• Friday Cat Blogging – 22 February 2019

    This is Hilbert up on the patio cover doing his best beached whale imitation. Only the tail gives him away. And the feet. And the fur. And the ears. But other than that, it’s almost perfect.

  • Kamala Harris and the Coat of Many Colors

    First it was Kamala Harris and the chicken. Last weekend it was Kamala Harris and the coat of many colors. Robin Abcarian tells us that we are doomed:

    It was too much for Very Serious Journalist Brit Hume. “This is just embarrassing,” tweeted the Fox News anchor. “So now journalists are going shopping with Harris, helping pick out clothes and then putting out glowing tweets about it.” James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal chimed in….David Martosko of the Daily Mail added….

    ….This is the kind of clueless sexism that we can expect to see repeated through the 2020 campaign cycle, particularly as there are so many women running.

    When it came to Hume’s arrogant tweet, it wasn’t just his sexism on display. It was also his hypocrisy, and the pernicious double standard that finds virtue in “manly” pursuits such as hunting and skydiving and triviality in “female” pursuits such as shopping.

    In 2015, a bunch of political reporters, including MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt and the New York Times’ Ashley Parker, went trap shooting with then-aspiring presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina….No one accused those reporters of getting too cozy with Graham.

    I think I’ve made up my mind. I am going to vote for the candidate who generates the greatest amount of idiotic pushback from men on Twitter. The contest starts now.

  • How Much Do Income-Based Programs Help Blacks and Hispanics?

    Over at the Intercept, Briahna Joy describes an interview of Cory Booker by Charlamagne tha God:

    When Booker offered up his baby bonds plan as part of a black-centric agenda, Charlamagne was skeptical on the basis that it wouldn’t exclusively help blacks. It “addresses all Americans,” Booker explained, “but it actually helps the racial wealth gap in a significant way,” by creating a savings account for low-income students.

    Booker is right. The unfortunate overlap between poverty and some historically marginalized identity groups means that when programs are equitably designed, a rising tide will disproportionately improve their fates: Since 1 out of 3 non-elderly Latinos and 1 out of 4 non-elderly blacks lack health insurance, those groups stand to be some of the biggest beneficiaries of “Medicare for All.” Blacks and Latinos are more likely to rely on Social Security benefits as an exclusive source of retirement income than whites, meaning attacks on Social Security threaten those groups disproportionately as well. Blacks and Latinos are overrepresented among minimum wage jobs, meaning we stand to gain more from a $15 minimum wage. And on, and on, and on.

    Both Booker and Joy are correct. Since blacks and Hispanics make up a big share of the low-income population, universal programs help them more than they help whites. However, the same is true of means-tested programs that exclusively target low-income families. But by how much?

    The top line number isn’t too hard to get. The Congressional Research Services estimates that total federal spending on families with low incomes comes to about $900 billion:

    Very little of this is cash. It includes Medicaid benefits, cash welfare, housing assistance, SNAP, and a few other smaller programs. The number would be higher if you added in state and local spending, but in broad terms you can figure that we’re talking about roughly a trillion dollars or so.

    The vast majority of this goes to families with children under 18. Black and Hispanic families make up about a third of this demographic group, but they receive more than half of all means-tested benefits. I’ve been unable to track down anything more specific, but my very wobbly best guess is that on a per capita family basis, black and Hispanic families receive about $11,000 in benefits while white families receive about $4,000. If this is accurate then means-tested programs are indeed a fairly effective way of closing the racial income gap.

    Don’t take anything away from this that I haven’t actually said. I’m not laying out a program for black America and I’m not pitting means-tested welfare against other kinds of racially conscious programs. What’s more, my numbers are a very hazy guess. They could be off in either direction by a fair amount.

    In fact, that’s why I’ve written this post. I’m interested in just how much more means-tested programs help minority communities compared to white communities. I’m surprised I can’t find a rigorous estimate of this, and I figure it must be out there somewhere. I’m hoping someone will speak up and let me know where I can find it.

  • Lunchtime Photo

    This is a picture of sunrise over the power pylons coming down from the Oroville Dam in northern California. It’s the last of its kind since I’m no longer taking the Evil Dex and therefore don’t wake up early enough to take sunrise pictures. But it was nice while it lasted.

    June 15, 2018 — Butte County, California
  • My Abridged Green New Deal

    There has been some confusion about exactly what I meant in my climate change post on Tuesday. Since I’m in no shape to write anything lengthy, this is a perfect opportunity to boil it down to a sentence or two. Here it is:

    If you’re serious about climate change—really serious—then your plan cannot demand very much sacrifice from people. Maybe none, in fact.

