Subscribe via RSS Feed

Author Page for Scott Lemieux

rss feed

Game 5

[ 83 ] June 13, 2014 |

At this point, this classic deserves an open thread.  If there’s a World Cup game remotely as exciting as this one, I promise to spend 3 hours watching Marty St. Louis’s Game 6 double OT winner in the 2004 finals on a constant loop for 24 hours.  (Note: I am the exclusive judge of this competition.)

Far be it from me to disagree with the wisdom of FIFA, the IOC, and Gary Bettman as applied to the regular season, but I’m going to continue to claim that it would not be better if this game was suddenly ended to have a penalty shot contest to determine the winner.

…congrats to the Kings; great team.  (What odds could you have gotten on them when they were down 3-0 against San Jose?) Is Darryl Sutter a HOF coach?  He’s certainly close.

Is Rape Victim A “Coveted Status?” (SPOILER: No.)

[ 150 ] June 13, 2014 |

You may recall syndicated columnist William F. George asserting that being a rape victim is a “coveted status that confers privileges.” Amanda Ruggeri explains why Will’s sinecure should have been given to skin care consultant Rowena many years ago.

More on the CA Tenure Case

[ 143 ] June 13, 2014 |

A few more links on the awful CA tenure decision from earlier this week:

  • If you don’t believe me, believe Orin Kerr.  The opinion has nothing but a gaping void where the evidence needed to establish the proposition that the CA tenure rules are a net negative for poor districts needs to be.
  • Or, you could believe Noah Feldman: “The court’s two-part reasoning was thin to the point of being emaciated.”
  • Rick Kahlenberg observes that segregation, not tenure rules, is driving unequal educational outcomes.

It’s Like, How Much Dumber Could An Anti-ACA Argument From The Nominal Left Be? The Answer Is: None. None More Dumb.

[ 91 ] June 13, 2014 |

Lambert Strether can always be counted on to provide anti-ACA arguments whose incoherence go to 11.  After a discussion of how the Medicaid expansion sucks because some companies might make money from providing health coverage to people (as opposed to the awesome old days, when insurance companies made money by not providing coverage to people, only they would have spontaneously combusted without the ACA because these profits don’t actually count or something,) we get this eternal classic of muddled thinking:

Below — and check me, readers, this part has numbers — we see 1.7 million applicants in limbo + 2 million accounts with “discrepancies” = 3.7 million, and 3.2 million / 8 million = 46% of 2014′s ObamaCare surge have screwed up Medicaid accounts. Of course, the Republicans can’t hold hearings on this, let alone run a Dukakis-style “competence” campaign because (a) even they couldn’t handle the hypocrisy of denying Medicaid to their own citizens while alos exposing how poorly the administration handled expanding it, and (b) they would rather wank about repeal anyhow, to throw red meat to their base and because markets (see Profits, supra). Anyhow, ObamaCare’s their plan.

The first sentence is problematic enough. Yes, there are some bureaucratic delays, something that is unprecedented in the history of government, and I blame Barack Obama, who we can safely assume is the governor of all the relevant states. Plus, you’ll note from his sources that his numbers are greatly overstated; nothing like 3.7 million people are actually going to go without access to health care even temporarily. I also note that if Lambert’s preferred policy of “do nothing until single-payer can get 60 votes in the Senate long after we’re all dead” was implemented, approximately 0% of these people would get medical insurance; this is OK because, as we’ve already established, better millions of people go uninsured than anyone make a dollar insuring them, very progressive. But it’s the argument starting with the second sentence where things get really good.  Republicans won’t hold hearings on this because:

  • Republicans would be hypocrites for wanting Medicaid coverage to be better implemented, since Republican statehouses generally aren’t accepting the Medicaid expansion at all.  (Admittedly, as Lambert has already informed us, for this we must blame Barack Obama for inventing the concept of judicial review.)
  • Also, Republicans actually want to talk about repeal, because the ACA is actually about profits for business.  (But, wait, why aren’t they accepting the Medicaid expansion?  I was just told that this was nothing but a massive payoff for insurance interests? I think the lines of communication between Lambert’s sentences have been cut off.)
  • And, finally, Republicans won’t hold hearings because…the ACA is the “Republican plan.”  We know this because of the 0 Republicans who voted for the ACA, the fact that the Republican health care plan in the 12 years they controlled the House of Representatives was “nothing,” and because…as conceded in point a) Republicans have steadfastly refused to implement a core provision of the ACA after they mounted a successful legal challenge to it.  Can’t see any flaws in this logic!

