of this drug "should" be based on its value to patients, the research team modeled various scenarios....one additional year in perfect health in the U.S. is worth somewhere between $50,000 and $200,000....Based on their calculations, the drug should cost from $563 to $1,309 for a three-week cycle.</p> <p>....There are many variables that go into the price of a drug, but mounting evidence suggests that the value it brings to patients is not the biggest factor. <strong>"How they price the drug is they price it at whatever the market is willing to bear," said Benjamn Djulbegovic, </strong>an oncologist at the University of South Florida.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, sure, but this raises the question of <em>why</em> the market is willing to bear such high prices. Why would an insurance company approve a large expenditure for a drug that has only a tiny benefit?</p> <p>There's a lot that goes into this. Obviously some people benefit from necitumumab by a lot more than 1.6 months&mdash;and there's no way to tell beforehand who will and who won't. And it costs a lot to develop these drugs. And patients put a lot of pressure on insurers to cover anything that might help. And, in the end, insurance companies don't have a ton of incentive to push back: if drug prices go up, they increase their premiums. It doesn't really affect their bottom line much.</p> <p>There's also the size of the total market to consider. The chemo drug I'm currently taking, for example, is only used for two conditions. There's just not a whole lot of us using it. In cases like that, a drug is going to be pretty expensive.</p> <p>But here's something I'm curious about: who puts more pressure on insurance companies to cover expensive drugs, patients or doctors? My doctor, for example, was totally gung-ho about my current med. I was much less so after I read some of the clinical studies online. Why? Because most chemo drugs have unpleasant side effects (though mine has turned out OK so far), which means that, like many patients, I'm reluctant to take them unless the benefit is pretty clear cut. Doctors, on the other hand, just want to do whatever they can to help, and have no particular incentive to hold back. So maybe it's doctors who need to be in the forefront of pushing back on expensive drugs. They're the ones in the doctor-patient relationship who know the most, after all.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Aug 2015 19:04:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 282821 at http://www.motherjones.com Trump: "This Isn't a Gun Problem, This Is a Mental Problem." http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/08/donald-trump-gun-control-mental-health <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/SfKMh0E4sUI" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>A day after two journalists in Virginia were fatally shot on live television, Donald Trump is rejecting calls to strengthen gun control laws. Instead, he told <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/27/politics/donald-trump-virginia-shooting-mental-health-gun-laws/index.html" target="_blank">CNN's Chris Cuomo</a> today that mental health issues are to blame for gun violence in America. This isn't a gun problem, this is a mental problem," the presidential hopeful said.</p> <p>"You're not going to get rid of all guns," Trump added. "I know one thing: If you try to do it, the bad guys would have them. And the good folks would abide by the laws but be hopeless." The real state mogul defended the Second Amendment, which he said he was "very much into."</p> <p>Trump's opposition to stricter gun legislation in favor of focusing on mental health problems is not new. But many experts argue such thinking is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/myth-vs-fact-violence-mental-health-jeffrey-swanson" target="_blank">flawed</a>. "Consider that between 2001 and 2010, there were nearly 120,000 gun-related homicides&hellip;Few were perpetrated by people with mental illness," psychiatry professor Richard A. Friedman wrote in the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/health/a-misguided-focus-on-mental-illness-in-gun-control-debate.html?_r=0" target="_blank"><em>New York Times</em></a> after the Newtown shooting in 2012.</p> <p>Trump is just one of the 2016 candidates to weigh in following the murders of Alison Parker and Adam Ward on Wednesday morning. Speaking at a press conference in Iowa, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/08/26/verbatim-hillary-clinton-reacts-to-shooting-in-virginia/" target="_blank">Hillary Clinton</a> told reporters that she was "stricken" by the shooting. "We have got to do something about gun violence in America," Clinton said. "And I will take it on."</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Heartbroken and angry. We must act to stop gun violence, and we cannot wait any longer. Praying for the victims' families in Virginia. -H</p> &mdash; Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) <a href="https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton/status/636562456618381312">August 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <p>Speaking to Fox News' Megyn Kelly on Wednesday night, the father of one of the victims vowed to fight for increased gun control measures. "Whatever it takes to get gun legislation, to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about closing loopholes and background checks and making sure crazy people don't get guns," <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/08/father-of-slain-journalist-vows-to-fight-for-gun-control" target="_blank">Andy Parker said</a>.