Student leaders committed to ending sexual assault banded together Monday at the University of Virginia, but said a solution was still far from reach.
Sabrina Rubin Erdely of The Rolling Stone talks about how rape "plays out at a typical college campus" saying the extent to which sexual assault is brushed off on campuses is broad. She talks about the indifference of school administrators and hopes...
If you missed Morning Joe this morning, you missed Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and the panel talk about the day's big political news. But don't worry, we've got you covered with this handy re-cap of the day's highlights and quotable moments.
Colorado’s grand cannabis experiment has captured the imagination of America. After 75 years of marijuana prohibition, the state’s voters amended their constitution and legalized marijuana in all forms. The results have been remarkable.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in St. Louis, Missouri on Sunday night to protest the shooting deaths of Michael Brown and other teenagers.
Many residents' distrust of the grand jury process is growing after news that the evidence heard may not be released if no indictment is returned.
A NewsNation political panel discusses whether the resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was a result of the Obama administration's plans to revamp their national security team.
The Obama administration is quietly and steadily reducing the Guantanamo population. All of this seems especially relevant today given the Chuck Hagel news.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announces his resignation, talks about the department’s accomplishments, and says he believes they have set the country on path of “security, stability and prosperity.”
President Barack Obama talks about the resignation of Chuck Hagel, saying the Defense Secretary has "devoted himself to our national security and our men and women in uniform for over six decades.” Obama also says Hagel did not make this decision...
President Obama praised outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday morning amid reports that the administration had lost confidence in Hagel's ability to handle the top job at the Pentagon. Appearing alongside Hagel and Vice President Joe Biden during an event at the White House, Obama praised the former Republican senator's role in overseeing the drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, while confronting recent challenges such as the rise of the Islamic State and the outbreak of Ebola."Thanks to Chuck, our military is on a firmer footing, engaged in these missions and looking ahead to the future," Obama said. Obama said Hagel approached him a month ago to discuss "the final quarter of my presidency," and the two determined then that "it was an appropriate time for him to complete his service." Senior defense officials told multiple media outlets that Hagel was forced out. One official told NBC News, "He wasn't up to the job."Hagel, whom Obama described as "a great friend of mine," will continue to hold the post until his successor is confirmed by the Senate.Addressing Obama and Biden, Hagel said that he's "grateful to both of you for your leadership and your friendship and for giving me this opportunity to serve our country once again.""I will continue to support you, Mr. President, and the men and women who defend this country every day," Hagel said.
There have been more deaths caused by police shootings than by gang members, drug dealers or from child abuse in the past five years in Utah, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. This year alone, the Tribune reported, police shootings have claimed more lives than violence between spouses or partners, for a total of 13 deaths. A toll, which includes 22-year-old Darrien Hunt who was fatally shot by police in September."The numbers reflect that there could be an issue, and it's going to take a deeper understanding of these shootings," Chris Gebhardt told the Tribune. Gebhardt, a former police lieutenant and sergeant who served in Utah, continued by noting that the situation "definitely can’t be written off as citizen groups being upset with law enforcement."Since 2010, 45 people were killed by police officers in Utah, a number which accounted for 15 percent of all homicides, the Tribune reported. In a review that the paper conducted of approximately 300 homicides, fatal police shootings were the second most common contributor, outpaced only by intimate partner violence.Only one of the fatal police shootings was deemed unjustified by county prosecutors; however, the criminal charge against the offending officer was thrown out last month by a judge, the Tribune reported.Ian Adams, a Utah police officer and spokesman for the Utah Fraternal Order of Police, wrote to the Tribune with his perspective on the use of deadly force."Police are trained and expected to react to deadly threats. As many deadly threats emerge is the exact amount of times police will respond," Adams wrote. "The onus is on the person being arrested to stop trying to assault and kill police officers and the innocent public. ... Why do some in society continue to insist the problem lies with police officers?"Robert Wadman, a criminal justice professor at Weber State University and former chief of the Omaha, Neb. police department, noted that Utah law justifies the use of deadly force if an officer reasonably believes it's necessary at the moment of shooting.However, he also pointed out that "sometimes the line between is it legal and is it necessary becomes difficult to distinguish.""In the judgment of the officer, 'Is my life in jeopardy? Yes.' At that point in time, they’re legally grounded in using deadly force," Wadman said. "But the question is, is it necessary? That's something that needs to be firmly addressed, for example, in training."
President Obama is scheduled to address Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's resignation on Monday morning at the White House. Obama is expected to speak at 11:10 a.m. ET. Watch live here.
The editor-in-chief of Hollywood news site The Wrap apologized Sunday for offending readers with a blog post that painted women accusing actor Bill Cosby of rape as fame-seeking opportunists. The original blog post, penned by frequent contributor Richard Stellar and titled "The Rape of Bill Cosby," sought to skewer the media's coverage of the recent resurgence of rape accusations against the iconic actor. But in doing so, Stellar accused the women who've come forward to say Cosby sexually assaulted them of "deceit, selective memory and blind ambition." The Wrap's CEO and editor-in-chief, Sharon Waxman, pointed out that this paragraph in particular incensed readers:“The concept of justice is disregarded. The statute of limitations is ignored. The recollections of events that happened as long as fifty years ago are dredged up by aging actresses who have one eye on the CNN camera, and the other on a book or reality show deal. If the statute of limitations was as long as the 15 minutes of fame that these lost souls are trying to recapture, then our prisons would be as vacant as the Holiday Inn in Acapulco (you probably have no idea what that means because you're not used to real news). Thankfully, the statute of limitations was written to avoid exactly what this blog is about. There is no legitimacy to justice if there is no real evidence, and evidence has a way of vanishing as memories dim with the marching of time. A DNA swab on most of Cosby's detractors if done today would most likely come up exceedingly dry.”"I'm not saying that what these woman claim happened, didn't happen," Stellar also wrote. But he then argued that "once those women realized the violation that they endured at the hands of Cosby, then they should have reported it then — not a generation later."Waxman distanced the site from Stellar's piece by clarifying that Stellar's blog posts, like those of other independent contributors to the site, aren't edited with the same rigor applied to staff writers' work. But she argued that Stellar's contrarian view "should never disqualify someone from a community forum.""On the other hand, an opinion piece with a contrarian view can provoke, but it should not offend," she wrote. "Clearly it has done so, and for that I apologize. That was not intentional."Waxman changed the title of Stellar's piece to "In Defense of Bill Cosby (Guest Opinion Blog)."Stellar appended his own mea culpa to the top of the piece on Sunday. Though he wrote that his piece was "misconstrued as defending Bill Cosby," Stellar admitted that the backlash to his piece was not unwarranted."Clearly, the women who have come forward now, do so more out of frustration with the legal system than, as I described, their desire to fix one eye on a CNN camera, and the other on a reality show contract," he wrote. "That was not only mean, but incendiary to anyone who has experienced that sort of abuse."h/t Jezebel
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) called to leave a scathing message earlier this year with the Democratic state senator who sealed the demise of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, according to the Washington Post.Phillip Puckett had resigned abruptly in June amid private talks with Virginia Republicans about a state job, swinging control of the closely divided chamber to the GOP, which was fighting the expansion for some 400,000 residents. "Hey, Phil? Terry McAuliffe," the governor said in what the Post described as a "seething voice message" to Puckett. "I want you to know we just lost the vote, 20 to 19, in the Senate. Medicaid is done. I hope you sleep easy tonight, buddy."Medicaid expansion was a high priority for McAuliffe, who had looked for legal avenues to end-run the legislature and establish it on his own, but came up empty.Puckett landed in hot water after the Post reported in late June, weeks after he resigned, on secret talks he had with the Republican-led state tobacco commission about a job on the panel for the lawmaker. The position was to include a cell phone and a car, along with a judgeship for Puckett's daughter, according to leaked emails.Puckett subsequently took himself out of the running for the job.McAuliffe's office had fought to persuade Puckett to stay. It was later reported that before the resignation, the governor's chief of staff, Paul Reagan, left Puckett a voicemail suggesting that the administration might make "available" a state agency job for his daughter if he stayed on to support Medicaid expansion. McAuliffe's spokesman said the governor "did not know" about the call and stressed that no formal offer was made.