Arguments against passing the ACA from the ostensible left are inevitably terrible, but at least generally they can keep the plainly self-refuting arguments that are ludicrously charitable to the Republican Party they’re perfectly happy to have run the country in different paragraphs.  Going from “of course Republicans hate the Medicaid expansion” to “the Medicaid expansion is the Republican plan” in two sentences takes things to a whole different level.  Anyway, if only Hillary Clinton had been around to sign Hillary Clinton’s health care plan rather than Barack Obama signing it we wouldn’t have had any of these problems.

World Cup Day One!

[ 128 ] June 12, 2014 |

So, would it be more or less embarrassing for FIFA if the ref in the Brazil/Croatia game was actually paid off?

Can The CA Tenure Ruling Be Defended? (SPOILER: No.)

[ 158 ] June 12, 2014 |

I have more about the CA tenure ruling at the Prospect:

The line of precedents cited by Treu to justify his extraordinary intervention are, in themselves, unexceptionable. The California courts have long held that under both the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the state constitution education is a fundamental right that must be provided on equal terms. This doctrine is salutary; indeed, like Justice Thurgood Marshall, I think the Supreme Court erred by not reading the 14th Amendment the same way.

The question, however, is whether this doctrine is applicable to these cases. There is one huge difference between this week’s case and the previous holdings. Previous precedents involved cases where poor school districts were being treated differently under state law. In Serrano v. Priest I and II, the issue was one of poorer school districts receiving fewer resources, and Butt v. California concerned a school district closing six weeks early because of a lack of resources. These were clear cases of equal protection violations: Poor districts were treated differently than affluent ones in ways that almost certainly had deleterious consequences for the education of students in the former.

In this case, however, there’s no formally unequal treatment; the tenure system created by statute in California statute applies to all school districts. For most of the conservatives cynically praising Treu’s decision, this should be the end of the discussion; to their thinking, as long as districts are treated the same there’s no equal protection violation. But conservatives are wrong about this. A statute that formally treats people or groups the same can violate equal protection if the effect of the law is discriminatory. Education policy provides a particularly vivid example of the vacuity of the conservative premise that formally equal treatment is sufficient. Reading Brown v. Board to require nothing but the elimination of de jure discrimination in pupil assignment has allowed far too many local educational systems to be both separate and unequal in practice.

So there’s nothing wrong with a disparate impact analysis per se. But if Treu’s opinion were to fulfill its premise, he needed to make the case that California’s tenure system disproportionately burdens the educational opportunites of the poor. And it’s here that his amateurish policy analysis manifestly fails to deliver the goods.

Read the whole etc.

Thursday Links

[ 112 ] June 12, 2014 |

We will apparently have to wait until at least next week for the most important bad decisions of this Supreme Court term.  In the meantime:

  • This case that Chris Hedges is a serial plagiarist is pretty damning.
  • Yet another sex-trafficking fraud exposed.  I should note that the brilliant critic and friend of LGM had this pegged in her initial review of the film. (It’s also an excellent critique of Sorkin-style position paper “art”: “It’s not a documentary, it isn’t entertainment, and aside from Chung’s intelligent, dignified performance, this sure as heck isn’t art. It’s just a message, screaming on and on at people who agreed with the point before they bought a ticket.”)
  • I’m sure that, given their commitment to the Noble Ideals of Amateurism, that the NC basketball program knew nothing about the massive academic frauds being committed on behalf of their players. 
  • Pierce on the late Don Zimmer.  One additional point about 1978 — check out the games played of the regulars except Scott.  (The 159 games for Fisk include 154 games at C. Shockingly, his OPS dropped 100 points in the second half of the season and was .656 in September and October.)  It’s like he saw how Leo Durocher handled the pennant race for the Cubs in 1969 and figured it worked so well it should be tried again.
  • Shorter Verbatim Prick Erry: “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”  I guess he is running in 2016!
  • The first part of what looks like a great series on jazz in the 80s; my wish list is about to get longer.  I strongly endorse Special Edition.

The ACA and the Uninsured

[ 70 ] June 11, 2014 |

Just what the Republican Party has always wanted:

The uninsured rate in Minnesota has fallen by more than 40 percent since the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion started, a new report from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center shows.

The analysis appears to be the first assessment of how a state’s uninsured rate has changed since the insurance expansion began in October. It shows that, between September 2013 and May 2014, the number of uninsured Minnesotans fell from 445,000 to about 264,500.

Most of the increase in coverage was through public programs, rather than people gaining private insurance through the exchange. Enrollment in two of Minnesota’s largest public coverage programs, Medical Assistance (the state Medicaid program) and MinnesotaCare (a subsidy program for low-income residents), grew by 155,000 during the open enrollment period.


