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« Liberal Outrage: April 2015 | Main | Liberal Outrage: June 2015 »

Liberal Outrage

Who's co-opting who?

Josh Marshall at TPM has an interesting post about a pretty weird and funny scenario where the DNC is sending out a lot of Bernie Sanders messaging. Marshall's point is that everyone is so sure that Hillary Clinton is going to win that they feel comfortable sending out sort of a happy message of co-existence. My more sinister thought is that the DNC is pulling in all these disaffected and lapsed liberals into the Democrat's apparatus with the idea that they'll stick around to vote for Clinton in the general as long as the primary doesn't get contentious. But on the other hand... the DNC is sending out a lot of Bernie Sanders messaging! That's kind of crazy, and it seems like Sanders' mission of pulling the Democrats to the left is already working. Even if the "sinister" scenario is the correct one, they still need to keep all the people they pull in engaged for the general.

In other Bernie news, the New York Times' contribution is um, that old people like him.


By fnord12 | May 28, 2015, 2:23 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Women in comedy

A serious roundtable interview that still manages to be quite funny.


By fnord12 | May 27, 2015, 5:32 PM | Liberal Outrage & Movies & TeeVee | Link



A more serious Bernie Sanders post

The good news is that Bernie Sanders is now polling in the double digits (and these are still polls where people that aren't even candidates, like Elizabeth Warren, are being included). The bad news is that the media's double standard in covering Sanders compared to Republican candidates that are doing the same or worse than him continues.

Just as a warning: my political posts died down a lot after the midterm Elections since it was obvious at that point that we were going to be dealing with gridlock for the next two years. But now with Bernie Sanders running i'm back on the political sites, so there's going to be a lot more posts about Bernie specifically and politics more generally.


By fnord12 | May 27, 2015, 5:28 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Brilliant, guys

LA's labor unions want an exemption from the city's new $15-an-hour minimum wage. The optics alone are a disaster, let alone the fact that it would result in lower wages for union employees. You know, the people you are supposed to represent?


By fnord12 | May 27, 2015, 4:51 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Best 404 Error Page ever

Warning: a video will start playing automatically when you click this link, but it will be worth it.

Bernie for President!


By fnord12 | May 27, 2015, 1:00 PM | Liberal Outrage & Ummm... Other? | Link



These days?

In all my years of political awareness, i've never understood it to be anything else.


By fnord12 | May 27, 2015, 12:53 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Ok, maybe i wasn't kidding about that Three Strike rule

Looking at our latest wonderful oil spill, i see this:

Meanwhile, Plains All American Pipeline is among the worst violators listed by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration and surpassed all but four of more than 1,700 operators in reporting safety and maintenance infractions, the federal agency said.

The company has 175 federal safety and maintenance violations since 2006, responsible for more than 16,000 barrels in spills that have caused more than $23 million worth of property damage.

...Plains All American Pipeline violated federal environmental violations 10 times between 2004 and 2007, when about 273,420 gallons of crude oil were discharged into waters or shorelines in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Kansas, the EPA said.

Most of the spills were caused by corrosion on pipe, the EPA said.

The oil company agreed to pay a $3.25 million civil penalty and spend $41 million to upgrade 10,420 miles of crude oil pipeline operated in the United States, the EPA said in 2010.

How was this company still allowed to operate? Obviously those fines were just the cost of doing business and didn't inspire a serious revamp of their operations or infrastructure. Note that their previous spills caused $23 million+ in "property damage" (which probably underestimates or ignores the environmental impact) but they only payed $3.25 million in penalties. They also spent $41 million to upgrade their pipes so it wouldn't happen again, but here were are talking about them today. Shut these guys down.


By fnord12 | May 22, 2015, 9:31 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link



Immigrants create jobs

It's understandably hard for people to grok, but if you don't think of jobs as a zero sum game (there are a limited number of jobs and if you get one, i don't) and instead think of them as producing economic activity (you are doing things that require resources and now have money that you will need to spend on services), it's easier to understand how more people means more jobs. Yglesias has made this point before but now he summarizes a study quantifying it, saying that every new immigrant adds 1.2 additional new jobs to the economy.


By fnord12 | May 22, 2015, 9:24 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Totally busted

Politico has a bizarre hit piece on Elizabeth Warren. As Yglesias says:

Elizabeth Warren does not approve of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in part because she does not approve of its Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions that let businesses sue governments over regulatory matters outside of the normal judicial process. In fact, Warren hates the way ISDS empowers corporations so much that fifteen years ago she served as an expert witness for the US government when it was defending itself against a corporate complaint before an ISDS arbitration panel.

