MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/wp-login.phphttps%3A/motherjones.com/files/images/Adnkronos%20International http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en The Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Seems Like A Real Peach http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/05/russia-sure-seems-like-a-terrible-place <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">It's not Russia that threatens the West. Its foundations will crash down under the pressure of ISIS and gays (cont) <a href="http://t.co/BqUrojUxod">http://t.co/BqUrojUxod</a></p> &mdash; Dmitry Rogozin (@DRogozin) <a href="https://twitter.com/DRogozin/status/602757574237278208">May 25, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Contributor Wed, 27 May 2015 04:05:00 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 275916 at http://www.motherjones.com How Bernie Sanders Learned to Be a Real Politician http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/young-bernie-sanders-liberty-union-vermont <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Sometime in the late 1970s, after he'd had a kid, divorced his college sweetheart, lost four elections for statewide offices, and been evicted from his home on Maple Street in Burlington, Vermont, Bernie Sanders moved in with a friend named Richard Sugarman. Sanders, a restless political activist and armchair psychologist with a penchant for arguing his theories late into the night, found a sounding board in the young scholar, who taught philosophy at the nearby University of Vermont. At the time, Sanders was struggling to square his revolutionary zeal with his overwhelming rejection at the polls&mdash;and this was reflected in a regular ritual. Many mornings, Sanders would greet his roommate with a simple statement: "We're not crazy."</p> <p>"I'd say, 'Bernard, maybe the first thing you should say is 'Good morning' or something,'" Sugarman recalls. "But he'd say, 'We're. Not. Crazy.'"</p> <p>Sanders eventually got a place of his own, found his way, and in 1981 was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont's largest city&mdash;the start of an improbable political career that led him to Congress, and soon, he hopes, the White House. On Tuesday, after more than three decades as a self-described independent socialist, the septuagenarian senator launched his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in the Vermont city where this long, strange trip began. But it was during Sanders' first turbulent decade in Vermont that he discovered it wasn't enough to hold lofty ideas and wait for the world to fall in line; in the Green Mountains, he learned how to be a politician.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/05/young-bernie-sanders-liberty-union-vermont"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Elections Top Stories bernie sanders Tue, 26 May 2015 23:02:27 +0000 Tim Murphy 275791 at http://www.motherjones.com OMG Look At These Adorable Baby Bears Boxing Each Other. I Want To Hug Them Forever. http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/05/it-would-be-such-an-adorable-blood-sport-if-we-made-baby-bears-box-for-our-amusement <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Department of the Interior just <a href="https://twitter.com/Interior/status/603327823001026563" target="_blank">tweeted</a> this Vine and it is so cute that I want to die. I am dead. I am blogging from the afterlife.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="630" src="https://vine.co/v/ebAg1Piw9bh/embed/simple" width="630"></iframe><script src="https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js"></script></p> <p>Goodnight and good luck.</p></body></html> Contributor Tue, 26 May 2015 22:53:31 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 275906 at http://www.motherjones.com Qatar Is Treating Its World Cup Workers Like Slaves: Nepal Earthquake Edition http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/05/world-cup-qatar-nepal-earthquake-soccer <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>We're still seven years away from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but it seems like the event has been buried under bad news for a decade: everything from allegations of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/06/fifa-world-cup-scandals-brazil-qatar" target="_blank">bribery</a> and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/10/world-cup-human-rights-abuses-brazil-russia-qatar" target="_blank">corruption</a> to <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/17/qatar-world-cup-worker-amnesty-report" target="_blank">terrible human rights violations.</a> And it doesn't look like it's getting better anytime soon.</p> <p>The latest in a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/06/fifa-world-cup-scandals-brazil-qatar" target="_blank">string</a> of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/10/world-cup-human-rights-abuses-brazil-russia-qatar" target="_blank">embarrassments</a>? Qatar's <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/24/qatar-denies-nepalese-world-cup-workers-leave-after-earthquakes" target="_blank">reported refusal</a> to grant bereavement leave to the roughly 400,000 migrant workers from Nepal building stadiums for the World Cup following the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/may/25/nepal-one-month-after-earthquake-emotional-impact-devastating" target="_blank">more than 8,000 countrymen</a>. As a result, many Nepalese workers instead must mourn from construction sites in Qatar.