It’s Trump’s party now

Paul Waldman today is depressing:

Around the country, Republicans embroiled in tough primaries are increasingly emulating President Trump — by echoing his xenophobia, his veiled racist appeals, his attacks on the news media, and even occasionally his calls for imprisoning his political opponents. [emphases mine]

Meanwhile, all indications are that Trump is heading for a serious confrontation with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III or Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein over the Russia investigation.

So how long until multiple GOP primary candidates begin seriously running on the message that the Mueller probe is part of an illegitimate Deep State coup that justifies Trump shutting it down by any means necessary — that is, on a message of unabashed authoritarianism?

Two new articles — one in the New York Timesthe other in National Journal — illustrate what’s happening in many of these GOP primaries. The Times piece, by Jeremy Peters, reports that in West Virginia, GOP Senate primary candidate Don Blankenship is running an ad that says: “We don’t need to investigate our president. We need to arrest Hillary … Lock her up!”

In multiple GOP races across the country, the Times piece reports, candidates are employing phrases such as “drain the swamp,” “build the wall,” “rigged system” and even “fake news.” The GOP Senate candidate in Tennessee ran an ad that promises to stand with Trump “every step of the way to build that wall,” and even echoes Trump’s attacks on African American football players protesting systemic racism and police brutality:  “I stand when the president walks in the room. And yes, I stand when I hear ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’”

Meanwhile, National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar reports that in the Indiana Senate GOP primary, Mike Braun, the candidate who is most vocally emphasizing Trump’s messages — on trade, the Washington “swamp” and “amnesty” — appears to be gaining the advantage. Braun’s ads basically recast true conservatism as Trumpism in its incarnation as populist anti-establishment ethno-nationalism.

It gets worse. As the Indianapolis Star recently reported, one of the Indiana GOP Senate candidates has bashed “Crooked Hillary Clinton,” and all three have cast aspersions on the Mueller probe. One called it a “fishing expedition,” and another claimed: “Nothing’s been turned up except that Hillary Clinton is the real guilty party here.”

The question all this raises is whether there is a large swath of GOP primary voters who are fully prepared to march behind Trump into full-blown authoritarianism. The original plan was for Republicans to make tax cuts the centerpiece of their midterm campaign agenda. But in the Virginia gubernatorial race, the Republican candidate resorted to Trumpian xenophobia and a defense of Confederate statues to activate the GOP base, and in the Pennsylvania House special election, Republicans cycled the tax cuts out of their messaging. There just doesn’t appear to be much of a constituency for Paul Ryan Republicanism among today’s GOP voters.

There’s been lots of good Political Science research in the past decade that shows that Republicans are now more far more likely than Democrats to have personal characteristics that embrace authoritarianism.  And, I think that means they are far more likely to embrace an authoritarian, strongman-type leader, democratic principles be damned.

This reminded me of a great Thomas Edsall piece from a couple weeks ago on Republicans’ “contract with authoritarianism:”

The election of Donald Trump — built as it was on several long-term trends that converged in 2016 — has created an authoritarian moment. This somewhat surprising development is the subject of “Remaking Partisan Politics through Authoritarian Sorting,” a forthcoming book by the political scientists Christopher FedericoStanley Feldman and Christopher Weber, who argue that

Three trends — polarization, media change, and the rise of what many people see as threats to the traditional social order — have contributed to a growing divide within American politics. It is a divide between those who place heavy value on social order and cohesion relative to those who value personal autonomy and independence.

The three authors use a long-established authoritarian scale — based on four survey questions about which childhood traits parents would like to see in their offspring — that asks voters to choose between independence or respect for their elders; curiosity or good manners; self-reliance or obedience; and being considerate or well-behaved. Those respondents who choose respect for elders, good manners, obedience and being well-behaved are rated more authoritarian.

The authors found that in 1992, 62 percent of white voters who ranked highest on the authoritarian scale supported George H.W. Bush. In 2016, 86 percent of the most authoritarian white voters backed Trump, an increase of 24 percentage points.

