Monday, April 11, 2016

Last Call For Social Faux Pas

This Carl Bialik story at FiveThirtyEight profiling Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson and his quest to leverage his substatial social media presence into a campaign for Mayor of Baltimore may be the most FiveThirtyEight story ever:

On Twitter, Mckesson, 30, is the most prominent voice in a grass-roots movement to ensure that black lives matter. But at this stage of the race, in late March, he’d been struggling to gain an audience in his campaign to be mayor of his hometown, where he’d filed to run at the deadline in February,surprising other candidates and many of his activist allies. He was fighting criticism that he is a carpetbagger: a creature largely of Twitter and of the places other than Baltimore where he has protested and rallied. Fewer than 1 percent of voters in the most recent Baltimore Sun poll of the race had said they were going to vote for him. He had about a month to change thousands of minds.

Mckesson is bidding to lead a city of 623,000 that lost 344 of its people to homicide last year, is undertaking the most comprehensive set of agency audits in decades, is considering one of the largest taxpayer-subsidized developments in the country, is failing to help most young students meet college and career readiness standards and is still reeling from the death of Freddie Gray while in custody of the city’s police department last year. Mckesson is one of 13 contenders in the April 26 Democratic primary, effectively the general election in a city where eight of nine voters in 2012 cast a ballot for President Obama. (Five Republicans, four Green Party candidates, two independents, five unaffiliated candidates and a libertarian are also running.) 
The Sun poll showed half the vote going to two longtime political insiders: former Mayor Sheila Dixon and state Senate Majority Leader Catherine Pugh. (Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced in September that she wouldn’t run for re-election, amid low approval ratings and criticism of her leadership during the unrest after Gray’s death.)
Mckesson and many of the other candidates are trying to tap into a desire for change, citing what they say are their city government’s failings — its inability to stop the state from canceling a long-planned train line, to complete the audits to cut waste, or to protect its people from violence from one another or their police officers. 
Mckesson was part of the protests calling for police accountability after Gray’s death, as he was in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of Michael Brown in August 2014, and a dozen other places over the past 20 months. Last August, he and fellow activists launched a set of policy proposals,Campaign Zero, that they say will help reduce police violence. And he has met with Obama, as well as Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to press them to back Campaign Zero’s policy proposals. 
Yet he is building his mayoral campaign on a broader pitch: that he is not only the candidate best positioned to increase police accountability, but also the one who wants to get down and dirty with lower-profile issues, even ones as uncomfortable as cockroaches’ effect on asthma or as obscure asEnvironmental Protection Agency consent decrees and stormwater runoff. He says the next mayor must address problems at scale and measure outcomes. He’d assign his senior staff to meet monthly with community leaders and talk policy. “The weeds are the work,” he said.

Mckesson is a hell of an activist and more power to him.  But I'm pissed off that it takes 34 paragraphs to get down to answering the article's question:

So far, his donations and Twitter followers haven’t paid off in the polls. Thelatest Sun poll, conducted from April 1 to April 4, still showed Mckesson getting support from less than 1 percent of voters.

So you've read pages to get down to the point that Deray Mckesson has less than one percent in the polls and has no chance of becoming Mayor of Baltimore.  None.  It's a gigantic waste of time.

Data journalism at its finest.

To Live And Die In LA (And Other US Zip Codes)

A new major study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that when adjusting for race and income, where you live may have a major impact on your given life expectancy. Wealth is the number one factor and the more money you have, the longer you'll live, but the less money you have, the more geography plays a part in life expectancy.

The poor in some cities — big ones like New York and Los Angeles, and also quite a few smaller ones like Birmingham, Ala. — live nearly as long as their middle-class neighbors or have seen rising life expectancy in the 21st century. But in some other parts of the country, adults with the lowest incomes die on average as young as people in much poorer nations like Rwanda, and their life spans are getting shorter.

In those differences, documented in sweeping new research, lies an optimistic message: The right mix of steps to improve habits and public health could help people live longer, regardless of how much money they make.

One conclusion from this work, published on Monday in The Journal of the American Medical Association, is that the gap in life spans between rich and poor widened from 2001 to 2014. The top 1 percent in income among American men live 15 years longer than the poorest 1 percent; for women, the gap is 10 years. These rich Americans have gained three years of longevity just in this century. They live longer almost without regard to where they live. Poor Americans had very little gain as a whole, with big differences among different places.

