Democrats’ state-level problem

I was going to pull out a long quote from this excellent Jamelle Bouie piece for quick hits, but it’s just too long, so it gets it’s own post.  It’s an important problem:

With that said, there are more costs to Democratic weakness in the states than just House elections. States are where parties build talent and try new ideas. Here, the GOP is instructive. Its brightest stars are either governors (Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Chris Christie) or former state officeholders (Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Joni Ernst). And Republican-controlled statehouses have been incubators for conservative ideas, from experiments in tax cutting (Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana and Sam Brownback’s Kansas) to full-fledged assaults on public-sector unions (Walker’s Wisconsin and Christie’s New Jersey). In all likelihood, the next Republican president will either come from the states, or will borrow his approach from the present generation of GOP governors. Likewise, if Democrats win the White House for a third term, they’ll face opposition from Congress and empowered Republican majorities at the state level. Indeed, if not for statehouse Republicans, the Affordable Care Act would be a smoother project, with broader buy-in for exchanges and the Medicaid expansion.

Democrats might have strong national prospects in the form of Hillary Clinton, but they have little to look to in the states. Only a few places stand as incubators for progressive strategies and ideas, and nationwide, Democrats have close to nothing in the way of a bench for federal and statewide office. The liberal counterparts to Walker, Christie, Brownback, and Mike Pence—ideologically motivated governors with national profiles—don’t exist. And as a result, liberals can’t point to a forward-looking agenda that exists outside the bounds of the presidency.

Good and concerning points.  And there’s more in the whole thing.

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Zinc, colds, and capitalism

So, several members of my family have had a really nasty cold this week (as in miss three days of HS or hardly get up off the couch sick).  So, I’ve been determined to avoid it and have been taking Zinc Gluconate lozenges prophylactically  So far, so good.  Though, it could just be a healthy immune system.

Back in the day, I used to use Zicam intranasal Zing gel.  It was amazing at reducing the severity of a cold.  Scientifically, it made sense– the rhinoviruses proliferate in the tip of your nose, so that’s where you squirt the gel.  Alas, a number of people could not follow instructions and snorted the gel.  Turns out that can destroy your sense of smell.  Sometimes permanently.  So, this awesomely effective product was pulled because people couldn’t follow directions.

Anyway, the evidence on Zinc lozenges appears to be somewhat mixed, but the NYT ran a story back in 2011 about a comprehensive review suggesting that particular forms of Zinc quite likely are effective in reducing cold symptoms.   Interestingly, the most effective Zinc is only available in Eby’s Cold Cure which is pricey and can only be purchased on-line.  You’d think that since this major endorsement in 2014, Eby’s or at least Zinc Acetetate (as opposed to Zinc Gluconate) would go widespread and be available in Walgreen’s, CVS, etc.  But no.  If you want the Zinc Acetate, Eby’s website is still your only source.  Capitalism has let me down!  A better mousetrap and it’s still a very limited product.  Interesting story in the Austin American-Statesman about Eby and how his great “invention” just won’t catch on.

And after writing all this, I decided to go ahead and order a bottle of Eby’s for next time.  I’ll report back to you next time I get a cold.

Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s animal photos of the week:

A fox goes about its business in Downing Street shortly before the Prime Minister leaves for the Houses of Parliament

A fox goes about its business in Downing Street shortly before the Prime Minister leaves for the Houses of ParliamentPicture: Rex

Mega quick hits (part I)

Surprisingly busy week this week (I worked hard on my syllabi for next semester and had grading to finish) means less blogging but more quick hits.  Here goes…

1) Chris Kromm (who should know) gives four reasons the Democrats should not forget about the South.

2) David Cole with a terrific piece on the torture nicely summed up in the headline, “If those techniques were approved, why did the CIA still lie about torture?”

