Monday, July 31, 2017

The Deer from My Window

I'm not the photographer Kevin Drum is, but I do have wildlife I can see from my living room window, much to the detriment of our hostas.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Clovis Piece

Politico has a piece on Sam Clovis, which is surprisingly positive.

Improper Payments and Election Fraud

GovExec has a piece on a proposed commission to look at steps to reduce improper payments.  It's good, but I'd like to make a connection to another issue: election fraud.

The piece includes this sentence: "The example he recommended is easing the current restriction in the Social Security Act that prevents the Treasury Department’s Fiscal Bureau from readily accessing the Death Master File for privacy reasons."  It goes on to note that IRS uses its databases to vet 87 percent of all federal payments.

A major problem in improper payments is knowing when your intended payee is dead. Perhaps the payment should go to the estate  (usual in the case of farm programs) or should not be paid at all.

A major problem in keeping voter eligibility files current is knowing when the previously registered voter has died.

By improving the IRS process by allowing access to the Death Master File (as opposed, IIRC, to using less accurate data from SSA) and using that process for both payments and voter eligibility we kill two birds with one stone.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Electric Cars Don't Need More Generating Capacity?

From a Technology Review piece skeptical of Elon Musk's ambitions:
A 2007 study by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that without adding a new plant or transmission line, the U.S. grid could reliably charge 84 percent of the nation’s cars, pickups, and SUVs.
Without reading the study I understand the logic: lots of 24-hour generating capacity goes unused at night.  The cost would be for the fuel, coal or natural gas, to run it, but not the capital expense of building new generators.  (Though a 10-year old study might be somewhat out of date.)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Administrative Procedures and Trump

This ThinkProgress post represents one of the hurdles for the Trump revolution:  simply put, once a regulation is in place, the bureaucracy has to use the Administrative Procedure Act to revise/change/revoke it, including cost/benefit analysis and consideration of public comment.  (There are exceptions to this, of course, and I'm specifying "the bureaucracy" since Congress can change the game, but it's a good general rule.)  In the case of the Clean Water Rule, a judge has found EPA and Corps of Engineers to be rushing too fast (because it's not a simple case, other court cases involved) in their analysis.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

How the Brits Do Government IT

The site is the blog for the UK government, as you might guess.  It's interesting to follow the posts, seeing some of the differences and some of the similarities between British IT and US IT.  The British government is a lot more centralized than the US, both at the national level with its civil service setup which uses more cross-department transfers than the US (SES was supposed to incorporate that, but doesn't really), and in the structure of local government--no federalism.

Even though their IT efforts seems to follow the same pattern, with more basic applications being shared across departments, they still have silos.  An excerpt:
"We transitioned 300+ websites onto one platform in 15 months. That meant we didn’t have the time or the opportunity to look properly at how that content fitted together.
And because each organisation’s website moved on to GOV.UK separately, that content came onto the site siloed and has remained siloed. And there are now more than 300,000 individual items on GOV.UK."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Clovis Redux

The appointment of Sam Clovis might be in trouble, as he had an interview in 2014 in which he was critical of crop insurance, which has become the basic safety net program for crop farmers.

Interesting times ahead. (I predict he'll backtrack and the Senate will confirm.)

Opposition to Clovis

From the Yonder, a letter opposing the appointment of Sam Clovis as Undersecretary, USDA, for research.  His background (mainly conservative talk show host) doesn't seem to fit the legal requirement for the position.  The major farm groups say, in effect, to hell with the law, we want someone who has clout with the President.

Actuaries Don't Risk in Marriage

Flowing Data has an interesting post showing divorce rates by occupation.  Lots of data, but a couple highlights:  the military and farmers both have rates below average.  Generally the high paid professions have the lowest rates. The lowest of all: actuaries.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Technology and Dairy

Dairy Carrie reports spending $20,000 on necklaces for their dairy cows.  These are high-tech jobs, which provide indicators when the cow is in heat (high activity) and is sick (not chewing cud). In a dairy above a certain size, and I'm not sure how large this dairy is but not humongous, the dairyman needs help to keep track of these two critical factors.  (Miss a heat, and the cow is going to lose production, effectively 1/12 of annual production.  That's money, that's the difference between profit and loss.)

