Trump’s speech

Read lots of good stuff after Trump’s speech and I’ve been meaning to post my favorites.  I love Jamelle Bouie’s succinct take that Trump is basically a scam artist:

The point is not to give the public an accurate sense of its safety. The point is to paint a picture of disorder and violence, to scare Americans into flocking under Trump’s banner. And to that end, he has crafted a demagogic speech of lies, misrepresentations, and plain, unadulterated bullshit.

Consider this, another “fact” from Trump’s address: “Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens.”

This is the first of Trump’s dubious assertions of immigrant crime. And it’s nonsense, a “fact” without provenance beyond the nativist and white supremacist websites that form the fetid swamps of the internet…

The whole speech was a trash heap of falsehoods. At one point, Trump claimed that Obama had almost doubled the national debt. It actually increased from $11.1 trillion to $19.2 trillion. He described an America of record unemployment and disadvantage. Even granting the decline in labor force participation, there are more Americans working now than at any point in the past 10 years, with two years of the strongest private sector job growth since the 1990s. He attacked the administration’s Iran deal for giving the nation “$150 billion” (false). He accused Obama and Hillary Clinton of opening the United States to “massive refugee flows” (false) and suggested there’s no screening of refugees (also false)…

Scam. This gets to the essential truth of Trump’s speech. The world as described by Trump doesn’t exist. The Trump as described by Trump doesn’t exist. As a businessman, Donald Trump’s career is defined by failure, fraud, and mismanagement. He has little knowledge of domestic and foreign affairs and shows little interest in the basic work of running a campaign, much less serving as president. Remove family members and employees from the mix, and there’s no one in Trump’s orbit—not ghostwriters, not business associates, not former contractors—who will attest to any of the qualities he claimed onstage tonight. The prototypical Trump story isn’t the success of some municipal project; it is theft: from small businesses, from ordinary investors, from desperate students. [emphases mine]

Ezra Klein’s take was, of course, spot-on and hits on many similar points, though with a different frame:

Donald Trump is not a candidate the American people would turn to in normal times. He’s too inexperienced, too eccentric, too volatile, too risky. Voting Trump is burning down the house to collect the insurance money — you don’t do it unless things are really, really bad.

Here is Trump’s problem: Things are not really, really bad. In fact, things are doing much better than when President Obama came into office…

So Trump needs to convince voters that things are bad, even if they’re not. He needs to make Americans afraid again. And tonight, he tried…

As Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for Obama, wrote on Twitter, this was Trump’s “Nightmare in America” speech. The address had one goal, and one goal only: to persuade Americans that their country is a dangerous, besieged hellscape, and only Donald Trump can fix it.

Here’s the part I really love:

Perhaps the night’s ugliest moment came when he spoke of Sarah Root, a college student killed by a drunk driver who was also an unauthorized immigrant. “I’ve met Sarah’s beautiful family,” Trump said. “But to this administration, their amazing daughter was just one more American life that wasn’t worth protecting. One more child to sacrifice on the altar of open borders.”

For the record, almost 10,000 people were killed in America by drunk drivers in 2010 — the overwhelming majority of them by American citizens. Trump had neither answers for nor interest in their deaths.

And it is when you tug on these threads that Trump’s speech unspools and its grossness, and uselessness, becomes clear.

And, finally, Yglesias on the intellectual barrenness of Trump’s “law and order” focus:

Donald Trump devoted all of one sentence to his solution for what he cited as the biggest problem facing the nation in his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination:

I will work with, and appoint, the best prosecutors and law enforcement officials in the country to get the job done.

 That’s it.

For a candidate who just delivered an entire high-profile speech on the supposedly sky-high crime rates in the US, he doesn’t seem to have very many ideas about fixing them…

On the economy and foreign policy, Trump at least has a handful of terrible ideas. On crime, he has none whatsoever. He sort of vaguely implies that Black Lives Matter protests are causing crime, but even if that’s true, Trump isn’t (I hope) going to eliminate the First Amendment, so he can’t stop people from criticizing the police if they want to…

Trump is too lazy to be president

Law and order is Trump’s signature theme. Crime is out of control. And here, again, is his plan in its entirety:

I will work with, and appoint, the best prosecutors and law enforcement officials in the country to get the job done.

