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.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Birth control for wild horses.

2) Oh, man, I love this formulation on the rules of adjectives in English.

3) Harry Enten with 13 tips for reading election polls like a pro.  Can’t go wrong with the first two:

  1. Beware of polls tagged “bombshells” or “stunners.” Any poll described thusly is likely to be an outlier, and outlier polls are usually wrong. Remember those American Research Group polls that had Republican John Kasich climbing rapidly in primary after primary? They were pretty much all wrong; stunners usually are. That said, sometimes they’re right, such as the Des Moines Register poll that projected a large Joni Ernst victory in the 2014 Iowa Senate race, when other polls showed a tighter race. So don’t dismiss outliers, either.
  2. Instead, take an average. I don’t just say this because it’s what we do at FiveThirtyEight. I say it because aggregating polls, especially in general elections, is the method that leads to the most accurate projection of the eventual result most often. Put simply, it’s the best measure of the state of the race.

4) I so love that 538 has a wedding gift spending guide.  In the future, I’m consulting this and aiming for median.

5) For some reason, Tom Wolfe has decided to take on Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky.  And, no, he doesn’t actually have any idea of what he’s doing.  I love his novels, but, wow.

6) Hillary Clinton with a wide-ranging proposal to improve mental health treatment in America.  Everybody agrees this is desperately needed.  But nobody actually seems to care.

7) Apparently, I’m far from alone in still loving printed books.  And at that moment, totally loving The Nix.

8) Are there secret Trump voters out there?  Anecdotally, at least, there are.

9) The lawsuit that could destroy North Carolina beaches as we know them.  Even Pat McCrory has the good sense to be on the right side of this one.  But the right-leaning NC thinktank, Civitas, is fighting to ruin them in the name of private property rights.

10) What if Obama had reached out to white voters as Trump has done with Black voters:

11) Hooray for science and appropriate government regulation and the new ban on anti-bacterial soaps.  We’ve been trying to avoid them for years, but it is actually hard if you prefer liquid soap.

12) I was so happy that Hermine did not make any serious effort to strand me in Philadelphia.  That said, meteorologically what’s going on is pretty rare and fascinating.

13) Unconscious racial bias in hiring.

14) Court costs trap poor, non-white, juvenile offenders.  Sadly, not in the least bit surprised.

 

15) Online polls and live-interview polls have been telling different stories as of late.

16) Andrew Gelman with a nice piece noting that yes, 1964 and 72 were landslides with unpopular candidates, but the state of the economy was also a huge factor in those margins.  We just don’t have a landslide economy in 2016.

17) This LA Times story of a suburban parent vendetta involving planted drugs, affairs, spouses testifying against each other, etc., is utterly fascinating.  I forget what on-line person told me I simply had to read it, but I’m glad they did.  Now I’ll do the same for you.

18) Watched “Last of the Mohicans” with David yesterday.  He enjoyed it, but was surprised that it’s one of my favorites.  I told him, I’m normally not that big on melodrama, but beautifully-shot Chimney Rock, NC, one of my favorite of all movies scores (easily my favorite not from John Williams), and Daniel Day-Lewis with “I will find you” to Madeleine Stowe, and I’m all in.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Ed Kilgore’s headline gets it, “Media False Equivalence Is Trump’s Best Friend in the Debate Over Racism.”

2) Both Drum and ThinkProgress deconstruct a horrible AP story about “conspiracy theories” in both campaigns.  Of course, the reality is that Trump’s campaign is rife with them and Hillary doesn’t need any conspiracy theories– Trump’s reality is plenty.   But, damn, the AP is horrible lately.

3) Philip Bump on the lack of notable Republicans defending Trump on race.

4) Bill Ayers recently reposted a post of his on the false equivalence between racism and being accused of racism.

5) Harry Enten on how Gary Johnson is decidedly not fading in the polls.

Why is Johnson’s support proving more durable than past third-party candidates’? The most obvious answer is that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are extremely unpopular for major party presidential nominees; if third-party voters eventually settled on a major party nominee in past campaigns for fear of “wasting their vote,” they may be less willing to settle this year. (Of course, Johnson’s support may simply fade later than past third-party candidates.)

6) On the inadequacy of criminal law for dealing with bureaucratic malfeasance.

