Quick hits (part II)

1) Andrew Prokop on why the failure of populist Democratic Senate candidates should makes us skeptical of Democratic populism.

2) Nice interview with Brendan Nyhan on Trump and the erosion of Democratic norms.

3) I was initially concerned when a person I don’t know all that well posted, “5 reasons not to vaccinate your kids.”  But then I read it and all was well.

4) Interesting Forbes feature on how Jared Kushner helped Trump win.

By June the GOP nomination secured, Kushner took over all data-driven efforts. Within three weeks, in a nondescript building outside San Antonio, he had built what would become a 100-person data hub designed to unify fundraising, messaging and targeting. Run by Brad Parscale, who had previously built small websites for the Trump Organization, this secret back office would drive every strategic decision during the final months of the campaign. “Our best people were mostly the ones who volunteered for me pro bono,” Kushner says. “People from the business world, people from nontraditional backgrounds.”

Kushner structured the operation with a focus on maximizing the return for every dollar spent. “We played Moneyball, asking ourselves which states will get the best ROI for the electoral vote,” Kushner says. “I asked, How can we get Trump’s message to that consumer for the least amount of cost?” FEC filings through mid-October indicate the Trump campaign spent roughly half as much as the Clinton campaign did.

5) Dana Goldstein on Trump’s threat to public education.

6) Democracies— including our own– maybe not as stable as we thought.

7) The man running  for school board on a platform of ending high school  football:

Davis doesn’t think that football should be outlawed, any more than boxing or mixed martial arts are illegal. If a parent wants to send their child to a private gym, or enroll that child in a private football program, well, it’s a free country. Only don’t ask schools to sponsor a concussion delivery system, and don’t ask taxpayers to pick up the tab. Beyond abolishing high school football, Davis’s platform calls for banning heading in soccer, instituting concussion protocol training for coaches in every sport, and forbidding Clark County teams from playing against outside schools that don’t follow the same standards. “Schools have a mission of educating kids and protecting their welfare,” he says.

8) Trevor Noah on Trump’s lies.

9) James Fallows on Trump’s lies:

  • Unlike other public figures we’ve encountered, Donald Trump appears not even to register the difference between truth and lies. He lies when it’s not “necessary” or even useful. He lies when disproof is immediately at hand. He shows no flicker in the eye, or “tell” of any kind, when he is caught in a flat-out lie. Richard Nixon looked tense and sweaty when saying “I am not a crook.” Bill Clinton went into his tortured “it depends what the meaning of is is” answer precisely because he was trying to avoid a direct lie.
    Trump doesn’t care. Watching his face for discomfort or “tells” is like looking at an alligator for signs of remorse.
  • Thus the media have to start out with the assumption that anything Trump says is at least as likely to be false as true. He has forfeited any right to an “accurate until proven to be inaccurate” presumption of honesty. Thus a headline or framing that says “Trump claims, without evidence, [his latest fantasy]” does more violence to the truth than “Trump falsely claims…”

10) Raise your hand if you are the least bit surprised that Texas wants to use an unrealistic definition of “intellectually disabled” so that they can execute more people.

11) Big federal court decision requires NC Republicans to re-draw state legislative districts and hold a new election next year.  Typically classy response (to a unanimous decision):

“What the Fourth Circuit court put forward (Tuesday) would be the single largest disenfranchisement of the voters in North Carolina history,” asserted the Executive Director of the NC GOP, Dallas Woodhouse. “We would go from somewhere around 5 million people voting on legislative elections to probably 300,000. And we’re going to overthrow one full year of a General Assembly. And we’re going to throw out the legally cast votes of 4.5 million people in North Carolina. What the Fourth Circuit court has suggested is nothing but a banana republic kangaroo court that would disenfranchise 4.5 million people from districts that were precleared by the U.S. Justice Department and have had now three elections in them.”

“All of a sudden you have one circuit court,” Rucho joined in, “the most liberal, that has decided that they don’t believe in following legal precedent; that they don’t believe in following the constitution; and they use their own, let’s just say, their own fabricated law and interpretation of the constitution. This will be handled by the United States Supreme Court,” Rucho promised. “I think we have a rogue court there right now, and it needs to be addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

12) Adam Gopnik’s take on Democrats and identity politics.  A rare time I do not agree entirely with Gopnik (I just don’t think you can ignore the economic angle).