A short while ago we moved reports that Chuck Hagel was stepping down as Defense Secretary. Not terribly surprising. Cabinet secretaries step down. He's President Obama's third Defense Secretary. But reports are following quickly on this news saying that Hagel was essentially fired from the job. White House officials and apparently Pentagon officials as well are more or less openly telling reporters that Hagel was told to resign because they simply did not think he was up to the job. Now, there are a couple points here. One is that this is a difficult time for the President to have any major cabinet secretary step down because the new GOP Senate majority - seriously smarting from the immigration executive order (technically an 'executive action') - is going to make it really, really hard to get anyone confirmed. All things being equal, far easier to keep everyone in place. Second, it's one thing to push someone out. It's another thing to fairly openly tell people someone was pushed out. This kind of stuff does not just bubble out. When word gets out this quickly and consistently, it's by design. You don't have to do that. You can tell a person it's time to go, keep the number of people in the loop tight, and allow the secretary to make it seem like it was his or her own decision. That does not appear to be what happened. Early reports are that Hagel will appear at an announcement ceremony with the President this morning. So that suggests some limits on the extent to which the President is going to wash his hands of Hagel. But, wow. From what we've heard so far, there's really no policy issue. They just don't think he is up to the challenges of the job. Ouch.
The New York Times issued an amusing correction Saturday on a column about reality TV star Kim Kardashian's rear end. Humorist Joyce Wadler apparently lifted fake quotes that the satirical website The Daily Currant attributed to Kardashian's husband, rapper Kanye West, for a column titled "Fear of Kim Kardashian’s Derrière." Wadler lamented in her column that "this big-butt thing" -- a trend that hit its apex with the reality star's instantly infamous Paper Magazine winter cover -- may take off among "impressionable women."Here's the correction:An earlier version of this column was published in error. That version included what purported to be an interview that Kanye West gave to a Chicago radio station in which he compared his own derrière to that of his wife, Kim Kardashian. Mr. West’s quotes were taken, without attribution, from the satirical website The Daily Currant. There is no radio station WGYN in Chicago; the interview was fictitious, and should not have been included in the column.And here are the lifted, fake quotes that originally appeared in Wadler's column, via Poynter:“I don’t understand why everyone is focusing on Kim’s booty,” Kanye said in an interview on Chicago rap station WGYN, adding that he certainly loves it. “That’s why I married her,” he said. But, Kanye added, nobody has a rear end like his own.“My booty is like Michelangelo level, you feel me?” Kanye said. “It’s like a sculpture. It’s like something that should be sitting in a museum for thousands of thousands of years.”His wife’s behind? It was nice, Kanye said, “But it’s not at that level.”
In the first major cabinet shakeup since Democrats suffered a drubbing in this year's midterms, Chuck Hagel will reportedly step down as Defense Secretary. The New York Times reported that President Obama asked Hagel to step down from his post last Friday, with senior administration officials characterizing the move "as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ."One senior defense official told NBC News that Hagel was forced out because, "He wasn't up to the job."Obama is expected to announce Hagel's resignation at 11:10 a.m. ET on Monday in the White House.More from the Times:But now “the next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus,” one administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. He insisted that Mr. Hagel was not fired, saying that he initiated discussions about his future two weeks ago with the president, and that the two men mutually agreed that it was time for him to leave.But Mr. Hagel’s aides had maintained in recent weeks that he expected to serve the full four years term as defense secretary. His removal appears to be an effort by the White House to show that it is sensitive to critics who have pointed to stumbles in the government’s early response to several national security issues, including the Ebola crisis to the threat posed by the Islamic State militant group.This post has been updated.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani stood by his disputed comments on "black-on-black crime" Monday, arguing that the real danger to a black child is not a white police officer but "another black." The ex-mayor was on the defensive after his appearance on Sunday's edition of NBC's "Meet the Press." Giuliani had argued that recent concerns about police violence, like the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., distract from the real problem of "black-on-black crime.""White police officers won't be there if you weren't killing each other 70 percent of the time," the former mayor told fellow panelist and Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson, who is black.Giuliani defended his both his hot take and his own record on crime as mayor Monday morning on Fox News."Here's what I'm very frustrated about with Ferguson, and all these situations," he told "Fox and Friends" co-host Steve Doocey. "These things happen and they are exceptions."“The danger to a black child in America is not a white police officer. That’s going to happen less than one percent of the time," he later added. "The danger to a black child -- if it was my child -- the danger is another black.”Giuliani went on to suggest that Ferguson protestors ("these people") should spend more time "trying to straighten out" crime in the black community."I used to look at our crime reduction, and the reason we reduced homicide by 65 percent is because we reduced it in the black community," Giuliani said of his time as mayor. "Because there is virtually no homicide in the white community."Watch below via Fox News: Watch the latest video at &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://video.foxnews.com"&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;video.foxnews.com&amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;h/t Mediaite
Cleveland police on Saturday shot down a 12-year-old boy playing with a BB gun, reportedly mistaking the child's toy firearm for a real weapon. Police received a call complaining about a boy, later identified as Tamir Rice, pointing a gun at people on a playground outside a local recreation center, the Plain Dealer reported.Two officers arrived at the scene and ordered the child to put his hands up. When Rice's hand moved for his BB gun, one of the officers fired at the child twice, hitting him once in the stomach, according to the Plain Dealer.Rice was rushed to hospital and died from the gunshot wound early Sunday, the paper reported.Police told local TV station WKYC that details about the toy gun and the boy's age did not reach the two officers dispatched to the scene.“The officer had no clue he was a 12-year-old,” said Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association. “He had no clue it was a toy gun, he was kind of shocked. He was concentrating more on the hands than on the age."Authorities also said the toy gun's orange safety marker had been removed and investigators didn't determine that it was a BB gun until it was recovered, according to the Plain Dealer.The two officers involved have been placed on administrative leave while the police department conducts an investigation, the paper reported.
St. Louis police were investigating an incident in which a woman waving a gun inside a vehicle and saying she was "ready for Ferguson" apparently shot herself in the head by accident, CNN reported Sunday. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said the shooting occurred Friday night in the city's downtown area. Sources briefed on the investigation told CNN that a police report identified the victim as 26-year-old Becca Campbell.The sources told CNN that the victim was involved in a car accident. Campbell's 33-year-old boyfriend, who was not identified, was driving the car and told investigators that Campbell began waving a gun around and joking that the couple were ready for Ferguson, the sources said.The boyfriend said he rear-ended another car while ducking to avoid the gun, which then discharged and struck Campbell in the head, the sources said. The victim later died at a hospital.The boyfriend told police that the couple purchased the gun because they feared unrest that may arise from a grand jury decision in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by a white police officer, the sources said. Police were investigating whether the boyfriend's account of the shooting was correct, the sources told CNN.
