Vox

As hurricanes and wildfires rage, US climate politics enters the realm of farce - Vox

Refuting the last few scientific arguments for denial is not going to bring conservatives around. Clever new ways of talking about climate action are not going to bring conservatives around.

Research on public opinion shows that conservative opinion is responsive to one thing above all else: the cues of conservative elites. People don’t have strong opinions on political “issues” one way or the other. They believe and do what people like them believe and do, and they take their cues on that from trusted tribal leaders.

To put it more simply, conservatives will tend to believe on climate change whatever people on Fox (or talk radio) tell them about climate change.

It is conservative elites, and only conservative elites, who have the power to end this surreal farce. Judging from Rush Limbaugh’s take on hurricanes, they do not yet feel any pressure to do so.

(via As hurricanes and wildfires rage, US climate politics enters the realm of farce - Vox)

Trump: crime and gangs are ruining the country. Actual statistics: that’s not remotely true.

Trump: crime and gangs are ruining the country. Actual statistics: that’s not remotely true.:

Trump’s description of this country being a mess of crime and high unemployment is largely false. We have problems. We even have some growing problems with substance abuse. But crime is nearing historic lows and the economy is growing.

If you think the country is falling apart, you’re living in a bubble.

Trump’s real war isn’t with the media. It’s with facts.

Trump’s real war isn’t with the media. It’s with facts.:

Delegitimizing the institutions that might report inconvenient or damaging facts about the president is strategic for an administration that has made a slew of impossible promises and takes office amid a cloud of ethics concerns and potential scandals.

I think the lies are just going to get more and more brazen and the defenses of his lies more and more bizarre.

Donald Trump’s administration is going to be a bonanza for bankers

Donald Trump’s administration is going to be a bonanza for bankers:

> Trump’s pose as an anti-finance populist may be the single greatest trick of his entire campaign. Alongside some rhetoric, after all, Trump has an actual policy agenda that he is running on — and that agenda is incredibly favorable to bankers. He wants less regulation of banks and lower taxes for hedge fund and private equity managers.

> And despite repeatedly attacking Clinton for her ties to Wall Street, Trump has close ties to the banking industry himself. His real estate empire has created a network of conflicts of interest (and opportunities to massively enrich himself) never before seen in an American president.

Donald Trump's Lies Versus Hillary Clinton's Lies

Donald Trump's Lies Versus Hillary Clinton's Lies:

When Hillary Clinton gets pressed on her somewhat slippery answers about why exactly she decided to use an off-label email server, she ends up looking evasive. She looks and acts like a normal human being who’s been caught out in an embarrassing situation. She’s admitted that she did the wrong thing, but she also doesn’t think she should suffer any consequences for it. It’s not a great look.

Trump, by contrast, is shameless. What’s his plan for ISIS? It’s a secret. If the generals are so dumb, why would he ask for their plan? He’ll get different generals.

Trump hasn’t learned. He doesn’t know basic facts about the world, and he doesn’t care. The question now is whether the American people will.

This sums it up. Hillary is basic political spin. She’s not even that good at it. Trump is a nutter detached from reality.

Peter Thiel's support for Donald Trump is a bigger threat to press freedom than his lawsuits - Vox

Trump himself, of course, is no stranger to the idea that a rich person can use harassing lawsuits to discourage critical media coverage. When veteran business journalist Tim O'Brien reported that Trump isn’t as rich as he says he is, Trump launched a series of frivolous lawsuits. (via Peter Thiel’s support for Donald Trump is a bigger threat to press freedom than his lawsuits - Vox)

This is a story that isn’t getting enough coverage. Thiel and Trump both have a view that some people, mostly people like them, should not be criticized by the press. They should have the law on their side and it should be possible to use the law to silence others. It’s disturbing. It would be called political correctness if that term were used in this context.

