Quick hits (part II)

1) A nice example of how Obamacare is actually keeping people healthier (and saving us all money).

2) Great to see that real progress is being made against the horrible-ness that is shark fin soup.

3) Benjamin Wallace-Wells on the problem with “the lanes” analogy everybody has been using.


[Romney strategist Stuart Stevens’] view is that the political profession became obsessed, in this election cycle, with the theory that there are certain fixed “lanes” in the Republican Party—establishment, conservative, libertarian—and that each candidate’s first task is to win within his lane. (“Our theory was to dominate the establishment lane,” Jeb Bush’s strategist Mike Murphy told the Washington Post, in a postmortem. “The establishment lane turned out to be smaller than we thought it would be.”) So Bush, Cruz, Rubio, and the others have been content to fight for supremacy within smaller and smaller segments of the electorate, while Trump competes for all of the voters. Stevens disdained the lanes theory. “It’s like some mass hysteria—it’s like the tulip mania of politics,” he said. Meanwhile, “Trump is concerned with winning the election.”

4) Google doing some good for the first amendment.

5) Enough with “leadership” already.  Not everybody should be a leader.

6) Can I just say I’m not the least bit surprised that a Texas school dramatically increased recess time and saw great results.  Heck, works for the whole country of Finland.


7) David Frum on the limits of Super Pac’s.

Never has so much bought so little of what it was meant to buy. Obviously the funds expended on behalf of Jeb Bush have bought a great deal for a great many people. Even if the estimate of Mike Murphy’s take is overstated—or possibly confuses gross billings by his firm with net income to himself—the 2016 super PACs have provided princely incomes for their principals and comfortable livelihoods for hundreds more. The question that is bound to occur to super PAC donors is: “Are we being cheated?” Increasingly, super PACs look like the political world’s equivalent of hedge funds: institutions that charge vastly above-market fees to deliver sub-market returns…

But having shoved his or her way forward, how much does the politician truly benefit from the super-PAC system? The politician’s natural interest is to spend as little as possible on consultants’ fees. That’s not in the consultants’ interest, obviously. The effect of the super PAC system is to put the consultants, not the politicians, in charge of the largest pools of political money—and then to wrap those consultants’ takings in layer upon layer of non-transparency and non-accountability.

8) America’s un-American resistance to the Estate Tax.  (Though, it’s no secret; a certain political party has a lot to do with this).

9) Honestly, I’ve got too much torture in my life lately.  I’ve reading a very good novel about Mexican drug cartels.  Knew I’d run into torture there.  Also, reading some really good historical fiction about 17th century Indians and Jesuits in Canada.  Did not realize I’d run into so much torture there.  And while doing some research on Native Americans and torture, covered this gruesome article about Comanche Indians.

10) What is it with Ted Cruz and the gold standard.  Such a dumb idea.

11) Enjoyed this take on Apple vs the FBI.

12) Sandoval has said he doesn’t want the job, but nice Greg Sargent on Obama floating his name:

Only two Republican senators, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine, were brave enough to say that they would vote on President Obama’s nominee. This is what passes for moderation in today’s G.O.P.: simply stating a willingness to do the job you were elected to do.

Unfortunately, for too many Republicans moderation now equals apostasy. These Republicans have stubbornly parked themselves so far to the right for so many years that it is hard to tell whether they can hear how deranged they sound.

The truth is they are afraid — and they should be. They know Mr. Obama has a large pool of extremely smart and thoroughly mainstream candidates from which to choose a nominee. They know that if the American people were allowed to hear such a person answer questions in a Senate hearing, they would wonder what all the fuss was about.

So Mr. McConnell and his colleagues plan to shut their doors, plug their ears and hope the public doesn’t notice. The Republican spin machine is working overtime to rationalize this behavior. Don’t be fooled. It is panic masquerading as strength

13) NYT Editorial laying into Senate Republicans on the issue.

14) Why Indiana Jones never published his research.

15) A former Scalia clerk has some not nice things to say:

Antonin Scalia generally detested science. It threatened everything he believed in. He refused to join a recent Supreme Court opinion about DNA testing because it presented the details of textbook molecular biology as fact. He could not join because he did not know such things to be true, he said. (On the other hand, he knew all about the eighteenth century. History books were trustworthy; science books were not.) Scientists should be listened to only if they supported conservative causes, for example dubious studies purporting to demonstrate that same-sex parenting is harmful to children. Scientists were also good if they helped create technologies he liked, such as oil drills and deadly weapons.

His own weapon was the poison-barbed word, and the battleground was what he once labeled the Kulturkampf, the culture war. The enemy took many forms. Women’s rights. Racial justice. Economic equality. Environmental protection. The “homosexual agenda,” as he called it. Intellectuals and universities. The questioning of authority and privilege. Ambiguity. Foreignness. Social change. Climate research. The modern world, in all its beauty and complexity and fragility.

Most of all, the enemy was to be found in judges who believe decency and compassion are central to their jobs, not weaknesses to be extinguished. Who refuse to dehumanize people and treat them as pawns in some Manichean struggle of good versus evil, us versus them. Who decline to make their intelligence and verbal gifts into instruments of cruelty and persecution and infinite scorn.

16) Nobody ever has really asked my young kids if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend (okay, they ask David now that’s actually a teenager, but that’s okay).  Nice post on how stupid it is to be asking this of the pre-school set.

17) Great Jon CohnStop calling Marco Rubio a moderate!  Simply being to the left of Ted Cruz does not make you moderate.  It just makes you not a complete off-the-deep-end extremist.

18) Really good David Brooks on today’s problem of “antipolitics.”  Really good but for one thing– somehow he writes the whole column without ever mentioning today’s nihilistic Republican party.

19) Is blind hiring the best hiring?


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

2 Responses to Quick hits (part II)

  1. Jon K. says:

    9) Yes, that was a great novel, but I thought his first one was significantly better. Have you read The Power of the Dog? (http://www.amazon.com/The-Power-Dog-Don-Winslow/dp/1400096936)

  2. itchy says:

    8. The estate tax backlash annoys me more than any other. Talk about handouts!

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