What's responsible for Baltimore's problems? Republicans need answers other than "massive economic inequality, racism, and police violence," and when Republicans need answers but can't admit what the real problems are, they turn to a familiar set of scapegoats. Take Wall Street Journal editorial board member and columnist Kimberley Strassel's answer to Chuck Todd's question "how should the business community be responding to Baltimore?" Strassel quickly pivoted: "They want to be able to help in this situation, but ..."
The reality, there has been a kind of common plan in a lot of these cities, which is what John Boehner was referring to. There have been a lot of policies out there that you see replicated across these cities, of sort of central planning, lots of money being poured in from both the state and the federal level, but you still have a failing education system dominated by public sector unions, teachers unions, you've still got high crime and high unemployment.
And if you could fix all that, then maybe the business sector would care to invest. Voila!
The truth is that central planning has been a factor in creating the problems of cities like Baltimore. Specifically, decades of government-sponsored segregation created a hell of a lot of problems and prevented black families from building and passing through generations the kind of wealth that white families have.
As for Baltimore's failing education system dominated by teachers unions—a point that, precisely because it comes out of nowhere in Strassel's response, we know is an important one, something she worked to get in there—we need to talk about two things here. One is that, nationally, states where the teachers are unionized have better educational outcomes than states where they are not. This is not mostly because of teachers unions, it's because states that have unions also tend to have other characteristics that are good for education, but it's certainly a reason to be suspicious anytime someone tries to tell you that teachers unions hurt education.
Second, the big thing that affects educational outcomes—The. Big. Thing.—is family income. If you want to make a solid guess about how "effective" an area's schools and teachers are, find out its average income. Does Kimberley Strassel really think that if you took the teachers from the highest-performing schools in non-union states and put them in Baltimore, working under the rules they work under in their home states, suddenly Baltimore schools would have the outcomes of the best schools in the wealthiest towns in Georgia or Texas? Like hell she does, if she's being honest. But the right's crusade against teachers unions trumps honesty about what's going on in Baltimore's schools.
Is this Mitt Romney's big legacy? Republican presidential candidates are straining to show that they really, really care about people who aren't rich. And it is a strain, since they certainly can't offer up any policies they support that would help the non-rich. There are those who use their own biographies to argue that they care:
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida praises his parents, a bartender and a Kmart stock clerk, as he urges audiences not to forget “the workers in our hotel kitchens, the landscaping crews in our neighborhoods, the late-night janitorial staff that clean our offices.”
Don't forget them, but don't do anything nuts like raise the minimum wage so many of them are paid, or support paid leave or affordable health care.
There are also those Republican candidates who can't run on biography, so they just make broad claims and hope no one asks for details:
On a visit last week to Puerto Rico, Mr. Bush sounded every bit the populist, railing against “elites” who have stifled economic growth and innovation. In the kind of economy he envisions leading, he said: “We wouldn’t have the middle being squeezed. People in poverty would have a chance to rise up. And the social strains that exist — because the haves and have-nots is the big debate in our country today — would subside.”
So ... free college? Strengthening regulations on Wall Street? Taxing the rich and using the revenue to invest in infrastructure, creating lots of good construction jobs? Yeah, I didn't think so.
There's a cliche in writing that may need to become a cliche in politics: Show, don't tell. Don't tell me you care about non-rich people, show me. In policy, not by showing up at a soup kitchen and washing dishes that aren't dirty.
Former President Bill Clinton is pushing back against the attacks on the Clinton Foundation's fundraising, pointing to the side of the story the media is less interested in telling: what the foundation does, including:
... good works like the "Wings to Fly" program that has helped 10,000 poor kids in Kenya attend high school.
The program has been a whopping success, with 94 percent of the kids graduating and 98 percent of them going on to college. [...]
While in Tanzania, he and 20 of the foundation's big donors also visited the Anchor Farm Project which is expected to produce huge yields of maize and soy and to help locals learn new agricultural techniques. They connected with a group called "Solar Sisters" that empowers women by selling environmentally friendly products such as solar lights and cook stoves.
They are headed Monday to Liberia — where they helped the government combat HIV/AIDS and coordinated delivery of medical equipment and supplies during the Ebola epidemic — to see several survivors.