Except apparently some swathes of the Beltway media would like us to believe that it is hypocritical of Warren to have participated in an arbitration process that she opposes.

...Imagine that we were debating drug legalization, and one Senator is running around talking about how it's appalling that we are sending people to trial over possession of drugs. Now someone writes a story saying Senator X didn't seem to think drug trials were so appalling back when he was working as a defense lawyer for people accused of drug possession.

Nobody would write that, of course, because it doesn't make any sense.

Even the Politico piece (no link; i'm not going to help them "win the morning") has this:

Warren's involvement in the case centered on a narrow aspect of bankruptcy law. Her office says it doesn't conflict at all with her current stance.

"Fifteen years ago, when a big company used ISDS to sue the United States in an attempt to undermine the American justice system and the rule of law, Senator Warren helped the government in its successful effort to defeat the case," Warren spokeswoman Lacey Rose told POLITICO in an emailed statement. "Senator Warren opposes ISDS in trade treaties for the same reasons that were so clearly demonstrated in that case -- because it tilts the playing field toward big companies, and undermines the American justice system and the rule of law."

Ted Posner, a specialist in international arbitration cases and a former George W. Bush administration trade official, argued that Warren's involvement in the 2000 case was an "interesting tidbit" but ultimately not relevant.

"I really don't see any connection between her provision of expert advice to the government in Loewen and her position on ISDS in her current capacity as a U.S. senator," said Posner, who is a partner at the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. "The advice she gave in Loewen was in her capacity as an expert on U.S. bankruptcy law. She was not acting as an expert on ISDS."

That probably should have ended the article (or stopped it from being published entirely), but they still manage to go on for another 18 paragraphs.

Update: Krugman weighs in on this, too, noting that the whole thing was likely fed to Politico by an Obama operative, but also lambasting the media for the lazy "hypocrisy" narrative.


By fnord12 | May 22, 2015, 7:26 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Pendulum swings

Interesting story out of Nebraska about draconian prison sentencing laws basically collapsing under their own weight, resulting in some serious reforms, including the abolition of the death penalty, in a very conservative state. The unavailability of drugs for lethal injection was also a factor.


By fnord12 | May 21, 2015, 9:28 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Talk to your congresscritters, people

TPM has a writeup of a study saying that lawmakers, both liberal and conservative, assume that their constituents are more conservative than they actually are. The summary of the actual study does say "voters" and not just "constituents", which is an important thing to clarify. But the summary also suggests that the reason for this might be that "politically active citizens tend to be wealthier and more conservative". As a remedy, the summary suggests that "progressive groups might be able to use a simple lobbying strategy - just let legislators know the truth about what their constituents think and want!"


By fnord12 | May 21, 2015, 9:15 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Bernie!

Highlights of a Reddit interview.


By fnord12 | May 20, 2015, 1:49 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link



TPP Catch-22

"You need to tell me what's wrong with this trade agreement, not one that was passed 25 years ago," a frustrated President Barack Obama recently complained about criticisms of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). He's right. The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That's by design--anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents. I've actually read the TPP text provided to the government's own advisors, and I've given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can't share my criticisms with you.

More.


By fnord12 | May 20, 2015, 10:47 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link



The Best Reform We Can Get?

Disgruntled, but not terribly surprised.

Link

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Tuesday that he will allow the Senate to vote on the USA Freedom Act, the surveillance reform bill that the House overwhelmingly passed last week, but that he had threatened to block. Congress only had a few days left to act before some key provisions of the Patriot Act expired, including the one the NSA has said gives it the authority to collect in bulk the phone records of Americans.

The bill would end that bulk collection, forcing the NSA to make specific requests to the phone companies instead. The bill also requires more disclosure -- and a public advocate -- for the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, while otherwise extending the three provisions that were due to sunset on June 1.

On the one hand, the bill would impose restrictions on the National Security Agency for the first time since the 1970s. On the other hand, in the context of the incredibly broad mass surveillance here and around the globe exposed by Snowden, the change would be minimal. It would do nothing to limit NSA programs officially targeted at foreigners that "incidentally" collect vast amounts of American communications. It would not limit the agency's mass surveillance of non-American communications at all.

...

Passing the Freedom Act would hardly be a defeat. As the New York Times wrote in a second-day story after the House vote -- headlined "Why the N.S.A. Isn't Howling Over Restrictions" -- the key "reform" in the bill was actually proposed by the then-NSA director Keith Alexander.

So why was McConnell fighting so hard to extend the Patriot Act as is?

Maybe because if the hardliners gave up without a fight, it wouldn't look like the reformers had prevailed.

