Scenes from a Trump rally

From Molly Ball.  Depressing and scary:

Four months into his crazed foray into presidential politics, Trump is still winning this thing. And what could once be dismissed as a larkish piece of political performance art has seemingly turned into something darker. Pundits, even conservative ones, say that Trump resembles a fascist. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris, which some hoped would expose Trump’s shallowness, have instead strengthened him by intensifying people’s anger and fear. Trump hasfalsely claimed that thousands of Muslims cheered the 9/11 attacks from rooftops in New Jersey; he has declined to rule out a national database of Muslims. The other day, a reporter asked Trump if the things he was proposing weren’t just like what the Nazis did to the Jews. Trump replied, “You tell me.” …

They seem so nice, your friends and neighbors. Your fellow Americans.

“In today’s time, if I’m a white person who’s proud to be white, I’m a racist,” says 44-year-old Kevin Stubbs, a land surveyor who shared his Marlboro Reds with an African American T-shirt vender on the way in. “Yet a minority can say that.”

“I do not feel safe,” says his fiancee, Loree Ballenberger, 42. “People are coming in across the border, and we have no idea where they are coming from.” She recently called her congressman to urge him to vote for a bill limiting Syrian refugees.

“I remember seeing Muslims around the world celebrating after 9/11,” says Chip Matthews, a 63-year-old retired carpentry teacher in glasses with tinted lenses. So what if it was the Mideast and not New Jersey? “The basic point, I think, is true,” he says.

“I look at the pictures of those refugees and they all look like able-bodied young men, 18 to 30 years old,” says his wife, Patrice Matthews, a 62-year-old retired school-district worker. Matthews doesn’t see why we have to be the ones to help these people. “It’s their country—they need to take it back,” she says.

I hear versions of the point about able-bodied young men from five different people. I hear, over and over again, that illegal immigration is the biggest problem we face. Almost everyone says their second-choice candidate is Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas; many express a wish that he and Trump would run on the same ticket.

Barnhill, the man with the “balls” button, says, “Like he says, people have got to abide by the law. And unfortunately, a lot of minorities don’t.”

Jay Alter, a 49-year-old computer programmer in a tweed blazer, is here with his 15-year-old son. “Just because he thinks illegal immigrants and terrorists should be deported doesn’t make him a racist,” he says. “He’s calling it as it is. You’ll never see CNN do that.” …

“I’m against the anchor babies, and I’m against the Muslims,” says Kathy Parker, a tiny former elementary-school teacher with gold hoop earrings. [Ed: Omg– to think she was teaching children!] “We can’t have churches in their countries—why should they have mosques in ours? He is the only one with the guts to speak out and say it.”

“We’re just tired of paying for people who don’t deserve to be here,” says Nina Lewis, a blue-eyed 33-year-old former sheriff’s deputy who is going back to school to be a veterinary technician. [Ed: Glad she’s no longer in law enforcement!] She has brought a giant handmade sign that says “TRUMP: FOR THE VOICE OF THE AMERICAN WORKING CLASS CITIZENS.” “He stands up for the blue-collar people everywhere. He speaks for us,” she says. There is no one else she would vote for.

Of course, this is actually nothing new.  Such sentiments are sadly always lurking in the dark hearts of our neighbors.  What is new is how damn successful Trump has been in tapping into this sentiments.

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And, the case for Trump… again

Ezra Klein interviewed Alan Abramowitz and gave him a chance to respond to Nate Silver’s critique.  Some highlights:

[Abramowitz] I saw what Nate Silver posted on FiveThirtyEight, and what he’s saying is reasonable based on the history of these presidential nominations, but there are a couple things I think are different this year.

Silver makes the case that the polls at this point don’t necessarily mean much, and you can get big swings in voter preferences in relatively short periods of time. And that’s true. What I think is different is Republicans are tuned in to a much greater degree than they were at this point in previous nomination contests. You can see that in polling when you ask whether voters are paying attention, and you can see that in ratings for the debates. The idea that voters aren’t tuned in yet and won’t make up their minds till January or later may not prove as true as it has in the past.

