In 2 minutes, Santorum will likely suspend his bid for the GOP nomination. Watch live here.
Wow. I really thought Gingrich would go down first. Guess he doesn’t want to lose his home state?
In addition to not wanting to lose PA, it could be that he actually wants to spend more time with Bella and the rest of his family and less time with Newt Gingrich, which is admirable.
Nevertheless, unless and until I see a picture of a crying Santorum child clad in colonial-era dress, none of this happened.
2:26 pm • 10 April 2012 • 94 notes
“I could be pretty certain that on Good Friday a member of the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is across the street from where I was parked, had not nicked my bike. Neither had the monks at the Dominican House of Studies on the corner. The students at Catholic University were on Easter break. That left the neighborhoods around the university. Since the time I was an undergrad at Catholic University in the 1980s, most of the crime that has occurred on campus has come from those neighborhoods, which are predominately black. As sure as it took the D.C. cops forever to get to the parking lot to file a report, I knew that the odds were very high that a black person had taken my bike…”
Mark Judge, who is 1) convinced a black guy stole his bike, 2) relieved that this gives him an excuse to throw-off the manacles of his “white guilt.”
It’s the shittiest remake of The Bicycle Thief, ever.
10:08 am • 10 April 2012 • 4 notes
Did you know that the richest 1% of Americans pay 21% of all taxes? That’s a lot! But do you know why they pay 21% of all taxes? It’s because they make 21% of all the income. Suddenly that doesn’t seem all that unfair, does it? In fact, the rich are doing mighty well for themselves if we basically have a flat tax in America. And as it turns out, they are, and we do: the federal tax system is modestly progressive, but state and local taxes are modestly regressive. Add ‘em all up and you end up with a pretty flat tax system.
It’s another reminder that when we debate whether some program should be run at the local, state or federal level, we have to remember that this decision will affect the method by which the initiative is funded (though, sure, it’s possible for a program to be federally financed and locally administered).
The possibility of better accountability and the “laboratories of democracy” theory are arguments for devolving functions to the states. And the fact that Arizona will find a way to screw things up is a reason to maintain financing and control at the federal level.
But the finance question looms just as large. Every dollar expended and therefore taxed at the federal level makes the overall tax system slightly more progressive. Every program financed at the state and local level makes the entire system a bit more regressive.
Debates about federalism are as much about the progressiveness of the tax code as they are about a clash of ideological visions of centralized versus devolved government.
(Table by Citizens for Tax Justice)
8:07 am • 5 April 2012 • 20 notes
Mitt Romney Will Win Nomination Barring Alien Invasion (and there’s still enough divergence between extraterrestrial policy and the GOP platform for most people to notice)
12:09 pm • 4 April 2012 • 23 notes
Obama Official Resigns Over Spending on Clown, Comedian and Mind Reader [Indecision]
A clown, a comedian and a mind reader walk into a Las Vegas bar. The bartender says, “This joke is going to be really funny when theGeneral Services Administration Inspector General’s report is released…”
I’m fine with having a few minutes of hate directed at the General Services Administration for their $823,000 Las Vegas craptacular. Government officials are responsible for spending money that is not their own, so people are right to be angry when public funds are used for a $75,000 bicycle-assembly team building sessions. But this episode brings up the limited way in which we sometimes talk about “waste and fraud.”
Imagine if every single dollar spent on the War in Iraq was spent appropriately. Imagine every contractor fufilled their obligations to the fullest, delivering their products and services on time and on budget. Imagine there wasn’t a penny of fraud. It isn’t that hard to dream up such a scenario. Afterall, despite billions in fraud, the overwhelming portion of the trillion-plus dollars (estimates vary wildly) spent on Iraq was used appropriately, in the narrow sense of that word. Soldiers signed up to serve and they received salary and combat pay in return. Munitions dealers sent ammo and the Pentagon paid the invoices. Contractors built mess halls and the government picked up the check.
But even a dream scenario, in which every appropriation spent on the Iraq War was used as intended, would still count as a collosal waste. Because the War didn’t have to happen. The War was stupid. It was bad policy.
