Today marks the end of an election in Portland, Oregon. For those of you unfamiliar with Oregon elections, they are conducted entirely by mail; today is the deadline for ballots. This is an off time of an off year, but turnout is likely to be high for this election anyway. On the ballot is an initiative to fluoridate Portland’s water supply.
Wait…what? Yes, Portland is the last holdout of major cities in the United States when it comes to fluoridating the drinking water supply. It’s a battle that has raged for 57 years in this city. American public water supplies began to be fluoridated 68 years ago, and over time have been fine-tuned to levels high enough to improve dental health while minimizing side effects.
But that hasn’t mattered to Portlanders, who have repeatedly voted against fluoridation of their water. Until recently, the closest the city came to fluoridation was in 1978, when they voted to start it…and then changed their minds in a 1980 vote. Last summer, before a chamber flooded with fluoridation opponents, the city council unanimously voted in favor of adding fluoride to the city’s water supply beginning next March. Those opponents gathered more than twice the number of signatures necessary to bring the issue to a popular vote, which is why I am posting this very article today.
But fluoridation isn’t what this article is really about. Rather, it’s about a number of perceptions, some of which are clearly false. (more…)
Back in February, I told you about the woes of newly-inaugurated Utah Attorney General John Swallow.
At the time, he was accused by convicted swindler Jeremy Johnson. In 2010, Johnson claims he paid Swallow, then the Assistant AG, money to be used to bribe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In return, Reid was supposed to get the Federal Trade Commission to lay off Johnson’s former Internet marketing company.
The most incriminating thing for Swallow in this whole farrago of nonsense is his voice on tape appearing to humor Johnson and even collect some money from him, which Swallow says was a campaign donation.
Now, another three months have passed and three more investigations of Swallow are underway. (more…)
There are a number of pressing issues on America’s plate these days, and many that, while they may not be the topic of common conversation, are nevertheless of immense and immediate concern to the health of our nation. Taxes. Jobs. Immigration reform. Gun safety. Education. Infrastructure. The Sequester cuts. Voting rights. DOMA. Energy and gasoline prices. The debt limit. Just to name a few.
Is Congress addressing these issues? Not really. The House has spent over 80 hours trying to repeal Obamacare, and has held at least 37 votes to repeal. It’s uncertain why the House leadership — or even any of its junior members — believed the 37th vote would have a better chance of being taken up by the Senate, or being signed by the President, than the first dozen or so did.
But surely that waste of time is an exception. With all the vital issues in the hopper, surely Congress has spent the majority of its time dealing with them, no? (more…)
I’ve been kind of hard on the President lately. Well, it looks like I have been, anyway. Really, it’s been about executive branch activities. Insofar as the buck stops with the President, that means I’m being hard on him, too. I haven’t seen any evidence that he’s been directly involved in any of those activities, though, so it’s not the same as with President Nixon, who was directly involved in Watergate. Yet another reason I get irritated when politicians and the media hyperventingly “gate” the latest news.
But President Obama did something particularly good last week, and I haven’t yet called attention to it. He signed an executive order mandating that
going forward, newly generated government data shall be made freely available in open, machine-readable formats, while appropriately safeguarding privacy, confidentiality, and security.
This is a big deal, particularly to me. There’s an obvious reason for this, but also a handful of less obvious ones that are worth exploring, too.
Representative Darrell Issa (R-Vista, CA) and Attorney General Eric Holder (D-on’t Get All Up in My Grill) exchanged words. Whether or not you think Holder is right that Issa’s snarky questioning of the Attorney General is “too consistent with the way [he] conduct[s him]self as a member of Congress[, and that it] is unacceptable and it is shameful” probably depends on which side of the aisle you call home.
Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater, MN) kicked off her 2014 campaign, but the 2016 campaign is already underway. Confused? So is she.
Are Republicans going to Widespread Panic also? Can they get Bachmann and Issa to shut up?
Don’t see an article on a particular topic, but want to talk about it somewhere? This is Open Mic. Talk about whatever you want, but stay respectful.
We create a new Open Mic every week to give a clean slate, but feel free to add to this topic at any time.
A couple of weeks ago, DC wrote about “The Error Heard ‘Round the World”, about Reinhart and Rogoff (hereafter called RR) and their calculation errors that became the basis for austerity measures in several countries.
I have posted an Excel spreadsheet which is an extension of one included in a zip file posted by Herndon, Ash and Pollin (hereafter called HAP). I will use data from that spreadsheet to look at the HAP criticisms of the RR paper.
A good starting point is the now infamous Excel spreadsheet shown to the right.
After noting the coding error by which five rows were excluded, the first question that occurred to me was “where’s the beef?”. The number of countries on which the 90 percent threshold is based is a mere seven (Belgium having been left out by RR). The HAP critique points out that RR is using only 71 data points (110 after Belgium and 14 other excluded data points are added). Since there were relatively few data points, my first inclination was to try to look at that data so see how it was distributed. (more…)