Quick hits (part II)

1) This is just horrible, horrible news.  Mark Binker— a longtime NC Statehouse reporter– literally knew NC politics better than anyone I knew.  I loved having him come to my classes to give a reporter’s perspective.  And I loved talking Rec soccer with him and hearing about his two boys.  He will be sorely missed by so many.  Makes me so sad.

2) These time-lapse gifs (soft “g” damnit) are awesome.

3) Plenty of good takes on Trump’s admission, that, what do you know, being president is hard work.  Drum’s:

There are three takeaways from this. First, Trump’s old life was pretty easy because other people ran his companies and he didn’t really do much. Second, he thought presidents just consulted their guts and made decisions, sort of like Celebrity Apprentice, and then stuff magically happened. Third, he still can’t maintain discussion of a real topic (Chinese President Xi Jinping) for more than a few moments before getting sidetracked by one of his obsessions (his huge victory in November).

4) The reality of sweatshops and economics.

5) Raise your hand if you are at all surprised that a vicious, misogynistic Reddit forum was founded by a Republican state legislator.

6) Greg Sargent on the collapse of the latest ACA repeal effort:

I’d like to propose another explanation. What if the GOP repeal effort once again failed because the Affordable Care Act has actually helped a lot of people, and this whole process has made that a lot harder for Republicans to deny? …

In short, many Republicans objected to the new version on the grounds that it would take coverage away from untold numbers of poor and sick people.

At the same time, though, many of these Republicans avoided openly crediting Obamacare with achieving the very protections for those with preexisting conditions and the vast coverage expansion via Medicaid that they now want to preserve. And they pledged to continue trying to repeal the law. These Republicans cannot affirmatively applaud Obamacare’s success in accomplishing ends they now recognize as imperatives, but they can stand up and say they won’t remove or badly weaken the provisions of it that are accomplishing those ends, provided they also say they’ll replace the law whenever some more acceptable alternative — which would also accomplish those ends — comes along.

7) Nice Washington Post article about the value of on-line support for families of children with rare diseases.  When Alex was young, the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance on-line support was a lifesaver.

8) Some good advice to help keep college students on track for graduation.

9) Seems pretty clear we should no longer be paying TV writers per episode any more.

10) Do we have too many restaurants in America.  Almost surely.  Interestingly, I notice Burger Kings go out of business all the time; never McDonald’s.

11) Drum and Conor Friedersdorf on free speech (or not) on campus.  I strongly agree with both.


12) Mark Joseph Stern on NC Republicans.

13) Jamelle Bouie on lower income Americans supporting Trump despite his tax policies that so clearly favor the wealthy:

At first glance, it’s an odd populism that takes from the many to give to the few, that abandons the anxious and suffering in favor of the wealthy and comfortable. But remember, Trump’s populism wasn’t just an appeal to jobs and economic interest—it was a racial appeal. Trump cast blame on Muslims, Hispanic immigrants, and foreign others; he pledged to reopen the mines, recover the factories, and restore the white male industrial wage-earner to his perceived place at the top of the material and social hierarchy.

Trump is busy delivering the latter part of this formula, extolling archetypes of white male masculinity and—through his attorney general, Jeff Sessions—using federal power to crack down on those he defined as racial threats during the campaign. That is populism too, and it is potentially potent enough to satisfy those supporters who may lose out under Trump’s economic program. If nothing else, the racial interests of white Americans have always been at the forefront of white politics, a powerful force across class and social lines. The collapse of support for all kinds of public goods, from robust schools to neighborhood pools, is tied to the perceived beneficiaries. When the majority of white Americans believed those beneficiaries looked like themselves, they backed those investments. When they didn’t, they rejected them, either explicitly or eventually under the guise of “color blind” ideologies. With that said, there are exceptions to this general story, among goods that don’t have the same spatial dimensions as schools or housing but still deliver benefits, which is one reason the conservatives have had little traction fully gutting the welfare state.

14) Philip Carter certainly strikes me as right on this, “How Trump Made America Less Secure in 100 Days: His foreign policy makes no sense, and nearly every military move has been a mistake.”

15) Partisanship is a hell of a drug, part 8 million.

16) Excellent Gillian White piece on the difficulties of escaping poverty:

After divvying up workers like this (and perhaps he does so with too broad of strokes), Temin explains why there are such stark divisions between them. He focuses on how the construction of class and race, and racial prejudice, have created a system that keeps members of the lower classes precisely where they are. He writes that the upper class of FTE workers, who make up just one-fifth of the population, has strategically pushed for policies—such as relatively low minimum wages and business-friendly deregulation—to bolster the economic success of some groups and not others, largely along racial lines. “The choices made in the United States include keeping the low-wage sector quiet by mass incarceration, housing segregation and disenfranchisement,” Temin writes.

And how is one to move up from the lower group to the higher one? Education is key, Temin writes, but notes that this means plotting, starting in early childhood, a successful path to, and through, college. That’s a 16-year (or longer) plan that, as Temin compellingly observes, can be easily upended. For minorities especially, this means contending with the racially fraught trends Temin identifies earlier in his book, such as mass incarceration and institutional disinvestment in students, for example. Many cities, which house a disproportionate portion of the black (and increasingly, Latino) population, lack adequate funding for schools. And decrepit infrastructure and lackluster public transit can make it difficult for residents to get out of their communities to places with better educational or work opportunities. Temin argues that these impediments exist by design.

17) Even more evidence that vouchers are far from the solution to improving public schools:

For more than a decade, House Republicans led by the former Speaker John A. Boehner have used school children in the nation’s capital as an experiment for school choice, funding a far-reaching voucher program to send poor children to private schools over the opposition of local teachers and unions.

Now, with Betsy DeVos, one of the country’s fiercest advocates of school choice, installed as education secretary, that experiment is poised to go national. But Ms. DeVos’s own department this week rendered judgment on the Washington school choice program: It has not improved student achievement, and it may have worsened it.

18) Good piece from German Lopez arguing that although our current drug policy is a disaster, full-on legalization of all drugs is probably not a good idea.  Why?  That’s kind of what we did with prescription opioids and the results sure aren’t pretty.

19) Awesome news from a US District judge in Texas.  More of this, please:

U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal issued her decision in a sweeping 193-page ruling, finding that the plaintiffs had a high chance of proving at trial that the county’s bail system is unconstitutional. The plaintiffs—Civil Rights Corps, Texas Fair Defense Project and Houston law firm Susman Godfrey, representing all indigent misdemeanor defendants—had charged that Harris County’s bail system punishes the poor and favors the wealthy because bail hearing officers fail to consider people’s ability to pay bail, as the Constitution requires. Instead, plaintiffs claimed, they set bail based on an arbitrary bail schedule and often ignored recommendations to release non-violent people on personal bonds.

20) I might have mentioned this before, but worth doing again.  Had a conversation with a friend the other day who said I basically changed her life in a very positive way by explaining the concept of ego depletion to her.  Alas, I was forced to inform her that the science of that had largely been over-turned since our earlier conversation.

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