All liars are not created equal

Of course all politicians lie, but the truth is that some lie way more than others.  I’ve got my problems with media fact-checkers, but I suspect this chart of politicians ranked by lying from an NYT op-ed is roughly valid:


Hard to not see a partisan division here.  I don’t think that Republican politicians are inherently more dishonest.  I think that the expectations of Republican voters are inherently more fanciful and you are not going to get anywhere as a Republican politican without going along with these fantasies on a regular basis.

Photo of the day

From Part I of the Telegraph’s best photos of the year:

An American soldier assigned to 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) salutes his fellow soldiers

An American soldier assigned to 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) salutes his fellow soldiers while jumping out of a C-130 Hercules aircraft over a drop zone above GermanyPicture: ddp USA/REX

Trump: stronger than you think

Very interesting recent PPP poll of North Carolina Republicans which does a lot of pairwise comparisons of Republican candidates.  I’m one of many who have argued that once opposition to Trump consolidates behind another candidate, it may well be game over for him.  Now, polls are polls and not reality, but if you are Trump, you sure have to like beating Jeb 60-34, Rubio 53-42, and Cruz 48-41 in pairwise comparisons.

Additionally, John Cassidy makes the case for Trump (I like how he starts with the case against):

How can these numbers be explained? A bit of history is instructive. At this stage in 2003, Howard Dean was leading John Kerry in the polls by eight percentage points. In mid-December, 2007, Hillary Clinton was leading Barack Obama by eighteen points, and on the Republican side Rudy Giuliani had a five-point lead. On December 11, 2011, the Real Clear Politics poll averageshowed Newt Gingrich with a twelve-point lead over Mitt Romney: 32.8 per cent to 20.8 per cent. None of these leaders went onto win a nomination, which suggests the national polls shouldn’t be taken too seriously…

Even though early polls often turn out to be unreliable, it’s hard to ignore the fact that he’s been leading in them for five months now. If this is a blip, it is a very extended one. And during the past few weeks, two things have happened which also suggest it is time to reassess Trump’s prospects. First, more evidence has emerged that he isn’t just picking up the support of furious white men in pickup trucks who see the country slipping away from them: his support is a good deal broader than that. And second, the murderous attacks in Paris and San Bernadino have changed the dynamics of the Republican race, bringing the threat of terrorism to the fore. So far, Trump appears to be the principal beneficiary…

Take New Hampshire, where polls show Trump well ahead. A new CNN/WMUR survey of people likely to vote in the G.O.P. primary, which takes place on February 9th, shows him garnering support from virtually all corners of the Republican Party. To be sure, he gets his highest favorability ratings from men, self-identified conservatives, and people who didn’t attend college. But among self-identified moderates, forty-seven per cent have a favorable opinion of Trump, compared to forty-three per cent who view him unfavorably. Among women, forty-nine per cent think positively of Trump, and forty-three per cent have a negative opinion. Among college graduates, fifty-eight per cent express a favorable opinion of him, and thirty five per cent a negative opinion. [emphases mine]

So much for the angry-white-guy thesis. At the national level, a recent Quinnipiac University survey of Republicans and Republican leaners produced similar findings. Trump was ahead among voters who described themselves as Tea Party members or extremely conservative, but also among those who described themselves as moderate or liberal. When the pollsters asked Republicans if there were any candidates for whom they definitely wouldn’tvote, Trump was the most popular choice. Twenty-six per cent of respondents ruled out backing him. That confirms he’s a polarizing figure, but it also implies that he hasn’t necessarily reached his ceiling.

I still think it significantly more likely than not that somebody other than Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination.  But I would argue that, at this point, it is foolish not to consider his win a realistic possibility.

Oh, and just because PPP loves asking questions that make Republicans look horrible, there’s this:


Well, that’s comforting, although a strong plurality prefer the national Muslim database another plurality thinks Islam should actually be legal.  As for that 32%….

Quick hits (part I)

Lots and lots of good stuff this week:

1) Using math to create fairer Congressional districts.

2) Maryland is looking to have universal voter registration.  This is a great idea– every citizen should be registered.  Honestly, a separate step for voter registration is a vestige of archaic technology.  Okay, yes, it probably would modestly benefit Democrats, but I’m not going to accept any argument that suggests it is not good for democracy to have more people involved in the process.

3) I already listen to the Death, Sex, and Money podcast so it was a great thrill to have a sort-of friend (haven’t been in close touch for a while) featured on the podcast speaking incredibly honestly about how hard it can be to parent two children with autism.

4) I do think the solution to race and college admissions is some form of affirmative action that takes not just income, but wealth, into account:

In three cases—UC Berkeley, UCLA, and the University of Michigan—minority numbers did drop. But that fact does not suggest that alternatives to racial preferences are unworkable. For one thing, all three universities failed to define socioeconomic status in a way that is fair to minority applicants. None included low family wealth as a factor that could improve one’s chances of being admitted; low family wealth is a major obstacle to life chances that disproportionately benefits black and Latino applicants.

