Photo of the day

From recent Telegraph photos of the day:

A mother swan and two cygnets swim across the lake in Friday morning's bright sunshine at Golden Acre park in Leeds

A mother swan and two cygnets swim across the lake in Friday morning's bright sunshine at Golden Acre park in Leeds.

Andrew McCaren/LNP

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It’s hard out there for conservative evangelicals

Interesting piece in the NYT profiling religious conservatives in Iowa.  I do have some sympathy, as the ground really has shifted amazingly fast under their feet:

The change in America seemed to happen so quickly that it felt like whiplash, the Odgaards said. One day they felt comfortably situated in the American majority, as Christians with shared beliefs in God, family and the Bible. They had never even imagined that two people of the same sex could marry.

Overnight, it seemed, they discovered that even in small-town Iowa they were outnumbered, isolated and unpopular. Everyone they knew seemed to have a gay relative or friend. Mr. Odgaard’s daughter from his first marriage disavowed her father’s actions on Facebook, and his gay second cousin will not speak to him. Even their own Mennonite congregation put out a statement saying that while their denomination opposes gay marriage, “not every congregation” or Mennonite does. Mrs. Odgaard, 64, the daughter of a Mennonite minister, was devastated.

“It all flipped, so fast,” said Mr. Odgaard, a patrician 70-year-old who favors khakis and boat shoes. “Suddenly, we were in the minority. That was kind of a scary feeling. It makes you wonder where the Christians went.”

Of course, there’s still plenty of Christians (though the number is declining).  Most of them are just more tolerant.  But, I can certainly see how it would be disorienting.  That said, stuff like this (although a paraphrase rather than a quote, just kills me):

While other Americans are anxious about the economy, jobs and terrorism, conservative Christians say they fear for the nation’s very soul. Some worry that the nation has strayed so far that God’s punishment is imminent.

Give me a break?  How about how a nation treats it’s poor, disadvantaged, and prisoners instead of how it treats it’s gay people??!!  I seem to recall the Jesus saying just a wee bit more about the former.  Have these people actually read the Gospels?  You know who treats the poor, disadvantaged, and prisoners really well?  Scandinavians.  And hardly any of them are actually practicing Christians. And God has not exactly wreaked vengeance upon Denmark.  Please, spare me your concern for “the nation’s soul.”

The most amazing book review ever

Michiko Kakutani has pulled off an amazing feat with her review of a new Hitler biography.  Not once does she even make the slightest reference or allusion to Trump.  And yet, he pervades the entire review.  Read it, you’ll be glad you did.  A sample:

Hitler was often described as an egomaniac who “only loved himself” — a narcissist with a taste for self-dramatization and what Mr. Ullrich calls a “characteristic fondness for superlatives.” His manic speeches and penchant for taking all-or-nothing risks raised questions about his capacity for self-control, even his sanity. But Mr. Ullrich underscores Hitler’s shrewdness as a politician — with a “keen eye for the strengths and weaknesses of other people” and an ability to “instantaneously analyze and exploit situations.”

Hitler was known, among colleagues, for a “bottomless mendacity” that would later be magnified by a slick propaganda machine that used the latest technology (radio, gramophone records, film) to spread his message. A former finance minister wrote that Hitler “was so thoroughly untruthful that he could no longer recognize the difference between lies and truth” and editors of one edition of “Mein Kampf” described it as a “swamp of lies, distortions, innuendoes, half-truths and real facts.”

Is Trump the next Hitler?  Nope.  Among other things, 2010’s America is very different from 1930’s Germany and Trump, while a race-baiter, is certainly no Hitler.  But, are there disturbing personality similarities that suggest a democracy might not want to elect a leader with these personal characteristics?  Hell yes.

Polls, “polls,” and amazing ignorance

Does Donald Trump actually believe his own BS?  Is he dumb enough to believe than an on-line poll anybody can opt into multiple times tells us more than a random sample?  I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that question.  Here’s Trump’s tweet:

And here’s the reality from polls that are conducted scientifically:

Honestly, we need another word for the type of “polls” that Trump is using.  But, he just knows they are right.  TPM:

“I’ll tell you what, we had the debate the other night, and every single online poll had me winning, by sometimes a landslide. And then you go on television, and these are Time Magazine, Drudge,” Trump said, referring to two websites which hosted online polls inviting readers to react to the debate. “And I’m winning by massive margins in many cases. One was 80 percent to 20 percent!”

Such polls don’t draw data from randomized phone numbers and internet users, as more trustworthy pollsters do, and are susceptible to “brigading,” or the concerted efforts by small groups of self-selected respondents to tilt them disproportionally in favor of one option.

“And I’m winning all these polls — how many were there, seven or eight or nine? Hundreds of thousands of votes,” Trump said, “and then I have to sit back, and you have to sit back, and hear about how those polls don’t mean anything, but when they poll 300 people, that means a lot, right?” [emphasis mine]

Do I think Trump really is dumb enough to not understand the difference between self-selection and random samples?  Yes.

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