Quick hits (part I)

1) Why didn’t Clinton’s campaign do things differently?  Because they thought they were winning:

Sure, in hindsight, Clinton and her team should have guarded themselves from that outcome. They should have had a good response to attacks that Clinton was an elite outsider taking money from Goldman Sachs. They should have done more in Michigan and Wisconsin — especially in light of establishing field offices in reach states like Arizona and Texas. And looking back, even with their already 200-person-strong staff in Michigan, and millions of dollars spent in advertising, if they could go back and do more for those 10,000 votes that went to Trump instead, of course they would, a senior Clinton campaign aide tells me. (Although Iowa looked simply impossible to win.)

But then again, it didn’t look like they needed to.

You don’t need to answer for your weaknesses if they don’t seem to be hurting you

There was every indication that a Clinton victory was near certain. Early voting turnout — although not an indicator of Election Day results — was confirming polling that had Clinton consistently in the lead.

On ground game, Clinton was ahead. She had a bigger, more organized staff. According to an exit poll of early voters, Clinton’s campaign contacted twice as many American voters as Trump’s did.

Clinton’s campaign strategy was tested; Clinton would never be the agent of change Trump could claim to be (she has had a career in Washington after all), but she could easily proclaim Trump’s case for change too risky. And polls suggested that it was a line of attack that was working.

But as my colleague Jeff Stein explained, the polls “badly underestimated” the strength of the Republican coalition — lowballing both the number of white voters without a college education who would turn out at the polls on Election Day and the number of anti-Trump Republicans who ended up supporting the GOP nominees.

“So it was a very different electorate than we expected,” Matt Grossmann, a political scientist at Michigan State University, told Stein. “And Republican-leaning women and conservatives who hadn’t made up their minds almost all ended up voting for Trump.”

2) A handy flowchart for dealing with holiday greetings.

3) I’d read a little about Milo Yiannopoulos before, but never all that much.  That said, I found this Bloomberg profile to be absolutely fascinating of what it is like to be a truly horrible human being.

4) James Surowiecki on how private prisons will benefit from Trump.  Oh, and, yes, they are horrible:

When you consider that the government still spends money monitoring private prisons, and that it’s stuck running the parts of the system that private companies thought were money losers, the case that private prisons save money looks shaky.

Even if they did, the ethical cost would be too high. Imprisoning people is one of the weightiest things that government does, yet outsourcing imprisonment means that treatment of inmates is shaped by bottom-line considerations. This has led to understaffing, inadequate mental-health care, and, in some cases, inadequate meals. Worse, private prisons have an obvious incentive to keep people inside as long as possible. Last year, Anita Mukherjee, an assistant professor of actuarial science at the University of Wisconsin, studied Mississippi’s prison system, and found that people in private prisons received many more “prison conduct violations” than those in government-run ones. This made it harder for them to get parole, and, on average, they served two to three more months of prison time.

The perversities of profit-driven prison policy don’t end there. The need for inmates leads companies, in effect, to lobby state and federal governments to maintain the current system of mass incarceration. Government-run prisons aren’t blameless here—prison-guard unions lobby for longer sentences and tougher laws—but the private companies know how to throw their weight around, and they benefit from strong local support, as they are often in rural towns without many other sources of jobs or tax revenue.

5) A look at the future demographic diversity of America with lots of cool charts.

6) Yglesias with the case for nomalizing Trump:

But several students of authoritarian populist movements abroad have a different message. To beat Trump, what his opponents need to do is practice ordinary humdrum politics. Populists in office thrive on a circus-like atmosphere that casts the populist leader as persecuted by media and political elites who are obsessed with his uncouth behavior while he is busy doing the people’s work. To beat Trump, progressives will need to do as much as they can to get American politics out of reality show mode.

Trump genuinely does pose threats to the integrity of American institutions and political norms. But he does so largely because his nascent administration is sustained by support from the institutional Republican Party and its standard business and interest group supporters. Alongside the wacky tweets and personal feuds, Trump is pursuing a policy agenda whose implications are overwhelmingly favorable to rich people and business owners. His opponents need to talk about this policy agenda, and they need to develop their own alternative agenda and make the case that it will better serve the needs of average people. And to do that, they need to get out of the habit of being reflexively baited into tweet-based arguments that happen on the terrain of Trump’s choosing and serve to endlessly reinscribe the narrative of a champion of the working class surrounded by media vipers.

7) Political science research on race and Donald Trump’s priming of race-based politics.

8) The older generation of evangelical “leaders” have shown their true colors with their embrace of Trump.  I like this call for a return to what Jesus had to say (given the emphasis on helping the poor, oppressed, imprisoned, etc., I suspect it will fall on largely deaf ears among Republican evangelicals):

The words of Jesus — which are printed in red in many Bibles — could not be more relevant today. Despite the terrible things done in the name of Jesus, a Christianity that stays true to his words has survived for 2,000 years. Maybe this is a moment in our history for evangelicals to repent and be “born again” again as Red Letter Christians.

9) Pretty impressive tweetstorm on why Trump won– but please write a blog post or article already!

10) Jamelle Bouie on 1980’s Jesse Jackson as offering a roadmap for the Democrats’ future.

11) I’m with Drum on the over-use of “white supremacy” (you’ll not be surprised given my favoring of “racial resentment”):

I was listening in on a listserv conversation the other day, and someone asked how and when it became fashionable to use the term “white supremacy” as a substitute for ordinary racism. Good question. I don’t know the answer, but my guess is that it started with Ta-Nehisi Coates, who began using it frequently a little while ago. Anyone have a better idea?

For what it’s worth, this is a terrible fad. With the exception of actual neo-Nazis and a few others, there isn’t anyone in America who’s trying to promote the idea that whites are inherently superior to blacks or Latinos. Conversely, there are loads of Americans who display signs of overt racism—or unconscious bias or racial insensitivity or resentment over loss of status—in varying degrees.

This isn’t just pedantic. It matters. It’s bad enough that liberals toss around charges of racism with more abandon than we should, but it’s far worse if we start calling every sign of racial animus—big or small, accidental or deliberate—white supremacy. I can hardly imagine a better way of proving to the non-liberal community that we’re all a bunch of out-of-touch nutbars who are going to label everyone and everything we don’t like as racist.