7) Aarron Carroll on how Epipen pricing represents so much of what’s wrong with American health care.

8) Very interesting interview with Uwe Reinhardt on why he thinks the health care exchanges are doomed.  Why?  We’re not really all that serious about the mandate.

9) Aarron Carroll again on simple rules for healthy eating.  Nothing surprising, but nicely laid out.

10) I did not know about “legacy” board games.  Sounds pretty cool.  Going to have to give this a try one of these days.  For now, love playing “Seven Wonders” any chance I get.  Somehow my son, David, is just unstoppable at that game.  Only managed to beat him once.

11) NYT Editorial on the not ransom to Iran.

12) I did enjoy the “moron’s case for Hillary Clinton”

OK, listen up. Nobody cares about emails that show Bono wanted State Department assistance to stream his music from the International Space Station. You should thank Almighty God and Jedi Jebus he failed. So far all we have seen is a public official in extraordinary circumstances who should have known better demonstrate “extreme carelessness” to which I believe she has owned up to sufficiently and which, by the way, no wrongdoing was ever uncovered even after a year-long investigation by the FBI for the love of God. We all know that trustworthiness is important in a President. But if absolutely no slack is given at all, and I mean none, if this is how we treat people who make public service their life and profession, then you will always get “crooks” as politicians because who in their right mind would want the job? It’s like being a firefighter. When there’s a fire everybody runs out. You run in. It’s a maniac’s job but it has to be done so let’s have the best do it and not get wrapped up in what amounts to paperwork. That’s all this really is. Paperwork. You would rather stay at home or vote for someone George Orwell or Edgar Allan Poe couldn’t have dreamed up over emails? Then you’re even dumber than you look…

I know, I know. Damn it all! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just forget all of that pesky accomplishment stuff of hers and remember that what really matters is the thrill of waiting for indictments which makes for great television? That way we could finally “lock her up” and enough with these stupid women who think they can run a country. Well, enough out of YOU, you moron. This isn’t the lesser of two evils. This is a choice between one great and qualified candidate for the nation’s highest office who you really should be excited about and a dolt with a bad toupee who if you were honest with yourself you wouldn’t trust to manage a Dairy Queen much less the Oval Office.

13) Parents pushing  back against too much homework.  And pretty much any homework more than a few minutes a day in elementary school just isn’t worth it.

14) High school teacher on teaching Donald Trump:

Thus, while I am always careful about how and when to show my biases, I’m not worried about appearing biased if my stance is against bigotry and in defense of moral reason and the scholarly use of evidence, logic, and research. Just as the notions of media neutrality collapse under threats to democracy, so too do notions of teacher neutrality. We can’t be silent. And I’m confident we won’t be.

15) University of Chicago is drawing plenty of attention for it’s letter against intellectual “safe spaces” on campus.  You will be not surprised to know I’m with them on this.

16) Greg Koger on the Clinton Foundation emails:

Washington, DC, is suffering a severe shortage of smelling salts this morning as newsbroke suggesting a correlation between financial contributions and gaining access to a political figure. In this case, the contributions were to the Clinton Foundation and the politician is Hillary Clinton, so this is being cast as a violation of the norms of our nation’s capital.

If only there were prior political science research testing whether contributors were more likely to gain access to political figures…

Actually, there has been a mountain of evidence that this is common practice, as you can see in my all-too-brief list of citations. The most recent of these works is a field experiment in which an interest group solicited meetings with congressional offices and revealed to some of these offices that potential donors would be at the meeting.

The “potential donors” were more likely to be scheduled for meetings and were more likely to meet with members of Congress or top staffers than average citizens making the same request (summaries herehere, and here).

Of course, the link between money and access is no surprise to the seasoned Washingtonian. It plays out over breakfast, lunch, cocktails, and dinner at restaurantsand venues across town, and at sad callcenters where telemarketers wonder why they ever ran for Congress. And the other major presidential candidate is an avowed participant in the pay-to-say-hi game. What’s really shocking is the feigned shock.

17) Washington Post movie critic Ann Hornaday argues that this summer’s hits and misses demonstrate that studios still need to pay attention to good directing, story, etc.  Well, hopefully that’s true.

18) So, actually binged “Stranger Things” in about a week.  Not great, but how would I not like a series with 12-year old protagonists who play D&D set in 1983 and involving supernatural thrills.  Not sure I would have stuck with it, but worked great at 1.4-1.6x speed.  The enjoyment was all plot (not so much dialogue and character), so keeping the plot moving really helped.

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) This is a terrific piece on the strengths and weaknesses of Hillary Clinton as a politician by Ezra Klein.  I’ve been meaning to write a post about it. Just read it.  Really.

2) As long as I am quick-hitting stuff I meant to give their own post… this Dara Lind piece on sex offender registries is a pretty much perfect case study in how good intentions can lead to bad policy.

3) Biblical literalism and the new Noah’s Ark reconstruction.

4) Trump’s message to NC is increasingly less relevant.

5) The right-wing lies and myths about Hillary’s health are just plain wrong.  And the mainstream media should call them out on this.

6) A liberal professor with his take on why all the liberal professors.

7) A teacher shared her evidence-based policy on homework (that is, there’s little evidence it helps) and it went viral.  There’s actually nothing new here, but presumably good that people are starting to pay attention.

8) I’m so with Drum… if you’ve got something more than one simple thought to say, write a damn blog post!  Enough with the tweetstorms!

9) John McWhorter (by the way, I love how he has gone full-bore on being a public intellectual– I’ve loved pretty much everything I have read by him) on the changing language of race.  I especially like this part:

Notably, black has persisted robustly alongside African-American—note how clumsy “African American Lives Matter” would seem. The reason is that despite the persistence of racism after the early ’70s, few could say that black people since then have lived under the bluntly discriminatory, life-stunting conditions that blighted all black lives then. As such, African-Americandidn’t have as much ugly thought to replace, which is why it always had a slight air of the stunt about it, always felt as a bit in quotation marks. Black never connoted the ugly-newsreel/segregated water-fountain pain of Negro and colored, and African-American was created not because black had become especially freighted with negative associations, but because the hyphenated conception of identity had become so attractive and in vogue at the time. I personally have always found African-American clumsy, confusing, and implying that black history since 1600 was somehow not worthy of founding an identity upon, and I only use it when necessary. Yet I would never have ventured this relatively idiosyncratic position about Negro and colored.

10) Find out how well Facebook knows your politics (and actually very handy advice for modifying the ads you see).

11) Harry Enten on house effects among various pollsters.  As long as you analytically take these into account, the poll can still be useful.

12) I’m pretty good with delay of gratification, but the idea of putting something aside for 72 hours before buying it sounds like a good one.

13) Sensible password rules.  Enough with one special character, one upper-case, etc.

14) Interesting take on how Gawker was done in (shared by pretty much every journalist I know on social media).

15) Jonathan Ladd thinks Trump’s epically bad campaign means he has a lot of potential upside.  Definitely the right idea, but I honestly think, too late:

Yet as you may have noticed, things are different this year. The Trump campaign is so weak that it appears to be affecting the race. Political science models predicting the 2016 election based on various fundamentals (i.e., variables that ignore the two candidates and their campaigns) mostly predict a very close election or a Republican victory. Trump is vastly underperforming these fundamentals. He is currently somewhere between 5 and 10 points behind in pollingaverages.

The reason is that his campaign is weaker than any in the modern media era. There is arguably a bigger mismatch relative to the opposing campaign than in any presidential election in American history. The many errors of messaging by Trump and his campaign staff are too numerous to list here.

The bottom line is that he has presented himself in ways that have little appeal beyond the Republican base, some of whom will vote for him because they like his message and others out of partisan loyalty. But many other Americans who would be willing to vote Republican this year are repelled by Trump.

The strange thing is that this means the details of Trump’s campaign tactics matter a lot. Normally, both campaigns are competent enough that they are deep into the diminishing marginal returns for campaign communication. But this year, the Trump campaign has been so weak, I don’t think diminishing returns have really kicked in yet. Trump could improve his fortunes a lot if he managed to run a weak but essentially normal presidential campaign.

16) Money is all good for college athletes when it comes to gold medals.  Just another example of the NCAA’s epic hypocrisy.

17) Face transplant a year later– impressive progress.

18) Social science approaches to improving voter turnout.

19) Are private prisons highly problematic?  Indeed.  But in terms of what’s wrong with our criminal justice system, they are probably not even in the top 10 problems.  That’s because, they are not nearly as widespread as their critics believe.  

20) Speaking of prisons, it’s pretty shameful Ramen seems to have replaced cigarettes as black market currency because we can’t even seem to feed prisoners enough decent food.

21) Melania Trump’s “diary.”  Good stuff.

22) The hundred best films of the 21st century.  I’ve seen a few.  Not enough.  I would say the Angry Birds movie is one of the 10 worst I’ve seen this century.

 

23) A new book says ADHD is over-diagnosed and medication is over-prescribed.  I don’t dispute that.  That said, I’ll go on record as saying a correct diagnosis and stimulant medication has made a huge difference for my son:

Influential patient-advocacy groups insist that only now is the true prevalence of A.D.H.D. finally being recognized after being drastically underestimated — akin to the spike in autism diagnoses once the narrowly defined condition was broadened into a spectrum in the 1990s. But Schwarz makes a convincing case that the radical expansion and promotion of A.D.H.D. has resulted in the label being applied in ways that are far beyond the needs of a historically underserved community, while nonpharmaceutical methods of treatment like cognitive behavioral therapy (which have been proved to complement the effectiveness of medication) are overlooked.

24) Toobin on how Ted Cruz is still running for president.

25) Love this xkcd:

Linear Regression

 

Quick hits (part II)

1a) Ezra Klein argues that Trump’s response to Khizr is “horrifying, even for Donald Trump.”  Sadly, though, it’s not.  For Trump, this is literally par for the course.

Let’s be very clear about what Trump is doing here: as ABC wrote, he’s suggesting “Khan’s wife didn’t speak because she was forbidden to as a Muslim.” This is bullshit. It is flatly, verifiably, false. But that’s almost beside the point.

Trump listened to a speech by the bereaved father of a fallen Muslim soldier and used it to slander the fallen soldier’s family. That was his response. That is his character…

Trump also wanted the Khans to know that, like them, he had sacrificed for this country.

“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices,” Trump said. “I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”

I honestly do not understand how a human being can respond to a family that lost their son for this country by saying that he has sacrificed too, he’s worked really hard, he’s built “great structures,” he’s had “tremendous success.”

 

1b) And love this from and ABC News story:

Paul Rieckoff, the founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a non partisan group with close to 200,000 members, called Trump’s comparison of his sacrifices with those of someone like Khan “insulting, foolish and ignorant.”

“For anyone to compare their ‘sacrifice’ to a Gold Star family member is insulting, foolish and ignorant. Especially someone who has never served himself and has no children serving,” Rieckoff said. “Our county has been at war for a decade and a half and the truth is most Americans have sacrificed nothing. Most of them are smart and grounded enough to admit it.”

2) Interesting 538 piece on how Catholics are moving towards Clinton and Evangelicals towards Trump.

3) David Brooks:

This week I left the arena here each night burning with indignation at Mike Pence. I almost don’t blame Trump. He is a morally untethered, spiritually vacuous man who appears haunted by multiple personality disorders. It is the “sane” and “reasonable” Republicans who deserve the shame — the ones who stood silently by, or worse, while Donald Trump gave away their party’s sacred inheritance.

4) Karen Tumulty and Richard Costa on how we are witnessing a shift in how the political parties talk to the American public.

5) Great NYT feature on new treatments that use the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.  It seems that there’s some amazing new therapies that essentially cure previously incurable cancer, but only for a minority of patients.  That’s still great improvement, but frustrating that these therapies seem to be so hit and miss with who responds.

6) Rev William Barber is plenty familiar to those of us who follow NC politics.  Thursday was his big national coming-out party.

7) Was especially intrigued by Jon Haidt’s ideas on how to attack Trump in this Tom Edsall piece:

onathan Haidt, a social psychologist at N.Y.U., told me in an email that Democrats need to adopt a more subtle strategy in dealing with Trump. This, Haidt argues, is because the

mind is divided into parts that sometimes conflict, like a small rider — conscious, verbal, reasoning — sitting atop a large elephant — the other 98 percent of mental processes, which are automatic and intuitive.

