Quick hits (part I)
October 29, 2016 5 Comments
1) I’m quite disturbed by the verdict in Oregon. Looking forward to reading more about it. Hard not to see a race angle. German Lopez:
The defense argued there was no intent to keep federal employees off the refuge. But come on. An armed group occupied a federal building. Your imagination doesn’t have to stretch very far to realize what was happening.
Yet a jury found them not guilty.
It is impossible to ignore race here. This was a group of armed white people, mostly men, taking over a facility. Just imagine: What would happen if a group of armed black men, protesting police brutality, tried to take over a police facility and hold it hostage for more than a month? Would they even come out alive and get to trial? Would a jury find them and their cause relatable, making it easier to send them back home with no prison time?
One doesn’t have to do much imagining here, either. The social science is pretty clear: People are much more likely to look at black people and see criminals and wrongdoers. They don’t get the privilege of innocence in the same way that white people — including these militants in Oregon — do.
2) On how kids can drink too much milk (my slightly underweight 16-year old would be an unhealthily underweight kid without his half gallon or so of whole milk per day).
3) Of course kids should eat healthy, varied diets, but I disagree with the suggestion that we shouldn’t sneak healthy foods into more kid-friendly foods because it will send the wrong messages. It’s not always so easy to get kids to eat healthy, varied diets.
5) Fred Hiatt argues that Hillary Clinton is not just lucky to have Trump as her opponent, but a good candidate.
6) Dana Goldstein with a thoughtful Marshall Project piece on how to decide at what age we treat criminals as adults:
If people in their twenties are a lot like adolescents socially and biologically, should they really be considered full adults under the law? Many advocates who work directly with this population say no. “For many years, the idea of how to achieve public safety with this group was you want to lock them up, protect the community by not having them around,” said Yotam Zeira, director of external affairs for Roca, a Massachusetts organization that provides counseling, education, and job training to 17 to 24-year old male offenders. “The sad reality is that after you lock them up, nothing gets better. Public safety is not really improved. Prosecutors know they are prosecuting, again and again, the same people.”
7) No, Brexit polling does not mean Trump will pull this out.
8) Molly Ball on Trump’s graying army:
The crowd at the Donald Trump rally was a sea of gray and white. They hobbled on walkers and canes into the massive amphitheater, searching for a place to sit on the lawn.
They were old enough to remember a different America—an America that was great. A place of strength and confidence, where men were men and women were women, where people respected the flag and their elders and prayed to God. That was not the America they saw today.
“I am 72 years old, and I have seen our country absolutely fall apart,” Jim Smith, a gray-haired grandfather with an eagle on his T-shirt, told me. Smith retired to the beach after a career in the Army that took him all over the world; at one point, he worked for NATO running logistics in Bosnia. But today, he did not like what he saw all around him.
“Our economy is depleted, our military forces are depleted. We’re a country that’s in trouble,” he said, ticking off the issues: Spanish language everywhere, babies slaughtered by abortion. Muslims invading America, abetted by Democrats. “What culture do we have anymore?” he asked…
At Trump’s rallies across the country—not just in Florida, where the effect may be especially pronounced—it is common to find an abundance of the superannuated. In fact, senior citizens are his strongest demographic. In polls, voters over 65 tend to be the only age group he wins: In surveys conducted for The Atlantic by the Public Religion Research Institute, for example, Hillary Clinton led Trump in every age group under 65, but he beat her by a slight margin with those 65 or older.
In the primaries, too, Trump supporters were older, on average, than those of other Republican candidates. Despite the stereotype of the Trump supporter as a prime-aged working man, Trump’s campaign has actually been fueled primarily by support from the elderly.
This makes sense, doesn’t it? Trump’s whole candidacy is predicated on nostalgia—not just making America great, but making it great again, returning it to an imagined, prelapsarian state of greatness. (Appropriately, Trump stole the slogan from Ronald Reagan.) More so even than most Republican candidates, Trump has run a campaign aimed squarely and frankly at old people’s nostalgia, fear of danger, and anxiety about social change.
9) This local Texas election ad is indeed worthy of going viral, as it has.
10) It would not be hard to fix the problems with Obamacare. The problem is that Republicans are entirely unwilling to. Waldman:
Nothing demonstrates how unserious Republicans are about health care policy more clearly than this does. Their preferred reform ideas — such as letting insurers sell across state lines — are positively miniscule in comparison to the challenges the health care system presents. If they were being honest, they’d admit that their real goal is to get the government out of the business of offering or even guaranteeing coverage, and that they don’t really care how many people are uninsured. That’s not to mention the fact that they refuse to grapple with the massive destruction that repealing the ACA would cause. In fact, at this point, repealing the ACA could be more disruptive than it was to implement it in the first place, because so many changes have been made throughout the health care system and so many new people are now insured.
So let’s not forget that when news of some problem with the ACA emerges, as it did yesterday, the Republican position is always the same: This is a terrible thing, and we will fight to our last breath to stop Democrats from fixing it. Which means that the only way that the shortcomings in the ACA can be addressed — just as every major law has been tweaked in the years after it passed, including Social Security and Medicare — is to get a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress who are willing to do it.
11) Jon Bernstein on how Clinton as a transactional politician and Clinton’s “scandals”
Here’s a better theory of what’s going on, from Kevin Drum:
Make a list of the entire chain of command that had some oversight over the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server. That’s going to be at least half a dozen people.
Make a list of all their close family and friends. Now you’re up to a hundred people.
Look for a connection between any of those people and the Clintons. Since FBI headquarters is located in Washington DC and the Clintons famously have thousands and thousands of friends, you will find a connection. I guarantee it.
Write a story about it.
Something like this template has been used for 24 years, since the first Bill Clinton presidential campaign. Eventually, most people get the sense something is wrong with Hillary Clinton. After all, with so many of these stories, there must be something behind them.
And this sense makes it easier to run nonsense stories like the Wall Street Journal’s article. And so on and so on.
Both Clintons, especially Bill, are transaction-style politicians, rather than ideologues. Both of them have been willing to cut deals, to temporarily embrace positions they might not like very much, and to champion the best-available option and hope to win. I like these kinds of politicians, the Bob Doles and John Boehners and Nancy Pelosis. I’d much rather have them govern than any ideological warriors, including those ideologues I agree with on the issues.
I suspect that many people’s dislike of Hillary Clinton has to do with their discomfort with the complicated ethics of transactional politics as opposed to strict ideology-based politics…
So the woman who looks to be the next president is capable of saying one thing and doing another, and of crass political calculations. In that way, at least, she is not unlike a lot of successful U.S. presidents.
That’s no coincidence. The sorts of things presidents need to do — form coalitions and keep them together, bargain for marginal gains, and put a good face on all of it to convince both elites and voters that everything is going as planned — are the skills of transactional, hypocritical politicians. This doesn’t guarantee that Hillary Clinton, if elected, will be a good president, of course. But it’s a start.
12) SNL’s “Black Jeopardy” sketch was great and Dan Zak’s take on it was the best I’ve read.
13) Paul Waldman on how the GOP’s “politics is inherently evil” rhetoric helped give them Trump:
For the moment, let’s set aside the question of whether Republicans would really be winning with a different nominee (I think the race would be closer, but Democrats would still have the advantage). What this hypothetical alternative would bring is the skills, experience, and knowledge you gain by being active in politics, exactly what Trump lacks. He’d know how to run a proper campaign. He’d have a grasp of substantive policy issues, and know how to communicate Republican positions to voters in a persuasive way. He’d understand how not to alienate key groups of voters. He’d be in control of his emotions, able to give a speech or participate in a debate without damaging outbursts.
In other words, he’d be a politician. You may notice that no Republicans are saying this election would be a lock if only Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina had been their nominee.
Yet for years, Republicans have been running against “Washington,” an irredeemable Sodom of corruption and malfeasance. Anyone who wants to actually make government work is immediately suspect, an “insider” whose motives can only be nefarious. They look for “outsiders” who can tell voters, “Elect me because I’m not a politician, I’m a businessman.” Granted, there have been a few Democrats who have made that claim too, but Republicans are particularly attracted to it, despite the fact that it’s ludicrous on its face. If you hired a carpenter to build you a deck and you didn’t like the way it turned out, you wouldn’t say, “What we need to fix this deck is someone who’ll think outside the box. Like a computer programmer, or a librarian. Just as long as it’s not another carpenter.” No, if you were a rational person, you’d decide to get yourself a better carpenter.