Instead, the media has been fixating on the story being spread by Republican operative Peter Schweizer in his book Clinton Cash, a story centered on speculation that donations to the Clinton Foundation and speaking fees for Bill Clinton were used to influence Hillary Clinton in her time heading the State Department. While the Clinton Foundation has made a few mistakes in its reporting of contributions from foreign governments, Bill Clinton points out that:
"The guy that filled out the forms made an error," he said. "Now that is a bigger problem, according to the press, than the other people running for president willing to take dark money, secret money, secret from beginning to end."
Like Jeb Bush, who's delaying his official entry into the presidential race so he can keep coordinating with his super PAC and is even talking about outsourcing traditional campaign functions to the super PAC. Bush's family has also trailed the Clintons on disclosing donors to the foundations of its two former presidents—David Corn points out that the foundation supporting George H.W. Bush's library did not disclose donors while his son was president, and neither that nor George W. Bush's equivalent foundation is disclosing donors while Jeb is running for president.
But for some mysterious reason, the media seems more interested in talking about Peter Schweizer's weak allegations than about the holes in those allegations, or Bush family fundraising practices, or any of the stuff the Clinton Foundation is doing with the money it takes in.
The vast Republican presidential field is quickly shifting from one composed mostly of likely candidates to one of candidates who are all in. These days that's a largely technical distinction having more to do with whether a candidate wants to focus on fundraising for a super PAC or an official campaign than with whether they've actually decided to run for president, but in any case, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and failed tech executive Carly Fiorina have made the jump into actual-candidate status, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is expected to do so Tuesday. It's very exciting.
Republican observers are especially enthused by the entrance of Carson, the only African-American in the field, and Fiorina, who’s likely to be the only female GOP candidate, to bring added diversity to a field that already includes two Cuban Americans in Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas).
“The diversity is great,” said GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak. “It shows we’re a much broader party than the caricature some try to put on us.”
No, it shows you're a party that's willing to embrace tokens if they sound like every other Republican. We went through this with Sarah Palin in 2008, remember? Where Republicans get all excited about a completely unqualified candidate because said candidate puts an unexpected face on the same damn positions, while the party in no way shifts toward the interests of the groups they're supposedly trying to appeal to with that candidate?
So what do we have here? Ben Carson was apparently a great neurosurgeon, but the reason Republicans think he'd make a good presidential candidate is that in 2013 he made a speech criticizing President Obama's policies at the National Prayer Breakfast with Obama in the room. Carly Fiorina's tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard was a notorious failure, and she subsequently lost a Senate race, but boy does she like to criticize Hillary Clinton, specifically doing so as a woman. See a pattern here?
In the giant Republican field, Carson is polling seventh nationally and in New Hampshire and sixth in Iowa, which means the Republican Party has a chance of being able to write its debate eligibility rules to get him on the state. Fiorina, however, is mired so far at the bottom of the pack it may be best to describe it as "below Bobby Jindal" territory.
This week, in honor of Workers Memorial Day, the AFL-CIO released its Death on the Job report. Some facts:
In 2013, 4,585 workers were killed on the job in the United States, and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases, resulting in a loss of 150 workers each day from hazardous working conditions.
Nearly 3.8 million work-related injuries and illnesses were reported, but many injuries
are not reported. The true toll is likely two to three times greater, or 7.6 million to 11.4 million injuries each year.
Over the past four years, the job fatality rate has declined slightly each year, with a rate of 3.3 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2013 compared with a rate of 3.6 per 100,000 workers in 2010. [...]
Latino workers continue to be at increased risk of job fatalities. The fatality rate among Latino workers increased in 2013 to 3.9 per 100,000 workers, up from a rate of 3.7 per 100,000 in 2012. At the same time, the number and rate of fatalities for all other races declined or stayed the same. There were 817 Latino workers killed on the job in 2013, up from 748 deaths in 2012. Sixty-six percent of the fatalities (542 deaths) in 2013 were among workers born outside the United States. There was a sharp increase in Latino deaths among grounds maintenance workers. Specifically, deaths related to tree trimming and pruning doubled among Latino workers since 2012, and 87% of the landscaping deaths among Latino workers were immigrants. [...]
Workplace violence continues to be the second leading cause of job fatalities in the United States (after transportation incidents), responsible for 773 worker deaths and 26,520 lost-time injuries in 2013. Women workers suffered 70% of the lost-time injuries related to workplace violence.
The cost of job injuries and illnesses is enormous—estimated at $250 billion to $360
billion a year.
Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's education and labor news.
In a global economy, we’ve got to help ensure that everyone, of every age, in every zip code—urban and rural—has the chance to learn the skills that lead directly to a good job.
President Obama touted his education initiatives in this morning's weekly address, including high-speed internet in schools and free community college. Delivering the address from a public library where he had met with students, Obama said:
All of us have a responsibility to not only make sure our own children have pathways to success but that all children do. And a great education is the ticket to a better life like never before. Making sure all our kids receive one is the surest way to show them that their lives matter. And it’s the smartest way to prove to them that in communities like this, and in a country like ours, we believe in opportunity for all.
If you work something close to a 9-5 schedule, a 10 p.m. curfew may be a drag. It may cramp your style on the weekend. But it's unlikely to threaten your livelihood. Thing is, the American economy does not operate on a 9-5 schedule, and Baltimore's curfew means loss of income for restaurants, bars, and other businesses and for the workers who staff them, among other potential problems:
"With a curfew, you will do more damage financially to our bars and restaurants than rioters will do," writes Liam Flynn, proprietor of Liam Flynn's Ale House, a Station North tavern not far from the CVS burned on Monday night, in an open letter to the mayor. "We have insurance for vandalism, not loss of revenue."
For Hong's part, the Thames Street Oyster House is stopping its dinner service at 7:30 p.m. While the restaurant could stay open later, Hong says he's concerned that his workers get home on time—no mean feat, given bus-service interruptions and road closures, especially in West Baltimore. Plus the hassle could be a problem for some workers.
"The mayor stated that, if you are stopped in violation of the curfew, you would be required to show an ID and a letter from your employer stating that you are traveling to or from work. I'm sure this is true across the service industry," Hong says, "but some of the staff might not have IDs that they can just pull out, whether it's due to immigration status or other concerns."
A local bartender tells Citylab's Kriston Capps that his income has fallen to one-fifth of his usual take ... and that's with the weekend coming. It's not just income and problems getting too and from work, either. An emergency-room nurse told Capps that "Emergency care is primary care for a lot of people in Baltimore" and a decline in overnight visits suggested that some people were delaying care for things they'd normally want treated.
What do you know. The New York Times and Washington Post, having entered into an agreement to base their reporting on a Republican operative's allegations against Hillary Clinton, haven't been eager to report on problems with those allegations. Continuing Media Matters' stellar coverage of Peter Schweizer and Clinton Cash, Eric Boehlert points out that:
Defending its alliance, the Post's Chris Cillizza wrote, "We are information-gatherers at heart. Our job as reporters and editors and, more broadly as an organization, is to vet all of the information that comes at us to see what should be reported, what shouldn't and what needs to be followed-up on."
But isn't there an assumption that if the Post found Clinton Cash to be filled with errors the Post would report that fact? Isn't that part of Cillizza's job as an information gatherer?
Instead, just three days ago, the Post's The Fix was still touting the significance of Clinton Cash, stressing why readers ought to pay attention to it. The write-up included no mention of the steady stream of revelations about factual missteps in the book.
Indeed, they've gone along with some dubious points: Reporting on the claim that speaking fees led Hillary Clinton to approve a deal with a Russian uranium-mining company, the New York Timesdownplayed the host of other agencies that had to sign off on the deal, not to mention the fact that Clinton did not handle the State Department's review of it. But the problems with Clinton Cash aren't restricted to speculation that doesn't pan out. Schweizer got the facts wrong in his allegation that a telecommunications company got its first USAID contracts after paying Bill Clinton for a series of speeches—it wasn't the company's first USAID contract and Clinton wasn't paid for the speeches. In another case, Schweizer relied on a hoax press release to make his point. And:
While Clinton’s stance toward India evolved over the years, a review of then-Sen. Clinton’s statements and votes while the Indian nuclear deal was under debate shows that one of the key facts in Schweizer’s argument on the topic is false — Clinton actually publicly stated her support for the deal in 2006. Another is in dispute – Schweizer writes that Clinton voted to cap India’s fissile production, when she actually voted against a measure that did that, though she did support a weaker one that imposed some limits.
