Quick hits (part II)

1) I’ve got a soft-spot for good post-apocalyptic fiction.  I think Station Eleven, which I just finished this week, is the best I’ve read since The Road.

2) Loved this take on terrorism and suicide as the limiting factor from Drum:

Most mass shootings and car bombings require something that’s in short supply: people willing to die for their cause (or, in a few cases, spend the rest of their lives in prison for their cause). Even among the most extreme reaches of jihadism, there are fewer folks willing to commit suicide than you might think, and you can’t afford to waste them on small attacks. You need to use them on big stuff.

I’ve always thought this was the gating item. It’s absolutely true that in America, at least, it’s trivially easy to buy the means of mass slaughter—a gun with a large magazine and a fast firing rate—and learn how to use it. It’s also easy to find soft targets: night clubs, PTA meetings, church services, weddings, etc. If you could recruit a small army of terrorists truly willing to train for these jobs (which generally requires a certain minimum of self discipline) and then carry them out in the face of almost certain death (which generally requires a certain minimum of reckless volatility), the potential damage would be huge.

We’ll be in real trouble if we ever get to the point where that small army exists—which is why it’s important to make sure we never get there. This is not something the military can do: they can’t make people less angry, and they can’t kill every angry person. Nor is it something the FBI can do. They can try to track angry people and intercede before they kill anyone, but they’ll never be able to ID more than a fraction of them.

One way or another, the only real answer to this dilemma is to reduce the number of young men who become so angry they’re willing to die for a cause. So what’s the best way of doing that? Every national politician should have an answer to that question. Immigration bans and air strikes may sound appealing, and they might even work in the short term, but they’re just fingers in the dike. In the end, reducing the supply of angry young men is the only real solution.

3) So, this was paid content in The New Yorker, but it was a pretty interesting to learn that it’s not just supply and demand for an over-rated apple that makes Honeycrisp so expensive.  (Honeycrisp are good apples, but being paid content, you’d think this was the only crisp apple out there).

4) Molly Ball says stop blaming the media for Trump.

5)  Chait on why Jews and Asians are Democrats (short version: Republicans make it pretty clear they are the party for white Americans, all other stuff aside).  And Chait on how Republicans don’t understand Obama and race:

“[Obama] has used tribalism to grow his own power,” writes Shapiro. “By cobbling together a coalition of racial and ethnic interest groups, Obama knew he could maximize the power of the government to act on their behalf.” It is true, of course, that Democrats do appeal to different members of their coalition on the basis of their interests. If you believe that racial discrimination against white people is as serious a problem in American life as discrimination against racial minorities, as Republicansoverwhelmingly do, then you’re inclined to view any specific appeal to minorities as the odious dangling of special favors…

The complaint that Democrats appeal to voters fundamentally on the basis of their identity is a strange one. After all, unlike the Republican coalition, which is almost entirely white, Obama’s coalition is multiethnic. Whites supplied more than half (55 percent) of Obama’s votes in 2012, with nonwhites (African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans) providing the rest. The Republican Party relies almost entirely on whites, who provide about 90 percent of its votes. It is bizarre to describe the coalition balancing members of different ethnic backgrounds as appealing to ethnicity and the party consisting of a single ethnic group as not.

6) Pros and Cons of Hillary’s VP possibilities.  I’m going with Tim Kaine.

7) Kristof on the breast-feeding gap.  I had not really thought enough about the role of public policy in encouraging it.

Affluent moms in America breastfeed, but there’s a class and a race gap. Because fewer young, black, poor and uneducated mothers nurse, a subset of American babies fall behind with their first bottle, compounding other kinds of disadvantage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 58.9 percent of black infants have ever breastfed, compared to 75.2 percent of whites and 80 percent of Hispanics.

This isn’t a chance to cast blame on formula-feeding moms — just the opposite. We need to acknowledge the barriers to breastfeeding and support moms who try…

Formula was easily available through the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program and Emergency Infant Services. Both programs encourage breastfeeding, but allow moms to decide for themselves.

And here, we meet the confusing incentives that drive formula feeding. Social programs should provide formula to babies who need it, but in doing so, do they inadvertently promote bottle feeding for mothers who could nurse? Couple that with aggressive marketing by the $3 billion formula industry, the challenges of pumping and refrigerating milk and a lack of knowledge about the biology of breastfeeding. Why should a young mother believe the effort to nurse is worthwhile?

“There is a commercial and promotional aspect to it, that — not meaning to be a pun — feeds in to this,” Piwoz said. “The free supplies, the direct, indirect messages that formula is as good as or just like breast milk, messages that get conveyed either directly or indirectly that your milk isn’t good enough.”

But in upper- and middle-class communities, a new, trendy industry cheers on moms who choose to breastfeed. Nursing boutiques like “The Upper Breast Side” and “Yummy Mummy” offer nursing bras, pump consultations and “lactation cookies,” with oats, brewer’s yeast and flax seed to boost milk production.

8) Kevin Drum on our odd obsession with top 10% teachers.  There’s a bell curve in every profession and it would be awesome if all professionals could be like the very best in their profession.  But that’s just not life.

9) James Hamblin on toxic masculinity and murder:

10) Nice piece from Catherine Rampell taking Paul Ryan to task for not advocating Medicaid expansion:

But it is also a fixable problem. It just requires some leadership. If Ryan really cares about encouraging the poor to move up in the world — which his recent report indicates he does — he should urge state-level Republicans to swallow their pride, get over petty partisan differences and expand Medicaid nationwide once and for all.

