MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Leaked DHS Doc Says Trump's Seven Countries Aren't Very Dangerous <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Remember those seven countries that President Trump singled out for a travel ban? He asked the Department of Homeland Security to check them out and explain why they deserved to be on a no-entry list. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's what he got:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_dhs_seven_countries_risk_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Oops. "Rarely implicated" means a grand total of six people out of 82. That's one per year since 2011. And not one terrorist plot per year, either. One "terrorism related offense" per year. In many of these cases, it's probably a material support charge for sending a hundred bucks to some warlord back home.</p> <p>This comes via the AP, <a href="" target="_blank">which got this comment:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Homeland Security spokeswoman Gillian Christensen on Friday did not dispute the report's authenticity, but said it was not a final comprehensive review of the government's intelligence.</p> <p>"While DHS was asked to draft a comprehensive report on this issue, the document you're referencing was <strong>commentary from a single intelligence source versus an official, robust document with thorough interagency sourcing,</strong>" Christensen said. "The ... report does not include data from other intelligence community sources. It is incomplete."</p> </blockquote> <p>I have a feeling that once the "interagency sourcing" is finished, there might be a different spin on these numbers. This is very definitely not what the boss wants to hear.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 25 Feb 2017 00:07:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 326501 at It's Official: The Trump Administration Will Soon Solicit Bids for a New Border Wall <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The Department of Homeland Security announced Friday that it will soon begin soliciting bids "for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico." Bidding begins March 6. The official posting says the administration will select the companies to potentially build the new structure sometime in April.</p> <p>The solicitation appears to correspond to President Trump's highly publicized pledge to build a new border wall along the US-Mexico border. "We're going to build a wall, don't worry about it," Trump said at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. "We're building the wall. We're building the wall. In fact, it's going to start soon. Way ahead of schedule, way ahead of schedule."</p> <p>The official post soliciting bids for the border wall is available online <a href=";mode=form&amp;id=b8e1b2a6876519ca0aedd748e1e491cf&amp;tab=core&amp;tabmode=list&amp;=" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Govt bidding begins Mar 6 "for the design/build of several prototype wall structures in vicinity" of US-Mex border <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Andy Kroll (@AndyKroll) <a href="">February 24, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Politics Donald Trump Immigration Fri, 24 Feb 2017 22:15:45 +0000 Andy Kroll 326481 at Friday Cat Blogging - 24 February 2017 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The weather has been lovely this week, and Hilbert is spending lots of quality time up on the patio cover. He's gotten pretty adept at scooting up and down the access tree, but he still whines a lot when he wants to come down, hoping that someone will come out and lift him off. I used to fall for this until the third or fourth time that he came over to me and then scampered off as soon as I put up my hands. Ha ha ha. Fooled the human again.</p> <p>Hilbert is also anxious for everyone to know that <em>he</em> has <a href="" target="_blank">a college named after him too.</a> Also a local <a href="" target="_blank">art museum.</a> Plus a <a href="" target="_blank">summer camp</a>, a <a href="" target="_blank">village in Wisconsin</a> and its accompanying <a href="" target="_blank">high school</a>, a <a href="" target="_blank">lake</a>, and a <a href="" target="_blank">theater</a>. So there.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2017_02_24.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 5px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Feb 2017 20:05:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 326471 at It's Happening—News Groups Are Being Barred From White House Press Briefings <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From CNN:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>CNN and other news organizations were blocked Friday from a White House press briefing</strong>....The <em>New York Times</em>, the <em>Los Angeles Times</em>, and <em>Politico</em> were also excluded from the meeting, which is known as a gaggle and is less formal than the televised Q-and-A session in the White House briefing room.</p> <p>The Associated Press and <em>Time</em> magazine boycotted the briefing because of how it was handled. The White House Correspondents Association is protesting.</p> <p>The conservative media organizations <em>Breitbart News</em>, <em>The Washington Times</em> and One America News Network were allowed in.</p> </blockquote> <p>A few days ago, there was some talk about whether Trump would slow-walk federal disaster relief for the Oroville Dam area. As it turned out, <a href="" target="_blank">he didn't,</a> but the possibility was taken seriously for a while.