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 Macron

May 15, 2017

Show Notes

The French President — do we know anything about him?


Thirty-five of thirty-seven economists said Trump was wrong. The other two misread the question.

  • The survey asked and comments by the economists. E.g., Austin Goolsbee: “No, but it would put us in the running for a national Darwin award.”

Trump invented the phrase priming the pump. Merriam-Webster’s fact check’s President Trump. Google Ngram results show that the phrase “priming the pump” has been used as early as 1886:

priming the pump google ngram result

France had an election

And they elected Emmanuel Macron. They elected him over Marine Le Pen.

What is the Macron law?

Good things Macron did:

Five Thirty Eight takeaways from the French election:

Donald Trump fires Jim Comey

Trump tells Lester Holt that he fired Jim Comey because of the Russia investigation:

DONALD TRUMP: He made—he made a recommendation, he’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy, uh the Democrats like him, the Republicans like him, uh he made a recommendation but regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey knowing, there was no good time to do it. And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirms:

“We want this to come to its conclusion, we want it to come to its conclusion with integrity,” [Huckabee Sanders] said, referring to the FBI’s probe into Moscow’s interference in last year’s election. “And we think that we’ve actually, by removing Director Comey, taken steps to make that happen.”

Was Comey good? Was he bad? Or should we not talk about it at all?

Everything We Know about this Supreme Court

This week in our Supreme Court segment, we talk about Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California.


AJ: The Texas Freedom caucus Mother’s Day Massacre.

As the clock ticked — and Freedom Caucus members used tactic after tactic to stall — other lawmakers watched as the chances dimmed for their bills to pass. State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, delivered a tearful speech begging the chamber to hurry up so it could get to a bill on experimental stem cell treatment that could benefit his wife, who suffered a spinal cord injury.

TJ: Apple, How to shoot on iPhone 7

Ruchit: The cheapness of Richard Burr, not to be confused with Aaron Burr.


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?