Petty theft is not the same as robbing a bank. A lewd comment is not the same as rape. A possible lack of sensitivity is not a sign of latent support for apartheid. Bernie Sanders is not a white male supremacist.

Likewise, using a faddish term is not a sign of wokeness, no matter who started it. Let’s keep calling out real racism whenever we need to, but let’s save “white supremacy” for the people and institutions that really deserve it.1

12) A FB friend who I think is exactly the type of person that gives liberals a bad name posted this attacking Drum, and other white men like me:

Here’s what the world needs less of right now: “liberal” white dudes deriding the marginalized for having the audacity to fight for equal rights.

In the past week alone, I’ve rolled my eyes at Mark Lilla, who wrote “The End Of Identity Liberalism” for The New York Times; Kevin Drum, who wrote “Let’s Be Careful With the ‘White Supremacy’ Label” for Mother Jones; and Cal Newport, who wrote “Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It,” also for The New York Times.

That the conservative movement has embraced an anti-diversity party line is nothing new (though the egregiousness of its current stance is startling). That many Democrats have decided to embrace this platform as well, in an apparent effort to expand their power, is deeply troubling.

Indeed, the parallels between the conservative and liberal movements right now are chilling: On both sides, white men are controlling the narrative. And on both sides, these narratives are relying on the scapegoating of minority groups, and the repudiation of a fight for civil rights (because, to be clear, “identity politics” is code for civil rights).

Well, damnit, Minda Honey got me.  I guess I’ll come out and just admit I hate Black, gay people, etc., and think they should stop fighting for their rights.  This isn’t a straw man argument, it’s more like a whole straw village. Every white male liberal embraces feminism, anti-racism, gay rights, etc.  Yet somehow thinking this should not encompass the totality of liberal politics makes me no better than Trump.  Ugh.

13) Turns out there may be great therapeutic properties from “magic mushrooms.”  Good God it is so past time we get past our ignorance-based fear of all illegal drugs and get benefits where we can.  And the evidence for psychedelic drugs just keeps growing.

14) How well do American kids do in math?  Not so bad.

15) Justin Wolfers with one of the best pieces I’ve read on Trump and Carrier:

But the Carrier case also illustrates a larger point about how the economy works. In Mr. Trump’s telling, the economy is a fixed set of jobs getting shifted around a global chess board. Mexico’s loss is our gain and vice versa.

But you should think of the economy as being in a state of constant churn. The economist Joseph Schumpeter used the now-famous phrase “creative destruction” to describe this process by which new firms push out the old. The result can be cruel, but an extraordinarily fluid labor market, many economists argue, is the secret of American dynamism.

Think of the American economy as a 10-level parking structure or garage, where each car represents an active firm, and the seats in the car are the jobs available. A well-managed business like this is usually pretty full. But it’s also in a state of constant flux, with new cars entering as some people arrive, and previously parked cars leaving as others head home. Every hour, around a tenth of the cars leave the lot, just as a tenth of existing business establishments close each year and leave the labor market.

The deal at Carrier is akin to Mr. Trump’s intercepting a driver on his way to his car, and trying to persuade him to stay parked a little longer — perhaps by pointing to the enticing Christmas specials at the nearby stores.

It’s an approach that no parking business bothers trying.

Rather, the long-term strategy of such businesses is to try to attract a larger clientele by offering a more convenient experience. They understand that there are many more potential customers outside than inside the garage. In this analogy, the government’s best hope for creating jobs is to create a positive business climate.

Mr. Trump is focusing his resources on existing firms — the cars already parked there — rather than on the millions of potential entrepreneurs who might open the next generation of businesses.

Mr. Trump has also suggested that in the future he might use an alternative strategy: using sticks rather than carrots to keep jobs parked within the United States. But this also seems problematic — after all, would you choose to park in a location where parking attendants harass you when it’s time to leave?

The economics of parking contain a big lesson for the Trump administration: A parking garage stays full, and an economy stays healthy, only if it’s constantly refreshed.

16) Yglesias on how we need to take Trump both literally and seriously.  As I will not tire of saying until January 20– President-elect Trump = Candidate Trump.

17) Sarah Kliff on why American prescription drug prices are so high.  As I’ve been telling my classes for years– because we subsidize the whole rest of the world on drug development.

18) Drum on how Obamacare’s requirement that persons with pre-existing conditions be guaranteed coverage and at the same rates as everybody else makes it very hard for Republicans to truly eliminate key aspects of the legislation.  That is, unless Republicans entirely ditch the filibuster.

19) Way back this summer I read Robert Frank’s Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of the Meritocracy.  Short version: conservatives are sure they actually deserved/earned all their success and good fortune; liberals know better.  Of course, I was already well aware of that.  What I didn’t know about was Frank’s idea for a progressive consumption tax.  This Slate piece nicely lays out the logic for how it would reduce income inequality through it’s understanding of human psychology (it’s not about being rich in an absolute sense so much, as being richer than your neighbor)  It’s pretty cool:

If top marginal income tax rates are set too high, they discourage productive economic activity. In the limit, a top marginal income tax rate of 100 percent would mean that taxpayers would gain nothing from working harder or investing more. In contrast, a higher top marginal rate on consumption would actually encourage savings and investment. A top marginal consumption tax rate of 100 percent, for example, would simply mean that if a wealthy family spent an extra dollar, it would also owe an additional dollar of tax.

That feature of the tax gives rise to what it would be no exaggeration to describe as fiscal alchemy. Consider, for example, how the tax would affect a wealthy family that had been planning a $2 million addition to its mansion. If it faced a marginal consumption tax rate of 100 percent, that addition would now cost $4 million—$2 million for the job itself, and another $2 million for the tax on it. Even the wealthy respond to price incentives. (That’s why they live in smaller houses in New York than in Seattle.) So the tax would be a powerful incentive for this family to scale back its plans. It could build an addition half as big, for example, without spending more than it originally planned.

The fiscal magic occurs because other wealthy families who’d also planned additions to their mansions would respond in a similar way. And since no one denies that, beyond some point, it’s relative, not absolute, mansion size that really matters, the smaller additions would serve just as well as if all had built larger ones.

Current possibility– zero.  But I love this idea and would love to see liberals champion it.