</p> <p>This is what makes the Trump presidency so unpredictable. No modern president would even think of taking revenge on a state that voted against him by refusing disaster aid. No modern president would dream of evicting news outlets from a press briefing because they had criticized him. No modern president would lie about easily checkable facts on a routine basis. No modern president would loudly cite every positive bit of economic news as a personal triumph. No modern president since Nixon would casually ask the FBI to take its side in an ongoing investigation.</p> <p>It's not that modern presidents <em>couldn't</em> do these things. They just didn't. And we all came to assume that none of them would. The technical machinery of government&mdash;collecting data, hiring staffers, working by the rules&mdash;would be left alone to operate in a professional and impartial way. But that's no longer something we can assume.</p> <p>Trump is going to find lots of things like this. Things that nobody ever thought of before, but aren't illegal. Or maybe just slightly illegal. And he's going to use them to demagogue his enemies and take revenge on people who badmouth him. Fasten your seat belts.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Feb 2017 19:54:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 326476 at Who's the Deporter-in-Chief? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Bryan Caplan:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&nbsp;U.S. immigration law&nbsp;&mdash; and U.S. immigration statistics&nbsp;&mdash; makes a big distinction between full-blown deportations ("Removals") and "voluntarily" returning home under the threat of full-blown deportation ("Returns").</p> <p>The distinction is not entirely cosmetic. If you re-enter after Removal, you face a serious risk of federal jail time if you're caught. If you re-enter after a mere Return, you generally don't. But Return is still almost as bad as Removal, since both exile you from the country where you prefer to reside. Since I've previously suggested that we should count each Return as 85% of a Removal, I've constructed a "Deportation Index" equal to Removals + .85*Returns to capture the substance of U.S. immigration policy. Check out the numbers:</p> </blockquote> <p>No, no, no. I love ideas like this, but it demands a visual presentation. Here it is:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_caplan_deportations_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Under Obama, removals were much higher than any other president. However, there were far fewer returns. Thus, "deportations" were higher than any other president, but the total number of people who were actually sent home was lower than any other president.</p> <p>The next step is to calculate this as a percentage of the number of illegal immigrants in the country each year. Here it is:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_caplan_deportations_percent_population.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>This is approximate, since the total population of illegal immigrants is a little fuzzy before 2000. But it's close enough. Obama still has a higher removal rate and a lower index rate than any other president, but the winner for the title of Deporter-in-Chief is...Ronald Reagan. Every president since then has been successively more tolerant of a large undocumented population.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Feb 2017 18:45:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 326466 at Los Angeles Demands That Federal Immigration Officials Stop Calling Themselves "Police" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In the wake of raids that resulted in the arrest of <a href="" target="_blank">161 undocumented immigrants</a> in southern California earlier this month, the city of Los Angeles is demanding that federal immigration agents end the practice of identifying themselves <a href="" target="_blank">as "police" </a>with the Los Angeles Police Department.&nbsp;According to a letter signed by city officials, that tactic threatens to erode trust between local law enforcement officers and the immigrant communities they police.</p> <p>"In Los Angeles, the term 'police' is synonymous with the Los Angeles Police Department," reads a letter that Mayor Eric Garcetti, city attorney Eric Feuer, and city council president Herb J. Wesson sent to the Trump administration Thursday. "So for ICE agents to represent themselves as police misleads the public into believing they are interacting with LAPD."</p> <p>While there's apparently nothing illegal about Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents identifying themselves as "police," the letter claims that the practice undermines the LAPD's efforts to promise immigrant populations that they can provide "valuable information and cooperation" without fear of potential deportation.&nbsp;The letter says that the feds' behavior is "especially corrosive" because the LAPD has a policy against stopping individuals for the purpose of checking their immigration status.</p> <p>The controversial tactic, which has been used by immigration agents for decades now, received renewed attention this month after an<a href="" target="_blank"> <em>LA Times</em> video showed an immigration agent</a> identifying himself as a police officer, while attempting to gain entry into the home of an undocumented immigrant. The video raised questions from civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, that argue the misidentification potentially tricks people into allowing agents to search their homes without a warrant.