Here we go again. For the third time since 2011, Ohio’s legislature is debating a heartbeat ban – a blatantly unconstitutional ban on abortion starting as soon as an embryonic heartbeat can be detected, often at four weeks past fertilization or sooner. In 2011, the bill passed the house but never made it up in the senate for a vote, not even when lawmakers used their post-election lame duck session to try to force it back onto the floor, figuring with no one’s reelection campaigns jeopardized in the process the ban was sure to pass. It popped up in 2013 with a new sponsor and a room full of Duggars (of “19 Kids and Counting” fame) promoting it, but it failed, too. Now, another lame duck session has revived the ban, and the house at first glance appears eager to move it out for a full vote. A committee hearing to debate the bill was announced with so little notice that opponents had just hours to submit their testimony in order beat the deadline. In order to guarantee the bill would make it out of the committee, last minute substitutions were made to the panel and four members were replaced. The chairman was utterly unashamed of the manipulation. "My goal would be to have the hearing and vote the heartbeat bill out of committee today," Republican state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann told reporters. Three of the new committee members had already voted in favor of the bill in a previous session.Wachtmann also limited the debate to just a few hours, holding a vote on the bill at just three hours after the committee begain. According to Wachtmann, the proposal had been through enough debates in the past so there was no need to listen to it all over again. The bill passed committee 11 to 6, in a party line vote.Abortion rights advocates condemned Wachtmann’s tactics, saying that his rush job in passing the bill was a sign of how unpopular he knew the legislation was with Ohioans. “The fact that this committee is trying to pass this legislation in such a sneaky quick manner should be highly concerning to everyone on this committee, no matter where they stand on the issue of abortion,” said Jaime Miracle, Deputy Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, who argued that moving such a controversial bill as HB 248 through committee so quickly proves to opponents that the public is not supportive of it, according to John Michael Spinelli at Plunderbund, a local Ohio progressive news site. They are right that the heartbeat ban has little public support. Even in its hey day in 2012, the public was evenly divided over whether or not such a restriction should be passed. Since then we have seen North Dakota pass its own heartbeat ban, only to have it blocked by the courts as unconstitutional in an expensive legal battle, and a slightly less restrictive version in Arkansas have the same end result.Taxpayers, unimpressed by legal challenges that are being paid for out of their wallets, aren’t likely to be too enthusiastic about yet another run at the courts.While the committee may be trying to force a vote through quickly in order to avoid public scrutiny, though, there may be another reason for the hurry up pace. Maybe, just maybe, Wachtmann and his cohorts are simply paying lip service to the bill and getting it off their desk so they can wipe their hands of it, knowing its never actually going to become law. It’s a scenario that makes a great deal of sense if you look at the number of times the bill has failed in the past. The 2011 version easily made it through the House only to falter in the Senate where the majority leader refused to let it through committee. Debates over the bill itself were not anti-abortion activists versus abortion rights activists, like we so often see at the state houses, but the extremists from Faith 2 Action and the newly formed Ohio Pro-Life Action, while it was Ohio Right to Life, the state’s own National Right to Life Committee affiliate, urging the politicians to vote the bill down. Even James Bopp Jr., legal counsel of the NRLC came out to testify against the bill. In anger at her bill being blocked, Janet Folger Porter, head of Faith 2 Action, took her ire out on the “pro-life” lawmakers that wouldn’t support her bill. Since 2011, she has organized not against Democratic, pro-abortion rights political candidates, but those on her own side that she felt betrayed her, including Republican Governor John Kasich and other GOP leaders she felt didn’t help in her crusade to end abortion.Wachtmann, the original 2011 bill sponsor, no doubt knows just how unlikely it is that a heartbeat ban will this session. Is his plan to put in the absolute minimal effort needed to appease Porter and their heartbeat ban backers, then get the entire process over with as quickly as possible?While the bill moved quickly through the house committee, and will probably sail through the full house once more this year, the odds of a heartbeat ban eventually being law in Ohio is virtually zero at this point. Republican state senate President Keith Faber has already said he doesn’t believe the bill has enough votes to pass the senate, telling reporters, "I have grave concerns that if the heartbeat bill were to be passed, that it would jeopardize some of the other good, pro-life work that we've done in the General Assembly."Even if it did make it past both chambers, don’t expect Governor Kasich to sign it. Kasich is just one of many in a pool full of mediocre potential GOP 2016 presidential candidates, and the last thing Kasich would want to do is jeopardize his base. Although all of the Republican presidential wannabes are going to feel the need to show off their pro-life credentials, Kasich will have far better results touting his stealth war on abortion clinics (which he has managed to close at a rapid clip) than with an unconstitutional, expensive legal challenge to his name, especially one that National Right to Life doesn’t want to have happen.Mainstream abortion opponents believe that between 20-week so-called “fetal pain” bans and admitting privileges bills that are all but wiping all clinics off the map, they have just the right legal challenges heading up to the Supreme Court. If those cases don’t overturn Roe v. Wade outright, it will at least make abortion so impossible to access that the right to terminate will be available only in the most extreme and limited circumstances. A “personhood” bill, a heartbeat ban, or another blatantly unconstitutional pre-viability ban would not only undo their decades of incremental work, but potentially reaffirm the right to an abortion in a way that could make it impossible for them to recover. The anti-abortion movement is not going to let Ohio put all of their years of work in jeopardy. Regardless of what happens in the House, and even the Senate, the Ohio heartbeat ban will never be signed into law.Robin Marty is a freelance writer, speaker and activist. Her current project, Clinic Stories, focuses on telling the history of legal abortion one clinic at a time. Robin's articles have appeared at Slate, Cosmopolitan.com, Rolling Stone, Ms. Magazine and other publications.
A battle is heating up between two top Republicans over the coveted chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee, carrying implications for the ability of the new GOP Congress to govern as well as the emerging clash over immigration.The turf war pits Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the committee's ranking member, against Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), a longtime committee member who asserts seniority over his Alabama colleague and is now seeking to reclaim it. "Senator Enzi is seeking the Budget Chairmanship," Enzi spokesman Daniel Head told TPM. "Under the Republican Conference rules, he has seniority for the post and it is Senator Sessions that is challenging him, not the other way around."Sessions's office declined to comment on the record.The contest is a proxy war over whether Republicans will veer toward confrontation with President Barack Obama or whether they'll be more restrained and cautious when they assume full control of Congress in January.Sessions is staunchly conservative and tends to march to the beat of his own drum. On immigration in particular, Sessions has a penchant for confrontation, having fought tooth and nail against reform for years, and recently preempting GOP leaders by publicly pushing for a risky strategy that would lead to a government shutdown if President Barack Obama doesn't undo his sweeping executive actions announced Thursday. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)Enzi has unassailable conservative credentials (as Liz Cheney learned the hard way when she tried to challenge him in the GOP primary), but he keeps a low national profile and is restrained on hot-button issues. He has a good relationship with incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has promised there will be no government shutdown on his watch.Conservative immigration reform foes support Sessions and are carefully watching Enzi's moves. For good measure, Enzi's spokesman said the Wyoming senator "has long been an opponent of executive amnesty."The next Budget Committee chairman will have considerable influence in developing the contours of federal policy on everything from food stamps and military funding to health care and education spending. The budget resolution, which will be passed at this chairman's direction, will shape the debate over tax and spending laws. If Sessions wins the gavel, he could effectively shut down the regular process to wage war against Obama.Senate Democrats are privately rooting for Enzi to defeat Sessions."If Senate Republican leaders are looking for someone to help rein in the tea party on budget issues, it would be about as surprising as the sun coming up if they had cold feet about Senator Sessions," one Democratic aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity, "who votes to the right of Paul Ryan and apparently can't say no to the chance to risk a shutdown or a default."Internal Senate GOP rules say committee members must elect their leader and have the choice ratified by the conference. The Republicans currently on the committee are not a very confrontational bunch and include three lawmakers up for reelection in blue or purple states in 2016: Sens. Rob Portman (OH), Ron Johnson (WI) and Kelly Ayotte (NH).Officially, McConnell is staying neutral in the race."We have not taken a position and have no role in this," a spokesman for the Republican leader said. "Under our Conference rules, only the members of the committee vote for their chairman—no one outside the committee has a say."