Monday, July 24, 2017

Regard for the Career Staff I

President Trump has been slow to fill the slots for political appointees in the executive branch, and Dems have been slow to confirm those he's appointed.  That means the various Secretaries have found themselves dealing with career executives a lot, or working without support.  I've wondered what the effect will be.

In the case of HUD apparently the result has been to raise the civil service in Carson's eyes: GovExec reports that Secretary Carson is praising the career employees at HUD.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Chicken Feed (Sack) Dresses

Slate has a post on a 2009 scholarly article about the use of chicken feed sacks to make clothing back in the day, my day as it happens.  (It's even a thing on Etsy.)

I remember our getting feed in 100 pound bags.  Usually the bags were burlap and were returned back to GLF (the co-op we patronized and my dad was a board member of) for re-use.  But in my earliest memories (1945 or so) there are some cloth bags with patterns.  My sister remembered mom sewing her dresses from them.  The article says such clothes were a sign of poverty, and they certainly were to my sister.

But the times were such that people did re-use things.  I remember scavenging old nails from boards and trying to straighten them so they could be used again.  Mom had a rag bag where the unwearable old clothes went, someday to be pulled from the bag and cut into pieces, possibly for use in a rag rug, or in a quilt.  The innards of the quilt would be another example of re-use: milk strainer flannels. Much to my surprise, a similar thing is still available--description says "gauze" where my memory is of flannel squares.  When pouring a pail of milk into the milk can, you used a large metal funnel with a filter square at the bottom, the filter intended to filter out foreign materials (i.e., manure and bedding) which could have gotten into the milk pail.  (It's not only sausage-making that the layperson wants to remain ignorant of. :-)  Mom would wash the filters, which by regulation could only be used once, and use them for various purposes.  Stitched together they'd be a towel for drying dishes; stacked four or five thick, they'd become the basis for a quilt.

While I think I've adapted pretty well to changes in our culture over the last 70 years, except for pop music, the change in attitude towards material things still bothers me.  What I mean is the way people, perhaps mostly kids, will leave pieces of clothing out--presumably they've lost track of their shoe(s), or socks, or shirt and don't care to spend the time to search them out and retrieve them, and their parents are willing to buy new.  It bothers.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Cotton Wants

Am I getting old and forgetful--I don't remember blogging about this program.  Remember the pressure on Vilsack to do something for cotton, but not this.  Anyway, from DTN:
"The cotton industry and contingent of 135 members of Congress are calling on the Trump administration to continue operating the $300 million Cotton Ginning Cost Share Program created by the Obama administration as a way to help cotton producers."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Show Me a Hero

That's the name of David Simon's last TV series,covering a few years in Yonkers, NY fight over the location of public housing. It's a tragedy.  In a related development, the Trump administration has abandoned a long-running dispute with Westchester County, which includes Yonkers, over the same issue.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Politics and the Grim Reaper

The last few days of drama over "repeal and replace" has shown the importance of individual senators, and the McCain operation has perhaps reminded people that death awaits us all.

As a morbid thought, suppose a Republican senator dies this month--how does that change political calculations?  Or suppose it's a Democratic senator, they have some old ones too? Or to really go for broke, suppose there's an accident which takes out two or three senators? 

[Note: this was written before announcement of Sen. McCain's cancer.]

[Added: note that Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) goes on trial later this year and Gov. Christie could appoint a successor.]

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Last Chance to Comment

 FSA is nearing the end of its comment period on a "generic clearance for collection of qualitative feedback on agency service delivery."  I'm skeptical of this whole clearance process--it's nice in theory but I suspect there's few or no comments, so it's just a paperwork exercise.  To make it more meaningful, in this case, they should include an example or two of what they're talking about.

From the Federal Register:
As part of a Federal Government-wide effort to streamline the process to seek feedback from the public on service delivery, the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Farm Service Agency (FSA) has submitted a Generic Information Collection Request (Generic ICR): “Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Agency Service Delivery ” to OMB for approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA).


Comments must be submitted by July 21, 2017.