Because of the higher level of interest and attention this year, these early polls may be more predictive of what’s likely to happen.

The second point is Trump isn’t only leading in national polling. He’s leading in every state poll I’ve seen. He seems to be ahead in Iowa, in New Hampshire, in South Carolina, Nevada…

There have been very clear signals already from the Republican establishment, from Fox News, from conservative pundits — it’s been clear they think this is really bad for the Republican Party, but it hasn’t worked so far.

There have been repeated moments when Trump said something outrageous and there were predictions that this is the beginning of the end of Trump, and then he does better. This goes all the way back to his attacks on John McCain’s war record and his sexist attacks on Megyn Kelly. These things don’t seem to hurt him. Among his supporters, they take that as a sign that this is a guy who speaks his mind, says a lot of things they agree with — and besides which, who do you trust, Donald Trump or the mainstream media that is telling you he’s lying?

Abramowitz makes a strong case not that Trump will be the nominee, but that we should definitely take the possibility seriously.  I think he’s right.  And here’s some fun food-for-thought (also via Vox):

1) If the field narrowed to just Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, Trump would crush Rubio 57-43

 Economist/YouGov

One way of downplaying Trump’s persistent dominance in the polls is to suggest his 20-30 percent is a ceiling, not a floor. Nate Silver, for instance, wrote that Trump “has 25 to 30 percent of the vote in polls among the roughly 25 percent of Americans who identify as Republican. (That’s something like 6 to 8 percent of the electorate overall, or about the same share of people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.)”

The idea here is that Trump’s lead represents a fractured field: As weaker candidates drop out and the establishment consolidates around a single anti-Trump, that candidate will pass Trump in support even if Trump holds his current numbers.

But in a head-to-head matchup among Republican voters, Trump beats Rubio 57-43. That suggests that Trump’s ceiling, at least among Republicans, is far above his current 25 to 30 percent, and he may well benefit as weaker candidates drop out.

Only in America.  Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

A history lesson

So, some really cool research tells us what we’ve always known, but puts some great quantitative analysis.  The Democrats eventually lost the Republican party to the South over white racism.  Drum has a nice summary:

But a couple of researchers recently found some: Gallup poll data starting in the late 50s that asks if you’d be willing to vote for a qualified presidential candidate who happened to be black. Respondents who answered no were coded (quite reasonably) as racially conservative. They then looked at differences between the Democratic Party ID of Southern whites who were and weren’t racially conservative. Here’s their conclusion:

We find that except for issues involving racial integration and discrimination, whites in the South and elsewhere have indistinguishable preferences on both domestic and foreign policy in the 1950s….We find no evidence that white Southerners who have negative views of women, Catholics or Jews differentially leave the Democratic party in 1963; the exodus is specific to those who are racially conservative. Finally, we
find no role for Southern economic development in explaining dealignment.

So: why did Democrats lose the white South? For the reason common sense and all the evidence suggests: because the party became too liberal on civil rights, and racist white Southerners didn’t like it. Southern white flight from the party began in the 1940s, took a sharp dive in the early 60s, and continued to decline for several decades after as Democrats became ever more committed to black equality. This might not be the only reason for Southern realignment, but it’s surely the most important by a long stretch. [emphasis mine]

For more on both this study and the Southern Strategy of the Nixon era, Wonkblog’s Max Ehrenfreund has you covered.

So, does this mean all white Southern Republicans are racist?  Of course not.  Does it mean that white racism and racial resentment played a critical role in the South realigning from solidly Democratic to solidly Republican?  Absolutely.

 

What about the police shootings that aren’t on video

Hopefully you’ve heard the latest on the recently released video of a many getting killed in pretty much cold blood by a police officer who is now charged with murder.  Rather disturbing that this incident actually occurred 15 months ago and we are just now getting the video released and murder charges.  It’s not particularly complicated.  The fact that the cop will now face 1st degree murder charges is a good and appropriate thing.

