Map(s) of the day

Pretty cool map of which states will be hurt worst by climate change.  Time to move to Wisconsin?

And some more:

Quick hits (part I)

1) The Grenfell Towers fire in London and government regulation.  This is ultimately what the libertarian view of government gets you– people burned alive.

A formal government inquiry into the fire has just begun. But interviews with tenants, industry executives and fire safety engineers point to a gross failure of government oversight, a refusal to heed warnings from inside Britain and around the world and a drive by successive governments from both major political parties to free businesses from the burden of safety regulations.

Promising to cut “red tape,” business-friendly politicians evidently judged that cost concerns outweighed the risks of allowing flammable materials to be used in facades. Builders in Britain were allowed to wrap residential apartment towers — perhaps several hundred of them — from top to bottom in highly flammable materials, a practice forbidden in the United States and many European countries. And companies did not hesitate to supply the British market.

2) Damn the anti-democratic hubris and arrogance of the NC Republicans really knows no bounds.  Now they are trying to strip the governor of his power to to challenge unconstitutional laws.  Oh, and they want to re-draw and gerrymander state judicial maps, too.  Beyond shameless.

3) Yes, Democratic urban clustering hurts even if it wasn’t for gerrymandering; but gerrymandering definitely does give Republicans an unfair advantage.

4) People kill people.  With guns.  Some new research:

The 2005 report of the National Research Council (NRC) on Firearms and Violence recognized that violent crime was higher in the post-passage period (relative to national crime patterns) for states adopting right-to-carry (RTC) concealed handgun laws, but because of model dependence the panel was unable to identify the true causal effect of these laws from the then-existing panel data evidence. This study uses 14 additional years of panel data (through 2014) capturing an additional 11 RTC adoptions and new statistical techniques to see if more convincing and robust conclusions can emerge.

Our preferred panel data regression specification (the “DAW model”) and the Brennan Center (BC) model, as well as other statistical models by Lott and Mustard (LM) and Moody and Marvell (MM) that had previously been offered as evidence of crime-reducing RTC laws, now consistently generate estimates showing RTC laws increase overall violent crime and/or murder when run on the most complete data.

We then use the synthetic control approach of Alberto Abadie and Javier Gardeazabal (2003) to generate state-specific estimates of the impact of RTC laws on crime. Our major finding is that under all four specifications (DAW, BC, LM, and MM), RTC laws are associated with higher aggregate violent crime rates, and the size of the deleterious effects that are associated with the passage of RTC laws climbs over time. Ten years after the adoption of RTC laws, violent crime is estimated to be 13-15% percent higher than it would have been without the RTC law. [emphasis mine] Unlike the panel data setting, these results are not sensitive to the covariates included as predictors. The magnitude of the estimated increase in violent crime from RTC laws is substantial in that, using a consensus estimate for the elasticity of crime with respect to incarceration of .15, the average RTC state would have to double its prison population to counteract the RTC-induced increase in violent crime.

5) On Canada’s smart immigration policy and how it has helped them resist the anti-immigrant, populist wave.

6) I think there is, actually, a reasonable case for replacing Nancy Pelosi.  Yglesias makes it:

The normal winning political strategy these days is for a party to make a comeback by presenting itself as all new and radically improved, even if the basic ideology and policy framework remains the same. By having Pelosi as their leader, Democrats are essentially asking the voters of swing districts to decide they made a mistake back in 2010 and want to take back their old favorite party again. A new leader would simply let voters decide they’re tired of the GOP and ready to give a new group a shot.

Democratic candidates don’t like to talk about Pelosi

The biggest problem with Pelosi’s status in the leadership is probably seen by the behavior over the years of the Democratic House challengers on whose success she is counting to get elected speaker. Simply put, they don’t want to talk about it.

Of course, there’s still a good case to be made for keeping Pelosi, but I think this–unlike blaming her for Ossof’s loss, etc.– is an actually decent case for replacing her.

7) Grover Norquist’s tweet about his daughter having to pay sales tax on a guitar being how Republicans are made was moronic and truly shows the smallness of his mind and vision.  This article has many of the best replies.

8) The dad who photoshops his young daughter into dangerous situations.  Love this.

9) Richard Hasen on how Gorsuch really is the new Scalia.

10) Hell of a headline, “Man sits in jail when drywall powder is mistaken for cocaine.”  Hooray for the war on drugs.

11) Williams Syndrome— where people are incredibly friendly and sociable– is a pretty fascinating genetic disorder which presents a pretty unique set of parenting problems.

12) Who knew?  How TMZ became a potent pro-Trump media outlet.

13) Josh Barro on the idea that consumers want to take more charge of their health care:

Republicans like to claim that prices will fall because their law will “empower consumers,” which is their code word for the fact that their healthcare bill would saddle consumers with more of the responsibility to pay for their own healthcare. But there is little evidence that forcing consumers to pay more leads to savvier healthcare spending.

It doesn’t push prices down. It does cause people to consume less healthcare. Unfortunately, consumers do not appear to be very good at identifying and forgoing wasteful healthcare instead of useful healthcare — that is, people tend to forgo treatments they actually need but don’t have the money to pay for.

