What about people at home?

From Bill Maher’s monologue last week: “Paul Ryan wrote a healthcare bill that somehow covered fewer people than just repealing Obamacare and replaced it with nothing, and it still wasn’t good enough for the Freedom Caucus. It’s like if you wrote a highway bill that made all the bridges fall down, and they said, ‘Yeah, but that only kills drivers. What about people at home?’”

Outsourcing Gavel Production in the US Senate

The following is a guest post from Robin Bose. Robin went to MIT with me and likes beer almost as much as I do. He’s also a great singer.  The United States Senate has a busy 2013 summer schedule: a new farm bill, interest rates on student loans, and comprehensive immigration reform. Immigration reform in particular has thrown off a lot of heat and light, with new entrants into lobbying — led by Facebook and the tech sector — facing an already crowded field of corporate interests, immigrant groups, unions, Tea Partiers, border militia, and lots of local, state, and national officials. For example, we know who the sheriff of Maricopa County AZ is (Joe Arpaio). He makes national immigration news.

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Super PAC App: Comment on Non-Profits

In response to my previous posts here and here, Dan, co-founder of the Super PAC App, provided some context in the comments on the “non-profit” organizations that sponsored political ads: Definitions are important here. “Non profit organizations” is a catch-call designation for anything that is not a PAC, Super PAC, official campaign, or the national party (RNC or DNC). The disclosure rules for these groups (501c’s) are different and lighter than other organizations (don’t ask me why). The most famous is probably Karl Rove’s Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (often called Crossroads GPS). So when you think “non profit”, don’t think Make-a-Wish Foundation or Red Cross. Think of people who are choosing to register as non-profits from the menu of organization types–and they’re

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Super PAC App: More on Who Lies Most

As I previously wrote about here, the Super PAC App has published all of their data so that anybody interested can take a look. Last week I looked into which types of organizations had the highest proportion of ‘Fail’ ratings for the ads they sponsored. It turns out that the clear ‘winner’ — and by ‘winner’ in mean the organization type that was found to ‘Fail’ most often — was non-profit organizations. I provided a few reasons as to why this could be the case. To sum them up, it seems likely that these organizations either (1) were more crude in their argument construction and execution, leaving them open to easy criticism, or (2) they may have simply had less

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Super PAC App: Who Lies Most?

I’ve previously written a bit about the Super PAC App, an iPhone app that allows users to rate election cycle ads based on whether or not the claims appear to be accurate. It was co-founded by my friend Dan Siegel, and throughout this past election cycle, the app appears to have been a success. According to a recent email from Dan and the other co-founder, the app resulted in “119,815 user sessions. 50,014 claims explored. 38,351 ad ratings. 122 countries represented.” Pretty impressive. They decided to post all of their code and data online so that researchers and others can dig in and see if there’s anything interesting going on. You can download the code and data here. So I decided

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