You'd think the Times and the Post, having committed to reporting on Schweizer's research, might report on the problems with that research. But then again, the Times and the Post decided to take seriously opposition research by a guy who last summer spoke at a Koch brothers political strategy summit, saying that "The question is, are we going to let up? And I would contend to you that we cannot let up." Schweizer hasn't let up in his commitment to attacking Democrats. It's just too bad he's gotten two major American newspapers to let up in their commitment to reporting.
"If she were, under some theory, able to say, 'yes, I can promise you under penalty of perjury you have every single document you're entitled to,' that would probably shut off that line of inquiry," he told Capital Download. "If she can, then it will be a short conversation."
This doesn't feel like a situation where being suspicious of where he's going with this is rank cynicism. Because it's Trey Gowdy, who has been slow-walking his investigation to bring it into the election cycle, taking longer than investigations into trifling matters like Hurricane Katrina response and 9/11. Because Democrats on the committee have complained that they're being excluded from key pieces of it. Because Republicans are fundraising off of the Benghazi committee. Because believing that a House Republican is going to quit beating a dead horse is never, ever a good idea.
Jeb Bush blows the dog whistle. Asked if policymakers could "help turn back" a "rising tide of family breakdown," Bush answered:
"Absolutely, there is," Bush, a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said. "It's not exactly the core. My views on this were shaped a lot on this by Charles Murray's book, except I was reading the book and I was waiting for the last chapter with the really cool solutions — didn't quite get there."
Later in the interview, Lowry asked Bush what he likes to read. Again, he cited Murray.
"I like Charles Murray books to be honest with you, which means I'm a total nerd I guess," Bush said.
In case you're not attuned to the "Charles Murray" dog whistle, here's Andrew Hacker in The New York Review of Books listing a couple of Murray's greatest hits:
Charles Murray has written another book about race. Much as The Bell Curve argued that many human beings of African heritage were genetically less intelligent than most whites, so Coming Apart addresses the deficiencies of Americans of European origin. He charges large swaths of “white America”—his designation—with indolence, self-indulgence, and failing to understand the nation’s “founding virtues” of honesty, industriousness, marriage, and religion.
The large swaths of white America Murray finds deficient are the ones in the bottom 30 percent of the income ladder, naturally. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Murray uses:
... racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women and the poor. According to Murray, disadvantaged groups are disadvantaged because, on average, they cannot compete with white men, who are intellectually, psychologically and morally superior. Murray advocates the total elimination of the welfare state, affirmative action and the Department of Education, arguing that public policy cannot overcome the innate deficiencies that cause unequal social and educational outcomes.
In short, Bush is saying "I'm a racist who also thinks poor white people deserve poverty—basically I'm for the supremacy of rich white dudes—but I like to put an intellectual veneer on it."
House Republicans voted Thursday to block a Washington, D.C., law preventing employers from firing people for their reproductive health decisions. It wasn't just a vote in support of the boss's right to discriminate, it was also a vote against local democratic governance. Which is exactly what Hillary Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri pointed out in a statement:
... calling it an effort to "overrule the Democratic process" in D.C. and promising Clinton would do better by women.
"Hillary Clinton has fought for women and families and their right to access the full range of reproductive health care without interference from politicians or employers," Palmieri said. "Hillary will fight to make it easier, not more difficult, for women and families to get ahead and ensure that women are not discriminated against for personal medical decisions."
Around one in three women gets an abortion in her lifetime. Nearly every woman uses birth control at some point in her life. Republicans are saying that those women's jobs should be on the line because of those medical choices—and that they'll trample local government to make that happen. It's kind of an important contrast between that position and Clinton's position. We know Ted Cruz has been pushing this measure in the Senate (where it's not going anywhere; the House vote was a show vote), but you have to wonder where Marco Rubio and allegedly libertarianish Rand Paul stand on it.
On Saturday at 8 AM PT, the tech team will be moving Daily Kos from its current web host to Amazon's Web Services. We'll be taking the site down for an estimated one to three hours while we move our ...