Quick hits (part II)

1) I’ll use this article about a feud in the Lacks family (as in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) to say that I thought the book was way over-rated.  Would’ve made a nice New Yorker article.  Massive overkill as a book.  Also, if for some reason some cells from my mom had been cultured and still alive, the fact would mean absolutely nothing to me.

2) This headline really says enough, “Since 2007, the DEA has taken $3.2 billion in cash from people not charged with a crime.”

3) Garrett Epps is not pleased with Neil Gorsuch:

I fear that Gorsuch’s opaque manner actually does not hide, but rather displays, his jurisprudential philosophy. There is a strain of conservative legal philosophy (by no means the only one, but a powerful one) that regards the role of courts as blocking the naïve progressive impulses of the people—poor fools, using individual mandates and Medicaid expansions to construct a modern health care system! Thinking that labor unions contribute to prosperity! Falling for politically correct gabble about feminism and homophobia or whatever the latest fad may be!—and substituting the mature judgment of the high court. Some thinkers on the right now insist that a judge’s duty is to decide whether economic and social regulation is wise, and strike it down if, in the judge’s opinion, it is not. Faced with demographic and political irrelevance, a strain of right-wing thought sees the courts as the final firewall of a laissez-faire economic order.

Of course, the decisions gutting progressive measures are to be couched in soothing neutral language of law—nothing to see here, I just call balls and strikes.

I caught a whiff of that philosophy when Gorsuch insisted, over and over, he was an entirely non-political being who had sprung immaculate from the brow of Lady Liberty. He is simply a judge, he said over and over—a job which calls, apparently, for neither values nor any firm connection to human life as it is lived. Judges just, well, you know, Senator, judge; they channel the brooding omnipresence of reason and then reach results without a thought for the so-called real world the rest of us must live in.

4) Socially conscious investment fund fires their legal firm for enabling Trump’s kleptocracy.

5) All that DHA in baby formula now– no evidence it actually makes any difference.  Human milk and developing baby brains are complicated stuff.

6) Do we have to be so needlessly cruel with undocumented immigrants?  Yes, in Trump’s America.

7) OMG I love how Ashley Feinberg lays out how she step-by-step uncovered James Comey’s secret twitter account.

8) Amazing– NCAA has made a decision that’s better for fans of women’s college basketball than for ESPN’s ratings.

9) Drum with my favorite take on Trump and science:

The problem with science is (a) it’s bo-o-o-o-o-ring, (b) it’s depressing, and (c) it often clashes with stuff you want to do. Really, it’s just a bummer all around. Why on earth would anyone want to staff the egghead department, anyway?

10) Speaking of science, it’s pretty damn insidious how Republicans are trying to limit the EPA’s ability to use it.  TNR with the best description I’ve read about how they make it sound good, but it’s really awful:

The bill, introduced by Texas Republican Lamar Smith, requires the EPA to only use scientific studies for which all data is publicly available and the results are easily reproducible. This is much harder to do than it sounds. Many public health studies use private medical data, while others contain trade secrets and industry data. Moreover, public health studies are impossible to reproduce when, say, they’re based on one-time pollution events or on people who have died since the study was conducted.

David Stevenson, a member of Trump’s EPA transition team, told me last week that the HONEST Act would be instrumental in preventing regulations of carbon dioxide and other pollutions. “Almost everything that has been done in the last 10, 11, 12 years would not pass the standards [under the bill],” he said. “The Clean Power Plan, ozone regulations, particulate matter regulations—everything has been built on science that has not been peer-reviewed, that the data’s not visible, or that there’s only been one person doing the study.”

11) Accentuate the positive— almost certainly good for not just your mental health, but your physical health as well.  Science!  I don’t know if it’s making my youngest son any healthier, but our daily oral gratitude journal seems to be making a difference.

12) Seth Masket is right– gerrymandering is a too convenient scapegoat.  Most of the problem lies in natural sorting of residential patterns.  That said, I’m not sure Masket would have written this quite the same if he live in North Carolina.

13) Cassidy on the Trump White House as the Keystone Kops:

Today, there are still plenty of reasons to be concerned about Trump and his illiberalism. The White House’s recent decision to dismantle President Obama’s clean-air regulations offers fresh testament to the malevolence of the Trump Administration’s agenda, and next week’s meeting between Trump and Xi Jinping, China’s President, will be a reminder of the enormous responsibilities that rest on a President’s shoulders. But, even among ardent Trumpophobes, fear and foreboding have been supplemented by wonderment at the White House’s string of gaffes. These days, instead of Big Brother, it often looks like the Keystone Kops are in charge.