</p> <p>The letter on Thursday comes amid increasing fear and confusion over President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown, while communities across the country prepare to <a href="" target="_blank">defend themselves</a> against the administration's future deportation efforts. The president has vowed to defund sanctuary cities, including New York and Los Angeles, that have pledged to protect undocumented populations from Trump's deportation plans. One prominent Trump backer, <a href="" target="_blank">Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke</a>, has even called for prosecuting the mayors of sanctuary cities.</p> <p>Read the full letter:</p> <div class="DC-embed DC-embed-document DV-container" id="DV-viewer-3474732-LA-Letter">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> DV.load("", { width: 630, height: 354, sidebar: false, text: false, pdf: false, container: "#DV-viewer-3474732-LA-Letter" }); </script><p><em>This post has been updated.</em></p></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Immigration Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:58:27 +0000 Inae Oh 326431 at Here's a Brief Primer On Where to Get Good Data <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A reader emails to ask me where I get my data:</p> <blockquote> <p>I'm curious as to what your process is....Do you usually start with Google? LexisNexis? Something else? You seem to have a preference for citing public sources, but how often do you start with a private aggregator like LexisNexis, and then find a public link from that? I guess what I'm asking with that one is, how much does it help to have access to private sources like LexisNexis? Is it instrumental in this kind of thing, or just nice to have, or not really that big of a deal?</p> </blockquote> <p>I don't have access to any private sources. I just have a computer and a web browser. That's the hub of my data-driven empire.</p> <p>But what <em>are</em> my favorite sources? Maybe some people would be interested. And it would be kind of fun to list them. So here they are.</p> <p><u><strong>IMPORTANT WARNING:</strong></u> Knowing where to find data is very helpful. However, what's <em>really</em> important is knowing which data is appropriate to your purposes. You have to develop a feel for which sources are trustworthy. You have to know which data you need. (GDP? Real GDP? GDP per capita? GDP at purchasing power parity?) Sometimes you have to be creative. But the bottom line is that access to data doesn't do any good unless you understand it first. There are no shortcuts to that. That said, here are the sources I use most often. Since I spend a lot of time writing about the economy, this list is very top heavy with economic data sites.</p> <ul><li><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>FRED</strong></a> is by far my most frequently used source. It's run by the St. Louis Fed, and it aggregates tens of thousands of economic data series in a single place. It's pretty flexible, it produces nice charts, and it lets you download the data to Excel so you can play with it yourself. If you're looking for US economic data, it's usually your first stop. It's got some overseas economic data too.<img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_fred_gdp_china.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"> &nbsp;</li> <li>The <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Bureau of Economic Analysis</strong></a> and the <strong><a href="" target="_blank">Bureau of Labor Statistics</a></strong> are also good sources. Most of their data is in FRED, but not all of it. The <a href="" target="_blank">BLS jobs report</a> is released on the first Friday of every month, along with all supporting data. The BEA's <a href="" target="_blank">GDP report</a> is released each quarter on the last Friday of the following month (i.e. the end of April for the Q1 report). The BEA release calendar is <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>. The BLS release calendar is <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>The Census Bureau collects historical data on <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>household income</strong></a> that isn't available on FRED. Ditto for <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>trade data,</strong></a> though it's clunky and frustrating to use. I really wish the trade data was presented more cleanly and made available to FRED.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>The <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Federal Reserve</strong></a> has a ton of data, some available on FRED but some not. Their <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Flow of Funds</strong></a> report is basically a balance sheet for the United States.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>For US crime statistics, go to the FBI's <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Uniform Crime Reports.</strong></a> Their data delivery tool provides a lot of flexibility, allowing you to get data for specific crimes, specific localities, and specific time periods. Unfortunately, it's usually two years behind the latest release, so you have to wade through the most recent <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>PDF reports</strong></a> if you want current data. If you need a complete series, start with the data tool and then fill in the most recent couple of years by hand from the relevant reports.