John Boehner just confirmed everything liberals suspected about the Republican Party

John Boehner just confirmed everything liberals suspected about the Republican Party:

John Boehner was the Speaker of the House as recently as a single year ago. He is, himself, a conservative Republican. And he is saying, flatly, that the Republican Party has been captured by morons, goofballs, and “Lucifer.” He is saying that the party has moved so far to the right that Ronald Reagan wouldn’t recognize it.

Boehner is validating one of the most persistent and controversial critiques of the modern Republican Party. And he has the authority to do so.

A shocking amount of conservative politics is a multilevel marketing scam

A shocking amount of conservative politics is a multilevel marketing scam:

What they found is that most of these groups aren’t really raising money in order to support conservative candidates for office or to lobby on behalf of conservative causes — they’re raising millions of dollars and then spending 80 to 90 percent of that money on fees to consulting firms that are run by the people who started the groups. In effect, you have direct mail and email campaigns whose sole purpose is to raise funds to pay direct mail and email operatives.

This explains why do many want to run in the GOP primary. It’s good for fund raising.

The Bush administration's enormous national security failure, in one tweet

The Bush administration's enormous national security failure, in one tweet:

You see in Bush’s conduct and Cornyn’s tweet a persistent unwillingness to recognize the existence of disparate forces in the world. Al-Qaeda merges alternately with Saddam Hussein or the regime in Iran in a hazy muddle of “Muslims behaving badly.” It’s a deeply flawed analysis of the world and it’s one of the main reasons it took so long for bin Laden to be brought to justice.

Obama's economics team is taking on one of America's most underrated economic problems

Obama's economics team is taking on one of America's most underrated economic problems:

Regulating entry into certain kinds of professions on the grounds of health and safety makes sense, but once a process is set up to exclude people from doing a job, incumbent practitioners have a strong economic incentive to use the licensing board as a means to eliminate competition.

This was tried by Jerry Brown (I think) and the attack ads making health and safety started before the ink was dry on the bill’s first draft.

I was a liberal adjunct professor. My liberal students didn’t scare me at all.

I was a liberal adjunct professor. My liberal students didn’t scare me at all.:

it’s truthy: it offers a conclusion that feels as if it should be true, even though it isn’t accompanied by much in the way of actual evidence. In this case, that truthy conclusion is that the rise of identity politics is doing real harm — that this new kind of discourse, whether you call it “identity politics” or “call-out culture” or “political correctness,” is not just annoying or upsetting to the people it targets, but a danger to academic freedom and therefore an actual substantive problem to be addressed.

You’re not allowed to question if this bullshit about out of control political correctness is real.

I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me

I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me:

“What about Fannie and Freddie?” he asked. “Government kept giving homes to black people, to help out black people, white people didn’t get anything, and then they couldn’t pay for them. What about that?”

The next week, I got called into my director’s office. I was shown an email, sender name redacted, alleging that I “possessed communistical [sic] sympathies and refused to tell more than one side of the story.” The story in question wasn’t described, but I suspect it had do to with whether or not the economic collapse was caused by poor black people.

That was a liberal student?!? It sounds like a libertarian, not a liberal. I’ve never seen a liberal call someone out as a commie for suggesting that poor people didn’t cause the banking collapse.

This is the kicker:

This new understanding of social justice politics resembles what University of Pennsylvania political science professor Adolph Reed Jr. calls a politics of personal testimony, in which the feelings of individuals are the primary or even exclusive means through which social issues are understood and discussed.

And he wishes to fight this by talking about how he fears his students because of their opinions.

Um, yeah.

The joke was that Obama wasn’t joking

The joke was that Obama wasn’t joking:

There are no jokes there. There’s just Obama saying what he has to say and Luther saying what Obama actually believes.

And what Obama believes is that the press is often sensational, trivial, and fearmongering. He thinks they hype negative stories for weeks on end and then refuse to admit their mistake when the horror fizzles. He thinks he gets the blame for catastrophes but little credit for solutions. He thinks the media has a deep bias toward negative stories (which, of course, we do).