Title: Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Agency Service Delivery.
Abstract: The information collection activity will garner qualitative customer and stakeholder feedback in an efficient, timely manner, in accordance with the Administration's commitment to improving service delivery. By qualitative feedback we mean information that provides useful insights on perceptions and opinions, but are not statistical surveys that yield quantitative results that can be generalized to the population of study. This feedback will provide insights into customer or stakeholder perceptions, experiences and expectations, provide an early warning of issues with service, or focus attention on areas where communication, training or changes in operations might improve delivery of products or services. These collections will allow for ongoing, collaborative and actionable communications between the Agency and its customers and stakeholders. It will also allow feedback to contribute directly to the improvement of program management.
Feedback collected under this generic clearance will provide useful information, but it will not yield data that can be generalized to the overall population. This type of generic clearance for qualitative information will not be used for quantitative information collections that are designed to yield reliably actionable results, such as monitoring trends over time or documenting program performance. Such data uses require more rigorous designs that address: The target population to which generalizations will be made, the sampling frame, the sample design (including stratification and clustering), the precision requirements or power calculations that justify the proposed sample size, the expected response rate, methods for assessing potential non-response bias, the protocols for data collection, and any testing procedures that were or will be undertaken prior fielding the study. Depending on the degree of influence the results are likely to have, such collections may still be eligible for submission for other generic mechanisms that are designed to yield quantitative results.
The Agency received one comments in response to the 60-day notice published in the Federal Register of April 4, 2017 (82 FR 16338). The comment was not related to this information collection.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Decline of Widowhood

Flowing Data has a set of four graphs showing the ages/prevalence over the last hundred years of "singlehood", marriage, divorce, and widowhood.  We know that marriage rates have decreased and divorce has increased, but what we fail to consider is that widowhood has also decreased.

"The Olds"

Ran across a phrase in the Post this morning: "the olds".  It's the "s" which makes it different; not sure why, maybe someday a language person will explain.

Anyhow, ran a google search, and found the Post has an explanation and a quiz.

As one of the commenters on the piece/quiz says: "I am an old. I do not object. More of these questions should have included the option "I have no idea what this means" so that I could have qualified as "super-old."

The explanation: "In popular Internet parlance, "the olds" are essentially people who don't quite get "it," whatever "it" may be: the funniest meme, the latest Internet slang, the fact that you shouldn't comment on your child's every Facebook post. It's less about age, and more about digital zeitgeist."

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The LUCkies

Paul Campos suggests the "lower upper class" is a better term than "upper middle class". I agree. I don't see anyone admitting to being upper class, but it's ridiculous that all the lawyers, doctors, CEO's, and entertainers in the top 5 percent are still considered middle class. I've created the acronym, based on my view that a lot is luck.

From his post, these are the percentiles and household income for my LUCkies, household income:

95th 215,000
99th 400,000
99.9th 1,117,000

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Hoarding, Old and New

I've some hoarding tendencies--it's hard to throw stuff away, physical stuff that is.

But I, like the author of this piece, believe in hoarding browser tabs.  I use both Firefox and Chrome, and have lots of tabs open in each, enough so that I fairly often crash Firefox.   I don't have the patience now to study the piece thoroughly, but I know it's got good stuff in it, so I'll just keep it in a separate tab, along with all the other good stuff I've yet to study.

Friday, July 14, 2017

USDA Screws Up Organic Food?

That's the thrust of a Washington Post piece  on a hearing by Senate Ag:
“It seems that uncertainty and dysfunction have overtaken the National Organic Standards Board and the regulations associated with the National Organic Program,” Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the committee, said in his opening remarks. “These problems create an unreliable regulatory environment and prevent farmers that choose organic from utilizing advancements in technology and operating their business in an efficient and effective manner. Simply put, this hurts our producers and economies in rural America.”

Thursday, July 13, 2017

I Don't Understand Insurance: Obamacare and Crop Insurance

From a Politico story on the improving profit picture for insurers in Obamacare markets:
Insurers in the Obamacare marketplaces spent 75 percent of premiums on medical claims in this year's first quarter, an indication the market is stabilizing and insurers are regaining profitability, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study released this week. By comparison, in the prior two years, insurers spent more than 85 percent of premiums on medical costs during the same period, which translated into huge losses.
Insurers lose money when they spend 85 percent on medical costs? That means to me their administrative costs are 15 percent.  I'm no expert on crop insurance, but I think USDA doesn't support 15 percent in administrative costs.

