Photo of the day

From In Focus photos of the week:

The remains of a mid-16th century church known as the Temple of Santiago, as well as the Temple of Quechula, visible above the surface of the Grijalva River, which feeds the Nezahualcoyotl reservoir—low, due to the lack of rain near the town of Nueva Quechula, Mexico, on October 16, 2015. The temple, built by Dominican friars in the region inhabited by the Zoque people, was submerged in 1966 when the Nezahualcoyotl dam was built.

David von Blohn / AP

Why we don’t govern by public opinion polls, case MXXVI

Because somehow crime is always going up.  Gallup:



Government statistics show serious crime decreased nearly every year from 1994 through 2010. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, the overall violent crime rate for rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault fell from 80 victimizations per 1,000 persons in 1994 to 19 per 1,000 in 2010. In the first decade of that trend, public opinion followed. While 87% of Americans in 1993 said crime was up, this figure dropped to 41% in 2001. But the percentage perceiving more crime shot up again to 62% in 2002 — around the time of the Washington, D.C.-area sniper shootings — and has remained fairly high ever since, despite actual crime rates falling in most years.

Though serious crime did increase in 2011 and 2012, Americans’ perceptions of crime did not grow in subsequent polls, indicating that actual crime, as measured by federal crime statistics, has not strongly influenced the public’s perceptions of crime in recent years.

The post that explained the Benghazi hearings before the hearings

I meant to post this before the Benghazi hearings, but now that they’ve occurred and it’s quite clear that Hillary has suffered no damage from them and that they are probably a net plus, here is Greg Sargent explaining why:

Hillary Clinton will be testifying before the Select Committee on Benghazi on Thursday, and by the time she walks out of that hearing room, chances are that all the Republicans’ hopes of using this issue to bring Clinton down will be officially gone…

So what changed? McCarthy’s comments gave people in the media permission to talk about the committee in a different and more realistic way, one that accorded with what they already understood to be true. Before, the story was framed by Republican allegations about Clinton, but now the committee itself has become the issue. The operative question is no longer, “What is Hillary Clinton guilty of?”, because that has been asked and answered a thousand times. Whether you think she ought to be president or not, there’s simply no evidence that she committed any misdeeds before or after the Benghazi attack. The question is now, “What the heck is going on with this committee?” [emphasis mine]

Yep.  It’s all about media narrative.  And the media no longer has to play the facile “both sides” narrative on Benghazi.  And rail all you want about liberal media bias, there’s few things the media like more than piling on Hillary when they feel they can.  On Benghazi, they no longer feel they can.

Marriage is good policy

I was actually talking about marriage in my Gender & Politics class this week, so I was especially pleased to see this article in Wonkblog on the clear, empirical benefits of marriage.  What I think is most interesting about marriage is that much of the benefit for society basically comes from civilizing (uncivilized) young men:

It’s impossible to say for certain, from the research, whether higher marriage levels drive economic strength, or whether strong economies drive higher marriage levels. But the researchers say there is strong evidence that the two factors reinforce each other. [emphases mine] “There’s a reciprocal tie between strong families and strong economies,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, a University of Virginia sociologist with ties to AEI and the Institute for Family Studies, who was the lead author on the report. “That tie goes in both directions. There’s a connection between what goes on in the home and what’s happening in the larger marketplace.”

What might be behind those links? The researchers suggest it’s the effects of marriage on men – particularly younger, lower-educated men. They believe getting married and becoming a father motivate those men to work more hours, bargain for more money and make better strategic decisions — such as drinking less and not quitting a job before another one is lined up — to improve their earning power.

“Marriage does seem to encourage men to get their act together,” Wilcox said. “They have a sense of responsibility. Their parents, their in-laws, their spouse, their neighbors and friends, all these people in their lives are expecting them to be more responsible, and they expect themselves to be more responsible.”

The study finds labor-force participation is substantially higher among married men with children than it is among unmarried men without them.

His new report, co-authored by Robert I. Lerman and Joseph Price, finds large differences between states with relatively high and low levels of adults who are married with children. Being in the top 20 percent of those states, as opposed to the bottom 20 percent, correlates to having a state economy that is $1,451 larger per person, with a median family income that is $3,654 higher. It also correlates to a 10.5 percent improvement in the chances that a child of a low-income family will climb the economic ladder as an adult, and with a 13.2 percent decline in the child poverty rate.

The analysis controls for a variety of factors that might have the effect of making the marriage-economy link look stronger. Those include state tax rates and infrastructure spending, educational levels, race, age and violent crime.

I don’t think we should at all be demonizing single moms or people that don’t want to get married.  We certainly do not need more failed marriages.  But, policy-wise, I think it is in our interest to have policies that encourage stable marriages (don’t necessarily ask me what those policies are, but I think it is an appropriate goal for legislation).

The report drew praise from a Elisabeth Jacobs, senior director for policy and academic programs at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, an inequality-focused think tank. “Economic insecurity and wage stagnation for the bottom 90 percent of Americans are undoubtedly contributing to family instability,” she said. “A growing body of research, including the new study from Dr. Wilcox and his colleagues, supports the idea that policymakers need to view economic stability and family stability as part of a feedback loop.”

Marriage is good for society– let’s have more of it.  I’ve done my part for 21+ years (and think of how uncivilized I’d be without it!).


Another liberal arts college embarrassment

This time from Williams College.  Good on them for having a student group charged with actually bringing in conservative and divisive voices.  Alas, when they actually try and bring in those voices…

Williams College students invited Suzanne Venker, a writer and longtime critic of feminism, to speak Tuesday night but changed their minds and took back the invite for her talk, “One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back: Why Feminism Fails.”

Venker had been invited to participate in a student-run, alumni-funded speaking series at Williams called “Uncomfortable Learning.” The program’s purpose is to expose students to controversial voices and opinions they might not otherwise hear. Many of the speakers tend to be conservative or people whose views don’t square with those of most students.

The students who run the series decided to cancel the event, co-president Zach Wood explained, after its Facebook page began to attract acerbic comments and “things got a little out of hand.”

The page has since been deleted, but one comment, which Wood quotes in an article he posted, said, “When you bring a misogynistic, white supremacist men’s rights activist to campus in the name of ‘dialogue’ and ‘the other side,’ you are not only causing actual mental, social, psychological and physical harm to students, but you are also—paying—for the continued dispersal of violent ideologies that kill our black and brown (trans) femme sisters … you are dipping your hands in their blood, Zach Wood.” [emphasis mine]

Okay, sure just one comment.  But there was enough of this absurd nuttiness that they (unwisely, for my money) decided to cancel the speaker.  What a shame that this is what passes for logic at Williams.  My kids are pretty much surely going to public universities in the excellent UNC system, but I increasingly would have no interest in having them educated in one of America’s liberal arts colleges where absurd PC-liberalism (as opposed to actual liberalism, which encourages diverse voices) has truly run amok.

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