20) We know what works to treat opioid addiction-– substitution therapy.  How many more people will have to needlessly die from overdoses before we finally get some sane policy on the matter?  (Sadly, I expect the answer is hundreds of thousands).

21) Another good take on Trump and the Carrier jobs (and the utter stupidity of our policies regarding “economic incentives”)

Still, what happened in Indiana represents exactly the problem, not the solution, in America’s approach to corporate negotiation. There is literally another factory across town from Carrier waiting for the same kind of attention. It’s not good that the geography of large offices and factories is a function of public money doled out by cities, states and in Washington. It’s been a great boon to companies with the size and flexibility to uproot or locate their operations at will, or at least make a convincing threat they’ll do so. And a big loss for the rest of us.

In hundreds of cases, state and local governments have offered more in subsidy than the $65 million Carrier hoped to save in Mexico.

According to a review by Good Jobs First, a resource center for accountability in economic development, there have been more than 240 such deals, worth a collective $64 billion, in the last 35 years. Manufacturing facilities are the most common recipient. The average cost per job is $465,000.

In some cases, those handouts go to companies moving across county lines.

What makes all those deals possible, and what they have in common, is a regulatory framework that is highly favorable to companies relocating both between states and abroad, regardless of the subsidies they’ve received or the government contracts they depend on. Like Carrier, the average American corporation is trained to get treats for barking. And why not? It’s always worked. Donald Trump didn’t train corporate America. But he seems happy to keep feeding it.

22) In many ways, the GOP Congress is the only meaningful check on Trump’s malfeasance.  Alas, they seem to have no more interest in that whole checks and balances thing.  Chait.

23) A 538 piece says Trump “probably” cannot overturn Roe v. Wade.  That’s because the law professor interviewed doesn’t think John Roberts is a vote to overturn.  I do.  Or, lets put it this way, I can totally see Roberts not “overturning” Roe v. Wade, but writing an opinion that completely undermines while pretending not to do so.

24) I re-watched “Top Gun” over Thanksgiving (just before it disappeared from Netflix streaming).  Say what you will, but I love that movie.  Fighter jets are just awesome.  And I love the way Tony Scott uses light.  Of all the unreality in it, though, it really bugged me that the Top Gun commander, Mike “Viper” Metcalf (Tom Skerrit) was only a Commander (O5).  Seemed to me that for somebody as old as the character and somebody in charge of the base would surely be at least a Captain.  I messaged my former student, currently a Naval Officer, and he agreed that Viper should probably have been an Admiral.  Then I decided to go to the base website for the current Top Gun (no longer at Miramar).  The current commander is actually a Captain.  Yes, these are the things I spend my time on.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Loved “The Arrival.”  This review captures it pretty well.

2) Excellent NC State Senator Jeff Jackson with his take on how Democrats should try and talk to working class voters.

3) Oh man, Alec Baldwin as President-Elect Trump is the best yet.

4) NYT with a great case study on how a totally false tweet blew up huge on right-wing media.

5) Emily Badger on the persistent and pervasive rural bias in American politics.

6) So Pope Francis has continued a waiver to let a priest, and not necessarily a bishop, absolve a Catholic of the sin of abortion.  What I cannot figure out–and have tried– is if this is actually a harsher standard than for murder (of which I always assumed you could just confess to a priest).

7) SurveyMonkey’s post election poll suggests a substantially less diverse electorate than the official exit polls.

8) Brendan Nyhan on the institutional failures that led to Trump.  From 9 months ago.

9) Yglesias with a fascinating psycho-analysis of Jared Kushner.

10) The amazing irony of Trump claiming he would “drain the swamp.”

11) Italian Economist Luigi Zingales on how to resist Trump (based on Italian experience with Berlusconi)

12) Interesting Vox feature on the inter-generational transmission– and inter-generational mis-understandings– of political attitudes.  Much to my dismay, though, nothing on the role of genetics.  Fortunately, Thomas Edsall had a nice round-up of that a while back.

13) The Democratic government in Delaware with a template on how to succeed based on economic policies benefiting the working class.

14) Rick Hasen on the claims that somehow electoral fraud led to Clinton’s loss.  And, no, I haven’t taken this seriously for more than a second.

First, I continue to be inundated with messages from people advancing the most extreme legal and political theories to try to change the results of an election that many on the left see as a threat to American Democracy itself. People want to believe there is rigging, or some magic legal way out, to change the outcome of the election. All of these theories should be approached with extreme caution. Most are a combination of wishful thinking and dubious reasoning. That was true the theories that were put out there using exit polls to try to show that Ohio’s 2004 results were rigged against John Kerry. Some people still believe this even though there is no good evidence of it (as Rep. John Conyers concluded in his report).

15) The comments on this Amazon page for a Trump hat Christmas ornament are great.

16) Nice post from the Lindsay Wagner at the awesome AJ Fletcher Foundation on some of the problems with public money going to private schools:

As I outlined last week, consider the following scenarios that apply to private schools receiving public dollars:

  • Private schools receiving tax dollars don’t have to meet any generally accepted accreditation standards.
  • Teachers don’t have to be licensed.
  • Schools are free to deny admission to anyone, such as those who don’t declare their support for Jesus Christ or those who are LGBTQ.
  • Schools don’t have to adhere to any sort of curricular standards and are free to use teaching materials that draw heavily on biblical teachings.
  • A criminal background check is required only for the schools’ top administrator.
  • A nationally-normed standardized test must be given to students yearly (and report those findings only if enrollment is more than 25 voucher students). The test doesn’t have to be the same, or comparable, to the tests administered in public schools.
  • Only if a school receives more than $300,000 annually is it then required to conduct a financial review by a CPA (only three of the 330 schools met the criteria last year).

So while these recently-closed private schools may have shut down due to financial problems, it’s impossible to know if other factors were at play.

17) Really interesting post on how fake news is not the problem, so much as propaganda getting covered as real news.  Great case study of Hillary Clinton’s health.

18) Just what we need– a registry of liberally-biased professors.  I wonder how long before I’m on it🙂.

19) Just concede already Pat McCrory.

20) Yes, some felons have inappropriately voted in North Carolina.  But it sure as hell ain’t anywhere near 7000.  And some people who are allowed to vote have been wrongly challenged as felons.  Including McCrory voters.

