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.

Watch Jay Rosen at NCSU

So, I brought my camera and tripod and was going to figure out something myself, but turns out an NC State student from Student Media was there and livestreamed the event.  And, you can still watch it.  Lots of good stuff on Trump and the media.  It’s here (note, my Intro starts 4 minute in and Rosen starts about 6 1/2 in).

Yep, women have achieved full equality

Or, so believe the majority of Republicans in this latest Pew poll.  In fact, more Republicans are almost as like to believe “women have it easier” than to believe “men have it easier.”  Here’s a key chart:

Also, interesting to see where the largest partisan divides are on gender roles:

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