Monday Reads


Good Morning!!

Here are a few things the little birds told us today!

Nate Silver gives the Republican Party a 60% chance of recapturing the senate.  Talk about a reason to be depressed!

When FiveThirtyEight last issued a U.S. Senate forecast — way back in July — we concluded the race for Senate control was a toss-up. That was a little ahead of the conventional wisdom at the time, which characterized the Democrats as vulnerable but more likely than not to retain the chamber.

Our new forecast goes a half-step further: We think the Republicans are now slight favorites to win at least six seats and capture the chamber. The Democrats’ position has deteriorated somewhat since last summer, with President Obama’s approval ratings down to 42 or 43 percent from an average of about 45 percent before. Furthermore, as compared with 2010 or 2012, the GOP has done a better job of recruiting credible candidates, with some exceptions.

As always, we encourage you to read this analysis with some caution. Republicans have great opportunities in a number of states, but only in West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana and Arkansas do we rate the races as clearly leaning their way. Republicans will also have to win at least two toss-up races, perhaps in Alaska, North Carolina or Michigan, or to convert states such as New Hampshire into that category. And they’ll have to avoid taking losses of their own in Georgia and Kentucky, where the fundamentals favor them but recent polls show extremely competitive races.

And what does everyone think about this?  First up, Paul Krugman calls it “Tarnished Silver”.

 It’s not the reliance on data; numbers can be good, and can even be revelatory. But data never tell a story on their own. They need to be viewed through the lens of some kind of model, and it’s very important to do your best to get a good model. And that usually means turning to experts in whatever field you’re addressing.

Unfortunately, Silver seems to have taken the wrong lesson from his election-forecasting success. In that case, he pitted his statistical approach against campaign-narrative pundits, who turned out to know approximately nothing. What he seems to have concluded is that there are no experts anywhere, that a smart data analyst can and should ignore all that.

But not all fields are like that — in fact, even political analysis isn’t like that, if you talk to political scientists instead of political reporters. So, for example, before glancing at some correlation and asserting causation, you really should talk to the researchers.

Similarly, climate science has been developed by many careful researchers who are every bit as good at data analysis as Silver, and know the physics too, so ignoring them and hiring a known irresponsible skeptic to cover the field is a very good way to discredit your enterprise. Economists work hard on the data; on the whole you’re going to do better by tracking their research than by trying to roll your own, and you should be very wary if your analysis runs counter to what a lot of professionals say.

Then, there are the blogsters with their analyses.  This one from Politicususa takes an ABC interview with Silver to (4)

ABC’s biased interview didn’t quite match up with what Silver wrote about his own numbers:

Our new forecast goes a half-step further: We think the Republicans are now slight favorites to win at least six seats and capture the chamber.

As always, we encourage you to read this analysis with some caution. Republicans have great opportunities in a number of states, but only in West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana and Arkansas do we rate the races as clearly leaning their way. Republicans will also have to win at least two toss-up races, perhaps in Alaska, North Carolina or Michigan, or to convert states such as New Hampshire into that category. And they’ll have to avoid taking losses of their own in Georgia and Kentucky, where the fundamentals favor them but recent polls show extremely competitive races.

So our forecast might be thought of as a Republican gain of six seats — plus or minus five. The balance has shifted slightly toward the GOP. But it wouldn’t take much for it to revert to the Democrats, nor for this year to develop into a Republican rout along the lines of 2010.

Right now, Nate Silver is giving Mitch McConnell a 75% chance of retaining his Senate seat. These odds are much, much too high in McConnell’s favor. The problem with using a similar model as what is used to successful presidential races is that statewide races are more volatile. There is also less data available. Pollsters poll Senate races less. With less data, Silver’s modeling could become less reliable.

Silver seems to think that Obama’s low approval rating in Kentucky tilts the balance towards McConnell. The reality is that Obama’s approval rating is higher than McConnell’s in the state.

What Republican Jon Karl tried to sell as a slam dunk Republican takeover of the Senate is really much more of a 50/50 chance, and if Republicans lose in either or both Kentucky and Georgia, they will not be retaking the Senate. What Silver wrote was actually more accurate that the misleading interview that ABC edited and packaged.

It is fair to ask if Nate Silver is being set up by the same mainstream media that relies on the partisan analysis that Silver criticizes. If Republicans lose the Senate, pro-Republican journalists such as Karl will turn around and use their defeat to attack Silver’s credibility in 2016. As time goes on, and nation gets closer to Election Day, the picture will become clearer. I suspect that if Democrats continue to have success in Kentucky and Georgia, Silver’s odds will change.

Republicans like Jon Karl are warping Nate Silver’s initial projection to depress Democratic turnout. The pro-Republican bias was obvious in this interview, and it will be interesting to see if the media ignores Silver if his projection shifts more towards the Democrats.

This is the ABC interview that’s disturbing should you care to watch.

Barred OwlThe NYT editorial board took on the chilling cases in front of SCOTUS that attempt to define religious liberty as a tool for corporate  coercion of employees by owners with a need for hyper controls.

The showdown will take place Tuesday when the Supreme Court hears arguments on two consolidated challenges to the Affordable Care Act. The owners of Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts-and-crafts stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinetmaker, want to be exempted from the sound requirement that employer health plans cover without a co-payment all birth control methods and services approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

These companies are not religious organizations, nor are they affiliated with religious organizations. But the owners say they are victims of an assault on religious liberty because they personally disapprove of certain contraceptives. They are wrong, and the Supreme Court’s task is to issue a decisive ruling saying so. The real threat to religious liberty comes from the owners trying to impose their religious beliefs on thousands of employees.

The legal question is whether the contraception coverage rule violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which says government may not “substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion” unless the burden is necessary to further a “compelling government interest” and does so by “the least restrictive means.”

There are several reasons why the court should find that the law does not apply, starting with the fact that secular, for-profit corporations are not “persons” capable of prayer or other religious behavior, which is a quintessentially human activity. Also, as an amicus brief filed by corporate law scholars persuasively argues, granting the religious exemption to the owners would mean allowing shareholders to pass their religious values to the corporation. The fundamental principle of corporate law is a corporation’s existence as a legal entity with rights and obligations separate from those of its shareholders.

The claim that the contraception coverage rules put a “substantial burden” on religious exercise is very weak. The companies’ owners remain free to worship as they choose and to argue (incorrectly) as much as they want that some of the contraceptive drugs and devices on the F.D.A.’s list actually induce abortions. If an employee decides to use an insurance plan for such contraceptives, that would be a personal decision. It does not burden religious exercise.

This is undoubtedly one of the most horrifying stories about religious overreach into women’s reproductive rights and health.  What do 4904-F14.2Lreligious nuts elected to office know about medicine and women’s anatomy?  Absolutely nothing.

Rennie Gibbs’s daughter, Samiya, was a month premature when she simultaneously entered the world and left it, never taking a breath. To experts who later examined the medical record, the stillborn infant’s most likely cause of death was also the most obvious: the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck.

But within days of Samiya’s delivery in November 2006, Steven Hayne, Mississippi’s de facto medical examiner at the time, came to a different conclusion. Autopsy tests had turned up traces of a cocaine byproduct in Samiya’s blood, and Hayne declared her death a homicide, caused by “cocaine toxicity.”

In early 2007, a Lowndes County grand jury indicted Gibbs, a 16-year-old black teen, for “depraved heart murder” —  defined under Mississippi law as an act “eminently dangerous to others…regardless of human life.” By smoking crack during her pregnancy, the indictment said, Gibbs had “unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously” caused the death of her baby. The maximum sentence: life in prison.

Seven years and much legal wrangling later, Gibbs could finally go on trial this spring — part of a wave of “fetal harm” cases across the country in recent years that pit the rights of the mother against what lawmakers, health care workers, prosecutors, judges, jurors, and others view as the rights of the unborn child.

A judge is said to be likely to decide this week if the case should move forward or be dismissed. Assuming it continues, whether Gibbs becomes the first woman ever convicted by a Mississippi jury for the loss of her pregnancy could turn on a fundamental question that has received surprisingly little scrutiny so far by the courts: Is there scientific proof that cocaine can cause lasting damage to a child exposed in the womb, or are the conclusions reached by Hayne and prosecutors based on faulty analysis and junk science?

vintage_audubon_color_print_-_band_tailed_pigeon_1964_large_format_2941bfcdJunk science is the new strategy for those whose prefer to ignore their brain waves and follow religiousity blindly.

Creationism’s days are numbered. “Cosmos” frightens the conservatives more than anything has in a very long time. Every day their numbers grow smaller and their grasp on America becomes weaker.

The time is now for a scientifically literate America to return, for scientific innovations to flow out of our borders and spread around the world. We can no longer take a backseat to the world of science and must return once again to the driver’s seat.

So, we continue to have the same problems with the current freaks running the Republican Party.  Choose your poison: religion or greed.

Either way, I’m voting this fall.  I don’t intend to sit this one out.

What’s on your blogging and reading list today?

41 Comments on “Monday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    The distinct possibility that the GOP could very well end up ruling both Houses is what leads me to take an LOA from taking an active part in the dialogue of today’s politics.

    One can only imagine what this will look like. A total stranglehold on women’s rights. The overturn of the ACA. Less aid to those living near or below the poverty line. More disintegration of the infrastructure. A refusal to consider climate change because someone read it in the bible (or tea leaves). Defunding of education. A return to the Bush tax cuts where only the rich and powerful will benefit. Deregulation of every industry including food and water.

    I am unable to understand the minds of the American public who would put these people in a place of power that will surely destroy whatever “freedoms” we now enjoy.

    Too deplorable to even consider.

    • Yes, it scares the shit outta me too…I know what living with a double GOP majority is like down here in our state. It fucking sucks. The thought of what it can do to the country is beyond nightmares.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        And you know that once they are in it is almost impossible to get rid of them.

        Gerrymandering along with a GOP legislature have made it almost impossible to outvote them when they keep changing voter registration laws to suit their purposes and no one to stop them.

        We are looking at a generation who will be deeply engraved in “law making” and changing the playing field into something we though we had overcome.

        No one is “safe” from religious fanatics who seem to be in charge in so many states these days and even though I come from one that is considered “liberal” I have no doubt it could happen here as well if the federal government manages to be taken over by lunatics waving a bible in one hand and waving fistfuls of cash in another.

        Could it happen here? You bet since it is already creeping through enough states now that it is difficult to overlook.

    • janicen says:

      To be honest, I think it’s a good thing. Democrats, like all people, get easily complacent. The thought of continued rule by the Republican fascists will light a fire under Democrats and remind us all that we need to not just vote, but pay a visit to party and candidate offices and volunteer for some phone banking or canvassing if our health allows. A couple hours worth of volunteer time from enough Democrats will swing things our way. It’s all about the ground game. Let’s get fired up.

      • RalphB says:

        This is the key. No Quitting now!

      • dakinikat says:

        digby ‏@digby56 18s
        How the right works together to ruin everything

        • dakinikat says:

          In the world of big lawsuits, they call it “air traffic control”: One person, or organization, becomes the point person for recruiting plaintiffs, coordinating multiple legal briefs, and ensuring that everyone submits their filings on time.

          And in the landmark case going before the U.S. Supreme Court this Tuesday, challenging the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act—the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases, which are being heard together—the role of air traffic controller was played by some of the nation’s most radical anti-choice and free-market groups on the political right, according to emails obtained by RH Reality Check through public records requests.

          The documents consist of emails between dozens of anti-choice and free-market groups, and high-level state employees in Ohio, Michigan, Alabama, and West Virginia. They reveal that the role of air traffic control in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga litigation was played by the Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based nonprofit with just over $40 million in assets, according to its most recent auditor’s report.

      • RalphB says:

        Here’s a little something to feel good about, election wise. A lot of ink has been spilled in the Texas press about dropoff in Dem primary turnout of less than 10% over 2010. Less money was spent on primary turnout efforts than in 2010 because the tops of the ticket wasn’t really contested. I’m not going to make a big deal out of this and I really don’t think primary turnout levels are predictive but we should be consistent anyway.

        Multiple Republicans spent tens of millions of dollars combined to push people to the polls. The whole Ted Nugent affair was at least partly about juicing turnout for Greg Abbott. For the first time since 2002 there will be mass turnover in statewide offices, and for the first time ever there were multiple high-profile statewide Republican primaries. And in the end, turnout declined by almost 15% from 2010. You’d think that might be worth mentioning.

  2. susie madrak» Blog Archive » Creepy patriarchal bullshit This is some fucked up shit too….I remember reading about this a couple years ago, but it looks like it is catching on.

    Purity balls are just disgusting. Where to begin? You start telling little girls their only real value is in their “purity,” and not their character. That Daddy always knows best, and let’s not soil our souls with any of that autonomy nonsense. That hymens are the most (the only) valuable thing girls have to offer. And you wrap it all up in some fundamentalist nonsense about your dad being the “High Priest.” Oh, and you tell girls sex is disgusting and tainted, so you should save it for the man you marry. ETF?

    Creepily enough, now the idea is creeping into secular society, where dads present crown-shaped “princess rings” to their daughters on their 16th birthdays — to remind them to only to chose males who treat her like Dad and Jesus do. (Dad may be running around on Mom, but he buys his daughter a princess ring, and that’s all that counts. Well, actually, Mom bought it and ordered him to give it to his princess, but hey, his kid will never know.) The madonna-whore complex lives!

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Got a feeling we may be going back to the days when the marital sheets were confiscated after the wedding night to ensure that yes indeed, the bride was a virgin!

      • dakinikat says:

        Here is a Republican State Senator from MASS and his delightful bit of legislation:

        Republicans say there is no War On women. They say it, but they they do things like propose laws requiring women going through divorce to get a judge’s permission to date or have sex:
        There’s nothing that sets the mood for a romantic evening like petitioning a judge for permission to have sex at the end of the night.
        If Massachusetts State Sen. Richard J. Ross (R) gets his way, that’s exactly what many women (and men) would have to do if they have children and are going through a divorce. In fact, not only would permission-less coitus be banned, but so too would the romantic evening and many dating activities.
        Ross’ bill seeks to amend Massachusetts divorce law with the following provision (emphasis added):
        In divorce, separation, or 209A proceedings involving children and a marital home, the party remaining in the home shall not conduct a dating or sexual relationship within the home until a divorce is final and all financial and custody issues are resolved, unless the express permission is granted by the courts.
        Now of course the man who moves out needs no such permission to date or have sex; only the woman who stays with the children in the house.
        And please don’t try to tell me that this could mean either spouse, because the parent who stays with the kids is almost always the woman. Like 83% of the time (2007).
        Additionally, this is no short time period:
        Massachusetts law currently mandates a waiting period of at least 120 days for divorces to become finalized, and that’s only after a judge has approved the separation agreement. In other words, it could take at least four months, if not longer, before a person getting a divorce is legally allowed to fornicate.
        So, for trying to punish the women going through divorce but not men, Richard Ross is the Asshole of the Day.

        • Pat Johnson says:

          I have to be honest I never heard of this guy! You would think he would be a “stand out” in MA with those “friendly” views but no.

          I’m no longer sure I don’t believe in the Mad Hatter. These people are making it easier.

          • bostonboomer says:

            I never heard of him either, but I can guarantee that a law like that isn’t going to pass here.

        • NW Luna says:

          Hey, he forgot to legislate masturbation too!