21) I like Drum’s take on Bannon:

 

So even if we give Bannon the benefit of the doubt on racism, he’s still presided over a website that deliberately indulges in race-baiting, presumably to build its audience. Is that better or worse? You decide.

I’ve written about this before, and I’ve already decided: It’s worse. The David Duke version of racism may be repugnant, but for that very reason it’s fairly easy to fight. There are just too many people who are put off by it.

The Steve Bannon version is far more effective. Partly this is because, yes, critics will overreach and discredit themselves. Partly it’s because his more subtle attacks on “political correctness” don’t put off as many people. Partly it’s because he assures people they can have racist attitudes without actually being racists. And partly it’s because his sub rosa approach is just plain harder to expose.

22) Also a really interesting interview with former Breitbart writer Ben Shapiro.  And, yes, Bannon basically does have no moral compass.

23) Not the least bit shocked for a child psychologist to argue that fears of childhood screen time are overblown.

24) Another good Monkey Cage piece from Michael Tesler on how racially resentful working class whites have been fleeing the Democratic Party well before Trump.

 

How Seinfeld ruined America

This Bloomberg profile of Steve Bannon is from last month, but it just crossed by electronic transom today.  So fascinating.  Highly, highly recommended.  The scary thing, is that Bannon is pretty much an evil genius who has figured out how to hack the mainstream media.  Here’s a key bit:

To this end, Hall peppers his colleagues with slogans so familiar around the office that they’re known by their abbreviations. “ABBN — always be breaking news,” he says. Another slogan is “depth beats speed.” Time-strapped reporters squeezed for copy will gratefully accept original, fact-based research because most of what they’re inundated with is garbage. “The modern economics of the newsroom don’t support big investigative reporting staffs,” says Bannon. “You wouldn’t get a Watergate, a Pentagon Papers today, because nobody can afford to let a reporter spend seven months on a story. We can. We’re working as a support function.”

The reason GAI does this is because it’s the secret to how conservatives can hack the mainstream media. Hall has distilled this, too, into a slogan: “Anchor left, pivot right.” It means that “weaponizing” a story onto the front page of the New York Times(“the Left”) is infinitely more valuable than publishing it on Breitbart.com. “We don’t look at the mainstream media as enemies because we don’t want our work to be trapped in the conservative ecosystem,” says Hall. “We live and die by the media. Every time we’re launching a book, I’ll build a battle map that literally breaks down by category every headline we’re going to place, every op-ed Peter’s going to publish. Some of it is a wish list. But it usually gets done.”

Once that work has permeated the mainstream—once it’s found “a host body,” in David Brock’s phrase—then comes the “pivot.” Heroes and villains emerge and become grist for a juicy Breitbart News narrative. “With Clinton Cash, we never really broke a story,” says Bannon, “but you go [to Breitbart.com] and we’ve got 20 things, we’re linking to everybody else’s stuff, we’re aggregating, we’ll pull stuff from the Left. It’s a rolling phenomenon. Huge traffic. Everybody’s invested.”

Insidious.  So, what does this have to do with my favorite TV show ever.  In one of his many former lives (truly, a fascinating individual), Bannon bought the rights to Seinfeld syndication royalties when it was only in it’s third season.  Safe to say that paid off handsomely and Bannon has been using the proceeds to fund his right-wing muckraking.  So, in the end, you can blame Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David for President Trump🙂.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Larry Lessig’s awesome reaction to being insulted in hacked emails.

2) Big Pharma to America: More pills.  Always more pills.

3) Great response from the editor of the Arizona Republic for the deplorable backlash they received in response for endorsing Clinton.

4) My daughter is generally loving kindergarten, but it is undoubtedly too focused on academics without enough time for fun.  Pretty jealous of they do it in Finland.

5) Josh Barro on why he left the Republican party (and I highly recommend following him on twitter).

6) Former grad school friend David Kimball on actually effective election reforms (as opposed to Voter ID).

7) Aziz Ansari with a great video on why you should vote (it’s short, just watch):

8) Jamelle Bouie on how this election could make the Latino vote as Democratic as the Black vote.

For Trump, Latino immigrants join Muslims and Syrian refugees as potential threats, fundamentally incompatible with American life. If they’re here, they have to be removed, and if they’re not here, they need to be kept out. In turn, for Latino Americans and their families, this makes Trump an existential threat to their lives and livelihoods. Only 21 percent of Latinos say the GOP cares about their community, and 70 percent say that Trump has made the Republican Party more hostile to them. In another survey, polling and research firm Latino Decisions asked Latino registered voters to gauge two statements: “Donald Trump’s campaign talk and policy views make me fear for the future of my family and our country” and “Donald Trump truly has the best interest of my family and our country in mind.” Eighty-two percent of respondents agreed with the first statement, that Trump makes them fear for their families and their country. Eighteen percent agreed with the latter…

In the wake of Obama’s election, the national Republican Party was already on this path. But Trump has been an accelerant, driving Latino Americans away from the GOP with xenophobia and unyielding hostility. And in fact, this has had an unintended side effect: Asian Americans are leaving the Republican Party, too, in record numbers, and for similar reasons. A GOP that nominates Trump—and embraces nativism—is one that lacks room for all immigrant and nonwhite groups.

9) Trump has called for term limits.  Fortunately, the terrible idea of term limits has really dropped off.  But not surprising for Trump to embrace a terrible idea.  Lee Drutman explains why term limits are a bad idea.

Term limits also strengthen the power of lobbyists and interest groups for the same reason. In term-limited states, lawmakers and their staff have less time to build up expertise, since they are there for a limited time. But like the executive agencies of the state government, lobbyists and interest groups are also there year after year. They are the true repeat players building long-term relationships and the true keepers of the institutional knowledge. This gives them power.

It’s a nice fantasy that what Washington needs is a bunch of good old-fashioned common sense — common sense that can only come from people who aren’t “career politicians.” But the machinery of government is now incredibly complex. And the more we cling to the fantasy of electing uncorrupted political neophytes as saviors, the more we empower the lobbyists and bureaucrats who can accumulate a lifetime of experience and knowledge.

10) Trump and the increasing generational split among Evangelicals.

11) Republican election lawyer on the impossibility of actually rigging American elections.