Rand Paul accidentally proposed legalizing murder

Rand Paul accidentally proposed legalizing murder:

Paul said that in his vision for America, “Any law that disproportionately incarcerates people of color is repealed.” The problem is that that describes pretty much every law that incarcerates a lot of people in America — the nonviolent drug offenses Paul often rails against, sure, but also violent crimes and property crimes.

For those playing at home, Mr. Paul just called for adjusting the law based on the race of the accused. Let’s see if libertarians call him out on this. My guess is no.

This is why you shouldn’t believe that exciting new medical study

This is why you shouldn’t believe that exciting new medical study:

It’s a fact that all studies are biased and flawed in their own unique ways. The truth usually lies somewhere in a flurry of research on the same question. This means real insights don’t come by way of miraculous, one-off findings or divinely ordained eureka moments; they happen after a long, plodding process of vetting and repeating tests, and peer-to-peer discussion. The aim is to make sure findings are accurate and not the result of a quirk in one experiment or the biased crusade of a lone researcher.

Red means it’s hotter than usual while blue means...



Red means it’s hotter than usual while blue means it’s colder than unusual. The Rocky Mountains and the US Southwest are actually enjoying an unusual warm spell, as are large swathes of Siberia. So while the eastern seaboard freezes, smug Russians are enjoying a relatively warm climate.

Giving housing to the homeless is three times cheaper than leaving them on the streets

Giving housing to the homeless is three times cheaper than leaving them on the streets:

The most recent report along these lines was a May Central Florida Commission on Homelessness study indicating that the region spends $31,000 a year per homeless person on “the salaries of law-enforcement officers to arrest and transport homeless individuals — largely for nonviolent offenses such as trespassing, public intoxication or sleeping in parks — as well as the cost of jail stays, emergency-room visits and hospitalization for medical and psychiatric issues.” Between 2005 and 2012 the rate of homelessness in America declined 17 percent By contrast, getting each homeless person a house and a caseworker to supervise their needs would cost about $10,000 per person.

Something economists thought was impossible is happening in Europe

Something economists thought was impossible is happening in Europe:

Something really weird is happening in Europe. Interest rates on a range of debt — mostly government bonds from countries like Denmark, Switzerland, and Germany but also corporate bonds from Nestlé and, briefly, Shell — have gone negative. And not just negative in fancy inflation-adjusted terms like US government debt. It’s just negative. As in you give the owner of a Nestlé bond 100 euros, and four years later Nestlé gives you back less than that.* In my experience, ordinary people are not especially excited about this. But among finance and economic types, I promise you that it’s a huge deal — the economics equivalent of stumbling into a huge scientific discovery entirely by accident.

This the exact opposite of a the sovereign debt crisis that the austerity crowd has been warning about. The demand for debt is so high that people are willing to lose money to purchase it.

Obama's bank tax is a big idea that might actually get done - Vox

Obama's bank tax is a big idea that might actually get done - Vox:

What Obama proposed was a 0.07 percent tax on borrowing by America’s largest banks. The way this works is that banks with over $50 billion in assets (which is about 100 banks) would need to pay a 7 cent tax to the federal government on every $100 that they borrow. That has two goals — raising revenue and restraining risky debt from bailout-prone institutions. And Congress isn’t going to pass it.

This would both make a bailout less likely, it would create a fund that would pay for a bailout. And it would fall onto the banks directly. Why is anyone against this?

American transit activists need to speak up about exorbitant construction costs

American transit activists need to speak up about exorbitant construction costs:

But the problem hits transit the hardest because the basic fact of the matter is that political and economic elites don’t rely on mass transit. The clearest case is the growing popularity of mixed-traffic streetcar projects. These are much cheaper than grade-separated light- or heavy-rail, but still far more expensive than a conventional bus without actually moving people any faster. In terms of offering a transportation service, spending money on a streetcar is much worse than spending the same amount of money on multiple new bus routes or upgrades to existing ones. Soon this bus will have a streetcar in its way | Elvert Barnes/Flickr Streetcars appeal, however, because those high costs create construction jobs and because the aura of classiness around them appeals to real estate developers and other would-be drivers of gentrification. So cities across America are opening stub streetcar lines rather than investing in improving the transit experience of bus riders.

