Quick hits (part II)

Late and gun-heavy edition.

1) The unwillingness of so many prosecutors to admit that they are human and make mistakes (or worse, cover up their misconduct) and thereby make innocent people suffer is really infuriating.

2) Nate Silver’s take on how much Russia ultimately influenced the election.  TLDR– hard to say.

3) I don’t know how many fathers there are on the U.S. Olympics team, but I do think it is pretty telling about gender and social roles that there is literally only one mom on the U.S. Olympic team.  On the bright side, she won gold in incredibly dramatic fashion.  Just watch this.  Seriously.

4) Yglesias makes a pretty strong case for Trump being guilty of something nefarious on Russia:

Emerging conventional wisdom in Washington, however, remains that there’s little reason to believe that Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation will end up proving much of interest. Politico magazine editor-in-chief Blake Hounshell this weekend wrote one of the buzziest pieces advocating a skeptical approach to Mueller’s ongoing inquiry, titled “Confessions of a Russiagate Skeptic,” throwing cold water on the notion of high-level cooperation between Trumpworld and the Russians.

But to believe this, frankly, requires a much greater suspension of disbelief than to posit that the president colluded with Russia. You have to believe that after a decade of paying Manafort millions for his expertise to help pro-Russian candidates win elections in Ukraine, no one from Moscow thought to consult with him about how to help a pro-Russia candidate win an election in the United States.

And we have to believe that even though we know Trump’s son was both in touch with WikiLeaks and openly enthusiastic about the idea of collaborating with Russia on obtaining and disseminating anti-Hillary Clinton dirt, when he met with Russians on this very topic, they didn’t talk about it. And, of course, we have to believe that Trump’s specific — and quite public — call for Putin to hack more Clinton emails was completely random.

Trump–Russia skeptics, legion in the political press, brush all this aside in a gesture of faux sophistication, positing a bizarre series of coincidences complete with a massive cover-up all — for no particular reason.

5) In reference to some commentary discussion on my recent weight loss post, looks like there is some good evidence for the power of chewing gum in helping with weight loss.

6) Really like Perry Bacon Jr’s 538 piece on how he and the media got John Kelly wrong:

The media narrative around Kelly’s appointment had two central ideas, one outward- and one inward-facing: He would calm and professionalize the White House, and he would provide a more measured leadership style than his boss. Kelly’s views on policy were largely downplayed — he would simply be implementing Trump’s agenda and was “non-ideological” and “apolitical” anyway.

But the media got it wrong, myself included. Kelly seems to have deeply held views, particularly on immigration, that he has asserted — and they are not those of the McCain-like GOP establishment. Unlike past chiefs of staff, he hasn’t been careful to avoid bombastic comments. There was the attack on Wilson. But more recently, Kelly suggested that undocumented immigrants who had not yet signed up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were “lazy.” He has also praised Confederate general Robert E. Lee. You might even call Kelly’s rhetoric Trumpian.

7) Lee Drutman on why Parkland could be a gun control turning point:

And so for a long time, the lore in Washington was this: Nobody ever lost reelection for being too supportive of gun rights. So why take the chance? If there were a sizable number of gun owners in your state or district, why pick a fight you were sure to lose? Especially since it seemed likely everybody in Congress was making the same risk-averse calculation, and as a result, no gun control legislation seemed likely to pass anyway. Why be courageous for a lost cause?

Baked into this calculus was the assumption that not only were there single-issue gun rights voters but Democrats could win these voters by being pro-gun, and Republicans could losethese voters by being anti-gun.

But as partisanship has taken over just about everything in political life, the power of the single-issue voter (on any issue) has diminished. Spend some time reading and soaking in the NRA’s powerful propaganda, and it’s harder and harder to distinguish its own advocacy from core Republican identity politics of nostalgic American greatness. The NRA is now part of the Republican Party. Ninety-nine percent of its money goes to Republican candidates. As a result, it has lost the leverage it once had over swing-state Democrats.

In the short term, this made the NRA stronger, because its gamble paid off. Republican control of the House, Senate, and presidency makes meaningful gun control legislation unlikely. In the long run, however, this makes the NRA weaker, because its power is tied to Republicans being in power. [emphasis mine]

8) Michael Ian Black on the obviously gendered problem of mass shooters.

9) Get really tired of hearing people say variations of “in only we knew what to do.”  We do and we’re just not doing it.

10) Will Wilkinson on the ethno-nationalism behind opposition to the Dream Act:

The fact that there’s any question about affording legal status to a class of rooted young immigrants who grew up American among Americans is shameful. It’s a reflection of the disgraceful fact that so many of us are doggedly ignorant of the country we claim to revere, and deny the plain historical truth that America has always been multicultural, that Spanish colonial mestizo culture is a foundational American culture, and that many Mexican Americans have deeper roots in American soil than those of us whose European ancestors arrived rather late in the day at Ellis Island.

It makes no more sense, culturally or ethnically, to call into question the Americanness of a young woman whose mom brought her from Hermosillo to Tucson at the age of 6 than it does to doubt that a white guy raised in Syracuse but born in Toronto can ever really belong there.

Threatening to hang DREAMers out to dry — to arrest them, to uproot them, to jail them, to rip them from their families, to sever their bonds of loyalty and love, and to cast them into exile — threatens the equality and security of tens of millions of American citizens who are ethnically and culturally identical to them.