13) Ivanka Trump has written a few books.  Apparently, she is as self-delusional as her father:

Ivanka Trump’s 2009 self-help book, “The Trump Card,” opens with an unlikely sentence: “In business, as in life, nothing is ever handed to you.” Ivanka quickly adds caveats. “Yes, I’ve had the great good fortune to be born into a life of wealth and privilege, with a name to match,” she writes. “Yes, I’ve had every opportunity, every advantage. And yes, I’ve chosen to build my career on a foundation built by my father and grandfather.” Still, she insists, she and her brothers didn’t attain their positions in their father’s company “by any kind of birthright or foregone conclusion.”

The cognitive dissonance on display here might prompt a reader who wishes to preserve her sanity to close the book immediately…

This messy argument comes with correspondingly messy metaphors. “We’ve all got our own baggage,” Ivanka writes, before explaining what she means by baggage: “Whatever we do, whatever our backgrounds, we’ve all had some kind of advantage on the way.” Ivanka compares herself to a runner positioned on the outside track, whose head start at the beginning is just an illusion. “In truth, the only advantage is psychological; each runner ends up covering the same ground by the end of the race.” Soon, though—by page nine—she has grown tired of pretending to be her reader’s equal. “Did I have an edge, getting started in business?” she asks. “No question. But get over it. And read on.”

14) Steve Saideman on Trump’s over-reliance on generals.

15) Speaking of generals, I don’t know all that much about James Mattis, but the stuff I hear is good.  Makes me wonder why he wants to work for Trump.  Here’s Mattis‘ take on being “too busy to read” (of course, Trump never reads anything):

The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.

Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.

16) Perhaps the House “Science” Committee (which re-tweets climate change denying articles) needs to re-name itself under present Republican leadership.  Just depressing.

17) Art Pope-funded NC conservative Civitas Institute is suing to throw-out votes based on Same-day registration.  Still would not let McCrory win, but mostly, just so wrong:

Civitas wants the more than 90,000 SDR ballots removed from the statewide count in the governor’s race until all counties have verified the voters’ addresses. The group estimates that 3,000 of these ballots will be thrown out. But even if that estimate is correct and all of those ballots were cast for Cooper, McCrory would still trail by roughly 7,000 votes…

Hall said the McCrory team, Civitas and Woodhouse have “an elitist perspective on elections” that hearkens back to the pre-Civil War era.

“If they can no longer require property ownership as a prerequisite, then they’d like to require documentation that favors voters with long-term residency, plus identification attached to property, such as a Department of Motor Vehicles license,” he told Facing South.

18) John Cassidy on the victims of an Obamacare repeal:

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Price’s plan, or anything close to it, will end up being enacted. Indeed, despite his selection for a Cabinet position, there is still a great deal of uncertainty about what sort of health-care legislation Trump and the Republican Congress will actually pass. Repealing Obamacare might appear straightforward as a general principle, but the details are immensely complicated. At this stage, about the only thing we can say for certain, or near certain, is that the big losers in whatever legislation might emerge will be the poor and the sick. [emphasis mine]

 

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.

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) Love this NYT feature on voter turnout and demographics (from back in September), but it’s been an open tab for too long.

2) Continuing with the theme of clearing out some really good open tabs.  Loved this Lee Drutman on race and identity as a central dividing line on American politics:

For Democratic Party leaders, there are three benefits to maintaining race and identity as the primary dimension of conflict in American politics.

The first reason Democrats want to make politics about race and identity is that they probably hold the majority position, at least if the 2016 election cleavages hold. And going forward, the electorate is only going to grow more diverse and more highly educated, which means that if Democrats get to be the party of tolerance and cosmopolitan social values in a politics organized around these issues, they will be in a strong electoral position.

Obviously, there is danger here. Democrats could go too far in supporting the rights of minority groups to the point that whites completely abandon the party.

A second reason is that Democrats are increasingly split internally along class lines. If economics were dominating this campaign, you’d hear a lot about how Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are selling out the Democrats by cozying up to corporate elites for money and endorsements. But by keeping the campaign about Trump’s racism, these divisions have been silenced.

And finally, Democrats are more and more a coalition of identity groups, all with their specific policy demands. But all these groups can get behind a politics about inclusion and tolerance and anti-racism, since such a politics serves them all well.

This election (and Republican dominance on the state level) suggests that perhaps such a politics is not serving Democrats well.

3) Yglesias‘ excellent take on Bartels and Achen’s book on the irrationality of the American voter.  I like this part on how it interacts with our presidential system:

Bartels and Achen don’t have Trump in mind in their book (recall that despite its May 2016 publication date, the research is much too old to address him explicitly) and are concerned primarily with academic theory rather than practical reform.

Their message, however, is loud and clear: It is simply much less likely than one would hope that the voters, in their wisdom, will prevent flagrantly unqualified candidates or people with terrible ideas from obtaining high office. Partisan loyalties are largely built up from fundamental group identities rather than based on profound ideological commitments, and swing voters swing in large part for no good reason at all — maybe because of a recession, but maybe because of a swing in global oil prices or because the Steelers lost or almost anything else.

To the extent that democratic political systems work — and they mostly do work — it’s because these electoral impulses intersect with important aspects of elite control. A given state or congressional district may choose to be represented by someone unsuitable for office, but to make a big difference as a legislator you need to be able to collaborate effectively with others.

Most successful democracies have parliamentary governments — often backed by proportional electoral systems — leading to a politics that reenforces this tendency and avoids tipping points. In the American system, small shifts in public sentiment can lead to drastic changes — either Bush or Gore, either Clinton or Trump — whereas the Dutch or German electoral systems ensure that a small change in voting behavior leads to a small change in the composition of parliament. Any given party could put a fool or a knave forward as leader, and he might still win votes. But to exercise meaningful power he would need to negotiate with other coalition partners, which is hard to do if you’re a fool.

The American system has no such safeguard. If a fool or a knave secures the nomination of one of the major political parties, he has a pretty good chance of becoming president, at which point all bets are off.

4) John Oliver’s great post-election take.

5) John Cassidy on Trump’s bait-and-switch.

6) On how the Electoral College was maintained with the 12th amendment in 1803 to serve the interests of slave states.

7) Emily Crockett on how sexism explains Trump’s victory:

To understand how sexism played into Trump’s victory, first you have to understand that there are two basic types of sexism — “hostile” and “benevolent” — and how they work together.

If you have some “hostile” sexist attitudes, you might mistrust women’s motives and see gender relations as a zero-sum battle between male and female dominance. You might agree with statements like, “Many women get a kick out of teasing men by seeming sexually available and then refusing male advances,” or “Most women interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist.”

If you have some “benevolent” sexist attitudes, you might endorse positive — but still patronizing — stereotypes of women. You might agree with statements like, “Women should be cherished and protected by men,” or “Women, compared to men, tend to have a superior moral sensibility.”

In the context of Trump, a benevolent sexist might hear the “grab ’em by the pussy” tape and say that he’s horrified because he has a daughter — which suggests that his first instinct is to paternalistically shield his female relatives from harm, rather than to see sexual assault as an objective moral horror no matter who you’re related to.

Meanwhile, a hostile sexist would claim the benevolent sexist is overreacting — that the tape doesn’t actually describe sexual assault, just normal male sexual aggression.

These attitudes might seem diametrically opposed to one another. But they’re actually two sides of the same coin, Peter Glick, professor of psychology and social sciences at Lawrence University, told Vox. People can hold both of these sexist views at the same time, and they very often do.

“It’s how men can wear ‘Trump That Bitch’ T-shirts at a Trump rally, and then go home and say, ‘I love my wife and daughter,’” Glick said.

Trump expresses both hostile and benevolent attitudes toward women all the time. When he likes a woman, he praises her in a patronizing way (usually focusing on her physical beauty). When he doesn’t, he viciously insults her.

Benevolent sexism is the carrot, Glick explained, and hostile sexism is the stick. If you’re a “good” woman who meets expected gender norms — who has warm feminine charms, who maintains strict beauty standards, whose ambitions are focused on home and hearth — you will be rewarded with affection, protection, and praise. But step outside those norms, and you risk being labeled as one of the “bad” girls who are abused and scorned only because they deserve it.

