Links 2/19/19

Links for you. Science:

Archaeologists in Pompeii Find Fresco of Narcissus in ‘Extraordinary’ Condition
NASA twin astronauts study finds no flashing red lights for long spaceflight
Behe…yeah, he’s over and done with
Foodborne Illness Part II: How Do Scientists Track Outbreaks?
Aquaculture Does Little, if Anything, to Conserve Wild Fisheries


Elliot Abrams and the absurd paradoxes of American foreign policy
It appears Colin Kaepernick brought NFL to its knees
Big companies don’t need our tax breaks
CBS’s Horror Stories on National Debt Aren’t Actually All That Scary
How much stolen money is Trump eyeing to build his wall?
On GE, Baker and Walsh were smart — but also got lucky
End stop and frisk in D.C.
A single comment made Mayor Walsh rethink supervised injection sites
Colin Kaepernick Settles His Collusion Case With the NFL
Amazon Got Exactly What It Deserved—And So Did New York
This Is How AIPAC Really Works
Acts of extreme vandalism by students stun Gonzaga College High School (dysfunctional suburban culture)
White women: from slave owners to Trump voters
Quote Of The Day: Pete Hamill On Donald Trump
Screw ‘Uniting the Country’— That’s Not What Democrats Need in 2020
New York Fights—and Amazon Flees
Media Already Fucking Up the 2020 Campaign By Giving Trump a Pass on His Lies
Everyone Is Getting the Amy Klobuchar Story Wrong
I hope we on the left realizes that we consume antisemitism the way we consume all oppressive ideologies.

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Keeping Policy Simple–For Those Who Experience It

One of the frustrating things about many policy debates is that there is too much emphasis on the details in political discussions:

When it comes to healthcare policy, people don’t care about the API, they care about the GUI. In English, that means if the end product isn’t liked, it doesn’t matter if the wonky details are nerdvana. Or as we often say around here, people have to like this crap.

….it’s important to lay out what a good healthcare system would look like. Think about all of the previous healthcare discussions: they never started from the premise of “what healthcare services do people need?” Not “what insurance mechanism could work”, which is about how can we help people buy into a mediocre, overpriced system. Second, most voters don’t care about the mechanisms; they just want a system that’s affordable, available regardless of employment status, and easy to use. That’s what people think of when they say “single-payer.”

…These problems can be solved. It’s not like going to Mars at all, just to any number of other countries.

With that as prelude, we outsource to Commandante Atrios (boldface mine):

“We” spend too much money on health care costs in this country, but I don’t particularly care about that. I mean, I do, it’s absurd, and we shouldn’t, but it isn’t actually my job do worry about how to fix that. It isn’t your job. It isn’t the job of voters to waste their beautiful minds worrying about what the best plan to cut health care costs is, and it’s absurd that for some reason it’s expected that voters all play Wonk for a Year and try to figure out who has the wonkiest wonko plan of all.

People are paid a lot of money to figure that shit out. Go figure it out. What kind of health plan should pass that makes voters happy and doesn’t make them upset because it doesn’t raise their taxes or upset the status quo or isn’t “moderate” or whatever the fuck? One which mails them a card on day one that they can use to go to the damn doctor without paying any money. Then the wonks and the politicians can get to work for the next 10 years fixing the engine under the hood.

Make voters happy by making them happy. Tomorrow. Eat the up front costs because we are a rich country and we can afford to eat the costs, and then spend the next 10 years clawing money back from the other “stakeholders” who have been looting the bank accounts of dying people for decades. Just don’t make us have to worry about how….

The details matter, but the wonks should be working out that shit between themselves, not by writing memos on op-ed pages because none of us should have to care about them.

One other to remember: other countries are already able to this. It’s not like we’re trying to build a working cold fusion reactor–that is hard (if not impossible). So it’s almost like many of the Democratic-aligned wonks really don’t want this

Posted in Democrats, Healthcare | Leave a comment

Links 2/18/19

Links for you. Science:

What Will D.C. Feel Like If Climate Change Continues Unabated? Mississippi
Democrats saved butterfly sanctuary from Trump’s wall, but Trump might come for it anyway
What happened to bird flu? How a major threat to human health faded from view
What will climate feel like in 60 years?
New estimates aim to define the true burden of superbug infections


