It’s not all polarization

Republicans are obstructing pretty much every executive branch appointment they can.  Why?  Because Obama wants to appoint a bunch of wild-eyed liberals?  Polarization?  No.  Just because they can.  And they are not particularly interested in the proper functioning of government.  Love this bit from Drum:

The point of filibustering everything and everyone has never been just to prevent a few objectionable candidates from being confirmed. It’s been to tie up Senate floor time and disrupt even the routine functioning of a federal government that’s under Democratic control. Even with filibuster reform they can still do that, so why should they stop now? A broken government is nothing but good news for Republicans.

Bernstein says in another post today that he’s tired of hearing about political polarization. It’s not really anything new, after all. That’s true enough, and this is a good example. It’s not a case of polarization, it’s just a straightforward case of assholery. There’s no principle or ideology behind this, they’re merely causing dysfunction for the sake of causing dysfunction. Welcome to the modern GOP.

Photo of the day

Apparently there was a huge water main break at UCLA that flooded much of the campus.  Totally soaking the famous court at Pauley Pavilion among other places.  Nice photo gallery from the LA Times:

Water main break near UCLA

Water main break near UCLA

The Palin channel

I must admit, I almost never pay attention when I hear “Sarah Palin.”  My brain automatically knows that what follows is just absurdity.  Thus, I was only vaguely aware that Palin was starting her own internet channel.  But I did quite enjoy Ian Crouch’s take on it.  Good stuff.

This is the real purpose of the Sarah Palin Channel, which is simply a new, digital act in an ongoing passion play, with Katie Couric in the role of Pontius Pilate and Palin in the self-appointed role of martyr on the cross, paying for the sins of everyone who’s ever pretended to read more newspapers than they actually do.

Depressing and (sadly) unsurprising criminal justice news

Via the Post:

Nearly every criminal case reviewed by the FBI and the Justice Department as part of a massive investigation started in 2012 of problems at the FBI lab has included flawed forensic testimony from the agency, government officials said.

The findings troubled the bureau, and it stopped the review of convictions last August. Case reviews resumed this month at the order of the Justice Department, the officials said.

U.S. officials began the inquiry after The Washington Post reported two years ago that flawed forensic evidence involving microscopic hair matches might have led to the convictions of hundreds of potentially innocent people. Most of those defendants never were told of the problems in their cases.

The inquiry includes 2,600 convictions and 45 death-row cases from the 1980s and 1990s in which the FBI’s hair and fiber unit reported a match to a crime-scene sample before DNA testing of hair became common. The FBI had reviewed about 160 cases before it stopped, officials said.

The investigation resumed after the Justice Department’s inspector generalexcoriated the department and the FBI for unacceptable delays and inadequate investigation in a separate inquiry from the mid-1990s. The inspector general found in that probe that three defendants were executed and a fourth died on death row in the five years it took officials to reexamine 60 death-row convictions that were potentially tainted by agent misconduct, mostly involving the same FBI hair and fiber analysis unit now under scrutiny.

The number of innocent people in this country who surely have been convicted due to sloppy and misguided and forensic “science” is just mind-boggling.

It’s good to be a conservative Republican until your rural hospital closes

I read a front-section story in the N&O yesterday about a small-town NC politician who walked all the way to DC to protest losing his town’s hospital.  I either didn’t read closely enough or it wasn’t in there, but apparently he’s also quite the conservative Republican.  He earned himself a column from Dana Milbank, though:

A week after Gibbs’s death [a 48 year-old heart attack victim who survived about an hour but the closest hospital was more than an hour away], O’Neal began a 15-day, 273-mile walk to Washington to draw attention to the outrage in Belhaven, which he blames on the combination of an “immoral” hospital operator and the failure of Republican leaders in his state to accept the new Medicaid funding the hospital needed to stay afloat…

What makes the mayor’s journey all the more compelling is he’s a white Southerner and a Republican officeholder who has conservative views on abortion, taxes, guns — “you name it,” he told me. But ideology and party loyalty have limits. “I’m a pretty conservative guy, but this is a matter of people dying,” he said.