In fact, if we had taken $1 Trillion and spent it on clowns and magicians and team building exercises for GSA workers instead of spending it on completely non-fradulent military spending, we would be better off today.
Basically, the real “waste” comes from misguided policy, not a few idiot managers in the GSA.
1:59 pm • 3 April 2012 • 24 notes
“If any persons, not married to each other, lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together, or, whether married or not, be guilty of open and gross lewdness and lasciviousness, each of them shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor; and upon a repetition of the offense, and conviction thereof, each of them shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.”
— - § 18.2-345. Lewd and lascivious cohabitation. I did not know Virginia still had an anti-cohabitation law on the books (no longer enforced, presumably after court challenge). H/t Bryan Caplan.
7:57 am • 3 April 2012 • 10 notes
“It’s pretty much the worst nightmare of every immigration restrictionist. They keep agitating for a higher and higher, double-walled, electrified border fence and here comes a son of migrant farm workers who can FLY THROUGH SPACE, fuck you very much. In any case, a state judge has ruled that Hernandez meets even the state’s stringent guidelines for stating one’s vocation on a ballot.”
— Judges Rules Former Astronaut Can Call Himself an Astronaut on the November ballot. A law firm associated with the California GOP had argued that Jose Hernandez, a Democratic candidate for Congress and until January 2011, a NASA astronaut, could not list “astronaut/scientist/engineer” on the ballot as his occupation.
12:02 pm • 2 April 2012 • 96 notes
A great series of graphs from The Monkey Cage, illustrating one of my frequently-made points: the idea that working-class whites are Republican while “elites” are Democratic is mostly bunk. Andrew Gelman:
Within any education category, richer people vote more Republican…There is no plausible way based on these data in which elites can be considered a Democratic voting bloc. To create a group of strongly Democratic-leaning elite whites using these graphs, you would need to consider only postgraduates (no simple college grads included, even if they have achieved social and financial success), and you have to go down to the below-$75,000 level of family income, which hardly seems like the American elites to me.
Gelman bringeth the data, but I bet this makes intuitive sense from anecdotal experiences we’ve all had interacting with different kinds of voters.
The less educated but highly compensated are overwhelmingly Republican. Think about high-performing sales people or successful small businessmen. The owner of the local car dealership.
The highly educated but less compensated are overwhelmingly Democratic. To stereotype again: think assistant sociology professors, grad students, social workers, public interest attorneys.
In the corners of this matrix where education/income are correlated, the under-educated low-earners tend to be Democrats and the higher-educated high earners tend to be Republicans.
Finally, to add to Gelman’s point about postgraduates not constituting a group of Democratic elites, I think it’s important to remember what counts as a postgrad for the purposes of these statistics. I imagine a lot of people have visions of PHds teaching Queer Theory at Vasser in their minds, but the modal American postgrad is probably a middle school teacher who got herself a Masters degree in order to meet licensing requirements. Not the image of an elite.
11:44 am • 2 April 2012 • 22 notes
“It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use ANY ELECTRONIC OR DIGITAL DEVICE and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.”
- Arizona Bill Criminalizes Every Internet Comments Section, Ever.
Were it ever found constitutional and enforced to the letter, this language would in essence ban trolling. Half of the things written on the Internet are intended to annoy or offend and many use profane language while doing so.
Only 1 legislator voted no. Bipartisanship gets you these kinds of well-meaning anti-bullying laws. Bipartisanship is the absolute worst.
10:37 am • 2 April 2012 • 54 notes
The Mitt Romney National Monument: Designed by Jon Huntsman, it is a “perfectly lubricated weather vane.” Using the same advanced computing technology that powers Romney, the vane’s height is automatically adjusted to the average elevation of the trees in whatever state happens to be a battleground at the moment.
The Newt Gingrich Planetarium: Showcases the extent of the Gingrich Galactic Star Empire. It is constructed entirely with child labor.
— Inspired by a post by Dave Weigel and the ongoing controversy over the Eisenhower memorial, I suggest that we take the time to arrive at a consensus about how to memorialize important political actors now, in case they’re elected.
