Quick hits (part II)

1) Two (!) Texas Tech professors have decided to run for Congress in the very red district.  Good for them.  They’re going to lose– but worth it for Democrats to fight the fight.

2a) The Young America Foundation is bankrolling a lot of the conservative speakers roiling college campuses.  Not a fan.  That said, I have greater antipathy towards those who think the solution is to deny free speech to others.

2b) On a related note, students at Illinois prevented a representative from ICE from speaking to a Sociology class.  Seriously?!  Wrong and pathetic.

3) Speaking of conservative speakers, a really, really interesting deconstruction of Charles Murray’s IQ research.

4) It’s actually been a few years since my son Alex cracked an Ipad screen, hooray!  And when I looked at the prices to buy him a new one I was amazed at what a great deal the latest Ipads are.

5) Jennifer Rubin sees the Trump catastrophe as the downfall of a generation of Republicans.  I think she’s wrong– political memories are short, but I enjoyed reading it:

Pence might reach the presidency to fill out his boss’s term if Trump is forced out, but it is hard to imagine him ever achieving that office on his own. Many will have concluded that he is either too dim and gullible or too dishonest for the presidency. Moreover, his decision to sign on as Trump’s VP and vouch for his character will be powerful evidence of rotten judgment and a permanent stain on his record.

In that regard, Pence is hardly alone. Either during or at the end of his first term, Trump’s presidency will end, voluntarily or not. (No matter how strong the economy might be, a president waist-deep in scandal and unable to accomplish major legislative initiatives is likely to face primary and/or general-election defeat in a reelection bid or decline to seek re-election.) When the party — or what remains of it — looks for leadership, where will it turn?

Not to the likes of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who opportunistically backed Trump after declaring his unfitness. Not to the likes of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who became Trump’s palace guard, vouching for Cabinet secretaries and refusing to denounce conflicts of interest and possible violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause. Come to think of it, any Republican who failed in his or her constitutional duty of oversight, continuing to turn a blind eye toward wrongdoing and to rationalize Trump’s conduct, should be disqualified from high office, if not shunned by conservatives. (As for the House members who thought Trump’s chumminess with Russia was humorous, one can only marvel at their gross hypocrisy in get-tough-with-Russia rhetoric.) We can count on one hand the number of lawmakers who have not committed gross political malpractice either by acts of commission or omission since Trump was elected (even if one excuses endorsing an obviously unfit person for president).

6) Paul Waldman on Pence, “Mike Pence wants us to believe he’s innocent. Don’t buy it.”

7) What I find most amazing about the Trump calls Comey a “nut job” thing is that somebody in possession of the notes on this leaking the fact.  It’s like a boat with a bunch of cannonball-sized holes in it.

8) Point I’ve been making a lot lately, and Julia Azari does a great job with here– impeachments are inherently about politics, not the law.

9) Who owns the space between reclining seats on an airplane?  Pretty clear the person in front who has the option to recline does.  That said, I’ve always thought these people were selfish jerks.  I never recline.

10) Wisconsin’s Voter ID law really is horrible and makes it way too hard to vote for way too many people (again, because there is virtually no in-person voter fraud to prevent anyway!).

11) And a great Fresh Air interview with Ari Berman on the voter fraud fraud.

12) Last night, my kids were asking be about why animal shelters euthanize animals.  Apparently, in the Pacific Northwest there’s a lot less euthanasia going on.  This has led to an informal network of transporting animals to shelters there.

13) Good piece from Zack Beauchamp on how Mike Flynn is central to bringing Trump down.  It really is pretty amazing:

President Donald Trump loves Michael Flynn. His ardor hasn’t faded despite the fact that the biggest scandals engulfing the Trump administration right now trace back to the disgraced former national security adviser, or that their very closeness is sparking growing talk of impeachment. If anything, all of that seems to be making Trump love Flynn even more.

Trump has loved Flynn for a long time. In November, he loved Flynn enough to appoint him to be his national security adviser despite knowing that Russia had paid Flynn $45,000 to attend a dinner with Vladimir Putin. Trump loved him enough to keep him on despite, as the New York Times reported late on Wednesday, Flynn informing the Trump transition in early January that he was under FBI investigation for secretly lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government.

Trump loves Flynn enough to stick with him even after acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned the administration, on January 26, that Flynn had lied to the vice president about his interactions with the Russian ambassador and could potentially be blackmailed by the Kremlin. Trump loves Flynn so much that even after he was finally forced to fire him for said lies on February 14, he defended the man’s integrity in a press conference.