It’s a tidy little cycle. Benevolent sexism is supposed to protect women from hostile sexism, and hostile sexism is supposed to keep women in line with the ideals of benevolent sexism.

But while benevolent sexism may put women on a pedestal, Glick said, it’s a very narrow pedestal that’s easy to fall off of. This is the whole reason that our age-old “Madonna versus whore” dichotomy exists in the first place: If women can be separated into good girls and bad, and only bad girls get punished, it justifies male dominance and absolves men of blame for treating women unfairly.

And it’s why Trump, despite the long list of sexist words and deeds to his name, can insist that “nobody respects women more” than he does — and why some people, including women, actually believe him.

8) Kathy Cramer on the politics of anti-elite resentment in rural America.

9) Take that political correctness!

10) Not quite getting arrested for a library fine, but it is absolutely insane that any jurisdiction anywhere thinks it is a good use of public resources to put out arrest warrants for people who bounce $10 checks paying off library fines.  Insane!

11) Really interesting dialogue on the election between Theda Skocpol and John Judis.

12) Yglesias on how praise for Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff is really lowering the bar for Trump.

13) There’s simply no way that NC Governor Pat McCrory is going to make up the 6000 votes he’s behind.  My already low opinion of him has sunk far lower, not that he is flinging around baseless accusations of voter fraud in his desperate attempt to hold onto office.

14) Michael Tomasky’s “muted farewell” to Hillary:

She ran a good campaign. People—in some ways liberals in particular—loved to carp about what a lousy candidate she was. Well, no. She won a primary in which she never trailed. She led pretty much the entire way in the general election. She oversaw a very successful convention. She won all three debates, two of them by a mile. She had better TV ads (the ads were fantastic). She had better field operations.

It’s hard to do all those things. Candidates who do them almost always win.

But she lost.

I submit she didn’t lose for anything she did as a candidate. She lost for two main reasons. One, the email server decision. Yes maybe it got over-covered, and yes, Jim Comey probably killed her on Oct. 28 (and Anthony Weiner, whom I saw referred to on Twitter last night as the Steve Bartman of this election, didn’t help her).

But she skirted the rules. Before that story broke in March 2015, her approval and trust numbers were above water. Within a couple months, they were not, and they stayed underwater ever since. I can’t agree with other liberal writers that, hey, bosses often skirt rules, no big deal. She wasn’t a private-sector boss. She was a public servant. Public servants should obey the rules in a way that makes common sense to regular people. If she had, she’d be the president-elect today, I have little doubt. She’ll have to spend her life waking up thinking about that.

 15) Confessions of a fake news writer.

16) How much should Democrats cooperate with Trump?  Not at all says Jamelle Bouie:

Supporting a Trump-branded infrastructure initiative as a discrete piece of policy where two sides can find common ground only bolsters a white-nationalist politics, even if you oppose the rest of Trump’s agenda. It legitimizes and gives fuel to white tribalism as a political strategy. It shows that there are tangible gains for embracing Trump-style demagoguery.

17) Bouie’s colleague at Slate, Jim Newell, disagrees:

I don’t have any nifty Actually! reply to this. If an infrastructure bill passes, and Trump’s approval rating goes up as a result, it would still seem … undeserved. But I also don’t think it’s tenable for Democrats—especially if Democrats were to advertise it as their strategy!—to keep their hands off every single thing that might make Trump look good, especially if the things that are making him look good include people getting good construction jobs and improved access to child care.

To whatever extent Democratic senators work with Trump on these proposals, they should work extra hard to block the rest of his agenda. They should fight mass deportations, hard. They should fight appointments, like Jeff Sessions’ for attorney general, hard. They should walk out of Congress if Trump moves forward with a “Muslim registry.” They should use all the leverage they can possibly muster in the appropriations process to block rollbacks of the social safety net. If they do it right, they can show that they’ll work with Trump on areas where he meets their interests, on their terms, while also making it known that they’re not, in any way, interested in seeing this president serve a second term.

18) Heartless state legislator (shockingly, a Republican) with some choice words for mom of kid with Type I diabetes.