Did a quick google search and found this CBO analysis of a proposal:
"This option would reduce the federal government’s subsidy to 40 percent of the crop insurance premiums, on average. In addition, it would limit the federal reimbursement to crop insurance companies for administrative expenses to 9.25 percent of estimated premiums (or to an average of $915 million each year from 2015 through 2023) and limit the rate of return on investment for those companies to 12 percent each year.b [emphasis added]
 My personal opinion is that 9.25 percent is still too high, at least that FSA could administer an insurance program at less cost, given a reasonable time and resources to gain expertise.

Good Luck, Qatar

The conflict between Qatar and the Arab states has included cutting off Qatar's supply of dairy products.  Qatar, having bunches of money, is now importing 4,000 cows to partially fill the gap, according to this piece.

I wish them well, but that's a more complex job than might appear:

  • does Qatar have air conditioned barns for 4,000 cows--temps there are rather hot.
  • does they have feed on hand for that many cows, and a supply chain to back it up.  Cows eat, every day, much of the day.
  • do they have manure disposal facilities.  Cows defecate and urinate, every day, much of the day.
  • do they have milking facilities and people to operate them?  Cows produce milk, every day.  Every day, that is, unless their routine is disrupted and maybe milkings are skipped--that can cut production quite a bit.
  • do they have milk processing plants. Milk spoils unless refrigerated, and doesn't have a long shelf life.
The point, of course, is like most things, it's more complex than an outsider would assume.

But as I say, I wish them well, and hope the Qatari PETA is not on their case. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Brooks: The Pictures We Have in Our Head

In some of the commentary on David Brooks column, or rather one paragraph in his column, I think I see some different answers to the question: who was Brooks' friend with a high school diploma?

I suspect most or all of those who commented saw her as a white woman, perhaps young, perhaps a contemporary.  If true, that shows our blinders.  IMHO it's quite as likely that she's a minority, perhaps given his social milieu an immigrant. I'm further dealing in stereotypes when I suggest that a well-to-do media person is more likely to come into contact with an immigrant in his/her daily life than with a white person with only a high school diploma.  It would be interesting to know more, but for me the bottom line is his example doesn't do the job he wants it to in his column.  On the other hand, the fact that all of us commenters focused on that one paragraph rather than his more general point suggests to me that we're guilty about our privilege and about pulling up the ladder behind us.

Etymology of "Quarters"

Speculation based on the first chapter of  the Lyndal Roper book: "Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet".  My logic:
  • towns tend to be located at the intersection of trails/paths/roads.
  • most such intersections are of two roads
  • most such intersections divide the town into "quarters"
  • hence "quarter" originally referred to one of four areas of the town in which one lived.
Posting this here because this website wouldn't allow me to contribute my 2 cents.

The book promises to be good, BTW.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

David Brooks and American Class Strata

David Brooks has an op-ed in the Times today outlining many ways in which he sees the richest among us making sure that others don't move up and join them. The basic idea is that once you have some money, you invest and invest and invest in your children.  It's an arms race among parents, and the richest have the most arms (pre-K education, elite college admissions, restrictive zoning, etc. etc.).  To me it all seems fairly obvious.

Brooks is catching flak on twitter and elsewhere, however, for one paragraph:
"Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican."
 What Brooks is getting at, which is lost in the twitter comments, is there's lots of less visible barriers to advancement, particularly for those of us who are a little less socially adept in adapting to our surroundings, and picking up on social cues. 

Where I disagree with Brooks is his history.  America has always had a class structure.  See Edith Wharton's fiction for one.  The ways in which the structure is maintained may have changed over the years; that's something Brooks should have acknowledged.

Double Standard

I'm seeing Althouse and Powerline blogs push back against the importance of the Donald Trump Jr. meeting with the Russians to get dirt on the Clinton campaign.  Back in the day of Clinton/Gore the right was outraged over the campaign accepting money from foreigners, and I remember Powerline being exercised in 2008 when the Obama campaign seemingly did not tightly screen donations to weed out foreign money.

