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March 9th, 2014:

Weekend link dump for March 9

“I don’t know about you, but the idea that every single person in America who has ever had an injection has been protected because we harvest the blood of a forgettable sea creature with a hidden chemical superpower makes me feel a little bit crazy.”

Go ahead and post that picture to, but your dog does not feel shame for eating your sofa cushions. Also, “Bonnie Beaver” is an excellent name for a veterinarian.

Don’t pass on your own anxieties about math to your kids.

Confidentiality agreements and posting about it on Facebook don’t mix.

If you give small minded people power they will inevitably abuse it. And our job market for the past five years has been a laboratory for worker abuse.”

More selfies, more lice. Eww.

Six months after same-sex marriage was legalized, Minnesota is still Minnesota.

Lena Dunham will write a four-part story for Archie Comics, to be published in 2015.

“In keeping with the designer’s forest-themed interior motif, a pair of homesteader cabins from the late 1800s are being installed in Twitter’s new digs in the historic Western Furniture Exchange and Merchandise Mart building, a 1937 art deco landmark on Market Street.” Because nothing evokes 19th century Montana quite like 21st century San Francisco.

“Iowa just does not derail front-running candidates with any level of regularity. It tends to winnow the field, leaving the determinative job to some subsequent state or series of state contests. That is the cycle we should be paying attention to.”

Remember, the people who tell us we need to “do something” about the Ukraine are the same people who told us we needed to “do something” about WMDs in Iraq.

It’s really hard to change the mind of someone who opposes vaccinations.

“If you are able to discriminate against others on the basis of religious conviction, others must be allowed to do the same when you are on the other side of the counter. You can’t have your wedding cake and eat it too.”

“As more and more states begin to legalize marijuana over the next few years, the cannabis industry will begin to get richer—and that means it will start to wield considerably more political power, not only over the states but over national policy, too. That’s how we could get locked into a bad system in which the primary downside of legalizing pot—increased drug abuse, especially by minors—will be greater than it needs to be, and the benefits, including tax revenues, smaller than they could be.”

“Every time a Republican wins positive press by posing as a tribune for the poor, an angel gets its wings ripped off by the invisible hand of capitalism”.

An inside look at Mt. Gox, the bitcoin company that got hacked and lost $850 million worth of the digital currency.

Good ideas don’t need lots of lies told about them to gain public acceptance. Facts are stubborn things.

I mean seriously, does Paul Ryan lie about everything?

RIP, Mae Keane, believed to be the last of the Waterbury Clock Co.’s “radium girls”. Just go read the story, it’s as amazing as it is appalling.

Carl Kasell announces his retirement from Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Bummer.


“But read the whole thing and you get the impression that there are House Republicans who understand that there is more to poverty reduction than getting the government out of the way. They should be braver about saying this.”

So long, Radio Shack. It was good knowing you.

Here are some photos of a snake swallowing a crocodile. It happened in Australia, of course.

“For those of you who find Fox News too mainstream and factual, this is for you.”

Nice to know that Adele Dazeem has such a good sense of humor.

Maybe Putin is like Reagan. Whoa.

RIP, Carmen Berra, wife of Yankees legend Yogi Berra. Best baseball story ever: Carmen was at the hospital, in labor, soon to deliver their second son, Dale. She’s listening to the Yankees game on the radio. Yankee pitcher Allie Reynolds is throwing a no-hitter against the Red Sox. With two outs in the ninth, Ted Williams hits a foul popup, and Yogi Berra drops it. Carmen screams out, and doctors and nurses rush into her room. “What’s the matter?” they ask. “It’s my husband!” she says. “He dropped the ball!” PS – Williams hit an identical popup on the next pitch, and Yogi caught it to finish Reynolds’ no hitter.

RIP, Terry Coppage, a/k/a founding liberal blogger Bartcop. TBogg delivers a suitable eulogy.

Rasmussen: Abbott 53, Davis 41

We have our first non-UT/Trib poll result for this cycle.

Sen. Wendy Davis

Sen. Wendy Davis

The latest statewide survey of Likely Texas Voters shows Abbott with 53% support to 41% for Davis. At this early point in the campaign, there are surprisingly few voters who haven’t already made up their minds: One percent (1%) likes some other candidate in the race, and four percent (4%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Both candidates are well-known in the state, but Davis, at this early juncture, is viewed Very Unfavorably by 34% of the state’s voters, compared to just 17% who feel that way about Abbott. Thirty-four percent (34%) have a Very Favorable opinion of the GOP candidate, while 22% view Davis Very Favorably.

At this point in an election cycle, Rasmussen Reports considers the number of people with a strong opinion more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers.

Davis leads among women voters 53% to 41%, but Abbott leads among men by better than two-to-one – 66% to 29%.

Each candidate earns 91% support from voters in their respective party. Abbott leads 50% to 37% among unaffiliated voters.

Link via Trail Blazers. I’m not going to dive into this poll, I’m just going to make a broad observation. The goal of Battleground Texas is to upend the “likely voter” screening model that tends to get used, especially in an off-year election like this, by getting not-so-likely voters to turn out. How successful they are at that will directly affect how accurate a poll result like this will be. Perhaps later in the cycle there will be some empirical evidence to suggest the scope of BGT’s effect, but for now I’d expect most pollsters to not deviate from standard models. It’s what I’d do if I were them, at least for now. The flip side of that is how they account for the actual turnout of 2010, which went from being a good year for Republicans to a historic wave precisely because a bunch of their previously unlikely voters turned out for them. I presume pollsters are basing their screens on the expectation that at least some of these folks are now truly “likely” for an off year election. Where they draw that line will also have an effect on results. I have no idea what the “right” answer is for these questions – I fully expect we won’t have a good feel for that till several months from now. I suspect we’ll see some variations in poll results, across pollsters and over time from the same pollsters, as they deal with this.

Firefighters union ratifies no-brownout agreement


Members of the Houston firefighters’ union have signed off on a deal with Mayor Annise Parker that would prevent pulling firetrucks from service to help balance the Fire Department’s budget.

“We’re very pleased that the union membership ratified the agreement,” Houston City Attorney David M. Feldman said in a statement released Friday.

Now that the deal has been approved by rank-and-file members of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 341, it’s up to Houston City Council members to vote on it. Feldman said they will take it up on Wednesday.

See here, here, and here for the background. I can’t imagine any scenario in which Council fails to approve this.

Still dreaming about MLB in San Antonio

From The Rivard Report, a grassroots group in the Alamo City is keeping hope alive.

If you’ve been a San Antonio sports fan for any length of time, you’ve heard it. It’s the label that the Alamo City has been saddled with for decades. Whenever the topic of a new sports franchise in San Antonio arises in the national media, the card is played and the discussion moves on without a second thought.

Perhaps this label was appropriate a number of years ago, but San Antonio is a different place. This city’s major sports potential deserves an opportunity to be reevaluated.

Though “small market” is commonly assumed to refer to television markets, population is a gauge that cannot be overlooked. Though its metropolitan area population ranks 25th in the nation, San Antonio is the seventh most populated city (by city limits) in the U.S. Among the top ten on this list, San Antonio is the only city with just one big-four (NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL) professional sports franchise. In fact, all of the six larger cities have at least three such franchises.

Many critics of this statistic cite the greater metropolitan area rankings that put areas such as Dallas-Fort Worth in high regard. What’s overlooked in this analysis is geographical reach of San Antonio sports. If you include Austin, Corpus Christi, the western range toward Del Rio, and the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio becomes one of the largest markets in the country.

Now, the obvious small market argument points to the television market. Though TV ratings typically fail to include the aforementioned geographical reach, they are important to the potential franchise owner. Sure, San Antonio often can be found ranked in the 30-40 range for TV markets.

The group is called MLB In San Antonio; here’s their Facebook page. The main issue, which I have dealt with before, is the relative lack of population in the San Antonio-New Braunfels MSA. I am skeptical of the authors’ attempt to wave their hands at that by invoking Austin, Corpus Christi, and Del Rio in the San Antonio sports market. For an eight-games-a-year NFL schedule, I could buy that; the Texans have season ticket holders who live in San Antonio, though they’re hardly a big slice of their total fan base. For an 81-game MLB slate, however, I have my doubts. If you can show me that a non-trivial number of Spurs tickets are sold to folks from outside the greater SA metro area – not counting fans who travel specifically to see their hometown team on the road – then I might buy this calculation. But it’s always seemed like wishful thinking to me.

