Quick hits

1) Lee Drutman reviews Rick Hasen’s new book on campaign finance.  Good stuff (both the review and the book).  Really, it’s a great essay on how we should think about campaign finance in terms of equality instead of corruption.

2) Latest research to show that Voter ID laws disproportionately affect minorities.

3) On how South Dakota’s mandatory abstinence program (from alcohol, not sex) had a positive impact.  The secret?  Actually following the most basic criminology.  Rather than focusing on severity, punishments are swift and certain, but not harsh.

4) Jedediah Purdy pushes back on people the likes of Krugman and me (because, of course Krugman and I go together) dissing on poor Bernie.

5) Good piece on the long struggle against lead poisoning.

6) With all the campaign drama it is easy to overlook that the Republican campaign has taken a disgusting pro-torture pose (thanks to Trump, of course).

7) How fundraising turns Congress into a part-time legislature:

This presidential race has featured a lot of conversation about the effects of money on politics, with both a billionaire and a socialist claiming that donations induce politicians to change their views. The vast social science literature on this topic is inconclusive (so far), but two conclusions are warranted:

  • If legislators spend most of lives in a bubble of fellow politicians, staff, and donors, they will probably become less familiar with the problems and preferences of most of their constituents. This can help explain why legislators are much more responsive towealthy constituents and organized interests.
  • Fundraising crowds out time for legislators to do the hard work of legislating: drafting proposals and reaching compromise with other legislators. Sure, many legislators seem averse to “compromise” anyway, but they may be more willing to try if they saw legislating as a full-time job with measurable results, the way they now view their FEC filings.

8) Vox’s Timothy Lee says everyone is under-estimating Ted Cruz.  He didn’t ask me; I’m not.

9) The Senate may be getting rid of the most essential part of criminal justice reform in it’s bill:

If true, the Politico report would essentially mean that the Senate is axing the best, most promising part of its bill.

You simply can’t fix mass incarceration in America if you’re unwilling to shorten the prison sentences of anyone who could be considered a “violent” criminal. That’s especially true in state prisons, where the vast majority of US prisoners are held and where half of them are serving sentences for violent crimes.

When politicians talk about criminal justice reform, they tend to leave out this inconvenient fact. They prefer to talk about “nonviolent drug offenders” — even when they’re talking about state prisoners. [emphasis mine]

The original Senate bill went beyond this. It didn’t do anything too risky — the laws it proposed to change around firearms and “career criminals” are so bad that federal judges routinely complain about them.

But on an issue where states have usually led and the federal government has followed, the original Senate bill could have made a statement that states needed to dig deeper and reform sentencing for “violent offenders.” Instead, it’s sending the message that helping violent offenders is politically radioactive.

10) Hooray, the FBI finally arrested Cliven Bundy.  David Graham on the FBI’s patience.

11) On the scientists who defend toxic chemicals for a paycheck.

12) Hillary Clinton would probably be doing better among younger voters if more of them had reproduced and had daughters.  Seriously.  Data.

13) How your neanderthal DNA may be affecting your tendency towards certain illnesses.

14) Mark Schmitt asks if big programs liberalism is over.

15) Krugman on the Groundhog Day-ness of the Republican Party:

The truth is that the whole G.O.P. seems stuck in a time loop, saying and doing the same things over and over. And unlike Bill Murray’s character in the movie “Groundhog Day,” Republicans show no sign of learning anything from experience.

Think about the doctrines every Republican politician now needs to endorse, on pain of excommunication.

First, there’s the ritual denunciation of Obamacare as a terrible, very bad, no good, job-killing law. Did I mention that it kills jobs? Strange to say, this line hasn’t changed at all despite the fact that we’ve gained 5.7 millionprivate-sector jobs since January 2014, which is when the Affordable Care Act went into full effect.

Then there’s the assertion that taxing the rich has terrible effects on economic growth, and conversely that tax cuts at the top can be counted on to produce an economic miracle.

This doctrine was tested more than two decades ago, when Bill Clinton raised tax rates on high incomes; Republicans predicted disaster, but what we got was the economy’s best run since the 1960s. It was tested again when George W. Bush cut taxes on the wealthy; Republicans predicted a “Bush boom,” but actually got a lackluster expansion followed by the worst slump since the Great Depression. And it got tested a third time after President Obama won re-election, and tax rates at the top went up substantially; since then we’ve gained eight million private-sector jobs.

Oh, and there’s also the spectacular failure of the Kansas experiment, where huge tax cuts have created a budget crisis without delivering any hint of the promised economic miracle.

16) Among the more important social science of parenting things I learned is that your kids lie to you all the time.  This is a look from a teacher’s perspective.  I was disappointed last year when I found out one of my kids had been lying to me about not doing homework, but now the research on how incredibly prevalent this type of behavior is really helped me keep it in perspective.

17) I got in an absurdly long FB argument with a friend and reader of this blog who implicitly argued that this video means Hillary is no better than Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.  Drum puts the video in proper perspective.

18) Of course animals have empathy, damn it.  Strikes me as hubris to think otherwise.  Vox on the debate over animal emotions:

De Waal thinks it’s wrongheaded for some scientists to dismiss observations of empathy in animals. After all, it makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. If human empathy is so robust and adaptive, it must have evolved from more primitive forms.

“It is hard to imagine that empathy — a characteristic so basic to the human species — came into existence only when our lineage split off from that of the apes,” says de Waal. “It must be far older than that.”

19) Terrific goal.  Absolutely amazing first touch.  And shared far less than deserved, I expect, because it’s a woman.

20) Whenever friends see my computer with Chrome open, they are astounded by all my open browser tabs (they won’t get it if I just say, “they’re all for quick hits… some day!”).  How David Roberts handles the browser tab issue.

21) How to change someone’s mind according to science.  Short version: Numbers, longer arguments, high-quality examples, other stuff.

22) Enjoyed this David Roberts‘ piece on how to think about Clinton versus Sanders and the meaning of ideology.

23) Finally decided to close this open tab and add to quick hits– Tom Edsall’s take on the political science research on how Democrats and Republicans are increasingly negative towards each other.

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

25 Responses to Quick hits

  1. John F. says:

    For the record, the argument that Hillary was no better than Cruz or Trump was your argument, not mine. I thought my argument was pretty clear: Hillary is not genuine or trustworthy, and you can’t be sure where she stands, not because she’s evolved but because she’s radically transformed based upon political winds, campaign contributions or maybe it’s the phases of the moon? Who knows? We closed that discussion with you wanting me to engage in your straw man and I refused, remember?

    Sooooo….. Kissinger…. We can all agree he’s a monster and it’s at a bare minimum a horrifically poor judgement call on Hillary’s part to be paling around with him, right? It’s not like she’s a one-time congregant in his church, the Clintons are hanging out with him on holiday sipping pina coladas. And I’m fairly certain no one on the left has written a “he’s not such a bad guy” article, have they? Or did I mistakenly leave out “yet.”

    Btw, I didn’t think our discussion was “long,” certainly not “absurdly long.”

    • Jon K says:

      What’s so bad about Kissinger? Detente was one of the best foreign policy accomplishments of the 20th Century. If nothing else, the man is a genius and an expert on foreign policy.

    • Jon K says:

      I also think you are absurdly unfair in your judgement of HRC. She hasn’t transformed, her policy proposals are very clear – and far more clear and likely to be implemented than Bernie Sanders’s agenda that has 0.0 chance of ever happening in our lifetimes. I think you have gotten way too emotionally involved with Bernie Sanders to have a rational perspective on HRC. I really hope you can take a deep breath and calm down a little bit…

      • John F. says:

        I find the assertion that Hillary will be more successful as president to be hilarious. Public policies pushed by Hillary won’t simply become law because they’re more moderate than Sanders’s. Between the scandals that continue to plague her, whether warranted or not, her polarizing divisiveness and the extreme animosity that exists between her and republicans of all stripes, she has less than a zero percent chance of passing anything, even if it were a resolution naming Ronald Reagan as the best president.

        This country requires big solutions because it has big problems. Hillary not only does not offer any solutions, what she does offer has absolutely no potential for passage with a republican controlled congress. It is true that the same thing can be said of Sanders but the best hope we can have for a Democratic president in these circumstances is that they use the bully pulpit to move far more quickly what would take a grassroots movement a generation to do. If you’re not articulating big solutions or worse, condemning big ideas and those who articulate them, an incompetently impotent Hillary term represents the worst of all potential scenarios, a sort of Carter-esque malaise which leads to a generation of political supremacy by conservatives. Just as she accomplished little in her time as a senator, Hillary would only set back Democratic political ideas and politicians through an even more extreme stagnation on the national stage.

