Everything We Know About the American Heartland

We are three lawyers in Austin, Texas talking about the American Heartland and what we know about the American Heartland.

Everything We Know about Trumpcare

May 8, 2017

Show Notes

AJ is having trouble in life because life is nasty, brutish, and short and there’s no healthcare coverage.

Reconciliation and the AHCA

The ACA was passed by reconciliation. Will the AHCA be similarly passed?

Kaiser Family Foundation AHCA maps

KFF color-coded map of who benefits from the AHCA. If you’re a 40-year-old making $75,000/year, you save about $3000 under the AHCA:

A 40 year old making 75k saves about $3000

But if you’re a 60 year old and make $20,000/year, your premiums will go up anywhere from $800 to $25,000:

A 60 year old and make $20,000/year, your premiums will go up anywhere from $800 to $25,000

More Healthcare

Rep. Joe Kennedy III:

Unbelievably, it’s an even starker blow to those suffering from mental illness than its predecessor. The latest version of Trumpcare doesn’t just threaten access to behavioral health coverage for those on Medicaid, it threatens access to behavioral health coverage for everyone. Under the guise of flexibility, this bill would allow states and insurance companies to opt out of covering mental health care — not to mention other designated essential health benefits like maternity and emergency care. Premiums and deductibles would soar as a result. Any semblance of mental health parity would be extinguished. And current protections for those with preexisting conditions — which is particularly important when it comes to mental illness — would cease to exist.

CBO score on original AHCA in March:

[The ACA] legislation would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the 2017-2026 period. That total consists of $323 billion in on-budget savings and $13 billion in off-budget savings.

Everything We Know about this Supreme Court

This week, we have have three cases in our Supreme Court segment.


AJ: Delicate Steve

Ruchit: Six Maps that show America’s Infrastructure

TJ: When People Ate People, a Strange Disease Emerged

  • In many villages, when a person died, they would be cooked and consumed. It was an act of love and grief. As one medical researcher described, “If the body was buried it was eaten by worms; if it was placed on a platform it was eaten by maggots; [they] believed it was much better that the body was eaten by people who loved the deceased than by worms and insects.”
  • Laughing death


Ticket to Ride is a board game that Ruchit doesn’t remember playing. And AJ hates Catan.


Everything We Know about the Death Penalty

May 1, 2017

Show Notes

This week, we tackle a pretty heavy subject: the death penalty.

History of the Death Penalty

The death penalty has always been in use but an abolition movement has been gaining steam.

  • In 1972, the Supreme Court imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in Furman v. Georgia.
  • In 1976, Stevens casts a vote to bring the death penalty back in Gregg v. Georgia. But Stevens has stated that he regrets that vote:

“I really think that the death penalty today is vastly different from the death penalty that we thought we were authorizing. And I think if the procedures had been followed that we expected to be in place, I think I probably would’ve still had the same views.” Instead, he views his vote to uphold capital punishment in 1976 as the one he regrets during his tenure. It is “the one vote I would change,” he says. Calling the decision “incorrect,” Stevens says the 1976 court “did not foresee how it would be interpreted.”

  • Abolition movement has successfully resulted in repeal of Death Penalty in several states. Many states have officially repealed. In 2007, New Jersey became the first state to repeal the death penalty by legislative vote since Gregg v. Georgia, followed by New Mexico in 2009, Illinois in 2011, Connecticut in 2012, and Maryland in 2013. Others have a moratorium, where it is technically still provided by law but DP is not sentenced or carry out (e.g. California hasn’t carried out a DP since 2006). Wikipedia: List of states with execution hiatus
  • In Glossip v. Gloss (2015) the Court held using midazolam does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Most recently, Arkansas scheduled several executions in a short period of time to avoid the expiration of its death penalty drugs. The Supreme Court refused to hear the issue.

Why do we have the death penalty?

What are the rationales for the death penalty? Do they hold up under scrutiny?

This week in the Supreme Court

In this segment, we discuss our Supreme Court predictions.

We also recently revamped our methodology for tracking predicting.


Everything We Know about Simon Tam

April 27, 2017

Show Notes

The gang interviews Simon Tam, a US Supreme Court litigant in Lee v. Tam. We covered his case in Everything We Know about Border Searches.

More information about Lee v. Tam can be found on ScotusBlog and Oyez.


Everything We Know about Voting Rights

April 19, 2017

Show Notes

Today, we discuss do an autopsy on Mitt Romney’s binders, and whether states are stepping on voting rights.

Mitt Romney’s binders unearthed.

Ruchit thinks Mitt Romney is good. AJ thinks that Mitt Romney is bad. And the archeologists found Romney’s binders full of women, from the Washington Post. The original question that was asked to both candidates:

QUESTION: In what new ways to you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?

Voting Rights

The Texas Voter ID law makes news as a Court in Texas holds that the law was passed with a discriminatory purpose.

“Is there any way to get a breakdown of the 2008 voter turnout, by race (white and black) and type of vote (early and Election Day)?” a staffer for the state’s Republican-controlled legislature asked in January 2012.

Partisen Gerrymandering

What is Gerrymandering? Who is Gerry?

Austin’s Gerrymander: Austin Congressional District

Everything We Know about this Supreme Court

Here we talk about Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates, Inc.


Follow up from the previous episode’s Sidebar: An Oral History of Something Awful

Aftershow & Indian Weddings

What is Paan?


Everything We Know about the FCC

April 9, 2017

Show Notes

Ruchit cites Eminem for the proposition that the FCC doesn’t let him be, but refuses to acknowledge Will Smith’s contributions.

Steve Bannon and the Globalists

We talk about the best way to give cultural compliments.

  • Steve Bannon calls Jared Kushner a globalist, and the gang pursues the band ideas.
    • Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Stephen Bannon reportedly called Jared Kushner a ‘globalist.’ Here’s why the term makes some Jews uneasy.
    • CNN: “Bannon’s faction has come to term Cohn as ‘Globalist Gary,’ an insult for those aligned with the Bannon’s populist views.”
  • What is Chapati and papadum?
  • What is Philo-semitism?
  • Trump patronizing Jewish people:
    • The Week: At the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum in December, Trump drew criticism for promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes while speaking to an audience of Jewish activists, many of them wealthy donors to the party. He suggested that they might not support him because he wouldn’t take their campaign contributions. He called himself a “negotiator, like you.” He said they were, like him, great dealmakers.
    • Rolling Stone: In a 1991 book, one of Trump’s former colleagues recalled him saying, “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” (Trump called the things written about him in the book “probably true.“)

Ruchit has decided that Donald J. Trump is good

But AJ believes that everyone who associates themselves with Trump debases themselves.

  • Syrian air base is still in use according to Washington Post. But Trump responds:

  • Is this topic is off brand for the podcast?


The FCC passes a rule that requires a lot of privacy protections for consumers of internet service providers. Congress disapproves of this rule. We get into the weeds on this and discus what’s going on here.

First, the FCC classified broadband internet services as a Telecommunication Service:

Congress comes back and rolls this rule back because it’s easier for Congress to do it. Here are some of the things that this rule did:

  • Reporting requirements
  • Notice requirements to customers when privacy policies are changed
  • Consent requirements when ISPs sell customers information
  • ISPs have to take reasonable measures to protect your private information
  • ISPs have to notify you, the FCC, and law enforcement when they’ve been hacked.

What’s coming down the pipe? The FCC wants to replace net neutrality regulations with voluntary commitments

Everything We Know about this Supreme Court


Ruchit’s Sidebar is a restaurant in New York called By Chloe.

Tom’s Sidebar is Yale’s Climate Change Visualizations

AJ’s Sidebar is Twitter: