The moral superiority of rural life

“Do you know Watson,” said he, “that it is one of the curses of a mind with a turn like mine that I must look at everything with reference to my own special subject. You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of their isolation and of the impunity with which crime may be committed there.”

“Good heavens!” I cried. “Who would associate crime with these dear old homesteads?”

“They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”

“You horrify me!”

“But the reason is very obvious. The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard’s blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser. Had this lady who appeals to us for help gone to live in Winchester, I should never have had a fear for her. It is the five miles of country which makes the danger…”

–from The Adventure of the Copper Beeches, by Arthur Conan Doyle

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The Facts of Life: how to investigate online political ads

Source: Help Us Monitor Political Ads Online — ProPublica

A terrific plan from ProPublica. A central excerpt that’ll tell us what they’re doing and how we can (and must) participate:

The nature of online advertising is such that ads appear on people’s screens for just a few hours, and are limited to the audience that the advertiser has chosen. So, for example, if an advertiser micro-targets a group such as 40-year-old female motorcyclists in Nashville, Tennessee, (Facebook audience estimate: 1,300 people) with a misleading ad, it’s unlikely anyone other than the bikers will ever see those ads. Yesterday, 10 months after Trump was elected, Facebook officials acknowledged discovering that a Russian “troll farm” paid $100,000 during the campaign to place political ads on issues such as gun rights and immigration, The Washington Post reported.

With online ads, “you can go as narrow as you want, as false as you want and there is no accountability,” said Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press, a public interest media and technology advocacy group.

ProPublica wants to change that. Today we are launching a crowdsourcing tool that will gather political ads from Facebook, the biggest online platform for political discourse. We’re calling it the Political Ad Collector — or PAC, in a nod to the Political Action Committees that fund many of today’s political ads.

I’m not on Facebook often and never click on political whatevers–ads? I get my political news from newspapers.

But if you see this stuff on Facebook, connect with ProPublica and tell them. You’ll be helping all of us stay informed and de-trolled.

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DailyKos Elections new incisive link: 2018 open House seats

You may have noticed: a bunch of Republican congressmen are calling it quits.

As I’ve mentioned, DailyKos Elections covers every race everywhere in the entire country. Plus, the writing is terrific and often laugh-out-loud witty.

Today–while narrating the immediate electoral history of one Michigan congressional district–DailyKos announced this:

P.S.: To help keep tabs on this ever-changing playing field in the wake of this big wave of GOP retirements, we’ve created a new House open seat tracker, complete with presidential results for every district. So far this cycle, eight House Republicans are calling it quits (and not just leaving the House to run for another office), while just one Democrat is doing the same.

Which means if you don’t want to spend time reading about every race everywhere in the entire country every day, but are hooked on worrying about what’s likely to happen in 2018 in open seats, well…

My P.S. I’m sticking the category the “American war on women” in–alon with “voting rights”–because here’s what DailyKos tells us about a previous race for this Michigan seat:

At a fundraiser for his congressional campaign, prominent conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly drew unflattering headlines for [Rocky] Raczkowski when she declared that, besides “the blacks,” the largest group to vote for Obama was unmarried women, because “when you kick your husband out, you’ve got to have big brother government to be your provider.” Raczkowski awkwardly tried to distance himself from Schlafly’s comments by saying he “believe[s] in equality for everyone. I’m color-blind and gender blind,” coming very close to accidently echoing Stephen Colbert. Raczkowski ran for the state Senate four years later and lost a tight primary to Marty Knollenberg.

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