Federico, Feldman and Weber conclude that

Authoritarianism is now more deeply bound up with partisan identities. It has become part and parcel of Republican identity among non-Hispanic white Americans...

In an email, Johnston summarized some of their findings:

Over the last few decades, party allegiances have become increasingly tied to a core dimension of personality we call “openness.” Citizens high in openness value independence, self-direction, and novelty, while those low in openness value social cohesion, certainty, and security. Individual differences in openness seem to underpin many social and cultural disputes, including debates over the value of racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity, law and order, and traditional values and social norms.

Johnston notes that personality traits like closed mindedness, along with aversion to change and discomfort with diversity, are linked to authoritarianism..

In an email to me, Hetherington said that in their book he and Weiler will describe “people on opposite sides of the divide as having a fixed or fluid worldview:”

Those with a fixed worldview tend to see “American Carnage,” while those with fluid worldviews see the world as a big, beautiful place that is safe to explore. The fixed tend to be wary of what they perceive as constant threats to their physical security specifically and of social change in general. The fluid are much more open to change and, indeed, see it as a strength. For them, anger lies in holding on to old ideas and rejecting diversity.

Hetherington and Weiler argue that the answers to questions about the four childhood traits reveal “how worldview guides a person in navigating the world,” as Hetherington put it in his email:

Not only do the answers to these questions explain preferences about race, immigration, sexual orientation, gender attitudes, the projection of military force, gun control, and just about every “culture war” issue, people’s worldviews also undergird people’s life choices. Because ‘the fixed’ are wary about the dangers around them, they prefer the country over the city. ‘The fluid’ prefer the reverse.

As Edsall’s nice summary of the evidence makes clear, these trends among the GOP well pre-date Trump.  But he is just the man to bring them to their apotheosis.  As many others have noted, Thank God he’s not actually a more skilled demagogue.

Finally, EJ Dionne ties this to the behavior of Congressional Republicans on the Comey memos:

Any doubts that Republicanism and conservatism have given themselves over to one man, his whims and his survival were dispelled by the GOP’s use of the congressional oversight process to undermine a legitimate probe into a hostile power’s interference in our elections.

As it happens, the actual memos are embarrassing to Trump and support Comey’s veracity. And if the Republicans’ obstructionist triumvirate of Reps. Devin Nunes of California, Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Trey Gowdy of South Carolina had hoped to prove that Comey leaked classified information, the memos reveal exactly the opposite.

It should be stunning that the chairs of the Intelligence, Judiciary and Oversight committees are more interested in doing Trump’s bidding than in figuring out how Vladimir Putin may have helped to elect our current president. It’s possible to imagine that, somewhere, Ronald Reagan is weeping.

This episode speaks to a larger question: that the corruption of American conservatism is the primary cause of our inability to have constructive debates that move us to resolve issues rather than ignore them.

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Save lives; limit magazine sizes

Gotta love the story of the guy who saved the day with the Waffle House shooting:

Mr. Shaw and Mr. McMurry had just sat down in the restaurant early Sunday when a loud crashing sound rang out. At first, Mr. Shaw said Monday, he thought a dishwasher had knocked over some plates.

It quickly became clear what was happening. Bullets pierced the restaurant’s windows. A man collapsed onto the floor. Waiters ran.

Mr. Shaw and Mr. McMurry raced to the hallway outside the restrooms, taking cover behind a swinging door. As the gunman entered the Waffle House to continue shooting, Mr. Shaw recounted in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” he looked for a moment to fight back.

“There is kind of no running from this,” Mr. Shaw said. He recalled thinking to himself, “I’m going to have to try to find some kind of flaw or a point in time where I could make it work for myself.”