Let me tell you a story about healthcare spending accounts

One of the stupidest aspects of Republican healthcare rhetoric is the idea that consumers want to take charge of their own care by paying routine expenses from special, tax-advantaged accounts.

These accounts have been gradually foisted on Americans over the decades. Your employer most likely asks you whether you want a health savings account or a flexible spending account. I’ve resisted using one because they are such a pain, but I broke down and set up an FSA this year through Business Insider because I decided it was stupid to forgo the tax savings.

So I put $2,600 in the account and ADP sent me a debit card. I started using it at the doctor’s office, at the pharmacy, at the physical therapist. (I threw out my back this spring, which is a reason I’ve been a little crankier than usual.)

Then, after a few months, I got a letter in the mail from ADP saying it needed my receipts. Receipts? I thought ADP got those straight from the providers. It seems it does get them from CVS, but not from the medical providers. I was supposed to be uploading those receipts through a website. Instead, I threw them away.

If I had to upload the receipts, then what was the point of the debit card? If the system requires that much paperwork, I might as well be submitting claim forms and getting checks in the mail.

Anyway, now I have to call those providers’ offices and get duplicate receipts and upload them and allow seven to 10 days for processing. Until I do that, I have been cut off from access to the money in the account — my own money — that got in the account only because Congress chose to offer a tax preference that I could get only by using such an account.

Who wants to deal with this crap?

14) Maine restaurant workers didn’t want their minimum wage raised, because it would be at the expense of tipping.  As we know, tipping sucks.

15) I don’t actually eat tomatoes (you know, picky eater) except as sauce and ketchup.  That said, I found this Smithsonian article on how they lost their good taste pretty fascinating:

But modern farmers aren’t entirely to blame, the genetic study found. “The selection for big fruit and against sugar is dramatic in the modern varieties,” says Klee. “But it goes way back to pre-Columbian days when the Native Americans were already selecting for bigger fruit with lower sugar content.”

Putting more tasty sugar back into mainstream tomatoes may simply not be feasible with today’s production realities, says Klee. That’s because most growers aren’t paid for flavor; they’re paid by the pound. It costs just as much to have a worker pick a small tomato as to pick a huge one, which is a big reason why today’s commercially-produced tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) can be so much more massive than their tiny wild ancestors.

“The breeders have selected plants to produce massive amounts of fruit, all at the same time, and they want bigger fruit on to the plant. The plant just can’t keep up with that, so what happens is you dilute out all of the flavor chemicals,” says Klee.

The study also revealed another surprise in the tomato’s path to blandness. Much of the dilution of tomato flavor over time wasn’t just the necessary result of breeding for larger fruit—it was an accidental side effect. Since breeders aren’t regularly genetically testing their tomatoes, it’s easy for any of the 25 different chemicals involved in tomato aroma to simply drop out one by one over the generations, when the allele for poorer flavor choice is randomly selected.

It seems that, in the case of tomatoes, no one noticed this slow dilution until the cumulative impact of all those lost genes became obvious. “Out of the 25 volatiles 13 of them are significantly reduced in the modern varieties, “ Klee says. “Its almost exactly what you’d predict would occur randomly, but the net effect is that you’ve diluted out flavor.”

16) How legal marijuana makes it harder for police to search your car.  Good.

17) Now NC Republicans are looking to impeach our Democratic Secretary of State.  Nuts!

18) America’s trees are moving West.  And only a small portion can be explained by climate change.

19) Loved this Vox essay from Jimmy Williams, former lobbyist who had to give it up after too much damage to his soul:

Now, before everyone gets their panties in a wad, let me be pointedly clear about something: I support lobbying and believe it’s an essential part of our constitutional right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Everyone in this country, from the left to the right, deserves a voice, and they should be heard loud and clear. If that means hiring a lobbyist to represent your point of view before Congress, awesomesauce. If that means you take to the streets, demand meetings and town halls with cowardly members of the House and Senate, or, better yet, run against them, I’m your biggest advocate.

But what I don’t support are Supreme Court rulings that have repeatedly told us money is an absolutely protected form of speech. A string of cases like Citizens United and others has opened the barn door to unlimited “dark money” campaign spending. Cases like Citizens gross me and most everyone else out because the result is the money in your politics becomes the voice in your politics. Americans’ right “to redress” comes at a cost, and if you don’t have the cash, chances are you’ll be ignored. [emphasis mine]

Bottom line: Those with the most money have the largest voices. Those with the least are rarely part of the process. That makes the legality of the practice of lobbying less relevant because it’s an uneven playing field.

20) Professors getting in trouble for saying what they really think on social media.  Also, if you are only an adjunct, be really careful!

21) Re-assessing Thomas Jefferson.  Here’s my handy approach– judge a person by the standards of their times.

22) Harold Pollack is right, “Trumpcare Will Probably Kill Thousands Each Year: And it is neither alarmist nor uncivil to say so.”

23) Yep, so Republicans are content to keep the status quo in NC where it’s not a rape if the woman said yes before withdrawing consent.

24) Count me as on-board with the plan for Americacare (i.e. public option on steroids) as the new Democratic approach to health care.

 

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