19) Because poll-based forecasting models got the election wrong does definitely not mean Political Science got the election wrong.

20) Dahlia Lithwick on how Democrats should play as hardball as they can on the Supreme Court (it’s a complete travesty what the Republicans have gotten away with here).

21) UVA students ask university president to stop quoting Thomas Jefferson (the founder of the university) because Jefferson, you know, owned slaves.  Heck, you know what, a bunch of the signatories of the Constitution owned slaves, we should probably not even bother with it.  Also, Abraham Lincoln said some really horrible things about Black people by modern standards, so I’m done with him.

22) Thomas Edsall on the Anti-PC vote.

23) Some brand names are horrible.

24) Important Yglesias piece on how Trump could truly corrupt our form of government and how we need to fight to avoid it.

Quick hits (part II)

1) How Republicans undermine trust in the media and universities:

But a closer look reveals that each party’s relationship to information — and the institutions that produce it — is quite distinct. Republicans aim rhetorical fire at “mainstream” news media and “elitist” experts, whom they view as biased actors surreptitiously working to advance the cause of liberalism. Democrats defend these traditional intellectual authorities, accusing Republicans of abandoning scientific consensus and cocooning themselves in a conservative media universe with little respect for objective inquiry.

A common history lies behind those sentiments: only the Republican Party has actively opposed society’s central information-gathering and -disseminating institutions — universities and the news media — while Democrats have remained reliant on those institutions to justify policy choices and engage in political debate, considering them both independent arbiters and allies. Although each party’s elites, activists and voters now depend on different sources of knowledge and selectively interpret the messages they receive, the source of this information polarization is the American conservative movement’s decades-long battle against institutions that it has deemed irredeemably liberal.

Universities are thus caught in the partisan crossfire but unable to plead nonpartisanship without evoking conservative suspicions. Like journalists, faculty members are no longer regarded as impartial conveyors of information by Republicans; academics seek to conform to norms of objectivity but face a skeptical audience on one side of the partisan aisle. As institutions that strive to inform policy debates even as they remain dependent on support from political leaders, universities confront the difficult task of fulfilling their traditional research role and engaging in more active problem-solving missions while they find themselves increasingly treated as combatants in an ideological battle.

2) Obviously, I’m no libertarian when it comes to welfare, but I enjoyed this take from Mike Munger on the welfare state as a bad polygamist.  (On a related note, I often find Libertarians really make me think about things; Republicans, not so much).

3) Seth Masket says the ballot is too damn long.  Damn straight.  When esteemed political science professor/bloggers have no idea who to vote for in way-down-the-ballot races, you really have to question whether these positions should be on the ballot.

4) Jon Rauch on why Hillary Clinton (or any good politician) needs to be two-faced:

Is it hypocritical to take one line in private, then adjust or deny it in public? Of course. But maintaining separate public and private faces is something we all do every day. We tell annoying relatives we enjoyed their visits, thank inept waiters for rotten service, and agree with bosses who we know are wrong.

The Japanese, whose political culture is less idealistic than our own, have a vocabulary for socially constructive lying. “Honne” (from “true sound”) is what we really believe. “Tatemae” (from “facade”) is what we aver in public. Using honne when tatemae is called for is considered not bravely honest but rude and antisocial, and rightly so. Unnecessary and excessive directness hurts feelings, foments conflict and complicates coexistence…

Often, the only way to get something done is to have separate private and public truths. Behind closed doors, nothing is settled until everything is settled. Until the deal is done, everyone can pretend not to have decided anything. But the moment the conversation becomes public, plausible deniability ceases. Everyone knows I’ve made an offer. Angry interest groups, adversaries in the other party, and even purists in my own party start cutting attack ads and lining up challengers to prevent a deal and defeat me.

5) I think Rubio is a very skilled politician.  As a human being, however, my opinion of him is much lower.  Fred Hiatt:

But as evident as Obama’s mistakes have become with time, it is even more obvious that the 2016 candidate most committed to the values these Republicans claim to cherish is Hillary Clinton. She believes in U.S. leadership and engagement on behalf of democratic allies.

