And, no, you can’t just exercise all that candy away

Also, really enjoyed this Vox feature on the limits of exercise in losing weight.  Exercise is awesome and definitely helps keep you healthy, but although calories in/calories out really does matter, the calories in is ultimately the far more important (and controllable) portion of the equation.  Here’s the infographic summary:

Well worth reading the whole thing.  Among the most interesting parts is the research on the “calories out:

Based on the research, Pontzer has proposed a new model that upends the the old “calories in, calories out” approach to exercise, where the body burns more calories with more physical activity in a linear relationship (also known as the “additive” model of energy expenditure).

He calls this the “constrained model” of energy expenditure, which shows that the effect of more physical activity on the human body is not linear. In light of our evolutionary history — when food sources were less reliable — he argues that the body sets a limit on how much energy it is willing to expend, regardless of how active we are.

“The overarching idea,” Pontzer explained, “is that the body is trying to defend a particular energy expenditure level no matter how active you get.”

Meanwhile, since this is Vox, the policy angle:

9) The government and the food industry are doling out unscientific advice

Since 1980, the obesity prevalence has doubled worldwide with about 13 percent of the global population now registering as obese, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, nearly 70 percent of the population is either overweight or obese.

A lack of exercise and too many calories have been depicted as equal causes of the crisis. But as researchers put it in an article in BMJ, “You cannot outrun a bad diet.”

Since at least the 1950s, Americans have been told that we can. This Public Health Reports paper outlines the dozens of government departments and organizations — from the American Heart Association to the US Department of Agriculture — whose campaigns suggested more physical activity (alone or in addition to diet) to reverse weight gain.

Unfortunately, we are losing the obesity battle because we are eating more than ever. But the exercise myth is still regularly deployed by the food and beverage industry — which are increasingly under fire for selling us too many unhealthy products.

And here’s the final weight loss advice:

If you embark on a weight-loss journey that involves both adding exercise and cutting calories, Montclair’s Diana Thomas warned not to count those calories burned in physical activity toward extra eating.

“Pretend you didn’t exercise at all,” she said. “You will most likely compensate anyway so think of exercising just for health improvement but not for weight loss.”

For the record, in my N of 1, I totally count the exercise (though not calorie counting today with all those mini Twix to come) and I have consistently lost weight whenever I have calorie counted.  I’ve even been known to go for a run for the explicit purpose of enjoying dessert later.  Anyway, the overall point still holds.  Be sensible and focus on calories in.  And exercise, because being healthy is good.

The best use of statistics ever?

I love candy.  And I love this 538 feature using head-to-head comparisons and statistics to figure out what makes various candy appealing.  For myself, I’m all about chewy.  Love laffy taffy, gummies, twizzlers.  And, of course, chocolate.  What kind of failed human doesn’t love chocolate.  Anyway, here’s the top of the ranking (whole thing at the link):

I do love both twix and kit kat, which are near the top.  I enjoy Reese’s, but did not realize the combination of chocolate and peanut butter was so beloved.  What makes this extra cool, though, is the OLS regression model to determine which features make candy most appealing.

So, there you go, not just chocolate and peanut butter, but fruit flavors.  Now, what the statistician in me really wants to see is an interaction term for chocolate and peanut butter together.  I strongly suspect that would be statistically significant.

Anyway, happy Halloween!  Rest assured, I will be plucking twix, kit kat, and twizzlers right out of my kids’ Halloween pumpkins tonight as candy tax.

The urban vacuum

Terrific Ron Brownstein piece last week (I love him, but hate that he’s at CNN now.  Though, good for CNN, I guess) on the hugely important, under-appreciated demographic shift taking place.  America’s major urban areas are basically sucking up all the educated people and all the economic productivity in ever greater numbers:

In metro areas from Seattle to Chicago to Washington, DC, new data show that per capita incomes, education levels and the young adult share of the population are rising rapidly in downtown urban centers that were left for dead 30 and 40 years ago. Simultaneously, in many of the same places, incomes, education levels and the age structure is failing to keep pace, or even deteriorating, in the small town and exurban communities at the metropolitan area’s periphery.

This widening geographic separation between town and country — reinforced by a strong urban tilt in such key measures as venture capital investment and new business formation — helps explain President Donald Trump’s overwhelming support in the smaller, mostly white communities that largely feel excluded from the economic recovery since 2009…

Using data from the 1990 Census, and the five-year 2011-2015 average from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the analysis shows that many cities have been revived by an influx of well-educated, affluent, young people, even as communities further from the urban core have struggled to retain those same prized residents. In some places, the inner suburbs in between have also gained; in others they have lost ground. But the tilt in opportunity away from communities on the urban periphery to those at the city core is consistent through all regions. [emphases mine]

The UVA data documents this shift by measuring the demographic and economic characteristics of people who live in the urban centers of 50 large metropolitan areas and up to 30 miles from them. In a series of interactive charts, it compares those profiles in both 1990 and today. That comparison produces a pattern reminiscent of what Ross Perot, the independent presidential candidate in 1992, once called “a giant sucking sound” — in this case center cities pulling away the most upwardly mobile people from smaller places.

Since 1990, the overall number of college graduates in the nation has grown, but the gap between the share of them living in central cities and smaller places is widening.

In Chicago, the share of college graduates in the central city has increased since 1990 by 25 percentage points. That’s almost exactly double the increase (13 points) in communities at 30 miles. In Seattle, over the same period, the share of college graduates at center city has exploded by 26 percentage points (from 35% to 61%) while growing just six points (from 17% to 23%) 30 miles out. In Charlotte, the share of residents with a college degree in 1990 was 11 percentage points greater at the city center than at the 30-mile marker; now the difference is 41 points. In 1990, about 1 in 5 people at the city center in Phoenix held a college degree, roughly double the level in communities 30 miles away. Now nearly 3 in 5 center residents in Phoenix have a degree, well over triple the level at 30 miles…

The frustrations of younger mostly minority communities inside growing cities, and the older, predominantly white communities at their periphery, are really two reflections of the same challenge: finding ways to more widely disperse opportunity beyond well-educated workers in a few highly networked urban centers of clustered talent. Trump has responded mostly by pointing blame at foreign trading competitors, immigrants and the political “elite,” while Democrats typically shake their fist at the rich and Wall Street. But both parties are still largely at square one of formulating an agenda that can plausibly channel more of the growth coursing through the biggest cities into the places it has bypassed — both nearby and far away.

This is a big, important change that will definitely shape politics in major ways.  Rob Christensen does not reference Brownstein, but his piece on the struggling smaller cities in NC fits exactly into this pattern.

What is your political type?

Pew released their 2017 political typology last week.  Pretty cool stuff.  Here’s a chart with the basic breakdown of political types:

I love how this chart shows the types among the public, voters, and the most politically engaged.  It’s a clear demonstration why both parties are pulled toward the extreme– that’s where the most active partisans are.  It’s also interesting to see the new groups compared to the 2014 version.  For example, there’s no sign of the “country first conservatives” who are now clearly punching above their weight:

The 2014 Political Typology:  Polarized Wings, a Diverse Middle

And, back to 2017, these are a nice couple of charts for showing where the intra-party divides are:

First time I did the typology, I actually came out an “opportunity Democrat” rather than a “solid liberal.”  As much as I think society way under-appreciates the impact of external forces on one’s life outcomes, I still believe that (properly regulated) markets are a good thing and that hard work does have a way of paying off.  But, it was a really tough call with some binary choices and I took it again, changing just two questions, and came out a “solid liberal.”  I’m probably a solid liberal with more faith in markets and hard-work than most or an opportunity Dem with less faith in markets and hard work than most.

Take it yourself and let me know where you come out!

 

Are you secretly racist?

Maybe.  But don’t come to any conclusions based on the super-popular Implicit Association Test.  The IAT is super-cool.  I’ve done a bunch of these myself (try it here) and I really like how my friend, Alex Theodoridis applied it to partisanship, but Jesse Singal’s terrific article makes clear that its utility for understanding racism has been waaaaaay over-sold.  This is a long piece, but if you are interested in social science (or, specifically, the idea of implicit racism), it’s really a pretty fascinating case on how an idea really took over the field, gained huge real-word practical relevance, and only recently has been shown to be deeply suspect.

I was intrigued by reading about all the people that were traumatized in learning they were implicitly racist.  I don’t remember my exact results, but I know what I consciously think, I know my political views, and I know how I treat people, so I was never bothered by the fat that my brain might more rapidly respond to Black people connected to negative words than white people connected to negative words.

And, good news, I figured since this is from back in January, somebody must have done a pretty decent short version.  German Lopez at Vox!  And I missed it.  Anyway, definitely check out the Vox version.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Using algorithms to help with sentencing decisions seems like a good way to minimize the impact of human bias.  Alas, it actually exacerbates racial bias.

2) Paul Waldman and Jon Chait both with the exact same (and completely apt) take on Trump, Republican, and Russia.  “No puppet.  No puppet.  You’re the puppet!”

3) My friend/colleague who studies China made a compelling case to me at lunch the other day that goings-on in China of late are really important.  Here’s the NYT story.

4) Yglesias makes the case that Corker and Flake need to actually use their leverage as Senators:

I don’t live inside the minds of Flake, Corker, and McCain, so I can’t know exactly how much of a high point of ideological principle they view this bank regulation thing to be. But in general, to take action against Trump, they need to do four things:

  1. Identify something they want to force Trump to do.
  2. Identify something Republicans want to pass that they think is less important than No. 1.
  3. Say that unless No. 1 happens, they will scuttle No. 2.
  4. Repeat as necessary.

Part of the genius of the American system of government is that issues don’t need to be closely related for senators to make them be closely related. Flake, Corker, and McCain all care a lot about foreign policy, for example. So one thing they might be concerned about is the extent to which the State Department’s senior leadership ranks are riddled with vacancies. They could have stood up and said they would scuttle the bill on bank lawsuits unless Trump submitted a full slate of well-qualified nominees for these positions.

Or since all three men have spoken out about the Trump administration’s troubling dishonesty, perhaps the thing they want is for Chief of Staff John Kelly to apologize to Rep. Frederica Wilson for lying about her in the White House briefing room…

The point isn’t that anti-Trump Republicans should adopt all of my policy views. It’s that they need to engage in some self-reflection about their own policy views. Pick some things that seem important to them but unlikely to happen, pick some things that seem likely to happen but less important, and threaten to scuttle the likely things unless they get their way on the important things. That’s what legislators do — they legislate.

5) Honestly, the workaday NYT headline says it all, “Tax Cuts Are the Glue Holding a Fractured Republican Party Together.”

6) An experiment that made participants feel less susceptible to fear made them temporarily more liberal.

7) I have to say, this Burger King anti-bullying ad really is very good.  For my part, I ran with Evan in his middle school’s “anti-bullying 5K” today.

8) Seth Masket, “Meet Fox News, Our Director of National Policy.”

I strongly recommend reading through Matthew Gertz’s Twitter thread in which he watched Fox & Friends while following Trump’s Twitter feed. Basically, approximately 30 minutes after a Fox story, Trump would tweet something related to it. Fox called congressional Democrats obstructionists at 6:08 a.m. on October 18th, and Trump tweeted that Democrats are opposed to his tax reductions 30 minutes later. Fox ran a story about James Comey at 6:29 a.m., and Trump tweeted a criticism of Comey 27 minutes later. This pattern continues. (The president TiVo-ing Fox & Friends helps account for the time lag.)…

Presidential scholars will tell you that the presidency is a constitutionally weak position, but that one of the major strengths it has is setting the agenda for the federal government. No one can compete with the media attention the president will receive, and what he decides will be an important issue often ends up becoming so; whoever sets the president’s agenda possesses a great deal of power. Often, that role has fallen to the major political parties, but Trump’s relationship with his party is a tenuous one. Sometimes it falls to the president’s most immediate set of advisers.

In Trump’s case, it appears to be Fox News. The news network devoted to covering the federal government is, in fact, setting that government’s agenda. Reporters and news outlets have occasional had some sway with the president, but it’s hard to think of a parallel to this relationship. Indeed, this helps to explain why the Republican agenda has been so fraught and disorganized.

9) Enjoyed Popular Science’s round-up of the 12 most important health innovations of the year.

10) Andrew Sullivan lets loose on the “Trump abyss.”  Wow.

Yes, the forms of the Constitution remain largely intact after nine months. But the norms that make the Constitution work are crumbling. The structure looks the same, but Trump has relentlessly attacked their foundations. Do not therefore keep your eyes on the surface. Put your ear to the ground.

And we know something after a year of this. It will go on. This is not a function of strategy or what we might ordinarily describe as will. It is because this president is so psychologically disordered he cannot behave in any other way. His emotions control his mind; his narcissism overwhelms even basic self-interest, let alone the interest of the country as a whole. He cannot unite the country, even if, somewhere in his fathomless vanity, he wants to. And he cannot stop this manic defense of ego because if he did, his very self would collapse. This is why he lies and why he cannot admit a single one of them. He is psychologically incapable of accepting that he could be wrong and someone else could be right. His impulse – which he cannot control – is simply to assault the person who points out the error, or blame someone else for it…

If I were asked which were the problems that are most overlooked right now, I’d say record levels of social and economic inequality, declining social mobility and a dangerous, unsustainable level of debt. Acquiescence to all three poses a threat to the legitimacy of democratic capitalism. My own understanding of conservatism would be particularly concerned about all three, because conservatives should want to conserve our system of government and support for free market economics.

So what does the ostensibly conservative party in America – the Republicans – propose we do? They propose that we make all of this de-legitimization of democratic capitalism much, much worse. I’m referring primarily to their proposed massive tax cut to the super-wealthy, the abolition of the estate tax, and their bid to add over a trillion dollars to the debt.

11) Damn.  I will take a libertarian anyday, or heck, a Mitt Romney Republican, over these damn totalitarians in liberal guise on college campuses.  I don’t know anything about the University of Oregon president.  I do know that nothing justifies students preventing him from giving his “state of the university” speech.

12) Is there something about the state of Oregon.  Reed College, which, like Oberlin, pretty much represents extreme liberalism amok on campus, apparently has pretty much lost its mind.  This essay from a Reed professor was just sad.  Worst part is that the college administration allowed this.  On the bright side, as much as everybody likes to say “kids today” Reed and Oregon are still outliers.  That said, actual liberals need to vociferously speak up against this authoritarian crap.

At Reed College in Oregon, where I work, a group of students began protestingthe required first-year humanities course a year ago. Three times a week, students sat in the lecture space holding signs — many too obscene to be printed here — condemning the course and its faculty as white supremacists, as anti-black, as not open to dialogue and criticism, on the grounds that we continue to teach, among many other things, Aristotle and Plato.

In the interest of supporting dissent and the free exchange of ideas, the faculty and administration allowed this. Those who felt able to do so lectured surrounded by those signs for the better part of a year.

13) Apparently stealing marathon bib numbers and designs prior to the race by social media and then using them to make counterfeits and run the race is a big thing.

14) The shameless disrespect for the judicial branch in NC is certainly one of the most frustrating– and woefully under-covered– aspects of the clowns currently running our state legislature.

15) The Supreme Court is not above playing fast and loose with facts.

Death penalty? Not so much

Among some pretty dramatic trendlines in American politics, the drop in support for the death penalty is really something to behold, too.  The latest from Gallup:

1

Now, that’s still a clear majority, but dropping from 80% to 55% support in just over two decades really is something.  Presumably, we can thank 1) the declining crime rate, and 2) the attention to all the innocent people released from death row thanks to DNA testing.

What’s most notable about the recent decline is that it is not all led by Democrats, but increasing numbers of Republicans appear to be questioning the death penalty as well:

2

Will definitely be interesting to see how this trend develops in the next few years with Mr. “American carnage” in the White House and driving the Republican electorate.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Holy shoot, I had read that hundreds of women had accused Hollywood director, James Toback, of sexual harassment/assault.  But the details?  Damn!!

2) Is Trumpian race-baiting a winner for the GOP in Virginia?  Hopefully not.

3) Should your spouse be your best friend?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

It’s this feeling of security, Dr. Levine says, that leads us to describe our spouses as “friends.” But that language is not quite right, he says. First, couples still need what he calls “maintenance sex,” because it re-establishes physical closeness and renews attachment.

Second, the term “friendship” is “an underwhelming representation of what’s going on,” he said. “What people basically mean is, ‘I’m in a secure relationship. Being close to my partner is very rewarding. I trust them. They’re there for me in such a profound way that it allows me to have courage to create, to explore, to imagine.’”

Dr. Levine summarizes this feeling with the (somewhat awkward) acronym Carrp; your partner is consistent, available, responsive, reliable and predictable. But don’t we already have a word, “spouse,” that fits this description? I said. Why are we suddenly using the expression “best friend,” when that doesn’t seem to fit at all?

“Because not every spouse provides that,” he said, “and we’re indicating we don’t take it for granted. What we should probably be saying is ‘secure spouse.’”

There’s yet another problem with calling your husband or wife your best friend. The words mean totally different things.

Peter Pearson and Ellyn Bader are founders of the Couples Institute in Menlo Park, Calif., and the authors of “Tell Me No Lies.” They’ve also been married for more than 30 years. Dr. Pearson said there’s a critical difference between a best friend and a spouse. “One of the criteria for a best friend is you feel unconditionally accepted,” he said. “Do I care if my buddy Mark is messy in the kitchen, leaves his bathroom a shambles and doesn’t pay his income taxes?”

But with a spouse, he said, you can’t avoid these topics.

4) Interesting workplace research women’s lack of promotion stems from bias, not patterns of workplace actions and interactions.

5) When Republicans answer a poll that Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya do they really believe it or are they just giving a partisan answer?  Adam Berinksy’s latest research suggests the former:

Large numbers of Americans endorse political rumors on surveys. But do they truly believe what they say? In this paper, I assess the extent to which subscription to political rumors represents genuine beliefs as opposed to expressive responses—rumor endorsements designed to express opposition to politicians and policies rather than genuine belief in false information. I ran several experiments, each designed to reduce expressive responding on two topics: among Republicans on the question of whether Barack Obama is a Muslim and among Democrats on whether members of the federal government had advance knowledge about 9/11. The null results of all experiments lead to the same conclusion: the incidence of expressive responding is very small, though somewhat larger for Democrats than Republicans. These results suggest that survey responses serve as a window into the underlying beliefs and true preferences of the mass public.

6) I’d never even heard of the super-opiate, Carfentanil, but wow!

7) This Alexandra Petri satire is awesome, “I’d love to be able to look my grandkids in the eye, but if I do I’ll be primaried from the right.”

8) Of course American cannot afford to continue the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Drum:

This is a good time to remind everyone that Republicans just passed a budget that contained instructions for a net $1.5 trillion tax cut that will mostly benefit corporations and the rich. But $8 billion in net spending increases to provide medical care for kids? Sorry. Can’t be done. Gotta watch the deficit, you understand.

Or maybe they could fund CHIP and settle for a $1.492 trillion tax cut? That’s out of the question, of course.

At times like this I wish I were a religious man. At least then I’d feel some sense that eventually these meanspirited bastards would pay for their sins.

9) Paul Waldman’s headline on the Steele dossier is about right, “GOP spin about the new ‘Steele Dossier’ story is disingenuous nonsense.”

10) Nice point-counterpoint in Vox on the 1st amendment on campus.

11) Nikole Hannah-Jones on how housing segregation is the key to structural racism:

What’s important to understand is that segregation is not about test scores; it’s about denying full citizenship to a caste of children who have not, for one day in this country, been given full and equal access to the same educational resources as white children. So it’s not really about closing the test score gap. Segregation is about separating black children from white children, and therefore separating black children from the same resources as white children. I think we have to talk about it in these terms.

What people also don’t want to acknowledge is that schools are segregated because white people want them that way. It’s not simply a matter of zip codes or housing segregation or class; it’s because most white Americans do not wish to enroll their children in schools with large numbers of black kids. And it doesn’t matter if they live in the North or the South, or if they’re liberal or conservative.

We won’t fix this problem until we really wrestle with that fact…

Segregation in housing is the way you can accomplish segregation in every aspect of life. Housing segregation means that certain jobs are located in certain communities, that certain grocery stores are located in certain communities; it determines where parks are located, if streets are repaired, if toxic dump sites are built nearby. Segregation accomplishes so many other inequalities because you effectively contain a population to a geographic area and suddenly all the other civil rights law don’t matter.

We don’t have to discriminate if we’re living in totally segregated neighborhoods; all the work is already done. If you look at the history of civil rights legislation, it’s the Fair Housing laws that get passed last — and barely so. Dr. King had to get assassinated in order for it to get passed, and that was because it was considered the Northern civil rights bill. It was civil rights made personal; it was determining who would live next door to you and therefore who would be able to share the resources that you received. The same is true of school desegregation.

12) Really enjoyed this Dana Milbank column apologizing for being ignorant, but complicit, in the sexual harassment of Leon Wieseltier.

13) Of course the first FBI crime report from the Trump administration is missing a ton of important data.  Ugh.

14) This is absolutely true from Catherine Rampell, “Republicans are propping up scammers and cheaters.”

Republicans claim to believe no company is too big to fail. The almighty market must be allowed to work its magic, and firms with defective business models should face the consequences.

Yet over the course of this year, President Trump and Congress have worked to prop up lots of defective firms. By which I mean: Companies whose business models are contingent on scamming customers, shortchanging workers and suckling the government teat.

Just this week, the Senate limited consumers’ ability to fight back against financial firms that have cheated them. Which is of course an implicit subsidy to firms whose profits depend on cheating…

Congress, with Trump’s expected signature, nullified the rule this week, effectively shielding banks from facing consequences for large-scale bad behavior.

That rule just dealt with mandatory arbitration clauses in certain financial contracts. Congress and the administration have delayed or dismantled other regulations curbing forced arbitration in disputes involving  nursing homes for-profit schools and sexual harassment claims against government contractors…

In the long run, none of these actions are good for consumers, workers or the healthy functioning of markets. They merely reward firms that can’t hack it under 21st-century economic forces and 21st-century laws.

15) This is a damn, sad immigration story in Trump’s America.  A Yale student writes, “I Accidentally Turned My Dad In to Immigration Services.”

16) This Slate article on the debunking of Amy Cuddy and power posing does a nice exploration of the gender angle.

17) Latest evidence suggests that the DEA wrongfully killed a family in Honduras five years ago.  And then, of course, lied about it.  Hooray for the War on Drugs!

18) Yuval Harari on how to respond to the AI revolution.

Photo of the day

Damn do I love this photo from an Atlantic gallery of the Arctic’s Wrangel Island:

An Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) stands next to part of a reindeer skull on Wrangel Island in Russia’s far east. 

Sergey Gorshkov / bioGraphic

Everything is partisanship

Really, really liked this Tom Edsall post which summarized a lot of really good work that’s been done by political scientists on partisanship lately.  A lot of it is about the importance of partisanship as a social identity, something I know just a little about.  A lot of great scholars have carried forward and done great work on this idea that I just scratched the surface of way back in my dissertation days.  The short version is that partisanship overwhelms pretty much everything in American politics these days.  Forget issues.  Forget ideology.  Just raw attachment to a political party (and, in the case of Trump, it’s leader). Anyway, Edsall and company:

In fact, as the political scientists Leonie Huddy, Lilliana Mason and Lene Aarøe argue in an article in American Political Science Review, the most powerful form of partisanship is not principled, ideological commitment to conservative or liberal policies, but “expressive partisanship,” which is more of a gut commitment: [emphases mine]

A subjective sense of belonging to a group that is internalized to varying degrees, resulting in individual differences in identity strength, a desire to positively distinguish the group from others, and the development of ingroup bias. Moreover, once identified with a group or, in this instance, a political party, members are motivated to protect and advance the party’s status and electoral dominance as a way to maintain their party’s positive distinctiveness.

Traditionally, political scientists have measured partisanship by asking voters the following questions: “Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?” Those who say Republican or Democrat are then asked “Would you call yourself a strong Republican/Democrat or a not very strong Republican/Democrat?” Independents are asked “Do you think of yourself as closer to the Republican or Democratic Party?” Respondents are then ranked on a seven point scale from strong Democrat to strong Republican.

Political scientists measure expressive partisanship by looking at responses to more subjective questions, including “How important is being a Democrat or Republican to you?”, “How well does the term Democrat or Republican describe you?” and “When talking about Democrats or Republicans, how often do you use ‘we’ instead of ‘they’?” …

[Short plug for my own work in getting the ball rolling on the above]

It turns out, according to Huddy, Mason and Aarøe, that those who are strong partisans on the basis of emotional and expressive links to their parties feel angrier

when threatened with electoral loss and more positive when reassured of victory. In contrast, those who hold a strong and ideologically consistent position on issues are no more aroused emotionally than others by party threats or reassurances…

Three other political scientists — Shanto Iyengar, Gaurav Sood and Yphtach Lelkes — reached a similar conclusion in a 2012 paper, “Affect, Not Ideology: A Social Identity Perspective on Polarization.”

They argue that instead of treating polarization in the general electorate as a conflict over competing policies, the better measure is “affective polarization,” which is their term for the way voters “not only increasingly dislike the opposing party,” but are also willing to “impute negative traits to the rank-and-file of the out-party.”…

In a 2017 paper, “All in the Eye of the Beholder: Asymmetry in Ideological Accountability,” Iyengar and Sood provide further insight into how so many Republicans found their way to voting for Trump.

They demonstrate that partisan voters’ approval of their party’s leaders “bears little relationship with their ideological extremity.” Because of this, candidates like Trump “enjoy considerable leeway to stake out positions at odds with the preferences of their supporters.” …

The growing strength of the kind of partisanship that is widespread today — whether you call it visceral, expressive, affective or tribal — undermines the workings of democratic governance. Not only are Republicans willing to support Trump, but both Democrats and Republicans are inclined to demonize the leadership of the opposing party…

Along similar lines, Theodoridis and Stephen Goggin, a political scientist at San Diego State, asked 1609 voters whether two unnamed senators were Democrats or Republicans. One of the two was described as the subject of a story headlined “Senator Wins Anti-Corruption Award,” the other as the subject of a story headlined “Senator Admits to Lying.” Democrats consistently labeled the anti-corruption senator a Democrat and the liar a Republican, while Republicans took the opposite view.

Perhaps most importantly, hyperpolarization is a powerful disincentive to compromise. How can you make concessions to your mortal enemies? To even start negotiations can be viewed, in this context, as surrender.

Short version– in American politics today, partisanship is pretty much everything.  And, that’s not so good.

Legal marijuana is coming to you (in time)

Wow– the trend line on Gallup’s latest marijuana poll is something.

Trend: Americans' Support for Legalizing Marijuana Continues to Rise

And, check this out broken down by party:

Republican Support for Legal Marijuana Now at Majority Level

Okay, it will take a while for all the “reefer madness Republicans” e.g., Jeff Sessions and friends, to age out of politics, but once they do, your legal weed is coming.

It was interesting to learn that when Evan’s middle school police officer spoke about staying off drugs, the officer was actually reasonably honest about the relative dangers of marijuana (dependency is bad, but not trying to scare them with horror stories), although he did push the discredited gateway drug theory.

Anyway, with public opinion trendlines like this, Evan will almost certainly be able to legally use marijuana– regardless of the state– in his adulthood.

But he’ll vote for tax cuts for rich people!

Loved Jennifer Rubin’s take on Republican establishment support for the political/moral/intellectual embarrassment that is Roy Moore for US Senate:

It is hard to fathom that even the few Republican politicians who resisted endorsing Donald Trump for president find it beyond their ability to denounce Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama. And make no mistake, Moore is worse than Trump. By a lot.

This is a man who said, “Homosexual conduct should be illegal, yes.” Comparing it to bestiality, he said, “It is a moral precept upon which this country was founded.” Presumably he meant that criminalizing homosexuality is a precept upon which the United States is founded, which would still be news to any sentient human being.

Moore has proclaimed, “Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”

He has displayed crude bigotry against Muslims. “False religions like Islam who teach that you must worship this way are completely opposite with what our First Amendment stands for,” Moore argued.

He has suggested 9/11 was the result of America’s ungodliness. “If you think that’s coincidence, if you go to verse 25, ‘there should be up on every high mountain and upon every hill rivers and streams of water in the day of the great slaughter when the towers will fall,’” he said in February. “You know, we’ve suffered a lot in this country. Just maybe, because we’ve distanced ourselves from the one that has it within his hands to heal this land.”

He is an avowed birther — still…

Beyond his offensive and bigoted comments, he has repeatedly shown that he is unwilling to uphold the Constitution…

As bad as this glaring hypocrisy is, the silence of many Republicans who should know better reveals the depth to which the GOP has descended. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who refrained from endorsing Trump, has been silent about Moore.

Understand that the entire apparatus of the GOP — its majority leader in the Senate, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, etc. — stands foursquare behind Moore. A party willing to stand behind Trump or Moore is a party that presumably would stand behind David Duke or Richard Spencer. It’s a party without a soul or decency, a party that puts partisanship above country and is willing to indulge bigots and constitutional idiots. It is quite simply irredeemable.

But, you know what, Roy Moore will vote for tax cuts for rich people.  I’m honestly waiting (and prepared to wait a long time) to see a compelling argument that this belief is not the sine qua non of today’s Republican party.

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