An easy excuse for Trump would be to say that he doesn’t have anything more substantive to say because crime control is overwhelmingly a state and local matter in the United States. That’s true, but it’s also inadequate…

The reason Trump doesn’t have anything to say about any of this is that he’s too lazy to look into it and come up with anything. And that’s why even his one lame idea — hire the best people and work with them — can’t be counted on. The president really does have to do a lot of hiring of people and a lot of managing of the interagency and intergovernmental process, and, like a lot of presidential stuff, it can all get a little tedious.

Trump can’t be bothered. And it’s frightening. Much more frightening than anything happening recently with the crime rate.

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) Really, really informative piece on Wahhabism, it’s history, and how it shapes life (dramatically for the worse) in Saudi Arabia.

2) John Judis on the lasting impact of Bernie:

What Sanders was advocating — beyond the specifics — was strengthening and broadening social security in the broadest sense of the word so that even as Americans are tossed to and fro in the information economy, they can feel a certain sense of security — one that is currently lacking for many, many people in this country.

Sanders’ support for these kind of political demands may set the Democrats eventually on a more visionary and inspiring course – one that isn’t bounded by the shadow of Republican congressional dominance and the business campaign funding that has narrowed the Democratic vision for thirty years or more. That’s really the message behind Sanders’ call for a “political revolution.”

I know some sophisticates find this call laughable, but I think many young voters understood what Sanders was saying: that the only way to overcome the oligarchic, plutocratic tilt of our political system is by the massive, determined participation in politics of those determined to change it. Sanders’ campaign may, of course, become a footnote in political histories, a curiosity in a trivia question like Fred Harris’s 1972 campaign, but I have a feeling it will survive his defeat. At least I hope it will.

3a) Pretty cool interactive feature to see how a social media feed looks for conservatives compared to liberals.

3b) Speaking of which, really nice essay in the Guardian on “how technology disrupted the truth.”

4) Not sure I’ve ever seen a craze blow up as quickly as Pokemon Go (and yes, I have it).  Nice Wired piece on the technology.

5) New study on the gender pay gap for physicians.  Hard not to conclude that a significant portion of good old fashioned sex discrimination.

6) Really good Tom Edsall on Trump and the anti-PC vote from last month.  Here’s the section where he interviews John Haidt:

Jonathan Haidt, a professor at N.Y.U., suggested to me that one way to better understand the intensity of Trump’s appeal is by looking at something called “psychological reactance.” Haidt describes reactance as

the feeling you get when people try to stop you from doing something you’ve been doing, and you perceive that they have no right or justification for stopping you. So you redouble your efforts and do it even more, just to show that you don’t accept their domination. Men in particular are concerned to show that they do not accept domination.

The theory, first developed in 1966 by Jack W. Brehm in “A Theory of Psychological Reactance,” is directly relevant to the 2016 election, according to Haidt. Here is Brehm’s original language:

Psychological reactance is an aversive affective reaction in response to regulations or impositions that impinge on freedom and autonomy. This reaction is especially common when individuals feel obliged to adopt a particular opinion or engage in a specific behavior. Specifically, a perceived diminution in freedom ignites an emotional state, called psychological reactance, that elicits behaviors intended to restore this autonomy.

Haidt applies this to the 2016 election:

Translated to the Trump phenomenon, I would say that decades of political correctness, with its focus on “straight white men” as the villains and oppressors — now extended to “straight white cis-gendered men” — has caused some degree of reactance in many and perhaps most white men.

In both the workplace and academia, Haidt argues,

the accusatory and vindictive approach of many social justice activists and diversity trainers may actually have increased the desire and willingness of some white men to say and do un-PC things.

In this atmosphere, according to Haidt,

Trump comes along and punches political correctness in the face. Anyone feeling some degree of anti-PC reactance is going to feel a thrill in their heart, and will want to stand up and applaud. And because feelings drive reasoning, these feelings of gratitude will make it hard for anyone to present arguments to them about the downsides of a Trump presidency.

Trump’s anger at being policed or fenced in apparently speaks to the resentment of many American men and their resistance to being instructed, particularly by a female candidate, on how they should think, speak or behave.

7) I keep meaning to write a post about how we’ve been apparently getting it wrong on Telomeres.  Not going to happen, so quick hits it is.

8) The ethics of sex robots.

9) Yes, we absolutely need more investment in public pre-K.  Alas, we still don’t have as good an understanding as we’d like about what really works in these programs.

10) How come we cannot really remember anything from before we were 3 1/2?

11) The Tea party nuts in Kansas are now railing against “government schools.”  Ugh.  As always with this nuttiness, I worry how long until our Republicans in the NC legislature decide it’s a good idea.