11) People who know about criminal justice know that a disturbingly high number of confessions are actually coerced, false confessions.  Alas, it seems too many jurors and prosecutors think all confessions must be true.  That needs to change.  Oh, and we need to stop coercing confessions.  Just one more sad story of somebody imprisoned for a false confession at the age of 14.

12) Drum on the lack of any decent arguments in opposition to banning high-capacity magazines.

13) Practice does not always make perfect.  Great piece on the matter in Vox.  And, once again, an opportunity for me strongly plug The Sports Gene.  (And going back to my original post on it, I can report that Evan’s music trainability is definitely high).

14) The sad story of lower-tier law schools.  What amazes me is the huge number of people who delude themselves into thinking that paying the money for a private, lowly-ranked, law school is a good idea in today’s marketplace for lawyers.  It’s so not.

15) Conservative editor Matthew Continetti on Trump:

Four years ago I wrote that the summer of an election year is when campaigns define their opponents. In 2012, Barack Obama’s campaign transformed Mitt Romney from a mild-mannered technocrat into a soulless tool of capital. On Thursday Clinton began her television campaign against Trump, spending millions of dollars in swing states that will define the New York real-estate developer as a risk to the nation’s economy and security, a misogynist and bigot, an ignoramus and doofus. She won’t be wrong.

What is most remarkable is that the television advertising is beside the point. Donald Trump has done the Democrats’ work for them, defining himself in the most negative terms through an unending series of inane, ludicrous, and deranged comments. It’s not the media, the party elite, the Democrats sabotaging Donald Trump. It’s Trump. This is self-immolation on an epic scale.

16) I’ve listened to this interview on Fresh Air about “OJ: Made in America” and just last night finished watching part 1.  Absolutely riveting.  And as a young football and pop culture fan, reminded me of how much I had loved OJ way back when.  And, damn, could that man run with a football.


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

14 Responses to Quick hits (part II)

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    Tim Kaine as Hillary’s VP? Good guy but BORING.
    Elizabeth Warren as VP – ENERGY! Excitement! Headliner! Give Hillary progressive cred on Wall Street.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Tim Kaine– safe choice. I like safe :-).

    • rgbact says:

      Warren is a liberal fantasy Pairing her with Hillary is like pairing Trump with Lindsey Graham……just so you cover all the bases on immigration..Doesn’t make much sense in real life.

      Kaine seems remote unless Democrats have a great Senate candidate waiting in the wings. Swing state senators seem more valuable as senators than VP’s.

      • ohwilleke says:

        VP’s have very little impact on electoral outcomes, a legions of balance the ticket VPs have demonstrated. But, a female VP makes assassination attempts by someone who doesn’t think a woman can run the country futile, and grooms Warren for future high political office (in much the way that her appointment by Obama as Secretary of State did for Clinton herself).

      • Steve Greene says:

        I think the Senate seat makes Warren (and Sherrod Brown) a simple no-go.

      • Jon K says:

        The Vox piece sums up why Warren is a bad choice. It also basically expresses my personal opinion of Elizabeth Warren:

        Clinton could also be wary of pissing off financial sector donors, and it bears mentioning that rich people all over America hate Elizabeth Warren and regard her as a dangerous economically illiterate charlatan.

      • Steve Greene says:

        You may not like Elizabeth Warren, but to call somebody who was a professor of bankruptcy law at Harvard “economically illiterate” is really pushing it.

      • Jon K says:

        I was quoting the Vox piece.

  2. ohwilleke says:

    #2 – An important thing to recognize about suicide bombers is that they aren’t basically suicidal people. They are basically heroic patriots for a cause we don’t disagree with, much like a medal of honor winner. They are people who have a deep desire to help the cause and limited capacity to do so and see heroism as their claim to fame. The good news is that this provides a counter-approach that is more likely to work and which the Israelis had made a crude effort at – make their heroic act dishonorable in the community that they come from and people don’t volunteer.

    #8- The point on focusing on the best teachers is not that there isn’t a bell curve, but that K-12 teaching disproportionately draws from the bottom of the barrel of college graduates and that reformers would like to make the profession attractive to more talented graduates vis-a-vis business majors or psychology or economics or investment banking or management consulting or law or people who go on to graduate studies in fields where they may eventually get a degree but have no realistic chance of getting decent employment. If the top 10% of current teachers really make a difference, then the number of teachers with that level of ability can be improved by poaching on other occupational pools.

  3. ohwilleke says:

    #14. If you can get admitted to the bar (if you can’t the investment really is a bad one), a law degree can still make sense because the next best alternative for a lot of the bottom of the bar admissions pool is much, much worse, and even a relatively unchallenging, low paying (as law goes) job can be pretty rewarding for someone who has grit and and is willing to put in a lot of hours. For many of these individuals the next best alternative is shift manager at Burger King or a full time job at Home Depot (or teaching middle school after also investing similar time and only modestly few $$$).

  4. Jason says:

    Station Eleven: excellent! It struck a perfect balance for me, between suspense/action and its thoughtful portrayal of what a world like that would actually feel like to live in.

  5. R. Jenrette says:

    Re: Sen Warren as VP. Don’t worry too much about her Senate seat. Senator Reid figured out that because of Massachusetts particular laws on filling vacated Senate seats Warren’s seat would be filled by a Republican not that many days. They have to have an election to fill it and that process can be drawn out.
    In the election, a Democrat is likely to win.
    So, back to Energy, headline grabbing, Trump whipping, excitement and that oh so important kiss of approval and cred for Hillary on Wall Street….all that Warren brings to Clinton’s campaign.
    Oh, yes…and real change for the majority of the electorate too, women.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: