Photo of the day

From a recent In Focus photos of the week gallery:

Double rainbows appear at sunset over Lower Manhattan following a rainstorm on June 5, 2016, in New York City.

Gary Hershorn / Getty
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Are Democrats or Republicans better fathers?

So, my awesome co-author, Laurel Elder, and I did some pretty interesting research last year using a very cool Pew dataset to look at how parenting and attitudes towards parenting vary across Democrats and Republicans.  Our most provocative findings where in relation to dads.  With Father’s Day coming up, we thought this was a perfect opportunity to get some of our work before a broader audience and the Washington Post agreed.  It went on-line today.  I’m also super-excited that it will be in Sunday’s print Outlook section for Father’s Day as I grew up reading Outlook every Sunday and my dad will actually get to see me in his Sunday Post (for the second time).  Anyway, here’s some from the Post, but heck, if you are reading my blog, this, of all things, you should read the whole thing :-).  And if it seems better than what you read here, you can credit Laurel and the Post’s editor who are both better at this than me.

Republican dads rate the job they are doing as parents very highly, significantly higher than Democratic fathers rate themselves. This is true even though Republican fathers report spending less time with their children and delegating more of the responsibility of child-rearing to their wives than Democratic fathers do. Republican fathers also embrace a more authoritarian view of parenting than Democratic men: They are more likely to emphasize obedience and good manners in their children over curiosity and self-reliance. (Their embrace of an authoritarian parenting style is not all that surprising, given the well-established link between authoritarian values and Republican identification.)

Both Republican and Democratic dads admit that their wives take on the majority of the responsibility for raising children. Compared with what Republican dads say, however, Democratic fathers see themselves as parenting in a manner much closer to the shared child-care model, in which each spouse handles roughly half of the child-rearing responsibilities. Still, Democratic dads give themselves significantly lower marks as parents than Republican fathers. They are also more likely than Republican dads to report feeling that balancing work and family is very difficult. [emphases mine– who else?]

In other words, Republican fathers feel good about their role as parents; Democratic dads are much more conflicted.

What accounts for this divide? We might suspect some basic demographic differences between Democrats and Republicans — such as race, education, income, marital status and religious adherence — to be at work here, but our analysis takes these factors into account and finds that this is not the case. Rather, it is likely that the contrasts between Republican and Democratic fathers are rooted in their markedly different expectations about family life, which are in turn reinforced by the parties with which they identify…

Typical Republican fathers hold more traditional expectations about family life. They’re more likely than Democratic fathers to believe that it is best for children and families when Mom is not working outside the home, and that it is better for fathers to be in the workplace full-time. Although the idea that good fathers should be economic providers for their families is fairly universal in our culture, our research shows that this notion resonates more strongly with Republican men. And again, our research shows that Republican fathers are more comfortable than Democrats in leaving the day-to-day work of raising children — getting the kids on the bus, making the doctor’s appointments, applying the sunscreen, organizing the playdates — to their wives. As a result, Republican dads may feel less torn by efforts to try to balance work and family. By working, and by instilling the values of obedience and respect, they see themselves as good fathers.

Our research also shows that Democratic dads possess more egalitarian — and less authoritarian — attitudes about parenting. Perhaps because they expect more from themselves as direct caregivers, they are less satisfied with themselves as parents: They are doing more of the diaper changing, bedtime-story reading and carpooling than their Republican counterparts, but they still don’t feel that they are spending as much time with their kids as they would like. When Democratic dads are asked how much they struggle with work-family balance, their answers sound more like what working moms say in response to those questions. Republican fathers, in contrast, stand out as distinctively less conflicted by the issue. They set a different bar for themselves in parenting their children and are happier with their performance as a result.

The politics of banning “assault weapons”

Had a good discussion with a professor friend at lunch today about the over-focus on banning “assault weapons.”  Of course, the whole idea of “assault weapon” is very much a vague one.  That said, reasonable people could agree that it is a high-powered, semi-automatic rifle with a high-capacity magazine.  That is a weapon designed for killing large numbers of people.  Not one designed for hunting, personal defense (unless you are attacked by a zombie horde), etc.  Thing is, though, it is really the high-capacity magazine that makes these weapons so lethal.  Give all the mass murderers a six-shot revolver and there’s presumably be a lot less victims of mass murder (and I also strongly suspect a six-shot revolver would do the trick for self-defense in >99% of situations).

You don’t need an assault rifle to be really lethal. Just a modern gun that holds lots of ammunition.  The previous high for mass murder was the Virginia Tech shooter who simply had two semi-automatic pistols.  If it’s hard to get an AR-15 (or similar, of course), you can do just as much damage with a Glock 9.  I really cannot think of any reason the carnage in Orlando would have been less had the shooter been using a handgun or two with high-capacity magazines.

