Quick hits (part II)

1) I didn’t realize quite how old I am.  This cool 538 chart shows at what age your are older than half the population and how that has changed over time.  Suffice it to say, I am older than well over half the population.

2) Elizabeth Kolbert on Republican efforts to sabotage the US position at Paris climate conference:

That Republicans would try to undercut the Administration’s efforts to do something—anything—to reduce carbon emissions is no surprise. Willful ignorance about climate change has become a point of pride among elected officials in the G.O.P. Recently, the Associated Press asked a panel of eight scientists to assess the accuracy of Presidential candidates’ tweets on climate change using a scale of zero to a hundred. (The tweets were shown to the scientists without the candidates’ names, to guard against bias.) All nine of the Republican candidates graded got failing scores. Donald Trump, for instance, received a fifteen, while Ben Carson got a thirteen and Ted Cruz a six. “This individual understands less about science (and climate change) than the average kindergartner,” Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University, who served as one of the judges, wrote of Cruz’s statements. “That sort of ignorance would be dangerous in a doorman, let alone a president.”

But if the recent votes aren’t surprising, they’re still discouraging. They demonstrate, once again, the power of defeatist thinking. Congressional Republicans rail against the federal government; then, with their own antics, confirm their worst criticisms.

3) The New York Times’ front page editorial on gun violence.  And the less famous LA Times editorial.

4) Orrin Hatch doesn’t think much of that whole separation between church and state and that we should have state-based public religion.  Apparently, he’s ignorant of a topic I teach in Intro– selective incorporation.

5) If you haven’t you ought to watch this rather disturbing display of Islamophobia at a public meeting.

6) Great Josh Marshall post on how Trump not only pays no price, but is rewarded for his despicable behavior:

If you’re surprised that Donald Trump isn’t apologizing for mocking a reporter’s physical handicap and doesn’t seem to be paying any price for it, let me help. Half of rightwing politics is about resentment over perceived demands for apologies. Apologies about race, about fear of Muslims, about not being politically correct, about not liking the losers and the moochers, about Christmas, about being being white. This will hurt Trump about as much as going after Megyn Kelly did. Remember: his biggest applause line at the first GOP debate came for calling Rosie O’Donnell a fat slob.

About half the juice of far-right politics in this country is rooted in refusing to apologize when ‘elites’ or right thinking people reprove you for not being ‘politically correct.’

7) Mazda is bringing back the rotary engine.  Apparently, not such a great idea, but plenty of nostalgia around it.  For much of my junior year of high school I drove a 1981 RX-7

8) Can’t imagine that many of my readers care about East Carolina firing their football coach (I’ve followed his career as he as an assistant at Texas Tech back when I was there and we get ECU coverage in the N&O).  But I had to comment that ECU’s AD strikes me as delusional if he thinks he’s going to get a better coach.

9) Nice HuffPo summary of some interesting research on conspiracy theories done by some good friends of mine.


10) The President of Oklahoma Wesleyan got some attention for declaring the university “not a daycare.”  I did very much enjoy this response:

Most college students are allowed to leave their rooms whenever they want. You might say it’s one of the hallmarks of life outside day care. And Oklahoma Wesleyan does generously allow you to come and go as you please — during the day. But coming in late after curfew, or“sneaking out at night,” in the handbook’s wording, is another minor violation of school policy.

No dancing. No sneaking out at night. What then, exactly, can you do at this place that’s a university and “not a day care”?

11) You know how I hate tipping.  Nice NPR post about the good old days when people realized it was un-American.

12) Somewhat bizarre piece from George Will attacking the idea of progressive taxation.  The marginal utility of a dollar is not a complicated concept.  At some point some conservative economists called the case for it “uneasy” and that’s more than enough for Will.  He also is basically making a case for supply side economics using fancier words despite the fact that evidence is very much in on the failure of supply side economics.  This column is a great example of Will seems to be the erudite and reasonable conservative columnist for those who don’t know better.

13) Judge Posner sticks it to Scalia on his theocratic leanings.

14) Dana Milbank lets loose on Trump:

Let’s not mince words: Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist.

Some will think this an outrageous label to apply to the frontrunner for a major party’s presidential nomination. Ordinarily, I would agree that name-calling is part of what’s wrong with our politics.