One of the most important elements of a Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential candidacy might be completely out of her hands.Two of the favored rhetorical questions around her presumed bid are: How much will she distance herself from President Barack Obama? And, relatedly, will she be able to capture the Obama coalition that propelled the President to victory twice, but hasn't shown up in the midterm elections?They are of course linked: If Obama is unpopular, a Clinton campaign will be tempted to present a sharp contrast. At the same time, the President will likely remain popular with the core Democratic base that she needs to harness. But the record tells us that, however the Obama presidency is faring like in its final months, it's going to influence his aspiring successor's White House ambitions. The third-term problem is a historical fact at this point: U.S. voters just don't choose to give a party three (or more) consecutive terms in the White House. Since FDR, George H.W. Bush is the only President to be elected to succeed a two-term predecessor from the same party.Political scientists have documented the link between presidential approval rating and final vote tallies (regardless of whether it is an open election or an incumbent is running.) In a 2012 book, "The Timeline of Presidential Elections", Columbia University's Robert Erikson and the University of Texas's Christopher Wlezien concluded that presidential approval rating is one of the best indicators of what the actual vote will look like."(Obama's) approval rating has real bearing on 2016," Wlezien told TPM in an email.The link might not be as strong as it otherwise would be when a President is running for re-election, John Sides, a political scientist at George Washington University, told TPM. But based on his own look at the data, Sides said, it still has an effect on an open race, as 2016 will be."When the incumbent is not running, better approval ratings still appear to help the incumbent party's new candidate," he said, "but the relationship is weaker."If better approval ratings help, then worse ones could surely hurt. Obama is currently sitting at 42 percent, according to Gallup. He was at 52 percent when he won re-election in 2012 with 51 percent of the popular vote. Reagan was polling at 51 percent in October 1988 and Bush took 53 percent of the popular vote, per the archive of Gallup polls compiled by the University of Connecticut.Much has already been made of any moments in which Clinton has been perceived to be distancing herself from the President. The response to her interview with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, in which she appeared to criticize the Obama White House's "don't do stupid stuff" mantra in foreign policy, was a classic example. It can sometimes be overwrought. Things could certainly change by November 2016. Reagan sank as low as 43 percent in March 1987 by the end of the Iran Contra scandal. He had managed to recover by the time Bush was on the ballot. Still, it will be important for Clinton to avoid being lumped in with the Obama administration or even the first Clinton administration, one Democratic strategist advocating for a Hillary 2016 bid said."If she decides to run, she should not run as a third Bill Clinton term or a third Barack Obama term," Craig Smith, Clinton White House political director and a senior adviser to the Ready for Hillary PAC, said on Friday when asked by TPM. "She should run for a first Hillary Clinton term."How easy will that be, given the historical precedents and her tenure as one of the top Cabinet officials in the Obama administration?"As long as she lays out a clear vision of where she wants to take this country and a clear message about why she's doing this," he said, "I think it'll be fine."Republicans, for their part, seem intent on linking Clinton to the Obama presidency as frequently as possible. It has already become a staple of GOP messaging, and the anti-Clinton PAC America Rising has purchased an online home for it: Obama3rdTerm.com."There is no major issue in which Sec. Clinton and President Obama disagree. She was the Mother of Obamacare, the face of his foreign policy, and a behind the scenes advocate for all his domestic initiatives," Tim Miller, America Rising PAC's executive director, told TPM in an email. "Any idea that she will be able to effectively distance herself from him ignores reality."
Tonight I got TPM Reader HH's deep, deep dive into the economics of Uber and some interesting questions about whether it's current valuation makes sense in anything that looks like established transportation economics. There's a lot here that gave me food for thought. One point I'll add first is to say that a basic question I've long had about Uber (and its competitors, for that matter) is that the one thing that seems really new and different about it is the addition of geolocation and ride ordering made possible by the app. That's a big thing, especially if you're outside of the pretty small number of highly concentrated urban areas where taxis are ubiquitous. But it's something local cab companies or whole industries could duplicate if they set their minds to it. In any case, over to TPM Reader HH ... Longtime reader and early Prime member. You seemed to be looking for some help understanding the Uber debate, so I thought some background notes might be useful. I have no relationship with Uber or any Uber competitors, but have spent a lifetime in transportation (aviation mostly, also railroads and transit) and think I have a pretty solid grounding in the economics and competitive dynamics at play here. The thoughts here are based on Uber debates on an airline listserv, that quickly degenerated into partisan/ideological flamethrowing that overwhelmed all efforts to apply basic MBA-type analysis to actual industry evidence. I don’t think you (or most other Uber observers) are all that interested in detailed discussions of taxicab economics. But I think there are hugely important questions that you and your readers would consider important. How did a new entrant in a small industry manage to generate such enormous, mostly favorable press coverage? Why is it that this huge public discussion of taxi industry competition never includes any information that might actually be helpful to one’s understanding of taxi industry competition? (are current companies wasteful or inefficient? Would Uber actually be significantly more efficient? What is the economic basis for capital markets thinking Uber could achieve $18 billion in an industry where no one else has ever made much money?) Why do Uber debates sound just like partisan debates in Washington? Is this a case where investors have found sharp mangers with innovative ideas who will create clear value to society if they succeed, is this another parasitic attempt to become rich by screwing workers, consumers and eliminating competition, or is this like all those ultra-hyped dot-com bubble startups based totally on hot air that will go away before too long?Again, this is just intended as an rough outline of some of the things to think about as you continue to cover the story, but please let me know if you have any questions1. The issue is tomorrow’s Uber, not today’s Uber. Uber’s current consumer reputation is based on serving niche markets in a limited number of large, wealthy urban markets. It has a tiny share of the overall taxi/livery/limo market in those cities, which (based on its publicity) seems much stronger in certain demographics than others (e.g. Silicon Valley, not East Bay; weekend clubbing, not conventioneers). Uber publicity often features quotes from users in wealthy cities (Manhattan, Washington) talking about how much they prefer the nice Uber cars and drivers to regular cabs. But the growing public debate about Uber would not be taking place if its corporate ambition was limited to providing a premium taxicab alternative for wealthy urbanites. That debate is occurring because Uber claims it is currently valued at $18 billion, well into the stratosphere of start-up valuations, and Uber has recently raised the prospect of new investments that could push its valuation above $30 billion. Uber’s financial ambitions could only be achieved with many years of staggering growth, which means becoming wildly different from the company its Santa Clara/Brooklyn customers are familiar with. The question is what does Uber need to do to achieve the massive growth needed to justify an $18 billion valuation, and what kind of company would that be?2. Tomorrow’s Uber is targeting a stratospheric billion valuation Uber appears to have an army of supporters, and has achieved staggering levels of publicity for a company of its current size, even by dot-com era standards. It is not intuitive as to how $18 billion or $30 billion of economic value could be realized out of the traditionally cutthroat/low-margin urban car service business, and none of the pro-Uber publicity I’ve seen provides any financial/business explanation of how this megagrowth might be achieved. The only attempt at an independent valuation analysis I’ve seen is by NYU Finance Professor Aswath Damodaran. His analysis ignored all the various regulatory/competitive/labor issues that have been raised, accepted every company claim at face value but could only come up with a $6 billion valuation if he assumed that Uber overwhelmed every competitor pursuing a similar business model, grew across the entire globe (not just America and Europe but Malaysia and New Zealand and Egypt) while maintaining the 20% margins it currently gets in Santa Clara and Brooklyn. http://aswathdamodaran.blogspot.com/2014/06/a-disruptive-cab-ride-to-riches-uber.html Cut back some of those assumptions and you’d still have what some people would consider a successful start-up, but 95% of the valuation Uber is claiming would vanish. Similarly a Financial Times article argues that Uber would have to achieve Ebay’s level of growth for 15 years (one of the greatest internet financial successes of all time) to come close to justifying the $18 billion valuation (http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2014/06/10/1873482/uberbay/). Uber is not the first Silicon Valley company whose founders might have been blinded by visions of staggering wealth. But even if Uber management is strongly focused on convincing capital markets it can achieve Ebay levels of growth, it is useful to consider whether anything in Uber’s business model might create sustainable competitive advantages, powerful advantages for consumers, or create any other tangible benefits.3. What efficiency/consumer/competitive drivers explain expectations of Uber’s extremely rapid growth? Amazon’s valuations were always hard to explain in traditional financial terms (Professor Damodaran’s article explains the hoops you have to jump through to explain the huge venture capital valuations of companies like Pinarest, Dropbox, Airbnb, Uber, etc.) but the logic behind the Amazon business model was always transparent and logical. Internet distribution