Quick hits (part I)

1) Alexandra Petri on Trump’s respect for women.  Good, good stuff, “Trump respects women, you disgusting floozy.”

2) Seth Masket and Julia Azari with the talk of all the Political Parties scholars this week, “Is the Democratic Party Becoming Too Democratic?”

Parties have something of a dual purpose — they need to win elections but also find a way to channel the different voices within their coalitions. Sometimes those goals mesh well and at other times they’re in tension.

The belief that parties should be internally democratic, which has gained wider acceptance over time and, with the reform commission, is likely accelerating, has altered the way parties balance those two objectives. Candidates who lose the nomination can protest on democratic grounds and gain traction in doing so.

But there’s a real danger in taking this path. It undermines both the nominee and the party, both immediately and in the long run. And it undermines one of the necessary, if difficult, aspects of democracy: conceding gracefully when you lose.

3) What bothers me most about this Drum post on whether Republicans believe their on lies (hard to say) is that when they lie blatantly to CNN, CNN doesn’t even bother to call them out on it with easily verifiable facts.  Ugh.  Some liberal media bias.  More like lazy media bias.

4) Nice piece from Mike Munger on why the Confederate statues should come down.

5) Upon paying close attention (yep, not the mainstream news media), it is actually quite apparent that the real scandal is not what a couple of FBI agents privately texted each other, but that DOJ released this texts for political purposes.

6) Michael Tomasky on how Republicans keep passing unpopular policies:

So there you have it. In 27 years, Republicans have passed one popular conservative law and spent most of that time voting against things that clear majorities of Americans wanted. If they weren’t serving Americans, whom were they serving? And how have they gotten away with it?

The answers to both questions, alas, are depressingly familiar. They are serving their megarich donors and the most extreme elements of their base. And they get away with it because of the way they’ve gerrymandered House districts, because of an ideological right-wing media that obfuscates facts and because the one thing they’ve done astonishingly well is to make a big chunk of the country hate liberals.

Well, the country doesn’t hate liberal policies, as Professor Warshaw’s research shows. But until something big changes, it can’t get them.

7) American sheriffs have too much power.

8) You literally cannot make this stuff up– Trump administration has banned the CDC from using terms such as “science-based” and “evidence-based.”

The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

9) Not only is Susan Collins a fool, I’m so tired of her being called a “moderate.”  She’s simply “less extreme.”  If you football team’s average starting field position is your 10-yard line all game, that doesn’t make the 20 good starting field position.

10) Among the things clarified in the tax bill–how amazingly plutocratic Republicans are and how amazingly transparently false Rubio’s supposed attempts to help regular Americans are:

IN A tax-bill saga full of clarifying moments, there was one particularly eloquent expression of Republican priorities. First, Republicans refused to fund Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s plan to expand tax benefits for low-income families because he proposed paying for it by dropping the corporate tax rate to merely 21 percent rather than 20 percent. Then, in final negotiations on the bill, they adopted the 21 percent rate Mr. Rubio had sought, after all — and used the savings not to help needy families or to lessen the bill’s impact on the national debt but to lower the top income tax rate for the highest wage earners.

After some last-minute theatrics, a smaller version of Mr. Rubio’s plan was added to the final package. But it is telling how easy it was for Republicans to drop top income tax rates, how hard it has been for Mr. Rubio to secure even a limited victory for low-income people and how irrelevant concerns about ballooning the national debt have been for most in the GOP.

11) So cool– fighting antibiotic resistance in bacteria by harnessing natural competition between bacteria.

12) China wants a lot less of our recycling.  That’s not good.

13) Yeah, a $40 toll is going to draw a lot congestion pricing of negative publicity.  But, of course, it is far more complicated than that, and it actually shows working.

14) Here was a very interesting topic I never thought about– how our views of teenagers can be really distorted by the fact that they are typically played by mid-20’s performers in TV and film.  I feel like my view is pretty accurate, at least, since I’m around teenagers a lot.

15) Dahlia Lithwick’s account of her interpersonal dealings with sexually harrassing judge, Alex Kozinski, were really disturbing to read about.

16) Ever wondered why the flu virus is so damn good at mutating?  I have.  Loved this analogy for an explanation of how it works:

Like all viruses, the flu virus has one goal: replicate. And it can do that only by hijacking other cells. The virus enters a cell and takes over, shutting off the cell’s antiviral response and then using the cell’s machinery to make copies of itself. It’s like bootleggers sneaking booze into a coffee shop, turning off the burglar alarm and using the kitchen to make cocktails instead of cappuccinos.

Once the immune system learns what a flu virus looks like — whether from a vaccine or a past infection — it seeks out and destroys flu viruses before they enter more cells. (Soldiers are watching out for those bootleggers.) But the virus needs to replicate to keep surviving. If the parts the immune system recognizes change slightly, the immune system won’t see the virus. (If the antibody army identifies bootleggers only by their clothing, soldiers won’t stop bootleggers wearing brown trench coats if they’re looking for ones wearing black coats.)

And the flu virus gets lots of chances to change its wardrobe every time it replicates. Those wardrobe changes are mutations.

17) You want to fix American criminal justice?  Reforming prosecutors would not be a bad place to start.  And the utter lack of real accountability is certainly a major part of the problem.

18) NYT TV critic on Trump’s fixation on the worst kind of TV:

The problem is not how much TV Mr. Trump watches. It’s the kind of TV he watches.

As Mr. Trump’s associates report and his Twitter feed confirms, his video diet of choice is cable news, the most agitating, psychically toxic programming you can immerse yourself in, even if you don’t have possession of the nuclear codes.

19) A surprisingly thorough ranking of America’s popular chain sit-down restaurants.  Personally, I love IHOP pancakes as well as the Outback Steakhouse sirloin.

20) Watch a starfish take a stroll.

21) Loved this Guardian feature on Mark Hamill.  Having a tough time figuring out when to see the new Star Wars movie.  Too many moving parts in the family.

 

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

2 Responses to Quick hits (part I)

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    #2 Can political parties be too democratic?

    Yes – like in allowing open primaries. Why should someone who doesn’t even take the minimum step to register as a Democrat have any say in who the Democratic candidates are?

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