    That’s it. You will never get widespread support for any plan that requires people to give up the stuff they like. I know that it’s much harder to think of a plan with negligible sacrifice that nevertheless makes a serious dent in climate change—the laundry list of all the usual suspects is much easier—but that’s too bad. The laundry list will never get public support, so if that’s your answer you aren’t really taking the problem seriously.

    Keep in mind that the “problem” we’re trying to address is not climate change and never has been. The problem is how to get public support to do something about climate change. That’s what you need to pour all your energy into. And just to give you something to throw brickbats at, here’s my four-step plan:

    • Lots and lots of subsidies for renewable energy, energy efficiency, electrification, etc.
    • Huge sums of money for R&D into renewable energy and carbon sequestration.
    • A strong focus on job creation.
    • A whopping big carbon tax that mostly hits the affluent, with plenty of deficit spending to make up the rest

    This is, obviously, not feasible right now. But nothing is feasible for the next couple of years. What we need right now is some serious thinking about what to do if and when liberals gain the political power to do anything, and that thinking needs to unapologetically focus on how to demand the smallest possible sacrifice from the largest number of people.

  • Chart of the Day: Political Scientists Rule

    I’ve got a cold. I’m coughing my lungs out and I have a raging headache. What’s more, I have no interest in Jussie Smollett or the pope or the latest guesses about when Robert Mueller will release his report. So instead I surfed around randomly and eventually found this:

    WTF? There’s apparently a big demand for folks with only a masters degree in political science. Really? Political scientists?

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Some of my best friends are political scientists. But they get paid more than mathematicians, who actually know stuff? Damn.

  • Facebook Fucks Up Yet Again

    Robin Rayne/ZUMA

    From the LA Times:

    Facebook makes money by charging advertisers to reach just the right audience for their message — even when that audience is made up of people interested in the perpetrators of the Holocaust or explicitly neo-Nazi music.

    Despite promises of greater oversight following past advertising scandals, a Times review shows that Facebook has continued to allow advertisers to target hundreds of thousands of users the social media firm believes are curious about topics such as “Joseph Goebbels,” “Josef Mengele,” “Heinrich Himmler,” the neo-nazi punk band Skrewdriver and Benito Mussolini’s long-defunct National Fascist Party.

    Can you guess what Facebook’s response is? Huh? Can you?

    If you guessed “This was an unfortunate oversight and we’ll do better in the future,” you’re a winner!

  • North Carolina Vote Fraud Case Takes a Dramatic Turn Against Republican Candidate

    Mark Harris in happier days last month, before he knew his own son was going to testify against him.Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via ZUMA

    Have you been following the North Carolina vote fraud case? I have, but I haven’t been posting about it because nothing really explosive has happened lately. That changed today, when we all learned that Mark Harris, the Republican candidate in North Carolina’s 9th district, has a son. And that son, John Harris, is an attorney. Not just any attorney, either: he’s an assistant US attorney in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Today he testified about McCrae Dowless, the campaign operative hired by his father to get out the Republican vote:

    “I love my dad and I love my mom,” John Harris said as his father cried. “I certainly have no vendetta against them, no family scores to settle, OK? I think they made mistakes in this process, and they certainly did things differently than I would have done them.”

    ….First in a phone call and then in subsequent emails, the younger Harris warned his father of both political and legal ramifications of hiring Dowless….He spoke to his parents on April 7, 2017, a day after the candidate met with Dowless. “I told him that collecting absentee ballots was a felony,” John Harris said, “and I would send him the statute that collecting ballots was a felony.” Later that morning, he emailed his father the statute that makes such actions a felony in North Carolina. He also emailed his fears abut Dowless, saying he believed the Bladen County operation was on “thin ice.”

    This certainly seems to change things from “poor Mark Harris was duped by McRae Dowless” to “Mark Harris knowingly hired a guy to perform ballot harvesting.” Stay tuned.

  • Lunchtime Photo

    This is a goat. An Irish goat. It’s the last picture in my queue from our trip to Ireland, and it’s been sitting around for more than a year waiting for me to either use it or delete it. Today I decided to go ahead and use it.

    September 17, 2017 — Caherdaniel, County Kerry, Ireland
  • Are Wages Going Up In Your County?

    Here’s something off the beaten path:

    This chart shows the top and bottom ten counties ranked by their yearly change in average weekly wages (Q3 of 2017 to Q3 of 2018). The full dataset is here, so you can see how your  county is doing. Note that it contains only the 350 largest counties.

    The winner is Chatham County, Georgia, which is Savannah and the surrounding area. The biggest loser is Elkhart, Indiana, home of Elkhart and next door to South Bend. Orange County, California, ranks 297th. Apparently my county isn’t doing all that great.