So when the Freedom Act passes, after a ferocious fight at the buzzer, it will look like the reformers have won, when in fact it's tails, they lose.


By min | May 20, 2015, 10:39 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link



At a minimum, fixing broken windows discourages more broken windows

I blog a lot about the lead/crime hypothesis. Most of my link-blogging comes from posts by Kevin Drum, who always cautions that it doesn't mean that other crime theories aren't also true, but i've always seen the lead theory as being at odds with the "broken windows" theory popularized by Rudolph Giuliani. So it's interesting and maybe a little eye opening to see Vera te Velde's post saying that there's a lot of evidence that the broken windows theory works. Now, if you can stomach reading the comments, you'll see that Velde agrees that there's nothing saying that preventing or allowing minor graffiti-like crimes has any effect on violent crime, which is what the broken windows theory is really about. And she also acknowledges that the theory led to harassment (or worse) of minority citizens.

Seems to me the theories can work hand in hand. The lead theory should lead to less "crackdown" policing, but that doesn't mean we can't put up more No Littering signs.


By fnord12 | May 15, 2015, 2:55 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link



What are you people doing?

Matthew Yglesias actually has off the record conversations with Democratic strategists and politicians. So i am sure this is not coming from nowhere. But when he writes an article saying that Elizabeth Warren has found a way to thread the needle between talking about income distribution and mobility/opportunity, i mean, i really have to scratch my head. I barely understand the distinction. This has been what's paralyzing Democrats from talking about this stuff? Do they really think the average non-engaged voter is having some nuanced internal debate, like... i mean i can't even articulate it.

Republicans, meanwhile, have their base worried that Obama is going to take over Texas. That's the difference in strategy between the two sides.


By fnord12 | May 14, 2015, 4:21 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link



Grades

Hey, Bernie Sanders gets a B+ so i guess i shouldn't complain.


By fnord12 | May 8, 2015, 4:19 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Not Enough Job Hopping

At my first 2 jobs right after college, i stayed at both for about 18 months. That seemed like more than long enough as the shine of a new job and new co-workers had definitely worn off by around month 12. There were other reasons for leaving, ofc, but i certainly didn't need to try very hard to decide it was time to go.

Then inertia set in. I've been at my current job so long, i got invited to a luncheon and qualified for an anniversary gift (I chose the cool mist humidifier cause holy crap does it get hot and dry in here when they turn the heat on. It leaks. I have to sit it in a bowl.).

Anyway, the point is, job hopping is normal when you've just entered the work force proper, and people should stop talking about it like it's a crazy new thing these young people are doing. And FiveThirtyEight says it's not even true that it's happening more with the current generation.

The data consistently shows that today's young people are actually less professionally itinerant than previous generations. In fact, millennials -- and the U.S. economy as a whole -- would be better off if they'd live up to the stereotype and start switching jobs more often.

To support its case, the Journal (where I was a reporter from 2006 to 2013) cites Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that the typical worker aged 20 to 24 has been in their job for about 16 months. "For those aged 25 to 34, it was three years," the Journal continues, "still far short of the 5.5-year median tenure for all workers age 25 and over."

But those numbers are highly misleading. Sure, most people in their early 20s are fairly new to their jobs, but most of them are fairly new to the workforce, period.

More importantly, comparing today's 20-somethings to today's 30- and 40-somethings misses the point. Younger workers do tend to change jobs more often than older workers, but that's always been true. Numbers on job tenure for Americans in their 20s were almost exactly the same in the 1980s as they are today. Monthly data tells a similar story, as the chart below shows: Every month, about 3 percent of young workers (defined here as those between 22 and 29) change jobs, compared to about 4 percent in the mid-1990s.

...

Changing jobs is a key way for workers to make more money. That's especially true for younger workers, who often need to move around to find the job that suits -- and pays -- them best. By entering the workforce during a period of prolonged economic downturn, today's young people missed out on years of potential wage gains, a setback from which they might never fully recover.

In other words, we shouldn't worry that millennials are changing jobs too often, but rather, as the Washington Post's Jonnelle Marte has written, that they aren't changing jobs enough.



By min | May 8, 2015, 1:37 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Sometimes the streams cross in interesting ways

Brian Hibbs, a vocal comic retailer that i've linked to a number of times on this site because of his insights on the comic industry, writes in to Kevin Drum's website, which i link to a lot (Drum himself is recovering from chemotherapy so this is a guest post) to talk about the burden on small businesses to raising the minimum wage.


