Quick hits (part II)

1) Stan Greenberg argues the future belongs to Democrats.

But the culture war ignited by Rove is a fire that requires ever more toxic fuel – it only works by raising fears of the moral and social Armageddon that would follow a Democratic victory.

The Republicans have, of course, won big numbers of seats at state level and inoff-year elections in the past decade. However, their conservative supporters, motivated by moral purpose, are now angry that Republican leaders have failed to stop Obama, particularly as the country, as they see it, tips into global and economic oblivion.

On the other hand, this intensifying battle for values has also left the Republicans with the oldest, most rural, most religiously observant, and most likely to be married white voters in the country. These trends have pushed states with large, growing metropolitan centres, such as Florida, Virginia and Colorado, over the blue Democratic wall, creating formidable odds against Republicans winning theelectoral college majority needed to win the presidency.

Encamped in the 20 states of the south, the Appalachian valley, parts of the plains states and Mountain West, conservatives have waged their culture wars to great effect. But those states account for only 25% of the voters. Success here turns Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz into plausible candidates – but not plausible presidents in a country that is past the new electoral tipping point. America will get to send that message 12 months from now.

2) My mom used to do facilitated communication with my severely autistic older brother.  She was absolutely convinced it works.  Alas, the science suggests otherwise.

3) Relative, not absolute, poverty is what matters to  most people and it’s way better in Scandinavian countries.

4) Not at all surprising (but nonetheless interesting) to learn just how nutty Ben Carson’s foreign policy adviser is.

5) I was never a regular viewer of the Daily Show– just Jon Stewart’s best clips that went viral.  That said, I find it quite interesting to see where Noah is not living up to Stewart’s legacy.

6) I did think this week’s Thursday NFL game looked a little weird.  Little did I realize what a disaster this was with red/green color-blindness.

7) Enjoyed Yglesias‘ thorough take on this week’s Republican debate.

8) Love this Connor Friedersdorf take on the intolerance of student activism.  Been meaning to write a post on it all week.  Oh well

9) And a great take from Bill Ayers— especially on the problem of a lack of clear goals:

Earlier today I likened the ongoing protests (some of which are occurring on my campus today, in solidarity with others) to a conflict. As a conflict scholar, the steps towards resolution are clear:

– Identify the essentials of the conflict. Who are the players? What are their interests, and what are they fighting about? What are the rules of the surrounding environment that shape how the conflict is conducted?

– Decide on the desired end goal. If the conflict were over, what would you want that to look like? What resolution do you seek, and what does that resolution look like for ALL of the actors involved?

– Evaluate and choose a strategy for achieving that goal. Can I get there through unilateral action, or do I need the cooperation of those with different views? Can I engineer a solution that meets my needs regardless of what the other side wants, or do I have to persuade others to join with me in a mutually-agreed settlement?

I don’t think we’ve yet had much clear thinking about any of these things. Conflicts often arise between aggrieved students and university administrators or faculty, which is an example of the lamppost fallacy: tackling what you can see, rather than going where the problem really is. The fundamental conflict is between members of minority groups (blacks, latinos, transgender, etc.) and members of the majority group who want to discriminate against and oppress them. [emphasis mine] If that is the core of the conflict, there is no unilateral solution – neither group can wipe the other out, both must continue to live in the same society together. The question is, how?


10) The wonderful world of streaming video isn’t really all the wonderful and will become less so.  And on a related note, Netflix is no longer so interested in it’s DVD back catalog.  This is a problem (I’ve been on “very long wait” for “Aliens” for half a year.  I’m just going to buy it).

11) It’s always been kind of amazing how GWB essentially took no blame for 9/11.  Now some more research on all the dire warnings his administration ignored.  Chait:

Chris Whipple’s revelations about the CIA’s urgent, ignored pleas to focus on the threat from Al Qaeda before 9/11 flesh out an increasingly consistent portrait drawn byKurt Eichenwald and other reporters. A broad and consistent body of evidence had persuaded intelligence officials that Al Qaeda was poised to carry out a devastating attack against the United States. It was not just the famous August memo, “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.” — the one Bush dismissed at the time as ass-covering — but a much longer and more desperate campaign to wake up Bush’s inner circle. Whipple reports, “Months earlier, starting in the spring of 2001, the CIA repeatedly and urgently began to warn the White House that an attack was coming.”