Trump, by contrast, trashes the United States’ allies, speaks casually about the use and spread of nuclear weapons and admires the world’s most odious dictators, including Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

What explanation can there be for Rubio’s support of such a man, beyond placing party over country and self-preservation over self-respect? …

But not so long ago, Rubio understood that even that awesome power is secondary. “I think the most important thing a president will ever do is provide for the national security of our country,” he said a year ago.

“Donald Trump has zero foreign policy experience,” he added as the campaign went on. Trump was a “con artist.” He was “an erratic individual” not to be trusted with the nation’s nuclear codes. He was “a serious threat to the future of our party, and our country.” Trump “praised dictators Saddam Hussein and Moammar Qaddafi, and . . . said China was too soft on dissidents,” Rubio noted. He was “not ready for the test.” His rhetoric “reminds me of third-world strongmen.”

These are not the usual insults traded in the heat of a primary campaign. They represent Rubio’s considered, and accurate, judgment that Trump is unfit to be commander in chief.

6) Great summary of the research on how the lack of women in office reflects women’s lesser inclination to run, based in large part upon their lower political self-confidence and ambition.

7a) Catherine Rampell’s headline nails it, “Want to save the Republican Party? Drain the right-wing media swamp.”

If Republicans truly want to save the Republican Party, they need to go to war with right-wing media. That is, they need to dismantle the media machine persuading their base to believe completely bonkers, bigoted garbage.

It is, after all, the right-wing radio, TV and Internet fever swamps that have gotten them into this mess, that have led to massive misinformation, disinformation and cynicism among Republican voters. And draining those fever swamps is the only way to get them out of it.

For a sense of just how misinformed Republican voters have become, consider a few of the provably wrong things many believe.

Seven in 10 Republicans either doubt or completely disbelieve that President Obama was born in the United States. Six in 10 think he’s a secret Muslim. Half believe global warming is possibly or definitely a myth concocted by scientists.

Among just Trump voters, 7 in 10 believe government economic data are fabricated. Half don’t trust that votes will be counted accurately in the November election.

7b) And a somewhat longer take in Busines Insider arguing essentially the same thing.

8) Do parents violate their children’s privacy when they post their photos on-line?  Ehh, either way, mine will simply have to live with it.  Actually, Evan sometimes asks me not to post specific photos on-line, and I always listen.

9) Nice Op-Ed from Erika Christakis on her Halloween email from last year that set of a firestorm at Yale (I’m so with her).

10) A NYT analysis suggests that GMO foods aren’t living up to their promise.  I’m okay with that as there’s still plenty of reason to believe the promise is there and no reason to believe they threaten human health.

11) Catherine Rampell argues that the Democrats need a stable, sane opposition Republican party to help keep themselves sane and not prone to lazy thinking.  She’s right.  The only problem with her analysis is the implication that it’s only recently that Republican policy-thinking has become nihilist and intellectually bankrupt.

12) Dan Wetzel on Louisville basketball’s escort scandal and the depths to which college sports have sunk.

13) Really enjoyed this NYT Magazine story on the professor who lost her job at a Christian college for wearing a hijab.

14) How Trump hacked the politics of foreign policy.

15) We really can and should do more to ensure that our teacher training programs are doing a good job.

16) Seriously, Donald Trump is just about the worst human being ever (or, at least with a major party nomination for president) and we’ve got a press obsessed with emails that almost surely don’t matter.  David Farenthold on Trump’s “charity” through the years.  The opening anecdote is something:

In the fall of 1996, a charity called the Association to Benefit Children held a ribbon-cutting in Manhattan for a new nursery school serving children with AIDS. The bold-faced names took seats up front.

There was then-Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) and former mayor David Dinkins (D). TV stars Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford, who were major donors. And there was a seat saved for Steven Fisher, a developer who had given generously to build the nursery.

Then, all of a sudden, there was Donald Trump.

“Nobody knew he was coming,” said Abigail Disney, another donor sitting on the dais. “There’s this kind of ruckus at the door, and I don’t know what was going on, and in comes Donald Trump. [He] just gets up on the podium and sits down.”

Trump was not a major donor. He was not a donor, period. He’d never given a dollar to the nursery or the Association to Benefit Children, according to Gretchen Buchenholz, the charity’s executive director then and now.

