Quick hits (part I)

Now coming to you at 6:00am sharp, by special request of DJC…

1) I still love my Diet Coke (and so does JP, if he’s reading this), but not so much the rest of America.  And, of course, Diet Dr Pepper is the greatest drink known to humans.

2) Of course Trump has an unqualified 24-year old running the Office of National Drug Control Policy during our opioid crisis.

3) I’m feeling safer already.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/01/16/too-old-for-daca-a-michigan-father-is-deported-after-three-decades-in-the-u-s/?utm_term=.afe95d8e0d15

4) Fake news!

All those media-trust studies have a tendency toward the rote. Yes, we already knew that the public had little trust in the country’s journalistic organs. Yes, we knew that finding credible sources could be a harrowing pursuit for the public. Yes, we knew that an increasing portion of the U.S. public felt that the news was biased.

Yet this nugget from a new Gallup-Knight Foundation survey just about knocked the Erik Wemple Blog out of a decade-long media-research torpor:

Four in 10 [or 42 percent of] Republicans consider accurate news stories that cast a politician or political group in a negative light to always be “fake news.” [The corresponding figure for Democrats is 17 percent.]

5) Jennifer Rubin on those who demean themselves for Trump:

For the sake of argument, let’s say she doesn’t personally recall the president’s statements. By now, she is aware that both Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) know what was said. She now has to consider — not from a legal sense, but from an ethical one — whether she wants to serve a president who plainly prefers white Europeans to black and brown people, and is prepared to lie to the public about his statements and views. Public service is honorable, but not when you are enabling elected officials to lie and to pursue racist ends.

In a nutshell, this is why you cannot serve a president who is racist, dishonest or personally corrupt. You inevitably wind up enabling racism, dishonesty and corruption. If you thought you could remain untainted, you were wrong. And now, you need to either quit or face the legal and personal consequences.

6) We keep talking about the importance of investing in pre-school, but meanwhile, we don’t seem to be willing to invest in preschool teachers.

7) I learned about the developmental milestone of your kids lying to you way back when I first read Nurtureshock.  So, yes, you should be happy when your kids start lying to you.  And it’s also worth noting that teenagers lie to their parents all the time and it’s perfectly normal (you almost surely did it way more than you would admit to your kids).  That said, I may be related to a certain teenager who could at least limit his lying to parents about non-school-related topics.

8) Amy Davidson Sorkin on Trump’s willing liars:

Among others present, John Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, has not commented; Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security Secretary, said on Fox News on Sunday that she didn’t “recall him saying that exact phrase.” (On Tuesday, in sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, she said that she didn’t “hear” the word, but acknowledged that the President had used “tough language.”) They all need to speak more clearly, about shitholes or shithouses, if nothing else so that the public has a good gauge of who is willing to lie, and how blatantly, for the President.

Trump seems to be curious about that question, too. According to the Post, members of his Administration at first thought that the controversy could be settled in the shady realm of “do not recall,” since the President had, again, reportedly talked to others about using derogatory language. They were caught by surprise when he started tweeting about how the accounts of his language were outright false. Indeed, he has said that they were proof that “Dicky Durbin” and other Democrats didn’t care about a deal on Dreamers, and were willing to blow up the negotiations by lying about him. Why the change? It is hard to know what is in the President’s mind. Perhaps he was struck by the vehemence of the backlash. But perhaps he also listened to what the other Republicans were saying, and had an insight that they would, indeed, back him up. It was a bully’s triple play: first, he got to slur whole nations. Then he got his guys to gang up on anyone who called him out for it, which produced the final prize: the acknowledgement that the Republican lawmakers were his guys, subordinate and willing to humiliate themselves on his behalf.

What is notable is that, at first, Cotton and Perdue had tried, in a joint statement, to hedge by saying that they did “not recall the President saying these comments specifically.” But, as his lies escalated, so did theirs, to the point where they were backing up the idea that the media was involved in a fake-news conspiracy. They didn’t need to do so—after their Sunday appearances, Lindsey Graham said, according to the Post and Courier, “My memory hasn’t evolved. I know what was said and I know what I said”—yet they chose that route. But it is, apparently, hard to lie halfway for Trump; he won’t let you. Maybe it’s time for the Republicans to stop lying to themselves about that, too.

9) This is from 2014 (friend recently shared on-line), but this article about the human factor in airline crashes is so good.  Reminds me of one of my favorite podcasts ever (listen, David Greene!), 99% Invisible on the Automation Paradox.

10) Thought this on disappearing hotel “do not disturb” signs and what’s driving it was pretty interesting.

11) Every 1990’s TV commercial ever.  Pretty much.

12) Ezra Klein’s 12 thoughts on the “shithole shutdown.”

2.  Republicans have a natural advantage in a shutdown because they care less how well the federal government works, and the parts of government they care most about — like the military and immigration enforcement — are exempted….