So their standard is:  foreign money is bad, foreign info is good?

Technology on the Farm

Interesting NBCnews overview of new technology on the farm.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Conaway and the Farm Bill

Politico has a post on the discussions between Rep Conaway, House Ag head, and Rep. Black, House Budget head.
Sources with knowledge of the discussions say that the agriculture committee was initially facing around $70 billion in proposed cuts over the next decade, but Conaway's intervention kept the pullback to around $10 billion. That came after Black lowered her original goal for total mandatory spending cuts by roughly $300 billion, and Conaway persistently made the case that slashing programs under his watch would imperil the 2018 farm bill and, by extension, farmers, rural constituents and low-income Americans struggling to make ends meet.

Friday, July 07, 2017

The Importance of the Bureaucracy

Vox says the White House failed timely to book a Hamburg hotel.  Just a reminder that smooth operations depend on lots of people doing their bit, people called bureaucrats.  We don't know where the breakdown was.  I could imagine someone being turned off by Trump and not taking the initiative to remind the chain of command that booking a hotel was necessary.  I could imagine a vacancy in the usual chain of command for travel arrangements, perhaps a failure of liaison between the White House and State.  I could imagine a Trump appointee in the White House just not knowing, not having been informed, or forgetting to book a hotel, just because it's their first time and the Harshaw Rule is: Never do things right the first time.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Amish Organic Farmers and Steel-Wheeled Tractors

Washington Post has a good article on a group of Amish dairies in Iowa who are producing organic milk, but who are being undercut by what they view as illegitimate "organic milk" from large dairies.  This is a sequel to an earlier article where the Post challenged some large dairies, trying to prove by analysis of the milk and data on the operations that the cows could not be grazing as much as is required by USDA regs in order to be labeled "organic".

That's a valid challenge.  And the Amish seem eminently qualified to produce organic milk, given their religion-based resistance to technology.  It fits their "small" farms (under 100 cows, which still seems large to me).

I've followed the Amish story for a long while, ever since I served on a task force in the 1970's with the county executive director of the Lancaster County ASCS Office, who would describe the ins and outs of their relations with government programs.  Donald Kraybill has been a major source of my knowledge of the Amish, and the lines they draw of acceptable and unacceptable technology.  I still remember pictures of a horse-drawn baler.

This article was accompanied by a picture of a steel-wheeled tractor being used on an Amish farm, which would seem to show this group of Amish pushing out the boundaries of acceptable technology.  What's ironic to me is that horses fit nicely into organic agriculture--they can eat the oats which form part of an acceptable crop rotation.  The switch from horses to tractors in the Midwest from 1930 to 1955 also meant a loss of the market for oats.  So while the Amish have a valid complaint against large dairies on the one hand, on the other they're slowly acceding to the forces which undermined our organic agriculture of the 1930's.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Administrative Procedure Act Pros and Cons

EPA has run into an APA problem as interpreted by a court:
The ruling serves as a signal to Pruitt and other Trump administrations that delaying a rule's effective date may be viewed by courts as tantamount to revoking or amending a rule. In their ruling, Judges David Tatel and Robert Wilkins said that the agency could change the methane regulations but would need to create a new rule to undo the old one, and couldn't delay the effective date of the old law while seeking to rewrite it. 
Unless a higher court overrules, EPA must follow rulemaking procedures under APA to create the new rule, meaning a delay of months if not years.  As the Rural Blog notes, this is a problem because the Trump administration has used the same approach elsewhere as well.  But we liberals should not applaud too hardily; the strict application of APA could kill Obama's process for the children of undocumented immigrants (the "Dreamers").  And once liberals retake the presidency, we'll be stuck following the same process to revive those Obama rules which Trump's administration is eventually able to kill using the APA procedure

A Bubble Bursting--the Farm Economy?

It's probably been years since I posted about the possibility of an agricultural depression, like the 1980's.  Farm commodity prices have fallen and been low for several years, and the value of ag land has fallen as well.  In the 1980's those two factors meant those farmers who had overextended themselves in an effort to cash in on the 70's boom in prices started going bankrupt.  But not so this time, at least according to this article.