That said, I can’t help but think does anybody doubt for a second that he would be facing no punishment at all if this had not been caught on a dashcam?  None of the other seven officers at the scene fired a shot.  But I also did not read anywhere that any of these other officers had originally reported that their colleague acted inappropriately.  No, video of police is not a panacea to solve all of our problems.  But it is pretty clear that in at least some situations it is the only way we will get actual accountability.

Photo of the day

love this shot and reading about how much work it took to get it.  From a recent Telegraph pictures of the day gallery:

Alan McFadyen has taken 720,000 pictures of kingfishers diving trying to get the perfect picture. A dad-of-three inspired by visits to an idyllic countryside spot to watch kingfishers as a boy with his grandfather spent SIX YEARS and took three quarters of a million photos trying to get the perfect shot in memory of his late relative. Alan McFadyen, 46, was taken as a young boy by his grandfather Robert Murray to see the kingfisher nesting spot at the beautiful lakeside location near Kirkcudbright, Scotland, 40 years ago.

Alan McFadyen has spent six years and taken 720,000 photos attempting to take the perfect shot of a kingfisher diving. As a young boy Alan was taken by his grandfather Robert Murray to see the nesting spot beside the beautiful lakeside location near Kirkcudbright, Scotland, 40 years ago.Picture: Alan McFadyen/Mercury Press

Why do we punish drug users?

Seriously.  Really interesting NYT Q&A with a philosophy professor making a strong case for why we should not punish drug users (a positions with which, of course, I strongly agree).  Some highlights:

Douglas Husak: I’d go much further, at least regarding penalties for drug use. I think it’s a serious moral wrong to send people to prison for the recreational use of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. What we need is a total decriminalization of drug use.

G.G.: What leads you to that conclusion?

 D.H:  Everyone agrees it is seriously unjust to punish people in the absence of very good reasons to do so.  But the case in favor of punishing people for using drugs has never been made.

G.G.: I suppose popular thinking is roughly that punishment is a good way to deter people from doing something that they would otherwise be very tempted to do and that may well lead to terrible consequences if they do it. The pleasure that drugs bring makes them attractive, and the consequences of using them can be overwhelmingly hideous. So, unless there’s reason to think that the consequences of drug use are not as bad as we think or that no form of punishment is likely to deter drug use, then it seems reasonable to punish it.

D.H.: I think it’s wrong to punish people just to get them not to do something bad.  That principle would allow us to punish overeating, smoking, failing to exercise, and lots of other activities that virtually no one proposes to punish. Most crimes we punish (murder, rape, robbery) do serious harm to other people. Almost all people who do drugs at most harm only themselves. The hideous effects of drugs on users and their families we hear so much about occur in only a very small minority of instances.  Most drug users do not suffer substantial harms, and we should be cautious about generalizing from worst-case scenarios.  We should not subject tens of millions of Americans to punishment because of bad effects that materialize in only a small subset of cases. In addition, threats of punishments don’t do much to deter drug use. Most drug users don’t believe they’ll be caught, and they are right…

D.H.: I say that drug use itself is not substantially harmful becauselongitudinal studies indicate that health and life expectancy of the roughly half of all Americans who have used drugs (with the exception of tobacco) is virtually identical to that of the half of Americans who have not. Again, no one should generalize from worst-case scenarios to criminalize conduct that is harmful in only a small percentage of cases. These generalizations would allow the prohibition of lots of behaviors, including the consumption of alcohol. And efforts to prevent these worst-case scenarios almost certainly cause harm that is greater than whatever harms they prevent. When adolescents are caught and punished for using drugs, the consequences of punishment are worse than whatever harm the drugs are likely to have caused.

Good stuff!  There may be a reasonable debate to be had on the selling of drugs, but one thing we sure don’t need to be doing is punishing people simply for using.

Infographic of the day

From a recent Vox post on antiobiotic resistance:

For a new Lancet series on superbugs, researchers visualized the various modifiable drivers of antibiotic resistance. As you can see, they found that human antibiotic misuse and overuse was one of the single biggest contributors. It was followed only by the abuse of antibiotics in agriculture [emphasis mine] (another big problem that you can read about here).

http://www.vox.com/2015/11/20/9769304/stop-antibiotic-resistance

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