12) Evan Osnos on the NRA, anti-government rhetoric, and race:

For critics of the N.R.A., it was an awkward exposure of what is usually left unsaid: the organization is far less active in asserting the Second Amendment rights of black Americans than of white ones…

The Dallas ambush has also exposed an uncomfortable fact for the gun-rights movement: for decades, even as it maintains its abstract tributes to law enforcement, it has embraced a strain of insurrectionist rhetoric, overtly anti-government activism that endorses the notion that civilians should have guns for use against American police and military. In a 1995 fund-raising letter, the executive vice-president of the N.R.A., Wayne LaPierre, called federal law-enforcement agents “jack-booted thugs,” and suggested that “in Clinton’s administration, if you have a badge, you have the government’s go-ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law-abiding citizens.” In Texas, where the police ambush occurred, an open-carry advocate last year urged the killing of state legislators if they do not approve a more relaxed policy. (“They better start giving us our rights or this peaceful non-cooperation stuff is gonna be gamed up . . . We should be demanding [Texas legislators] give us our rights back, or it’s punishable by death. Treason.”) At the annual N.R.A. convention last year, the board member Ted Nugent said, “Our government has turned on us.” Stopping short of calling for violence, he urged members to focus their ire on “the bad and the ugly.” He said, “It’s a target-rich environment. If it was duck season, there’d be so many ducks, you could just close your eyes and shoot ’em.”

13) Using computers to analyze the emotional arcs of stories.

14) This is pretty great– best goals of 2016 so far.

15) Sure, I use safety pins in my bib when I run in a race. I had no idea that the elites still did this.  Or that bibs are just there for sponsors now.

16) Fighting back against modern debtor’s prison.  I would love to see this win:

A suit filed July 6 against the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles alleges the DMV indefinitely suspends driver’s licenses of those too poor to pay fines and court costs in an “unconstitutional scheme.”

“Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their licenses simply because they are too poor to pay, effectively depriving them of reliable, lawful transportation necessary to get to and from work, take children to school, keep medical appointments, care for ill or disabled family members, or, paradoxically, to meet their financial obligations to the courts,” reads the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Western Virginia.

The suit, filed by the Legal Aid Justice Center, which represents low-income Virginians, says more than 940,000 people in Virginia currently have their licenses suspended for nonpayment.

According to the Legal Aid Justice Center, the suspension of driver’s licenses for nonpayment can prevent people from keeping or obtaining jobs, leading to a vicious cycle of additional fines, unemployment and, sometimes, incarceration. The suit says more than one-third of suspensions for failure to pay are related to convictions unrelated to motor vehicles.

17) I’ve been slacking off with the high-intensity interval training of late (it’s hard; I’m lazy), so how nice to read this study in the NYT that (admittedly, based on rats) suggests that good old-fashioned moderate-paced jogging may be the best for your brain:

Those rats that had jogged on wheels showed robust levels of neurogenesis. Their hippocampal tissue teemed with new neurons, far more than in the brains of the sedentary animals. The greater the distance that a runner had covered during the experiment, the more new cells its brain now contained.

There were far fewer new neurons in the brains of the animals that had completed high-intensity interval training. They showed somewhat higher amounts than in the sedentary animals but far less than in the distance runners.

And the weight-training rats, although they were much stronger at the end of the experiment than they had been at the start, showed no discernible augmentation of neurogenesis. Their hippocampal tissue looked just like that of the animals that had not exercised at all.

Obviously, rats are not people. But the implications of these findings are provocative. They suggest, said Miriam Nokia, a research fellow at the University of Jyvaskyla who led the study, that “sustained aerobic exercise might be most beneficial for brain health also in humans.”

18) Okay, I still need to fully read this, but, sadly, I’m not at all surprised that a disturbingly inaccurate $2 drug test is regularly sending people to prison.

19) What we can learn from the Nordic countries:

Lakey: A lot of people mistakenly believe that the countries with Viking ancestry—Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland—have always had the high standard of living that they do today. That’s not the case, and people don’t realize what it took to create the kind of society we see today in each of these countries.

A century ago, the economic elite ran each of those countries. There was the pretense of democracy, but it was always the decisions of economic elites that carried the day. There was poverty and a lack of empowerment of the people. The change that came about in the Nordic countries so that they eventually moved to an economic model where there was less of a wealth gap, and better quality of life, came about after everyday people made demands on their governments to change.

