Odd Processes

Neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.

Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia

This week’s featured post is “This Time, Will the Outrage Matter?

This week everybody was talking about Ferguson

The grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown, provoking protests in several cities. My comment on the situation is in “This Time, Will the Outrage Matter?

Five St. Louis Rams players staged their own protest before Sunday’s game with the Oakland Raiders, raising their hands in the “don’t shoot” position. A St. Louis police group is demanding the team punish the players and issue and apology, which I suspect will not happen.

and oil

OPEC had a meeting to discuss the falling price of oil, and came up with no effective strategy. That led to a further sharp drop to around $70 a barrel. The price had been consistently over $100 for most of the previous three years.

Consumers should benefit from lower gas prices. A number of troublesome oil-exporting countries — Russia and Iran, for example — will lose influence.

and new smog regulations

The day before Thanksgiving, the EPA announced tighter regulations on smog. The old rules limited ozone to 75 parts per billion; the proposed new limit is between 65 and 70.

The main thing you need to know about this is that it’s long overdue. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to review this standard every five years. During the Bush administration, EPA scientists determined that the limit should fall from 84 ppb to around 60 or 70. But the Bush political appointees over-ruled the scientists and set the bar at 75, for no obvious reason.

The Obama administration has been balking at change ever since it took office, but the new post-election what-the-hell Obama is finally pulling the trigger.

To understand why it was balking, just look at the news coverage of the announcement, as Dave Roberts does. It focuses almost entirely on industry claims about the cost of implementing the new regulations, and not at all on the benefits, such as lives saved.

But even economically, good regulations don’t cost money, they save money. The EPA estimates that the health effects alone will save in the neighborhood of $10 billion a year for a 70 ppb standard, and $25 billion or so for a 65 ppb standard.

As for the fossil-fuel industry’s claims that the regulations will wreck the economy, they’ve cried wolf before. Roberts provides this graph:

As for the media coverage, Roberts comments:

In the odd world of political media, these two kinds of groups — one advocating for the profits of a particular business sector, one advocating for public health — are considered equivalent, mirror images. If anything, “business groups” are treated as champions of the economy, and thus all Americans, while public health groups are treated as a “special interest.”

It’s that weird inversion that makes it seem perfectly normal to begin a story about a new advance in public health with accusations from the regulated industry (and its congressional champions) about how much it’s going to cost.

and you also might be interested in …

At Thanksgiving dinner, your conservative uncle may have related Rush Limbaugh’s account of the First Thanksgiving: that it celebrated the Pilgrims’ new surplus from abandoning collective farming and embracing free enterprise. If you suspected this story was not really true, you were right.


I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that police in Pontiac, Michigan are on the job: In this video, a policeman confronts a black man who has been frightening local residents by walking with his hands in his pockets — in Michigan in November. To his credit, the policeman is polite while he carries out this ridiculous assignment and meets with considerable exasperation from the chilly walker.


Ray Rice, last seen decking his wife in an elevator, has been re-instated to play in the NFL. It’s still unknown whether any team will sign him, though ESPN reports that four teams are interested.


An exercise intended to teach grade school students about privilege went viral on BuzzFeed, getting 4.5 million hits. But Quartz’ Jeff Yang thinks the lesson may have missed a few things.

and let’s close with a new Christmas song

The a cappella group Straight No Chaser has been a good source of new Christmas music for several years now. Here, they combine with actress Kristen Bell (a.k.a. Veronica Mars) in “Text Me Merry Christmas“.

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Comments

  • Anonymous Poster  On December 1, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    The NFL said it won’t punish those Rams players, by the way.

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