During a sudden break in the firing, Mr. Shaw sprinted through the door as fast as he could, slamming into the gunman and knocking him to the ground. He grabbed the rifle and tossed it over the restaurant counter…

Mr. Shaw said Sunday that he eventually learned that the pause in the gunman’s firing came when he was trying to reload the rifle. It was a brief enough break, Mr. Shaw said, for him to make a move. [emphasis mine]

Now, if you are foolish enough to try and debate this on-line with gun-lovers you will hear all about how an expert can reload in 1/2 a second, etc.  Of course, most mass shooters are not actually fast re-loading experts.  The Gabby Giffords shooter was also stopped when he reloaded.  Now, of course it’s not always going to work, but every time a shooter has to break to reload, you dramatically increase the chances that he can be stopped.  There are literally people alive today who would not be if the Waffle House shooter or the Tuscon shooter had magazines with more ammunition in them.  I’m sure it’s nice when target shooting to not have to reload for a good 30 rounds, or whatever.  But what’s even nicer is limiting the devastation of mass shootings.  Obviously, there’s so much more that we can do, but this seems like suck obvious low-hanging fruit.

Quick hits (part II)

Better late than never edition.

1) Jennifer Rubin on the cowardly, underminer of the rule of law, Mitch McConnell:

Let’s cut through all this: Republicans are petrified of provoking Trump (“the bear”), whom they treat as their supervisor and not as an equal branch of government. The notion that Congress should not take out an insurance policy to head off a potential constitutional crisis when the president has repeatedly considered firing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein defies logic. By speaking up in such fashion, McConnell is effectively tempting Trump to fire one or both of them. That will set off a firestorm and bring calls for the president’s impeachment.

“There is evidently no limit on the complicity [McConnell] is willing to shoulder,” argued Norman Eisen, a former White House ethics counsel during the Obama administration. “Even as bipartisan support for the legislation is emerging in both houses of Congress — or perhaps because it is emerging — he stands in the way.” He added: “It is a betrayal of the rule of law for McConnell to take this position when the president has reportedly tried twice to fire Mueller, and discussed it frequently, and is now agitated over the Michael Cohen developments. McConnell will be fully as responsible as Trump if the special counsel is fired.”

2) Good for NC taxpayers that 600 people who don’t actually qualify are no longer getting taxpayer subsidized NC Employee health insurance.  What the article totally fails to address, though, is the costs involved– not at all inconsiderable based on my experiences– of auditing every single policy.

3) Someone sharing this “Chick-Fil-A invades NYC with it’s blatant Christianity” take referred to this– tongue half in cheek, I think– as “why Trump won.”  Not all that far off.  I eat at Chick-Fil-A all the time.  Great fast food and the best service by far in fast food.  And Jesus never comes up at all.

4) How can you not love a story of escaped baboons.

5) Amazingly this headline is not an exaggeration, “Homework assignment asks students to list positive aspects of slavery.”  Un-amazingly, it’s in Texas.

6) NYT re-emphasizing the point that conservative political parties the whole world over except climate change.  Except our very own Republican Party.

7) How Trump lied to get in the Forbes 400.

8) Yglesias with an interesting case for Comey:

The greatest safeguard we have against the dangers of Trump’s highly personalized style of leadership and frequently expressed desire to reshape all institutions to serve his personal goal is that officials and bureaucrats have the power to say no. Comey, whatever else he did, said no to his boss and was fired for his trouble. America needs more government officials who are willing to take that stand. In many ways, Comey is not the hero the United States deserves. But in a critical moment, he may be the hero we need. [emphasis mine]

9) Trey Gowdy is a dishonest partisan hack who is pretty good at convincing journalists he’s not.  The truth will out, though.  To wit, the GOP statement on the Comey memos.

10) And Brian Beutler on Comey:

NPR’s Carrie Johnson pressed Comey on this point, asking “[W]as that your job? Was it your job to worry about those things?”

“I think so,” Comey responded. “As the director of the FBI I think my job is to worry about how—despite what your mother told you about not caring what other people think—as the director of the FBI, the public trust is all you have in that institution. And so yes, worrying about that had to be part of the job description of the Department of Justice—I mean, of the leader of the FBI.”

This would be a powerful argument in a political climate where both major ideological factions felt equally committed to a kind of factual politics. That Comey describes the conspiracy theories Republicans propounded about the email investigation as “politics [as] there always have been,” suggests he suffers from a continued blindness to asymmetries in American political life that allowed him to be bamboozled.