Republicans nationwide have abandoned any consideration of offering an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, figuring that their complaints about President Obama’s selective implementation of the law, and lingering unease about the legislation itself, will be enough to motivate conservative voters in November. But as O’Neal points out, this political calculation has a moral flaw.

“If the  governor and the legislature don’t want to accept Medicaid expansion, they need to come up with another program to assure that rural hospitals don’t close,” the 45-year-old mayor said. Otherwise, he continued, “they’re allowing people to die to prove a point. That is wrong, and I’m not going to be a party to that.”

O’Neal is no fan of Obamacare, but during his journey, he sent a letter to Obama asking for a meeting. “I am a conservative Republican and I understand some of the suspicions political leaders in my party have,” he wrote. “But those concerns do not trump the need to maintain health services in struggling communities. Rural citizens dying should not be soldiers of the South’s defiance to the new health care law.”

Cognitive dissonance much?  Give me  a break.  You know what you call propping up economically unsustainable hospitals in rural areas just so people don’t die?  Socialism!!  Oh, it’s great to be a conservative Republican when it’s all those “other” people getting welfare, food stamps, etc.,  but when your white, rural community loses its economically un-viable hospital, well, damnit, the government better fix it!  Also, you know what you call the Medicaid expansion?  Obamacare.  And lastly, it’s not fair at all to single out NC Republicans for refusing the Medicaid expansion.  Republicans have similarly placed ideology above human life and health in 23 other states as well.  Can’t have those damn free-loaders getting medical care other than showing up near death in the ER, can we?

Fracking Radicals!

A pro-fracking ad in Colorado.  Oh my.


Puppy mills are just plain evil.  They exploit and abuse dogs for profit.  They simply should not exist.  Yes, you should be able to raise dogs and sell them, but certainly not abuse them in the process.  And when you consider the number of times puppy mills end up being raided and closed down and dozens of dogs put into the system they create serious externalities.  Thus, it only makes sense that they be properly regulated.  Even the Republicans in the NC House see this.  The NC Senate?  Not so much.  From WRAL:

— A proposal to regulate large commercial dog breeders appears to be dead for the year, doomed once again by opposition from state Senate leaders.

The House passed legislation in 2013 that would require large breeding operations, or “puppy mills,” to meet basic standards of animal welfare, sanitation and humane treatment. The Senate refused to take up the proposal.

Large commercial breeders that sell puppies to the public are not regulated by the state. There are no inspections or licensing requirements.

For years, poll numbers have consistently shown that North Carolina voters favor state regulation of dog breeding operations. But the American Kennel Club, hunting groups and agricultural interests have worked diligently against the idea. They argue that requiring kennel inspections violates breeders’ property rights and say setting standards for companion animals could trigger similar requirements for livestock breeding operations.

This opposition is just stupid.  And shame, shame on the supposed dog lovers at the AKC.  As for the agricultural interests, the bill is about dogs!  Yes, the mis-treatment of pigs and other livestock in NC is deplorable, but that’s not what this bill is about.  It’s not some small step from regulating dog breeding to regulating hog farms.  It would be nice if it was, but clearly not in the actual world we live in.  And so frustrating that people pretend otherwise.

And you know what is really shameful about this whole sorry thing, the admitted reason that the Senate leaders will not allow a vote on the legislation:

Advocates for regulation calling Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s office say they’re being told “the puppy mill language was pulled due to unethical behavior on the part of its supporters.”

The reference to “unethical behavior” stems from an incident in January when regulation supporters met with Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, a veterinarian who opposes the House legislation.

Rabon’s comments in that meeting were laced with obscenities, calling House leaders a profane term and accusing McCrory and his wife of improperly lobbying for the 2013 bill. He also told them the legislation wouldn’t be considered in 2014.

The supporters recorded the meeting and released it to the media, embarrassing Rabon and Senate leaders.

