Quick hits (part I)

1) Marshall Report on how fake cops got millions of dollars worth in real weapons.

2) From out of nowhere, Yasha Mounk has become indispensable reading this year.  He argues that we’re heading for a constitutional crisis:

n short, just how bitter things will get now depends, as it has for the past months, on two simple questions: Will an overwhelming majority of Americans finally turn against Trump? And will Republican senators and congressmen finally start to put country above party? The answer to both is far from clear.

If moderate Republicans finally move to indict Trump, it may, in retrospect, come to seem inevitable that they would eventually find the courage of their convictions. But if they continue to give the president cover by expressing moderate hesitation while aiding and abetting his assault on the American Constitution, that too would, with the benefit of hindsight, come to seem inevitable.

3) Really love this idea that diets are actually a placebo.  That said, if you find a system of eating that gets you to consume fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight.

4) Vox with the best article I’ve yet read on this year’s solar eclipse.  Easily the best explanation of exactly what’s going on and why it’s so rare.  My plan is to hope for a clear day and simply hop on I-95 South until I get into the zone of totality about 2:30 from here in South Carolina.

5) Mexico City as a case study for how limiting parking space regulations can be key for the health of a city.  Seriously.

6) As you know, I’m all for legalized marijuana.  That said, I don’t think that should make us oblivious to what might be some real downsides (though not even close to the downsides of the war on drugs approach).  Very interesting study in the Netherlands found a real negative impact on college student performance.

7) I was on a panel with Steven Rogers discussing his research on state legislatures at the MPSA conference this past spring.   Rogers basically finds that state legislators are virtually unaccountable for unpopular votes.  Ain’t democracy great?!

8) James Poniewozik argues for skipping the beginning of TV series that took a while to get going.  Probably really good advice when it comes to Parks and Rec.  I loved Bojack Horseman from the beginning.

9) Here’s an interesting idea, “Accepting your darkest emotions is the key to psychological health.”

According to their analyses, the magic of acceptance is in its blunting effect on emotional reactions to stressful events. It’s that mechanism that can, over time, lead to positive psychological health, including higher levels of life satisfaction. In other words, accepting dark emotions like anxiety or rage, won’t bring you down or amplify the emotional experience. Nor will it make you “happy”—at least not directly.

“You always interpret null effects very cautiously,” Ford says, “but to us, it appears that acceptance uniquely affects negative emotions, and isn’t interfering with positive emotions.”

What’s more, acceptance seems to be linked to better mental health when it’s used in response to negative emotions, not positive ones, she adds, so this is not about living in the world with a “broadly detached attitude.” No need to play it too cool.

This totally makes sense to me.  I’m a very happy person.  But, I also really like to complain, whine about stupid drivers in traffic, etc.  When people comment about all my whining I’ve said that I feel better because I just get it out.  Turns out, I was basically right.

10) NPR on Trump’s Boy Scout speech:

This wasn’t the first time he has talked about politics in a setting where that could be seen as inappropriate. Remember that speech in front of the CIA memorial wallin which he asserted that most of the people in the room probably voted for him?

It won’t be the last time, either.

This president couldn’t care less about political and societal norms. But let’s be very clear — none of this is normal. Trump has been publicly shaming his attorney general, mocking special counsel and congressional investigations, and confirming the existence of what was previously a covert CIA program — and that was all just Tuesday, and he did it on Twitter.

Trump has no filter. It’s giving Americans a window into his mind, but there is a thin line between openness and recklessness.

11) Excellent Ross Douthat column on just how awful Trump is on wanting to fire Sessions and how he literally should not be president.

12) Found this Atlantic piece on the nature of the burqini and society to be really fascinating:

As The Washington Post’s Carlos Lozada recently noted in an article quoting Samuel Huntington, the fundamental question facing Western democracies today isn’t “which side are you on,” but rather “who are we?” The burqini and what it represents—Muslims expressing religiously conservative preferences—challenges certain Western conceptions of national identity, particularly in staunchly secular contexts like, say, France, where wearing the headscarf in public schools is prohibited by a law passed in 2004. I find this to be a flagrant violation of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but a majority of French voters, as expressed through their representatives, disagree with me. France, unlike the United States, has an ideological orientation based around an aggressive, even radical, secularism. Is it not the right of French citizens, collectively as well as individually, to express that national identity, however much I (or any other American) disagrees with it?

13) Really good NYT Magazine piece on how Hollywood is trying to turn every existing intellectual property into movies– yes, even Fruit Ninja— rather than coming up with original scripts.

 

14) Loved this Atlas Obscura piece on how to use nature find your way– especially the one about the crescent moon.

15) Just to be really, really clear– you should not force quit apps on your IOS device unless they have crashed.

16) Lee Drutman on the divisions among Democrats:

But I did find one area of notable discord between Clinton and Sanders supporters — their degree of disaffection with political institutions. Support for the political system correlated with positive feelings toward Mrs. Clinton, while voters who felt negatively toward the political system tended to feel positively toward Mr. Sanders.

Most members of the Democratic Party establishment are pragmatists who made it where they are by working within the system that exists, not the one they wish existed. They often have frustration bordering on contempt for those who lack their hardheaded realism.

Yep.  Proudly pragmatic and Clinton supporter.

17) Really wanted to write more about the stupid, stupid transgender ban.  Did very much enjoy Saideman’s take looking at this as a Principal-Agent problem.

18) Loved this Post “this is not okay” editorial.  Damn straight it’s not:

WHEN PRESIDENT TRUMP attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a tweet Tuesday for not aggressively investigating Hillary Clinton, most attention focused, understandably, on the implications for Mr. Sessions. Yet even more alarming than the president’s assault on his own attorney general is Mr. Trump’s return to the “lock her up” theme of his 2016 campaign. We need to recall, once again, what it means to live under the rule of law. Since his inauguration six months ago, so many comparisons have been made to “banana republics” that it is almost unfair to bananas. But there is a serious point to be made about the difference between the United States of America and a state ruled by personal whim.

In a rule-of-law state, government’s awesome powers to police, prosecute and imprison are wielded impartially, with restraint and according to clearly defined rules. These rules apply equally to rich and poor, powerful and weak, ruling party and opposition. In such states, individuals advance on the basis of their talent and initiative, not whom they know. Companies invest where they think the returns will be highest, not to please those in power. The result is that, over time, rule-of-law states prosper. Banana republics do not…

To list those basic expectations is to understand how low Mr. Trump is bringing his office. Just in the past few days, he urged Navy men and women to call Congress on behalf of his political goals and turned the National Scout Jamboree into an unseemly political rally, calling the nation’s politics a “cesspool” and a “sewer” and disparaging his predecessor and the media. Routinely he trades in untruths, even after they have been exposed and disproved. He has launched an unprecedented rhetorical assault on the independence of the Justice Department, the FBI and the special counsel’s office — and now he is again threatening his defeated 2016 opponent.

19) Or, as EJ Dionne puts it, “The norms of government are collapsing before our eyes.”  Of course, you can thank spineless Republicans, as well as Trump, for that.

20) Political Scientists ask, “Did Evangelicals Hold Their Noses and Vote for Trump?”  The answer is a decided, no, they did it as willingly as anybody else.  Once again proving their love for Jesus does not seem to extend to anything Jesus actually preached.

21) I’m undecided on whether I’ll read Alexandra Fuller’s new novel about Native Americans.  It sounds really good, though.  Mostly, I just find it sad that half the review needs to be about whether the book is “cultural appropriation.” Damn do I hate that.  Might as well not have female authors try to imagine the interior lives of male characters and vice versa.  Ugh.

22) Paul Waldman unloads, “This is what you get when you elect Republicans”

This has been quite a week in Washington, a week full of terror, intrigue, suspense, backstabbing and outright chaos. While we might not have been able to predict the particular contours of the catastrophe that complete GOP rule has been, we should have known it would turn out something like this.

Guess what, America: This is what you get when you elect Republicans.

It goes much further than their repugnant and disastrous effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but all the contemporary GOP’s pathologies could be seen there: their outright malice toward ordinary people, their indifference to the suffering of their fellow citizens, their blazing incompetence, their contempt for democratic norms, their shameless hypocrisy, their gleeful ignorance about policy, their utter dishonesty and bad faith, their pure cynicism, and their complete inability to perform anything that resembles governing. It was the perfect Republican spectacle…

The devolution from that Republican Party to the one we see today took a couple of decades and had many sources, but its fullest expression was reached with the lifting up of Donald J. Trump to the presidency, this contemptible buffoon who may have been literally the single worst prominent American they could have chosen to be their standard-bearer. I mean that seriously. Can you think of a single person who might have run for president who is more ignorant, more impulsive, more vindictive and more generally dangerous than Donald Trump? And yet they rallied around him with near-unanimity, a worried shake of the head to his endless stream of atrocious statements and actions the strongest dissent most of them could muster.

23) Love this Wired story, your brain is your memories.

24) Really  enjoyed this blog post on how different news organizations decided to cover Scaramucci’s profanity.  Was totally surprised the NYT just went with the direct quotes.

25) I can’t believe Apple has discontinued making Ipods.  Is there not a place left for a portable music player that’s much smaller and convenient for exercise than a phone?  I swear by my tiny Ipod Nano 6th generation which goes on every workout with me (I’m on my 3rd or 4th).

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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 I)

  1. B Ferris says:

    I hate to break it to you, but I think there are even odds that I-95 will be a parking lot the morning of the eclipse.

    Interesting articles about the predicted traffic jams associated with the eclipse:

    https://www.space.com/37234-expect-solar-eclipse-traffic-jams.html
    https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/statistics/

    Not saying you should bail, but plan accordingly.

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