But the Bush White House was dominated by neoconservatives, who were ideologically fixated on the threat posed by states and dismissed the threat of non-state actors…

In retrospect, Bush’s ability to portray himself to America as a committed and triumphant vanquisher of terrorism rested almost entirely on emotional manipulation. Bush standing on the rubble at Ground Zero; Bush throwing a strike at Yankee Stadium before a cheering crowd; Bush landing on an aircraft carrier — it was all brilliant political theater. And it supported a conclusion 180 degrees from reality. Of the manifold failures the Bush administration wrought, its handling of the terrorist threat should rank as the worst.

12) Women are better-suited to the modern workplace.

13) A great lesson in how to abuse intellectual property law.  Now that the copyright for Diary of Anne Frank is expiring, the owners of the copyright are saying that Anne Frank’s father was a co-author in an effort to extend the copyright.

14) Graeme Wood’s great Atlantic article on Isis from this past spring is definitely required reading now.

15) Nice column from Frank Bruni on every shameless pundit (eg., Gingrich, Coulter, etc.) trying to use the France attack to further their own unrelated political agenda.  (And for what it’s worth, if concert-goers had been packing heat and started firing back at the terrorists–presumably not exactly easy in a crowded theater– they would’ve just blown themselves up sooner).

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

11 Responses to Quick hits (part II)

  1. Jon K says:

    #8: “In her view, students would be better served if colleges showed more faith in their capacity to work things out themselves, which would help them to develop cognitive skills.”

    this is my view as well, and it’s not just colleges who have this problem. it is pervasive and it starts as soon as kids are now brought home from the hospital.

    I have mentioned before that my sister and I both walked to school – by ourselves and across several streets – from the age of 5 onward. We weren’t alone either. Just about all the kids at my elementary school walked – by themselves – a couple of blocks to school every day. This was in spite of the fact that a decade earlier a serial killer had murdered a boy in my neighborhood. That serial killer also happened to be an assistant scout master in the very boy scout troop I eventually joined. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Joubert_%28serial_killer%29

    Fast forward 20 years and my sister won’t let her 5 year old out of her sight. We don’t allow kids to play unsupervised anymore, and if by chance they somehow get to play unsupervised we expect them to tattle if anyone does anything at all that hurts anyone’s feelings. This is contrary to my experience growing up. Tattling was universally derided by both kids and adults. We were expected to work out things for ourselves – that’s called developing social skills and a thicker skin. There were times I can remember being bullied, and I can even remember crying about it to my parents. At no point did they ever consider contacting the school, the other child’s parents, or any other third party. They didn’t really intervene at all (other than to let me know they loved me and knew things would eventually work out). In hindsight I am so glad they had this response. I learned to have a thicker skin, disregard judgments from others who I had no reason to respect, and most importantly learned that some people in this world are not going to treat me nicely and I better know how to deal with it when it happens. Apparently we have decided not to do that anymore.

    It is sad that a very small number of kids are so upset by bullying that they do something drastic like kill themselves or hurt other people. Those kids are tragic outliers and do not justify the drastic response that has taken place. In our desire to shield every kid from every mean person we are not letting kids learn about how the real world operates. This leads to kids who can’t handle ideas and situations that make them slightly uncomfortable, and this leads to PC liberalism which is really PC totalitarianism. C.S. Lewis said something that strikes me as appropriate for this discussion:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

    • Steve Greene says:

      Mostly just freaked out by your connection to the serial killer. I feel like surely there’s a happy medium regards child safety, bullying, etc., but we’re not finding it.

      • Jon K says:

        yeah i can remember the hoopla when he was executed in 1996. that was a couple of years before I moved away from Bellevue, Nebraska. Our scoutmasters always used to get a kick out of bringing up the fact that he was a scout leader in our troop. One of the boys was kidnapped off of his bike about 1/2 mile from where we lived. The guy was a deranged airman stationed at Offutt Air Force Base – where my dad worked at the time in the same building that the Enola Gay was built. Isn’t it weird how people get tangentially connected to people and events….

