Photo of the day

Via John Dickerson’s FB feed, came across this set of very cool, extremely rare, color photography of Paris from over 100 years ago:


On love

Just read this about love.  Not a lot to say.  Just really good.  Hard to come up with a good excerpt though, just read it. Here’s the deal:

We kick-started the year with some of history’s most beautiful definitions of love. But timeless as their words might be, the poets and the philosophers have a way of escaping into the comfortable detachment of the abstract and the metaphysical, leaving open the question of what love really is on an unglamorously physical, bodily, neurobiological level — and how that might shape our experience of those lofty abstractions. That’s precisely what psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, who has been studying positive emotions for decades, explores in the unfortunately titled but otherwise excellent Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become (UKpublic library). Using both data from her own lab and ample citations of other studies, Fredrickson dissects the mechanisms of love to reveal both its mythologies and its practical mechanics…

Fredrickson zooms in on three key neurobiological players in the game of love — your brain, your levels of the hormone oxytocin, and your vagus nerve, which connects your brain to the rest of your body — and examines their interplay as the core mechanism of love, summing up:

Love is a momentary upwelling of three tightly interwoven events: first, a sharing of one or more positive emotions between you and another; second, a synchrony between your and the other person’s biochemistry and behaviors; and third, a reflected motive to invest in each other’s well-being that brings mutual care.

And, there’s this, of course:

Really obvious gun control legislation

Anybody honest about gun policy will admit that the assault weapons ban is mostly (though not all) for show.  It would make a tiny dent at most in gun deaths.  You really want to cut down on gun deaths, you need to cut down on the extraordinary amount of gun trafficking, both legal (i.e., private sale loophole for background checks) and illegal– straw buyers.  The fact that the NRA and assorted gun nuts opposes even these blindingly obvious steps as “the first step towards government confiscation of all firearms!” is what is so frustrating about all this.  Greg Sargent has a nice post on Democratic plans to have a straight up or down vote on simply cracking down on straw buyers:

But beyond that, there’s still another major provision of Obama’s gun package that also has a shot — and it will be introduced in Congress this week with bipartisan support.

I spoke this afternoon with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who will introduce a measure tomorrow or Wednesday, with GOP Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, that would impose much more serious penalties on so-called “straw purchasers” who currently get little more than a legal slap on the wrist for buying and reselling guns to those who fail background checks. Gillibrand believes this will be a very difficult proposal for Republicans to oppose, since it is designed only to target gun sales that are explicitly all about putting guns into the hands of those who presumably shouldn’t have them, having failed background checks.

“This piece is bipartisan already,” Gillibrand told me. “I think it has a great chance of success, because it doesn’t effect law abiding gun owners at all.”

Crucially, Gillibrand said she will be calling for a straight up or down vote juston this proposal. Just as a vote only on the universal background check piece would do, this will force Republicans — and red state Dems who are reportedly skittish about gun reform — to take a position directly on something that is only about keeping guns out of the hands of those who don’t have them. “Eighty five percent of weapons used in crimes in my state come from out of state and 90 percent of them are illegal,” Gillibrand said.

Pressed on whether the House GOP would really allow a vote on this provision, given GOP hostility to gun regulations, Gillibrand insisted it would, given that it should be a no brainer: “It’s a bill that can be significantly bipartisan.” She even said Kirk has been reaching out to some House Republicans to gauge support.

Safe to say if Republicans cannot bring themselves to defy the NRA and vote for this, there’s really no hope of any sensible gun policy whatsoever.  And to the gun nuts who would oppose such obviously sensible legislation– what the hell is wrong with you?!

I haven’t written about the new assault weapons ban proposal because I’m a slacker, but I think it will ultimately prove to be politically useful because it will allow various people to say they opposed new gun control by opposing it and allow Democrats to compromise by giving up on it while, hopefully, allowing more important legislation to go through.  From what I’ve read, the new ban is actually much smarter policy than the old one and would very likely actually save some lives.  Alas, far too many Americans love their AR-15’s more than they love other people’s children.

Video of the day

This is pure awesomeness:

On the immigration proposal

1) Wow.  Amazing what losing an election overwhelmingly among the fastest growing segment of the population can do to ideological purity.  Republicans are completely caving on this.  On the one hand, it bothers me that it is such naked electoral calculation.  On the other, however you get there, it’s clearly the right step policy-wise.  And nice to see that elections have consequences.