The other obstacle is that there currently isn’t a venue that MLB would accept for a team in San Antonio. Sorry, but the Alamodome won’t cut it as anything but a temporary site while the real stadium gets built. The days of stadium-sharing for MLB teams are over. I’m honestly not sure where you’d put a stadium for an MLB team in San Antonio. If you really want to lure Austinites to the games, putting it north on I-35 somewhere is the best bet, but that would make it less convenient for the masses of people who live west on I-10 or south of downtown, such as those Corpus and Del Rio folks. And we haven’t even talked about how such a stadium would be financed.

The main thing these folks have going for them is that there are two teams that could eventually want or need to relocate – the Oakland A’s and the Tampa Bay Rays. The A’s would be a perfect fit, with the Astros and Rangers as division mates. Putting the Rays in San Antonio would probably mean something like shifting Cleveland to the AL East and putting the new Rays in the Central. Doable, but might require buy-in from Cleveland, since they’d be moving to a more difficult division. If either of those situations starts to heat up, then there could really be something to this. But don’t be surprised if San Antonio is little more than leverage. Having at least one suitable location that wants a franchise but doesn’t have one is always a useful thing for the league. I wish the fans in San Antonio good luck, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high.

The Texas Future Project

Very interesting.

High-powered Democrats from Texas and California have joined with national labor unions in an effort to mobilize out-of-state donors and raise millions of dollars to build a progressive majority in the Lone Star State that could change state policy and national elections.

The Texas Future Project – that also will seek to convince Texas Democrats to donate here – wants to direct funding to groups that it has identified as working to effect change, from Battleground Texas to Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas.

The project has commitments for close to $1 million, said Houston lawyer Steve Mostyn. He and his wife, Amber, are top Democratic donors and part of a small core group of members of the project, which also includes a key California-based supporter of President Obama.

“The main thing … when we talk to people from out of state, or folks in this state about keeping your money here, is the fact that it’s possible – and that if the work is done, and the money is spent, that it’s probable, it’s actually probable -that you now become a battleground state in 2016 for the presidential race,” Steve Mostyn said. “And the long-term effect – once you get a voter to vote once, then twice, then they are pretty much to be there.”

Mostyn said the group would “like to raise as much as we can. If it’s not doing a few million a year, then it’s not really doing what it was designed to do.”

The effort is aimed at building the infrastructure to turn out underrepresented voters in Texas – particularly Latinos, African-Americans, single women and young voters – as state demographic changes give hope to Democrats long shut out of statewide office.


The Texas Future Project was started by the Mostyns – Susman and his wife, Ellen, who has now stepped back from political efforts because she was appointed by the Obama administration to head the U.S. government’s Art in Embassies program – and San Francisco-based donor activist Steve Phillips, who was founder and chairman of, which conducted the biggest independent expenditure effort in the country in the 2008 presidential primaries to support Barack Obama. Phillips also is founder and chairman of the progressive PAC&.

Also on the ground floor of the state project are labor unions concerned about Texas wages and standards. The AFL-CIO, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union helped start it. The United Food and Commercial Workers joined more recently.

The project has identified groups in Texas that it considers to be “high-impact, high-performing, accountable programs that are building field infrastructure and engaging in leadership development for progressive change beyond any election cycle,” according to Mostyn’s email.

They include Annie’s List, Battleground Texas, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, the Texas Organizing Project and the Workers Defense Project.

My interpretation of this is that it’s basically a clearinghouse for large donors to direct funds to various groups that do good work for progressive political causes, especially progressive electoral causes. The named beneficiaries are all certainly worth supporting. Their webpage is nothing more than a way to get on their mailing list at this time, so you won’t learn much there. (Note to Randall Munroe: I had to go to the second page of the Google search results for Texas Future Project to find that webpage.) I’m a little concerned that building this kind of structure might make it more difficult for new progressive organizations to get off the ground, but I don’t know for sure that will happen. Overall, this sounds pretty good to me. What do you think?