Quick hits (part I)

1) Where the big money is going in 2016.

2) Sorry to have missed this a few months ago.  Great Adam Davidson column on how Trump’s focus on “the deal” fundamentally understands political economics.

3) The FBI is all about stings to catch terrorists lately.  This is a horrible idea where the FBI literally encourages people to behave as terrorists, arrests them, and convinces themselves and non-too-bright politicians that they’ve actually done something to combat terrorism.

4) Can’t say I read a lot at Elle, but really enjoyed Dana Goldstein’s piece on her migraine drug dependency.

5) We already have a legal template for gun control that works.

6) Found this piece on the evolution of consciousness absolutely fascinating:

The Attention Schema Theory (AST), developed over the past five years, may be able to answer those questions. The theory suggests that consciousness arises as a solution to one of the most fundamental problems facing any nervous system: Too much information constantly flows in to be fully processed. The brain evolved increasingly sophisticated mechanisms for deeply processing a few select signals at the expense of others, and in the AST, consciousness is the ultimate result of that evolutionary sequence. If the theory is right—and that has yet to be determined—then consciousness evolved gradually over the past half billion years and is present in a range of vertebrate species.

7) Steven Brill on Trump U.

8) Okay, I’m no math teacher, but it was math educators who came up with the idea of “integrated math” used in Common Core math classes.  But since Common Core is the work of the devil, surely integrated math is too.  And surely NC legislators know better than math educators.

9) Ohio keeps doing all it can to make it harder to vote.  At least they are losing court cases on the matter.

10) Jon Cohn on Trump, racism, and the GOP:

All day long, Trump was the object of furious criticism, much of it from his own would-be supporters in the GOP. Over and over, Republican officials disavowed Trump’s comments — saying they were shocked by Trump’s willingness to attack Curiel because of his ethnicity, and warning that Trump had to change his ways fast.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who just last week endorsed Trump, called the comments “the textbook definition of racism.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned Trump “to get on message” and “start acting like a serious presidential candidate.” Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee even laid out a time frame. Trump, according to Corker, has “two or three weeks” to “pivot to a place where he becomes a true general election candidate.”

But Republicans have no grounds for expressing shock at Trump’s recent behavior — and even less reason to think Trump will act differently as the primaries end and the general election campaign begins. The authentic Trump is the one who made racist attacks on a federal judge, not the one trying to sound presidential on Tuesday night.

Remember, this is a candidate who, during the speech announcing his candidacy for the presidency, asserted that the Mexican government was sending criminals and rapists across the border — and that undocumented immigrants were disproportionately responsible for crime in the U.S.

This is a candidate who, once the political conversation turned to terrorism, called for banning all members of the Muslim faith from entering the U.S. and suggested he was open to creating a registry of Muslims here in the U.S.

This is a candidate who spent most of the last seven years questioning whetherBarack Obama, the first African-American president, was actually born in this country.

11) Did the Texas Attorney General let Trump U off too easy?

12) I would have never known about the “fat Axl Rose” meme if he hadn’t garnered more publicity by suing google over it.

13) Fighting Lyme Disease with genetically-engineered mice?  Sounds great to me.

14) Seth Masket says the Democratic Party is doing just fine:

In fact, the two parties’ situations this year could not be more dissimilar. To review briefly, Republican leaders could not coordinate around a presidential candidate prior to the primaries and caucuses this year, something that very typically happens in presidential nominations. This failure to coordinate led to a potentially catastrophic outcome — the nomination of a candidate who neither knows nor cares much about major party policy goals and may deliver a substantial loss in what was a winnable election cycle. Party leaders arefalling in behind Trump because they don’t know what else to do, and they’re extracting no commitments from him in the process. And now they have todistance themselves from each absurd or racist statement he makes, even as they back him. The GOP will likely survive the year, but this is a terrible situation for the party and its officeholders to find themselves in.

By contrast, the Democrats did this year what major parties have done for decades. They coordinated early around a favorite and gave her every advantage they could. This coordination scared off other more traditional challengers, and left her only real rival a self-described democratic socialist. She has successfully parlayed this support into victories and delegates, and likely this week, she will become the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

15) “Diversity” and “inclusion” as tenure requirements?  Save us from liberal arts colleges.

16) The GOP’s “Mexico derangement syndrome” and the reality of Mexico.

17) A Good Samaritan helps a boy survive an “internal decapitation.”  Fascinating.  And a happy ending.

18) Trump is Trump’s biggest liability:

Way back in March, I argued that Trump would likely lose — badly — in a general election contest with Hillary Clinton, not because he is too divisive or too ignorant or too ideologically unmoored (though all of these posed problems for his candidacy), but for a much more basic reason. As I said then, “Trump — at the very moment that he most obviously needs to begin making a general-election argument — is instead driving the conversationback to himself, and to his peculiar obsessions and insecurities.”

The polls won’t reflect it for a while yet, but Trump’s continuing obsession with Curiel provides strong evidence that I was right.

19) Justin Trudeau makes a strong case for marijuana legalization.

20) Dahlia Lithwick argues that Trump’s attacks on a federal judge are really part and parcel with the GOP’s ongoing attacks on the federal judiciary.

21) Hollywood is struggling with it’s core buyers– teenagers and young adults:

What’s really happening? How did Hollywood become overrun with sequels, and why does it suddenly seems as if nobody wants to see them? The short answer is that the movie industry has over-learned the lesson that sequels perform well at the box office and has tried to sequelize every marginally successful movie. The deeper answer is that, on top of long-term structural declines in movie attendance, Hollywood is losing its grip on young people.

The construction of the “Sequel Machine,” as my colleague David Sims called it, has been a deliberate Hollywood strategy to control the risk inherent in making an expensive product for tens of millions of people whom studios don’t know and will never meet. Film used to be the dominant visual medium in the U.S. In the first half of the twentieth century, going to the movies was like going to church: Americans did it almost every week. Today, buying a movie ticket is more like going to the doctor—something many Americans never do and most Americansdo only four or five times a year for routine cultural check-ups. (Domestic box office is growing mostly because average ticket prices are rising.)

In this environment, where Americans buy only four movie tickets a year, it’s more expensive to create an audience for a film.

22) I get that everybody wants to use the Stanford rape case to make a statement about sexual assault, but I honestly find it pretty preposterous what is happening to a band now being blacklisted everywhere because the drummer in the band wrote a letter in defense of the rapist, a childhood friend of hers.

23) Oh man is this one hell of a correction.  Sorry, we got the premise of our article entirely wrong.

24) I think I need to invent a new acronym (or maybe one already exists) that’s the opposite of TLDR.  We’ll call it ILRIA (it’s long; read it anyway).  The inaugural ILRIA… great NYT Magazine story on how maybe combat PTSD is really a physical brain disorder.

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

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