        And yes, Kissinger is a monster.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Look, you said you would *never* vote for Hillary. That implicitly means you would not do so in an election where it was her vs. Trump or Cruz. Like it or not, elections are zero sum. You continually elided that issue.

      • John F. says:

        Perhaps, but who are you going to choose if it’s Trump running against Cruz? That’s not to say I wholly equate Hillary with either of the 2 but the issue most viscerally important to me is matters of war and peace. Beyond her issues with trustworthiness, the one issue we have the most credible information about where she stands is on foreign policy and it’s not good: she’s clearly a hawk. http://www.salon.com/2015/09/10/what_hillary_clinton_wants_you_to_forget_her_disastrous_record_as_a_war_hawk/

        I have not had a similar fear with any other candidate since George W. Bush on the matter of war than I do with Hillary Clinton. The bluster and machismo feather ruffling I see on the right is suspect is mostly for show but I suspect Hillary believes her rhetoric and will find a way to get us involved in a war. As I won’t support Trump & Cruz as a matter of major fundamental differences on public & foreign policy, I can’t in good conscience support someone like Hillary who I believe will lead us into a yet another bloody & costly war.

  2. Jon K says:

    16) The most astute thing I’ve read this week:

    “I should, in her words, “trust, but verify.” Gather the facts as best I can, give everyone (including myself) permission to be imperfect, and make the best of the situation by turning what could be heated conflict and dissolution of trust into a shared learning experience. Talk about how loss of trust can harm relationships, and use the opportunity to show the child that my primary goal is to teach, not to punish. ”

    Fact of the matter is all human beings lie. Often they do it without thinking about it, and humans also often lie to themselves. I’ve found that the ‘trust but verify’ advice is about the best thing an individual can do to prevent themselves from being taken in by lying. Abandoning a trusting nature turns a person into too much of a negative cynic. If you go around looking for all of the lies you are told you are going to be able to find them all over the place, and it will hurt your capacity to feel empathy and a good will towards your fellow man.

    On things that are important I would recommend demanding proof and accountability. For example, if your kids are doing their homework like they are supposed to then they should have no problem showing it to you. Showing it to you ends the issue. Your mind is put at ease. If there is resistance, or unwillingness to provide evidence, then it should raise serious red flags in your mind. It is too easy to throw out a line of BS when there is no way for anyone to check on it. This is one reason I think FERPA is such a stupid law.

    • Jon K says:

      By the way, I enjoyed that NYT piece so much I just downloaded the book referenced in the article, The Confidence Game….

      • MyTurnNC says:

        John F. says Hillary won’t be able to pass anything if elected President because the Republicans hate her so much.
        Do you forget that among the elected officials all this is just so much posturing? They don’t really “hate” her. That’s for the base. Maybe some in the House do.
        She worked effectively with Republicans as a Senator. If you remember, they praised her in the first years she was Secretary of State and when she was running against Obama.
        Even in the Obama administration, bills were passed, often quietly.

      • Steve Greene says:

        Have been thinking about reading that– Let me know what you think. She’s on the Gist with Mike Pesca podcast all the time with a great segment called “Is that bullshit?”

    • Steve Greene says:

      What about when your kids shows you his homework, but it’s actually yesterday’s and you don’t know the difference? :-).

      • Jon K says:

        yeah that’s a smart kid you got there… that’s almost like when your dad demands a degree audit and you photoshop one to satisfy him… Like I said, all humans lie, and it doesn’t necessarily make someone a bad person….

      • itchy says:

        19. Great to see from Press. I feel like she’s been trying to find her role on this team.

        20. I’ve never thought about keeping so many tabs open. Have you looked at services like Instapaper.

        21. I love this. I think there’s a lot to learn in this area; this only scratches the surface. (But I’m open to being wrong.)

        I also think presenting a counter-argument that doesn’t threaten the opponent’s identity and allows him/her an “out” is crucial.

        I’ve also noticed that expecting an immediate epiphany might be placing an undue burden on an argument. I think it’s more effective to allow a counter-idea to be planted and allow the person to nurture it himself/herself.

        I’ve had conversations with my brother where I make an argument that he doesn’t accept — only to have him come back 6 months later and parrot my argument back to me as if it’s his.

      • Steve Greene says:

        21. Totally agree. Surprised that didn’t come up in the research. 20. Out of sight, out of mind. Maybe I’ll try Instapaper, but I feel like I need those open tabs :-).

      • Mika says:

        21. I never knew that “hedging” meant something that they describe in the article but that sounds efficient. The less threatening the argument presenter is, the better. Also too certain people make suspicious.

        19. She was just lucky. (seriously, I’ve seen 10 year old girls practice much more advanced trickery with football than I ever was capable of. Times they are a-changing…)

      • Jon K says:

        You should check out the web app Pocket. I use it all the time. You can save an unlimited amount of articles to read, and it formats them in a manner that makes it significantly easier to read them. It does this by cutting out all of the ads and whatnot that appears on the sides of the article. All that remains is the article, links, and images contained in the body of the article. It’s much less distracting – saves you from seeing all those links to sponsored content and slideshows – and it makes it much easier to copy and paste from the articles. It also is accessible across all your devices. In fact it is now integrated into Firefox by default. (Yes, I still use Firefox as my primary browser.)

      • Steve Greene says:

        Oh, that sounds interesting. Just downloaded Instapaper, so I’m going to give that a try first.

  3. MyTurnNC says:

    Bernie has already compromised his stand against “tainted” money by accepting funds from the Senate campaign committee. Surely some big donor funds were mixed in. Will he promise to accept only money from the small donors who he brags about in his speeches? (And I heartily commend those donors who put their money where their mouths are! Would that we all would do the same.)

    • John F. says:

      Yeah so that’s yet another Hillary lie shown to be bullshit by Politifact and just more proof that she will do or say anything to get elected: http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/clintons-exaggerated-wall-street-claim/

      • Jon K says:

        I think you have Bernie Sanders confused with Jesus Christ. He’s a politician!! He’s got just as much baggage – if not more so – than HRC. HRC can work with the GOP as the previous commenter mentioned she is very well regarded among the more reasonable Republicans in the Senate. Sanders on the other hand not so much. Believe whatever you want, but you come across as just as much an ideologue as any hard right conservative. I thought I’d given up listening to people argue that way when I quit listening to Rush Limbaugh years ago. It’s like you channel his talking points and style of arguing only from a leftward trajectory instead of a right one. There is no way to have a rational argument with someone operating that way…

      • John F. says:

        Next time begin conversations with “I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh” so I can do more important things like get a colonoscopy.

      • Jon K says:

        Yes, I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh. That makes me very familiar with how he argues. It is the exact same way that you argue. Sorry if the fact that I used to be very libertarian makes me less than capable of making a point in your eyes, but you argue from the exact same place and with the exact same blinders. I can find verbatim quotes of Limbaugh advancing the same arguments about hard-right candidates as you do about Bernie Sanders.

        Anyway, as I said, believe whatever you want. I just think your nuts and delusional and won’t be replying to anymore of your comments.

      • John F. says:

        It would really helpful when you make an assertion i.e. Republicans really like Hillary, if you posted a link to the article where that’s supported.

        Speaking of support for Hillary… I realize my negative opinion of her is an outlier on the left. Maybe it’s because I speak with people from a diversity of backgrounds and listen when they talk but it’s only the dems that I speak to that don’t understand just how much hatred exists for Hillary not only by republicans but essentially everyone not a card carrying Democrat. It certainly has to do with what you’ve previously pointed out around media messaging but I’m not quite sure how I would explain my negative opinion of her since I hadn’t watched cable TV (and certainly not AM radio) for roughly the past decade (I didn’t have cable until July 2015) except maybe my experience (remember, I voted for her in 2000).

        Anyway, found this article linked from Drum: http://www.mediaite.com/online/exclusive-new-data-from-that-hillary-clinton-liar-poll-tells-a-different-story/

        Notice the first chart which pretty much sums things up. Not quite sure how a candidate who has that level of negatives with independents pulls out a win in the general but I’m certain just about no other Democrats could explain it to me.

  4. Jon K says:

    Republicans do get along with Hillary Clinton plenty well and have been able to work with her.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/12/01/remember-when-republicans-loved-hillary-clinton.html

  5. itchy says:

    Also, don’t forget you can use Instapaper in the browser as well.

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