of books drove major savings from eliminating the inventory and brick/mortar costs of traditional bookstores. Amazon provided a huge new consumer benefit by offering immediate access to almost any book in print. Further savings came from major warehousing/distribution efficiencies, and the potential to use that warehouse/distribution infrastructure to expand into lots of other markets at low marginal cost. Since these specific inventory/warehousing advantages were sustainable (e.g. later copy-cats like Barnes and Noble couldn’t achieve similar efficiencies or service levels) they gave Amazon the potential to achieve long-term market dominance, which was probably the largest driver of its financial valuation as it grew. As noted earlier, despite their intense PR efforts, Uber has not articulated what it thinks its growth drivers will be. How will it be able to provide taxi/livery/limo service at substantially lower cost, so that it can blow away existing providers? How will its service be so demonstrably superior to current providers? How will it sustain any such advantages given the relative ease of copying most efficiency gains in both car service operations and software applications (booking/pricing/scheduling) that support those operations? It is clear that Uber and the people who find the valuation forecasts credible expect a growth juggernaut that will create a radically different company that what exists today—one that can achieve a huge share of the taxi/livery/limo markets in every major city, one can expand to hundreds and hundreds of new cities, and one that can readily blow away existing competitors (as with Amazon and bookstores) and readily blow away and new entrants pursuing similar approaches. What competitive strengths could drive this juggernaut?4. Why would a Uber/independent contractor approach be economically superior to the traditional taxi/livery/limo approach? Uber is not a transportation company, it is a software company interposing itself as a middleman between taxi/livery/limo consumers and independent contractors who provide the actual services those consumers want. If you believe Uber can achieve Amazon/Ebay rates of growth, you have to believe this whole business model works, the software/middleman component can’t grow unless its drivers can drive traditional companies out of the market. And you not only have to believe that it works in some markets for some categories of consumers, you have to believe it is so overwhelmingly superior to the longstanding model (where car service companies buy their vehicles, hire drivers as employees and deal directly with consumers) that those existing companies will soon be as obsolete as bookstores, or shrink to a marginal role, like cinemas. But traditional business logic suggests that the economics of the existing companies should have huge advantages over the Uber/contractor model.(1) today’s car service companies should be able to purchase cars, maintenance, training and insurance much more cheaply than hordes of isolated individuals; it is virtually impossible to grow rapidly and displace existing companies if your costs are uncompetitive (2) Uber publicity often highlights the “efficiency” of using wasted, idle car capacity (i.e. drivers who use their personal car to carry Uber passengers on weekends to earn extra cash). But Uber could not possibly become a major competitor if it depended on casual, spare-time capacity. Uber competitiveness and growth depends on drivers willing to buy vehicles and operate them in Uber service full time and Uber fares will need to cover the full costs of these vehicles. A recent study showed that the vast majority of Manhattan Airbnb rentals were not spare-time use by transient owners, but were apartments used exclusively as Airbnb rental units (contradicting similar Airbnb claims about “efficient use of idle capacity” claims). (3) given their market knowledge and control over vehicles and drivers, existing companies should be much better at tailoring capacity to the overall level of demand in market and to the normal fluctuations in demand (due to weather, conventions, special events, etc.) than the Uber model where none of these are proactively managed. (4) while Uber PR often highlights the app that serves as the customer interface, this type of software (and the scheduling software behind it) isn’t a sustainable advantage because it can be readily copied by competitors; the cab company I use in Phoenix also has a software group that produced a nice app, but doesn’t claim a multi-billion dollar valuation because of it. (5) taxi drivers in most parts of the world are extremely poorly paid; Uber can’t survive if its driver compensation is even lower, and one presumes it will have to pay a lot more than current rates if it wants to grow rapidly; Uber’s middleman/software fee (its only current source of revenue) comes right out of the driver’s earnings so it is already facing a difficult tradeoff between revenue and growth (6) Service reliability is critical in any transportation business, and is extremely critical to the person who needs to be driven to their6:30am flight; a taxi/limo company controls the cars, maintenance and drivers that determine reliability; one presumes Uber reliability will be worse because it won’t directly control any of those things. Uber claims to be rigorous about weeding out drivers who receive negative ratings but one presumes that taxi and limo companies also weed out drivers who get multiple complaints; over time there is no way Uber can employ all the better drivers without paying them significantly more than its competitors. (7) Uber uses “variable pricing” as opposed to fixed-in-advance taxi/livery/limo rates; this can work for airlines where the discount fares are sold weeks/months in advance and there customer can be virtually certain that the ticket will be honored, but how does variable pricing work when it starts to rain, and demand for service suddenly quadruples? Perhaps a workable variable pricing strategy can be developed that will produce more revenue for Uber but I assure you, it won’t be popular with consumers, and Uber can’t achieve megagrowth if consumers think they are getting gouged from time to time. (8) every local car service market is different in terms of demand patterns, existing competition and the labor market drivers will be drawn from, so there will be costs (and failure risks) each time Uber expands to a new city, and much bigger costs for each new country. This is why you don’t see national taxi companies—the fact that you ran a quality, efficient cab service in Denver means nothing if you decide you want to expand to Minneapolis and compete against the companies that already know the local market very well. Ebay and Amazon faced zero costs expanding their services across America and very small costs expanding internationally. So why would anyone presume that Uber could expand nationally/internationally as rapidly as Ebay and Amazon?I can think of other issues as well, but these are very simple, basic questions about Uber’s potential competitiveness. It would appear to be less efficient than existing competitors in terms of vehicle costs, maintenance, training, understanding local demand/competitive conditions and tailoring capacity to those conditions. It would have to pay more money to drivers for many years to have any hope of growing at the expense of those existing companies. Uber’s potential customer interface and variable pricing advantages would appear to either be limited to narrow niches, easily matched by competitors, or an obstacle to rapid future growth. All of articles and posts from Uber’s PR machine talk about the potential to become a growth juggernaut; none explain specific, powerful, sustainable competitive advantages that might fuel that growth, or how those drivers are scalable enough to fuel rapid national/international expansion.5. Is Uber trying to “disrupt” a backward/inefficient industry? There are several problems with the “Uber as heroic disruptor that will deliver huge benefits to consumers once the lazy, inefficient incumbents have been vanquished” meme that runs through much of the pro-Uber campaign. The most important, discussed above, is that no one seems able to provide a plausible explanation of the huge competitive advantages that would allow Uber to vanquish the incumbents. Taxis/liveries/limos have not become bloated with inefficiencies while they were exploiting consumers with excessive oligopoly fares all these years. The second is the problematic conflation of new technology/good existing technology/evil, and the PR efforts surrounding it. Amazon’s competition with brick/mortar bookstore was not a battle of good vs. evil. Amazon worked to convince consumers that it could provide a new/better service at lower cost; it did not mount massive PR efforts to glorify its corporate heroism or denigrate the evil, reactionary booksellers. Uber’s campaigns also badly misrepresent the role of “new technology”, which in this case is just its consumer app and scheduling software. Apps are not “heroic new technology”, no company has ever received a multi-billion dollar valuation because of a neat app, and Uber’s app appears to be a minor (if not totally insignificant) part of its overall business model. Amazon’s rapid growth and consumer popularity is driven by a wide range of very efficient business practices; its consumer interface is quite good, but a very small piece of its larger success. The third problem is that while there are obviously unpopular, inefficient aspects of current taxi/livery/limo operations, the ones Uber attacks tend to be very localized (rent-seeking medallion owners in the handful of cities where these are very expensive) or aren’t problems Uber would solve it grew to become a dominant industry player (occasional no shows and filthy cabs, the small risk of rip-offs and other bad driver behavior). The simple solution to artificial medallion values is to issue a lot more medallions. However, while eliminating medallion ownership as a barrier to entry would get a lot more cabs on the street, unfettered open entry would also drive driver wages down to even lower levels and would expose consumers to higher risk of no-shows, filthy cabs and rogue/incompetent drivers. The solution to those service problems is much stricter rules about maintenance, training, driver screening and liability insurance. But those are the exact types of evil regulatory constraints that Uber is most keen to disrupt. The fourth problem is that that Uber (like most highly valued Silicon Valley startups) clearly hopes to achieve the market power that comes with sustainable industry dominance. Uber, like other high growth companies, might create some temporary benefits (i.e. forgoing profits with low prices or higher driver wages while they try to drive existing competitors out of business) but the dominance it is seeking is fundamentally incompatible with the interests of consumers and workers. The whole point of industry dominance is to create pricing power and huge