4:40 pm • 30 March 2012 • 7 notes
The last few days have delivered a children’s treasury of pundits writing and saying stupid things about how pro-reform Democrats will benefit if the Supreme Court declares the ACA unconstitutional. Examples in the genre include Ezra Klein’s “In the long run — and quite possibly in the short run — [loss of the individual mandate/other parts of ACA] will increase the pressure for a universal system” and James Carville’s “I think this will be the best thing that has ever happened to the Democratic Party.”
I think this is wrong as a matter of politics; having your key domestic policy initiative ruled unconstitional isn’t going to help more Democrats get elected nor will it improve the climate for a more liberal variant of universal coverage. I’m with Will Wilkinson: “This sort of thinking is so wishful it’s almost touching.”
But whether Wilkinson and I are right on the politics is beside the point. The idea of universal health coverage is just an abstract concept that isn’t going to suffer any anguish from a defeat before the Supreme Court. Nor are the main proponents of healthcare reforms going to feel many ill-effects, even if some of them face further retreats in the polls. President Obama will be fine. Nancy Pelosi will manage. Should Harry Reid get sick, his insurance will cover the best treatments available.
The real victims of a Supreme Court decision that overturns the individual mandate are the people who will be priced out of the insurance market after adverse selection takes its toll. Alternatively, if SCOTUS agrees with the DOJ that the ACA’s requirement that insurance companies accept all applicants should also be eliminated if the mandate is struck down, the victims will be people with pre-existing conditions who will again be ineligible for all but the most high-deductible policies.
If the entire law is struck down, the biggest victims will be the millions of Americans who would have been eligible for Medicaid — not the best sort of coverage, considering physician supply constraints, but much better than the living each day with the knowledge that one medical bill is the difference between a decent lifestyle and financial ruin. The well-being of high profile politicians is not what’s at stake here.
(Image: From the Kaiser Family Foundation: Percentage of the Nonelderly Population With Income Up to Four Times the Poverty level Who Were Uninsured or Purchasing Individual Coverage, 2010. Starting in 2014 these individuals would be eligible for either Medicaid or tax credits to subsidize the purchase of private insurance)
10:16 am • 29 March 2012 • 46 notes
Romney “Etch A Sketch” gaffe mainly popular among political wonks
- yeah … Last week, a spare comment Mitt Romney campaign staffer Eric Fehrnstrom comparing his candidate to an Etch A Sketch seemed to catch fire in the media, and the Gingrich and Santorum campaigns treated the gaffe as a major coup. Or was it?
- … but Despite the comment seemingly being everywhere last week, a Pew study shows that 55 percent of people didn’t even know about the incident. The WaPo’s Chris Cillizza says the poll is evidence of the bubble the political sphere builds around itself. (He’s right.) source
Read ShortFormBlog • Follow
If 45% of a random sample really have heard of this incident, it means it’s achieved incredible penetration into the public psyche.
In 2010, just 59% of Americans correctly identified the Vice President.
In 2007, only 36% could name the president of Russia. Only 49% could tell pollsters who Nancy Pelosi was.
People who live and breath politics do live in a bubble, but if 45% have heard of the Etch-a-Sketch comment, that’s a story which has left the confines of the echo-sphere.
10:33 am • 28 March 2012 • 29 notes
“Everybody calm down. And when I say everybody, I include myself. Tuesday’s oral argument at the Supreme Court was not the finest hour for health care reform, for the philosophy of activist government, or for Solicitor General Don Verrilli. But oral arguments don’t typically change the outcome of cases. They are important primarily for the signals they send about the justices’ thinking. And those signals can be difficult to interpret. Administration officials on Tuesday were quick to remind reporters that Judge Laurence Silberman gave the government a very hard time when it argued the same case before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. But Silberman went on to uphold the law, in what was by any standard a stinging rebuke to the critics. In the Sixth Circuit, Justice Jeffrey Sutton also put administration lawyers through tough questioning before issuing his own, equally unambiguous decision upholding the law.”
— Jon Cohn, trying to be zen about yesterday. As am I.
10:02 am • 28 March 2012 • 6 notes