Chart of the day

Hmmm, what do you know, when you massively cut taxes for rich people, the budget deficit explodes.  I’m shocked.  But, somehow I’m sure this will all work out because we know from the Obama years just how worried Republicans are about deficits.  This snarkily annotated chart from Drum captures it all:

Quick hits (part II)

1) The headline and subhead of this National Review article are spot-on, “Law-Enforcement Unions Have Too Much Power: In serving the interests of cops and prison guards, they hinder criminal-justice reform and encourage irresponsible public spending.”

Law-enforcement unions shape our criminal-justice policies for the worse and encourage irresponsible public spending to achieve their own ends. “Take prison guards,” says John Pfaff, a professor at Fordham Law School who researches criminal justice. “They’re always going to fight efforts to decarcerate, because if you start emptying out prisons, you’re going to get demands to close facilities.” In New York, for example, the prison population fell by more than 20 percent in recent years, yet the state struggled to close any prisons, wary of putting unionized corrections officers out of work. These unions also support the laws that contribute to incarceration in the first place. California’s correctional-officers union is infamous for having wielded its political clout on behalf of the state’s three-strikes law. To a certain kind of conservative, that law was a triumph at the time, but in the long term it fueled government’s growth at the expense of defendants.

2) Yes, there is gravity in space.

3) Pretty wild that secret military installations were uncovered by shared fitness tracker data.

4) Well, I’ll say this for NC Republican legislators– at least they’re not as bad as Oklahoma where schools are operating on four-day weeks due to budget cuts.

5) On re-writing the history of Tonya Harding due to the new movie.  (TLDR: She really was a very bad actor in the series of events).

6) Chait, “Trump’s Law Enforcement Purge Is Now Republican Policy.”

7) Apparently stealing from automated self check-out scanners is rampant.  Shame on people.

8) Not only is it unconscionable to be deporting  productive members of society who have lived here crime free and are successfully supporting American families, it is stupid, stupid, stupid as a matter of public policy.  Welcome to Trump’s ICE.

9) I’m so glad I didn’t spend any time on post SOTU blogging.  I told myself, that this will all be forgotten within two days and it’s just not worth the time. So right.  Perry Bacon and Julia Azari have a nice discussion on 538 about the value, or not, of the SOTU.  I’m in Bacon’s camp– forget it.

Second, the State of the Union tends to produce peak “Green Lanternism.” The “Green Lantern theory of the presidency” was coined by Dartmouth government professor Brendan Nyhan — riffing on a Matthew Yglesias concept — and likens how Americans view the power of the president (no matter who he is) to the DC Comics’ character Green Lantern, who has a ring that lets him will anything he can think of into existence. This theory of the presidency imagines that willpower and “leadership” can solve any problem, without considering how presidents are constrained by public opinion, the Congress, the judiciary and other factors.

The media seems predisposed to Green Lantern thinking at the best of times, but the State of the Union tends to make it that much worse. What could be a more inaccurate portrayal of how American government actually works than having the president (any president, not just Trump) spend an hour laying out his agenda unfiltered, as if what he decrees will then become law? And in fact, most of what presidents propose in State of the Union addresses never gets enacted — in the past few years, the vast, vast majority goes nowhere.

10) I like that Drum points out that, in many ways, the Nunes memo is simply not news:

But I want to highlight a point I made in the previous post: we’ve known what was in the memo for weeks. There have been hundreds of stories about it, and the actual charges it lays out are so weak that they’ve usually been treated as just a brief aside. The main story has always been about the partisan fight over releasing the memo.

In other words: we’ve had weeks to mull over the possibility that the FBI’s FISA application for Carter Page relied partly on the Steele dossier, and nobody has cared much. There have been no blaring headlines about it. There have been no experts telling us that this is a bombshell. It hasn’t spawned any new reporting, or if it has, the reporting has come up dry. The accusations in the memo just aren’t very important even if they’re true.

So now the memo is out, and it says what we all thought it said. Nobody cared very much before, so there’s no reason to care very much now. It’s all just spectacle.

11) And, yes, we knew it all, and yes I’m quasi-guilty of obsessing on it (mostly, because it tells us so much is wrong with the Republican Party and so much is wrong with the media), but while we’re at it, this NYT editorial shoots it done in a very effective and succinct manner.

12) I saw an article in the Post recently titled, “How the Koch network learned to thrive in the Trump era.”  Ummm, not exactly a trick question.  Huge tax cuts for rich people and corporations and massive planet and health-endangering deregulation.  Chait is nicely on top of things with a nice post about the GOP’s “Libertarian moment”

The now-close working partnership is not as surprising as it might appear. Before the election, I argued that the Republican party was evolving into a synthesis of libertarian ends and authoritarian means. The party’s core elites were motivated by an economic agenda that bore little support among the voting public. Indeed, libertarians have understood this problem for decades; many of them see democracy as a process that enables the majority to gang up on the rich minority and carry out legalized theft through redistribution. Their highest notion of liberty entails the protection of property rights from the democratic process, and they have historically been open to authoritarian leaders who will protect their policy agenda.

13) I think Andrew Sullivan may go a bit far on the nature side of nature vs. nurture in this take.  But I think his basic argument that for many feminists the “nature” argument is basically taboo, is pretty much correct.  It seems to me we ought to be able to say that there really are some differences (just on average, of course) between male and female brains (I like to argue that we really shouldn’t think sex differences run from the feet to the neck) without that being inherently sexist or hierarchical.  I’m not naive enough to think people don’t/won’t use it that way, but I don’t think we do ourselves any favors denying empirical reality, which strongly suggests there are modest, but real, differences between male and female brains.

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