The Only Guide to ‘Medicare for All’ That You Will Ever Need
Thousands of Black Votes in Georgia Disappeared and No One Can Explain It
The Golden Rule For Judging HealthCare Reform
The Attacks on Ilhan Omar Must Stop
Why the Wall Will Never Rise
Ilhan Omar’s Cross-Examination of Elliot Abrams Honored Thousands of Central American Dead
When the right and left fight over anti-Semitism, Jews are caught in the middle (“Spoken about and spoken over, the Jewish community is being systematically stripped of our ability to contribute to the dialogue happening over our own lives. We are “represented,” if you can call it that, by Glenn Greenwald on the one side and Lee Zeldin on the other (surely, this is the definition of Jewish hell), both of whose elevated stature in public discourse about Jews is almost exclusively a feature of gentile, not Jewish, interests.”)
Amazon Drops New York City Headquarters Plan in a Snit
D.C. doubles down on destructive prison-first policies
Is the Answer to Crime More Cops?
America’s trains are a drag. The Green New Deal wants to fix that.
Trump’s big parade
An Actual American War Criminal May Become Our Second-Ranking Diplomat
Google reaped millions in tax breaks as it secretly expanded its real estate footprint across the U.S.
Debate Over Charter School Transparency Rooted In D.C.’s Struggle For Local Governance
Classroom Technology Is Indoctrinating Students Into A Culture Of Surveillance
The Green New Deal Is What Realistic Environmental Policy Looks Like
Lobbyists are already mounting an opposition strategy to Democrats’ anti-corruption bill

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Privatization Ideologues Are Harming D.C.’s Metro

Even as the District leadership still isn’t getting mass transit. But we’ll get to that in a bit. A while back, some asshole with a blog noted this about the WMATA Metro board:

But we shouldn’t discount the role ideology is playing here: McMillin belongs to a think tank headed by former Senator and arch conservative Phil “I own more shotguns than I need, but not as many as I want” Gramm. He has promoted and worked on public-private partnerships, which is to say, a kinder, gentler privatization….

If you think there’s more to mass transit than just getting there–you know, crazy shit like cleaner air, less traffic, and so on–then the ‘last mile’ stuff [subsidizing Uber and Lyft with Metro funds] is awful. To have a reasonable price for customers (i.e., not $5/ride just to get to the train), this would require a massive subsidy. If you’re a privatization fan, I suppose that’s awesome. For the rest of us, we call that looting.

Underlying all of this, these two board members (and possibly others) have a very different vision for public transit, one grounded in right wing ideology (as one would expect for appointees of either Trump administration Transportation Secretary Chao or Republican Governor Hogan of Maryland), from many of the actual users of mass transit. It is definitely not urban and not thinking about reducing miles traveled. And it is grounded, not in ‘common sense’, but in ideology.

Well, Metro seems to be moving ahead with this (boldface mine):

Metro would subsidize Uber, Lyft or other on-demand trips for late-night workers under a plan the agency is proposing to the ride-hail services.

The subsidized trips — up to $3 per ride — are meant to make up for the loss of late-night service but would be available only to workers, not to people out enjoying entertainment or events.

Metro, which has been criticized by riders and D.C. officials for wanting to extend its moratorium on late-night service another year and use the extra time to catch up on maintenance, is expected to issue a request for proposals soon that will outline its goals for the estimated $1 million program.

Metro would subsidize the fare for an Uber, Lyft or other ­on-demand trip within the transit agency’s service area, provided it took place between midnight and 4 a.m. and the passenger was traveling home or to work. The transit agency would subsidize up to 10 trips per person per week.

The program, Metro says, would target late-night workers in fields such as hospitality and health care. Riders would register for the program; the ride-hailing companies would bill Metro for the subsidized costs, and data would be used to validate the riders’ travel…

The deal would be unusual for Metro because Uber and Lyft are widely believed to be siphoning customers from the struggling transit system with their ­investor-subsidized fares — pooled rides can cost as little as $3 in the District. Such an arrangement would be viewed by many as Metro’s ceding a portion of its traditional service, and its customers, to its competitors.

So this would do nothing for business patrons who don’t want to use a car. But while they’re squabbling over this, they still are doing nothing about weekend service, which means that if District residents and those living outside the District who want to use the Metro to get around D.C. still can’t. Here’s just another typical weekend for Metro:


In other words, a typical weekend for the last four years.

City leaders can blabber on about Vision Zero and protecting the environment, but making it possible for people who live near Metro stations to use it on the weekend is critical for these efforts, otherwise car ownership becomes mandatory. Once people have a car, they tend to use it often.

Utter failure. By the way, if Trump wins in 2020, we’ll have four more years of ideologues on the board, and I don’t know if Metro can survive that. Maybe some of that Green New Deal money could target existing transit?