  2. rgbact says:

    Stan Greenberg…..another Democrat looking at landslide midterm losses and a cratering Hillary…..and sees nothing but great news for Democrats! But hey, we’re killing it in NYC and SanFran!! This is what happens when you never leave your bubble.

    • Jon K says:

      Nope, it’s the difference between national and state elections. In non national elections republicans benefit from being spread out in rural areas. They have also been good at drawing districts that benefit republicans. In a national election the republicans lose that advantage. Look at the electoral college scenarios. They’re not good for the GOP.

      • Jon K says:

        and i’m not sure where you see a ‘cratering’ hillary? i was just seeing stories last week about how she has the nomination all but mathematically locked up.

      • rgbact says:

        Fine. Point is, she’s way down from her “inevitable” levels, and it will be close election—if the economy doesn’t plummet. If a recession hits….she’s toast. So it seems a bit delusional for some consultant to see all this and the local election losses and write “its all in the bag for Democrats” columns.

        To your other point, there’s current;y 32 GOP governors, and they didn’t benefit from gerrymandering. As for the electoral college (that relic that liberals wanted to scrap), yes, Republicans probably have to win popular by almost 1% to win EC, due to too many voters being more clustered in non-swing states. So, that is indeed an advantage.

      • Jon K says:

        If the GOP nominates Trump, Carson, or Cruz there is no way the election will be close. If the nominee pushes to far to the right on an important issue like immigration there is no way the election will be close. I’ve never voted for a democrat, but I am pretty sure that I will be this time. I know I’m not alone in that. Most of the republicans I know are not willing to vote for tea party candidates. I personally know at least 15 lifelong republican voters who are seriously concerned to the point they are thinking about voting for Hillary.

        Personally I hope the GOP nominates Carson or Cruz. The GOP needs to relearn the lesson that they learned after they nominated Barry Goldwater. I’m so tired of hearing that republicans didn’t win because they didn’t put up someone conservative enough. Perhaps this is the year we can finally put that nonsense to bed and bring back sanity to the party.

        Maybe then we will quit pretending that cutting taxes will increase revenues for the federal government. Maybe then we will realize that we need hispanic voters to win national elections. Maybe then we will realize that we can’t get rid of Obamacare without a reasonable replacement. Maybe then we will realize that compromise is necessary and important.

        I have never voted for a democrat in my life. I spent so many hours making phone calls to get Romney and McCain elected it could have been a part time job. Unless a miracle takes place and Kasich catches on I will be voting for Hillary.

      • rgbact says:

        Meh, I’m pretty right wing and am also frightened at the prospects of Trump and Carson. That said, if you vote for Hillary over Rubio/Christie/Jeb/Kasich/Fiorina/Cruz…..then you should just admit you’re a Democrat. RINO’s that spend far more time bashing our side than Democrats, would be better off as Democrats anyway.

      • Jon K says:

        all of them except kasich have stated they want to take away my health insurance – my narcoplepsy costs over 100k to treat a year – and replace it with nothing. That’s an automatic disqualifer for me. Also Cruz is Joe McCarthy of modern times, and nobody likes him in the Senate.
        Ted Cruz has been branded a “wacko bird” by a Senate colleague and a “jackass” by the former speaker of the House. A GOP consultant labeled him a show horse, and a strategist for a rival presidential campaign called him the Mitt Romney of 2016 — the Republican no other Republican can stand.
        The list of GOP politicians and operatives willing to take open shots at Cruz has grown long: Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, former House speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio), Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), fellow Texas Sen. John Cornyn, Sen. John Thune (S.D.), former senator Tom Coburn (Okla.) — and on and on.


  3. Mika says:

    #3 Just between us, Finland isn’t a Scandinavian country, but we usually let foreigners think so because it separates us from Russia 🙂

    #13 My first thought was that Anne Frank’s diary should be copyrighted forever. The other day I was watching this one great British comedy show, Psychobitches. It features a psychiatrist whose clients include well known women from Eve to Nancy Spungen. When Mother Theresa visited the psychiatrist, swore, drank some sort of alcoholic beverage, smoked cigarettes and talked about how much she hated India, I was laughing all the time. But not the other day when Anne Frank came to visit the psychiatrist. Now they went too far I thought to myself. I feel for her.

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