My favorite part of this Jon Stewart takedown of Fox News is how amazingly disrespectful the Fox blowhards (especially Karl Rove) are while complaining about Obama being disrespectful.

[hulu http://www.hulu.com/watch/691892 start_time=205]

Chart of the day

I was using this great Vox post for my campaign finance lecture, when I came across this disturbing chart:

I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize it was this bad.  This is horrible.  This is just no way to run any kind of government.  I did know about the pathetic pay for NC legislators, but I didn’t realize the national average was so iinappropriatelylow.  The idea behind this is that we want ordinary citizen legislators.  Here’s the thing though– ordinary citizens cannot do what is basically a full-time, if not more, job for 10 or 20K a year.  You know who can?  Rich people.  And old retired people.  This horribly skews the representation in our state legislators.  Not to mention, being a state legislator is deadly serious business.  We expect these people to create a budget, education guidelines, prison decisions, health care policy, how the environment will be regulated, etc., and we only want to pay them $28,ooo a year on average?!  Utterly absurd.  CA, NY, MI, and PA have it right.  Most of the country– especially the South, of course– really needs to catch up.

Something is missing here

I did not read this entire article on how Columbia University deals with rape because I honestly found it a little long and redundant, but when I skimmed to the end, I noticed that something was missing– the police!  So, I did a search and the word is not in there.  Either is “law enforcement.”  What?!  How do you write an entire many-thousand word article about sexual assault victims without even mentioning the police.  To put the whole onus on a university to solve this problem seems crazy to me.  I don’t want to diminish the gravity of the crimes or the suffering of the victims, but universities do not exist to adjudicate guilt and non-guilt in cases of sexual assault– that is for the criminal justice system.  And I think things go awry when we expect otherwise.

Quick hits

I don’t know if I’ve lowered my bar for quick hits inclusion or I’m just finding more good stuff, but I’ve had a bunch lately.  As long as y’all enjoy and there’s no complaints, I’ll keep at it:

1) Why is it so hard to just die at home?  Because financial incentives for many push otherwise.  We were lucky that my mom died at home, but only because we were able to afford extensive home care at the end.  Great read of one family’s sad tale.  Goes along great with Zeke Emmanuel’s terrific essay on why he wants to die at 75 (if you follow and read one link this weekend, this should be it).

2) Jim Hunt with a nice N&O Op-Ed with how we really need to treat teachers policy-wise in this state.  And on the topic of NC schools, how about this pretty sneaky way for Republicans to cut their budgets.

3) Loved this blog post on how the ideology and smell study went from marginal finding to media catnip.

4) Ever stuck in a corn maze?  Ken’s Korny Korn Maze is huge.  Average group takes 90 minutes to get out.  But not if you use this technique (we did).

5) Seth Masket with a nice “why not Joe Biden” post:

The answer is in some ways much simpler: Biden isn’t doing well in presidential polls because almost no one of consequence in the Democratic Party, other than Biden, is talking seriously about his presidential prospects…

It seems fair to say that the party isn’t seriously considering him for the presidency in 2016 because it’s already considered him twice before and, for any number of reasons, found him wanting.

6) Democracy ain’t so great for poor people.

7) Americans say they want bipartisanship, but do they really?  Of course not.

8) So many of Rebecca Schulan’s Slate columns about Higher Ed drive me crazy.  Nice to see I am not alone.

9) Why political scientists should predict things.

10) You are probably not interested in the social science on college course evaluations.  But if you are, this is quite the impressive and interesting piece of work.

11) The sub headline refers to the “surprising” fact that religion does not make you more moral.  Color me unsurprised.

12) Somehow I just came across this great Michael Pollan essay from 2003 comparing current corn-based agribusiness to the 1800’s alcohol-soaked America.

13) I am a fast reader.  But slow for a college professor.  According to this.

14) Enjoyed this post from a friend and NCSU bio-ethics professor about the woman imprisoned for providing the abortion pill to her daughter.

15) One could do whole blogs (and I’m sure people do) keeping up with the inanity from Fox news.  But I enjoy how this story also covers the inanity of a Colorado school board.

16) John Oliver on the Miss America Pageant’s bogus scholarships.  A must watch if you haven’t seen this yet.

History as politics

When you define and explain history you are framing things in such a way as to favor particular political solutions for current problems.  That’s exactly what John Locke Foundaton (an Art Pope thinktank) president, John Hood, has done in an N&O Op-Ed.  His basic argument is that NC isn’t so special and the story that liberals tell and that despite our public investment in higher ed, technology, etc., our per capita economic growth is nothing special compared with our neighbors.  Therefore, it is time to unleash the policies of the present GOP lot in Raleigh.

