Video of the day

I saw this guy in an earlier round, but missed the final show.  Make sure you watch the Final Jeopardy answer (starting about 1:15 in).  Awesome.

Of course, this also hearkens back to Cliff Clavin’s awesome Final Jeopardy appearance which I swear I was referencing in class just yesterday (though of course not a soul had any idea what I was talking about):

Too crazy to be executed?

I could’ve used a streamlined version, but pretty fascinating story of a truly crazy, crazy murdered that Texas is trying to execute.  How crazy you ask?

Perhaps what he did next—the thing that got everybody’s attention again—resulted from a combination of all these things: On December 9, 2008, Andre ripped out his left eye. His only eye. And he ate it.

As he explained some days later, he didn’t want the government to read his thoughts, so he ate the eye because he was certain they would figure out some way to put it back in. He said he had been reading the Book of Revelations, and felt sympathy for the devil because it wasn’t all Satan’s fault. After all, Andre was supposed to have been aborted.

Yeah, that crazy.  And, this being Texas, of course there’s race involved.  But I couldn’t not pass along that tidbit, for which the author cruelly makes you wait for the third page.

Stupid moderates

Alright, people actually have only the slightest understanding of their own ideology, and I expect that may be especially true for “moderates” but if NC moderates thought they were getting a “moderate” governor in Pat McCrory, they were sorely mistaken.  And those 15% of NC Democrats who voted for McCrory– happy now?



But where McCrory really cleaned up more than he should have  is among “Independents.”  I suspect he did particularly well among Democratic-leaning Independents.  These voters quite generally think and behave like true partisans, but generally at less reliable levels.  Anyway, McCrory has quickly proven himself no moderate and anyone who is not clearly on the right-side of the political spectrum made a real mistake in voting for him.  Not that this fact will help unemployed people needing benefits or the working poor needing Medicaid.  Still, I like to have people to blame :-).

The story of Ezra

As any regular read knows, and as you would expect of any policy-loving liberal, I’m a huge Ezra Klein fan.  Really enjoyed this profile of him at TNR. Really is an amazing story how he went from a average, not particularly motivated student with a great blog to a hugely influential blog at the Washington Post that’s a must for anybody interested in public policy.  Of course, he is super smart, but really comes across in the piece is his ambition– not surprisingly for somebody who’s achieved what he has at 28.  Anyway, what I love most about Ezra is his huge respect for Political Science.  I know he continues to follow and learn from the discipline, but I also think he surely absorbed a hell of a lot as an undergradute major at UCLA.  Honestly, a lot of what he says is not all that sophisticated or all that different from what I try and teach my students.  Like this:

“Why Washington Is Horrible (in Charts)” is more than a spiel; it is Klein’s grand theory of politics, the media, and history. “One of my big beliefs about Washington is that we highly overstate the power of individuals and highly underrate seeing Washington as a system, in general, but, in particular, we highly underrate the power of Congress,” Klein began as we wheeled through the city. He placed particular blame on the media for latching onto trivial matters and overlooking the sticky, more complicated issues of how the government actually works. “I think the focus on gaffes is a deep embarrassment, like, a deep embarrassment, and a systemic failure on the media’s part,” he says.

Heck, I hit all these points to a decent degree in my American Government class.  The difference is that Ezra has internalized these as an (appropriate) worldview, whereas most journalists are, sadly, completely focused on individual explanations and gaffes.

Photo of the day

I enjoyed the fact last night that while most of my social media feeds were taken up with SOTU, there were a number of folks commenting on the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.  Nice gallery from N&O:

Grace, a St. Bernard, at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 12, 2013 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images) STAN HONDA — AFP/Getty Images

People will die

Okay, perhaps a bit hyperbolic, as people die or don’t die due to all sorts of governmental policy decisions– how closely to regulate pollution  traffic and automobile safety, how to deploy our armed forces, etc.  Yet, when you look at the Republicans refusal to allow the Medicaid expansion in this state, rarely is the connection so necessary and explicit.  Roughly half a million North Carolinians who should be getting basic health care– overwhelmingly paid for by the federal, not NC budget– will not be getting that health care due to the choices made by the Republican leaders in this state.  And if you think that access to basic medical care for that half a million won’t affect their mortality and hugely affect their quality of life, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.  Truly, morally appalling.  I’ve got a pretty damn good idea What Jesus Would Do and it isn’t this.  From the N&O:

RALEIGH — A Republican measure to prevent major components of the federal health care law from taking effect in North Carolina will almost certainly be approved after Gov. Pat McCrory endorsed the effort Tuesday.

The new governor had been a wild card after he expressed caution about the fiscal implications of the legislation and declined for weeks to take a position on the broader bill, which would prevent the expansion of Medicaid in 2014 to roughly 500,000 people and prohibit the state from creating an online exchange for private health insurance…

In explaining his stance, McCrory expressed concerns about whether the federal government would pay its share of the cost to expand in light of the budget deficit, which has exceeded $1 trillion in each of the past four years.

That’s just pathetic.  What an utter lie.  There is no doubt whatsoever that the federal government will make good on its Medicaid funding just as it always has when we’ve (almost always) been running budget deficits.  What really kills me is the pathetic hand-wringing of Dr. Idelogue:

Republican state Rep. Jim Fulghum, a retired neurosurgeon from Raleigh, called such uninsured people “an agonizing problem. “If there is a lack of care, I want to provide it – that’s just my nature and anyone’s in this field,” he said.

At the same time, he is concerned about the rising cost of Medicaid, which makes up 15 percent of the state’s $20 billion budget. The $3 billion cost to the state in the 2012 fiscal year compares to $2 billion a decade ago. The federal government pays about two-thirds of the cost for current participants, or about $11 billion.

“It’s a difficult issue to throw good money after bad,” Fulghum said.

Well, I’m glad to know that Fulghum will at least agonize over the considerable human suffering he will in large part be responsible for.  And, if he’s such agony, would it really be so awful to raise revenue to help pay for this, if necessary, into the future.  Now, that’s real agony for a Republican.  And, of course, this business of just blaming it all on ineffective Medicaid.  Does Medicaid have inefficiencies and problems like any other large, complex bureaucratic organization?  Of course.  But it also hugely important– and largely effective– to providing basic health care to millions of Americans.  If the Republicans are so concerned about the damn problems– fix them— don’t deny health care to hundreds of thousands of citizens.  Very many of them who are hard-working in low-paying jobs that don’t offer health care.

And finally, McCrory had done a lot to try and maintain his more moderate image.  At the time of the election, I said the real question would be whether he would follow the extreme elements of his party right off the policy cliff.  Sadly, I think we have our answer.

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