Photo of the day

Given that I was just yesterday talking to my kids about various animal species’ abilities to recognize their own reflection in the mirror and how it relates to consciousness, this photo from National Geographic Found seems timely:

With claws bared, a kitten attacks its own mirrored reflection, 1964. Photograph by Walter Chandoha, National Geographic Creative

With claws bared, a kitten attacks its own mirrored reflection, 1964.PHOTOGRAPH BY WALTER CHANDOHA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

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My wife is part of a trend

Of highly-educated women having more babies.  This is kind of interesting:

ST_2015-05-07_childlessness-01

That’s us in the 3+, of course.  Brigid Shulte in Wonkblog:

But a new report by the Pew Research Center has found something surprising: more highly educated women in the United States are becoming mothers than ever before. And they’re having bigger families.

Childlessness among women age 40 to 44 is at its lowest point in a decade. And among the most highly educated — women with medical degrees or PhDs — the share of childless women has dropped from 35 percent in 1994 to 20 percent…

Not only are a greater share of educated women becoming mothers, they’re also having larger families than before. The share of mothers with at least a master’s degree who have just one child fell from 28 percent to 23 percent. While those having three or more children rose from 22 percent to 27 percent.

That said, the Greene family of four kids is becoming ever more rare:

So, what’s with educated women having more children?  There’s some speculation in the piece, but no answers:

The surprising findings could signal that as more women have become educated, workplaces are getting more used to accommodating working mothers, or that by delaying childbirth, older women have established their reputations as good workers and have more control over their schedules.

“If there are women benefitting from changing work policies, I’m guessing it would be highly educated women,” Livingston said, “And not women with less education.”

Which could explain why women with less education, who work in hourly jobs with little power or control over their schedules, are having fewer children.

But we don’t actually know.  Certainly, more research on this would be interesting.  As for 4+ kids… you should!

Jeb

So, if I were a responsible blogger, I’d have written up a nice post on Jeb.  Alas, I’m going to take the easy way out and mostly just share my recent Q&A with Colombia’s leading news magazine (extending my international reach to South America for the first time!).  Questions in italics

(1) Even if the Republican nomination is quite crammed, Mr. Bush has been in the first tier of Republican candidates from the beginning… Why is he one of the strongest runners from his party? And conversely, what could go wrong and who (or what) could defeat him in the GOP primaries?

Let’s be honest, the last name “Bush” goes a long way. Certainly, is a skilled and capable politician and the former governor of a populous and important state, but probably most importantly he has a built-in network of financial, strategic, and political support that is very advantageous. That said, he is very far from a lock and the safe bet is that somebody else will win the Republican nomination (the most likely contenders at this point seem to be Scott Walker and Marco Rubio). It seems that Bush may be aiming to be “acceptable” to the key facets of the Republican Party, without really inspiring a lot of fervent support– kind of the everybody’s #2 choice. That can be good enough to win, but also makes him vulnerable to opponents who are able to make a stronger connection with voters and activists.

(2) According to the last Pew Research Institute polls, the demographics of the United States are dramatically changing… How important would minorities be in Jeb Bush presidential bid? Would he focus on Latinos, as Mr. Obama did on African Americans 8 years ago?

Very important. Jeb Bush would not need to win the majority of Latinos, but to win a general election, he would need to garner support much closer to the level of his brother (in the 40’s) as compared to Mitt Romney’s recent performance (under 30). Bush seems fairly well positioned to do this compared to any other Republican except Rubio, but one must also wonder about just how alienated most Latinos have become from the Republican party in the 8 years since GW Bush. While Bush’s presumed relative strength with Latinos would help in a general election, it will do very little to help in Republican primaries.

(3) Mr. Jeb Bush has made a point by saying he’s not like his brother (and tellingly his logo doesn’t includes his family name)… Is he turning his back to “the family brand”? Could that change?

I see his last name as a double-edged sword. Most importantly, it gave him the many advantages I mentioned in the first part of the question, especially in terms of elite and financial support. On the other hand, neither his brother or father are particularly popular with the Tea Party conservative base of the Republican Party. Jeb Bush is never going to win over these voters as their first choice, but to win the primaries he probably needs to make him self at least “acceptable” to this key portion of the Republican electorate. To that end, he will not be emphasizing his family connections.

(4) In 2014 Jeb Bush said a GOP nominee should “lose the primary to win the general”, which sounds smart and describes quite well the inner dynamics of his party. But, can a centrist like him win the Republican without losing the center– as Mitt Romney in 2008?

Things have to break right for him with other top contenders under-performing, but given the crowded field, I don’t think he necessarily has to run that hard to the right. Furthermore, with the Republican Party having shifted so far to the right– and many primary opponents clearly to the right of Bush– he can actually come out looking more moderate than he actually is. Mitt Romney lost in 2008 because the economy was just good enough for a skilled incumbent to win– not because he had to go too far right to win the nomination. If Jeb Bush can win the nomination, he certainly has a decent chance in the general.

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And, as long as I’m at it, I’m going to mention two links that I think best assess Jeb’s status– Harry Enten at 538 at Seth Masket.  Short version– the invisible primary is well under way and Jeb is not exactly kicking butt.  It no sense has he “lost” the invisible primary, but he’s definitely under-performing compared to how past winning nominees have done.  Enten argues that Bush is still the “frontrunner” but that it is more likely than not that someone else will be the nominee.  Jeb certainly does have a fair share of advantages, but given the lack of enthusiasm he has generated thus far among potential supporters among endorsers and activists,  I’m fairly skeptical of his chances.  The fun part in coming months, though, is we’ll actually get to find out.

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