12) NYT Editorial on “shameful silence” of Republicans on Trump’s vote-rigging claims.

13) I like Harry Enten’s formulation for the analysis of the gender gap this year, “Men Are Treating 2016 As A ‘Normal’ Election; Women Aren’t.”

14) The sugar conspiracy (thanks, DJC)

15) I really like the idea behind this piece– how to make a psychological exit ramp for Trump supporters to leave his odious campaign behind.

16) John Oliver clearly speaking directly to the Millennials who might think it a good idea to vote for Johnson or Stein.

 

17) Want to know what’s up with Trump always saying “the Blacks” and “the Hispanics”?  Read this.

18) David French on what happens when a conservative prominently opposed Donald Trump.  It’s ugly.

19) James Fallows on the debates:

From the opening moments of the first debate, she sent out a a nonstop stream of provocations, subtle or obvious, all tailored to wounding Trump’s vanities. The topics ranged from his not really being rich, to being a man of the beauty-pageant world, to not paying taxes, to being a chronic liar, to generally being preposterous. Sooner or later in each debate, usually sooner, it worked! Trump simply could not resist the bait. He would go off on exactly the tirades the Clinton campaign was hoping to evoke from him. You saw it again last night: for the first 30 minutes or so, he was so stately as to seem semi-sedated. Then she began teasing him, and she got him to snap and interrupt.

So from an unprecedented and potentially unpredictable confrontation, we saw the behavior many people anticipated from each candidate. Very carefully prepped Belichick-type execution of a precise plan from one side. On the other side, wild slugging by someone who might as well have had a bucket over his head. [emphasis mine]

20) With all the recent talk of Al Gore (who acted entirely appropriately regarding conceding the election) here’s a look back on how we was so robbed (it’s all about the overvotes).

21) Really interesting piece from Daniel Engber on the role of frame rate in film.

22) In case you missed Colbert’s R-rated “Venn diagram.”

23) I must say, one of the more enjoyable features of twitter this election season is the fact that Bill Mitchell is a real person posting non-ironically.

24) Ezra on Hillary and the debates:

Two things have been true throughout the debates. One is that Trump has been, at every turn, underprepared, undisciplined, and operating completely without a strategy. In one of the third debate’s most unintentionally revealing moments, Trump said, “I sat in my apartment today … watching ad after false ad, all paid for by your friends on Wall Street,” an inadvertent admission that he was inhaling cable news when he should have been prepping for the debate.

But the other reality is that Clinton has been, at every turn, prepared, disciplined, and coldly strategic. She triggered Trump’s epic meltdown purposely, and kept Trump off balance over multiple weeks that probably represented his last chance to turn the election around. She was ready for every question, prepared for every attack, and managed to goad Trump into making mistakes that became the main story the day after every single debate.

It is easy, now, to assume her victory was assured, to read Trump’s collapse as inevitable. But remember that he triumphed over a talented, 17-person Republican field in debate after debate to win the primary — one-on-one contests are unique, it’s true, but there was no particular reason to think Trump couldn’t use his bullying, blustering showmanship to take over the stage and expose Clinton as inauthentic and out of touch. The reason he didn’t is because she never let him.

We aren’t used to this kind of victory. We aren’t used to candidates winning not so much because of how they performed but because of how they pushed their opponent into performing. But the fact that we aren’t used to this kind of victory doesn’t make it any less impressive. Hillary Clinton has humbled Donald Trump, and she did it her way.

25) Dark Mirror season 3 came out yesterday on Netflix.  So loved the first two seasons.  Especially, the Christmas episode with John Hamm.  Brilliant.

 

Quick hits (part I)

[Note: this was all written compiled before the latest Trump news]

1) Just in case you missed SNL’s debate parody.  Damn is Alec Baldwin a great Trump.

2) Vox on Trump’s money-losing casinos:

Ultimately, the story of Trump in Atlantic City looks a lot like a large-scale version of the story of Trump University.

In both cases, rather than offering actual education or hospitality management, what Trump offered was a name vaguely associated in the public eye with money and opulence. The casinos were not, in fact, well-run, and the “education” offered was entirely useless. But Trump managed to construct business models for himself where personal enrichment did not depend on the underlying soundness of the enterprise. As long as the music was playing and cash was flowing in and out the door, Trump managed to grab some.

Eventually, it came to an end. So after casinos came the university, the steaks, the water, the television show, the suits, and now a presidential campaign.

3) The four traits that put kids at risk for addiction. At least none of my kids seem to have more than two of the four: “sensation-seeking, impulsiveness, anxiety sensitivity and hopelessness.”

4) The debate on whether wild blueberries are more healthy than farm-raised.  I love the (always frozen) wild blueberries and have them with my cereal 8-9 months a year when fresh farm-raised blueberries are too expensive.

5) Your tax dollars at work in the war on drugs, headline captures it all, “Cop Spends 2 Months Working Undercover At Burger King, Nets 5 Grams Of Weed.”

5) Great news for my wife (seriously), “A Happy Spouse May Be Good for Your Health.”

But a new study, published in Health Psychology, suggests that physical health may also be linked to the happiness of one’s husband or wife.

Researchers used data from a survey of 1,981 heterosexual couples, a nationwide sample of Americans older than 50 whose happiness had been assessed periodically since 1992 using well-validated scales. They also completed regular questionnaires on physical health.

A person’s good health was independently associated with the happiness of his or her spouse. Consistently, people with an unhappy partner had more physical impairments, engaged in less exercise and rated their overall health worse than those who had a happy partner.

6) Chris Cilizza on Trump’s PA meltdown:

The Trump in that video is the exact opposite of presidential. The word that kept coming to my mind when I watched it was “nasty.” He seems mean, angry, vindictive. None of those words tend to be what people use to describe presidents.

Simply put: If you had questions before Saturday night about whether Trump had the proper temperament to hold the job he is seeking, it’s hard to imagine that you don’t have serious doubts today…

True character tends to be revealed when times are tough. Anyone can be magnanimous, happy and generous after a win. It’s a hell of a lot harder to maintain that dignity and charitableness after a defeat.

Trump has shown throughout this campaign that he runs well while ahead. His chiding of his opponents, his dismissiveness of the political press — it all plays great when he is on top of the political world.

