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  • Scott Horton:
    In contemplating the sad loss of Aaron Swartz, we should remember him and his valued contributions, which have enriched the lives of millions. We should also take careful measure of the fact that he was another victim of persecution by the Justice Department, which assailed him with unwarranted accusations and malicious, baseless insinuations that caused him great mental anguish. In the American legal system, courts offer no effective protection against such abuse, and prosecutors are sheltered by immunity from being held to account for their misconduct, except by their own superiors.

    The death of Aaron Swartz should provide the Justice Department with occasion for some serious introspection, just as MIT has now undertaken. An independent review of prosecutors’ conduct would no doubt find that they proceeded with an erroneous vision of the law. If they had even an ounce of decency, these prosecutors would issue Swartz’s survivors an apology and tender their resignations. But considering their conduct to this point, no one should expect decency. A petition has now been launched requesting that President Obama remove U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz over her actions in the Swartz case.

  • Good question:
    Why Do Democrats Want More Police in Schools?
  • Sociologist Theda Skocpol says environmental groups are responsible for the lack of political action on climate change. Joe Romm eviscerates her theory.
    First, if we’re going to truly learn from this epic failure, let’s frame the issue fully, something Harvard political scientist Theda Skocpol fails to in her incredibly long, but oddly incomplete essay, “NAMING THE PROBLEM: What It Will Take to Counter Extremism and Engage Americans in the Fight against Global Warming.”

    As readers know, I think the opponents of action — the fossil fuel companies, the disinformers, the right wing media, and the anti-science, pro-pollution ideologuesin the Senate – deserve 60% of the blame. The lame-stream media gets 30% for its generally enabling coverage — see “How the status quo media failed on climate change” and The media’s decision to play the stenographer role helped opponents of climate action stifle progress.” Then the “Think Small” centrists and lukewarmers get 5% for helping to shrink the political space in the debate (see here and here).

    So we are divvying up the remaining 5% of blame between team Obama and environmental groups (along with Senate  Democrats, scientists, progressives, and everyone else, including me, and the American public). I’m not sure how much can be learned from the climate bill failure if your main focus is the elite environmental community. Skocpol does spend a lot of time discussing the Tea Party driven extremism of the GOP, but, I think, drawing the wrong lessons.

  • Did the Assault Weapons Ban cost the Democrats the House in 1994? It's time to revisit a Paul Waldman classic:
    One study directly examined the effect of the NRA in that election.  This research, by Christopher Kenny, Michael McBurnett, and David Bordua, examined NRA endorsements and election results in 1994 and 1996, and did find an impact of those endorsements – but determined that that impact was limited and highly conditional. Their results showed that an NRA endorsement helped Republican challengers to a small degree in 1994, but had almost no impact for Democrats who were endorsed, Republican incumbents who were endorsed, or any kind of candidate in 1996. These results, as well as the magnitude of the effect they found – about a 2-point boost for Republican challengers, but nothing for anyone else – were almost exactly what I found in my analysis of the 2004-2010 congressional elections.

    As I explained in that analysis, there were few races in the last four congressional elections where such a boost from an NRA endorsement would have made a difference – only four races, in fact, out of the 1,038 times the NRA endorsed House candidates. In 1994, however, there were an unusual number of close races, and 12 Republican challengers won by a margin of 4 points or less. Of those, nine were endorsed by the NRA. The GOP needed a net gain of 41 seats to take control of the House, and their actual net gain on election night was 54 seats. So even if we were to attribute every last one of those nine victories to the NRA and assume that without the organization each race would have gone Democratic – an extremely generous assumption – the Republicans would still have gained 45 seats and won control of the House.

  • What digby said:
    I'm impressed that American culture and human civilization in general has come so far.
  • Thomas Friedman is a buffoon. Paul Krugman won't say it, but he will politely prove it.
  • In case you didn't know it, wealthy and well-connected bankers are not subject to the same laws as everyone else.
  • Repeat after me: Being a star in athletics does not make someone a hero, or even a good person. Repeat after me: Being a star in athletics does not make someone a hero, or even a good person. Repeat after me: Being a star in athletics does not make someone a hero, or even a good person.
  • And while print and broadcast sports journalists are justifiably getting raked for having proved themselves fools— their incompetence becoming part of what is now the sports story of the last half year— credit where credit is due: for having exposed both the athlete and the media failure, Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey of the online site Deadspin should win a Pulitzer.
  • And speaking of Notre Dame football, anyone who hasn't yet read Notre Dame alum Melinda Henneberger, must. Even if you're not into football. Even if you're not into sports. Because it's about this nation's society and culture.
  • Brad DeLong says we're having the wrong conversation at the wrong time:
    Leave to one side the fact that policies to reduce the deficit in the short run--before 2016, say--are highly, highly likely to actually increase the long-run burden of the national debt. Even making the unlikely assumption that deficit reduction in the near future would reduce rather than increase the long-run burden of the debt, the fact is that the debt-to-GDP ratio is now stable until at least 2020. A lower debt-to-GDP ratio would be a good thing in the long run, but there is absolutely no urgency. And there is enormous urgency in getting the economy moving again.

    In focusing inn 2013 on further deficit-reduction deals rather than on policies to boost employment growth and infrastructure investment, President Obama is making yet another hideous economic policy mistake.

  • Stephen Lewandowsky:
    The tone of blog comments—that is whether they are civil or not—affects people’s attitudes towards something they don’t understand well. Recent work by Brossard, Scheufele, and colleagues (2013) has shown that when people read a neutral blog post about a mysterious issue such as nanotechnology, exposure to uncivil comments, such as name calling and other expressions of incivility, polarized reader’s views of the technology. That is, readers who initially favoured nanotechnology became more likely to downplay the risk whereas readers who initially opposed the technology became more likely to highlight those risks. What is remarkable here is that the post was the same in both conditions—but its content no longer mattered as much when people read the comments following the article.
  • Love you Jon, but when you try to take on Krugman you get your ass kicked.
  • But dealing with climate change would be so expensive!
    The worst drought in 50 years could leave taxpayers with a record bill of nearly $16 billion in crop insurance costs because of poor yields.

    The staggering cost of the program has drawn renewed attention, as the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans wrangle over ways to cut the deficit.

    What was it the Stern Review had to say?
  • Republican stupidity is the gift that keeps on giving.
  • Nothing to see here:

    NASA scientists say 2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the nine warmest years in the 132-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record.

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