Nobody knows more about the political history of NC than the N&O’s Rob Christensen and he says Hood is wrong:

Hood’s argument is that North Carolina’s reputation as a leader in the South is overblown, or as he puts it, the idea of North Carolina Exceptionalism is “a fairy tale.”

Hood bases his assertion on statistics showing that North Carolina’s GDP between 1963 and 2010 grew only at the average of the rest of the South, and behind the national average. When adjusted for population, Hood says, North Carolina looks worse.

So Hood’s implicit argument – although he didn’t quite belly up to the bar to say it – is that North Carolina was wasting its money in building one of the nation’s great university systems, one of the best community college systems and one of the most extensive road systems, and in trying to be a leader in the arts.

If you are arguing for fundamental change, you are obligated to make the case that what has gone before is not working.

Even better than Christensen, though, I think Thomas Mills really nails it:

And that’s the problem with John’s analysis. While we may not have significantly exceeded our neighbors’ GDP or per capita income, the benefits were distributed much more evenly. As Irwin notes, “The rubber-meets-road measure of whether the economy is working for the mass of Americans is median real income and related measures of how much money is making its way into their pockets and what they can buy with that money.”

Using those measures, we have consistently and substantially outpaced our neighbors. Our median income has been higher for decades until the economic crash. On almost every quality of life measure, our families have fared better. That’s because of the political choices our leaders have made…

So if the most important measure of prosperity is the rate of economic growth, then we’ve not done substantially better than our Southern neighbors. If the most important measures are the strength of the middle class and health and welfare of our citizens, we’ve done significantly better.

Yep.  I’ll take a great university system and higher quality of life and opportunities for the average citizen over rich people in my state being even richer.  Alas, our current “leaders” don’t see it this way.

Photo of the day

I’m not much for beer, but I am proud of my German ancestry (both my mom’s parents emigrated independently of each other in the early 1930’s) so here’s one from an In Focus Oktoberfest gallery:

People enjoy a festival ride in front of St. Paul’s church at Oktoberfest 2014 on September 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Chart of the day– where’s the racism

Say what you will about racism in society at large (the evidence for its persistence is pervasive and compelling), but whatever the case there, the obvious precense of racism in our criminal justice system seems pretty hard to ignore.  Unless you are Republican, apparently.  Via Drum:

But I want to play partisan hack today and just focus on the far left bar, which shows that Republicans are far less likely than Democrats to think that blacks don’t get a fair shake from the criminal justice system. At first glance, you might figure that’s just demographics at work. Republicans are heavily white and old, and those two groups are the ones least likely to think blacks are treated unfairly.

Wow.  Drum puts this all on the right-wing media.  I don’t know, but makes as much sense as anything else.  Reality, of course, tells a different story.  (But who needs data when you just know).   On the bright side, even Republicans are increasingly likely to perceive the racism that exists.  Here’s hoping this uptick is not just a blip.

A venture capitalist on trickle-down economics

This is just awesome (thanks John F):

Economic prosperity doesn’t trickle down, and neither does civic prosperity. Both are middle-out phenomena. When workers earn enough from one job to live on, they are far more likely to be contributors to civic prosperity — in your community. Parents who need only one job, not two or three to get by, can be available to help their kids with homework and keep them out of trouble — in your school. They can look out for you and your neighbors, volunteer, and contribute — in your school and church. Our prosperity does not all come home in our paycheck. Living in a community of people who are paid enough to contribute to your community, rather than require its help, may be more important than your salary. Prosperity and poverty are like viruses. They infect us all — for good or ill.

An economic arrangement that pays a Wall Street worker tens of millions of dollars per year to do high-frequency trading and pays just tens of thousands to workers who grow or serve our food, build our homes, educate our children, or risk their lives to protect us isn’t an expression of the true value or economic necessity of these jobs. It simply reflects a difference in bargaining power and status.

We’re undeniably becoming a more unequal society — in incomes and in opportunity.

Inclusive economies always outperform and outlast plutocracies. That’s why investments in the middle class work, and tax breaks for the rich don’t. The oldest and most important conflict in human societies is the battle over the concentration of wealth and power. Those at the top will forever tell those at the bottom that our respective positions are righteous and good for all. Historically we called that divine right. Today we have trickle-down economics.  [emphasis mine]

The whole thing throws in lots of good stuff about the minimum wage, but I really loved that part.

The decline of marriage

Nice piece in the Upshot looking at the latest data on demography and marriage.

Of all the milestones on the road to adulthood, Americans are increasingly forgoing one of the biggest: marriage.

Twenty percent of adults older than 25, about 42 million people, have never married, up from 9 percent in 1960, according to data in a Pew Research Center report published Wednesday.