Comey reveals here, as the Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent noted, that he left the institutions of justice vulnerable to bad faith actors angling to manipulate him. Like many journalists, Comey succumbed to a false assumption of balance—that all politics is just politics. He couldn’t and can’t grapple with the idea that one party is less beholden to empiricism and truth than the other, and uses that leeway to undermine neutral institutions unless those institutions do the bidding of the GOP. [emphasis mine]

Honestly, I’m increasingly seeing the bad faith of the Republican Party as the key defining political feature of our time.  And while Democrats have their own occasional foibles, this is so not a “both sides!” issue.

11) Oh man you’ve gotta love NC social conservatives:

The N.C. Values Coalition is urging North Carolina parents to keep their children home on Monday to protest what it calls “graphic, gender-bending, promiscuity-promoting sex education” being taught in public schools.

Conservative activists are upset about what’s taught both in sex education and in programs meant to build acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and transgender students. They want parents to respond by keeping children home from school as part of Monday’s nationwide “Sex Ed Sit Out” campaign and to vote for candidates who support their views.

In North Carolina, the N.C. Values Coalition wants parents to both keep their children home Monday and to write a letter to their principal explaining their decision.

“This is a national movement to encourage schools to stop using taxpayer dollars to teach programs which are intended to encourage early sexualization of children, causing them to question their own gender and to normalize sexual behaviors that most parents don’t agree with,” said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the N.C. Values Coalition.

Suffice it to say my kids will be in school tomorrow ;-).

12) Teaching a big Intro to American Government class is a very different experience than teaching my upper-level classes.  But I really do value doing it.  Nice piece in Chronicle of Higher Ed on the value of having high-quality, tenure-track professor teaching intro courses:

To a student who has never encountered a discipline before, the professor teaching the introductory course is the discipline, Chambliss said. “If the physics professor is cool, then physics is cool.” If the professor is dull, the student will think the same of the discipline. If the professor is so dull that the student never takes another physics course, well, that impression could hold for the rest of her life.

That’s one reason Chambliss advocates that colleges put their very best professors in front of as many students as possible, as early as possible. That doesn’t mean every senior professor needs to teach introductory courses, he said — it’s a matter of departments moving a few people around, and rewarding them for their efforts.

Professors and administrators often see a major as a coherent whole, he said. But to students, what matters is the particular course they’re taking this term. If they have a bad first experience, they’re unlikely to stick around for a second one.

13) There’s been a huge row about race and IQ of late involving Ezra Klein and Sam Harris.  That said, easily the best thing I’ve read to come out of this has been Yglesias‘ terrific piece about how Charles Murray (author of the infamous The Bell Curve, and the genesis of the current contretemps) is really all about very conservative public policy, not science at all:

The actual conclusion of The Bell Curve is that America should stop trying to improve poor kids’ material living standards because doing so encourages poor, low-IQ women to have more children — you read that correctly. It also concludes that the United States should substantially curtail immigration from Latin America and Africa. These are controversial policy recommendations, not banal observations about psychometrics…

These claims about the baleful impact of social assistance spending are not uncontroversial claims about science. Indeed, they are not claims about science at all. And since they constitute what Murray himself views as the upshot of his book, and because Murray is a policy writer rather than a scientist, it is correct and proper for fair-minded people to read the book for what it actually is: a tract proposing the comprehensive revision of the American welfare state along eugenicist lines.

 

Quick hits (part I)

1a) The loss of so many newspaper reporters is not just bad for the newspaper, it is bad for those of us who believe in democracy and accountable government.  Subscribe to your local newspaper, damnit!  I mean it.  Here’s the sad take on the loss of journalism in California:

The body count is staggering.

In my 43 years as a journalist, armies of trained bloodhounds have been run out of newsrooms where I’ve worked, victims of layoffs, and buyouts, and battle fatigue. I’ve lost so many hundreds of colleagues, I can’t keep track of where they ended up.

These were smart, curious reporters, photographers and editors who told stories that defined place and time and made us all know each other a little better. They covered the arts and the local sports teams. They bird-dogged city councils, courts, law enforcement, school districts and other agencies that spend our tax dollars, bearing witness, asking questions and rooting out corruption.

