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The warehouse illegally converted into the Ghost Ship art collective where 36 people died in an inferno last week was not listed in a city database of commercial buildings that require yearly fire safety inspections — and no records exist of any inspections of the structure, according to a city employee familiar with the database and inspection records.

If fire inspectors had been inside the building they would have seen what visitors and former residents called a death trap and a tinder box: piles of wood, shingles and old furniture, extension cords and often-sparking electrical wires running willy-nilly throughout the structure, welding equipment and propane tanks scattered about – the kind of fire code violations that could have led inspectors to shutter the building immediately.

“They never inspected it. It’s not on the inspection rolls,” said the city employee, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to news organizations about the fire.

Oh wait.

Obviously, regulatory capture is a real thing, but regulations keep a lot of people from dying if they’re properly conceived and executed. The alternative is what you see.

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Lev filed this under:  

This honestly makes me a lot more confident in Schumer, frankly. Even if Democrats are able to mitigate the worst effects of repeal/replace, they won’t get credit for it.

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People have been talking on the internet for nearly a month about fake news, but I have yet to read anything to convince me that American Society is facing a fake news crisis. What we are facing is a conservative movement crisis. Admittedly, it’s maybe a thin line, given that the conservative movement and fake news have been intimately connected from the start: it got its start with fake news that made people think that Communists were all but peeping in on them from the windows. It reached maturity with Reagan’s endless stream of nonsense designed to make White America feel better about itself (because racism ended in 1941, of course), and finally consolidated with the talk radio/Fox News/Breitbart trifecta. Which is where we are.

Admittedly, it wasn’t so long ago that the GOP itself and the mainstream media were willing to fight against the nonsense to some degree, but they’re no longer doing it. Blame it on technology, or decadence, or on the Republican Party’s deal with the devil, or whatever else you like. Point being that liberals need to finally figure out how to deal with this stuff is all because liberals still regularly act as though they can rely on others to do it and they can’t. I mean, it’s possible that this stuff will tamp down after the Silent Generation dies off and takes its lifelong right-wingery with it, but in the meantime, we’ll have a president who is ignorant of virtually everything, mainlines conspiracy theories, and has a view of power better suited to a corporate villain from an ’80s movie than an actual human being. Providing a snopes link ain’t gonna cut it.

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From A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891-1924 by Orlando Figes:

Whereas his father had been briefed on only the major questions of policy and had delegated most of the minor executive functions to his subordinates, [Nicolas II] proved quite incapable of dealing with anything but the most trivial matters. He personally attended to such things as the budget for repairs at an agricultural training school, and the appointment of provincial midwives. It was evident that he found real comfort in these minor bureaucratic routines. […] His mind was that of a miniaturist, well attuned to the smallest details of administration yet entirely incapable of synthesizing them into general principles of government.

Sure, it’s not a perfect fit–Nicolas was essentially a decent man who was in over his head, Trump’s a horrible man who is also in over his head–but blowing off intelligence briefings in favor of small-scale and symbolic actions is pretty much the same thing, fooling yourself into thinking that you’re doing the hard work of governing without doing it at all. No doubt they bring him real comfort. Hard to say whether Nicolas’s self-awareness of his severe shortcomings, combined with a fatalistic acceptance of them, is better or worse than Trump’s bottomless, delusional self-confidence. Quite possible they’re equally dangerous.

Also, let’s not forget, Nicolas famously stumbled his way into a disastrous war in Asia that nearly destroyed his country.