12. Taken in its entirety, the “shithole shutdown” is the perfect encapsulation of governance in the Trump era: dysfunction and chaos driven by anger and fear toward America’s changing demographics, and the congressional GOP’s cowardly acquiescence to Trump’s ever-shifting demands.

13) Naturally, Trump’s appointee to oversee government service programs is an absolutely atrocious human being.

14) Alas, also naturally, prosecutors in New Orleans repeatedly kept on prosecuting people even when it was clear they had the wrong guy.

15) Michael Tomasky on Trump’s shithole enablers.

16) It’s the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive.  Julian Zelizer on how it undermined faith in government. Coincidentally, I r-watched Platoon this week (streaming on HBO Go, for you fellow subscribers) for the first time since 1986 (I think).  Thought it held up pretty well.  David certainly liked it and led to some great discussion about the Vietnam War.

Besides the damage that Tet imposed on Johnson, the surprise attack and the revelation that the administration had vastly oversold the prospects for success were a severe blow to public confidence in American government leaders to tell the truth and to do the right thing.

The right also took its own lessons from Tet and other parts of the increasingly critical wartime coverage, namely that the media could not be trusted. As reporters focused on Tet as evidence of failure, hawkish Democrats and Republicans were quick to note, rightly so, that the U.S. counter-offensive had been successful. Johnson felt this way and tried to hammer away on the point that the media was misrepresenting what happened. For decades, coverage of Tet would remain to conservatives a symbol of why the “liberal establishment” could not be trusted to give the public a realistic assessment of national security issues.

17) Loved this Edutopia piece about how making an extra effort to really get to know students in a Nevada school district is paying dividends.

18) Army National Guard officer analyzes the repeated tactical failures of the Resistance in the Star Wars movies.

19) Sam “I’ll eat a bug” Wang and Brian Remlinger with a great explainer on gerrymanders.

20) How are we not talking at all about the fact that a presidential campaign paid hush money to a porn star during the campaign??!!  This, more than about anything, is a testament to how Trump continuous and shocking bad behavior has inured us to his awfulness.  Michelle Goldberg:

In any other administration, evidence that the president paid hush money to the star of “Good Will Humping” during the election would be a scandal. In this one it has, so far, elicited a collective shrug.

Liberals, in general, can’t work up much outrage, because the encounter between Trump and Daniels was by all accounts consensual. And few social conservatives are interested in criticizing the president, since they’ve talked themselves into a posture of hardheaded moral realism in order to justify their support for him. In 2016, for example, Bennett himself condemned “Never Trump” conservatives for their “terrible case of moral superiority.”

If there’s a significant scandal, it will lie in the origins of the $130,000, or in other encounters Trump has covered up. There’s a sentence in Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. It comes toward the end, when Steve Bannon is praising Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz: “Kasowitz on the campaign — what did we have, a hundred women? Kasowitz took care of all of them.”

If it turns out there were payoffs to hide non-consensual behavior, there may be an uproar. But sleeping with a porn star while your wife has a new baby, then paying the porn star to be quiet? That’s what everyone expects of this president. [emphasis mine]


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

20 Responses to Quick hits (part I)

  1. R, Jenrette says:

    #20 Dirty Donnie – the moral leader for our times. It seems we have a shortage of better angels.

  2. Mika says:

    #16 Platoon… I must have seen that but I don’t remember anything about it. That’s weird. Then again Full Metal Jacket has some unforgettable scenes. Too unforgettable.

    • Steve Greene says:

      I should probably watch Full Metal Jacket again, but am not a fan of Kubrick. Strikes me as far more interested in showing off as a filmmmaker than telling a good story.

      • Mika says:

        Not showing off, no way. He just wanted to make what he thought were perfect movies. Telling a good story was one part of the equation but maybe not especially important.

        First Kubrick’s movie I saw was The Shining. Back then I was a film nerd, I loved 1960’s French new wave cinema, Truffaut, Godard, Bresson et al. I didn’t like horror movies and I didn’t know who Kubrick was. I had very big doubts about the film but my friend wanted to see it and I nothing better to do so I joined him.

        One of the best movie experiences I’ve ever had it was. I became a huge fan instantly. Best movie director ever. No doubt about it.

        Also Nasa loved him. They hired him to do a fake moon landing but the project got so difficult and expensive that they decided to fly to the moon instead.

        I like Full Metal Jacket.

      • Steve Greene says:

        Only one I’ve seen recently is 2001 and I was really struck at times by his non-interest in making a compelling movie, but seeming interest in making some sort of point about filmmaking. Also, having read about his extreme on-set perfectionism, it always struck me as having essentially no marginal benefit over other great directors who don’t demand 60 takes.