But now he was sitting in Fisher’s seat, next to Giuliani.

“Frank Gifford turned to me and said, ‘Why is he here?’ ” Buchenholz recalled recently. By then, the ceremony had begun. There was nothing to do.

“Just sing past it,” she recalled Gifford telling her.

So they warbled into the first song on the program, “This Little Light of Mine,” alongside Trump and a chorus of children — with a photographer snapping photos, and Trump looking for all the world like an honored donor to the cause.

Afterward, Disney and Buchenholz recalled, Trump left without offering an explanation. Or a donation. Fisher was stuck in the audience. The charity spent months trying to repair its relationship with him.

“I mean, what’s wrong with you, man?” Disney recalled thinking of Trump, when it was over.

For as long as he has been rich and famous, Donald Trump has also wanted people to believe he is generous. He spent years constructing an image as a philanthropist by appearing at charity events and by making very public — even nationally televised — promises to give his own money away.

It was, in large part, a facade. A months-long investigation by The Washington Post has not been able to verify many of Trump’s boasts about his philanthropy.

Instead, throughout his life in the spotlight, whether as a businessman, television star or presidential candidate, The Post found that Trump had sought credit for charity he had not given — or had claimed other people’s giving as his own.

 

 

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 II)

Sorry for the delay.  Loss of power due to Hurricane Matthew.  Fortunately, most of it was while we were sleeping and we got it back before too long.  My FB feed is filled with photos of trees on roads and powerlines all over the area.  Anyway…

1) Chait on reasons to stop freaking out about Obamacare.

2) An English professor says we are teaching composition wrong.

3) Chris Cilizza (before last Friday) refers to Trump’s lack of debate preparation as “the single most remarkable thing I have read about Donald Trump in a very long time.”  Seriously?  Is he in a coma?  Good take on it, nonetheless:

The problem for Trump is that a presidential general election campaign isn’t analogous to anything else he’s done in his life. You can’t wing it in a debate in front of 80 million people against someone who has spent virtually her entire life preparing for this one moment. You can’t ignore the advice of people brought in to give you advice because you are convinced you know better. In short, you have to pay attention.

That Trump couldn’t bring himself to do that in a moment of such critical import as the debate on Monday night is the only evidence you need of something I have been saying for a while now: There is no other Donald Trump. No new leaf. No pivot. No 2.0. This is it — take it or leave it. Trump is absolutely convinced that who he is — before he reads a single policy paper or briefing book or participates in a single mock debate — is good enough to win. That’s the most risky bet he’s ever made.

4) A cognitive bias cheat sheet.  Handy.

5) Chait on the myth of the change election.

6) Did not know how far the literary establishment was taking this “cultural appropriation” stuff.  Apparently, for some, if you are a white middle-aged man, that’s all you can write about in your fiction.  Ugh.

7) This Nate Cohn piece is from a bit ago, but it’s a nice explanation of key differences between public and private polls.

8) How Howard Stern owned Trump:

This much-craved publicity, of course, came at price: Stern has long had a devilish talent for lulling guests into a false sense of security—and then luring them into rhetorical traps. He casts his guests in a burlesque he scripts for them, and cattle-prods them into playing their parts, first fawning over them until they feel like celebrities, then bringing down the hammer of humiliation. He’s a diabolically domineering scene partner. No interviewer has ever been as adroit with treacherous leading questions in the vein of “When did you stop beating your wife?” Stern, in other words, gets people to publicly embrace their worst selves—and say things they live to regret.

That’s exactly what happened with Trump. Today, as the Republican nominee, he may fashion himself as a boss and a master of the universe. But what comes across in old tapes of the show, resurfaced recently by BuzzFeed and other outlets, is that Trump, like many of Stern’s guests, was often the one being played. By nailing him as a buffoon and then—unkindest cut—forcing him to kiss the Howard Stern ring, Stern and his co-anchor, Robin Quivers, created a series of broadcasts that today showcase not just Trump’s misogyny but his ready submission to sharper minds.

9) Atlas Obscura asks if there’s such a thing as too many blueberries.  They say “yes.”  I say, “no” until I can buy them fresh for <$3 pint year round.