The elephant “really runs the show,” Haidt said, Translating this analytic approach to the 2016 election, in Haidt’s view, means that

in matters of politics and morality, you must speak to the elephant first. Trump did this brilliantly in the Republican primary, and in his convention speech.

To counter Trump, Democrats have to get into the electorate’s automatic, intuitive and unconscious level of responding to events before attempting a critique based on reasoned argument, according to Haidt. To do this, he wrote, the goal should be to portray Trump in ways that conflict with “deep moral intuitions about fairness versus cheating and exploitation.”

And how do you do that?

Trump thinks about everything as a zero sum interaction, which he usually wins — and therefore the person who dealt with him loses. I think the Democrats should give voice to a long parade of people — former customers and partners — who deeply regret dealing with Trump. Trump cheats, exploits, deceives. Trump is a con man, and we are his biggest mark yet. Don’t let him turn us all into suckers.

The next step is to present a vision of Trump that violates “moral intuitions about loyalty, authority, and sanctity:”

The psychology of sacredness evolved as part of our religious nature, but people use the same psychology toward kings, the Constitution, national heroes, and, to a decreasing degree, to the American presidency. Trump degrades it all with his crassness, his obscene language, his fear-mongering and his inability to offer soaring rhetoric. What a contrast with Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Reagan…

Despite the overt chaos, the competing narratives of the fall campaign — each side’s attempt to define the other as weak or crazy and itself as tough and dependable — are clearly emerging from the conventions. The question is whether the Democratic Party can get emotional enough or reach deep enough into our brains to counter the sheer id of Trump’s primeval appeal.

8) I read this “you probably don’t need dental x-rays every year” piece at home while my wife as at the dentist with the kids getting (very likely) unnecessary dental x-rays.

9) Wikileaks has lost the moral high ground.

10) Sure, humans are not the only animals with a theory of mind, but we may be the only ones to understand ignorance:

“We might be the only species that can think about things that aren’t facts we have about the world, about other possible worlds, about states in the past or future, about counterfactuals,” says Santos. “We can simulate a whole fictional world. And if you’re a species that can get outside your own head, you can apply that to other people.” A chimp won’t wonder if it’ll be hungry tomorrow. It only cares if it’s hungry now. An orangutan isn’t going to write a novel, because this is the only reality that it knows…

Based on this work, Santos originally said that while non-human primates don’t understand false beliefs, they can reason about another individual’s knowledge and ignorance. That’s a view shared by other scientists who have done similar studies. But Santos now thinks that she was wrong. She and Martin argue that our closest relatives have no concept of ignorance at all. They know stuff. They can reflect on what they know. They can track if others know the same things as them. But if others don’t share the same knowledge, they’re at a loss. “They just have no prediction about what’s going on,” says Santos.

11) Speaking of animal intelligence, more evidence that crows have lots.

12) Andrew Prokop on how Sanders’ supporters really could become a Tea Party of the left.

13) I think I’ll try and stay healthy as I can without the benefit of starting the day with an icy cold shower.

14) The problem of victim impact statements.

15) Apparently Trump voters just want “respect.”  Somehow respect is conflated with another word that starts with r.

With Trump, they are finding someone who gives them respect. He talks their language, addresses their concerns. Sometimes it is celebrating what defines their neighborhood, what they in Parma have in common: being white. They and Trump are playing in dangerous territory, with the need for respect tipping into misplaced revenge.

In another all-white working-class neighborhood not far away, a collection of retired workers, all Trump voters, gather in the mornings at McDonald’s. When the talk turned to politics the N-word is thrown around with ease, and racial jokes are par for the course.

16) Josh Marshall on how Trump will try and get out of the debates.

17) The more awfulness we’re seeing from Trump, the more I am appreciating all the commentary on the utter moral cowardice of the vast majority of elected Republicans:

Conservatives boasted too that they knew that the old-fashioned virtues of good character mattered as much as a man or woman’s ideology. By this reckoning, Trump’s bragging, vainglory, dark fury and towering vanity should disqualify him from the presidency regardless of his politics. Republican grandees must agree with Hillary Clinton when she said: “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons”, not least because Marco Rubio, one of their own, has said as much himself. Yet McCain and Ryan, those enemies of appeasement, have folded and endorsed Trump. Rubio, that piercing judge of his character, has decided that, after all, Trump’s finger should be on the button. Presidents Bush père et fils are bravely abstaining. Bobby Jindal, who described Trump as a “narcissist and egomaniacal madman”, wants him in the White House. Nearly all the Republican names you remember follow suit. The Dick Cheneys, Rand Pauls and Condoleezza Rices are backing Trump or refusing to commit. Confronted with a dictatorial menace in their own time and their own country they lack the courage to risk the unpopularity that Churchillian dissent would bring.