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I want to write a 2016 postmortem as much as you want to read one–getting punched in the groin by Manny Pacquiao would be less painful. But probably the best possible lesson to take from it is that Democratic politicians should be very hesitant to surmise on what voters will find disqualifying about a Republican candidate. I could name half a dozen elections off the top of my head that were winnable but that weren’t won because the Democrat in the race simply assumed that the Republican was too extreme/too unpalatable/too unprepared to win, and focused entirely around hitting the candidate with negative ads accentuating this. Admittedly sometimes it has worked! Harry Reid pulled it off in 2010. Terry McAuliffe essentially did it as well when he ran for Virginia governor in 2013. But it didn’t work for Creigh Deeds in 2009 for the same office, who ran against a guy who favored Old Testament marriage and later was convicted of bribery. It didn’t work for Bruce Braley in 2014 running for the Senate in Iowa, who had a different situation in some ways from Reid’s but also plenty of similarities–and he got beaten by an insane Bircher. (Not for nothing, but why didn’t Harkin go for one more term and then retire in a presidential year? He’s not even that old by Senate standards.) This pre-election TNR piece wound up being on the money: Democrats fielded some poor Senate candidates who relied too much on Trump disqualifying himself and wreaking downballot havoc, which is a double-bankshot that they really should have known better than to try. This really does seem to be a comfort zone/cultural thing: Democrats want to rely on the weaknesses of the Republican Party to an absurdly high degree, instead of relying on their own strengths. What baffles me is why anyone would choose it when better alternatives are on offer–Reid had no choice given how bad his polling was, but the others? It’s weak, passive strategy.

This is a longstanding fixation of this blog and I will admit that, in the heat of the campaign, Trump truly did seem like someone so obviously unacceptable that this would be one of the times that the strategy would work. But it didn’t work. So maybe don’t do it anymore, ever? Please?

P.S. As for other cultural changes that need to be made, my two cents would also include fixing an unbalanced preference for policy discussion over ideological argument (Republicans exclusively prefer the latter and Democrats almost exclusively the former–on some level, we do need people to make the argument for the state as a protector of rights and prosperity) and a distaste for populism that defies any sort of logic. (Telling that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren–the Democrats’ two best active politicians come January 21–were not the product of Democratic committees and party organizations.) I don’t even think it’s about fundraising–Warren and Sanders are excellent fundraisers! I remember back in 2008/2009 people saying that Obama would rebuild the party infrastructure in his own image. But let’s be honest, if he even tried, it was a miserable failure. Ultimately the Katie McGintys and Patrick Murphys of this cycle are the same sorts of bland, centrist candidates that Democrats ran in the aughts and got nowhere with. For all the talk of the Democrats’ “bench” and its lack of promise, the real problem strikes me as being that the party culturally is still geared around trying to find the next Evan Bayh, even though nobody wants the old Evan Bayh.

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I’m not apocalyptic by inclination. Every age has had all sorts of fears about the future and most of those have wound up being unfounded. And, also, a lot of the time it’s the stuff that happens with no warning–stuff that you can’t worry about–that causes the most trouble. Still, climate change is not an “easy fix” sort of situation, and its related side effects are going to be massive, and I do think that Syria is going to be just the first chapter of a continuing story:

Climate change is set to cause a refugee crisis of “unimaginable scale”, according to senior military figures, who warn that global warming is the greatest security threat of the 21st century and that mass migration will become the “new normal”.

The generals said the impacts of climate change were already factors in the conflicts driving a current crisis of migration into Europe, having been linked to the Arab Spring, the war in Syria and the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency.

Military leaders have long warned that global warming could multiply and accelerate security threats around the world by provoking conflicts and migration. They are now warning that immediate action is required.

“Climate change is the greatest security threat of the 21st century,” said Maj Gen Munir Muniruzzaman, chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on climate change and a former military adviser to the president of Bangladesh. He said one metre of sea level rise will flood 20% of his nation. “We’re going to see refugee problems on an unimaginable scale, potentially above 30 million people.”

The response to the Syrian crisis has been less than inspiring–the West is undergoing a bout of race hatred unseen in quite some time as a direct response, down to the election-on-a-technicality of a protofascist U.S. President, and nationalist/authoritarian leadership in many other locales. And yes, this is tangled up to some extent with the terrorism question and other factors of globalization, but still. More than any other time we need wise, stable, openhearted leadership in the world, and it’s just not there. This is a real concern going forward.

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Even the most conservative Democrats are going to to all out against Ryan/Trump Medicare privatization. Recall that Trump actually did a little worse than Romney among Seniors according to exit polls. Didn’t win them by a huge margin. Losing a lot of them really could dynamite Republican support–recall that the last time the GOP went after their benefits, Democrats won the House the next year.

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