But there is a greater imperative not to be silent in the face of demagoguery. Trump in this campaign has gone after African Americans, immigrants, Latinos, Asians, women, Muslims and now the disabled. His pattern brings to mind the famous words of Martin Neimoller, the pastor and concentration camp survivor (“First they came for the socialists…”) that Ohio Gov. John Kasich adroitly used in a video last week attacking Trump’s hateful broadsides.

It might be possible to explain away any one of Trump’s outrages as a mistake or a misunderstanding. But at some point you’re not merely saying things that could be construed as bigoted: You are a bigot.

15) Time for the DEA to get smarter about marijuana.

16) How the norm of smiling in photos is cultural evolution that has gradually caught on.

The photographic smile, Kotchemidova argues, was a byproduct of an increasingly sophisticated advertising culture focused on telling cheerful stories about products. By the 1920s, companies were using pictures of smiling models to sell everything from canned vegetables to cars. Employing the same visual language to sell cameras, Kodak and others had — in a very meta way — installed the smile as one of the “standards for a good snapshot.”

17) Somehow I had never heard of this psychedelic drug– Ibogaine– that can help with heroin addiction by pretty much eliminating withdrawal symptoms upon quitting opiates.  Despite evidence for it’s efficacy, of course it is illegal in the US.

18) What the prosecution of the Chicago cop who shot Laquan McDonald means:

The repercussions for both officers, in other words, seem less the result of the criminal justice system working as it should, and more the product of politically motivated decision-making brought on by the court-mandated release of the McDonald footage. There’s something intuitively enraging about that motivation—why can’t our elected representatives do the right thing just because it’s right? But, viewed another way, there’s also something reassuring and exciting about it. Often, change happens not when the people in power have a moral or ethical epiphany, but when their constituents force them to make decisions that they might not otherwise make. Even under the most cynical reading of what happened in Chicago this week, officials were responding to the threat of a public backlash. That means the efforts of those invested in justice for Laquan McDonald and Rekia Boyd worked. It means the climate has changed to the point where powerful politicians know that—under some circumstances, at least—brushing the killing of citizens by police under the rug is no longer a viable option.

19) Jamelle Bouie on the gun control proposals of the Democratic candidates.   They’re not perfect, but they’d help.

20) Nice Q&A with Mann and Ornstein on what to make of the Republican party today.

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

4 Responses to Quick hits (part II)

  1. Jon K says:

    #14: Normally I think anyone who makes comparisons to the Nazis automatically loses their argument for going too far. However, in this case, I think it is quite appropriate….

  2. Mika says:

    #7 You had a RX-7 when you were at high school?! No bl00dy way.

    #9 “They also speculated that people who know more about politics are probably more likely to believe conspiracy theories, because they can use their knowledge to rationalize how the theory might be true.”

    This idea is so cool. When ever I tell about it to laymen or even some (aspiring) political scientists about it, they are like “Hey wait a minute, what did you just say?” Then I explain how they can use their knowledge to rationalize and so on to them, they are like “Yeah, actually that makes sense.” It does, doesn’t it. How come it is still possible that people think that knowledgeable people are rational or that seemingly rational people are really rational?

    Are you familiar with the argumentative theory of reasoning by Mercier & Sperber? In here


    they present “Arguments for an argumentative theory.” But they are just arguments.

    #16 You americans do smile a lot. Not just in pictures but everywhere… 🙂

    • Steve Greene says:

      #7– My brother-in-law needed to car pool into DC so he swapped me his two-seater Rx7 for my 5-seat Chrysler K Car. Yeah. That said, a number of my friends ended up riding in what is essentially the trunk of the Rx7. Still can’t believe I did that.

  3. Mika says:

    Wow, your brother-in-law really understood what a high school aged young man needs, Mazda Miata would have too much though 🙂 I had a Citroen Visa, not exactly very sporty car. But when I was about 20 I bought a 1964 Triumph Herald “Convertible”. “s are because it was modified from saloon to convertible but it had an original convertible roof so it was v-e-r-y stylish. I drove it during summers for about 15 years and learned how to repair cars. Oh those were the days. I still own it but it has been in a certain barn for about 7-8 years so it needs a total mechanical renovation before I can drive it again. Maybe one day…

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