Quick hits (part II)

Sorry for the delay.  Very busy, very fun weekend.

1) More Arpaio Mark Joseph Stern on Arpaio and Trump’s white nationalism:

Considering the president’s praise of Arpaio, and promise to consider a pardon for the ex-sheriff, Monday’s overdue, undercooked rebuke of racial animus registers as even more risibly insincere. During his 24-year tenure as sheriff, Arpaio proudly strove to implement white nationalism through a brutal assault on Maricopa County’s Latino population. His barbaric tactics included extreme racial profiling and sadistic punishments that involved the torture, humiliation, and degradation of Latino inmates. Courts repeatedly found that Arpaio violated the United States Constitution, but the sheriff often ignored their efforts to rein him in. There are few more potent symbols of mainstream white nationalism than Arpaio. Taken together with Tuesday’s unhinged press conference, Trump’s praise of Arpaio proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the president has made common cause with white nationalists.

2) I enjoyed this local column, “The Confederacy was a con job on whites. And still is.”

3) Pete Wehner on Trump, our “child-king.”

4) Sessions and the resurgence of civil asset forfeiture.  Not much worse than this.  Except maybe pardoning racists who show contempt for the Constitution.

5) A $1 price increase in a pack of cigarettes leads to a 20% increase in quitting.  Clearly, time to raise cigarette prices even more.

6) Really enjoyed this piece on the downside of using modern technology (Powerschool, in our case), to keep constant check on your kids’ grades.  I went through a phase with this, but it just wasn’t worth it and my son needed (needs?!) to learn to take responsibility for his own grades.

7) Margaret Talbot on Arpaio:

But Trump probably also likes Arpaio because the former sheriff represents in miniature what the President would like to be more maximally—a successful American authoritarian. Earlier this month, in a conversation with Fox News, Trump called Arpaio “an outstanding sheriff” and “a great American patriot.” It’s worth considering what it takes, in Trump’s view, to deserve such tributes. Arpaio, who served as the sheriff of Maricopa County, which encompasses Phoenix, from 1993 until he was voted out of office, in 2016, has a long-standing reputation for flouting civil rights, particularly those of Latinos.

In 2011, an investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Divisionfound that Arpaio’s sheriff’s department engaged in egregious racial profiling in its traffic stops and discrimination in its jailing practices. In Maricopa County, Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely to be stopped than “similarly situated non-Latino drivers,” and about a fifth of traffic stops, most of which involved Latino drivers, violated Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable seizures. Sheriff’s department officers punished Latino inmates who had difficulty understanding orders in English by locking down their pods, putting them in solitary confinement, and refusing to replace their soiled sheets and clothes. The investigation found that sheriff’s department officers addressed Latino inmates as “wetbacks,” “Mexican bitches,” “fucking Mexicans,” and “stupid Mexicans.”

Arpaio, throughout his tenure, specialized in meting out theatrical punishments both petty and cruel.

8) Latest research suggests that it is healthier to frontload your calories earlier in the day.  Of course, not long ago I read research that suggested breakfast had no special value relative to other meals.  When I have been dieting and calorie counting, I actually found one of the easiest ways to cut calories was to downsize breakfast.  Sated in the morning with a greek yogurt and no hungrier by lunchtime than with a larger cereal and fruit breakfast.

9) Interesting essay on how our modern culture has basically ruined mindfulness.  A lot of good points, but our modern culture kind of ruins everything, but the basic mindfulness stuff– if correctly understood– still works and still has (modest) empirical support behind it.  I’ve been doing it for almost exactly one year and love it with no plans to stop.  But I’m under no illusions that it has transformed my life and is the secret to everything.  I think Dan Harris’ modest idea of 10% Happier is about right (I think I’m at about 12-13%).

10) Now, this is a fascinating prospect, “Pacific Islanders Appear to Be Carrying The DNA of an Unknown Human Species.”  Somehow, just learned about this November 2016 news.

11) Love this NPR story on how snobbery ruined (took the spice out of) European cooking.  This just rings so true.

Back in the Middle Ages, spices were really expensive, which meant that only the upper class could afford them. But things started to change as Europeans began colonizing parts of India and the Americas.

“Spices begin to pour into Europe,” explains Krishnendu Ray, an associate professor of food studies at New York University. “What used to be expensive and exclusive became common.”

Serving richly spiced stews was no longer a status symbol for Europe’s wealthiest families — even the middle classes could afford to spice up their grub. “So the elite recoiled from the increasing popularity of spices,” Ray says. “They moved on to an aesthetic theory of taste. Rather than infusing food with spice, they said things should taste like themselves. Meat should taste like meat, and anything you add only serves to intensify the existing flavors.”

12) As James Fallows puts it, “The Republican Party Is Enabling an Increasingly Dangerous Demagogue.”  Why yes, yes they are.

13) NPR on the Bernie Sanders voters who voted for Trump.

14) Vox did a whole big article on what a great song Despacito is.  Actually, it’s not.  The tune just really isn’t all that catchy (and I love a catchy tune as much as the next guy).  Drum agrees.

15) John Warner says we already know how to teach writing.

I think I[3] can generate a list of statements regarding the teaching of writing that the vast majority of those in the rhetoric-composition and writing instruction field will agree with:

  1. The more reading and writing we do, the better.
  2. Writing is best taught as a recursive process which includes (but isn’t necessarily limited to) pre-writing, drafting, revision and editing.[4]
  3. Writing should engage with the rhetorical situation: message, audience, purpose and genre.
  4. Reflection and metacognition are key ingredients to developing as a writer.
  5. Isolated exercises in grammar and mechanics that don’t engage with the students’ own writing are not helpful.
  6. Sentence diagramming is not an important skill for good writing.
  7. Peer response and collaboration are useful tools in helping developing writers
  8. Writers write best when engaging with subjects they are both interested in and knowledgeable about

16) Terrific Alec MacGillis Pro Publica article on HUD under Ben Carson.  Short version: it’s not good.

17) I really don’t think people should actually lose their jobs for making fairly innocuous “dongle” jokes.  Of course, this whole damn think spiraled way out of control.  Enough with on-line public shaming.

18) Of course Trump supporters know that it is white Christians in America who are the real victims of discrimination.

19) Ezra with an interesting interview of a DLC guy that is all for ideological flexibility in exchange for actually winning elections.  Count me in for that.

20) Even recent crazy events always seem so long ago in the world of Trump.  Charles Pierce’s blistering take on Trump supporters in the wake of his Arizona speech:

Before we get to the other stuff, and there was lots of other stuff, I’d like to address myself to those people represented by the parenthetical notation (Applause) in the above transcript, those people who waited for hours in 105-degree heat so that they could have the G-spot of their irrationality properly stroked for them. You’re all suckers. You’re dim and you’re ignorant and you can’t even feel yourself sliding toward something that will surprise even you with its fundamental ugliness, something that everybody who can see past the veil of their emotions can see as plain as a church by daylight, to borrow a phrase from that Willie Shakespeare fella. The problem, of course, is that you, in your pathetic desire to be loved by a guy who wouldn’t have 15 seconds for you on the street, are dragging the rest of us toward that end, too…

A guy basically went mad, right there on the stage in front of you, and you cheered and booed right on cue because you’re sheep and because he directed his insanity at all the scapegoats that your favorite radio and TV personalities have been creating for you over the past three decades. Especially, I guess, people like me who practice the craft of journalism in a country that honors that craft in its most essential founding documents. The President of the United States came right up to the edge of inciting you to riot and you rode along with him. You’re on his team, by god…

I have no more patience, and I had very little to start with. I don’t care why you’re anxious. I don’t care for anybody’s interpretation of why you voted for this abomination of a politician, and why you cheer him now, because any explanation not rooted in the nastier bits of basic human spleen is worthless. I don’t want any politicians who seek to appeal to the more benign manifestations of your condition because there’s no way to separate those from all the rest of the hate and fear and stupidity. (And, for my colleagues in the Vance-Arnade-Zito school of Trump Whispering, here’s a hint: They hate you, too.) I don’t care why you sat out in a roasting pan since 5 a.m. Tuesday morning to whistle and cheer and stomp your feet for a scared, dangerous little man who tells you that your every bloody fantasy about your enemies is the height of patriotism. You are now the declared adversaries of what I do for a living, and your idol is a danger to the country and so are you. Own it. Deal with it. And, for the love of god, and for the sake of the rest of us who live in this country, do better at being citizens.

Damn!  And right-on!

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Trump vs. the Constitution

I’m late on Quick hits part 2.  For now, read this on Arpaio.

Law Professor Noah Feldman’s take has been, deservedly, drawing a lot of attention:

To see why pardoning Arpaio would be so exceptional — and so bad — you have to start with the sheriff’s crime. Arpaio wasn’t convicted by a jury after a trial for violating some specific federal statute. Rather, he was convicted by a federal judge on the rather unusual charge of criminal contempt of court…

Judge Bolton convicted Arpaio of criminal contempt. She found he had “willfully violated” the federal court’s order “by failing to do anything to ensure his subordinates’ compliance and by directing them to continue to detain persons for whom no criminal charges could be filed.” And she held that Arpaio had “announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise.”

This is the crime that Trump is suggesting he might pardon: willful defiance of a federal judge’s lawful order to enforce the Constitution. [emphases mine]

It’s one thing to pardon a criminal out of a sense of mercy or on the belief that he has paid his debt to society.

It’s trickier when the president pardons someone who violated the law in pursuit of governmental policy, the way George H.W. Bush pardoned Iran-Contra participants, including Caspar Weinberger and five others.

But it would be an altogether different matter if Trump pardoned Arpaio for willfully refusing to follow the Constitution and violating the rights of people inside the U.S…

Such a pardon would reflect outright contempt for the judiciary, which convicted Arpaio for his resistance to its authority. Trump has questioned judges’ motives and decisions, but this would be a further, more radical step in his attack on the independent constitutional authority of Article III judges.

An Arpaio pardon would express presidential contempt for the Constitution. Arpaio didn’t just violate a law passed by Congress. His actions defied the Constitution itself, the bedrock of the entire system of government. For Trump to say that this violation is excusable would threaten the very structure on which his right to pardon is based.

Fundamentally, pardoning Arpaio would also undermine the rule of law itself.

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