There is less watching today, even though California’s population has nearly doubled since I began my career, and we are all poorer for it.

It might seem like the opposite is true — that there’s more information available than ever, because of incessant chirping on cable news, nightly car chases on local outlets, digital news sites and social media news feeds.

What’s lost when the reporters go

But what’s vanished or been greatly diminished in far too many places is good, solid reporting on local and state affairs, and we don’t even know what that has cost us through mismanagement, misuse of funds and outright corruption.

1b) Some small hope…Report for America modeled after AmeriCorps.

2) Krugman on the advances in renewable energy technology and how our problems going forward are more political than technological.

3) The NYT Magazine story of Liberty University’s on-line education empire is something else.  Their business model is to provide the crappiest possible education with less oversight than for-profit on-line universities get.

4) It’s kind of crazy that in 2018 SNL is doing a send-up of Les Miserables about ordering lobster.  But I loved Les Mis and I loved this.

5) Spend money on paying other people to do housework (if you can, obviously) for the good of your marriage.  This one definitely reduces friction in the Greene household:

Many of us are busy at work, but even at home, there is a lot of work to do. Meal preparation, cleaning, yard work, home maintenance and child care consume considerable time for the typical American.

Much of it isn’t fun, contributing to friction in relationships and taking time away from more pleasant activities that increase happiness. Instead of bickering over who will do the vacuuming, would family life be better if we just outsourced the job?

One survey found that 25 percent of people who were divorced named “disagreements about housework” as the top reason for getting a divorce.

In a working paper that cited that survey, scholars at the Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia examined whether buying timesaving services could improve relationships. The study, which involved over 3,000 people in committed relationships across a variety of tests, revealed that those who spent more money on timesaving services were more satisfied with their relationships, in part because they spent more quality time with their partners.

6)  NYT Op-ed: “The Ethical Case for Having a Baby With Down Syndrome”

7) How often do people use guns in self defense?  Way less than the gun rights crowd says:

The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

It’s a common refrain touted by gun rights advocates, who argue that using guns in self-defense can help save lives. But what is the actual number of defensive gun uses?

According to the Pew Research Center, 48 percent of gun owners say they own a gun mainly for protection. But for years, experts have been divided over how often people actually use guns in self-defense. The numbers range from the millions to hundreds of thousands, depending on whom you ask.

The latest data show that people use guns for self-defense only rarely. According to a Harvard University analysis of figures from the National Crime Victimization Survey, people defended themselves with a gun in nearly 0.9 percent of crimes from 2007 to 2011.

David Hemenway, who led the Harvard research, argues that the risks of owning a gun outweigh the benefits of having one in the rare case where you might need to defend yourself.

“The average person … has basically no chance in their lifetime ever to use a gun in self-defense,” he tellsHere & Now‘s Robin Young. “But … every day, they have a chance to use the gun inappropriately. They have a chance, they get angry. They get scared.”

But the research spread by the gun lobby paints a drastically different picture of self-defense gun uses. One of the most commonly cited estimates of defensive gun uses, published in 1995 by criminologists Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, concluded there are between 2.2 and 2.5 million defensive gun uses annually..

“The researchers who look at [Kleck’s study] say this is just bad science,” Hemenway says. “It’s a well-known problem in epidemiology that if something’s a rare event, and you just try to ask how many people have done this, you will get incredible overestimates.”

In fact, Cook toldThe Washington Post that the percentage of people who told Kleck they used a gun in self-defense is similar to the percentage of Americans who said they were abducted by aliensThe Post notes that “a more reasonable estimate” of self-defense gun uses equals about 100,000 annually, according to the NCVS data.

8) Our Lieutenant Governor is an embarrassing, far-right loon.  Hopefully, he’ll be trounced when he runs for governor in 2020.

9) California billionaire Tom Steyer has been wasting a ton of his money on a quixotic quest for impeachment.  If he really wants to impeach Trump, he’s definitely wise to direct more of his money to encouraging youth turn-out in 2020 in swing states like NC.  Now that’s how to spend your political money.