</p> <p>On Saturday, the <em>Guardian</em> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/24/qatar-denies-nepalese-world-cup-workers-leave-after-earthquakes" target="_blank">reported</a> that the Nepalese government called on FIFA and its sponsors to compel Qatar to grant a short-term leave for Nepalese migrant workers and improve conditions for the 1.5 million workers from throughout South Asia. But the Persian Gulf state rebuffed that request, Nepalese labor minister Tek Bahadur Gurung told the <em>Guardian</em>: "Those on World Cup construction sites are not being allowed to leave because of the pressure to complete projects on time."</p> <p>Qatari officials challenged that claim, noting that the nation had granted temporary leave to more than 500 Nepalese workers. That's roughly 0.1 percent of the Nepalese&nbsp;migrant workers on the stadium construction project.</p> <p>The latest <em>Guardian </em>report adds to the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/10/world-cup-human-rights-abuses-brazil-russia-qatar" target="_blank">mounting criticism</a> from <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/articles/news/2015/05/mounting-risk-of-world-cup-built-on-abuse-as-qatar-fails-to-deliver-reforms/" target="_blank">human rights organizations</a>, <a href="http://www.ibtimes.com/fifa-2022-world-cup-sponsors-visa-adidas-coca-cola-concerned-over-qatars-labor-1932365" target="_blank">corporate sponsors</a>, and foreign officials on Qatar's World Cup preparations. A 2013 <em>Guardian</em> investigation <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/26/qatar-world-cup-migrant-workers-dead" target="_blank">estimated</a><strong>&nbsp;</strong>that at least 4,000 migrant workers, who face dire <a href="http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11019010" target="_blank">working and living conditions</a> and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jul/29/qatar-world-cup-stadium-workers-earn-45p-hour" target="_blank">meager pay</a>, will die before kickoff in 2022. Squalid conditions already have led to more than 1,200 worker deaths since Qatar won its 2010 bid to host the World Cup, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/23/qatar-nepal-workers-world-cup-2022-death-toll-doha" target="_blank">including</a> at least 157 Nepalese workers in 2014. (Nepalese workers <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/23/qatar-nepal-workers-world-cup-2022-death-toll-doha" target="_blank">have died at a rate</a> of one every two days.)</p> <p>Despite <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/fifa-qatar-2022-world-cup-3002734" target="_blank">calls to move</a> the event to another host country, FIFA President Sepp Blatter <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/dec/23/sepp-blatter-qatar-2022-world-cup-too-little-too-late" target="_blank">has guaranteed</a> that the 2022 World Cup will take place as scheduled. In fact, Qatari labor minister Abudullah bin Saleh al-Khulaifi said in May the nation would need more workers to complete the $220 billion stadium and infrastructure construction projects by 2022.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the&nbsp;2018 World Cup in Russia&nbsp;isn't exactly shaping up to be a model event, either: On Monday, Russian officials <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/05/25/world/europe/ap-soc-wcup-russian-prison-labor.html?_r=1&amp;gwh=753D7BEA0E64ED2153CEB563BD154D99&amp;gwt=pay" target="_blank">announced</a> plans to transport prisoners from camps to work at factories in an effort to drive down the World Cup's cost.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Human Rights International Sports World Cup 2022 Tue, 26 May 2015 21:39:08 +0000 Edwin Rios 275836 at http://www.motherjones.com Judges Are Just Extensions of Political Parties These Days http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/judges-are-just-extensions-political-parties-these-days <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>From a post by Dara Lind about a court ruling on <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/5/26/8662523/immigration-fifth-circuit" target="_blank">President Obama's immigration plan:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The two Republican-appointed judges hearing the case sided against the administration, while the Democratic-appointed judge on the panel sided with the White House.</p> </blockquote> <p>How many times have we read sentences exactly like this? It's a wonder that anyone in the country still believes that federal judges are honest brokers these days.