But, last night in Manheim, he showed what we got glimpses of almost a year ago in Iowa: When he’s down, Trump is like a cornered animal. He lashes out — at everyone. That is when he’s at his most dangerous — to his own prospects and those of the party he is leading.

7) Fear leads to more support for Voter ID laws.

8) And nice piece from the Upshot on the social science reality of implicit bias.

9) Alex Wagner on the racism of Bill O’Reilly’s show.  (The Chinatown segment must be seen to be believed).  And the wonderfully profane Daily Show take.

10) So this is about how Washington bureaucrats are disdainful of typical Americans.  A key piece of evidence is this chart:

Ummm, but who would deny that “some” is generous for most of these policy areas.  That said, interesting reading.

11) Trump doing worse than Romney among white voters.  That spells doom.  Also, Harry Enten on how the declining level of undecided and third-party voters in recent polling is making Clinton’s lead safer.

12) How Donald Trump is creating conflict in NFL locker rooms.

13) Vox on the amazing rise of the Honeycrisp apple.  Yes, it is a good apple, but no way good enough to justify it’s super-premium price.  I prefer a good Braeburn, a good Cameo, (or the wondrous Suncrisps that I can only find at one vendor at the NC Farmer’s market).

14) No matter what the issue is, you know Trump will be “strong!”

15) 538 on the myth that Perot cost George HW Bush re-election in 1992 (I still have to semi-regularly swat down this myth).

16) I’m pretty sure I’ve written that I don’t actually object to “everybody gets a trophy” because the meaning of trophy has changed (liked the meaning of “marriage.”).  But, I still enjoyed this NYT debate on the matter.  Here’s the case against my take:

Trophies for all convey an inaccurate and potentially dangerous life message to children: We are all winners. This message is repeated at the end of each sports season, year after year, and is only reinforced by the collection of trophies that continues to pile up. We begin to expect awards and praise for just showing up — to class, practice, after-school jobs — leaving us woefully unprepared for reality. Outside the protected bubble of childhood, not everyone is a winner. Showing up to work, attending class, completing homework and trying my best at sports practice are expected of me, not worthy of an award. These are the foundations of a long path to potential success, a success that is not guaranteed no matter how much effort I put in.

I believe that we should change how we reward children. Trophies should be given out for first, second and third; participation should be recognized, but celebrated with words and a pat on the back rather than a trophy. As in sports as well as life, it is fact that there’s room for only a select few on the winners’ podium.

17) The economic challenges in widespread LED light bulb adoption.

18) Seth Masket on the stupidity of letting undecided voters decide debate questions:

We have a notion in our political discourse that the ideal citizen is one who is well informed about the issues of the day, approaches the candidates without any real preconceptions, and then makes a rational, informed decision about which candidate would best advance her interests and the nation’s. We also know from a great deal of public opinion and election research that this notion describes almost zero people.

Most voters are partisans, to one extent or another. They grow up with loyalty to one of the major parties, even if they never formally register as party members, and they perceive new information in ways that are generally favorable to their chosen party. Their knowledge of the political world may not be perfect, but it’s far better than that of independent voters.

 Actual independents just don’t follow politics very closely at all, for the most part. If they’re undecided between the presidential candidates, it’s in large part because they’ve tuned out and stopped receiving new information about them. And that’s fine. Undecided voters lead busy lives, like the rest of us, and unless they have reason to believe that their own individual vote will be pivotal (which is pretty unlikely), there’s little reason for them to be following the campaign that closely until right before the election. But there’s no reason for this indecision to give them an outsize voice in picking presidents.

19) The “Central Park 5” have been irrefutably vindicated.  Donald Trump is still sure they are guilty.  Because Donald Trump is never wrong.

20) In an interesting– but not the least bit surprising– finding, people who end up living in/near their hometown are much more likely to be Trump supporters:

So Trump has found a following among people who stayed home. One theory would suggest his supporters are sheltered: They haven’t encountered the world beyond what they knew growing up, and their support for Trump is potentially rooted in prejudice. You could also say these people are more in touch with their communities and are willing to dismiss Trump’s more incendiary remarks because he speaks to their news and those of their neighbors. Or both could be true. Either way, it’s a telling correlation. Hillary Clinton may have the hearts of the people who moved away. But way back home, they’re voting for Trump.

21) Among the Republicans endorsing Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary under GWB and former prosecutor of Hillary Clinton, Michael Chertoff.

22) Love Kevin Drum’s take on having learned nothing from having cancer.  Sometimes you just have a horrible disease, and it sucks, and that’s that.

23) Excellent Jack Shafer take on Mike Pence and “the year of disinformation”

Pence’s personal disinformation campaign is part of something much bigger this year. Political campaigns have always peddled bogus rumors and told lies in hopes that their mendacity will take root and hobble their opponents. These efforts don’t usually go very far because most reporters—even those of the pliant, gullible sort—resist being used by sources who traffic in lies.

But in campaign 2016 these disinformation efforts have become rampant, and they are gaining currency as never before thanks to the pick-up they’re getting from traditional media. Traditional media once shied from repeating stories they hadn’t confirmed, or that hadn’t been confirmed by their peers. But as so much of cable television has devolved from news to discussion about what people read in the news, that’s changed. It’s not that the old news gatekeepers aren’t doing their jobs. Most are. It’s just that the fences have been breached.

24) Why don’t we hear more from the Christian left?  Because it’s smaller and far more diverse than the Christian right.

 

25) Watched the “Wiener” documentary this week.  Riveting.  Couldn’t take my eyes off of it– like a car wreck happening right in front of you.

Quick hits (part I)

1) I’ll be honest, I think Arlie Hochschild gives these Tea Partiers more empathy than they deserve.

2) An algorithm for determining fiction best-sellers.

3) Surprise, surprise, more evidence that drug testing welfare recipients is just dumb public policy.

4) Ummm, Victorian bereavement photography (i.e., photos of dead people, posed to look alive, with their families) is really creepy.

5) So, you are an “intellectual” conservative what do you do?  Make a straight-faced argument that Hillary Clinton (and pretty much all liberals) are a greater threat to America’s Constitutional order than Donald Trump.

6) Samatha Bee takes on those telling Hillary to smile, including David Frum.   Good stuff.  And Frum’s defense.