10) Pretty cool example of what you can now do to create totally fake video.  I’m not as worried as many because if this stuff really becomes pervasive, the only people who believe it will be the ones already believing the Pizzagate stuff anyway.

11) So a couple weeks ago, I linked to a Rolling Stone story about the environmental degradation caused by the pork industry in North Carolina (actually, I forgot the link, but had an extensive quote).  Much to my surprise (I’m not exactly Kevin Drum in my readership numbers), the CEO of the NC Pork Council emailed me to stop spreading mis-information.  You can decide whether you want to believe Rolling Stone or the NC Pork Council.

12) There’s a huge gender disparity (way too many men largely due to selective abortions) in India and China.  This is very, very not good for society:

othing like this has happened in human history. A combination of cultural preferences, government decree and modern medical technology in the world’s two largest countries has created a gender imbalance on a continental scale. Men outnumber women by 70 million in China and India.

The consequences of having too many men, now coming of age, are far-reaching: Beyond an epidemic of loneliness, the imbalance distorts labor markets, drives up savings rates in China and drives down consumption, artificially inflates certain property values, and parallels increases in violent crime, trafficking or prostitution in a growing number of locations.

Those consequences are not confined to China and India, but reach deep into their Asian neighbors and distort the economies of Europe and the Americas, as well. Barely recognized, the ramifications of too many men are only starting to come into sight.

“In the future, there will be millions of men who can’t marry, and that could pose a very big risk to society,” warns Li Shuzhuo, a leading demographer at Xi’an Jiaotong University.

Out of China’s population of 1.4 billion, there are nearly 34 million more males than females — the equivalent of almost the entire population of California, or Poland, who will never find wives and only rarely have sex. China’s official one-child policy, in effect from 1979 to 2015, was a huge factor in creating this imbalance, as millions of couples were determined that their child should be a son.

India, a country that has a deeply held preference for sons and male heirs, has an excess of 37 million males, according to its most recent census. The number of newborn female babies compared with males has continued to plummet, even as the country grows more developed and prosperous. The imbalance creates a surplus of bachelors and exacerbates human trafficking, both for brides and, possibly, prostitution. Officials attribute this to the advent of sex-selective technology in the last 30 years, which is now banned but still in widespread practice.

13) Can you imagine your kids’ school becoming the nipple police against a 15-year old girl?  Ugh.

Meredith Harbach, a University of Richmond law professor whose 2016 paper explored sexualization and public school dress codes, said the problem arises when schools impose gender-specific requirements based on sex stereotypes.

In the case of Lizzy, for example, the school is “foisting this notion that unrestrained breasts are sexual and likely to cause disruption and distract other students,” Ms. Harbach said. But this kind of messaging that targets young women — your skirt is too short, you look too sexy, you’re distracting the boys — “deflects any and all conversation about appropriate mutually respectful behavior in schools between boys and girls,” she said.

“Who is disrupted actually? It’s Lizzy. Whose learning experience is impacted?” Ms. Harbach said. “It doesn’t sound like other kids had a major disruption, but she sure did.”

14) The editor of the 2nd most prestigious journal in political science (and one I interned for wayhe took the journal’s website to defend himself back when) is embroiled in a sexual harassment controversy.  And it went to quite a new level this week, when .

15) I used to joke that Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block was one of two books that changed my life.  Actually, it really did make as much positive impact as any book I’ve read (barely beating out, Healthy Sleep, Happy Child).  Really enjoyed this NYT profile of Karp.  My greatest regret is that the book came out in 2002, two years too late for our first and most difficult baby.  It would’ve helped with David soooo much.

16) Nice take via a James Fallows correspondent, on what Comey did wrong vis-a-vis Trump and Clinton.

Moms to the House

of Representatives that is.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

As a longtime scholar of “the politics of parenthood,” I couldn’t resist this NYT article about the political symbolism of moms running for office in 2018:

The symbols of motherhood in American political life have long been comforting and predictable: a gauzy family tableau in campaign ads, with smiling kids gathering for a meal. The ads were meant to disarm voters, to show them that women were running for office to take care of people. It wasn’t about personal ambition — it was about serving others, the way a mom would.