5) Scott Lemieux tackles the arguments against affirmative action in the Guardian.

6) And the New Yorker’s Lincoln Caplan:

It is deeply disconcerting when the Chief Justice of the United States believes that the government can and should wish away historical or continuing inequities by asserting that it’s time our society started acting as if it’s color-blind: that reflects a willful blindness to a tenacious and supremely important challenge in American life, as tragedy after outrage manifestly about race have recently made clear. Roberts’s view reinforces the sense that the Court is isolated, ignorant about history that matters, and morally weak. On this issue, the weakness traces back to the opinion of Lewis Powell and his reluctance for the Court to exert any moral authority on the need for affirmative action.

7) Soccer fans watch this goal.  Non soccer fans watch this goal.

8) On guns and how judicial restraint really works:

Notably, the appeals court’s decision was written by Judge Frank Easterbrook, for decades one of the most respected conservatives on the federal bench. Deftly employing Justice Scalia’s favorite tropes — originalism, federalism, judicial deference to democratic choices — Judge Easterbrook professed fidelity to, not defiance of, the Supreme Court’s precedents. “Heller and McDonald set limits on the regulation of firearms,” he wrote in his opinion last April, “but within those limits, they leave matters open. The best way to evaluate the relation among assault weapons, crime, and self-defense is through the political process and scholarly debate, not by parsing ambiguous passages in the Supreme Court’s opinions. The central role of representative democracy is no less part of the Constitution than is the Second Amendment: when there is no definitive constitutional rule, matters are left to the legislative process.”

9) Not been much of a fan of Sesame Street since my own childhood (none of my kids have really taken to it),  but I found this essay on how Elmo ruined the show to be fascinating.

10) This article is entitled “Student course evaluations get an F.”  Personally, I think a C would be fair.  They are a very blunt instrument, but I would argue not entirely worthless.

11) Maybe changing your FB profile photo in support of a cause really does matter.

12) Nice piece at Buzzfeed (of all places) summarizing the research on gun violence and public policy.

13) Interesting piece on polling and Trump’s support in an international context:

And because Trump draws the bulk of his support from less-educated, working- and middle-class voters, he may be positioned to do even better still—for now. Polling data from Europe shows that parties with similar voter profiles to Trump’s consistently do better in both online polls and at the ballot box than in live-interview polling. And currently Trump is far ahead online.

14) Somehow college students don’t like ending texts with periods.  Maybe I’m just an old fogey, but, hello, it’s call punctuation and we use it for a reason.

15) Tennessee Republican legislators not happy about state university following laws about separation of church and state.

16) Nice David Roberts‘ post on the liberal vs conservative psychology of response to mass shootings.

17) The South African Air Force uses cheetahs to keep troublesome animals off runways.  Very cool.

18) How taxpayers keep the NFL rich.

Over three marvelous spring days in 2015, the National Football League threw itself a party otherwise known as the annual draft. The NFL took over Chicago’s storied lakefront Grant Park, where, in November 2008, Barack Obama had addressed a vast throng to accept the presidency of the United States. Some 200,000 football fans, including parents with kids, milled around in Grant Park, temporarily renamed Draft Town. Gigantic letters spelling out “NFL” ran down the side of the world’s largest marble-clad structure, the 83-story Aon Center.

Both Obama’s 2008 acceptance speech and the 2015 NFL draft were huge successes for the civic spirit of the City of Big Shoulders. Both drew enormous crowds and were nationally televised: Both made Chicago seem an exciting, vital place to be. But there was one difference. Obama covered the cost of his event. The NFL was mooching off the taxpayer…

The corporate welfare the NFL received in Chicago is just a small slice of a much larger problem with the league, which is highly subsidized by taxpayers and elaborately protected by government. Here, surely, is another way in which America’s biggest sport holds up a mirror to American society: The very rich receive too many publicly funded favors, while celebrities are treated as above the law. Taxpayer support for the NFL draft combined with police escorts for NFL “dignitaries”—dignitaries!—shows both problems…

19) Jon Cohn on the embattled “Cadillac tax” on expensive health insurance plans.  Alas, this is a very good policy that is taking a beating from both sides.

20) Annual edition of the haters guide to Williams Sonoma.  So much fun.

21) Wisconsin grad students demand equal pay for all grad students regardless of discipline.  No sympathy here– there’s this little economic principle called supply and demand.  On what planet are English TA’s really as valuable as mechanical engineering TA’s?

22) We’ll end it with your long read.  Great NYT Magazine feature on an illegal Honduran immigrant (basically came here to work hard and escape one of the deadliest cities on earth) who has been deported back to Honduras.  This country would be way better off with more people like Kelvin Villanueva and a lot fewer “build that wall!” types who hate him.




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