Even when Trump followed his years of promoting the interests of a dictator of a hostile foreign power by urging Vladimir Putin to hack Clinton’s emails, they held steady in their cowardice. The Republicans, the party of red-baiters and Cold Warriors, is now in the pocket of a Kremlin “useful idiot” and the best its national security conservatives can manage are embarrassed mutters.

Only Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz openly oppose him, among prominent Republicans. And when a once mighty political movement relies on Cruz to uphold its honour it is so deep in the dustbin of history it is already composting.

18) All the Back the Future movies are currently streaming on Netflix.  Yesterday was Evan’s (age 10) first exposure.  He liked it, didn’t love it.  This was the first time I paid full attention in a while (I’ll always tune in for a bit if it is playing on TV) and I was just awed at how good the screenplay is.  A near-perfect movie.

…That’s the first 12 minutes of Back to the Future. Twelve minutes. Every single action has a purpose, every piece of scenery has a reason. The dialogue sets up plot, moves the narrative, character is built throughout—and we still don’t even really know what the movie is about.

//

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Quick hits (part I)

1) Watched “This is Spinal Tap” with David last weekend.  Very pleased to report he very much enjoyed it.  First time I saw this movie– in college– I’m pretty sure it’s the hardest I’ve ever laughed watching a film.  Somehow, I’ve never seen the full video for Hell Hole.  “Folks lend a hand in a hell hole.”🙂.  Brilliant satire of 80’s music videos.  Nice Mental Floss piece on the movie.

2) Diane Ravitch column bashing the Common Core, but most of her complaints are about standardized testing (which is still the legacy of NCLB) and she doesn’t actually have very much bad to say about the actual standards at the heart of it.

3) Thought-provoking post from Conor Friedersdorf on HRC and working-class white men:

The framework of white privilege can be invoked with insight and subtlety, or with myopia and exaggeration; but either is a lot easier for white people to hear and to assimilate into their worldview if they’re college graduates who anticipate rewarding careers and stable family lives and mostly socialize with the similarly advantaged. They’re told that they ought to be thriving given their race … and they are thriving!

But imagine that you’re a white man from a working-class family who dropped out of college because you couldn’t swing the tuition. You worked construction, but that dried up—you’re presently unemployed, with child-support payments piling up, a sister addicted to pain pills, and a brother who is in jail again for felony drunk driving. You drive a beat up car with a broken turn signal that you can’t afford to fix. You get pulled over regularly, and you’re often harassed by the cops, who hate your tattoos. Would you identify with a coalition that alighted on white privilege as the center of its cultural outlook and that mostly disseminated that worldview through people with more educational, social, and financial capital than you’ll ever have?

Of course you wouldn’t. To do so would seem at odds with all the struggling white people in your familial and social circles. It would seem to imply that failing despite having all the advantages in the world makes you a special kind of loser. It would seem to focus on race to the exclusion of other hugely important factors. And as far as you can tell, when a white family gets their door kicked down and their dog shot in a drug raid, or when a white high school classmate of yours commits suicide, no one in the world of national media much cares.

Then you watch the DNC, where Michelle Obama, Cory Booker, Eva Longoria, and numerous other black and brown people who are much more successful than anyone you know take the stage. This needn’t feel threatening in and of itself to cause alienation. All it takes is being told that you’re the privileged one.

4) I think the season 3, episode 4, “Fish out of Water” of Bojack Horseman may be the single most impressive piece of 30-minute television I have seen.

5) Nice essay on thinking about the changing nature of Hillary hatred and what it all means.

6) Jordan Weissman on Green Party Jill Stein’s anti-science, economically ignorant platform.