Posted in DC, Transportation | Leave a comment

Links 2/17/19

Links for you. Science:

The benefits of the measles vaccine go beyond just protecting against measles
‘Pit of Infection’: A Border Town’s Crisis Has Nothing to Do With Migrants
This river is too toxic to touch, and people live right next to it
Aboriginal Hunters’ Fires Help Restore an Australian Desert
Controversial experiments that could make bird flu more risky poised to resume


Under the Boot: Max Boot’s conversion narrative proves one thing—he hasn’t changed a bit (and this was written before he defended Elliott Abrams)
Introducing The Bulshit
The great Equifax mystery: 17 months later, the stolen data has never been found, and experts are starting to suspect a spy scheme
Political Cult Leader Lyndon LaRouche Dies at 96
Democracy’s Lies
Wealth concentration returning to ‘levels last seen during the Roaring Twenties,’ according to new research
Was everyone terrible 30 years ago? (yes)
FBI’s War Crimes Unit on the Chopping Block
A ‘Green’ New Deal
The Sick Double Standard In The Ilhan Omar Controversy
A Debt to Education: Universities can shape their students for life – in more ways than one
On Virginia’s rural Eastern Shore, Northam’s views of race took root
Electrolux closing Memphis plant; Economic development malpractice leaves Tennesse holding the bag
How convincing is Kamala Harris’ leftward shift?
The government is using the wrong data to make crucial decisions about the internet
Area Criminal Shocked By Congresswoman Who Cites His Crimes Out Loud
In their ongoing effort to smear the Green New Deal, right-wing media misrepresent Sen. Mazie Hirono’s joke about air travel to Hawaii
Pedestrians continue to be at high risk on Washington region’s roads, data show

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Now Would Be An Excellent Time For Democrat Rep. Neal To Get Trump’s Tax Returns

There’s a small gag joke that floats around Twitter: any time Trump talks about corruption or theft, someone quote tweets him with “Now would be an excellent time for him to release his tax returns.” It’s something he promised to do during his presidential campaign and still hasn’t. Obviously, he doesn’t want people to see his returns, though whether they would reveal his shady business practices or simply that he isn’t worth anywhere near what he claims to be worth is unclear. It should be noted that a NY Times examination of his New York taxes revealed a whole mess of fraud and sleazy activity from decades ago.

Somewhat recent polling indicates the majority of Americans want to have his tax returns released; certainly, the voters who showed up and voted for them want this. And all it would take is Democratic Congressman and head of the Joint Committee on Taxation Richard Neal to request them–thanks to a 1920s law, the head of that committee can obtain anyone’s tax returns and, with a majority vote of the committee, can make them public.

It has been weeks since Democrats took back the House, and they knew two months before officially taking back the House that they would do so. The excuse of ‘wanting to get it right’ is do-nothing bullshit. It’s time for Democrats to start wielding power and to go after Trump.

This is no longer in Trump’s hands, but House Democrats’. It’s past time for Rep. Neal (@RepRichardNeal) to do this. We gave the Democrats a House majority, now they need to give us Trump’s returns.

Posted in Democrats, Resistance Rebellion And Death | 1 Comment

Links 2/16/19

Links for you. Science:

No Local Woe, India’s Poor Public Health Feeds Antibiotic Resistance Worldwide
The Senate just passed the decade’s biggest public lands package. Here’s what’s in it.
Bad math on the measles vaccine from Sharyl Attkisson – anti-vaxxers get it wrong again
This neuroscientist is fighting sexual harassment in science—but her own job is in peril
‘Wiped out before our eyes’: Hawaii offers bold plan to stop shark killings


Democrats, Debt and Double Standards
Suburb Socialism. Chapter I: Mass Transit
The controversy over Ilhan Omar and AIPAC money, explained
I asked Wall Street insiders whether they’d prefer Elizabeth Warren or Donald Trump. It turned out to be a hard question.
Trump’s failed shutdown strategy produced an even worse deal than he started with
‘We Fight This Kind Of Thing All The Time’: Homophobic Pamphlet Found In The Washington Blade
More Americans Are at Least Three Months Behind on Their Car Payment Than Ever Before
lhan Omar’s tweet revealed core truths about anti-Semitism in America: Omar’s tweet was bad. But the Republican reaction was profoundly hypocritical
Rep. Ilhan Omar Deserves Dialogue, Not Just Denunciation
Bernie Sanders would like to talk about Social Security
I Wish I’d Had A ‘Late-Term Abortion’ Instead Of Having My Daughter
The Choice We Face
The case for hiring more police officers
Bad News for the NFL: John Riggins’ Wife Is a Lawyer
The Maddening, Baffling, Exhausting Endurance of Anti-Semitism
Bowser’s Inaugural Committee Took in Nearly $1 Million in Seven Weeks

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment