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Current Affairs

October 23, 2014

The president's press secretary gets creative. *Very* creative.

"The White House Says This Scientific Theory Explains Why It Isn't More Open To The Press".

The White House has a scientific explanation for why reporters aren't allowed to view President Barack Obama's interactions with campaign donors: The very act of observing an event can change the event's outcome. . . . 

"The goal of those q-and-a sessions is to foster a more candid and open dialogue where you have donors who are expressing their views," Earnest said. "I think it's the Heidenberg principle?"

Once again, I'm not making this up.

"The cable networks that draw the most partisan ads aren’t the ones you expect"

What surprised me: conservatives don't advertise much on ABC Family and Comedy Central and Liberals don't advertise much on the Golf Channel.

October 22, 2014

"Behind a NYT call to bust up Amazon"

Ira Stoll, in the New York Post, speculates on the reason for Krugman's call for antitrust action against Amazon:

It’s enough to make a cynic suspect that the Times’ panic over Amazon isn’t about online retailer’s market power or disparate treatment at all, but the fact that Amazon’s CEO owns The Washington Post, a newspaper that competes with The New York Times.

Or about the fact that the Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, reportedly has libertarian-oriented politics rather than Krugman’s statist views.

UPDATE: not to be missed is Marc Andreessen's annotation of Krugman's column.

"Obama Donor Blocks Access to Hagan Stimulus Records"

"Cronyism all the way down."

"The next time someone says, “You didn’t build that,” remind them of Fatu Kekula"

22-year-old West African woman combats Ebola by "invent[ing] her own equipment".

October 21, 2014

"How the feds block Ebola cures"

Tell me again about how great the FDA is.

Two years after 9/11, Congress created Project Bioshield to speed up the commercialization of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics. A key part of the plan: Get the FDA to evaluate innovations quickly by using the same scientific advances that were used to discover them.

The agency balked.

Pandemic vaccines and drugs don’t move through the FDA approval process faster. Instead, drug- and device-development times actually increased more than 70 percent over the past decade because the FDA keeps demanding more studies and more data using outdated techniques.

And, no, the FDA is not using the best science to ensure safety. Time and again, it has waived regulations when politically expedient.

Or as Glenn Reynolds cracks, "Government is just another word for the things we do together."

"Putting the ‘O’ in EbOla"

Jonah Goldberg, right smack on the money:

Of course, Obama’s ideology is larger than him — which is one reason I dislike so many rightwing explanations of Obama’s motives as stemming from his post-colonial, Alinskyite, African-Indonesian-Muslim life story. All of that stuff might be true. Indeed, some of it surely is (Note: I do not think Obama is Muslim, sorry). But even if it perfectly explained why he does what he does, it doesn’t explain why millions of Americans voted for him and agree with him. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are not nearly so exotic as Barack Obama, and yet they are in ideological lockstep with him. Why? Because they are liberals. Full stop.

"FiveThirtyEight’s Pollster Ratings"

We've needed something like this for a long time. I hope they keep it updated.

Highest ranked: Selzer & Company, Field Poll, Ciruli Associates.

Lowest ranked: Research 2000, TCJ Research, Strategic Vision, Zogby, Pharos Research.

October 20, 2014

"Rachel Carson's Deadly Fantasies"

Thanks to the rank bias of teachers of "environmental science" today's high schools students are unlikely to know the enormous damage Silent Spring did. Show them this.

"Culture Wars All the Way Down"

Jonah Goldberg at the top of his form. Half funny, half original, insightful analysis. Even though this column depreciates economics a bit, it's a good argument. And I really like his discussion of "wedge issues".

So the other day I was on Fox talking about the minimum wage, or rather I was on Fox to talk about the politics of the minimum wage. I made the point I’m about to make right now. The reason Democrats are always trying to raise the minimum wage is so they can get Republicans to vote against the minimum wage, a point others have made in the past (including, I recently learned, Kevin Williamson in this excellent primer on the issue). More broadly, the minimum wage is a wedge issue for Democrats. The fact that it is at best an insignificant and silly idea and at worst really terrible economics is entirely beside the point.

When I first started following politics in a serious way, “wedge issues” were terrible, no good, very bad things. David Broder, Tom Edsall, Eleanor Clift, and others would decry the use of wedge issues — race, abortion, patriotism, etc. — because they “divided” Americans. What this really meant was they divided the enduring Democratic coalition, separating out working-class whites and other constituencies moving rightward with Reagan. Looking through the hundreds of stories on Nexis from the late 1980s and early 1990s on the sinister exploitation of such issues is really a lot of fun. Here’s a headline from a 1989 Edsall piece in the Washington Post: “GOP Honing Wedges for Next Campaign; Party Aims for Partisan Advantage by Making Corruption, Drugs and Crime Divisive Issues.”

Good lord! Will those Republicans stop at nothing to win elections? 

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