The 1 percent may occupy state power, but when the majority of the country stands up in opposition to the 1 percent, they can make the country ungovernable. That’s what happened in Nordic countries, and that’s what opened up the political space in which they could build an economic model that far outperforms the economic model of the United States.

20) So, just when are you an adult?  I recently went to Old Salem— a recreation of a historic 19th century Moravian town.  They talked about all the children leaving home at 15 and essentially assuming adult responsibilities.  The person I talked to was all like, “well, it was just different back then.”  My thinking, well, sure, it was, but I’m pretty sure the human brain did not mature any faster in 19th century North Carolina.  And, these kids may have taken many an adult responsibility, but they sure didn’t have an adult brain.

21) Great NYT piece on Trump dividing the country by race.  And Greg Sargent’s take on it.

22) Jay Rosen (as smart an observer of the media as there is) on how Trump takes advantage of journalistic norms.

23) I’ve got no use for the Gladwell haters.  Gladwell is awesome and so is his new podcast series.  This recent episode about college as engines of social mobility (or not) is especially good).

 

The changing times of the Death Penalty

So, this is actually pretty big.  The Democratic Party platform will come out against the Death Penalty:

Hillary Clinton has expressed ambivalence on the campaign trail when asked about capital punishment. “States have proven themselves incapable of carrying out fair trials” in death penalty cases, she said in March during a campaign appearance in Ohio, while leaving open the possibility of capital punishment under federal law, in a case investigated and prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

But her campaign has agreed to a provision in the Democratic Party platform, which is expected to be adopted at the party’s national convention in Philadelphia beginning July 25, that says, “We will abolish the death penalty, which has proven to be a cruel and unusual form of punishment. It has no place in the United States of America.”

The landmark language is the latest illustration of a slow but major shift in American politics.

There is a growing movement, particularly on the left, to end the death penalty. Several states have abolished it over the last decade, including traditionally conservative Nebraska last year. That leaves 31 states with capital punishment statutes still on the books, down from a high of about 40 states in the 1980s.

Use of the death penalty also has been declining. In 1999, states executed 98 people, compared to just 28 in 2015, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. So far this year, 14 people have been executed.

And this graph from 2015 Pew data shows you why:

Wider Partisan Gap on Death Penalty

Though a majority of the public still approves of the death penalty, a majority of Democrats oppose it.  And a calculating politician like Hillary Clinton clearly calculated she has more to gain by going along with the growing Democratic consensus than trying to somehow look more moderate by arguing for the death penalty (as her husband successfully did in very different times).

If nothing else, we’ve gone from a clear bipartisan consensus in favor of the death penalty to a fairly dramatic partisan split.  I think we will probably continue to have the death penalty– especially in the deep South– for a good while yet.  But I do believe that the writing is on the wall that it is eventually on its way out (as it should be in a “civilized” society who’s justice system is ultimate prey to the many biases of human reasoning).  I’ll give it till 2050, tops.

Quick hits (part I)

1) So, maybe princess movies are good for boys, but princess culture is bad for girls (though, I’ve not seen any truly negative consequences in my princess-loving daughter).

2) Among other silliness, our state’s Republican leaders now seem to think we need a constitutional right to hunt and fish.  Seriously?  Honestly, this just makes an absolute mockery of what a Constitution is supposed to be about.

3) Should we even allow citizens in a democratic republic the power to make major policy– without checks– via referendum such as the Brexit case?

4) Are family friend policies for professors unfairly friendly to male professors?

5) Wedding gifts as a sign of social connection (I admit I feel lame choosing off the registry for someone I know well, but usually do it anyway):

VEDANTAM: Well, Ward and her adviser Susan Broniarczyk conducted a series of experiments, Audie, that found that close friends are indeed more likely than strangers to buy things that they think we want or need rather than simply listen to the preferences that we’ve expressed ourselves.

They also found interestingly that when gift-giving is anonymous, when volunteers give gifts anonymously, this effect disappears, meaning close friends are now OK with buying off of a registry. In other words, when our close friends depart from a registry, they say they’re doing it because they know what we really want more than we know ourselves. But if that was the case, they should still buy those gifts when they’re giving anonymously.

The fact that they don’t suggests the real reason close friends depart from the registry is to send a signal to us, to the world, maybe even to themselves that they have a special relationship with us and the unique gift is an advertisement for that special relationship.

6) People talk a lot about private prisons, but it really is so much more than prisons.  Of course, the real problem is that it creates incentives to increase human suffering (i.e., less quality in supervision, etc.) to make more profit.

