Infographic of the day

From a recent Vox post on antiobiotic resistance:

For a new Lancet series on superbugs, researchers visualized the various modifiable drivers of antibiotic resistance. As you can see, they found that human antibiotic misuse and overuse was one of the single biggest contributors. It was followed only by the abuse of antibiotics in agriculture [emphasis mine] (another big problem that you can read about here).

The case against Trump

When it comes to analyzing polls, I’ll take Nate Silver.  For analyzing elections, I’ll still go with Alan Abramowitz.  That said, Silver make a pretty good case contra Trump:

Quite often, however, the Trump’s-really-got-a-chance! case is rooted almost entirely in polls. If nothing Trump has said so far has harmed his standing with Republicans, the argument goes, why should we expect him to fade later on?

One problem with this is that it’s not enough for Trump to merely avoid fading. Right now, he has 25 to 30 percent of the vote in polls among theroughly 25 percent of Americans who identify as Republican. (That’s something like 6 to 8 percent of the electorate overall, or about the same share of people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.) As the rest of the field consolidates around him, Trump will need to gain additional support to win the nomination. That might not be easy, since some Trump actions that appeal to a faction of the Republican electorate may alienate the rest of it. Trump’s favorability ratings are middling among Republicans (andawful among the broader electorate).

Trump will also have to get that 25 or 30 percent to go to the polls. For now, most surveys cover Republican-leaning adults or registered voters, rather than likely voters…

But there’s another, more fundamental problem. That 25 or 30 percent of the vote isn’t really Donald Trump’s for the keeping. In fact, it doesn’t belong to any candidate. If past nomination races are any guide, the vast majority of eventual Republican voters haven’t made up their minds yet…

To repeat: This burst of attention occurs quite late — usually when voters are days or weeks away from their primary or caucus. At this point in the 2012 nomination cycle, 10 weeks before the Iowa caucuses, only 16 percent of the eventual total of Google searches had been conducted. At this point in the 2008 cycle, only 8 percent had been. Voters are still in the early stages of their information-gathering process…

So, could Trump win? We confront two stubborn facts: first, that nobody remotely like Trump has won a major-party nomination in the modern era.4And second, as is always a problem in analysis of presidential campaigns, we don’t have all that many data points, so unprecedented events can occur with some regularity. For my money, that adds up to Trump’s chances being higher than 0 but (considerably) less than 20 percent. Your mileage may vary. But you probably shouldn’t rely solely on the polls to make your case; it’s still too soon for that.

Good case.  And a fair one.  I think a bit of a wildcard is where all those Carson supporters go.  Many of them are crazy, far-right Christians who would not seem to cotton to Trump.  On the other hand, they are Republicans who have shown a willingness to support a complete whacko totally in over his head on policy.  So, Trump is a natural on that score.  Whatever happens it sure is fun to watch.

Poor people aren’t voting against their interests; they’re just not voting

Really great piece from Alec MacGillis this weekend on Kentucky and the larger issues of people seemingly voted against their own economic interests.  But that’s not really what’s going on.  I was going to do a post where I highlighted the key parts, but Drum has already done that, so I’ll borrow his excerpt and emphases:

Using Kentucky as his case study, the question he’s addressing is why so many poor communities vote against the very policies that help them the most:

The people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period. They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process.

The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder— the sheriff’s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner. And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns.

….These voters are consciously opting against a Democratic economic agenda that they see as bad for them and good for other people — specifically, those undeserving benefit-recipients in their midst. I’ve heard variations on this theme all over the country: people railing against the guy across the street who is collecting disability payments but is well enough to go fishing, the families using their food assistance to indulge in steaks.

….With reliance on government benefits so prevalent, it creates constant moments of friction, on very intimate terms, said Jim Cauley, a Democratic political consultant from Pike County….Where opposition to the social safety net has long been fed by the specter of undeserving inner-city African-Americans — think of Ronald Reagan’s notorious “welfare queen” — in places like Pike County it’s fueled, more and more, by people’s resentment over rising dependency they see among their own neighbors, even their own families. “It’s Cousin Bobby — ‘he’s on Oxy and he’s on the draw and we’re paying for him,’ ” Cauley said. “If you need help, no one begrudgesyou taking the program — they’re good-hearted people. It’s when you’re able-bodied and making choices not to be able-bodied.” The political upshot is plain, Cauley added. “It’s not the people on the draw that’s voting against” the Democrats, he said. “It’s everyone else.”

This helps explain a much-discussed article in the Lexington Herald-Leader a week ago. It concluded that counties with the highest number of Medicaid recipients were also the most reliable voters for Republican Matt Bevin—despite the fact that Bevin had loudly insisted that he would slash Medicaid if he won the election. It’s not that all these Medicaid recipients were voting against their self-interest. They weren’t voting one way or the other—and all the while, their slightly less-poor neighbors were voting to cut them off.