  3. Mika says:

    Yes, 2001 is slow at times. I love atmosphere, music and pictures. I don’t mind the takes. What I mind is the way he treated Shelley Duvall when they were making The Shining if those stories are true.

    Last night I watched The Men Who Stare at Goats. It was brilliant!

    • Steve Greene says:

      Just saw that Full Metal Jacket is actually on Netflix now. I’ll give it another try. Lots of good movies now.

      • Mika says:

        It’s worth it 🙂 Yes, lots of good movies there, too bad we don’t have Netflix. Memento is ok. The opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Moon River playing is strangely enchanting.

        I had a 2TB external hard drive full of classic movies that I was going to watch some day but then my daughter dropped it to floor and broke it.

      • Steve Greene says:

        1) Can you not get Netflix in Finland? 2) I *love* Memento. 3) Oh no! Couldn’t be recovered?!

      • Mika says:

        1) Yes you can, we just haven’t thought about subscribing it. Us parents are happy to ~20 free channels that we get and our daughter mainly watches youtube and something called Pokemon TV (I just asked her) from her tablet. My spouse’s favorite way to watch “TV” is our national TV’s web service: https://areena.yle.fi/tv

        2) I didn’t want to raise your expectations too much, hence “ok”. 🙂

        3) It might have been recovered but I still have another 1TB left! And there wasn’t anything extremely rare in it.

      • Steve Greene says:

        Pokemon TV– love it.

      • Nicole K. says:

        Stick with the first half of Full Metal Jacket. The first half is awesome, especially R Lee Ermey. But the only thing good in the last part is the famous “me so horny me love you long time” line.

      • Steve Greene says:

        Actually, I watched the first half last night, coincidentally. I see how it is good film-making, but I really didn’t care for it. The story of how a sadistic drill sergeant send an overweight recruit over his breaking point, I just don’t think is that interesting a story of the military and war. Though, obviously, Ermey’s performance is something else.

  4. Mika says:

    Story, story, story… What about your emotional state? To me it is very uncomfortable to watch it and that’s why I appreciate it so much. Of course it was nothing like that but it reminds me the way some petty officers who were doing their conscription treated some of the guys when I was doing my conscription. That was so stupid, dammit.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Oh, I was super-uncomfortable. I really like feeling uncomfortable when it’s got a comedic edge (HBO’s “Comeback” is a great example), but not so much in straight drama. Or, at least, it really depends with drama. Black Mirror “Crocodile” made me super uncomfortable, but still really liked it.

      • Nicole K. says:

        At one point when I was in boarding school and living as a different gender, I had just about all of Ermey’s monologue memorized, as did a few of my friends. I still refer to the period of when my weight was close to being 300lbs as when I was a “disgusting fatbody”. Ermey pretty much did most of that in a single take and without script. It wasn’t far from what he did as a drill sergeant in real life.

        That movie, Boogie Nights, and The Big Lebowski were probably the defining movies of my high school and early college life. I’ve seen all three so many times I can probably still quote most of the great scenes in those movies. Boogie Nights was probably the one we most watched in high school and The Big Lebowski was more in college. I’m not sure what that says about me.

        I spent .5 year in the stoner’s dorm and 2 years in the athletic dorm when I was at boarding school. The associate headmaster did me a huge favor in placing me in the athletes dorm (they weren’t assigned that way. returning students picked where they wanted to live and self-selected) when I returned after my forced semester in public school I ended up becoming friends with a lot of the football and lacrosse players, although I never played a single sport or even had the ability to run. It was definitely quite an experience. I’m not sure why I was able to find a place in that group, but I am glad that I did.

      • Mika says:

        Ok Steve! I’ve never seen Black Mirror. Also I’ve never seen Boogie Nights, Big Lebowski I’ve seen once. It was a bit of a disappointment, had big hopes for that one for some reason or another. Hey Nicole, I’m glad you found a place in that group.

      • Nicole K. says:

        Black Mirror = Twilight Zone for adults. I am waiting until I am done with Star Trek Discovery (quickly becoming my favorite Star Trek ever) before I watch Season 4. I’m trying to stick to watching 1 show at a time to avoid wasting too much time on TV.

      • Nicole K. says:

        Thanks Mika, I for sure got a taste of wealthy “jock culture” that I probably would never have otherwise been apart of. I remember everything being hypersexualized, and we spent a lot of time joking around. I remember at one point we started walking around with plastic knives and trying to shank people in various lines. That’s one example of the stupid things we did for entertainment that I can actually write in a public space.

      • Mika says:

        Black Mirror sounds cool. Hopefully some Finnish TV-channel buys it. Lately I’ve been watching mostly Pawn Stars (although they should show more about buying things and not that much about the other stuff) and Shark Tank (heck some of those pitches are great!).

        I think I’ve seen so many tv-series and movies about jocks behaving like jocks that I already have some idea 🙂

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