</p></body></html> MoJo Top Stories Thu, 27 Aug 2015 18:24:26 +0000 Inae Oh 282806 at http://www.motherjones.com Saul Bellow Was 30 Years Ahead of Me http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/saul-bellow-was-30-years-ahead-me <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's a fascinating little August tidbit, via Jeet Heer on Twitter. It's an excerpt from <em>The Dean's December</em>, by Saul Bellow, published in 1981. Albert Corde, an academic, is talking to a scientist (obviously modeled on the seminal lead researcher Clair Patterson) about the "real explanation of what goes on in the slums":</p> <blockquote> <p>"And the explanation? What is the real explanation?"</p> <p>"Millions of tons of intractable lead residues poisoning the children of the poor. They're the most exposed....<strong>Crime and social disorganization in inner city populations can all be traced to the <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_brain_lead.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">effects of lead.</strong> It comes down to the nerves, to brain damage."</p> <p>....Direct material causes? Of course. Who could deny them? But what was odd was that no other causes were conceived of. "So it's lead, nothing but old lead?" he said.</p> <p>"I would ask you to study the evidence."</p> <p>And that was what Corde now began to do, reading through stapled documents, examining graphs....What was the message?....A truly accurate method of detecting tiny amounts of lead led to the discovery that the cycle of lead in the earth had been strongly perturbed. The conclusion: Chronic lead insult now affects all mankind....<strong>Mental disturbances resulting from lead poison are reflected in terrorism, barbarism, crime, cultural degradation.</strong></p> <p>....Tetraethyl fumes alone could do it&mdash;engine exhaust&mdash;and infants eating flaking lead paint in the slums <strong>became criminal morons.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>What's interesting is the mention of crime. Lead was a well-known neurotoxin by 1981, strongly implicated in educational problems and loss of IQ. So it's no big surprise that it might pop up as a prop in a novel. But nobody was yet linking it to the rise of violent crime. That would wait for another 20 years. And a truly credible case for the link between lead and crime <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline" target="_blank">wouldn't appear for yet another decade,</a> when the necessary data became available and technology had advanced enough to produce convincing brain studies. Neither of those was available in the 1980s.</p> <p>Nonetheless, the germ of the idea was there. In a way, that's not surprising: I've always felt that, given what we know about what lead does to the childhood brain, its link to violent crime should never have been hard to accept. It would actually be surprising if childhood lead exposure <em>didn't</em> have an effect on violent crime.</p> <p>Anyway, that's it. Your literary connection of the day to one of my favorite topics.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Aug 2015 17:50:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 282811 at http://www.motherjones.com Nerds and Hacks Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose Except Your Chains. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/nerds-and-hacks-unite-you-have-nothing-lose-except-your-chains <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>David Roberts has a long post at Vox about tech nerds and their disdain for politics. He highlights one particular tech nerd who describes both major parties as "a bunch of dumb people saying dumb things," <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/8/27/9214015/tech-nerds-politics" target="_blank">and jumps off from there:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>There are two broad narratives about politics that can be glimpsed between the lines here. Both are, in the argot of the day, problematic.</p> <p>The first, which is extremely common in the nerd community, is a distaste for government and politics....a sense that government is big, bloated, slow-moving, and inefficient, that politicians are dimwits and panderers, and that real progress comes from private innovation, not government mandates. None of which is facially unreasonable.</p> <p>The second is the conception of politics as a contest of two mirror-image political philosophies, with mirror-image extremes and a common center, which <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_jobs_wozniak.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">is where sensible, independent-minded people congregate.</p> </blockquote> <p>There's about 4,400 more words than this, so click the link if you want to immerse yourself.</p> <p>But I have a little different take on all this. The truth is that politics and tech are the same thing: inventing a product that appeals to people and then marketing the hell out of it. Back in the dark ages, this was a little more obvious. Steve Wozniak invented, Steve Jobs sold. It was so common for tech companies to be started by two people, one engineer and one salesman, that it was practically a cliche.