Tuesday was the premiere of The Upshot, the new section on data journalism from the NY Times. and guess what? It's good! Some of my favorite pieces:
Who Will Win The Senate?See also:
According to our statistical election-forecasting machine, it’s a tossup. The Democrats have about a 51% chance of retaining a majority.
How Senate Forecasts CompareLynn Vavreck from the Upshot:
While there is a general consensus among forecasters, differences remain at the state level. Below, a scoreboard of major forecasters’ senate ratings.
These stable patterns of American politics reveal a clear path for both parties in 2014: Get your 2012 voters to the polls. Of concern to Democrats right now is that Republicans once again have the upper hand on enthusiasm going into November.Think of Keystone, immigration and inequality when you hear Obama speak and see him maneuver to shore up the base. That's what off-year elections are all about.
The 2014 fight is not over swing voters. It’s for partisans.
More politics and policy below the fold.
What you’d need to make in every county in America to afford a decent one-bedroomMaureen Dowd:
The Vatican had a hard time drumming up the requisite two miracles when Pope Benedict XVI, known as John Paul’s Rasputin and enforcer of the orthodoxy, waived the traditional five-year waiting period and rushed to canonize his mentor. But the real miracle is that it will happen at all. John Paul was a charmer, and a great man in many ways. But given that he presided over the Catholic Church during nearly three decades of a gruesome pedophilia scandal and grotesque cover-up, he ain’t no saint.Ed O'Keefe:
Republicans outside of Washington are dropping their opposition to gay marriage. Will the national party follow along?Frank Bruni:
What do you call someone who sows misinformation, stokes fear, abets behavior that endangers people’s health, extracts enormous visibility from doing so and then says the equivalent of “Who? Me?”Nature:
I’m not aware of any common noun for a bad actor of this sort. But there’s a proper noun: Jenny McCarthy.
For much of the past decade, McCarthy has been the panicked face and intemperate voice of a movement that posits a link between autism and childhood vaccinations and that badmouths vaccines in general, saying that they have toxins in them and that children get too many of them at once.
Because she posed nude for Playboy, dated Jim Carrey and is blond and bellicose, she has received platforms for this message that her fellow nonsense peddlers might not have. She has spread the twisted word more efficiently than the rest.
And then, earlier this month, she said the craziest thing of all, in a column for The Chicago Sun-Times.
“I am not ‘anti-vaccine,’ ” she wrote, going on to add, “For years, I have repeatedly stated that I am, in fact, ‘pro-vaccine’ and for years I have been wrongly branded.”
You can call this revisionism. Or you can call it “a complete and utter lie,” as the writer Michael Specter said to me. Specter’s 2009 book, “Denialism,” looks at irrational retorts to proven science like McCarthy’s long and undeniable campaign against vaccines.
A study that calls into question the stockpiling of billions of dollars’ worth of antiviral drugs to mitigate the threat of influenza pandemics has been criticized by flu researchers.Christopher Hayes:
The analysis of Tamiflu and Relenza, drugs known as neuraminidase inhibitors, was published on 10 April by the Cochrane Collaboration1, a group that reviews the effectiveness of health-care measures. It concluded that the medicines were of little use. At the same time, the journal BMJ published a series of articles, including two that summarize the Cochrane findings2, 3, and several editorials that focus on the five-year campaign by Cochrane and the BMJ to obtain the unpublished drug-company clinical-trial data later used in the review.
The results “challenge the historical assumption that neuraminidase inhibitors are effective in combating influenza”, declared a joint BMJ–Cochrane news release on the findings. The drugs have had their “effectiveness overplayed, and harms underplayed”, said Fiona Godlee, the BMJ’s editor-in-chief, at a press conference. The study generated worldwide media coverage, including headlines labelling Tamiflu as “useless” and “ineffective”.
But the review and its bottom line are vigorously contested by many flu researchers. They argue that the analysis — an update by Cochrane — is based on randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of the drugs that lack sufficient statistical power to allow reliable conclusions to be drawn about the effects on flu complications and hospitalizations. These are the key outcomes of interest during a flu pandemic.
The critics say that the review also excluded many observational studies that have found the drugs to be helpful in normal clinical settings.
The New AbolitionismJosh Barro (yes, from the Upshot):
Averting planetary disaster will mean forcing fossil fuel companies to give up at least $10 trillion in wealth.
In the new issue of The Nation, the MSNBC host Chris Hayes treads on the dangerous ground of comparing the effort to limit carbon emissions to the campaign for the abolition of slavery.
Mr. Hayes wants to be clear: He’s not making a moral comparison here. He’s talking about how an effective limit on carbon emissions would hugely diminish the value of an asset (fossil fuel reserves) held by a class of people likely to strongly resist such a policy.
The only comparable historical policy example he sees is slavery, which dominated American political discourse for two generations. Slaveholders gave up their slave wealth only when they were defeated in a war. It’s not a hopeful comparison.