Quick hits (part I)

Had a really busy week getting back from vacation in the mountains and than leaving for the mountains to go on a retreat with the NC State Park Scholars.  It was awesome, but definitely slowed the blogging.  Anyway, plenty of quick hits.

1) I’ve been pretty intrigued by applied rationality since listening to this Ezra Klein interview with Julia Galef.  I must say, teaching people how all the cognitive biases (that Kahneman & Tversky and other have so successfully uncovered) may be influencing their own decision-making seems like a great idea.

2) I’m a fan of Morgan Marietta’s PS research.  Here’s his latest (with some others) on Trump’s rhetoric:

Conventional wisdom suggests that Donald Trump’s rhetoric – aggressive, insulting, often offensive – would be counterproductive to electoral success. We argue that Trump’s surprising victories in both the primary and general campaigns were partly due to the positive effects of his appeals grounded in the intersection of threat and absolutism. The content of Trump’s rhetoric focused on threats to personal safety (terrorism), personal status (economic decline), and group status (immigration). The style of Trump’s rhetoric was absolutist, emphasizing non-negotiable boundaries and moral outrage at their violation. Previous research has shown perceived threat to motivate political participation and absolutist rhetoric to bolster impressions of positive character traits. Trump employed these two rhetorical psychologies simultaneously, melding threat and absolutism into the absolutist threat as an effective rhetorical strategy. Analysis of Trump’s debate language and Twitter rhetoric, as well as original data from political elites at the Republican National Convention and ordinary voters at rallies in New Hampshire confirm the unconventional efficacy of Trump’s rhetorical approach.

3) Like most of my FB friends who posted this, I would not be allowed to immigrate to America based on Trump’s proposed criteria (being over 40 really hurts).

4) There’s just no way$78,000 into debt for a theater degree from Harvard it makes any sense at all to go .

5) I probably posted this before, but just had a good FB conversation with a contemporary about younger adults today changing in bathroom stalls instead of the locker room.  Okay, nudity in a locker room takes some getting used to, but really, changing basically on top of a toilet?  Mark Joseph Stern claims, “If You Are Not Comfortable Being Naked Around Other People, You Are Not an Adult.”

6) Definitely would have been a post about the whole google memo if it wasn’t such a busy week.  So many thoughts.  A few posts I really liked, though.  I think Conor Friedersdorf is right that the memo really was mischaracterized.  I think the author puts way too much emphasis on biology and not enough on culture, but an “anti-diversity screed” this was not.  Also, enjoyed Ross Douthat’s take.  That led me to Slate Star Codex which had the most interesting discussion of gender and academic interests/abilities that I’ve read in years.  This was also a really nice take from a female computer scientist in Vox that put in placed the memo into a context of why it really bothered people so much.  I will say what really bothers me is the idea held by many on the left, that any discussion of biological differences in the intellectual abilities/interests/personality traits of the sexes is inherently sexist.  To me, a fair reading of the science and social science is that there really are differences that are best explained by biology, but, on the whole, those are largely dwarfed by culture in our present society.

7) Ostensibly about CNN firing Jeffrey Lord (should have never hired him), but really about the misguided sense for “balance” that can make CNN (and others) such a poor news source:

False balance, in the way I mean the term, refers to the flawed journalistic impulse to give each side of an argument equal time and weight regardless of each side’s relative standing to facts and truth. False balance is a hallmark of bad journalism, and the unmerited elevation of crackpots’ bad opinions is a hallmark of false balance. I do not mean to suggest that an unpopular opinion is necessarily a bad one. Popular history is rife with Galileo situations where lone truth tellers are thwarted by establishment forces. But Jeffrey Lord is not one of these people. Jeffrey Lord is a marginal gadfly who was free to appear on CNN so often because he literally had nothing else to do…

The problem with Jeffrey Lord wasn’t that he was awful. It was that CNN didn’t care he was awful—or, rather, that CNN said, Our political programming will not be complete until we find an analyst who is really, really awful, and then put him on air constantly in the name of “balance.” This impulse is the most insidious form of, yes, fake news: cable networks’ habit of hiring superficially articulate frauds and fakers to interpret the news, in the process falsely equating their bad opinions with informed people’s good ones and creating a space where nothing means anything and fame is equated with moral standing. Lord spent two years disguising his advocacy as analysis and cashing CNN’s paychecks in the process, and CNN was all too happy to let him do it. Now he’s gone, but not really, because there is an endless supply of Jeffrey Lords out there. There is no real escape. We will never be saved.

8) I’m somewhat of a baby name obsessive myself, so I loved this New Yorker article on the matter.

9) I’ll just go with the headline, “California Crops Rot as Immigration Crackdown Creates Farmworker Shortage.”

10) I generally support the idea that universal healthcare should be a (soft) litmus test for Democrats.  The idea that “Medicare for all” should be a litmus test is moronic.  Alas, that’s what some of the Bernie types are pushing:

Bernie Sanders’s advisers are promoting a “litmus test” under which Democrats who don’t swear to implement single-payer health care would be booted from the party in primaries. Sanders pollster Ben Tulchin penned an op-ed with a colleague under the headline “Universal health care is the new litmus test for Democrats.” Nina Turner, head of the Sanders group Our Revolution, told Politico this week that “there’s something wrong with” Democrats who won’t “unequivocally” embrace “Medicare-for-all.”

11) Personally, I’m a big believer in political pragmatism as the way to actually achieve big goals.  Sure, advocate for Medicare for all, but, realistically, if you want to get all Americans covered, something like expanded Medicaid buy-in seems far more likely to succeed.

The key to making a pragmatic political case for Medicaid starts by recognizing that neither Medicare nor Medicaid is going to replace the nation’s system of employer-sponsored coverage. There is insufficient political appetite for such a sweeping overhaul, whichever federal program is involved. Nor is there cross-national evidence that eliminating private insurance altogether is a worthy goal: Other nations with universal insurance almost always rely on a mix of public and private coverage.

The question then is: Which program is a better fit for an incremental expansion strategy? The clear answer is Medicaid. For more than 30 years, Medicaid has incrementally increased its eligibility criteria while Medicare covers the same group of the elderly and the disabled that it did decades ago.

Medicaid also has the political advantage of dividing its cost among federal, state, and local governments, whereas Medicare is funded entirely by the federal government (and beneficiaries).

Perhaps most crucially, individual states are already free to adopt a Medicaid buy-in approach, so long as they get federal permission to do so. And several state legislatures are considering exploring the Medicaid buy-in strategy. There is no need to wait for a Democratic takeover of the presidency and Congress — both of which are necessary ingredients of a federal Medicare expansion.

12) Your instagram posts may hold clues to your mental health.  Presumably mine show I’m pretty damn happy.

13) Really enjoyed this Vox analysis of “Fox and Friends” in the age of Trump.  They are not just “state media” but have taken to giving him advice.

14) I found Harold Pollack’s argument that we have a problem with having so many old politicians to be pretty compelling.  And I’m definitely for staggered Supreme Court term limits.

15) Hell yes we use way to much solitary confinement and we should dramatically reduce the practice.  NYT with nice editorial on the matter.

16) Nice chart from Kevin Drum on tax rates that shows– like everything else– things are getting easier for the rich:

17) I love the Lula Roe clothing that my wife and daughter have been wearing a bunch of lately.  That said, it’s pretty clear that they (and other similar multi-level-marketers) have a business model that exploits the women who sell it.

18) As a fellow Political Parties guy, I very much agree with Seth Masket: improve our primary process by making it less democratic:

Allowing party delegates to do more deliberation could, in some cases, cause intra-party strife, especially if party insiders pick someone that their activist base doesn’t like. This is arguably what happened to the Democrats in 1968, when the party nominated Hubert Humphrey over the clear preferences of the anti-war activists whose favored candidates dominated the primaries. It was reactions to that nomination that led to the explosion of primaries and the massive increase in intra-party democracy over the past four decades.

This was a defensible shift at the time, but it seems we’ve over-corrected. Picking good nominees for organizations as vast and diverse as our national parties requires not just enthusiasm, but deliberation and compromise. Casting a vote in a primary booth, voters really don’t have the incentive or ability to forge such coalitions. Convention delegates do. And the more we move to disempower those delegates, the worse our nominees are likely to be.

19) And, I’ll close it out with a long read.  You want a case of a presidential campaign unambiguously conspiring with a foreign government to change an election result, look no further than Nixon and Vietnam.  More people should know about this.

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

6 Responses to Quick hits (part I)

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    #5 Wow! The dictator proclaims: Mark Joseph Stern proclaims, “If You Are Not Comfortable Being Naked Around Other People, You Are Not an Adult.”
    And who elected him to tell us what we should think? And that we should adjust our thinking to his?
    Personal privacy is essential to individual liberty. It’s up to the individual to draw the lines personally as to how much or how little is exposed. Yes, our culture does set limits on the how little part but that is not carved into stone as we have seen.
    Maybe he will decide that wearing clothing at all in warm weather is unnecessary and a big contributor to the federal trade deficit.

    Just wondering if the dictate applies to women as well.

  2. Nicole K says:

    5) Before I began my transition I had no problem being naked in a locker room. The first year I was in boarding school I lived in an underground renovated dorm that had group showers. It was not a big deal. Now that I am primarily using women’s locker rooms and bathrooms, I am not as comfortable. Given how uncomfortable some people are with trans people in the bathroom, and given that I still have male equipment, I avoid changing in public to avoid making others uncomfortable. The last thing I want to happen is for someone to cause trouble for me for using facilities that match my gender identity. I am not ashamed of who I am, but I want to avoid unnecessary conflict about me being trans.

    It is the same reason that when I went to a truck and tractor pull at the Warren County Fair and people in the stands started shouting “how are you doing sir” and other comments that I won’t repeat my uncle and I ended up standing off by ourselves to watch the event. It just isn’t worth the risk of the problem escalating into something that could potentially put my personal safety at risk.

    • Nicole K says:

      I hate autocorrect on my cell phone. It always seems to cause things like changing “unrenovated” to underground renovated. I am going to turn it off.

  3. Nicole K says:

    11) I am also a supporter of some type of Medicare for all to provide a minimum level of coverage for everyone. However, it is important to remember that Medicare alone is not enough to cover all health expenses. In order to do that, people on Medicare have to purchase supplemental insurance coverage. I have no problem with that, but it is important to understand that private insurance would still be necessary under that type of system.

    • Nicole K says:

      Also, it is important to consider the rationing of care that can occur for expensive medical needs like cancer treatment and expensive drugs. For example if I lived in England, the NHS would not pay for my most important narcolepsy medicine. It has been deemed too expensive. That would mean I’d be permanently disabled and unable to work if that was my only healthcare option. I would not want a system like that imposed in America.

  4. Nicole K says:

    17) Have you seen John Oliver on multi level marketing (aka pyramid schemes) https://youtu.be/s6MwGeOm8iI

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