7) Is our criminal justice war on poor people really a war on poor Black people?

8) Just a reminder that Donald Trump’s economic policies are phenomenally bad.

9) Oh it feels good to see Ken Starr get his comeuppance.

10) Oh, my I love this formulation from law professor Stephen Carter, via Conor Friedersdorf:

Law professors and lawyers instinctively shy away from considering the problem of law’s violence.  Every law is violent.  We try not to think about this, but we should.  On the first day of law school, I tell my Contracts students never to argue for invoking the power of law except in a cause for which they are willing to kill. They are suitably astonished, and often annoyed. But I point out that even a breach of contract requires a judicial remedy; and if the breacher will not pay damages, the sheriff will sequester his house and goods; and if he resists the forced sale of his property, the sheriff might have to shoot him.

This is by no means an argument against having laws.

It is an argument for a degree of humility as we choose which of the many things we may not like to make illegal. Behind every exercise of law stands the sheriff – or the SWAT team – or if necessary the National Guard. Is this an exaggeration? Ask the family of Eric Garner, who died as a result of a decision to crack down on the sale of untaxed cigarettes. That’s the crime for which he was being arrested. Yes, yes, the police were the proximate cause of his death, but the crackdown was a political decree.

The statute or regulation we like best carries the same risk that some violator will die at the hands of a law enforcement officer who will go too far. And whether that officer acts out of overzealousness, recklessness, or simply the need to make a fast choice to do the job right, the violence inherent in law will be on display. This seems to me the fundamental problem that none of us who do law for a living want to face.

But all of us should.

11) Love this WRAL editorial— abolishing local government is simply the logical conclusion of the actions of the NC Republican legislature.

12) Great– and horribly depressing– NYT story about municipalities bidding out essential services– ambulances, etc.,– to private equity firms who then, not surprisingly, do a piss-poor job of serving essential public needs.  Merica.

13) Syphilis, yes syphilis, is making a comeback in America.  I wonder which political party we can blame for failing to properly fund our public health infrastructure.

14) How Trump systematically stiffed small businesses in the building of his casinos.

15) Really liked this Atlantic article about our “war on stupid people.”  We truly have come too highly value intelligence in this country (and I say that as one who very much used to suffer from that particular bias– largely inherited from my parents).

16) The Supreme Court’s three most conservative members really seem to be willing to let pretty much anything go in the name of freedom of religion.

17) Really enjoyed this article on how the Washington Post has changed under Jeff Bezos.

 

18) Garrett Epps with a very interesting piece on the genuinely evolving jurisprudence of Anthony Kennedy.

19) Friedman on Brexit (and Trump):

A major European power, a longtime defender of liberal democracy, pluralism and free markets, falls under the sway of a few cynical politicians who see a chance to exploit public fears of immigration to advance their careers. They create a stark binary choice on an incredibly complex issue, of which few people understand the full scope — stay in or quit the E.U.

These politicians assume that the dog will never catch the car and they will have the best of all worlds — opposing something unpopular but not having to deal with the implications of the public actually voting to get rid of it. But they so dumb down the debate with lies, fear-mongering and misdirection, and with only a simple majority required to win, that the leave-the-E.U. crowd carries the day by a small margin. Presto: the dog catches the car. And, of course, it has no idea now what to do with this car. There is no plan. There is just barking.

Like I said, not the end of the world yet, but if a few more E.U. countries try this trick we’ll have quite a little mess on our hands. Attention Donald Trump voters: this is what happens to a country that falls for hucksters who think that life can just imitate Twitter — that there are simple answers to hard questions — and that small men can rearrange big complex systems by just erecting a wall and everything will be peachy. [emphasis mine]

20) Really meant to do a post on this fascinating interview in Vox about IQ.  But, it’s been sitting in an open tab since May, so onto quick hits it goes.

Quick hits (part II)

1) The show trial of the IRS Commissioner:

No one in their right mind would have wanted the job. Koskinen took it for the reasons that Dwight Ink (and the wonk community) prized when he singled out Koskinen for praise. He did it to make government work better for the American people. And, like most other executive-branch nominees, he had to endure delays and a filibuster before being confirmed in December 2013.

His reward: an irresponsible, unprecedented, and politically motivated attack from Republicans in the House…

There is a broader motive here, coming from radical forces that want to blow up all of government as we know it. Intimidating, undermining, and destroying the IRS’s capacity to carry out its role, to collect all the tax money that’s owed, to starve government, makes all agencies perform more poorly, and leads to a backlash against government. The poor service that results from cutting personnel also alienates taxpayers, frustrates their efforts to keep up with tax law, and makes it easier to evade the law.

2) Great interactive feature on the new Panama Canal.

3) I do get a little tired of the trope that the NRA “buys” or “owns” Members of Congress.  They don’t vote the way they do for money, but because they largely believe the same things the NRA does (and the NRA are, thus, quite happy to help keep them in office).

4) Teens should have unglamorus summer jobs.  Another parenting fail on my part I need to work on next year.  Also, I hated it at the time but I’m damn glad I spent summers working at K-Mart and in a warehouse.  That really taught me a lot I would have not otherwise learned.

5) The world’s disappearing sand.

6) An AR-15 owner defends his choice of gun.

7) Is Estonia the new Finland when it comes to education?  One thing seems clear– the success in both case comes from a strong commitment to equity.

8) Donald Trump’s ignorance helps expose the “good guy with a gun” fallacy.

9) A better way to punish malfeasant police— sue them:

But when an officer uses excessive force or makes an unlawful arrest or search, proving wrongful conduct is not enough. Under Section 1983 of the federal civil rights statute, the officer can escape liability with the special defense of qualified immunity — showing that he reasonably believed his conduct was lawful, even if it was not. And if the jury finds the officer liable, federal law does not require his employer to pay the award.

Juries, and even judges in non-jury trials, are reluctant to convict police officers of a crime, even in the face of ample evidence. With rare exceptions, they simply will not say “guilty” and risk sending an officer to prison. Suing the officer for money damages in a federal civil rights suit is the only realistic way to establish police misconduct and secure at least some vindication for victims and their families.

But Congress needs to strengthen Section 1983 in three ways. First, the defense of qualified immunity should be abolished. If an officer violates the Constitution, the victim should win the lawsuit, just as he or she wins when hit by an officer negligently driving his vehicle.

Second, the city (or county or state) that employs the officer should pay a damage award, just as a governmental employer pays for injury caused by an officer’s negligent driving. A jury would be more willing to rule against a city than to make a police officer pay out of his own pocket.

Third, the local U.S. attorney, not just the victim of the unconstitutional conduct, should be authorized to bring the suit. When federal law has been violated, a federal lawyer should act on behalf of the victim. A jury is more likely to take the matter seriously if a U.S. attorney sues than when the victim is the plaintiff, who can sometimes be perceived as a not very respectable member of the community.

10) Drum says I should stop staring at my backup camera and just consider it another window.  I already do that, so I guess I’m good.  Like any technology, just don’t over-rely upon it.

11) What little boys can learn from Disney princesses.  Safe to say my not-so-little boys have had way more exposure thanks to having a little sister.

12) A defense of Hillary Clinton’s honesty.

13) Sweden is finding out how hard it is to quit nuclear power (they shouldn’t).

14) What’s the matter with Kansas?  Just ruinous conservative Republican economic policies in full fruition.

15) How Subarus came to be the lesbian car:

In the 1990s, Subaru’s unique selling point was that the company increasingly made all-wheel drive standard on all its cars. When the company’s marketers went searching for people willing to pay a premium for all-wheel drive, they identified four core groups who were responsible for half of the company’s American sales: teachers and educators, health-care professionals, IT professionals, and outdoorsy types.Then they discovered a fifth: lesbians. “When we did the research, we found pockets of the country like Northampton, Massachusetts, and Portland, Oregon, where the head of the household would be a single person—and often a woman,” says Tim Bennett, who was the company’s director of advertising at the time. When marketers talked to these customers, they realized these women buying Subarus were lesbian.
“There was such an alignment of feeling, like [Subaru cars] fit with what they did,” says Paul Poux, who later conducted focus groups for Subaru. The marketers found that lesbian Subaru owners liked that the cars were good for outdoor trips, and that they were good for hauling stuff without being as large as a truck or SUV. “They felt it fit them and wasn’t too flashy,” says Poux.

16) Kristof says he was wrong about welfare reform.

17) He also has a nice column on our criminal justice system’s deplorable war on poor people.

18) It ain’t easy being an anti-gun advocate in gun-loving America.

19) Enjoyed this ranking of Pixar movies.

20) Jeffrey Toobin on the Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling (it’s a big deal).

