Quick hits (part I)

Late again.  Busy day with a very wet soccer tournament.  3-1 and 4-1 today.  Hopefully, two more tomorrow and the tournament title.

1) Great piece on how police need to start “snitching” on each other:

Americans have talked constantly about a no-snitch black culture hampering police investigations, leaving violent criminals on the streets. But what about the no-snitch police culture that has hampered investigations into officer misconduct, leaving violent criminals on the streets?

Police officers should lead the way in fostering an American civic culture of reporting lawbreakers. It is their professional duty to snitch, to enforce the law first and foremost against themselves. How can they expect citizens to snitch to them if they refuse to snitch? How can they expect citizens to trust the criminal-justice system if they don’t trust the criminal-justice system? Snitching on each other remains their only salvation from this hypocrisy, their best tool for building trust with the communities they purport to serve and protect. But first, they’ll have to grapple with an empirical truth: Communities of color are actually disproportionately likely to report crimes—it’s police themselves who have maintained a culture of silence.

2) Really interesting Vox piece on the “democratization of kidnapping” in Mexico.

3) Went to buy light bulbs the other day and realized that CFL’s have basically been out-competed now that LED’s are so much more affordable.  Though, what’s really annoying– I need a single LED floodlight.  It says it should last for 13 years.  They only come in 2 packs.  I’m supposed to just save an extra light bulb for 13 years?!

4) Larry Bartels and Catherine Cramer in the Monkey Cage, “White people get more conservative when they move up — not down — economically. Here’s the evidence.”

5) Greg Sargent on Paul Ryan’s immigration lies (and damn, if there’s an American who has a more undeserved reputation for decency than Paul Ryan…):

Now, over to Paul Ryan. Vulnerable Republicans in the House are pushing a discharge petition that would force a vote on immigration bills, including two measures that would grant the dreamers legal status, one of them packaged with fortifications to border security. Seventeen Republicans have signed the petition, meaning that if organizers can get eight more, it would pass, since Dems will support it — forcing a full House vote on whether the dreamers will be protected or remain in limbo.

Ryan is trying to stop this from happening. He justifies this by claiming that there’s no sense in voting on measures protecting the dreamers that Trump would veto. As Ryan put it: “We actually would like to solve this problem, and that is why I think it’s important for us to come up with a solution that the president can support.”

But this is utter nonsense, because there isn’t any deal that Trump is willing to support that can pass Congress. Ryan knows his suggestion otherwise is a big lie, because we already tried this. This year Democrats repeatedly offered Trump deals with money for the wall in exchange for protecting the dreamers, and he rejected them all, because Trump also wanted deep cuts to legal immigration…

Ryan is trying to prevent a vote to protect the dreamers precisely because such a measure could pass the House. That would expose him to the right’s rage and would probably end up forcing Trump to make the terrible choice of accepting or vetoing it. A deal protecting the dreamers in exchange for border security would probably pass the House by a comfortable margin, and it might pass the Senate — after all, passage in the House would bring tremendous pressure on moderate Republican senators — especially if the White House didn’t actively lobby against it…

But Trump will not accept any deal to protect the dreamers, even though it could very likely pass both chambers, unless it also contains deep cuts to legal immigration. So if the House passed it, the White House would lobby the Senate against it, and if that failed, Trump would then have to veto it. Either of those would look horrible, because after House passage, suddenly protections for the dreamers would appear in reach. This is the spectacle that Ryan is trying to avert — all to protect Trump from having his true priorities revealed in all their ugly glory.

6) The untold story of Robert Mueller’s time leading a combat platoon in Vietnam.

7) NY Times writes a story on how the Richmond courthouse’s no cell phone policy discriminates against poor people and they finally do something about it.  Journalism for the win.  And damn are so many courthouses ridiculous about what is an essential feature of modern life.

8) Speaking of journalism, FTW.  This is an amazing and disturbing NYT feature from Nicholas Kristoff of an almost surely innocent man who California seems committed to punishing for murder.  But, thanks to this terrific article, looks like the wheels of justice may finally start turning again.