7) Love Chait on the “pivot” euphemism.

Virtually the entire Republican professional class understands at some level that their presidential candidate is wildly unfit for the presidency. They have all made the professional decision that they cannot say so in public. Instead, their plan is to conceal Trump’s unfitness through the elections and hope for the best, without much regard for what would happen if they succeed in handing control of the Executive branch to an unstable bully. It is one of those moral decisions so awful it can’t be described in plain terms.Pivot is their euphemism of choice.

8) At least in this election, Democrats are killing it with the fundraising thanks to the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon decision.

9) Matt Yglesias with some interesting pushback on Trump/Hitler book review.  Some really good points.  I still love the review.

10) If the rest of the world got a vote, it would be Clinton in the biggest landslide ever.

11) Paul Waldman with a pretty compelling take on why the second debate, with it’s town hall format, may be even more conducive to a Clinton victory.

12) As swing states go, Ohio ain’t what it used to be:

But even some of the state’s proudest boosters acknowledge that Ohio, which is nearly 80 percent white, is decreasingly representative of contemporary America.

“Ohio, like a melting iceberg, has slowly been losing its status as the country’s bellwether,” said Michael F. Curtin, a Democratic state legislator and former Columbus Dispatch editor who is co-author of the state’s authoritative “Ohio Politics Almanac.”

He continued: “It’s a slow melt. But we have not captured any appreciable Hispanic population, and there has been very little influx of an Asian population. When you look at the diversity of America 30 to 40 years ago, Ohio was a pretty close approximation of the country. It no longer is.”

13) I think I forgot to post Ezra Klein’s takedown of Trump on trade.

14) A thorough history of Trump’s corruption.  Be warned, it’s looooong.

15) Really interesting Jordan Weissman take on the long-term impact of trade normalization with China under Bill Clinton.

16) Sure, one could entirely fill up quick hits with Trump’s ignorance on policy, but, hey, it really is important stuff, and this piece from Fred Kaplan on Trump’s foreign policy incompetence is quite good.

17) A Bernie Bro has seen the light and apologizes for “despising” Hillary Clinton.

18) Maybe the police should not always rely on yelling commands as a first option.

19) Among mammals, humans are quite violent within species.  As primates go, however, we’re pretty par for the course.

20) The case for more brevity in your emails.

21) Given all the other post-debate coverage, not much on how Clinton attempted to paint Trump as a Romney-like lover of the rich.

22) You know what, Donald Trump really does not have a good sense of humor:

Granted, a lot has been made of Hillary Clinton’s sense of humor—her laugh is shrill, too many of her jokes have seemed too prepared for far too long. But undoubtedly, at the first presidential debate on Monday, it was confirmed: Her sense of humor exists! And this mattered, because humor showed Clinton to be as self-aware as she was serious, and served to isolate Trump, making him seem like an angry spider caught in a tangled dystopia of his own construction.

This isn’t to say that Trump can’t get laughs. It’s simply that when he gets them, he’s humiliating people—whether “Low Energy” Jeb Bush, “Lyin” Ted Cruz or “Little” Marco Rubio. Humor borne out of cruelty happens to be the easiest and therefore lowest form of comedy: It is cheap stuff and it does not elevate the candidate, nor make him a more fundamentally sympathetic character. And when Trump does manage to grab laughs, his smile is a forced, flat line—a concession to facial spasm more than a natural expression of amusement or mirth.

23) Will Saletan on how the Iraq War created lasting damage to the Republican Party.

24) I basically have no interest in psychedelic drugs (like pretty much all mind-altering drugs except caffeine), but there’s ever more evidence that there are valuable therapeutic benefits.  Alas, our war on drugs is, as always, getting in the way.

25) Nate Cohn on the post-debate movement towards Clinton in the polls:

Usually, a good way to test the durability of a swing in the polls is to ask whether it brings the race closer or farther from the so-called fundamentals, like the president’s approval ratings.

A shift that brings the polls in line with the fundamentals might be a little likelier to last than one that cuts the other way. Mr. Kerry’s recovery, for instance, brought the tighter race implied by Mr. Bush’s approval ratings. Barack Obama’s gains in 2008 gave him the considerable advantage implied by the economy and Mr. Bush’s low approval ratings. The opposite could be said of Mr. Bush’s and Mr. Romney’s surges in 2000 and 2012.

This year, it’s a lot harder to tell. That’s in part because there is no incumbent president on the ballot, which always makes it a little harder to tell where the natural resting point of a race sits. But it’s also because Mr. Trump is such an extraordinary candidate that many analysts believe the fundamentals will be less significant than usual.

In lieu of the traditional fundamentals, here’s something to consider instead: Over the longer term, Mrs. Clinton has led Mr. Trump by around five percentage points nationally.

The debate has bumped her poll standing back closer to her longer-term average, and it seems plausible it could stay in that range. The debate has also reinforced doubts about whether Mr. Trump is prepared for the presidency. No matter how you interpret polls, Mrs. Clinton is in a decent position with less than 40 days to go.

Quick hits (part II)

1) At least temporarily– and hopefully longer– NYT has put an end to awful he said, she said journalism with regards to Trump’s lies.

2) More evidence showing that it’s much better to be a 6th grader not in a middle school.

3) Ross Douthat with a very thought-provoking column on Clinton’s “Samantha Bee” problem.  This provoked a lot of interesting social media discussion among my professor friends.

But the Democratic Party’s problem in the age of Trump isn’t really Jimmy Fallon. Its problem is Samantha Bee.

Not Bee alone, of course, but the entire phenomenon that she embodies: the rapid colonization of new cultural territory by an ascendant social liberalism.

The culture industry has always tilted leftward, but the swing toward social liberalism among younger Americans and the simultaneous surge of activist energy on the left have created a new dynamic, in which areas once considered relatively apolitical now have (or are being pushed to have) an overtly left-wing party line…

At the same time, outside the liberal tent, the feeling of being suffocated by the left’s cultural dominance is turning voting Republican into an act of cultural rebellion — which may be one reason the Obama years, so good for liberalism in the culture, have seen sharp G.O.P. gains at every level of the country’s government.

4) NYT editorial takes on NC’s horribly misguided HB2.

