Quick hits (part II)

1) Amy Davidson’s explanation of the legal issues in the 9th circuit ruling is as good as any I’ve read.

2) I think Drum is right about this– why did Democrats oppose DeVos so hard (while others, like Price, skated by)?

On a policy level, opposition to DeVos mostly centered on her devotion to vouchers and charter schools. But if DeVos had been defeated, Trump would simply have sent up another pro-voucher-pro-charter nominee. Defeating DeVos wouldn’t have changed anything.

The real reason Democrats spent so much energy on DeVos is pretty simple: she badly fluffed her Senate testimony, and came out looking like an idiot. Because of this, there was a realistic chance of finding three Republicans to join in opposing her, and thus defeating her nomination. In the end, only two Republicans stepped up, but for a while it looked like Democrats had a real chance at claiming a scalp.

This hasn’t been true of any of the others. There were never any Republicans who might have voted against Sessions or Pruitt or Price, and it’s hard to get the masses psyched up for battle when there’s really no chance of winning. That’s why, relatively speaking, Democrats haven’t mounted as big a campaign against any of Trump’s other nominees.

3) Interesting column from Noah Smith on public-private dysfunction in various policy areas and how to improve it.

4) Of all the stuff I learned in college, the theory of relative deprivation stuck with me as well as anything.  I think it really is useful for explaining a lot in the world.  Very nice NPR piece from Danielle Kurtzleben using it to explain a lot of the current political environment.

5) Yes, statutory rape is wrong.  That said, I really think it is ridiculous for a judge to require no premarital sex at all as a condition for probation.

6) Chait, again, on the need for Democrats to filibuster Gorsuch:

Democrats have nothing to gain by keeping the filibuster on the books. On the other hand, they have a great deal to lose. The last two Democratic Supreme Court nominees were confirmed only because Democrats had near filibuster-proof Senate margins at the time. The last nominee, Elena Kagan, received just 5 Republican votes, and several of those Republicans faced intense backlash from primary challengers for doing so. (Indiana Senator Richard Lugar was defeated in a primary in part because he voted for Democratic justices.)

If the next Democratic president gets a Supreme Court vacancy, he or she will have an extremely difficult time defeating a filibuster. Democrats will probably need to abolish the filibuster for Supreme Court picks to get their justice seated. They may or may not have enough votes to do it. Some of their members (like West Virginia senator Joe Manchin) have political reasons to avoid siding with their party in a high-stakes social-policy fight. Other Democratic senators have expressed institutional reluctance to change the Senate rules. What they need is for Republicans to end the judicial filibuster for them.

McConnell is a norm-violator. That’s what he does. He’s very good at it. Keeping in place an ambiguous set of rules, such as giving the minority a blocking power that the majority openly threatens to eliminate if it is used, is the kind of circumstance under which his tactics thrive. Democrats can eliminate his advantage only if they force the norms and the rules to say the same thing.

7) Seriously– how is it okay for financial institutions to legally give their clients bad advice?!

8) Nice piece from Nate Silver looking at Trump’s successful electoral college strategy.

9) I must say I hate how Trump has ensured that “fake news,” an important concept, has now lost all meaning.

10) The way our culture treats platonic touch among men is ridiculous.  Fortunately, my dad was a hugger, I’m a hugger, and so are my boys.

11) Paul Waldman— beware Trump’s Reichstag fire:

As Harvard Law School professor and former Bush administration official Jack Goldsmith suggested, this could have two purposes, should there be a terrorist attack. “If Trump loses in court he credibly will say to the American people that he tried and failed to create tighter immigration controls. This will deflect blame for the attack. And it will also help Trump to enhance his power after the attack.”

What precisely might Trump do? We know that unlike President Obama, he won’t try to calm people down or remind them of how safe we are. He’ll do exactly the opposite: ramp up people’s fear and anger, using the attack (now matter how minor it might have been) as justification for a range of policy moves. He said during the campaign that he wanted to put mosques under surveillance; that could be just the start of a range of harsh actions directed at American Muslims. More restrictions on travel and immigration would be almost guaranteed. He might well order mass deportations. And given his regular, personal attacks on judges that don’t rule as he’d like, there’s a genuine question of whether he’d obey lawful court orders that restrained him in a situation where he felt he had the advantage.

12) Hell, yeah, Trump is making America less safe.

13) This is good: counter lies with emotions, not facts.  Pretty clear that countering them with facts does not work.

14) Relatedly, good work on how to persuade your ideological opposite— appeal to their values, not yours.

15) Some conservatives just came out with a good plan for a carbon tax. Surprised?  Don’t be– none of them actually hold an elected office.

16) It really is amazing the degree to which Republicans view women through the lens of “wives and mothers.”

17) I think Josh Barro is right that Democrats need to do a better job selling their position on immigration:

I think the true reason that immigration advocates fail to make strong national-interest arguments for immigration is that the pro-immigration impulse is not really about the national interest.

Potential immigrants are human beings with moral worth. Especially in the case of refugees, they have been disadvantaged by the place of their birth. The human condition is improved by their admission to the US. This — a global, humanistic concern — is a driving factor behind support for immigration.

Plus, elites in government, media, and business tend to be in positions where they stand to derive disproportionate benefits from immigration to the US and bear relatively few costs related to it. Thus immigration is a relatively easy area to favor policy altruism.

But what if about half the electorate disagrees? What’s in it for them?

An effective pro-immigration message would synthesize globalism and nationalism

Immigration advocates do not need to abandon the idea that resettling refugees is a morally necessary act of altruism by a rich country, nor do they need to concede the idea that public policy should be made solely in the interest of American citizens, forsaking the concerns of all other people.

But they need to acknowledge that admitting outsiders to the US is a policy choice — and demonstrate that they have carefully considered the national interest in making the choice. Voters will be more inclined to let politicians be altruistic on their behalf if they do not believe their own interests have been lost in the calculations.

So, how many people should we admit to the US based on their need for a new country to live in? For those we admit or naturalize for other reasons, what is the benefit to existing citizens of the US?

18) Woman gets 8 years in Texas prison for illegal voting.  So, you know, about the same as armed robbery.  Definitely read this one.

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

One Response to Quick hits (part II)

  1. rgbact says:

    #16) Yes, and many of those Republicans are actually women. Not surprisingly, the majority of the married women in America.

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