14) Frank Schaeffer argues that Democrats should forget about trying to persuade Trump voters with facts (agreed), it’s all about emotion.

15) Law professor in Vox on just how unfair to women– and probably illegal– Mike Pence’s “never dine alone” standard is.  Not to mention horribly offensive.  And pathetic.  Lots of great mockery on twitter this week.

16) But you can’t beat the Onion, “Mike Pence Asks Waiter To Remove Mrs. Butterworth From Table Until Wife Arrives.”

17) I got to talk to Joe Nocera this week– very cool.  And got one anodyne quote his recent Bloomberg column on the HB2 semi-repeal and the power of college basketball in NC.

18) I think Drum is right– Tom Price is a scandal just waiting to blow up.  The man is shamelessly unethical.

19) Really enjoyed this piece on Dan Monson, the man who got Gonzaga basketball rolling before Mark Few led them to perennial power status.  Monson left for more money and a more prestigious job– as pretty much all coaches do when given the chance– but things have worked out way better for Few.

20) Finally read the big Robert Draper piece about Trump, his advisers, and Congress.  Lots of good stuff.  Worth your time.

21) I’ve got lots of women friends and always have.  Actually, my wife started out as a female friend– admittedly, I wasn’t married at the time.  Anyway, in light of the Pence stuff, I particularly enjoyed this piece on the matter.  Personally, I couldn’t imagine not having female friends:

And how, without occasionally going out for a sandwich, could a married man ever make or keep female friends?

Because I was raised in a Southern Baptist community in Texas, the answer to that last question is still ingrained within me: a married man simply shouldn’t have female friends. It’s not necessary or proper. That’s what plenty of people I grew up around might say. Men and women are meant to serve God in a contained, organized partnership. Intimacy of any sort leads to sexual temptation; a man’s wife is the only woman outside of his birth family who should rightfully play a meaningful role in his life…

But it’s one thing to avoid a particular situation involving a particular woman who makes you feel a certain way; it’s another entirely to avoid all women as a group and as a rule because of the abstract possibility of sexual temptation. It’s telling, and extremely disheartening, that many people can’t tell the difference—that knowing the best thing to do for your partnership and subscribing wholesale to an idea about gender that calcifies woman as secondary could plausibly seem like the same thing. The Pence approach rules out a lunch meeting or a professional dinner with a woman.

22) We need to take the college dropout problem more seriously.  Among other things, colleges being more flexible can help.

23) Damn Trump, Sessions, and company are so dumb about immigration.  I used to have a friend (moved away) who was a highly-skilled college graduate, but she couldn’t work here because here husband was on an H1B.  The Obama administration wised up on that and let spouses work.  Now, Trump is looking to undo that, of course.  The result– smart, motivated people who would grow our economy (it’s not zero sum!!!) will not be able to work.

24) This Kristoff column on Trump voters who realize his policies are screwing them, but that they are still loyal to Trump is just painful.  The persistent theme seems to be they all thought when Trump talked about cutting stuff, it would only be cuts for brown people.

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

5 Responses to Quick hits (part II)

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    #21 Wait! Doesn’t this view have the scent of Sharia law? Shocking!

  2. Jon K says:

    Perhaps complementarianism is a concept most people without an understanding of evangelical Protestant theology will be unfamiliar with.

    Complementarianism is a theological view held by some in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere. The word “complementary” and its cognates are currently used to denote this view.

    That is the logic behind Pence and his view towards women. While it is antithetical to modern views regarding gender roles, it is nonetheless a strong and pervasive viewpoint among a significant number of more conservative evangelical denominations (most notably the Southern Baptists).

    It is the reason my mother, a Methodist pastor, has had people literally turn their back on her while she is performing funeral services for their parents. Making fun of Pence is fun, but it is resented by those who strongly hold these beliefs. It is just making them double down on their belief that their values are under assault by an evil world. It only makes the problem worse.

    • Steve Greene says:

      That value is under assault. Insofar as we can judge values, I’m going to say it’s a bad one because it is bad for the imaginary construct of women’s rights :-).

      • R. Jenrette says:

        No wonder patriarchists all hate birth control. Without it, women as a group are too vulnerable to exert their power in any effective way.

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