Quick hits (part I)

I may be in Chicago for a Political Science conference, but look, you still get your quick hits on time (part II may be late).

1) Jennifer Rubin with an excellent piece on Trump’s actual peril from Mueller.

2) And Matt Glassman with a great twitter thread on the matter.

3) Confessions of a former Sinclair news director.

4) Wow– this Wired piece on disposing of human bodies (dead ones, that is) through chemistry was utterly fascinating.

5) I don’t think privatization of government services should be rejected out of hand, but it is a disaster when it comes to prisons.  You are basically monetizing human suffering and creating a profit motive to treat humans worse.  To wit, this private prison in Mississippi.  Of course, the Trump administration wants to expand their use:

On the witness stand and under pressure, Frank Shaw, the warden of the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, could not guarantee that the prison was capable of performing its most basic function.

Asked if the guards were supposed to keep inmates in their cells, he said, wearily, “They do their best.”

According to evidence and testimony at a federal civil rights trial, far worse things were happening at the prison than inmates strolling around during a lockdown: A mentally ill man on suicide watch hanged himself, gang members were allowed to beat other prisoners, and those whose cries for medical attention were ignored resorted to setting fires in their cells.

So many shackled men have recounted instances of extraordinary violence and neglect in the prison that the judge has complained of exhaustion.

The case, which has received little attention beyond the local news media, provides a rare glimpse into the cloistered world of privately operated prisons, at a time when the number of state inmates in private facilities is increasing and the Trump administration has indicated that it will expand their use

The genesis of the problems at East Mississippi, according to prisoner advocates, is that the state requires private prisons to operate at 10 percent lower cost than state-run facilities. Even at its state-run institutions, Mississippi spends significantly less on prisoners than most states, a fact that state officials once boasted about.

The federal civil rights lawsuit, filed against the state by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center after years of complaints from inmates, seeks to force wholesale changes at the prison.

Testimony has described dangerous conditions, confused lines of oversight and difficulty in attracting and retaining qualified staff.

Security staff at East Mississippi earn even less than the $12-an-hour starting wage made by their public service counterparts, and private prison guards receive only three weeks of training — less than half the training time required of state prison guards.

6) How Jay Wright has built an amazing program at Villanova.  As a Duke fan, I’m horribly jealous.  And so tired of one-and-done’s.

7) Focused deterrence is the way to go for limiting gun crime.  Great explanation in this NYT Op-Ed.

8) Margaret Sullivan is right, “The term ‘fake news’ has lost all meaning. That’s just how Trump wants it.”

9) This is one of my favorite examples ever of how statistics can be mislseading– I’m going to be using it for years.  Why do dogs die at a disproportionate rate on United Airlines?  Because they have been the only company willing to take short-nosed breeds (e.g., boxers, pugs, etc.) that are far more prone to respiratory distress.

10) Love this Wired history of memes.  Including my favorite.

11) And yet another case of a Republican state legislator saying stupid, stupid stuff.  There’s just nothing approaching symmetry here.  NC’s own:

According to a North Carolina legislator, some March For Our Lives speakers also called for a far more nefarious approach. State Rep. Beverly Boswell, a Republican from the coast, suggested on her Facebook page that speakers at the marches expressed violent intentions.

“Many of the speakers at these rallies were calling for gun registration, confiscation, Second Amendment repeal and even the murder of those who would not turn over their guns to the government,” Boswell wrote on her campaign Facebook page.

12) Unsurprisingly to everybody but the regulators who somehow said this would actually help consumers, the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster has been bad for competition and bad for consumers.

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