    • dakinikat says:

      I thought Purity Balls was one of the contestants on Ru Paul’s Drag race!

    • NW Luna says:

      And Jesus, you know, was all for temporal royalty and storing up gold rings here on earth. /s

      Creepy….and why does the whole concept smack of hidden incest to me?

  3. dakinikat says:

    and Bobby Jindal once again proves what he’s good at: Lies and Hypocrisy!!!

    Bobby Jindal: President Obama’s higher ed program will hurt low income, minority students

  4. NW Luna says:

    Had an uneasy night with vague dreams about smothering in mud…. The N Fork Stilly mudslide covered a minor rural highway that I and many others drive on fairly often in the summer to get to hiking and climbing areas in the mountains. The only good news is that the debris dam breakup doesn’t look catastrophic.

    In a news conference Monday morning, emergency officials said they were working off a “soft list” of 108 people who are unaccounted for, though they said the number of actual victims will likely be much lower. ….

    “It’s much worse than everyone’s been saying,” said the firefighter, who did not want to be named. “The slide is about a mile wide. Entire neighborhoods are just gone. When the slide hit the river, it was like a tsunami.”

    By noon on Sunday, the dammed-up Stillaguamish River was starting to break through a hole in the mile-wide mud wall near Oso, releasing some flow downstream. But officials said that was not a cause for alarm.

    “It’s not flowing at a rate that causes concern. There is water coming through. They don’t feel it is going to be a catastrophic burst,” said Shari Ireton, spokeswoman for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. Even if the water breaches the blockage, it is unlikely to cause major flooding downstream, said Brent Bower, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service.

    • dakinikat says:

      Wow. That does not sound good. I am going to call Dr daughter tonight.

      • NW Luna says:

        Dak, I beieve Dr. daughter is out of danger. Mount Vernon is far enough away from where this mudslide occurred., and in a different drainage system entirely.

        The Stilly flows into the Puget Sound just south of Stanwood, which is just at Hwy 532 on a map. Mt. Vernon is next to the Skagit River. The watersheds are separated by high hills/ridges.

        • dakinikat says:

          I was wondering if her hospital was getting any overflow. BTW, my son in law will be in Seattle in a few weeks to start his fellowship in radiology at the UW med center.

          • NW Luna says:

            I know they airlifted several patients to Harborview in Seattle, which is our top trauma center. Certainly the local hospitals would be getting the less seriously injured people.

            Your s-i-l probably be at the UW Medical Center, main campus. It’s a great place to do a fellowship. What area of radiology? Although in the clinic I practice in now I don’t have much call for ordering scans other than brain and spinal MRIs. There’s some neat research going on in all areas.

          • dakinikat says:

            I am not sure of his research interests ATM. My daughter loves surgery and patients. He wants to teach and do research in that field but not sure what specific area.

    • RalphB says:

      It’s a real disaster. I really hope casualties are a minimum.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I saw some video tonight on the Weather Channel and it looked horrible.

    • Fannie says:

      If that damn breaks I hope people down of it have been packing it up and out of there.

    • NW Luna says:

      An even scarier landslide is the Hope Slide in southern British Columbia, which is just off what is now a major highway. It occurred in 1965, covered 1.9 miles in width to a depth of over 250 ft. It was in a very rural area (then), and amazingly only 4 people died. But I really hate driving by it!

  5. RalphB says:

    Teh Megan, Matt, And Ezra Show

    Damn, this is funny.

  6. dakinikat says:

    Chief Justice Roberts Used Slavery-Era Principles To Gut The Voting Rights Act

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise to discover a conservative Chief Justice reaching all the way back to the days of Dred Scott for his justification to gut voting rights, particularly in the states where protections are most needed.

    Of all the legacies George W. Bush left the country with, his court appointments may be the ones that undo us all.

  7. dakinikat says:

    Study: Oil from Deepwater Horizon oil spill (4M barrels) caused deformities in fish