Could it really be Trump?

Paul Krugman had an email exchange on the issue with among the very smartest political scientists on elections, Alan Abramowitz.  And Abramowitz makes a good case for Trump.  I’ve bolded the arguments I find most compelling:

Here’s why I think Trump could very well end up as the nominee:

1. He’s way ahead of every other candidate now and has been in the lead or tied for the lead for a long time.

2. The only one even giving him any competition right now is Carson who is even less plausible and whose support is heavily concentrated among one (large) segment of the base—evangelicals.

3. Rubio, the great establishment hope now, is deep in third place, barely in double digits and nowhere close to Trump or Carson.

4. By far the most important thing GOP voters are looking for in a candidate is someone to “bring needed change to Washington.”

5. He is favored on almost every major issue by Republican voters including immigration and terrorism by wide margins. The current terrorism scare only helps him with Republicans. They want someone who will “bomb the shit” out of the Muslim terrorists.

6. There is clearly strong support among Republicans for deporting 11 million illegal immigrants. They don’t provide party breakdown here, but support for this is at about 40 percent among all voters so it’s got to be a lot higher than that, maybe 60 percent, among Republicans.

7. If none of the totally crazy things he’s said up until now have hurt him among Republican voters, why would any crazy things he says in the next few months hurt him?

8. He’s very strong in several of the early states right now including NH, NV and SC. And he could do very well on “Super Tuesday” with all those southern states voting. I can’t see anyone but Trump or Carson winning in Georgia right now, for example, most likely Trump.

9. And as for the idea of the GOP establishment ganging up on him and/or uniting behind another candidate like Rubio, that’s at least as likely to backfire as to work. And even if it works, what’s to stop Trump from then running as an independent?

I actually find #7 among the most compelling.  Seriously– what could he possible say at this point that would hurt him among those who currently support him despite all the utter craziness from him.

And as for Trump on the issues, Jamelle Bouie makes the case for Trump as the prototypical Republican:

On the surface, Trump is the antithesis of a traditional Republican nominee. It’s why I’ve been deeply skeptical of his chances. But look beyond Trump’s affect—his brash, “carnival barker” approach to politics—and it’s clear that, ideologically, he is the only candidate who fully fits the profile of the typical Republican nominee. Trump stands at the center of the GOP. He is the median Republican…

If Trump were a sideshow like Newt Gingrich or Herman Cain, or a factional candidate like Carson or Mike Huckabee, this wouldn’t be true. But he isn’t. More than any other candidate in this race, Trump holds beliefs and positions that appeal to each part of the Republican Party.

On national security and defense, he’s a measured hawk. He won’t invade for the sake of invading—he opposed the Iraq war, as he’ll remind you—but he’ll take the fight to the enemy, when necessary. “When you’re weak and ineffective, bad stuff does happen. And that’s what we’re seeing,” Trump said in a recent speech. His promise? To “bomb the shit” out of ISIS and capture its oil fields. All of this is in line with Republican voters—in a recent Reuters poll, 36 percent said he was best equipped to handle terrorism.

On taxes, he’s in the Republican mainstream. His tax cuts would slash rates across the board, with the largest gains for the wealthiest Americans. It goes beyond Bush’splan, in particular, to offer a lower rate for individuals and corporations. Rhetoric aside—he routinely hits hedge fund managers for paying low taxes—Trump is in line with supply-side and anti-tax conservatives who want less revenue for government programs. That said, Trump rejects cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Retirement programs—the bulk of the benefits that touch actual Republican voters—are sacrosanct. And this as well puts him in the center of the GOP as it exists…

Trump has the most trouble on social conservatism. He won’t oppose same-sex marriage—he almost certainly supports it—and until his run for president, he was pro-choice. Now, he says he’s “pro-life with exceptions” for rape, incest, and the health of the mother, which puts him out of step with anti-abortion activists but in line with a substantial minority of Republicans.

And then there’s immigration. It cuts across every other issue in the Republican Party, touching national security, the economy, and the fabric of our national culture…

Trump’s core message is on immigration. It’s the reason he’s running. He wants to close the borders to “illegals” and deport most of the 11 million unauthorized migrants to the country. “They have to go,” as he often says. If Republican elites are to the left of their voters on immigration, Trump is simpatico with the base. And it shows in polls—49 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say that Trump can best handle immigration. Fifty-five percent agree with his statement that Mexico sends people that bring “crime” and “rapists,” and 77 percent disagree with Bush’s statement that unauthorized immigration is an “act of love.” …