leverage over suppliers than can be exploited once a virtual (Microsoft, cable TV) or stable oligopoly (airlines, cell phones) is in place.6. Is Uber trying to distract attention from a deliberate strategy of labor exploitation? Since no one can provide plausible Uber growth theories based on major productivity/service improvements, one must consider the possibility that Uber management’s growth strategies may be at least partially based on drivers it would not want to publicize. The labor exploitation hypothesis suggests that Uber not only hopes to avoid paying higher costs that might be needed to attract drivers away from competing companies, but hopes to actually achieve driver costs lower than what existing companies face, by exploiting significant information dissymmetries. One key is Uber’s “independent contractor” approach, whereby those drivers provide the vehicle, vehicle maintenance and liability insurance. As mentioned earlier, traditional business logic suggests that this approach could not work because existing companies could always get much better rates than individuals acting in isolation. In these situations Uber has shifted the full vehicle capital risk (normally borne by a taxi company) to the driver; this allows Uber to grow without raising much capital, but there is no evidence that drivers are being compensated for their (collectively) large capital contribution, or the risk that Uber exercises it rights to suddenly terminate the contract of the person who had purchased a vehicle on its behalf. Similarly, the typical taxi/limo driver may not understand the true maintenance/depreciation costs of intensive commercial use as well as professional fleet managers, and multiple reports indicate Uber drivers do not always understand the requirement to purchase commercial insurance with significantly greater liability coverage than their personal policies (carrying paying passengers would invalidate their personal policies and violate laws in most cities). Some drivers may be willing to explore Uber options given the poor pay and conditions at other companies, but if the capital and insurance costs at Uber are not clearly covered by much higher passenger revenues (i.e. if net “pay” at Uber isn’t clearly higher than what taxi operators pay) than the Uber approach will be unsustainable. Uber might forgo its software charges in order to increase net driver “pay” in the near term as it tries to put existing companies out of business, but if it eventually was able to become the car service company it would likely regain the leverage to force labor to bear much more of the costs and risks currently borne by taxi/limo operators.7. Is Uber trying to distract attention from deliberate regulatory arbitrage? Car service regulations fall into four major categories—minimum business standards/consumer protections (requirements for adequate financial resources, commercial vehicle and driver licensing, maintenance, driver screening and training, insurance, clear advance notice of fares, meter inspections, etc.), market entry rules limiting the specific services (taxi/limo) companies can offer and the number of vehicles that can serve each market, and labor law provisions (minimum wages, benefit and tax rules for full time workers, etc.). While there are a handful of cities with particularly problematic regulations (such as medallion based entry restrictions that transfer huge economic value from operators to medallion holders), most are designed to protect against the risks consumers might face in a totally unlicensed world, and to provide minimum recourse for consumers who might injured in an accident or harmed by a rogue driver. Operators are also constrained by insurance companies, who can adjust rates based on evidence of vehicle maintenance, driver training and similar factors. Uber appears to be pursuing a deliberate strategy of regulatory arbitrage; they appear to want to be able to evade rules they find inconvenient, but still want those rules to be imposed on their competitors. (a) Uber’s regulatory arbitrage of minimum standards and consumer protections centers on the confusion caused because neither Uber (a software company) or its “independent contractor” look like the taxi/livery/limo companies, and thus both Uber and its drivers can insist that they have no obligation to obey those financial/insurance/safety rules. People can get into taxis and limos in every major city confident that the local government would not permit that vehicle to operate without adequate insurance and commercial licenses and knows that regulators would revoke the operating rights of companies that refused to pay valid claims for accidents or other serious problems. Uber customers have no way of knowing if they have the vehicle meets local insurance/maintenance standards, no recourse against Uber if they are injured in an accident or has been ripped-off by a driver have (since it will insist it is just a software company), no regulatory protections, and must bear the full burden of pursuing the “independent contractor”, who is not registered anywhere and may or may not have the insurance or financial resources to resolve a valid claim. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-14/uber-tries-to-convince-drivers-and-lawmakers-theyre-covered (b) Even where car service companies are free to set their own rates, jurisdictions require these rates to be clearly published in advance and strictly obeyed to protect consumers from drivers suddenly demanding more money if they’d like to actually get to the airport. Uber’s variable pricing software appears to evade these protections, and there is growing anecdotal evidence of Uber customers finding their bookings have been cancelled at the last minute by drivers who can make a lot more from new bookings at surge pricing rates. (c) Medallions and similar regulatory entry restrictions usually focus on taxis (vehicles that can be waved down on the street) rather than limos and vans (which must be preordered). However these distinctions have always been blurred since—aside from airports and very dense places like New York—most traditional taxis are preordered, and non-taxi operators (Uber, limos) are regularly seen soliciting passengers that have not preordered. While one can question the need for entry barriers or taxi/limo restrictions, there is no justification for allowing Uber or limo companies free access to airports of other taxi markets while continuing to impose entry, pricing and licensing rules on taxis that Uber and the limos do not have to meet. (d) Uber’s “independent contractor” approach arbitrages labor laws that its competitors must obey, although misrepresentations about full time workers can undoubtedly be found at many existing companies.The counter claim that there may be regulations are poorly administered or fail someone’s cost/benefit calculus is irrelevant—Uber has not proposed regulatory reforms, does not appear the least bit interested in a level competitive playing field, and appears focused on gaming existing systems for their private advantage.8. Traditional business analysis raises serious doubts about Uber valuation and growth potential. If one applies typical business school analytical criteria (focused on issues such as technology and process innovation, competitive advantages from sustainable cost efficiencies or superior customer service, the coherence and scalability of business models and the potential for future market growth, and expansion into other complementary markets) it is difficult to understand why anyone would see Uber as a likely candidate to achieve the stratospheric long-term growth that would be needed to justify the huge valuations that the company and its supporters seem to expect. Uber clearly appears to have won a degree of acceptance among customers with high disposable incomes in large, wealthy cities, but that sheds no light on the plausibility of Uber’s ambition to radically disrupt and transform the car service industry and to become that industry’s dominant worldwide player. The Uber business model appears to involve higher vehicle capital costs, higher maintenance costs, poorer capacity utilization, and less knowledge of local market conditions that existing business models, and would likely also face higher labor costs throughout the years until its hoped for industry shakeout had been achieved. The potential advantages cities by Uber’s publicity appear to be ones that competitors could readily match (smartphone apps) or that depend on labor exploitation (drivers willing to absorb vehicle capital costs and risks without full compensation) and/or regulatory arbitrage (failure to pay necessary insurance and licensing costs that its competitors must pay). There is no clear link between the tens of billions in financial value and any tangible new economic (efficiency/service) value that Uber is creating, and there is reason to be concerned that some of that value depends on the destruction of existing economic value (safety and consumer protection) and wealth transfers from labor. The value of today’s (highly fragmented) industry primarily resides with the people that provide capital (vehicle) financing and manage how those assets are utilized in the marketplace. Uber’s only contribution to the industry value chain is booking/scheduling software, but it is attempting to capture all of the value contributed by those financing and operating people. A major portion of Uber’s prospective valuation assumes it can wipe out existing suppliers and achieve a sustainable market dominance. This would not only secure its ability to capture value currently held by labor and other parts of the business/supply chain, but would facilitate significant wealth transfers from consumers through pricing power and the ability to further weaken safety and consumer protection rules. But since there does not appear to be any basis for expecting that Uber could achieve enormous sustainable competitive advantage over existing operators, there is no apparent reason to expect any of the major market disruption/dominance aspects of its valuation to be achieved.9. Uber’s massive PR/propaganda efforts and its aggressive attacks on regulators, competitors and journalists tend to support the hypothesis that its growth/valuation objectives are highly unrealistic. If the business analysis outlined here was substantially wrong, and Uber’s growth/valuation objectives were based on highly credible new sources of competitive advantage, then one would expect Uber to devote major effort to lay out reasoned arguments and evidence supporting its business case to the capital markets. Those markets know there have been a huge number of well-publicized startups whose founders harbored dreams of staggering wealth but had business plans that could not withstand any objective scrutiny. If Uber was convinced it had a powerful plan, it should welcome scrutiny from independent financial analysts and respectfully engage financial analysts and journalists who might have questions or concerns. Instead, Uber has mounted a