21) Walter Dellinger makes as succinct and persuasive case as I’ve seen for Obama’s immigration executive order.  That said, whether the Supreme Court decision in this case was right or not, I find it eminently reasonable.  No matter your position, Obama was clearly pushing at the boundaries of executive authority here.  Maybe it should have been found on the Constitutional side, but given the boundary-pushing nature, I think there’s plenty of reasonable justification for either outcome.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Apparently, millennials are eating less cereal because you have to clean up a cereal bowl when you’re done.  Sad.  Alas, I think I may be failing my post-millennial as a parent (the larger point of this Wonkblog piece).

2) Low testosterone makes you a better dad.  Does that make me even better for being a good dad without low testosterone:-).

3) Not that big on the NBA, but I was so glad that Cleveland got a championship.  And I really enjoyed this Josh Levin piece on Lebron.

4) Kristof with a good piece on guns:

The Orlando killer would have been legally barred from buying lawn darts, because they were banned as unsafe. He would have been unable to drive a car that didn’t pass a safety inspection or that lacked insurance. He couldn’t have purchased a black water gun without an orange tip — because that would have been too dangerous.

But it’s not too dangerous to allow the sale of an assault rifle without even a background check?

5) The most mysterious object in the history of technology.

6) I’m sure I’ve noted the fact before that American sports are basically socialist while European sports leagues are much more meritocratic.  This is an excellent piece that actually explains the why behind this fact.

7) The Supreme Court’s horrible recent ruling on the 4th amendment really deserves it’s own post, but, busy, busy week.  Good take here:

The U.S. Supreme Court weakened the Constitution’s protections against unlawful police stops on Monday, ruling that evidence found during those interactions could be used in court if the officers also found an outstanding arrest warrant along the way.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for a five-justice majority in Utah v. Strieff, concluded that a Utah police officer’s “errors in judgment hardly rise to a purposeful or flagrant violation of [Edward] Strieff’s Fourth Amendment rights.”

But in a thundering dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was less forgiving. “The Court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights,” she wrote, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong.”

Later, writing only for herself, Sotomayor also added that the ruling “implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.”

8) Paul Waldman on the “catastrophe” of the Trump campaign.  And another piece on Trump’s campaign as a giant “political science experiment.

9) Chilling interactive feature on the Orlando night club shooting.

10) Seth Masket on the fact that open primaries just wouldn’t change things all that much.

11) As an avid photographer I loved this– why taking photos does not ruin the moment:

A new paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology supports this second view. It suggests that the act of taking a photograph often improves people’s experiences, by focusing their attention on the aspects of the moment most worth capturing…

The papers suggests that the benefits the researchers saw weren’t necessarily tied to photography, but more how photography forces people to notice their surroundings. The act of framing and taking a photograph helps to focus our attention on the aspect of the experience most worth capturing and remembering – a friend’s expression, or the way the light hits a landscape. In one study, the researchers tracked the eye movements of people visiting a museum, and found that those taking photographs looked longer and more frequently at the art.

12) The biggest threat to the US Economy?  Trump.  Quite seriously.

13) On why the worst fears of legal marijuana are likely overblown.

14) Yeah, I order a ton of books from Amazon.  But I love having a local Barnes & Noble, which I not only browse at, but purchase from because it deserves to be kept afloat.  Alas, the chain is in real danger and that’s a serious threat to book lovers:

In a world without Barnes & Noble, risk-averse publishers will double down on celebrity authors and surefire hits. Literary writers without proven sales records will have difficulty getting published, as will young, debut novelists. The most literary of novels will be shunted to smaller publishers. Some will probably never be published at all. And rigorous nonfiction books, which often require extensive research and travel, will have a tough time finding a publisher with the capital to fund such efforts.

The irony of the age of cultural abundance is that it still relies on old filters and distribution channels to highlight significant works. Barnes & Noble and corporate publishers still have enormous strides to make in fully reflecting America’s rich diversity. But without them, the kinds of books that challenge us, that spark intellectual debates, that push society to be better, will start to disappear. Without Barnes & Noble, we’ll be adrift in a sea of pulp.

15) I would argue that not income inequality, but rather inequality in genuine opportunity for economic mobility is the most substantial problem facing America today.  Tom Edsall with an excellent piece on the matter.

16) I had not really thought about the fact that the US national soccer teams don’t have more Latino players.  But they really should!  Good story on why they don’t.