And it's not just race that plays a part, either.  Again the paper finds evidence that white Americans are suffering from shorter life expectancies if they are poor.  Money buys options, and being well-educated and prosperous leads to a longer life regardless of race.

Life expectancy for the poor is lowest in a large swath that cuts through the middle of the country, and it appears in pockets in the rest of the country, in places like Nevada. David M. Cutler, a Harvard economist and an author of the paper, calls it the “drug overdose belt,” because the area matches in part a map of where the nation’s opioid epidemic is concentrated.

The new findings dovetail with a much-discussed paper by Anne Case and Angus Deaton published last year. That research showed rising death rates among middle-age white Americans, especially those with low education. It also showed a sharp increase in drug and alcohol poisonings, suicides and accidents in the first years of this century. Research from the Brookings Institution published in February also found a growing gap in life span between the rich and the poor. 
“There is some deeper distress going on among white middle-aged Americans that may continue to propel these mortality rates higher,” Mr. Deaton, a Princeton economist who wrote an editorial critiquing the new paper by Mr. Chetty and his colleagues, said in an interview. “If so, these people at the bottom will live even less long than they’re calculating.”

The places in America with the worst overall life expectancy aren't Detroit or the Appalachians or Chicago, like the media would have us expect.  Rather, it's the Texas-New Mexico border area (Midland-Odessa, Lubbock, and especially Pecos) and southwestern Indiana (Terra Haute and Vincennes) where your average life expectancy is 5-7 years less than New York City or San Francisco.

But if you're poor, that gets even worse no matter where you are.

Something to think about.  If you're poor, avoid the Ohio/Kentucky/Indiana tri-state.  Hell, being poor in the Midwest is worse than being poor in the South.  That should tell you something.

Flipping The Script On SCOTUS, Con't

Team WIN THE MORNING details President Obama's "charm offensive" as he's personally making the rounds to visit key Republicans in the Senate, trying to work them into allowing a vote on Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.  The problem is of course it's not working in the least.

Politico queried three dozen Senate Republicans and found eight who have spoken directly with Obama about the Supreme Court vacancy and a ninth who had discussed the issue with Vice President Joe Biden, who has also been working the phones with GOP senators.

Most of Obama’s appeals have concentrated on the epicenter of the Garland blockade, the Senate Judiciary Committee, all of whose 11 Republican members signed a vow to not move his nomination this year.

The president made two calls to Flake — once before Garland was named and again shortly afterward. In the first conversation, Obama told the Arizona Republican that he would nominate a centrist candidate, perhaps someone whose name had already been out there.

“I’m going to play it straight. I’m not looking to make a political point,” Obama told Flake, according to the senator, who generally believes a president should be given deference on his nominees.

Once Garland was chosen, Obama called Flake back and told him: I did what I said I’d do.

Flake was pleased. But it was still a no-go on Garland’s nomination — at least before November.

I’ve said in a lame duck, I’d do it in a heartbeat,” Flake added.

A day or two before Garland was nominated, Obama dialed Graham, the South Carolina Republican who helped confirm his other two Supreme Court nominees. But this time was different, Graham reasoned. Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor came before Senate Democrats deployed the “nuclear option” in 2013 to lower the filibuster threshold for nearly all nominations.

“I told him that changing the rules the way y’all guys did made it harder for a guy like me to be sympathetic to something outside the normal,” Graham said in recalling his conversation. “He said one of the reasons he’s calling is because I’ve tried to be balanced in my view. And I said ‘Mr. President, when you were in the Senate, if I used your standards, you would be in trouble.’”

Nevertheless, the White House won a small victory with Graham last week when the senator reversed his initial opposition to meeting with Garland, agreeing to meet with the nominee in the coming weeks. But the president hasn’t had similar luck so far with other Judiciary Committee members.

President Obama is again trying to win the fight here by playing the game above-board, when the Republicans have already vowed not to lift a finger on Garland's nomination until after the election.

But frankly, there's little upside in the Republicans actually doing their job after all, they've been rewarded with Senate control for six years of obstruction, two more isn't going to make too much of a difference.  At the very least, Senate control does slide over to the Democrats in 2017, but not by more than a few Senators, a margin that will almost certainly be erased in another depressingly low-turnout 2018 mid-term.

I foresee a more reasonable climate after the election in the lame duck session, but a lot can happen between now and then.

Meanwhile, President Obama will keep trying, and the GOP will keep doing nothing.


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