massive PR effort that ignores the substance and approach of business startup cases, and treats the company’s development as a no-hold-barred political campaign. Instead of explaining how today’s niche business would be transformed by a decade of Ebay-level growth, or addressing any of the other questions that investors might have, Uber’s PR emphasizes soundbite claims about current service (quotes from Silicon Valley tech workers who love the app or from rich Manhattanites who like Uber cars better than yellow cabs). To distract from business issues like cost competitiveness or the scalability of growth, Uber’s uses explicit political propaganda based on ideological/tribal hot buttons. Originally these focused predominately on Silicon Valley/financial industry/libertarian slogans (“industry disruption” calling regulation “anticapitalist taxi protectionism”, emphasizing the heroic nature of Uber’s new technology) that might engender group affinity but were totally free of actual substance (taxicabs are not the price-gouging oligopolists that technologists like to disrupt, protections for Medallion holder wealth is only found in a handful of cities and Uber has done nothing to threaten them; the regulatory requirements for insurance and commercial licenses that Uber directly threatens are not “anti-capitalist”, Uber’s apps are not cutting-edge technology). Uber recently hired former Obama advisor David Plouffe to broaden its political propaganda efforts. But its initial propaganda targeting wealthy, Democrat-leaning customers in cities like New York and San Francisco (Obamacare is a good thing!) is just as much of a substance free distraction from actual business questions as its quasi-libertarian rants (Obamacare will have zero impact on whether Uber can successfully kill off existing car service companies). Whether one is a die-hard libertarian or a major Democratic fundraiser, there is simply no compelling reason that those partisan/ideological preferences should lead you to become a dedicated supporter of this one private company in this particular market and a dedicated opponent of all the private companies it competes with. But Uber remains strictly focused on PR positioning and propaganda-type messaging, and shows no interest in helping investors better understand its growth potential, or helping consumers or suppliers understand why an Uber-dominated industry would be in their interest.The belligerent, arrogant posturing in much of Uber’s PR also logically fits the hypotheses presented here. Uber is trying to create the impression that it has already created an unstoppable juggernaut that existing competitors have no hope of withstanding. David Plouffe claims “change is inevitable” but the underlying message is “resistance is futile”. Since it needs to convince investors and competitors that it cannot possibly be slowed by petty bureaucrats and their silly insurance and licensing rules, it attacks all regulations as fundamentally corrupt and openly brags about their refusal to obey cease and desist orders. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324235104578244231122376480 This not only hits ideological hot buttons, but it signals local governments that any attempt to enforce existing regulations will be countered with ugly, expensive political conflict. Since Uber’s growth plan depends on totally dominating the car service industry, it needs to convince investors that it cannot be threatened by other new entrants like Lyft, Sidecar and Gett, and this explains ongoing efforts to sabotage those companies.http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/24/5342582/uber-employees-spammed-competing-car-service-with-fake-orders http://money.cnn.com/2014/08/11/technology/uber-fake-ride-requests-lyft/Uber’s massive PR efforts are designed to create an “alternative reality field”; it wants public perceptions of Uber to limited to its depiction of a battle of good vs. evil (cutting edge-technology vs the corrupt regulators protecting backward, inefficient taxicabs), to the soundbite claims of a superior product (what a great app!), to the rabid support of its ideological/tribal supporters, and ideological sympathetic coverage in the business press, and the perception that nothing could possibly prevent its rapid growth and competitive success. More importantly, Uber needs to prevent any public discussion based objective evidence about technology or efficiency or competitive advantage; subjecting Uber to objective scrutiny would not reveal serious deficiencies but would highlight the purely emotional/tribal nature of what they have been presenting to potential investors. Thus it comes as no surprise that Uber has been going to great lengths to undermine any journalists or financial analysts willing to challenge the alternate reality it is trying to establish. http://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith/uber-executive-suggests-digging-up-dirt-on-journalistshttp://pando.com/2014/11/17/the-moment-i-learned-just-how-far-uber-will-go-to-silence-journalists-and-attack-women/10. Does Uber have a legitimate business model with legitimate growth prospects and a legitimate valuation? These remain open questions. It is noteworthy that Uber has not managed to achieve press overage and public discussion wildly out of line with the prior public interest in the taxi/livery/limo providers or the actual importance of Uber’s attempt to enter that market, while managing to frame the discussion in ways that exclude consideration of any of the issues (actual efficiencies, competitiveness or revenue/profit performance) needed to answer these questions. It is readily apparent that Uber’s owners are strongly focused on becoming spectacularly wealthy, and in pursuit of that wealth fully intend to destroy hundreds of other companies, and the livelihoods of the investors, employees and suppliers they support. The question remains—will this improve or damage the economy as a whole? If Uber can achieve a valuation of tens of billions without compelling evidence of major productivity achievements or sustainable competitive advantages, it would beg basic questions about the capital market ability to benefit society by reallocating capital from less productive to more productive uses. If the investment case for Uber depends heavily on factors such as labor exploitation, regulatory arbitrage, artificial wealth transfers from the rest of the industry’s value chain, or the strong expectation that it can exploit pricing power and rent-seeking opportunities once it drives existing competitors out of business, that would raise questions as to whether the venture capital and investment banks involved here were complicit in activity designed to damage the overall performance of the US economy.
In case you missed the Giants' Odell Beckham's insane TD reception in the Giants-Cowboys game check out these three clips of it after the jump
The long-lost, thought drowned in the Pacific, 16,000 letter from Neal Cassady, which inspired Kerouac's On The Road, has been found. It was missing for 60 years and Kerouac himself died thinking it had been lost for good. He called it "the greatest piece of writing I ever saw, better'n anybody in America, or at least enough to make Melville, Twain, Dreiser, Wolfe, I dunno who, spin in their graves." An auction house in Los Angeles is putting it up for sale next month.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) got into a heated argument about race and crime with Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson during a discussion on Ferguson, Mo. "But the fact is, I find it very disappointing that you're not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We're talking about the exception here," Giuliani said on NBC's "Meet the Press" while discussing whether police forces reflect the demographics of the communities they serve. Dyson called this a "false equivalency.""Can I say this, first of all, no black people who commit crimes against other black people go to jail. Number two, they are not sworn by the police department as a agent of the state to uphold the law," he said. "So in both cases, that's a false equivalency that the mayor has drawn, which is exacerbated tensions that are deeply imbedded in American culture."Later in the argument Giuliani argued that while police officers are only present in certain communities because black people are committing crimes."It is the reason for the heavy police presence in the black community," he said. "White police officers won't be there if you weren't killing each other 70 percent of the time."Dyson shot back at Giuliani and said, "this is a defense mechanism of white supremacy at work in your mind."Watch the clip via NBC:H/t Washington Post
The incoming elected Speaker of the Nevada Assembly Ira Hansen (R) said on Sunday that he would resign from his leadership position following a controversy surrounding columns he wrote about race, gender and other topics."For the greater good of the State of Nevada and the cause I support it is necessary for me to withdraw as Speaker Designee," Hansen said in a statement obtained by Nevada reporter Jon Ralston. "The tens of thousands of people who both read my columns and listened to my radio shows through two decades in the media know this has been a carefully orchestrated attack to remove a conservative Republican from a major leadership role in State government. The deliberate character assassination and the politics of personal destruction have totally distorted my views and record." On Thursday, the Reno News & Review highlighted a few shocking columns Hansen wrote. In one column, he said that the "relationship of Negroes and Democrats is truly a master-slave relationship, with the benevolent master knowing what’s best for his simple minded darkies."Hansen on Sunday called the controversy over the columns a political attack."Ultimately, this whole attack has very little to do with my views. The powers that be are planning a massive, more than one billion dollar, tax increase and I stood in the way as Speaker," he said in his statement. "I have already served two terms as an Assemblyman without any of these vicious attacks. It was only when I had risen to leadership that this smear campaign occurred. That is the real reason for this and it is vital the public understands that."H/t Huffington Post
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) on Sunday said that he thinks the GOP needs to move on from the Benghazi scandal.On NBC's "Meet the Press," host Chuck Todd asked Flake if it was time for Republicans to stop harping on the Benghazi attack now that the House Intelligence Committee found there was no wrongdoing on the part of the Obama administration. "Well, I've always thought the biggest problem with Benghazi is how it was cast by the administration and the remarks that Susan Rice just really threw in the face of what we knew was going on," Flake responded. "But with regard to the other things that were addressed by this report, well, yes, I thought for a long time that we ought to move beyond that."