The woman who recorded the meeting said the audio recorder was in plain sight at all times, but Senate leaders accused her and others of “secretly” recording the meeting and attempting to “extort” lawmakers by releasing it.

Got that?  A horrible person (and I happily stand behind that characterization based on this information) was publicly shown to be horrible and the Senate leadership cannot abide by it.  The solution is to make dogs suffer.  That’ll show those animal lovers!  Record us acting like complete jerks and the dogs get hurt!  This is just so breathtakingly immature and stupid.  And these are the people running my state!  Ugh.

Map of the day

Love this map from the Economist of Europe before and after WWI.  If you go to the link , it’s actually a really cool single map with a slider, but here it is in pure before and after.



Mars needs women and the US needs immigrants

Okay, I cannot actually speak to the former, but the latter is definitely true.  Nice piece in TNR taking a look at how important immigration is the demographic/economic health of the US (and by the way, so annoying that TNR bothers with blog posts, but then let’s you see all you want if you just follow the twitter links).

The policy implications of immigration are complex, as any expert will tell you. But there’s one reason to think that Hewitt and Will are onto something. It’s a demographic fact that gets surprisingly little attentionthe fact that, if not for immigrants and their children, the U.S. child population would be shrinking

There are more than 17 million children with at least one immigrant parent in the U.S. They represent over a quarter of the 70 million people under 18 years old. Their proportion will grow over time, as the number of children born to non-immigrant parents declinesin both relative and absolute terms.

Changes in US child population

This matters, because today’s young people make up tomorrow’s productive workforce, generating economic activity and supporting retirees. We already face a declining young-to-old population ratio, putting huge strain on Social Security and other safety net programs. The children of immigrants will provide a crucial and growing buffer against this demographic shift.

Rather than embrace this fact, though, our current immigration system isactually quite harmful to children, often separating them from their parents and harming, rather than nourishing, their development.

Now, obviously, we would strongly prefer people to immigrate legally rather than illegally, but it is desperately clear that major reform is needed to our immigration laws.  Yet one political party (I won’t tell you which one) is being entirely obstructive in the matter.  It is complex, but in the end, the US economy and therefore almost all of us, benefit from immigration and therefore a sensible immigration policy.

Religiosity, race, and PID

Nice look at religiosity, race/ethnicity, and PID from Gallup.  First, I think it is kind of interesting that although we know that the very religious are clearly Republican and the non-religious are a very Democratic groups, the moderately religious (hey, that’s me!) also lean Democratic on balance:

Political Party Affiliation, by Religiousness, Monthly Trend, February 2008-June 2014


What I thought was particularly interseting, though, is when they break this down by race.  There is no effect on religiosity for Black Americans.  For other minority groups, in contrast, the whole chart is essentially shifted in a Democratic direction, but more religious still means more Republican (relatively speaking):

religiousness among black americans

Political Party Affiliation, by Religiousness, Race and Ethnicity

Also, notable when you take out the minorities and look at whites only the moderately religious whites are a very Republican group.  It’s also interesting that the impact of religion on whites is huge (a full 57 point swing!) as compared to the impact of religion on Hispanics (15 point swing) and Asian-Americans (21 point swing).  I almost feel like there’s some Political Science research to be done here.

Photo of the day

From a very cool Wired gallery.  These are not living birds, but paper:

One of Diana Beltran Herrera’s exquisite paper birds. Yes, that’s paper. This one’s an Eastern Meadowlark. DIANA BELTRAN HERRERA

Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s photos of the week:.  Now that’s what I call juxtaposition:

Czech photographer Radek Kalhous' photo of the Dukovany nuclear power station in the Czech Republic. The 40-year-old uses nothing more than clever lighting and a tilt-shift lens to capture the ugly power station.

Czech photographer Radek Kalhous’ photo of the Dukovany nuclear power station in the Czech Republic. The 40-year-old uses nothing more than clever lighting and a tilt-shift lens to capture the ugly power station.Picture: Radek Kalhous/Caters

(And by the way, photos lovers, lots of great shots in this gallery– well worth checking out all of it).


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