Yes, Trump is unacceptable to a large share of Republican voters. Yes, he has high unfavorables. But his beliefs—and especially those on immigration—draw Republicans from all sides of the party. Let’s put it this way: If Trump were more polished, if he looked and sounded more like Rubio and Bush, we would see him, correctly, as a mainstream candidate for president. Set aside his affect, and Trump sits at the center of the GOP, and that is why he’s winning. [emphasis mine]

I’m still not about to give up on Rubio (or Cruz for that matter).  And I still would not put much money on Trump, but the longer this lasts with no signs of abating, the more you truly have to take Trump seriously as the possible nominee.  And enough with the ill-fitting historical comparisons– it’s pretty clear Trump is not Herman Cain or some other short term leader who shot to the top of the polls and flamed out.  So far, Trump has shown remarkable staying power.  And we certainly know he won’t have to worry about money.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Girls aren’t meaner than boys– it only looks that way:

So how do we account for girls’ relational infamy? The answer may have little to do with how, or how often, girls are unkind, and more to do with the chain reaction that is set off when girls are on the sharp end of a peer’s stick.

Evidence suggests that girls, more than boys, are injured by social mistreatment. We’ve long known that girls place a higher premium on their interpersonal relationships than boys do, so it follows that they become more upset when their relational ties are threatened. Indeed, research finds that, disproportionately, girls harbor painful thoughts and feelings when hurt by their peers. They fret about why they were targeted, wonder if they had it coming, and strategize about how to befriend the antagonist.

To soothe their bruised feelings girls, more than boys, reach out to their friends . Turning to peers puts girls in touch with valuable social support, but we also know that recruiting friends to analyze social slights in detail can actually deepen a girl’s emotional distress. In contrast, boys who are hurt often seek out distractions— they stop thinking about hard feelings by thinking about something else. This may render boys less fluent in the language of their emotions, but they tend to feel better, faster.

2) Plenty of cross-national evidence (via Vox) that welfare doesn’t make people lazy, but helps get them out of poverty.

3) The uncertainty of “sanctuary cities” in NC after a new state law.

4) Sure, the Star Wars prequels don’t match the originals.  Don’t hate.

5) Nothing like liberals arts college protesters.  The ones at Smith want to bar all journalists except those that disagree with them.   College meets kindergarten.

6) Love the story behind the famous image of a toddler throwing a tantrum in front of Obama in the Oval Office.

7) Mockery is so fun.  But I do agree with Drum that it will not change many minds (on the Syrian refugees, or anything else).

8) So, did you know the meaning of “Netflix and chill”?  Was quite surprised to learn this from my students this week.  So far, I have not been able to convince my wife we need more Netflix time together.

9) So, about that “crime wave” caused by #blacklivesmatter?  Not so much.

10) I do find this issue of copyright and Anne Frank’s diary to be really fascinating.  Nice column on the trouble with present copyright law.


The foundation dedicates all the earnings from the diary to charitable ends, but its move underscores what many copyright experts and public advocates see as a disturbing perversion of copyright principles. Instead of providing a limited monopoly to creators to promote the flow of artistic works to the public, it’s become a practically limitless source of income to creators’ heirs–sometimes generations removed–and corporate rights holders.

“There’s no way a 95-year copyright term is an incentive for anyone to create anything,” says Dennis Karjala, a law professor at Arizona State who led the opposition to the Copyright Term Extension Act, the 1998 federal law known as the Sonny Bono Act after its chief promoter in Congress. The act set copyright duration at the author’s life plus 70 years, or 95 years after publication for works done for hire.

The act wasn’t aimed at encouraging artistic expression, Karjala says. It was pushed by corporate entities such as the Walt Disney Co., which would soon lose rights to the earliest films featuring Mickey Mouse. “They were all concerned about the cutoff of the royalty spigot,” Karjala says.

Rather than promote the flow of works into public view, copyright here and abroad has become a tool for keeping works out of the public domain.

11) How our microbiome (may) shape autism.  My guess is that microbes shape all sorts of aspects of human behavior that we don’t yet appreciate.

12) Are you hating Muslims?  Exactly what ISIS wants you to be doing.

Extremist groups feed off of alienation, some counterterrorism experts say, and Islamist militants deliberately aim to make Muslims in the West feel isolated and turn against their own communities.

13) Great piece on the research of NCSU professor Walt Wolfram on Southern accents.


14) Today’s college students really do approach college living with a different mindset.

Particularly in the way things have unfolded at Yale, students’ social-justice activism has been expressed, in part, as the need for care from authority figures. When they experience the hurt that motivates them to political action, they’re deeply disappointed with parental surrogates for not responding adequately or quickly enough to support and nurture them. The world in which it’s not bizarre for a young person to rebuke someone for failing to “create a place of comfort and home,” or to yell, “Be quiet … You’re disgusting!,” and storm away, is the world of family, where a child in pain desperately desires empathy and understanding from a parent. The online scorn heaped on the student who was filmed behaving this way represents an unproductive refusal to compassionately translate her behavior across the generational divide. In a piece called “Hurt at Home,” another Yale student wrote, “I feel my home is being threatened,” and contrasted her comforting relationship with her father to the care she felt students emphatically did not receive from the master of Silliman College. Yale tells its students that the residential college is their “home away from home,” but this generation might be the first to insist so literally on that idea.

15) With disgusting amounts of xenophobia on the loose, it’s also helpful to remember Japanese internment.

16) Drum on the anti-science leadership of the House Science Committee:

In any case, Smith is a disgrace, and it’s a disgrace that Republicans allow him to chair a committee on science. Smith’s view of science is simple: if it backs up his beliefs, it’s fine. If it doesn’t, it’s obviously fraudulent. This is the attitude that leads to defunding of climate research or banning research on guns. After all, there’s always the possibility that the results will be inconvenient, and in the world of Smith and his acolytes, that can’t be allowed to stand. Full speed ahead and science be damned.

17) The “quiet eye” and coordination in athletes.

18) Ezra Klein on how America only pretends to value moms.

19) Jonathan Cohn on the trouble Obamacare is facing with individual policies:

As HHS acknowledges, the remaining uninsured tend to be the hardest to reach. This includes those don’t qualify for subsidies or receive only modest assistance, and don’t find the insurance affordable or valuable. What’s more, people shopping for coverage on the exchanges are finding that the policies have high deductibles and limited physician networks. If insurers raise prices, the danger is that more and more people will decide such coverage is simply not worth buying — even if it means paying the penalties.

The Affordable Care Act has already accomplished a great deal — slashing the uninsured rateand providing millions with consumer protections like the guarantee of coverage regardless of preexisting conditions. But enrollment could stagnate.

So what would happen then? It’s impossible to be certain, but many experts think the subsidies would function as a built-in safeguard against a severe market collapse — “the news about United does not presage a death spiral,” Kingsdale said — because that financial assistance keeps coverage cheap for millions of lower- to middle-income people, even if insurers raise their premiums. The mandate would obviously make a big difference, too.

But the law’s architects and supporters had hoped enrollment would continue growing beyond where it is today, reaching more and more people and providing as great a benefit to the affluent middle class as to the working class and poor. If enrollment stalls, the law would still be helping millions of Americans, but it would also be coming up short of expectations.

20) On the easy and unearned virtue of hating “bad” things.

21) Jedediah Purdy on Bernie Sanders and the history of socialism.

22) Speaking of Bernie, anecdotally it was clear to me that my students strongly prefer him over Clinton.  Actual polling (and quality polling done by my colleague Mike Cobb) shows this to be very much the case.  Sadly, Ben Carson also leads among NCSU students.

23) So, back in my classic-rock-loving teen years, I listened plenty to Emerson, Lake, and Palmer (Karn Evil #9 being a particular favorite).  I was at a improv class performance for my oldest son at The Cary Theater and there was a sign for Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy tonight.  I mostly thought it was interesting, but not much more.  At 7:50, I checked recent set lists on-line and decided I had to go.  Made it by 8:05 before the show started.  Turns out the show was actually sold out, but somebody had turned in an extra ticket.  Pretty cool.  Great show.

24) Really nice longer read from HuffPol and Chronicle of Higher Education on money and college athletics.  Lots of cool statistics, too (such as the good news that students at my university have to pay very little to subsidize intercollegiate athletics– at some places it is a ridiculous amount).

Milennials against free speech

In general, I’m pretty comfortable with the idea that Millennials represent the future of our democracy.  Sometimes, though, I really worry.  Check out this chart from Pew:

U.S. Millennials More Likely to Support Censoring Offensive Statements About Minorities

Okay, at least 40% is still a minority, but that’s a disturbingly high number.  And this is not, “do you find this speech offensive,” “should people not say these things” or whatever, but literally, “the government should be able to prevent people from saying these things.”  Yeah, people shouldn’t be racist, but the idea of government literally forbidding such speech belongs in Soviet Russia, Saudi Arabia, etc., not America.  Ugh.

Photo of the day

Recent National Geographic photo of the day:

Picture of man rowing boat in Varanasi

Sunrise Sweep

Photograph by Razz Razalli

“I was lucky to visit Varanasi during the [bird] migration. Morning boat rides are the ultimate thing to do during this time,” opines photographer Razz Razalli, who was in India when he captured this flock sweeping over a rowboat at sunrise. “According to the locals, the birds arrive in November and leave at the end of February,” Razalli writes. The annual migration attracts tourists to Varanasi, and for a fee, boatmen take tourists onto the river for an up-close look at the flocks.


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