14) On a related note, if Republicans really want a sane party in the future, they really need to drain the fever-swamp that is right-wing media:
Perhaps more important, however, the conservative media industrial complex successfully managed over the years to lock the Republican Party away from access to its own base. Those who consumed conservative media were taught not to trust politicians or, even worse, the mainstream media.
As a result, party leaders were beholden to a handful of individuals who controlled the conservative media and, thus, held the keys to their voters. Elected officials and candidates seeking office dared not criticize the conservative media’s most powerful members, for fear of the wrath that would ensue if they did.
The power the conservative press held allowed its members to decide who was accepted by the base and who wasn’t. True conservatives could be painted as unprincipled moderates, and, as in the case of Trump, unprincipled moderates could be painted as exactly what the base wanted.
The GOP “has appeased it, they’ve sucked up to it, they’ve been afraid of going up against it,” said Charlie Sykes, an influential conservative radio host in Wisconsin. “I think that you have seen that played out this year. Has there been any willingness on the part of any mainstream conservative to call out this alt-right media? I’m not seeing it.”
Republicans instead allowed their base to be held captive by a conservative press that moved their base further right, pushed conspiracy theories about Obama, and set unrealistic exceptions for them while in office.
15) In case you missed this NYT story based on lots of interviews with Trump. As if you needed more evidence of what a pathetic, small, little man he is:
The intense ambitions and undisciplined behaviors of Mr. Trump have confounded even those close to him, especially as his presidential campaign comes to a tumultuous end, and he confronts the possibility of the most stinging defeat of his life. But in the more than five hours of conversations — the last extensive biographical interviews Mr. Trump granted before running for president — a powerful driving force emerges: his deep-seated fear of public embarrassment.
The recordings reveal a man who is fixated on his own celebrity, anxious about losing his status and contemptuous of those who fall from grace. They capture the visceral pleasure he derives from fighting, his willful lack of interest in history, his reluctance to reflect on his life and his belief that most people do not deserve his respect.
16) Dahlia Lithwick calls on John Roberts to speak out about the Republican calls to keep the court at eight members.
17) How bad soccer analytics made soccer a much worse game for a long time.
18) Gerald Seib with a nice essay in WSJ on Republican populism.
19) Why Russia wants to undermine confidence in US elections:
To understand Russia’s recent attacks on American democracy, one simply needs to look back to the country’s Cold War tactics.
Outpaced by American military spending and military innovation—and challenged by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—the Soviet Union sought an alternative approach to counter the U.S. Rather than match America on the battlefield, the U.S.S.R. sought to erode the U.S. from the inside out—using the “force of politics” rather than the “politics of force” to break democracy, fracturing the unity of the American populace and degrading trust in U.S. institutions. In a program known as “Active Measures,” the Soviet Union would deploy agents and provocateurs to spread propaganda amongst American dissident groups and communist causes throughout the Western world.
Cold War efforts to use propaganda to shatter the U.S. democratic system largely failed, but the internet and particularly social media have provided Russia’s “Active Measures” a renewed opportunity to foment American dissent. In contrast to the Soviet era, social media and the wealth of information available through the internet provides Russia the ability to access and disrupt American political figures and democratic institutions without setting foot in the U.S. Plus, the costs associated with hacking and social media manipulation are far lower for Russia—both in terms of money and risk—than deploying actual humans to influence U.S. elections.
20) On how Pat McCrory lost support with moderates. I’ve been saying some version of the following quote a long time– glad to finally see it in print:
Unaffiliated voters and moderate Democrats helped propel McCrory to office in 2012, and he needed their help. There are at least 644,334 more registered Democrats than Republicans in North Carolina, and roughly a third of all voters—more than two million people—are unaffiliated. CNN exit polls show McCrory won 62 percent of independents and a whopping 15 percent of Democrats four years ago. He even won the Democratic strongholds of Mecklenburg and Wake counties. But as Steven Greene, political science professor at N.C. State University, notes, “That Pat McCrory doesn’t exist anymore.”
21) Former Wikileaks insider on the craziness that Julian Assange.
22) David Wong with a nice piece on the urban/rural divides that divide our politics.
23) I found this Vox headline unintentionally hilarious, “Why women are still voting for Trump, despite his misogyny?” You probably also knew the answer without clicking the link. It’s called, Party Identification. I actually went to the article, searched on part* and decided that with no hits for partisanship or party identification, it was not worth reading.