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 26 May 2015 21:33:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 275866 at http://www.motherjones.com Bernie Sanders Has the Most Glorious 404 Error Page Ever http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/05/bernie-sanders-404-error-page <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Think you've landed on the wrong page of Bernie Sanders' campaign site? Fear not. In order to help guide you back<span class="message_content"> to the page you were trying to reach, </span>Sanders, who just announced his presidential bid,&nbsp;created the most terrific <a href="https://berniesanders.com/wtf" target="_blank">error page</a> of any 2016 candidate. Just take a look:</p> <center> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Dhot2OJKKZc" width="630"></iframe></p> </center> <p>Follow his directions: "Just scoot down to the bottom of the page and you'll find your way back home to where you should be!" The site is further enhanced by the perfect URL: <em>berniesanders.com/wtf</em>.</p> <p>Bravo, Bernie. <span class="message_content">The broken links may have turned into your first big win. </span></p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Tue, 26 May 2015 20:38:29 +0000 Inae Oh 275851 at http://www.motherjones.com Remembering Powerhouse Photographer Mary Ellen Mark http://www.motherjones.com/media/2015/05/mary-ellen-mark-photos-mother-jones <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I found out about the death of photographer <a href="http://www.maryellenmark.com/" target="_blank">Mary Ellen Mark</a> the way we learn about the passing of anyone these days&mdash;Facebook. My feed is currently flooded with condolences, remembrances, and laminations for Mark, who died yesterday at age 75.</p> <p>Mark was a powerhouse photographer, a true legend. Her early '80s project on homeless youth, <a href="http://www.maryellenmark.com/books/titles/streetwise/index001_stwise.html" target="_blank"><em>Streetwise</em></a>, remains a canon of documentary photography. In the late '80s and '90s, Mark's work graced the pages of <em>Mother Jones</em> numerous times. Art Director Kerry Tremain made great use of her, both picking up archival images and making assignments such as portraits of journalist I.F. Stone and hip-hop mogul <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2003/09/heeding-hip-hops-higher-calling" target="_blank">Russell Simmons</a>.</p> <p>Mark's work was also featured early in the <em>Mother Jones</em> Fine Prints and Portfolios program, which led to the creation of the <em>Mother Jones</em> Documentary Photo Fund. Her print was part of the New York Portfolio I, alongside other heavy hitters like Nan Goldin, Duane Michaels, Ralph Gibson, and Inge Morath. (Sorry, we no longer have any of the print portfolios.)</p> <p>No doubt there will be many eulogies and recollections of Mark and the impact she made on photography, particularly on social documentary photography, the kind of photography that's been our bread and butter here.</p> <p>Though it's a just a shallow slice of her deep legacy, here's a collection of some of Mark's work for <em>Mother Jones</em>.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/ifstone-sept89-crop.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>I.F. Stone, September 1989</strong></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/MJ092__12680.p1-crop.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Russell Simmons, November 2003 </strong></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/mem-15thanniversary_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong><em>Mother Jones</em> 15th anniversary issue, 1991 </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/mem-msnov901-crop.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Story on <em>Ms.</em> magazine, November 1990 </strong></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/mem-msnov902-crop.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Story on <em>Ms.</em> magazine, November 1990</strong></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/novdec92-crop.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Jessica Mitford and Maya Angelou, November 1992 </strong></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" height="691" src="/files/mem-cover.jpg" width="524"><div class="caption"><strong>"Hollywood's Washington" cover, January 1991 </strong></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And here's a short piece that Leica produced on Mark:</p> <center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4w2aaO9WYh4?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></center></body></html> Mixed Media Tue, 26 May 2015 20:33:36 +0000 Mark Murrmann 275841 at http://www.motherjones.com This Is the Unprecedented New Law France Just Passed to Eliminate Supermarket Waste http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/05/france-supermarket-food-waste-ban <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Thursday, France's parliament unanimously approved a <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/french-parliament-cracks-supermarket-waste-31227139" target="_blank">new law</a> prohibiting large supermarkets from throwing out unsold food,&nbsp;instead mandating stores donate any surplus groceries to charities or for animal feed use.</p> <p>The law, which aims to reduce waste in a country where people trash up to <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/france-food-waste-supermarkets-150522070410772.html" target="_blank">30 kilos of food</a> per person annually, is part of a more general energy and&nbsp; environmental bill.</p> <p>"There's an absolute urgency&mdash;charities are desperate for food," MP <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/22/france-to-force-big-supermarkets-to-give-away-unsold-food-to-charity" target="_blank">Yves J&eacute;go said.</a> "The most moving part of this law is that it opens us up to others who are suffering."</p> <p>The new regulations will also ban the common practice of intentionally destroying unsold food by bleaching it&mdash;a process meant to prevent people from searching for food in dumpsters, which has lead to lawsuits after people became sick from eating spoiled food.</p> <p>Now, the local politician who sparked the law's creation is hoping other countries will adopt similar bans on supermarket waste. Arash Derambarsh, who slammed such bleaching practices as "scandalous" to the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/25/french-supermarkets-donate-food-waste-global-law-campaign" target="_blank"><em>Guardian</em></a>, will take his campaign to a United Nations' summit discussing ways to end poverty this November.</p> <p>In the United States, <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123095923.htm" target="_blank">nearly half </a>of all food goes uneaten and sent to landfills.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Food and Ag International Tue, 26 May 2015 18:39:05 +0000 Inae Oh 275821 at http://www.motherjones.com Ted Cruz's Iowa Chairman Spent $250K to Stop People From Voting http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/ted-cruz-matt-schultz-iowa-chairman-voter-id <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Ted Cruz's presidential ambitions may well live or die with the Iowa Republican caucuses. In recent years, the Hawkeye State has served as the launching pad for candidates courting social conservatives, handing caucus wins to Rick Santorum in 2012 and Mike Huckabee in 2008. The Texas senator hasn't been too subtle in his attempts to claim the same mantle. Cruz announced his campaign in March at Liberty University&mdash;founded by Jerry Falwell, the late televangelist who once <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2007/05/worst-jerry-falwell">suggested</a> 9/11 was God's punishment for homosexuality and abortion&mdash;and during an initial trip to Iowa for a "Faith and Freedom Coalition" conference Cruz <a href="http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/headlines/20150426-faithful-flock-to-gop-forum-in-iowa.ece">argued</a> for allowing Christian symbols in public spaces. But perhaps his best play so far has been snagging former Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz to be his state chairman there, considering that three years ago Schultz was a <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/12/iowas-secretary-of-state-matt-schultz-to-endorse-rick-santorum/" target="_blank">prominent supporter</a> of Santorum, who is about to announce his 2016 presidential bid.</p> <p>By tapping Schultz, Cruz also tied himself to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/10/iowa-voter-fraud">Schultz's leading cause</a>: trying to restrict voting under the guise of combating voter fraud. During his four years as secretary of state, Schultz spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to unearth evidence of fraud but ended up finding little and being cited for the mismanagement of public funds.</p> <p>Schultz was a little-known political figure in 2010, when he vaulted from two terms on the Council Bluffs City Council to be elected secretary of state. At 31 years old, he was the youngest person ever to hold that title. It was a small campaign, with just $100,000 spent on his Republican primary contest and the general election. He campaigned for tightening up Iowa's voting procedures, creating strict photo ID laws, and scaling back the state's same-day voter registration policy.</p> <p>Thanks to a Democratic majority in the state Senate, Iowa held off on passing any sort of photo ID voting requirement. Schultz may have failed to get that measure past the state Legislature, but on his own he went to great lengths to prove that voter fraud was a menace to the state's electoral system.</p> <p>He spent more than $250,000 to fund a full-time investigator tasked with uncovering voter fraud. The investigator produced only six successful prosecutions during two years on the job. A 2014 <a href="http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/iowa-politics/2014/05/08/iowa-secretary-of-state-voter-fraud-report-matt-schultz/8858595/">report</a> issued by Schultz's office recorded only 117 suspected cases of illegal voting during a two-year period, 27 of which led to charges. Yet Schultz's investigation inadvertently showed that the system shuts out almost as many legitimate voters, as the report noted that 20 ex-felons who should have been allowed to vote were turned away from the polls.