So, rationally, I think it makes a hell of a lot of sense to focus on ammunition capacity as a first step.  That’s the argument Alex Yablon makes in Slate:

 Today, many experts instead believe the most effective means to lessen the carnage in attacks like the one in Orlando is to ban high-capacity magazines. These devices feed semi-automatic firearms, including handguns, large amounts of ammunition, allowing shooters to fire for longer before reloading. While assault-style rifles like the AR-15 could increase the lethality of an attack in some situations, they say, it is high-capacity magazines that allow shooters to fire dozens of shots without stopping.

Officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said the Orlando shooter used a Sig Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle, which fires as quickly as its user can pull the trigger and can be equipped with detachable magazines that hold any number of rounds. The Orlando shooter used 30-round magazines, according to the ATF, which are illegal in a handful of states but not in Florida. That almost certainly contributed to the high body count, since the shooter did not have to pause to reload as frequently as he would have with a smaller magazine…

Though assault weapons have become a potent symbol of mass shootings, bans of that style of gun are a “distraction,” said Adam Winkler, a UCLA law professor and the author of Gunfight. For starters, he says, it didn’t actually stop manufacturers from selling assault rifles. Because the 1994 ban defined weapons based on “cosmetic” features like pistol grips or collapsible stocks, gun-makers evaded these restrictions by removing just enough design features so as to not trigger the ban. Meanwhile, the weapons remained semi-automatic and could still accept magazines of any size.

Winkler says he believes a ban on magazines that hold lots of ammunition would be a more effective strategy in limiting the carnage from a mass shooting. “It makes far more sense to focus on high-capacity magazines than assault rifles,” he says. Winkler notes that it’s not the style of a gun but “the size of a magazine [that’s] associated with the amount of damage a weapon can cause.” …

Restrictions on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are supported by a small majority of Americans. A poll conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in March 2015 found that 63 percent of all Americans favored assault weapon bans, and 60 percent favored banning the sale of high-capacity magazines.

Here’s the thing, though.  As we all know, in politics, symbolism really matters.  And there’s a huge symbolism to “assault weapons.”  Pretty much everybody intuitively understands that these weapons go far beyond what anybody would need for self defense and are generally modified on military weapons specifically designed to kill large numbers of humans.  I think, politically, there may be more opportunity for actually making progress against high-capacity, semi-automatic rifles.  And at this point, if we are ever going to have any half-sane gun policies, pretty much anything would be a good start.  Would I prefer politicians focus more on magazine size?  Absolutely.  But at this point, I’ll take energy behind more sane gun policies, period.

Nobody likes Trump

Okay, not nobody, but he sure is unpopular in the latest polls.  He’s rarely climbing above the high 30’s in support.  First, Greg Sargent on the lastest WP/ABC poll:

Americans hate their two leading choices for president, which means we’re headed for a general election bloodbath of negativity that will lead Americans to hate politics even more! Why are the two parties foisting such awful, despised figures upon the poor voters, who just want leaders they can feel good about?

At least, this is the lament we regularly hear. But it isn’t that simple. In reality, for now, at least, there’s no real equivalence between the negative views of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. While Clinton certainly has problems in this regard, Trump fares far, far worse. [emphases mine]

The new Washington Post/ABC News poll illustrates this neatly. It finds that Donald Trump’s unfavorable numbers have climbed to a new high: 70 percent of Americans have an unfavorable impression of Trump, versus only 29 percent (fewer than one-third!) who have a favorable impression. Clinton’s negatives, too, have hit a new high of 55 percent.

But look at Trump’s numbers among various voter groups. Trump is viewed unfavorably by 73 percent of moderates; 77 percent of women; 89 percent of Hispanics; 88 percent of nonwhites; 75 percent of voters under 40; 59 percent of whites; 71 percent of white college graduates, 67 percent of white women, and even 52 percent of white men and 53 percent of non-college whites…

But she does better among some of her core groups than Trump does among his. Trump is underwater among many constituencies that should be a natural part of his coalition (whites overall, white women of both the college and non-college variety, blue collar whites). But Clinton actually does comparatively well among some of her key constituencies. She’s viewed favorably among women by 51-47, among Hispanics by 64-34, and among nonwhites by 66-32. While she is viewed unfavorably by 59 percent of white college grads, which is bad, Trump fares worse, at 71 percent. And while Trump is in a deep hole among moderates, Clinton is tied among them at 49-49.

And John McCormick on the Bloomberg poll that has Clinton up by 12 (oh, if only all the polls were showing that):

Other troubling findings for Trump in poll include how 63 percent of women say they could never vote for him. “If you can never get the vote of two in three women, who are a majority of voters, that is something that has to change for Trump to emerge victorious,” Selzer said.

Similar proportions of those younger than 35 and those with incomes of less than $50,000 also say they could never support him.

These are just two polls.  And this is just a snapshot in time.  But it does seem more than fair to conclude that despite Hillary Clinton’s negatives, Trump is much more disliked and really has quite an uphill struggle if he is going to overtake Clinton in the polls.

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