2) Sure, this is the Senate, and there may be some question as to whether the GOP House will go along.  But they will.  Please, Sean Hannity has already given his seal of approval out of fear of ever winning a national election again.  If Fox News is onboard with reform, which they will be, so will be plenty enough Republican legislators.

3) On that note, I like Chait’s post that the Republicans have basically adopted the agenda Krauthammer suggested right after the election– compromise on immigration and stay hard right on everything else.   Of course, Krauthammer is wrong.

4) Yglesias points out that even on some of the obvious bi-partisan low-hanging fruit, the outlines right now fall foolishly short.

 It will provide for automatic green cards to “immigrants who have received a PhD or Master’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university.”

If I have any big complaint, it’s that the bill is oddly timid on the less controversial high-skill piece. What’s the fear of America being overrun by foreign economists, lawyers, doctors, and other skilled professionals who don’t have STEM advanced degrees? For that matter, what’s wrong with foreign-born STEM workers who did their graduate work in the United Kingdom or Canada or France or India or Japan? And do skilled STEM workers really all have to have advanced degrees? Where’s Bill Gates’ PhD? I feel confident we can do better on this front.

When first reading this, I though, well, this would’ve sure helped my Canadian friends who struggled for years and years to get green cards despite the husband having a PhD in biochemistry and a career in pharmaceutical drug design.   Then I read Yglesias point and realized my friend’s PhD is actually from Simon Fraser in Canada.  As Yglesias points out– truly moronic.  We”ll take the PhD from Southwestern Arkansas but not the one from Oxford?

5) This may indeed help Republicans with Hispanic voters, but not nearly as much as they think.  First, I really think the issue is largely symbolic to Latinos.  As long as Republicans use rhetoric that demeans Hispanic immigrants and culture, regardless of the policy, Latinos will not support Republicans.  The GOP needs to clean up it’s way of thinking, not just change how it votes in Congress and state legislatures.  But beyond that, great post by Jamelle Bouie on the fact that Hispanics are simply far more liberal across today’s key issues than your average voter:

Latinos have been a reliable Democratic constituency for more than thirty years — Walter Mondale won 66 percent of Latinos, Michael Dukakis won 70 percent, and on average, Democratic presidential candidates finish with 63.5 percent support from Hispanic voters…

The reason is straightforward: Latinos are more liberal than the median voter. According to the most recent Pew poll on these questions (released last year), 75 percent of Hispanics say they support bigger government with more services, compared to 41 percent of the general population. Fifty-one percent say abortion should be legal, and 59 percent say “homosexuality should be accepted by society.” There just isn’t much appetite among Latinos for the traditional small government approach of the GOP. Comprehensive immigration reform may reduce hostility towards the Republican Party, but it won’t increase vote share.

I think those Mondale and Dukakis figures are really telling.  The truth is that GWB was quite an anomaly among national Republicans in his appeal to Latino voters that, given our bias towards recent history, makes it easy to forget the above facts.   Rubio would presumably be another anomaly.  But just that, an anomaly– not a start of a major new trend of Hispanic voters being truly available to the GOP.

On-line advertising fail

Been reading up on immigration.  Post coming soon.  But just had to comment on this absurd ad I just received:



Seriously?!  All the great algorithms now that keep showing me the DVD player I’ve got in my Amazon cart and haven’t pulled the trigger on (my wife has something to say about that, if she’s reading this), political websites, etc., and I get a horrible ad to meet local single girls.  I’m going to assume this is not targeted, but goes to all readers of this article, in which case 1) The Hill needs to re-think their advertising and 2) the single girls people need to re-think their advertising.  Dumb all around.

Photo of the day

National Geographic’s photo of the day, today.  All National Geographic photos of the day this month are on the “Animals” theme.  Lots of wonderful photos.  You should check them all out.

Picture of a family of alligators in Texas

Alligators, Texas

Photograph by Nuwan Samaranayake, Your Shot

This is a photograph of two baby alligators on the mother alligator’s head. The photograph was taken at Brazos Bend State Park in Texas. This nature park is well known for its huge alligator population.

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