By fnord12 | May 7, 2015, 9:27 AM | Comics & Liberal Outrage | Link



Maybe Sanders needs to close some bridges

I mentioned in a post below that i "know" Bernie Sanders won't win. But Atrios makes a good point about the press coverage:

Basically anyone with a pulse is taken seriously by our media if they run for president as a Republican... If you're a Democrat, however, and you're slightly to the left of Jeb Bush, you aren't "serious."

I ain't gonna bet on Bernie Sanders winning the nomination, but I wouldn't bet on Jindal, Perry, Christie, etc... either.

Chris Christie especially, at the moment.


By fnord12 | May 1, 2015, 3:17 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link



Guardrails

Someone should surround David Brooks with them.


By fnord12 | May 1, 2015, 3:15 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Why Are We Still Debating Capital Punishment?

What the hell is wrong with us? We're monsters.

By the time the blinds were raised at 6:23pm on April 29, 2014, to show Clayton Lockett strapped to the gurney and positioned to die, there was a lot that witnesses in Oklahoma's death house had not seen.

They did not see how, for nearly an hour, a paramedic and physician tried and failed to insert an IV line into various parts of Lockett's body, including his neck and feet.

They did not see how, after he was punctured some 14 to 16 times, Lockett's pants and underwear were cut off so that the doctor could clumsily inject the IV into his femoral vein, near his groin, using a needle too small for the task. Nor did witnesses see the IV, which the warden chose to cover with a blanket to protect his genitals from view, but also in the name of "dignity."

They did not see the makeshift rope that had been found earlier that day inside Lockett's holding cell, or the lacerations on Lockett's arms where he had slashed himself with a razor. Or the prison task force that came for Lockett early that morning, forcing their way into his blood-stained cell after he tried to block the door and subduing him with a TASER.

That's right. It would be wrong for a prisoner to kill themselves and take that privilege away from the State.

But what witnesses would see once Lockett was finally displayed before them was a human experiment -- the first execution in the state using 100 milligrams of a new drug, midazolam, to kick off its three-part cocktail. It would go terribly wrong. As the drugs started flowing, and after he had already been deemed unconscious, Lockett jerked his head, and began to writhe and moan. "Oh my God," Warden Anita Trammel later recalled thinking. "He's coming out of this. It's not working." In the overflow room where others watched on a TV monitor, "It was like a horror movie," one official told The Guardian. "He kept trying to talk." Witnesses heard Lockett say things like, "something is wrong," and "the drugs aren't working" and "this shit is fucking with my mind." After nine minutes, the blinds were hastily closed. The blanket was lifted to reveal that the drugs were seeping into the tissue of his inner thigh instead of his veins, causing his skin to swell.

Officials debated whether they should keep trying to kill Lockett or else try to save his life. They called the governor's office. They decided to halt the proceeding. But then, just after 7 o'clock, Clayton Lockett finally died.

On his death certificate: "Judicially Ordered Execution."

And i feel so much better that this is the Supreme Court deciding the case.

That the Court again found itself discussing lethal injection at all seemed to irritate the judges. Justice Samuel Alito blamed "a guerrilla war against the death penalty." Activists have made it "impossible for the States to obtain drugs that could be used to carry out capital punishment with little, if any, pain," he complained. "And so the States are reduced to using drugs like this one." Justice Scalia, too, inveighed against abolitionists for making it "impossible to get the 100 percent sure drugs," referring to sodium thiopental and pentobarbital. "I guess I would be more inclined to find that [midolazam] was intolerable if there was even some doubt about this drug when there was a perfectly safe other drug available," he said. In other words, the lack of good alternatives might just make midolazom good enough in his book.

Damn those "activist" drug companies and their anti-barbaric execution stance.

Wyrick tried to explain away the holes in his case by reiterating that it is up to the prisoners, not the state, to prove the only "constitutionally relevant" question: whether midazolam has "a ceiling effect that kicks in before we get to a level where [prisoners are] unconscious and unaware of the pain." No one seems to know exactly where that ceiling lies. So while the state concedes that there is a possibility that midazolam will wear off mid-execution, it argues that this does not mean it definitely will. This level of uncertainty over midazolam is apparently not too high for Oklahoma to stop killing people with it.

Justice Elena Kagan found the logic galling. If it's true that experiencing the effects of potassium chloride is "like being burned alive," she said, then this is like telling someone, "We're going to burn you at the stake, but before we do, we're going to use an anesthetic of completely unknown properties and unknown effects. Maybe you won't feel it, maybe you will. We just can't tell."

Link

Human life is only precious if it's still in the womb. Once you're out, you can go fuck yourself.


By min | May 1, 2015, 9:42 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link



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