And a threat to any subset of Americans is a threat to America — to us. Trump’s unilateral act of political hostage-taking was, from the beginning, an act of violent division, an assault on the integrity of the actual, existing, real-world American people.

The ethnically purified fantasy of the populist imagination is a seditious force that obscures our higher loyalties, shatters the peace of liberal equality, and splits Americans into warring tribes ready to abuse people whom patriotic decency would otherwise compel us to defend.

11) Any time I come across a good article on how stupid tipping is, count on me to share it.  The sub-headline, “The data is overwhelming: Tipping encourages racism, sexism, harassment, and exploitation.”

12) Former Republican member of NC Supreme Court is pretty fed-up with his party:

Having found a political party willing to be the vehicle for its pro-gun agenda, the NRA has become a political force that Republican candidates and office holders are simply unwilling to renounce. You’d have a better chance of Republicans condemning the FBI, passing trillion-dollar budget deficits and siding with Putin and the Russians long before they’d ever condemn any agenda advocated for by the NRA. Oh, seems that’s already happened.

13) Pew with the demographics of gun ownership:

14) Of course the Schiff memo totally eviscerates the Nunes memo.  And, Nunes wins, because coverage of the just-released Schiff memo is a total after-thought.  It was A6 in my N&O today.  The Nunes memo was, of course, the lead story.  Once again, the liars win.

15) Pretty sure I’ve linked to some opioid myth-debunking before, but this is important to get right:

I have also watched a false narrative about this crisis blossom into conventional wisdom: The myth that the epidemic is driven by patients becoming addicted to doctor-prescribed opioids, or painkillers like hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin) and oxycodone (e.g., Percocet). One oft-quoted physician refers to opioid medication as “heroin pills.” This myth is now a media staple and a plank in nationwide litigation against drugmakers. It has also prompted legislation, introduced last spring by Senators John McCain and Kirsten Gillibrand—the Opioid Addiction Prevention Act, which would impose prescriber limits because, as a news release stated, “Opioid addiction and abuse is commonly happening to those being treated for acute pain, such as a broken bone or wisdom tooth extraction.”

But this narrative misconstrues the facts. The number of prescription opioids in circulation in the United States did increase markedly from the mid-1990s to 2011, and some people became addicted through those prescriptions. But I have studied multiple surveys and reviews of the data, which show that only a minority of people who are prescribed opioids for pain become addicted to them, and those who do become addicted and who die from painkiller overdoses tend to obtain these medications from sources other than their own physicians. Within the past several years, overdose deaths are overwhelmingly attributable not to prescription opioids but to illicit fentanyl and heroin. These “street opioids” have become the engine of the opioid crisis in its current, most lethal form. [emphases mine]

If we are to devise sound solutions to this overdose epidemic, we must understand and acknowledge this truth about its nature.

For starters, among people who are prescribed opioids by doctors, the rate of addiction is low. According to a 2016 national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 87.1 million U.S. adults used a prescription opioid—whether prescribed directly by a physician or obtained illegally—sometime during the previous year. Only 1.6 million of them, or about 2 percent, developed a “pain reliever use disorder,”

16) Among the ridiculous tropes is the idea that it should be relatively easy to predict and thereby stop mass shooters.  So not so.  Thought experiment– what if we had a machine that could predict mass shooters with 99% accuracy and ran it on 100,000 people:

What? I thought this thing was 99 percent accurate! What junk!

Well, it is 99 percent accurate. But that means it will falsely label one out of every 100 people a mass shooter.

In a group of 100,000 people, we’d be left with 1,001 potential mass shooters: 1,000 false positives and one correct guess.

17) This x1000– the media should stop making school shooters famous!!  And enough with the stupid stories looking for “motive” of the mass shooters.  They wanted to kill a lot of people!  There’s no sane way to explain this.

18) Molly Worthen on the misguided drive for colleges to measure learning outcomes.  Speaking from the trenches (my departmental assessment I am working on is due this week)… Amen!  As one of my colleagues put it, we devise beans to be counted.

19) German Lopez on the real harm of the stupid, stupid, stupid arming teachers discussion:

In any other country in the world, the idea of arming teachers with guns in classrooms to protect children would be seen as the policy equivalent to random screaming. Yet in the United States, it’s an idea that now has support from President Donald Trump — who recently said that he’s willing to pay teachers “a little bit of a bonus” if necessary to arm and train them…

As we all concentrate on this, we leave aside other issues that the NRA would rather not talk about — from universal background checks to gun bans to confiscation schemes like Australia’s. So the ridiculous discussion sucks up the oxygen during the few weeks in which there’s a window to do something about guns, nothing happens, and the current situation remains.

20) Why nobody wants to host the Olympics anymore.  Here’s a hint, Pyeongchang will be demolishing it’s $109 million stadium after four uses.

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

3 Responses to Quick hits (part II)

  1. Mika says:

    #3 That was a great race to the finishing line! Nobody was supposed to beat Nilsson at homestretch but hey whaddyaknow! Marit Bjorgen is mother too. We Finns don’t like Norwegian skiers because “all” of them use doping, at least asthma medicine even though they really aren’t asthmatic, but I got to say that she’s one helluva skier.

    #7 Love that article. Have you really reached a turning point? We’ll see about that.

    #17 Yes, looking for motive for some crimes drives me nuts too.

  2. itchy says:

    8. This is beautifully written. I think he has a point, not just about male shooters, but about males in general. (I had to check to make sure this was the same goofy comedian Michael Ian Black — which then made me feel bad that I stereotyped him as not serious.)

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