7) Toobin in the emails:

Do these e-mails strike anyone as appalling and outrageous? Not me. They strike me as . . . e-mails. The idea that people might speak casually or caustically via e-mail has been portrayed as a shocking breach of civilized discourse. Imagine! People bullshitting on e-mail!

But that is what people do on e-mail. They spout off, sound off, write first, and think later. Of course, people should do none of these things. They should weigh carefully the costs and benefits of each e-mail that they write, and consider the possibility that someone might make the e-mails public someday. (They should also change their passwords regularly and get lots of exercise.) Last year, unfiltered talk on e-mail also got several people in trouble during the notoriousSony hack. But the real question is whether any of these e-mails really matter. Do they reveal deep-seated political or philosophical flaws? Do they betray horrible character defects? In the case of the Democrats, it seems clear that the answer to these questions is no. The vast majority of the e-mails contain normal office chatter, inflated into a genuine controversy by people who already had axes to grind.

8) This Trevor Noah segment on the absurdity of all Christian-based support for Trump is terrific.

9) Great Paul Waldman column on what the Republican backlash to Michelle Obama’s speech says about our disparate takes of race and American history.

10) I don’t suppose Khizr Khan’s denunciation of Trump will change many votes, but damn is it edifying.

11) NBC Headline, “Mike Pence: Politics is No Place for ‘Name Calling.'”  Seriously?  Mike Pence– biggest sellout in political history?

12) Love this– it strikes me as so true– Ray Kurzweil says “the world isn’t getting worse; our information is getting better.”

13) Obviously, one of the great lines from the Democratic convention was, “Imagine—if you dare, imagine—imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis. A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”  James Fallows points out that Trumps response the following morning shows just how true this is.

14) From Quartz— what Amazon’s homepage looked like when it was new, 21 years ago.  I don’t remember this, but I was probably on Amazon 20 years ago.

15) Really interesting take from a new book on “hillbillies” on “how the white working class lost its patriotism.”

16) Isaac Chotiner with a great interview on Trump, modern media, email hacks, etc., with Glenn Greenwald— lots of interesting back-and-forth.

17) Former McCain economic adviser sees Trump’s economic plans as disastrous and Hillary’s as pretty darn good:

Moody’s Analytics estimates that if the Democratic presidential nominee’s proposals are enacted, the economy would create 10.4 million jobs during her presidency, or 3.2 million more than expected under current law.

 The pace of GDP growth would also accelerate to an annual average of 2.7%, from the current forecast of 2.3%.

“The upshot of our analysis is that Secretary Clinton’s economic policies when taken together will result in a stronger U.S. economy under almost any scenario,” Moody’s writes in its report.

Moody’s Analytics is an independent research group, but the lead author of the report on Clinton is Mark Zandi, who donated $2,700 to her campaign last year, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics…

Moody’s published a similar analysis of Donald Trump’s plans in June. It concluded that the Republican presidential nominee’s policies would result in an economic downturn that would last longer than the Great Recession. About 3.5 million Americans would lose their jobs, unemployment would jump to 7% and home prices would fall. [emphasis mine]

The reports are based on a forecasting model similar to those used by the Federal Reserve and Congressional Budget Office.

That’s got to make into an ad– doesn’t it?

18) Just in case you didn’t hear about how the NC Republican Party’s official twitter account called Tim Kaine “shameful” for wearing a Honduras flag pin instead of an American flag pin.  Whooops, actually a blue star service pin in honor of Kaine’s son deployed with the US Marines.  What I do appreciate is that the executive director of the NC GOP issued a full-on apology (unlike the tweeter).  We need more of that in American politics.

19) Chait says that Hillary Clinton is running as the candidate of democracy itself.  Whereas Ezra says this election is between normal and abnormal.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Evolution is happening faster than we thought.

2) Kristof asks, “is Trump a racist?”  Yeah, not a hard question.  And there’s way more to this than just his campaign statements:

My view is that “racist” can be a loaded word, a conversation stopper more than a clarifier, and that we should be careful not to use it simply as an epithet. Moreover, Muslims and Latinos can be of any race, so some of those statements technically reflect not so much racism as bigotry. It’s also true that with any single statement, it is possible that Trump misspoke or was misconstrued.

And yet.