The factors at work:
  1. farmers built up their net worth during the boom better than they did in the 70's
  2. interest rates now are low, in the 80's high
  3. lending on real estate was more rational 
  4. better safety net due to more crop insurance coverage.
Not really qualified to question any of these, though I would observe no. 4 conflates insurance coverage for weather and coverage for economy.  We did have some bad years during the 80's weather-wise, but I don't recall much crop insurance coverage for economy.

I'd also observe there are a lot fewer farmers today than in the 80's, which IMHO reduces the likelihood of any one farmer going bust--there's fewer marginal players in the game. 

Monday, July 03, 2017

The Golden Rule, Cynic Version

The Post has an article today on development in Prince William county, interesting on several points. It seems that Loudoun County has 70+ data centers, Fairfax 43, and developers are working to put data centers in Prince William ("Prince Billy county" as my wife sometimes calls it) county, just south of Fairfax.

The cynical version of the Golden Rule is: them that has the gold, rules.  Which I take to mean there's a tendency for the wealthy and powerful to become more so, and also for the poor and weak to become more so.  The siting of data centers is an example: there's advantages to having your data center near  other centers--transferring data between them is faster when the distance is shorter.  (Michael Lewis has a book on the super-fast stock traders, who exploit micro-second difference in timing to make profits.) So the Virginia suburbs of DC were an early center for Internet cabling, which has led over time to the concentration of data centers.

There's another case for the cynical version in the article.  Indeed, the hook of the article is the plight of an Afro-American community near Haymarket, a community mostly of descendants from freed slaves who have owned land there and passed it on over the years.  But now progress is coming.

It's a complicated story--data centers require lots of electricity.  In this case there's a data center being constructed in one neighborhood and Dominion Power needs to run new transmission lines for several miles to supply the data center, using eminent domain when necessary to get the right of way for the lines.There are several logical routes to consider, but as the story says:
"Set in a remote area off Lee Highway, the Carver Road neighborhood became the chosen route by default, after other options were either deemed too costly or torpedoed by opposition from local homeowners associations."
The homeowner associations are, of course, wealthier and more influential than the African-American community.   The Golden Rule applies

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Surprise of the Day: Cowen and Deerslayer

We didn't often get off the farm, except to go to town.  One time I particularly remember is a trip to Cooperstown, sometime in late summer after the hay was in the barn and before moving the old hens out and the pullets off the range into the henhouses.

Anyhow we visited the Baseball museum and the Farmer Museum--mom was particularly into the latter, much to my sister's disgust. Mom had grown up on a farm pre-WWI so all the tools brought back memories.  The museum is on the site of the old Cooper farm, so the store had some books on him.  I successfully argued to buy one, IIRC a child's biography of James Fenimore, perhaps my first book purchased in a store not a Christmas present.

My sister got into Cooper at some point, so I followed along.  I''m not sure whether I was reading her books, or from the school library, but I read a number, not just the Leatherstocking ones, but some of his sea books as well.

So I had an affection for Cooper.  Over the years it's pained me to see his reputation among scholars decline, so today, when Tyler Cowen wrote this, it was a big surprise:
"Yes,I mean the book by James Fenimore Cooper.  I am reading it for the first time and it is much better than I had expected.  Mark Twain’s mockery of Cooper led me wrong, as I let it turn me away from being an appreciator.  And for all the more recent talk of the book being archaic and racist, I am finding it surprisingly sophisticated...."

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Voter Fraud Commission

Trump's commission on voter fraud has requested data from all the states on voters names, addresses, ID's, registration, and voting records.  It's getting a lot of flak from the left and resistance from states both on the right (i.e. Mississippi) and left.

I'm a little conflicted on this, because I've a residual affection for the idea of a national identity, like Estonia, as an enabler for many good things.  I don't trust Mr. Kobach or Hans von Spakowsky.  In an ideal world there could be tradeoffs: do a national matching process to determine which voters are registered in more than one state and/or voted in more than one state while at the same time improving the national registry of firearms owners and those ineligible to own firearms.

That's a dream world though. As I posted recently, we have some security through chaos. Maybe one thing which could be done is to require states to do is bounce their voter registration lists against the SSA list of deceased voters (the same process as is done to avoid erroneous federal payments)>