The trend has been consistent for decades. Since 1970, each group of young adults has been less likely to marry than the previous generation. Although part of the trend can be attributed to the fact that people are simply marrying older, Pew projects that a quarter of today’s young adults will have never married by 2030, which would be the highest share in modern history…

Educated, high-income people are still marrying at high rates and tending to stay married, according to economists and demographers who study the issue. Remaining unmarried is more common among the less educated, blacks and the young, Pew found.

I’m sure there’s lots of reasons that marriage has increasingly become the domain of the better educated with higher incomes, but this bit just struck me wrong:

And as modern marriages have become more about love than about survival, it has become an indulgence that is easier for well-off people to take advantage of, said Justin Wolfers, an economist who writes for the Upshot and has studied marriage and divorce. The benefits of sharing passions are more likely to accrue to people who have the time and money to invest in them, he said.

Really?  For one, I’m not sure how much of a marriage about love is necessarily based on “sharing passions” that couples “invest” in.  I don’t exactly have any data here, but when I think of the happily married, high SES couples I know, it’s not about investing time and money in shared passions (other than the shared passion of child-rearing).  I would happily be disproved on this, but this is the Upshot– give me data damnit.

I might as well conclude by beating a dead horse I have before (as someone who got married three weeks after graduating from college):

Though marriage was once a steppingstone to economic stability, young adults now see financial stability as a prerequisite for marriage. More than a quarter of those who say they want to marry someday say they haven’t yet because they are not financially prepared, according to Pew.

Just get married to the right person already and make a life together.  Overcome young adulthood’s challenges together– it’s much better as a team.  Get more financially stable by sharing those financial burdens with another person.  Okay, I’m just old school on this.  Honestly, people should get married when it’s right for them, but I do think too many young people have become convinced that it is not right until they are financially independent and established despite the lack of any evidence that this is what makes the time right.

Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s Animal photos of the week:

A Miss China contestant plays with whale shark at the world's biggest marine theme park, the Changlong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai, China

A Miss China contestant plays with whale shark at the world’s biggest marine theme park, the Changlong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai, ChinaPicture: Top Photo / Barcroft Media

Police impunity

Terrific Jamelle Bouie post on the police shooting in Ohio:

In Ritchie’s account of the event, Crawford “was just waving [the gun] at children and people. … I couldn’t hear anything that he was saying. I’m thinking that he is either going to rob the place or he’s there to shoot somebody.” Moreover, said Ritchie, “He didn’t really want to be looked at, and when people did look at him, he was pointing the gun at them. He was pointing at people. Children walking by.” Indeed, on the emergency call, Ritchie said that Crawford was trying to load the gun, leading dispatchers to tell officers that “he just put some bullets inside.”

The problem is that isn’t true. In surveillance footage, there are no people in the aisle or children walking by—Crawford is alone, on a phone. He has a gun by his side, but as we later learned, it was an unloaded air rifle. What’s more, Ohio is an open-carry state—legally, there’s no reason to approach Crawford if he isn’t using the gun to harm people. Which he wasn’t.

Police say they called out to Crawford before they shot, but the footage throws doubt on the claim. In the video, there’s no indication Crawford heard police commands before they shot him—police rush from the side and shoot, and Crawford falls to the ground. He tries to get away, but police corner and arrest him. He died later, at a nearby hospital.

And is so often the case, what’s horrible is not what’s illegal and happening, but the horrible things that happen that are deemed legal:

In a sense, the real scandal isn’t that police killed Crawford—it’s what police can get away with in the use of lethal force. The answer, by and large, is everything. [emphasis mine] And for communities that face the brunt of official violence, it feels as if—when it comes to police—they are outside the protection of the law.

One thing I haven’t seen addressed and would really like to, is the legal culpability of this Richie fellow who apparently called 911 and told all sorts of threatening and false information about Crawford’s behavior.  It is safe to assume that the police would never have come in guns blazing without that guy.  Let’s get him locked up and put on trial.  Of course, the police still should not be coming in guns blazing to a guy who clearly, visually, presents no active threat.



No, not that kind.  I really enjoyed this Post article on how baseball fandom in the DC area has changed dramatically with the addition of the Washington Nationals a decade ago.  I grew up an Orioles fan and to the extend I am still a baseball fan (not much at all, actually) I am still an Orioles fan. The Nationals mean no more to me than the Florida Marlins.  Of course, I’ve not lived in the DC area since the Nationals came to town, so it’s really not a fair comparison in my case.  That said, I’m quite confident that if I still lived in Springfield, VA, I’d be an Orioles fan.  How do you just give up on/replace the team you grew up pulling for?!

I do wonder how many of the Nationals fans are converted Orioles fans and how many are immigrants to the area and how many were fans of other distant MLB teams.  The interactive version of the map below shows the interesting geographic breakdown:

My boyhood home of 22152 prefers the Nationals over the Orioles 87% to 13%.  I would be in the 13 if I were still there.

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