</p> <p>Schultz paid for that investigator with funds provided by the federal government's Help America Vote Act, a 2002 law intended to make access to the ballot <em>easier</em>, not more restrictive. In 2013, the state auditor's office <a href="http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2013/12/19/state-auditor-warns-secretary-of-state-schultz-on-use-of-federal-funds-for-voter-fraud-investigations">sent a letter</a> to Schultz suggesting that he may have been misusing those federal funds&mdash;fighting voter fraud wasn't on the list of approved uses for this money&mdash;and the auditor recommended that Schultz come up with a plan to repay the funds.</p> <p>Schultz took other steps to restrict voting. Shortly before the 2012 election, he tried to purge state voter rolls of more than 3,500 people who he claimed were illegal voters after his office checked their names against national immigration databases and supposedly determined they weren't citizens. Iowa judges repeatedly <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/03/06/3369671/judge-nixes-iowa-voter-purge-warning-of-irreparable-harm/">rejected</a> this move as an illegal overreach of Schultz's powers, and civil rights groups objected that his methods would sweep out legitimate voters alongside those who weren't eligible to vote. The legal process dragged on for years. Resolution didn't arrive until this past March, when Schultz's successor as secretary of state, Republican Paul Pate, <a href="http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2015/03/13/voter-registration-lawsuit-resolved-rules-invalidated/70280104/">dropped</a> an appeal to the state Supreme Court that Schultz had initiated.</p> <p>Schultz framed his voter fraud fight as a necessary step for Republicans who want to enact conservative policy. "There are a whole lot of issues that we care about, abortion, gay marriage, a whole lot of social issues that we care deeply about," Schultz said at a 2013 conference in Iowa, <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/04/17/1879111/matt-schultz-voter-id/">caught on tape</a> by <em>ThinkProgress</em>. "But you have to start caring about voter ID and election integrity as well, because if you don't have that, you'll never be able to make a difference in any other issue you care about. Never. Because they will cheat! They'll cheat. And we need to make sure we stop them."</p> <p>Instead of seeking reelection as secretary of state in 2014, Schultz ran for an open congressional seat. He was the <a href="http://www.teapartyexpress.org/8004/meet-matt-schultz-candidate-for-iowas-3rd-congressional-district">favorite</a> of the conservative base in that race, but the once-rising star of the party finished third in a field of six candidates in the GOP primary. After that, Schultz lowered his ambitions and won a race to become Madison County attorney in November.</p> <p>Cruz's views on voter ID don't seem far off from Schultz's. In 2013, while the Senate was debating a comprehensive overhaul of the country's immigration laws, Cruz <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/scotus-voter-id-ted-cruz-92931.html">introduced</a> an amendment that would have allowed states to require "proof of citizenship" photo ID laws. That same summer, Cruz <a href="http://www.cruz.senate.gov/?p=press_release&amp;id=93">applauded</a> the Supreme Court's decision to strike down key parts of the Voting Rights Act, a decision that has <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/republican-voting-rights-supreme-court-id">opened</a> the floodgates for voter-suppression laws across the country.</p> <p>By snatching Schultz away from Santorum, Cruz has boosted his appeal to Iowa social conservatives, especially those who share the notion that voter fraud is a real and present danger.</p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Elections Ted Cruz Top Stories voter suppression Tue, 26 May 2015 18:36:47 +0000 Patrick Caldwell 275661 at http://www.motherjones.com How Many US Troops Will Be In Iraq By the Time Obama Leaves Office? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/how-many-us-troops-will-be-iraq-time-obama-leaves-office <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Over the past few days I've been trying to catch up with the fall of Ramadi and what it means for the war against ISIS. But it's not easy figuring out what really happened.</p> <p>According to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Ramadi was <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/05/24/us/politics/ap-us-united-states-iraq-.html?_r=0" target="_blank">yet another debacle for the Iraqi military:</a> <strong>"What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight.</strong> They were not outnumbered; in fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. That says to me, and I think <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ramadi_isis.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves."</p> <p>The inevitable Kenneth Pollack, however, <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/markaz/posts/2015/05/22-iraq-ramadi-isis-islamic-state-washington" target="_blank">says that just isn't the case:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I think it important to start by putting the fall of Ramadi in its proper perspective. Da&rsquo;ish [ISIS] forces have been battling for Ramadi since December 2013, so while the denouement may have come somewhat suddenly and unexpectedly, this is not a new front in the war and it ultimately took Da&rsquo;ish a very long time to take the city. Although Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) did eventually retreat from the town and abandoned at least some heavy weapons doing so, <strong>most reports indicate they fell back to defensive positions outside the town. They did not simply drop their guns and run pell-mell, as many did in June 2014.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>So what does Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi think? He's certain that Carter was fed bad information. Iraqi troops, he says, are just fine: "They have the will to fight, but when they are faced with an onslaught by [the Islamic State] from nowhere . . . with armored trucks packed with explosives &mdash; <strong>the effect of them is like a small nuclear bomb &mdash; it gives a very, very bad effect on our forces,&rdquo;</strong> he said.</p> <p>Contra Pollack, then, Abadi thinks ISIS did indeed come "from nowhere." Also, he wants us to know that his troops have the will to fight, but not when facing an enemy that uses actual weapons. Or something.</p> <p>Beyond this, all the usual suspects blame the whole thing on President Obama and his usual weak-kneed reluctance to support our friends overseas. Unfortunately, that matters, regardless of whether or not it's just reflexive partisan nonsense. When it's loud enough and persistent enough, it starts to congeal into conventional wisdom. And if conventional wisdom says that things aren't going well in the war against ISIS, then the pressure to <em>do something</em> ratchets up steadily&mdash;and not just from the usual suspects. The pressure also comes in more reasonable form from sympathetic critics. For example <a href="http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0524-mcmanus-isis-strategy-20150524-column.html" target="_blank">here, </a>from Doyle McManus of the <em>LA Times</em>, and <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/markaz/posts/2014/09/26-pollack-assessing-obama-administration-iraq-syria-strategy" target="_blank">here,</a> from Pollack himself.</p> <p>Zack Beauchamp thinks this friendly criticism matters a lot. <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/5/26/8657965/isis-pollack" target="_blank">Here he is responding to Pollack's piece:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>First, Pollack is right on certain points. For example, the US campaign to equip some Sunni fighters hasn't panned out very well....Second, critics like Pollack are going to jack up the pressure on the administration to put American troops in harm's way. Pollack wants Obama to put American forces on the front lines to more accurately call in US airstrikes. He blames the administration's insistence "that not a single American be killed in this fight" for why this hasn't happened.</p> <p>It's true that the administration has strongly resisted putting American troops in combat positions. That's because they're trying very hard to avoid slouching toward another Iraq war, with a large and growing US combat force that very well might do more harm than good. No combat troops is a red line designed to prevent that escalation.</p> <p>....The foreign policy consensus in Washington is relatively hawkish, so problems with US interventions tend to be seen as problems resulting from not using enough force or committing enough resources. The more the elite consensus shifts against Obama, the more political pressure to escalate will mount. Obama probably will resist it, but the costs of doing so are going up &mdash; as Pollack's piece demonstrates.</p> </blockquote> <p>So now I feel like I've caught up a bit on this. And it hardly matters. It's the same old stuff. On the surface, everyone agrees that this is an Iraqi fight and Iraqis need to fight it. But of course our training of Iraqi troops is woefully inadequate&mdash;something that should come as no surprise to anyone who remembers that a decade wasn't long enough to train Iraqi troops back when George Bush was running things. If Obama could make it happen within a few months, he really would be a miracle worker.</p> <p>But if our training mission isn't working, the alternative is wearily obvious: more American boots on the ground&mdash;which is to say, on the front lines. And again, this comes as no surprise. Anyone who was paying attention knew that Obama's lightweight training-first strategy was likely to take years. We also knew that virtually no one in Washington has that kind of patience. Six months is the usual limit. So even among centrists and moderate hawks, pressure is going to grow to adopt a more aggressive strategy. And that means more Americans fighting on the front lines. And when that isn't enough, even more Americans.</p> <p>Can Obama resist this pressure? If anyone can, it would be him. But I'm not sure that even he can hold out for too long.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 26 May 2015 17:10:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 275816 at http://www.motherjones.com