Here we have a man who for more than four decades has been repeatedly associated with racial discrimination or bigoted comments about minorities, some of them made on television for all to see. While any one episode may be ambiguous, what emerges over more than four decades is a narrative arc, a consistent pattern — and I don’t see what else to call it but racism.

3) Jeffrey Goldberg on the Republican cowards who could have done something to stop Trump, but didn’t.

4) How humans have actually co-evolved with the bacteria in our gut.

5) Yes, high-quality pre-K is awesome.  Too much pre-K, though, is kids standing in line and transitioning all day long.  That needs to change.

6) Robert Frank on the value of finding a job you love (I heartily agree).  I’m reading Frank’s Success and Luck right now and it’s quite good.

There is, of course, no guarantee that you’ll become the best at what you choose to do, or that even if you do you’ll find practical ways to extend your reach enough to earn a big paycheck. But by choosing to concentrate on a task you love, you’ll enjoy the considerable proportion of your life that you spend at work, which is much more than billions of others can say.

Again, you’ll have bills to pay, so salary matters. But social science findings establish clearly that once you have met your basic obligations, it’s possible to live a very satisfying life even if you don’t earn a lot of money.

The bottom line: Resist the soul-crushing job’s promise of extra money and savor the more satisfying conditions you’ll find in one that pays a little less.

7) Katy Chatel writes about how she is raising her child “outside gender assumptions and stereotypes.”  Well, yes, there’s something to that, but somehow pretending that gender in our society doesn’t exist makes for a complicated childhood.  How nice for her to make a political statement with her child’s life.

8) Derek Thompson on how the political vocabularies of Democrats and Republicans have diverged.

9) A nice Op-Ed on Colorado’s successful battle against teen pregnancy.  LARC’s for teens, damn it!  Seriously, you want one single policy change that will dramatically reduce teen pregnancy, poverty, and abortion (hey, bipartisan!) this is it.  This so needs to expand everywhere.

10) Former Reagan adviser, Bruce Bartlett, on how the GOP has become the party of hate.

11) Jeffrey Goldberg on how Trump is doing all he can to help Putin.  Seriously:

The Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump, has chosen this week to unmask himself as a de facto agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, [emphases mine] a KGB-trained dictator who seeks to rebuild the Soviet empire by undermining the free nations of Europe, marginalizing NATO, and ending America’s reign as the world’s sole superpower.

I am not suggesting that Donald Trump is employed by Putin—though his campaign manager, Paul Manafort,was for many years on the payroll of the Putin-backed former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. I am arguing that Trump’s understanding of America’s role in the world aligns with Russia’s geostrategic interests; that his critique of American democracy is in accord with the Kremlin’s critique of American democracy; and that he shares numerous ideological and dispositional proclivities with Putin—for one thing, an obsession with the sort of “strength” often associated with dictators. Trump is making it clear that, as president, he would allow Russia to advance its hegemonic interests across Europe and the Middle East. His election would immediately trigger a wave of global instability—much worse than anything we are seeing today—because America’s allies understand that Trump would likely dismantle the post-World War II U.S.-created international order. Many of these countries, feeling abandoned, would likely pursue nuclear weapons programs on their own, leading to a nightmare of proliferation.

12) New research finds that those who read Harry Potter (not just watching the movies) are less supportive of Trump.  Presumably, readers are making some Trump-Voldemort connections or learning the values of tolerance that Trump disdains.  After a quick look at the study, I think it reasonably likely they are missing a confound that has nothing to do with HP books in particular, but the types of person who reads HP books.  I’d feel far more confident in these results if there were any other questions on reading habits (fiction reading, YA fiction reading, etc.).

13) New research suggests no benefit of redshirting kids for kindergarten.

14) Great, great post from Ezra Klein laying out all the reasons Donald Trump makes him genuinely (and, appropriately) afraid.  A good one to bookmark.  If my dad starts leaning Trump under the influence of my not-wicked, but very conservative, stepmother, this is what I’m pulling out.  (For now, my dad– a genuine independent– sees Trump for the bully and blowhard he is).

15) Really enjoyed When Breath Becomes Air.  Not exactly light beach-reading for last week, though.  So sad.

16) Mann and Ornstein with a must-read on how Donald Trump is absolutely the culmination of the GOP’s increasingly radical, anti-government philosophy.

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