</p> <p>The modern tech community has lost a bit of that. Oh, they all chatter about social media and going viral and so forth. As long as the marketing is actually just some excuse for talking about cool new tech, they're happy to immerse themselves in it. But actually <em>selling</em> their product? Meh. The truly great ideas rise to the top without any of that <em>Mad Men</em> crap. Anyway, the marketing department will handle the dull routine of advertising and....well, whatever it is they do.</p> <p>Politics, by contrast, leans the other way. Inventing new stuff helps, but the real art is in selling your ideas to the public and convincing your fellow politicians to back you. It's all messy and annoying, especially if you're not very socially adept, but it's the way human beings get things done.</p> <p>Well, it's <em>one</em> of the ways. Because Roberts only tells half the story. As much as most tech nerds disdain the messy humanness of politics, it's equally true that most politicians disdain the eye-rolling naivete of tech nerds. You wanna get something done, kid? Watch the master at work.</p> <p>In politics, you have the wonks and the hacks&mdash;and it's the hacks who rule. In tech, you have the nerds and the salesmen&mdash;and it's the nerds who rule. There are always exceptions, but that's the general shape of the river.</p> <p>But guess what? The most successful nerds have always been the ones who are also willing to figure out what makes people tick. And the most successful politicians have been the ones who are willing to marry themselves to policy solutions that fit their time and place. That doesn't mean that nerds have to slap backs (Bill Gates never did) or that successful politicians have to immerse themselves in white papers (Ronald Reagan never did), but wonks and hacks and nerds and salesmen all need each other. The political hacks and the tech nerds need to get together and get messy. And more important: <em>they have to genuinely respect each other.</em> When that happens, you have a very, very powerful combination. So get to work.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:22:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 282801 at http://www.motherjones.com TGIAS: Finally, August Is Almost Over http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/tgias-finally-august-almost-over <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>August is almost over. Huzzah! Kids are back in school, the weather will soon turn balmy, and we only have to pay attention to Donald Trump for a few more days. In September we'll have more important stuff to obsess over. Right?</p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_lion_silly_season.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Well, we can hope. In the meantime, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/08/27/the-most-damning-part-of-donald-trumps-political-rise/" target="_blank">Dan Drezner has a question:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>For this entire calendar year, I&rsquo;ve heard how the current crop of GOP presidential candidates &ldquo;showcase[s] the party&rsquo;s deep bench of talent&rdquo;....And, to be fair, this seemed to be a fair analysis. There are no fewer than nine sitting and former governors of big states in the field....And yet, after all the declarations, we&rsquo;re at a political moment when Trump is clobbering all of these talented politicians in the polls &mdash; and doing so by honing the lessons he learned from reality television.</p> <p>....So here&rsquo;s my question: What does it say about the deep GOP bench that none of them have managed to outperform a guy who has no comparative political advantage except celebrity and a willingness to insult anyone who crosses his path?</p> </blockquote> <p>I've had the same thought myself. Nor is this a partisan question: the Democrats have such a weak bench this year that there's literally only one truly plausible candidate in the entire field. And this isn't because Hillary Clinton is so widely beloved: there's just no one else around who seems to have the usual bona fides to run for president. Hell, even the sitting vice president, usually a shoo-in to run, has a public persona that's a little too goofy to make him a strong candidate.</p> <p>In other words, there are hardly any decent candidates in the entire country. What the hell is going on?</p> <p>But Drezner actually prompts another question that's been rattling around in my brain: Is there anyone out there who could be the Democratic equivalent of Donald Trump? There was some inane blather earlier this month comparing him to Bernie Sanders, but that was always pretty preposterous. Sanders is a serious, longtime politician. He may be too extreme for you, but he's not a buffoon.</p> <p>More specifically: Is it even <em>possible</em> that someone like Trump&mdash;no political experience, buffoonish, populist, boorish&mdash;could ever make a big impact in a Democratic primary? It's never happened before, but then, it's never happened quite this way in the Republican primary either. It makes me wonder. What if Trump had held on to his lifelong liberal beliefs instead of "evolving" so he could compete as a Republican? What would be the fate of a liberal Donald Trump? Would a big chunk of the liberal base embrace him?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:39:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 282796 at http://www.motherjones.com