That’s not the motherhood of 2018 political ads. Motherhood in this midterm season is not just a credential for public office. It’s a potent weapon.

Several Democratic candidates tell wrenching stories of their sick children, explaining that the prospect of losing their health insurance had prompted the candidates to run for office. At least two women running for governor, in Wisconsin and Maryland, introduced themselves to voters with scenes of them breast-feeding. And Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who on Monday became the first senator to give birth while in officehas been pressing to change a Senate prohibition on bringing children onto the floor, which could impede a breast-feeding mother’s voting…

Several candidates who are mothers cite fears for their children as the root of their support or opposition to gun control. Kelda Roys, who is running in a crowded primary for governor of Wisconsin, described picking up her daughter at preschool and hearing about how she had to hide and be very quiet. Her 3-year-old was describing an active-shooter drill.

Women running for office in both parties have long used their status as mothers to explain their policy stances. Kelly Ayotte, the former Republican senator from New Hampshire, ran an ad that cited her children as a reason to cut wasteful spending, said Kelly Dittmar, a political scientist at the Center for American Women and Politics. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican of Washington, who gave birth to three children while in Congress, cited her son’s Down syndrome to object to those who would abort fetuses with the condition.

By and large, though, Republican portraits of motherhood have tended to be more traditional, Ms. Dittmar said.

Also loved this NPR story about a mom running for Congress who is using her campaign funds to pay for childcare:

BRETT KAPPEL: Campaign funds cannot be used for personal use, and the FEC’s regulations define personal use as any expenditure that would exist irrespective of your status as a candidate.

KURTZLEBEN: So for example, a candidate can’t spend campaign funds on her mortgage or groceries – things she was spending on before she ran for office. But since Grechen Shirley says she wasn’t paying for child care before she ran, Kappel’s opinion is that the FEC’s decision should be simple.

KAPPEL: So in this case, the FEC should allow her to use campaign funds to pay for child care expenses she is incurring only because she’s now a candidate.

KURTZLEBEN: In 1995, the FEC ruled that a candidate could spend campaign funds on child care to allow his wife to occasionally attend events with him. But according to Kappel, this is the first time the FEC will issue an opinion on a campaign paying for child care on an ongoing basis.

Seems pretty open and shut to me, but we’ll see.  And the right ruling on this would certainly encourage more women to run.

Mobster in chief

Earlier this week, I linked to Brian Beutler’s take on the Trump spinning off of Adam Davidson’s “end stage” of the Trump presidency post.  Beutler’s main point, though, was about the “gangersterization” of the Trump presidency.  To wit:

A handful of reporters working on the periphery of the campaign beat in 2015 and 2016 resurfaced Trump’s business ties to known mafiosi, and anyone curious enough to learn knows Trump has been in league with crooks, oligarchs, and money launderers for years. Comey’s epiphany will come as no surprise even to Trump’s staunchest defenders, including Steve Bannon, who rightly sees the special counsel’s investigation as a “Gambino-style roll-up.”

But Comey’s epiphany is timely nevertheless. Trump’s political method mixes mass tribalism with the kind of mob-like conscription of notionally ethical elite individualsthat Comey describes in his book. He used this method to co-opt and compromise Republicans in Congress during the election, and has used it as president to avoid congressional oversight and to discredit law enforcement officers investigating him. Those who resist his recruitment efforts, like Comey and a handful of elected GOP officials, get fired, or attacked, or driven out of political life. And with the rule of law closing in on him from multiple directions now, he will use the same method in an attempt to save his presidency, even if it means permanently corrupting the political system of the United States.

But, damn, what really makes this gangster analogy so apt is Trump’s own defendersChait is on the case (and he makes a damn compelling one):

One of the ways in which the scandals around President Trump have come to resemble a mob movie, other than the nature of the crimes themselves, is that nobody involved is putting up much of a pretense that Trump is innocent. Asked today by Katy Tur if “there’s any chance [Michael Cohen] would end up cooperating, flipping,” Anthony Scaramucci said no, because Cohen ‘is a very loyal person.”

You meant because Trump is innocent, right? Cohen is not going to testify against Trump because Trump did nothing wrong? [emphases mine]

Not all of Trump’s supporters feel so confident that Cohen will respect the omertà. In a conversation with Trump last Friday, Jay Goldberg, one of Trump’s lawyers, warned the president, “Michael will never stand up [for you]” if charged by the government, according to TheWall Street Journal. But why would Trump have anything to worry about, unless … Trump committed a crime that Cohen knows about?

In an interview with the Journal, Goldberg elucidated his concerns about Cohen’s loyalty and the devastating impact it would have if he cooperated with the government. “The mob was broken by Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano caving in out of the prospect of a jail sentence,” Goldberg explained.

Again, this makes a lot of sense as a legal defense strategy for a businessman who has probably done a lot of illegal stuff. But as a public-relations strategy, isn’t Trump’s lawyer supposed to say he believes Cohen is innocent, and would be shocked to learn if he did something wrong, because of course Trump has never engaged in any illegal behavior and would never tolerate it among his employees? He’s probably not supposed to casually liken the president of the United States to the boss of a criminal syndicate…

Politico has more reporting on Trump allies expressing concern that Cohen will flip on Trump. All of the sources implicitly assume both Cohen and Trump are guilty of serious crimes. (Because otherwise, Cohen couldn’t give prosecutors any information damaging to Trump.)

Again, these are Trump’s lawyers and defenders talking like this.  This is how you talk about a mob boss where everybody knows he’s guilty, the question is just whether any of his associates will be willing to say so.

The pharmaceutical companies are evil. And so are anonymous members of Congress

Was alerted to this via Drum (emphasis in original):

In order to earn FDA approval for generic drugs, manufacturers need samples of the name-brand drug to test against. Frequently, however, the name-brand folks refuse to sell their pills for testing. Congress is on the case:

Legislation to ensure access to drug samples for generic drug manufacturers has broad support in Congress, from Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, on the left to Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, on the right. A similar bill in the House also has diverse backers, including Representatives Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont, and Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, who is the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Under the bill, a generic drug developer could file a lawsuit, and a federal court could require a brand-name drug maker to provide samples of its product to a generic company “on commercially reasonable, market-based terms.” The court could also award damages if it found that a drug maker had refused to sell samples “without a legitimate business justification.”

….Lawmakers of both parties pushed for the legislation to be included in a far-reaching budget bill signed by Mr. Trump in February, but it was dropped at the last minute.

So this has broad, bipartisan support and would be an indisputably good thing, but somehow—note the passive voice here—“it was dropped” at the last minute. Apparently somebody’s lobbying budget paid off.

Ugh.  Also, the original article really makes the case for what a policy win this legislation would be:

The F.D.A. says it has received more than 150 inquiries from generic drug companies unable to obtain the samples needed to show that a generic product works the same as a brand-name medicine. Some of the disputes over samples involve drugs that are costly to patients and to the Medicare program and that have experienced sharp price increases in recent years.

“Without generic competition, there is no pressure to drive down the costs of these medications,” the food and drug agency said. Under current law, it said, it cannot compel a brand-name drug manufacturer to sell samples to a generic company.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the legislation would save the federal government $3.8 billion over 10 years, mainly because Medicare, Medicaid and other health programs would spend less on prescription drugs. Savings for consumers and private health insurance plans could be much greater.

Well, damn, who is responsible for this last minute “drop”?  Obviously, the lobbyists, but that doesn’t happen without compliant legislators who make this happen.  I’m teaching Interest Groups and I work hard to dispel the notion that interest groups are basically buying the policy they want.  But in some cases, i.e., this one, it is damn hard to argue otherwise.  Of course, this is a buried in the virtual paper story that virtually nobody has paid any attention to, but that, of course, is where lobbying and interest groups can have their most sway, not on highly public, contentious issues like guns, tax policy, etc.  And it’s just damn depressing.

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