It took Reddit one day to pull down Sony hack data — and a week to remove nude celebrity photos

It took Reddit one day to pull down Sony hack data — and a week to remove nude celebrity photos:

It’s true that Sony does have more legal weight behind it than Jennifer Lawrence would when demanding that hacked material come down. But Reddit’s actions in these two situations — one where it moved quickly, and another where the company dragged its feet — do make one thing unbearably clear: Reddit is a site that values a corporation more than it values women.

That’s a reach. Reddit seems to have done a good job ending “the fappening” as it was called. There are still celeb picture leaks but they have been pushed off reddit and onto the dark web.

I think the NSA story was the tipping point. When JLaws leaked pictures ended up on the net, many started to evaluate privacy with the NSA stories in mind.

A $20 an hour minimum wage really would cost a lot of people their jobs

A $20 an hour minimum wage really would cost a lot of people their jobs:

The good news about Denmark is that their unemployment rate is only very slightly higher than the USA’s and was lower in the recent past. The Danish economy as a whole does a good job of keeping people employed, and it also does a much better job than the American economy of delivering high living standards for the poor. But mandating high wages for fast food workers has more or less the impact you would expect — low levels of fast food employment.

The standard response to raising the minimum wage is always why not a million dollars and hour as if that’s under consideration. $20 is too hight. Much to high. That doesn’t mean that $0 is the correct answer.

The TSA really doesn't like it when you take your Nobel Prize in your carry-on

The TSA really doesn't like it when you take your Nobel Prize in your carry-on:

"They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’ I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’ They said, ‘What’s in the box?’ I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does. So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’ I said, ‘gold.’ And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’ ‘The King of Sweden.’ ‘Why did he give this to you?’ ‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’

The best proof yet that nobody has actually read Piketty's book

The best proof yet that nobody has actually read Piketty's book:

In other words, very few economists believe that Thomas Piketty’s equation r > g explains the rise in US inequality over the past 40 years. The punchline here, however, is that Piketty’s book does not say that r > g explains the rise in US inequality over the past 40 years.

The best criticisms of Piketty have not come from the media or right wing hacks. They’ve come from policy wonks in the center.

Solar power is growing so fast that older energy companies are trying to stop it

Solar power is growing so fast that older energy companies are trying to stop it:

If the penetration of distributed solar reached as high as 10 percent — an admittedly aggressive scenario — a typical utility in the Southwest could see its earnings drop 5 percent to 13 percent, while a typical utility in the Northeast could see its earnings decline 6 percent to 41 percent. This is similar to what’s happened in Germany, where distributed solar has halved the market value of some utilities.

Right now, the biggest problem is the lack of a smart grid. If we can get a national smart grid we can create micro-markets where individuals can become micro power companies.

If police in Ferguson treat journalists like this, imagine how they treat residents

If police in Ferguson treat journalists like this, imagine how they treat residents:

That police in Ferguson are targeting journalists so openly and aggressively is an appalling affront to basic media freedoms, but it is far scarier for what it suggests about how the police treat everyone else — and should tell us much about why Ferguson’s residents are so fed up.

This should be a major point of discussion.

Obamacare implementation went great and people love it

Obamacare implementation went great and people love it:

None of this proves that the Affordable Care Act is a good law or that conservatives should love it. But it does prove that the Affordable Care Act is working just fine. When an initiative comes in ahead of schedule and below-cost, that’s called working. And the people on the new Obamacare plans are using them and they like them.

We are two decades away from people holding up signs demanding the government keep out of their Obamacare.