Quick hits (part I)

1) I’ll be honest, I think Arlie Hochschild gives these Tea Partiers more empathy than they deserve.

2) An algorithm for determining fiction best-sellers.

3) Surprise, surprise, more evidence that drug testing welfare recipients is just dumb public policy.

4) Ummm, Victorian bereavement photography (i.e., photos of dead people, posed to look alive, with their families) is really creepy.

5) So, you are an “intellectual” conservative what do you do?  Make a straight-faced argument that Hillary Clinton (and pretty much all liberals) are a greater threat to America’s Constitutional order than Donald Trump.

6) Samatha Bee takes on those telling Hillary to smile, including David Frum.   Good stuff.  And Frum’s defense.

7) Love Chait on the “pivot” euphemism.

Virtually the entire Republican professional class understands at some level that their presidential candidate is wildly unfit for the presidency. They have all made the professional decision that they cannot say so in public. Instead, their plan is to conceal Trump’s unfitness through the elections and hope for the best, without much regard for what would happen if they succeed in handing control of the Executive branch to an unstable bully. It is one of those moral decisions so awful it can’t be described in plain terms.Pivot is their euphemism of choice.

8) At least in this election, Democrats are killing it with the fundraising thanks to the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon decision.

9) Matt Yglesias with some interesting pushback on Trump/Hitler book review.  Some really good points.  I still love the review.

10) If the rest of the world got a vote, it would be Clinton in the biggest landslide ever.

11) Paul Waldman with a pretty compelling take on why the second debate, with it’s town hall format, may be even more conducive to a Clinton victory.

12) As swing states go, Ohio ain’t what it used to be:

But even some of the state’s proudest boosters acknowledge that Ohio, which is nearly 80 percent white, is decreasingly representative of contemporary America.

“Ohio, like a melting iceberg, has slowly been losing its status as the country’s bellwether,” said Michael F. Curtin, a Democratic state legislator and former Columbus Dispatch editor who is co-author of the state’s authoritative “Ohio Politics Almanac.”

He continued: “It’s a slow melt. But we have not captured any appreciable Hispanic population, and there has been very little influx of an Asian population. When you look at the diversity of America 30 to 40 years ago, Ohio was a pretty close approximation of the country. It no longer is.”

13) I think I forgot to post Ezra Klein’s takedown of Trump on trade.

14) A thorough history of Trump’s corruption.  Be warned, it’s looooong.

15) Really interesting Jordan Weissman take on the long-term impact of trade normalization with China under Bill Clinton.

16) Sure, one could entirely fill up quick hits with Trump’s ignorance on policy, but, hey, it really is important stuff, and this piece from Fred Kaplan on Trump’s foreign policy incompetence is quite good.

17) A Bernie Bro has seen the light and apologizes for “despising” Hillary Clinton.

18) Maybe the police should not always rely on yelling commands as a first option.

19) Among mammals, humans are quite violent within species.  As primates go, however, we’re pretty par for the course.

20) The case for more brevity in your emails.

21) Given all the other post-debate coverage, not much on how Clinton attempted to paint Trump as a Romney-like lover of the rich.

22) You know what, Donald Trump really does not have a good sense of humor:

Granted, a lot has been made of Hillary Clinton’s sense of humor—her laugh is shrill, too many of her jokes have seemed too prepared for far too long. But undoubtedly, at the first presidential debate on Monday, it was confirmed: Her sense of humor exists! And this mattered, because humor showed Clinton to be as self-aware as she was serious, and served to isolate Trump, making him seem like an angry spider caught in a tangled dystopia of his own construction.

This isn’t to say that Trump can’t get laughs. It’s simply that when he gets them, he’s humiliating people—whether “Low Energy” Jeb Bush, “Lyin” Ted Cruz or “Little” Marco Rubio. Humor borne out of cruelty happens to be the easiest and therefore lowest form of comedy: It is cheap stuff and it does not elevate the candidate, nor make him a more fundamentally sympathetic character. And when Trump does manage to grab laughs, his smile is a forced, flat line—a concession to facial spasm more than a natural expression of amusement or mirth.

23) Will Saletan on how the Iraq War created lasting damage to the Republican Party.

24) I basically have no interest in psychedelic drugs (like pretty much all mind-altering drugs except caffeine), but there’s ever more evidence that there are valuable therapeutic benefits.  Alas, our war on drugs is, as always, getting in the way.

25) Nate Cohn on the post-debate movement towards Clinton in the polls:

Usually, a good way to test the durability of a swing in the polls is to ask whether it brings the race closer or farther from the so-called fundamentals, like the president’s approval ratings.

A shift that brings the polls in line with the fundamentals might be a little likelier to last than one that cuts the other way. Mr. Kerry’s recovery, for instance, brought the tighter race implied by Mr. Bush’s approval ratings. Barack Obama’s gains in 2008 gave him the considerable advantage implied by the economy and Mr. Bush’s low approval ratings. The opposite could be said of Mr. Bush’s and Mr. Romney’s surges in 2000 and 2012.

This year, it’s a lot harder to tell. That’s in part because there is no incumbent president on the ballot, which always makes it a little harder to tell where the natural resting point of a race sits. But it’s also because Mr. Trump is such an extraordinary candidate that many analysts believe the fundamentals will be less significant than usual.

In lieu of the traditional fundamentals, here’s something to consider instead: Over the longer term, Mrs. Clinton has led Mr. Trump by around five percentage points nationally.

The debate has bumped her poll standing back closer to her longer-term average, and it seems plausible it could stay in that range. The debate has also reinforced doubts about whether Mr. Trump is prepared for the presidency. No matter how you interpret polls, Mrs. Clinton is in a decent position with less than 40 days to go.

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

2 Responses to Quick hits (part I)

  1. Mika says:

    #4 “The Others”
    #20 Brevity, yes.
    #24 Ok, now I can’t be brief anymore. Even though I’ve bought caffeine pills from pharmacy it always catches my attention when somebody claims that caffeine is a drug. It might have something to do with the word “drug” and the fact that there are “drugs” and “illegal drugs”. In Finnish the equivalents would be “lääkkeet” and “huumeet”. There is a big binary gulf between those words, “lääkkeet” (medicine) are good, beneficial and so on where as “huumeet” are evil, harmful and so on. Whenever I read the word “drugs” I immediately think of “huumeet” and everything negative associated with it. I think that in English the valence of the word “drug” depends on context but I can’t make the separation – drugs are always evil. (photo caption “Scientists at Johns Hopkins have been studying the effects of the ingredients in “magic mushrooms.” made my giggle 🙂 )

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