9) Alvin Chang, “When Russian trolls wanted to divide America, they knew what to use: race.”

10) Billionaires have too much political power.  Hell yeah! Martin Longman:

We have hard limits on how much money individuals can donate to candidates and there’s a reason for that. We don’t want some citizens to be more equal than others, and rich people already have many options for how they can wield undo influence in the corridors of power.

It makes a mockery of our campaign finance laws when a billionaire can throw 30 million dollars into our midterm elections on the side of one party. The fact that Speaker Paul Ryan had to step out of the room when the pitch was made demonstrates that there was something wrong with the transaction. Whether Ryan was in the room or listening outside the door should not define what is ethical and what is not…

It’s not going too far to argue that Adelson’s money distorted the way the 2012 Republican primaries unfolded. Without Adelson’s cash, Gingrich simply couldn’t have financed his travel let alone his advertising. He would have dropped out much earlier. In the end, he was the last candidate to withdraw from the race, on May 2. In 2016, Adelson adopted Marco Rubio as his pet candidate…

It’s not going too far to argue that Adelson’s money distorted the way the 2012 Republican primaries unfolded. Without Adelson’s cash, Gingrich simply couldn’t have financed his travel let alone his advertising. He would have dropped out much earlier. In the end, he was the last candidate to withdraw from the race, on May 2. In 2016, Adelson adopted Marco Rubio as his pet candidate…

The problem isn’t the country or the individual involved. The problem is the disproportionate power one citizen has to bend American foreign policy to his liking. This is also a problem on domestic issues, like gaming regulations. Michael Bloomberg throws a serious amount of money around to support candidates who will push for gun control. He, too, has too much influence. According to Bloomberg News, Tom Steyer spent more in disclosed donations than the Koch Brothers, Robert Mercer or Adelson during the 2014 and 2016 election cycles. In 2014, his $75 million was more than the next three biggest donors combined. It’s not a matter of whether someone is wrong or right. Billionaires shouldn’t be able to bankroll a major political party’s midterm elections, or single-handedly keep a candidate in a presidential race who otherwise would not have the funding to pay for their lunch. These huge donations to the political parties and the Super PACs make a mockery of our own small donations and the idea that we’re all equal citizens.

We need to figure out a way to rein in this type of influence.

11) Osita Nwanevu on the hollow calls for liberals to be nice to conservatives:

The piece was the latest in an unending stream of commentary attributing Democrats’ electoral misfortunes to conservative cultural backlash—a variation on a theme in punditry that was old hat long before Hillary Clinton made the supposed mistake of calling Trump supporters “deplorables.” Alleged gaffes like that, the story goes, form part of an imperious posture Democrats take on questions of identity politics that alienates simple folk who haven’t caught up with the progressive consensus on social questions.

Historians will likely take great interest in how the plight of transgender Americans facing a wave of political violence and staggering poverty was framed so casually and easily as the froufrou obsession of wealthy liberal arts students and coastal elites.

This argument has very little to do with the actual state of American public opinion on those questions. Survey data suggests that identity politics as practiced by Democrats and the left has been quite successful and persuasive. Take racial issues, for instance. According to Pew, the percentage of white people in America who believe that the country “needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites” has grown by 18 points since the beginning of the decade. Most of this can be attributed to white Democrats moving left on the question, but the numbers show change on the right as well: The number of Republicans and Republican leaners who believe this has grown by six points to 36 percent over the same period. The percentage of Republicans and Republican leaners who say that “racial discrimination is the main reason why many black people can’t get ahead these days” has also jumped about five points to 14 percent. These are, of course, still small minorities on the right, but given talk about how liberal arrogance and piety have alienated those who disagree with Democrats on racial identity politics into a backlash, one would expect the numbers to show … well, a backlash. Instead, they suggest that post–Trayvon Martin, Ferguson, and Black Lives Matter, rhetoric and activism may be working quite well on a broad cross section of Americans.

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