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Xavier's parents are speaking out so that no other child feels the "hurt" of being denied a lunch.The post First Grader Was Told ‘Guess What, You Can’t Have Lunch’ Because His Family Was In Debt appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Low-wage industry workers are turning to unions for better pay.The post Facebook’s Bus Drivers Form Union To Fight Low Wages And Grueling Hours appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Zillow could have to pay $5 million in unpaid, undocumented overtime as part of a class-action lawsuit.The post The Facebook Of Real Estate Allegedly Forced Workers To Skip Meals And Work Without Pay appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Walmart workers at one of the low-wage retail giant's Oklahoma City locations are being asked to help keep each other fed during the holiday season, marking the possible re-emergence of employee food drives that drew criticism last year.The post Walmart Asks Employees To Donate Food To Help Feed Their Coworkers appeared first on ThinkProgress.
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He says Target employees aren't allowed to ask for the holiday off and risk being fired if they don't show up.The post Target Employee Says Workers Are Threatened With Termination If They Refuse To Work On Thanksgiving appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Microsoft's CEO pay plan doesn't do enough to link the boss's interests to the company's, according to an influential observer.The post Business Experts Warn Microsoft Investors Not To Approve A Major Payday For Its CEO appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Uber's problems go deeper than its beef with journalists.The post Journalists Aren’t The Only People Uber Is Bullying appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Management has announced a $1.25 wage increase, less than what workers demanded but still setting a precedent.The post Whole Foods Responds To Workers’ Demands By Increasing Wages appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Schools are more prepared this time around. The post Ferguson Schools Plan To Close If Grand Jury Doesn’t Indict, Leaving Many Kids Without Meals appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Twelve national retail chains will also be open on the national holiday.The post Starbucks Employees Will Be At Work On Thanksgiving Day appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Workers tell Congress raising hourly wages isn't enough for struggling part-time employees with limited rights and no benefits. The post Walmart Workers Tell Elizabeth Warren Her Minimum Wage Bill Doesn’t Go Far Enough appeared first on ThinkProgress.
If postal reform legislation does not pass before the end of the year, the postal service will be in the hands of a Senator who has said it should enter bankruptcy and be privatized. The post If Congress Doesn’t Act In The Next Month, It Could Be The End Of The Postal Service As We Know It appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Childcare providers have only seen a 1 percent increase in their wages over the last 17 years.The post Why We Pay People Who Care For Children Like Parking Lot Attendants appeared first on ThinkProgress.
When markets are ethnically homogeneous, they are far more prone to the sorts of irrational errors that lead to economic calamity, according to a new study.The post Wall Street’s Failure To Hire Ethnically Diverse Staffs Isn’t Just Disappointing. It’s Dangerous. appeared first on ThinkProgress.
A similar ban in Los Angeles was found to be illegal earlier this year.The post California City Reverses Ban On Homeless Sleeping In Cars appeared first on ThinkProgress.
The two men, plus one other, were original sentenced to die based on the coerced statement of a 13 year-old boy.The post These Two Men Spent 39 Years In Jail And Were Sentenced To Death For A Crime They Did Not Commit appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Meet the two men running for justice. The post Meet The Two Men Who Ran 550 Miles, From Atlanta To Michael Brown’s Memorial In Ferguson appeared first on ThinkProgress.
The boy died early Sunday morning.The post Cleveland Police Shoot And Kill 12-Year-Old Carrying A Fake Gun appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Obama May Have Quoted The Bible, But The Religious Movement Is Still Looking To Congress On ImmigrationFriday November 21st, 2014 08:32:07 PM Jack Jenkins
“As pastors, we welcome any efforts within these limits that protect individuals and protect and reunite families and vulnerable children," Bishop Eusebio Elizondo said.The post Obama May Have Quoted The Bible, But The Religious Movement Is Still Looking To Congress On Immigration appeared first on ThinkProgress.
President Obama's order denies relief to tens of thousands of immigrants based on a flimsy legal justification.The post Obama’s Legal Justification For His Immigration Order Is Actually Far Too Timid appeared first on ThinkProgress.
"I'm looking forward to the millions of people across the country taking breaths together," Greisa Martinez said. The post Forget The Pundits: Reactions To Obama’s Speech From The Immigrants Who Are Actually Impacted appeared first on ThinkProgress.
The grand jury verdict will come out any day now. The post Officer Who Shot Michael Brown In Talks To Resign appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Incoming Nevada Speaker Said Democrats Have ‘Master-Slave’ Relationship With ‘Simple Minded Darkies’Thursday November 20th, 2014 05:22:36 PM Ian Millhiser
In another piece, he wrote that "[t]he lack of gratitude and the deliberate ignoring of white history in relation to eliminating slavery is a disgrace that Negro leaders should own up to.”The post Incoming Nevada Speaker Said Democrats Have ‘Master-Slave’ Relationship With ‘Simple Minded Darkies’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Expect threats of shutdown, impeachment, and all-out obstruction. The post Republicans Plotting Extreme Measures To Sabotage Obama’s Immigration Action appeared first on ThinkProgress.
The bill responds to a nationwide shortage of execution drugs, which arises from increasing opposition to the death penalty from the companies that produce the drugs and from governments that prohibit their exportation if they will be used in executions.The post Bill To Bring Back Firing Squads Advances In Utah appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Police would no longer get to keep the profits from the items they seize. The post D.C. City Council Cracks Down On Cops Seizing People’s Assets For Police Use appeared first on ThinkProgress.
"The idea that we incarcerate people to have indentured servitude is one of the worst possible...perceptions," Attorney General Kamala Harris told ThinkProgress. "It evokes images of chain gangs."The post California Attorney General Says Her Office’s Defense Of Prison Labor ‘Evokes Chain Gangs’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.
She was touched by his noodly appendage.The post ‘Pastafarian’ Ex-Porn Star Gains The Right To Wear A Pasta Strainer In Her Driver’s License Photo appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Two Republican justices recently indicated that they are on Obama's side in the coming fight over immigration.The post The Roberts Court Has Already Said That Obama Has The Power To Issue His Immigration Order appeared first on ThinkProgress.
"The president is committed to border security," DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said. "The president is committed to reducing illegal migration in the future."The post Homeland Security Secretary: Obama’s Immigration Relief Will Include Border Security Components appeared first on ThinkProgress.
229 voters in Houston’s Harris County, 27 in San Antonio’s Bexar County, and 99 in Dallas County.The post Texas Threw Out At Least 500 Ballots Because Of Voter ID appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Shortly after a former energy CEO's indictment was announced, a judge issued a sweeping gag order prohibiting anyone involved with the case, potentially involved with the case, or even many people who are involved with someone potentially involved with the case, from speaking to the media.The post Judge Issues Sweeping Gag Order Silencing Alleged Victims Of A Notorious Coal Baron appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Tanesha Anderson was schizophrenic, bipolar, and “wasn’t doing very well that day,” as her brother described it, when she was killed earlier this month during an altercation with police who were called to her home for help. It’s a familiar profile for those who die at police hands.The post How Did This Unarmed Schizophrenic Woman End Up Dead At The Hands Of Police? appeared first on ThinkProgress.
"I am tired of living in the fear and darkness of being deported," Angela Navarro said. The post Undocumented Immigrant And Her U.S. Citizen Family Are Living In A Church Until Obama Grants Relief appeared first on ThinkProgress.
Nixon's decision is only stirring the pot. The post With Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Imminent, Groups Blast Decision To Declare ‘State Of Emergency’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.
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