“Michael Flynn — General Flynn — is a wonderful man,” the president said in a press conference on February 15. “I think he’s been treated very, very unfairly by the media.”

Trump loves Flynn so much that the same day of that press conference, he ordered everyone out of the room after a top-level meeting on counterterrorism — except FBI Director James Comey. Trump then asked Comey, pretty bluntly, to drop the Flynn investigation.

14) Brooks on the Trump administration talent vacuum.  What kind of smart, ambitious conservative would want to throw his lot in with the Trump administration at this point?  Exactly.  So the guys we’re getting are not exactly the A team.

15) The “motivated ignorance” of Trump supporters is not at all suprising, but pretty amazing to behold, just the same:

If you’re looking for an explanation for why Trump’s support is so solid among his base — and why it will remain so stubbornly high — read this piece by the Associated Press, where the reporters asked Trump supporters how they’re handling the wave of scandals.

“I tuned it out,” Michele Velardi, a 44-year-old in Staten Island, told the AP of the recent news. “I didn’t want to be depressed. I don’t want to feel that he’s not doing what he said, so I just choose to not listen.”

16) Not the first time I’ve read about Finnish baby boxes.  Pretty cool idea (obviously awaiting your take, Mika.)

17) Conor Friedersdorf on how the anti-anti Trump pundits dodge Trump criticism:

But defending what Trump says or does is often impossible. Americans can’t help but know that he didn’t win the popular vote; draw more people to his inauguration than Barack Obama; act wisely in appointing Michael Flynn; execute well in that first executive order on travel; or accomplish more in his first 100 days than any other president.

Americans can’t help but see that he is erratic, and that his domestic agenda has stalled bigly. He can claim that no politician has ever been treated more unfairly. But we can’t help but know that Ronald Reagan was shot and that John F. Kennedy was killed.

That’s why pro-Trump and anti-anti-Trump commentators have adapted.

As the weeks pass, they spend less time making positive arguments for the president and more time hiding behind the talking point that his critics are overwrought. Unhinged. Hysterical. Suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. Don’t look here, at the president who shared too much information with Russian diplomats in an Oval Office meeting. Look there at an excessive reaction to it…

The approach is inseparable from the web era. No matter how bad a Trump blunder, someone can be found overreacting to it or otherwise losing their cool on social media. In fact, social-media feeds disproportionately expose us to the most over-the-top takes, making it seem as if they reflect the median reaction even when that is far from true…

More honest Never Trumpers are driven by any number of things; but I wonder if part of the posture that some have taken these last months is ultimately a defense mechanism. How depressing and unnerving to fully confront the unfitness of the president.

How tempting to evade the terrible truth.

18) Somehow I missed this excellent Atlantic article from a year ago about how Rutgers-Newark does a way better job recruiting and graduating minority students by eschewing the lower standardized test scores which often have way less predictive value with this group.

19) Oh man do I love this letter from a pastor to Franklin Graham.

Here’s the thing, Frank. At the last judgment, Jesus doesn’t ask anyone about who they voted for, how many times they have been divorced, what their sexual history or orientation is or for whom they did or did not bake wedding cakes. His sole concern is for how we treated the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the imprisoned, those deemed “least” among us. No, I didn’t get that from any private chat with God. We small church pastors have to rely on the Bible for our intel. I got this stuff from the Gospel of Matthew, 25th Chapter to be precise. As I said, that, too, is in the Bible. (It’s a great book, Frank. You should read it sometime.)

19) Really, really like this (long!) Daniel Engber piece on social-psychologist, Daryl Bem and ESP and what it means for psychology (long been a fan of Bem and self-perception theory, and even used it in my own work way back when).

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

5 Responses to Quick hits (part II)

  1. Nicole K says:

    4) I still believe that Android products are a better value and gives users much more flexibility in how they are used and which apps they support. The best example is the fact that I can use a bluetooth mouse on any Android phone or tablet that exists.

    Because Steve Jobs hated the idea of using a mouse on an IPad or IPhone there is no support for this on any IPad or IPhone. I find it useful to use a keyboard and mouse with my tablet for word processing and many other uses. I appreciate the fact that Android allows for this.

    It’s probably not that big of a deal, but it represents how Apple puts handcuffs on how it’s products can be used. I don’t like being told what to do, so I am very much turned off by Apple products.

  2. Big Teddy says:

    A) Really really interesting? No. Really Really dishonest. Harris’s point was that just bringing up the fact that genes effect IQ and are heritable is verboten and anyone suggesting it is will be attacked. As the Vox article does.
    Harris pointed out over and over and over, environment plays a role but all things being equal IQ is heritable, like so many human traits, and people are dishonest to ignore it. While the authors make nice noises towards academic freedom and allowing people to speak and that it should be all about the science, yet throughout the article they use the term “Murrayism” in a derogatory manner.

    Note the article had to be be changed because the authors stated the Flynn effect wasn’t even brought up when it not only was, but the term was coined by Murray. Murray, the Flynn effect has largely worked across the population regardless of environment and poverty.

    The article states there is no evidence to suggest IQ is heritable, then contradicts itself and states a small part of IQ may be heritable.

    Let’s look at a paragraph:

    “The left has another lesson to learn as well. If people with progressive political values, who reject claims of genetic determinism and pseudoscientific racialist speculation, abdicate their responsibility to engage with the science of human abilities and the genetics of human behavior, the field will come to be dominated by those who do not share those values. Liberals need not deny that intelligence is a real thing or that IQ tests measure something real about intelligence, that individuals and groups differ in measured IQ, or that individual differences are heritable in complex ways.”

    There is a fine example of academic word salad that means very little but sounds nice, all at once acknowledging group traits and denying group traits.

    It’s supposed to be about the science, but it’s important that people share certain values. What values do those have on properly conducted science? Wasn’t it supposed to be about good science? This is Harris’s concern in a nutshell, that the far left is attacking and attempting to destroy people who’s science disagrees, in any minor way, with any of the sacred values some hold in progressive circles and politics. Which the most recent gender studies hoax “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” is also displaying to full effect.

    Harris and Murray pointed out that variation in IQ is greater among races then are differences between races. Again, they also admitted that there are significant environmental causes for differences in IQ (and they stated the world would be a much better place if everyone was given equally good environments), yet the authors seem intent on smearing that, either completely out of context or into oblivion.

    To suggest human traits are not heritable is insanity. It’s like suggesting skin color is a social construct and/or determined by environment but genetics plays no part.
    As Harris points out, it is as silly as suggesting height isn’t at least partially determined by genetics. If you are malnourished you will be unlikely achieve your full height potential. But all things being equal, people will grow to the height determined by their genetics. If your genes encode for five foot eight, you are almost certainly not going to grow to be seven feet tall.

    If it’s suggested the Asian Epicanthic fold is heritable you are simply denoting a fact.
    If it’s suggested IQ is heritable you are attacked, vilified and called a racist (using the left’s version of a barely disguised dog whistle), as the articles authors did over and over.

  3. Big Teddy says:

    19) Let’s hope Franklin Graham doesn’t read the Bible and decide to enact some of it’s more horrific parts. Like selling daughters into sexual slavery. Or stoning children or adulterers to death, invading the neighbouring country, killing all the males and mothers while keeping the virgin girls for the soldiers. Or killing witches, or reintroducing slavery.

    • Nicole K says:

      The terror stuff is in the old testament. The new testament, which supercedes the old testament has none of the elements you mention. Nice try, but the new testament is a book that emphasizes loving your neighbors, being humble, and the early church emphasized being inclusive.

      The Apostle Paul in particular took a stand against the Judiazers in the early church. When they pushed to require converts to be circumcised and follow the Jewish laws Paul argued strongly against it. And the early church endorsed Paul’s arguments. This push for inclusion is what allowed the church to go from being a splinter sect of Judaism into a primarily Gentile religion

  4. Mika says:

    #16, Ok. What can I say, most parents love it, we sure loved ours. Getting to post office to pick it up, opening it at home and checking out all the stuff that was in it. That was so cool. Most parents take the box and not the money (which is also an option) because the stuff in the box is worth much more. Here’s a nice webpage about it:


    Something about the article. I don’t think it’s very common to use the box as a crib. Maybe it was before but not anymore. We didn’t get any education on proper ways for the infant to sleep in the box.

    This is spot on and brings to my mind discussions about free school lunches which are free for everybody: ““The thing about the Finnish program is that one of the reasons it works is because it’s universal,” Clary said.”

    And this:”if you do a targeted health-care initiative, the most vulnerable families you are trying to reach feel stigmatized, and so you don’t actually engage them on the same level as affluent people, who wouldn’t need it as much anyway.””

    There really isn’t any stigma at all to use the clothes from the maternity package.

    And this: “Baby boxes, Clary says, are the “great equalizer.” It’s not the boxes themselves that have reduced infant deaths, she notes, but the increased prenatal engagement and knowledge that soon-to-be moms and new moms obtain from the health-care providers.”

    So it’s good to note that “the baby box in Finland is tied to the national health-care system, which includes free health care for the mother and child”. I think it’s pretty clear that it isn’t one particular thing that is improving the child health but it is the whole.

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