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>I almost hate to mention the <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>OECD data portal</strong></a> because it's such a pain to use. However, it's gotten better, and it's your first stop for data about other countries. They only cover OECD countries, of course, which basically means <a href="" target="_blank">the 35 richest countries in the world.</a> The OECD tries hard to present uniform data for all countries, but that's a difficult task. When comparing countries, it's worth being even more careful than usual about what data you use and how different countries account for different things.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>Needless to say, I use Google a lot too. Obviously you need to have some idea of what you're looking for so you can use the right search terms, and often you have to iterate. That is, do a search, find a word or a reference that seems close to what you want, do another search using that word, rinse and repeat. You'll usually get to something reliable and relevant eventually. Tips for best results: use <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Google Advanced Search.</strong></a> Make use of all its fields. Go to <a href="" target="_blank">Settings</a> and set your results to 50 or 100 per page. After you get results, click on Tools to restrict your search to a specific time period.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>There are also some miscellaneous sites that aren't technically data portals but still provide a lot of useful information. <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>EIA</strong></a> has good energy data. The White House Office of Management and Budget has tons of historical budget data, but the Trump administration doesn't have a useful OMB site yet. Go to the archived <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Obama OMB site</strong></a> instead. Google's <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Ngram viewer</strong></a> has <a href="" target="_blank">pitfalls</a>, but it's a lot of fun for tracking the rise and fall of words and phrases. The <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Tax Policy Center</strong></a> has loads of useful data on taxes. The <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Center on Budget and Policy Priorities</strong></a> has a terrible name but lots of good analysis. Ditto for the <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Economic Policy Institute.</strong></a> Both are left-wing, so keep that in mind. <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Gallup</strong></a> has lots of good poll data going back a long way, and <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Pollster</strong></a> does a good job of poll aggregation. <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Wikipedia</strong></a> is also great. It's a genuinely useful site if you want a brief primer on something or other, and every article has lots of links to its sources. I always check its data back to the primary source, but it often points me in a direction I hadn't considered.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>Finally, this isn't data per se, but the site I probably use the most often is <a href="" target="_blank"><strong></strong></a> I head over there something like 20 or 30 times a day. It's fantastically better than any printed thesaurus because you can quickly hyperlink through synonyms until you find just the right one. I use it so much that I have it set up as one of the standard searches in my browser's address bar.</li> </ul><p>I'm probably forgetting a few places that I use a lot. I'll update this post if any come to mind.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:46:21 +0000 Kevin Drum 326461 at Trump Lashes Out at "Fake News Media" and Anonymous Sources at Conservative Gathering <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>President Donald Trump excoriated the "fake news media"&mdash;a category he has previously used to describe such outlets as the <em>New York Times</em>, CNN, and the <em>Washington Post</em>&mdash;during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday for reporting stories that portray his increasingly tumultuous administration in a negative light.</p> <p>"I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are," Trump said. "There are some terrible dishonest people and they do a tremendous disservice to our country."</p> <p>He specifically railed against reporters' use of anonymous sources and demanded that people who leak information to the press instead criticize him to his "face."</p> <p>"I'm against the people that make up stories and make up sources," he said. "They shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name. Let their name be put out there."</p> <p>The remarks come just hours after White House officials anonymously refuted a bombshell <a href="" target="_blank">CNN story</a>, which reported that the White House had asked the FBI to dispute recent evidence that Trump aides had communicated with Russian officials throughout the presidential election. Trump himself has also touted anonymous sources to underscore his conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that <a href="">@BarackObama</a>'s birth certificate is a fraud.</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="">August 6, 2012</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>The president reiterated his commitment to building a border wall and repealing Obamacare. He also pledged to continue working to deport the "bad dudes" living in the country and to put "its own citizens first."</p> <p>"They're not coming back in, folks," he said.</p> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="343" scrolling="no" src=";width=630&amp;show_text=false&amp;appId=265569630491558&amp;height=343" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Politics Donald Trump Fri, 24 Feb 2017 16:27:32 +0000 Inae Oh 326451 at Bannon Gives Team Trump a New Rallying Cry: "Deconstruct the Administrative State" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Steve Bannon says that President Trump appointed all his cabinet members with a common goal: "deconstruction of the administrative state." <a href="" target="_blank">Meaning what?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Meaning the system of <strong>taxes, regulations and trade pacts</strong> that the president says have stymied economic growth and <strong>infringed upon U.S. sovereignty.</strong> Bannon says that the post-World War II political and economic consensus is failing and should be replaced with a system that empowers ordinary people over coastal elites and international institutions.</p> <p>At the core, Bannon said in his remarks, is a belief that &ldquo;we&rsquo;re a nation with an economy &mdash; not an economy just in some global marketplace with open borders, <strong>but we are a nation with a culture and a reason for being.</strong>&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Oh. Bannon is supposedly the brains behind the Trump operation, but this still sounds like gibberish to me. Combined with his calls for increased "sovereignty," "economic nationalism," and an epic twilight battle against Arabs for the soul of humanity, I assume this is just a politically correct phrase that describes his personal jihad against non-Christianity without quite saying so. In particular, Bannon's "deconstruction" appears to encompass a war against Muslims, secular humanists, liberal Catholics, and maybe Jews. But it's so crude to say that out loud, isn't it?</p> <p>In any case, I eagerly await huge crowds of Trump supporters waving signs that say "Deconstruct the Administrative State!!!" What will the competing signs say?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Feb 2017 15:24:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 326446 at White House Offers Excuse For Improper Behavior: The FBI Started It <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The White House has an official excuse for asking the FBI to debunk a <em>New York Times</em> story about Trump campaign aides having frequent contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Here it is: They started it. That is, the FBI approached them, not the other way around.</p> <p>I guess that's appropriate for the Trump administration, which is best thought of as an overgrown kindergartner. However, <a href="" target="_blank">First Read isn't sure this defense does them any favors:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>This White House explanation raises the question: <strong>So what's worse &mdash; the White House asking the FBI to publicly knock down a story, or the FBI pulling aside a top White House official to comment on the big story of the day?</strong> Just ask yourself: If you substituted Clinton's and Lynch's names for Priebus' and McCabe's, would the congressional hearings already be scheduled?</p> </blockquote> <p>Yep. And if an FBI official really did pull aside Reince Priebus to whisper in his ear that the <em>Times</em> story was wrong, that still suggests an improper relationship between the FBI and the White House. In any case, First Read goes on to suggest that the <em>Times</em> wasn't all that wrong anyway. Here is Ken Dilanian:</p> <blockquote> <p>"NBC News was told by law enforcement and intelligence sources that the NYT story WAS wrong &mdash; in its use of the term 'Russian intelligence officials.' <strong>Our sources say there were contacts with Russians, but that the US hasn't confirmed they work for spy agencies.</strong> We were also told CNN's description of Trump aides being in 'constant touch' with Russians was overstated. However, our sources did tell us that <strong>intelligence intercepts picked up contacts among Trump aides and Russians during the campaign.</strong>"</p> </blockquote> <p>Of course, the <em>Times</em> may have different sources telling them different things. One way or another, it appears that Trump aides were in periodic contact with Russian officials during the campaign, and the only questions are: (a) were they intelligence officials? and (b) how often did they talk? Considering Trump's bizarre fixation on Vladimir Putin and his administration's obvious panic over this story, a good guess is that there really is something there they want to keep under wraps.</p> <p>And just for a final comical effect, after asking the FBI to leak information to the press, Trump himself then took to Twitter to complain about the FBI being unable to stop leaks:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security "leakers" that have permeated our government for a long time. They can't even......</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="">February 24, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="">February 24, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Do you laugh or cry? We're going to be asking ourselves that a lot, I think. Only 204 weeks to go.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Feb 2017 14:35:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 326441 at