3) Speaking off which, Jane Mayer on the unidentified CIA woman who may have done as much to harm America as any terrorist:

The NBC News investigative reporter Matthew Cole has pieced together aremarkable story revealing that a single senior officer, who is still in a position of high authority over counterterrorism at the C.I.A.—a woman who he does not name—appears to have been a source of years’ worth of terrible judgment, with tragic consequences for the United States. Her story runs through the entire report. She dropped the ball when the C.I.A. was given information that might very well have prevented the 9/11 attacks; she gleefully participated in torture sessions afterward; she misinterpreted intelligence in such a way that it sent the C.I.A. on an absurd chase for Al Qaeda sleeper cells in Montana. And then she falsely told congressional overseers that the torture worked.

Oh, and she keeps being promoted and she’s a general now.  Yeah, America.  If you have the time, read this one.

4) Now that the National Bank of Abu Dhabi has invested heavily in Real Madrid, they have removed the cross from the crown on their logo.  George Black uses this as a jumping off point for a nice piece on money and international soccer.

5) A visualization of wikipedia rabbit holes.  I have definitely spent far too much time in Wikipedia rabbit holes myself (one evening I learned all about every Boeing passenger jet ever).

6) What Slate learned in a year of attempting (and failing) to record every gun death in America.

7) The head of the correctional officers union at Rikers is super powerful and a huge impediment to meaningful reform.  He might as well be the prison abuser in chief.  Fortunately, the US Government is stepping up with a lawsuit– though it’s unfortunate it has to come to that.

8) It is one thing if Cheney wants to go Orwellian and call torture “EIT” but the newsmedia damn sure should not follow along (they’ve already done enough damage in pretending like torture is “enhanced interrogation”).  Great short piece on the matter from Yglesias.

9) What do Angelina Jolie and I have in common.  We both recently had chicken pox.  Fortunatetly for me, did not prevent me from attending the premier of a movie I was directing.

10) The NYT writers’ video appreciation of Colbert.  I’m going to have to watch that last episode on-line this weekend.  I did learn that he ended his last show with one of my very favorite songs ever.  I’ve always loved the lyrics of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Holland 1945” even though they lack the same personal resonance for me they have for Colbert.

11) I love that this Spanish language reporter left my joke in on this interview about 2016.  Does not really come across well with Google translate.

12) Perhaps George Washington would not have died when he did if “doctors” had not removed 40% of his blood volume in their attempts to cure him.  Really interesting piece on his final hours.

13) The continued use of polygraphs is just nuts.  There’s really almost no meaningful science behind them.  Vox is on the case:

Related is the belief that polygraphs might be useful as a deterrent: if a sex offender believes he or she is going to be regularly subjected to accurate lie detection tests, committing a crime suddenly looks like a guarantee of heading back to prison. For both of these uses, it doesn’t matter whether the test actually works or not, just that it’s perceived as effective.

But Saxe believes that, for some people, there may be a less cynical factor involved — something that more closely resembles myth or religion than science.

“People want to believe in a just world. And in a just world, people can’t get away with lying,” he says. “My impression from speaking with some polygraphers is that they believe what they’re doing is accurate. Some even say things like, ‘god gave us this tool to make a better world.'”

14) Ayn Rand reviews children’s movies.  This is brilliant.  Just read it.

15) Don’t know all that much about Andrew Luck or follow him closely, but I love how his genuine niceness totally messes with his opponents’ heads.

16) Very nice Monkey Cage post on the insidious effects of money on politics (it’s the lobbying):

This is why focusing on corporate campaign contributions misses the real story.  The bigger, and more important money, is in lobbying. Appelbaum and I actually agree on this point. By my calculations, the ratio of corporate lobbying spending to campaign spending is 13-to-1.

17) As if Stephen Pinker isn’t awesome enough, he even gives totally fun, creative tests to his undergrads that feature questions based on Calvin and Hobbes and Dilbert.  He makes me feel like a failure.  On the bright side, I did pretty good on the test– 9/10.

18) How Europe is learning to live with restored populations of large carnivores.

19) I had never read this price-of-oil based take on the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Interesting!

20) Wonkblog on why climate change is bringing more environmentalists to support nuclear power.  This one has been pretty obvious to me for years– glad more environmentalists are catching on.  Sure, there’s always risk, but newer designs have come a long way and we need to compare this risk to the costs of carbon-based energy.

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