5) Not a single Fortune 100 CEO has given to Trump.  A whole bunch gave to Romney.  And this is despite the fact that Trump assures them large personal tax cuts.

6) And speaking of which, Trump’s tax plans would cause deficits to explode.  But nobody cares because it’s Trump and policy.

7) Drew Magery knows he’s not going to convince any Trump voters, so he just unloads with what he really thinks:

Nothing that Trump says, no damning piece of Trump reportage, and certainly no opinion piece like this one will stop his voters from pulling the lever. Nor will anything stop Trump from being the officious, braindead goon that he is. He will never answer for his crimes, and there’s a frighteningly large portion of the electorate that will always love him for that.

And so I’d just like to say to that portion of the electorate: Fuck you. No, seriously. Go fuck yourselves. I’m not gonna waste any more time trying to convince you that you’re about to do something you’ll regret forever. I’m not gonna show you old clips of Trump saying rotten things. I’m not gonna try to ANNIHILATE Trump by showing you records of his hypocrisy and greed. I’m not gonna link to a John Oliver clip and be like, “THIS. So much this.” Nothing’s gonna take down Trump at this point, so I’m not gonna bother. No no, this post is for ME. I am preaching to the sad little choir in my soul here.

Because while Trump is a miserable bastard, YOU are the people who have handed him the bullhorn. YOU are the people willing to embarrass this nation and put it on the brink of economic ruin all because you wanna throw an electoral hissy fit. YOU are the people who want to revolutionize the way America does business by voting for its worst businessman, a disgusting neon pig who only makes money when he causes problems for other people instead of solving them. YOU are the thin-skinned yokels who clutch your bandoliers whenever someone hurls the mildest of slurs at you (“deplorables”), while cheering Trump on as he leaves a bonfire of truly hateful invective everywhere he goes. YOU are the people willing to overlook the fact that Trump is an unqualified, ignorant sociopath because DURRRR HILLARY IS BAD TOO DURRRR.

8) Does terrorism help Trump?  Saletan says the evidence says no.

9) And Adam Gopnik on New Yorker’s non-terrorized response to terrorism.

10) Kevin Drum on who Republican elites listen to summed up in a single chart:

11) Ed Yong with a really nice piece on the inevitable survival of the fittest of bad science (it’s all about the bad incentives).

12) I’ve never been one to fool myself by thinking getting food off the floor in less than five seconds will render it bacteria free (the latest research suggests decidedly not), yet, I figure I would think nothing of picking up a pencil off the floor than eating some food.  So, I’ll just count on my immune system– it’s worked well so far.

13) Political Scientist and media critic extraordinaire, Thomas Patterson, on the media coverage of Trump and Clinton:

IF Hillary Clinton loses the presidential election in November, we will know the reason. The email controversy did her candidacy in. But it needed a helping hand — and the news media readily supplied that.

My analysis of media coverage in the four weeks surrounding both parties’ national conventions found that her use of a private email server while secretary of State and other alleged scandal references accounted for 11% of Clinton’s news coverage in the top five television networks and six major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. Excluding neutral reports, 91% of the email-related news reports were negative in tone. Then, there were the references to her character and personal life, which accounted for 4% of the coverage; that was 92% negative. [emphasis mine]

While Trump declared open warfare on the mainstream media — and of late they have cautiously responded in kind — it has been Clinton who has suffered substantially more negative news coverage throughout nearly the whole campaign.

14) Just in case you didn’t hear about the Trump county chair in Ohio who said that racism was over in America until Obama brought it back.

15) It’s from just about a year ago, but this Brendan Nyhan piece on the media’s misguided search for “authenticity” is great.

16) Paul Waldman asks if Trump is running the sleaziest foundation in America?  Hell, yes!  The fact that pretty much only the Post is taking this issue seriously is perhaps the largest media failure of the campaign.

In case you haven’t been following the story of the Trump Foundation, that last part is critical: Trump has given zero dollars to the Trump Foundation since 2009. Instead, he gets other rich people to donate money to the foundation, and he then uses their money for self-aggrandizement and sometimes self-enrichment. As Fahrenthold has documented, Trump has used foundation money for things like buying a six-foot-tall painting of himself, sometimes at charity events held at Mar-a-Lago, where he charges the charity for use of the facility, which means that not only is he not making the donation for which everyone is praising him, he’s actually making money on the deal. And then of course there’s the conveniently timed, illegal $25,000 donation from the foundation to Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, which was followed quickly by her decision not to join a lawsuit charging Trump with fraud over Trump University.

We’ll have to see if the IRS investigates the self-dealing Fahrenthold has identified and what kinds of fines might result. But one of the many striking details in this story is the shock experts in nonprofit and foundation law express when they hear about how Trump uses the Trump Foundation. “I represent 700 nonprofits a year, and I’ve never encountered anything so brazen,” one lawyer told Fahrenthold. “If he’s using other people’s money — run through his foundation — to satisfy his personal obligations, then that’s about as blatant an example of self-dealing [as] I’ve seen in a while.”

17) No, immigrants are not taking jobs from Americans (says the latest study).

18) Dahlia Lithwick on why Hillary should not stoop to Trump’s level in the debate:

But it seems to me the real challenge for Clinton is that she must stand on a stage and debate the single most awful political person in modern American consciousness. Trying to stifle the impulse just to walk across the stage and belt him in the face would seem an insurmountable task. Add to that the fact that Clinton is expected to speak and listen, and it seems beyond human capability.

When considering these obstacles, Clinton should realize that she has one sole job in these debates: Be the grownup. She doesn’t need to be funny. (She isn’t.) She doesn’t need to be emotional—that’s how the deeply unfortunate “basket of deplorables” remark happened. She doesn’t have to bend over backward to be charming or personable. Her job is to ignore the crazy circus monkey with the broken cymbals and do what she does best: Listen carefully, respond reasonably, and speak to the part of America that truly understands what it means to entrust someone with the nuclear codes.

19) Short Term 12 is a sweet little movie you probably never heard of.  It’s streaming on Netflix and it’s really good.

20) Tim Noah on the death of telephone calls.

21) How lobbying for government regulations helped make the EpiPen so expensive.

22) You really should read James Fallows‘ great Atlantic cover story on the debates before the debate.

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