17) Great take on those wanting to vote for the Green Party:

If my friends want the Green Party to really be the progressive party that will represent them and their interests, it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than a vote in a national election. It’s going to take an influx of volunteers and candidates at the local level who are willing to fight with current party representatives to make the Greens what they could be. It’s also going to take a shift in attitude away from the idea that doing politics is doing something dirty, corrupt, and wrong in itself.

So if you want to vote for a “little guy” like you, you’re not getting it in Stein. If you want a real alternative third party, you can’t get there by voting for the Greens as they run now. (Go lobby your local elections bodies for instant-runoff voting instead.) If you want someone fighting for economic justice on the national level, you’re not getting that from the Greens based on their history or strategy. If you want someone incorruptible, that’s not a promise any party can make.

About the only principle you can effectively uphold by voting for Stein is that politics shouldn’t be done by people who are good at it. And if that’s the message you’re trying to send, well, then I disagree vehemently. Government is our check on the strong, on the mob, on the rich. It doesn’t always do those things well, but that’s what it exists for. I want people in office who can do that job.

18) Wow, now this is what I call brilliant satire (on guns).  And the story.

 

19) I already listen to my podcasts at 1.5 speed.  Think of how much more TV I could watch if I did the same, like Jeff Guo.  But it somehow seems wrong.  Still, think I may give it a try.

20) Of all Trump’s absurdity, his taking on Hillary’s religion is definitely up there.  EJ Dionne on how Trump actually has a nasty and despicable habit of going after people’s religious faith.

 

Quick hits

1) Jamelle Bouie on Obama and gun control.

2) The fact that the US is the only modern nation to not adopt the metric system is so representative of the worst of American exceptionalism.  That said, we actually do already use the metric system a ton.

3) A serious look at why professional male athletes in various sports do or do not wear protective cups.  All I can say is there would clearly be a lot of child-less hockey players if not for them.

4) So, the kids today don’t like using periods.  Call me an old fogey, but I’m a really big fan of a very clear visual marker of where one sentence concludes and another begins.

5) Jeffrey Goldberg with a really good take on what Obama actually believes about radical Islam.

The fundamental difference between Obama and Trump on issues related to Islamist extremism (apart from the obvious, such as that, unlike Trump, Obama a) has killed Islamist terrorists; b) regularly studies the problem and allows himself to be briefed by serious people about the problem; and c) is not racist or temperamentally unsuitable for national leadership) is that Trump apparently believes that two civilizations are in conflict. Obama believes that the clash is taking place within a single civilization, and that Americans are sometimes collateral damage in this fight between Muslim modernizers and Muslim fundamentalists.

6) Mark Joseph Stern argues that the Stanford rape case demonstrates massive liberal hypocrisy on issues of basic fairness in the criminal justice system. He’s right.

7) Neck tattoos as a signalling device.

8) Best-named SuperPac ever?

9) Ron Fournier lets loose on Trump:

You could argue that it’s important to give the enemy a name. OK, let’s do that:

Islamic extremism. Islamic extremism. Islamic extremism.

Radical Islam. Radical Islam. Radical Islam.

Wait for it… No, ISIS didn’t crumble.

You’re wrong, Donald Trump. Words don’t win wars.

But your words do undermine the commander-in-chief. Your words do exploit fears, stir prejudices, and divide Americans. Your words might even win you the election.

Which is the point, right? In March, you said talk about terrorist attacks “is probably why I’m number one in the polls.”

Forty-nine innocent people dead and you took a victory lap in their blood.

Congratulations.

10) But not quite as well as genuine #neverTrumper, Rick Wilson.

11) Very thorough and fair look at the difficulties in addressing America’s gun problem in the Atlantic.

12) A big problem– way too easy for straw buyers to get away with it.  That said, if we actually had better laws (i.e., every transfer or theft of a gun had to be reported), it would be easy to prosecute them.  And straw buyers are a huge problem.

13) One of those oh-so-good viral posts floating around the internet of late:

“How about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion — mandatory 48-hr waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he’s about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence, an ultrasound wand up the ass (just because). Let’s close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun. Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.
It makes more sense to do this with young men and guns than with women and health care, right? I mean, no woman getting an abortion has killed a room full of people in seconds, right?”

14)  Donald Trump sure knows how to feed the conspiracy theorists.  There’s something going on here!

15) In the headline says it all category, “For every gun used in self-defense, six more are used to commit a crime.”

16) So that quick hit last week about math suggesting there is almost surely alien intelligence?  Then again, maybe not.  It’s all about the assumptions.

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