Gallup data suggests that, nationally, the uninsured rate has fallen by just about 22 percent since the insurance expansion began, from 17.1 percent during the last quarter of 2013 to 13.4 percent in the second quarter of 2014.

If only instead of this massive bailout of the health insurance industry we had continued to hold these people hostage.  We’d have passed the Nationalize the Health Insurance Industry And I Want My Pony RIGHT NOW Act of Never in no time; why, the Republican Party is even more reasonable now that it was under Majority Leader John Chafee.


The California Constitution Does Not Enact Ms. Michelle Rhee’s Educational Theories

[ 380 ] June 11, 2014 |

My colleague has already explained the most obvious problem with yesterday’s discharge from the California courts, Lochner II: This Time It’s Educational. Whether the policy preferred by Treu is preferable to the status quo is beside the point because it’s not his commission to set the policy.

It’s also worth noting, however, that as the millions of people who unnecessarily lack health insurance are well aware this kind of amateur policy-making by the courts has a strong tendency to be inept. Dana Goldstein, while acknowledging that California’s tenure system is decidedly suboptimal, notes a fatal flaw in Treu’s proposed new legislation:

But here’s where Judge Reulf’s theory is faulty: Getting rid of these bad laws may do little to systemically raise student achievement. For high-poverty schools, hiring is at least as big of a challenge as firing, and the Vergara decision does nothing to make it easier for the most struggling schools to attract or retain the best teacher candidate.

From 2009 to 2011, the federal government offered 1,500 effective teachers in 10 major cities—including Los Angeles—a $20,000 bonus to transfer to an open job at a higher poverty school with lower test scores. In the world of public education, $20,000 is a major financial incentive. All these teachers were already employed by urban districts with diverse student populations; they weren’t scared of working with poor, non-white children. Yet less than a quarter of the eligible teachers chose to apply for the bonuses. Most did not want to teach in the schools that were the most deeply segregated by race and class and faced major pressure to raise test scores.

Principals have known about this problem for ages. In Chicago, economist Brian Jacob found that when the city’s school district made it easier for principals to fire teachers, nearly 40 percent of principals, including many at the worst performing, poorest schools, fired no teachers at all. Why? For one thing, firing a coworker is unpleasant. It takes more than a policy change to overturn the culture of public education, which values collegiality and continuous improvement over swift accountability. That culture is not a wholly bad thing—with so many teachers avoiding the poorest schools, principals have little choice but to work with their existing staffs to help them get better at their jobs.

The can opener that education “reformers” always assume is that there’s a large supply of outstanding teachers just waiting there to take the most demanding challenges as soon as a school’s weakest teachers are forced out. Why we should assume this pool of brilliant teachers just waiting to take the worst jobs is…far from clear. The idea that making these jobs much more insecure will increase the willingness of these imaginary teachers to take these jobs is bizarre — but without this assumption Treu’s argument collapses. Treu is essentially asking schools who most need to attract good teachers to try to recruit them by offering them less, in the name of educational equality.  Can’t see any flaws in that plan!

And, yes, Arne Duncan’s endorsement of this decision is a disgrace on multiple levels.

Today In The Winner-Take-All Economy

[ 37 ] June 11, 2014 |

CUNY, which pays its adjuncts (at least if they have actual expertise in the subjects they teach and aren’t random famous people) below-subsistence wages, recently hired a new chancellor. His base salary is $670,000. However, as Paul has observed one characteristic of the New Gilded Age is that the people who make obscenely high salaries shouldn’t be expected to pay for the stuff that for ordinary people consumes most of one’s income. And so:

When CUNY’s new chancellor opens the door to his $18,000/month apartment, 3,000 square feet will be sprawled out before him. Four bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths, a formal dining room and a terrace are his for the taking. We’re not sure what it feels like to live in the lap of luxury free of charge, but it probably feels pretty darn good.

But not everyone is so thrilled with Chancellor James Milliken’s new digs.

While he’s enjoying his rent-free Upper East Side pad, the university system is slapping students’ hands away when they ask for money to do silly, frivolous things, like go on an academic field trip.

Homogeneity Gets More Homogenous

[ 109 ] June 10, 2014 |

To follow-up on Paul’s point below, I note that the Republican congressional conferences now have a grand total of zero non-Christian members. 

Blaming the Rape Victim: “Data” Edition

[ 110 ] June 10, 2014 |

Yes, the WaPo posted an article with the subhed “The data show that #yesallwomen would be safer hitched to their baby daddies.”

I would hope most of our audience can immediately see what’s wrong with this, but just in case see Tara Culp-Ressler. 

Page 20 of 719« First...101819202122304050...Last »