10) It seems quaint now to talk about how Trump got rich in Atlantic City by ripping off people who invested with him.  But, it should not be forgotten.

11) Interesting interview with editor of NYT about the challenges of covering Trump and more good stuff.

12) Harsh take: Colombia’s referendum rejecting peace deal is proof democracy does not work.

13) Rob Christensen is back in the Sunday N&O writing about the NC Republicans’ massive miscalculation on HB2.

14) Somehow missed this from the summer.  Andrew Gelman on why political betting markets are not as reliable as they used to be.

15) It’s obviously been eclipsed by other news, but Trump digging in on the Central Park Five really is disgusting (but not at all surprising).

16) Frum argues that the GOP should learn from what Trump got right:

Trump saw that Republican voters are much less religious in behavior than they profess to pollsters. He saw that the social-insurance state has arrived to stay. He saw that Americans regard healthcare as a right, not a privilege. He saw that Republican voters had lost their optimism about their personal futures—and the future of their country. He saw that millions of ordinary people who do not deserve to be dismissed as bigots were sick of the happy talk and reality-denial that goes by the too generous label of “political correctness.” He saw that the immigration polices that might have worked for the mass-production economy of the 1910s don’t make sense in the 2010s. He saw that rank-and-file Republicans had become nearly as disgusted with the power of money in politics as rank-and-file Democrats long have been. He saw that Republican presidents are elected, when they are elected, by employees as well as entrepreneurs. He saw these things, and he was right to see them.

The wiser response to the impending Republican electoral defeat is to learn from Trump’s insights—separate them from Trump’s volatile personality and noxious attitudes—and use them to develop better, more workable, and more broadly acceptable policies for a 21st-century center-right. That doesn’t mean inscribing Trumpism as the party’s new orthodoxy. The GOP needs less orthodoxy, not more! What a wiser response to the defeat does mean is joining what can usefully be extracted from Trumpism to the core beliefs of the Republican Party: individual initiative, a free enterprise economy, limited government, lower taxes, and a proud defense of America’s global role.

Okay, finally post-Friday open tabs…

17) We’ll start with Yglesias‘ defense of Hillary Clinton’s speeches, etc., in the email hack:

Clinton, precisely because of her vast experience in government, is completely non-credible as a bringer of drastic change and systemic reform. She is, quite clearly, a creature of the system who is comfortable with it and intends to work within it. That is the “secret” revealed by every hacked email and every leaked speech, and it is also the completely obvious fact of the matter that is readily apparent to anyone who takes an even cursory look at her biography. It’s exactly what her allies are bragging about when they talk about how qualified she is.

Amidst all the other remarkable aspects of the 2016 campaign, this is a thread that tends to get lost but Clinton is asking the American people to do something they almost never do — admit that the American political system fundamentally is what it is, and so you might as well elect someone who’s good at operating it in rather dream of someone who’s going to show up and clean up the mess in Washington. Fundamentally, the only message of the secret speeches is that Clinton is exactly who we thought she was — someone who’s been around a long time, someone who knows a lot of stuff, someone who’s cozy with the established players, and someone who doesn’t really embrace good government pieties.

18) I think he’s basically right.  We didn’t really learn anything new about Clinton more than we learned anything new about Trump with the latest revelations.  That said, Jordan Weissman with a fair take on why Clinton surely did not want this stuff getting out.

19) I find Scott Adams‘ (The Dilbert guy) ongoing defense of Trump’s powers just amusing.

13. My prediction of a 98% chance of Trump winning stays the same. Clinton just took the fight to Trump’s home field. None of this was a case of clever strategy or persuasion on Trump’s part. But if the new battleground is spousal fidelity, you have to like Trump’s chances.

20) Jonah Goldberg just unloads:

Character is destiny. The man in the video is Donald Trump. Sure, it’s bawdy Trump. It’s “locker room Trump.” And I’m no prude about dirty talk in private. But that isn’t all that’s going on. This isn’t just bad language or objectifying women with your buddies. It’s a married man who is bragging about trying to bed a married woman. It’s an insecure, morally ugly man-child who thinks boasting about how he can get away with groping women “because you’re a star” impresses people. He’s a grotesque — as a businessman and a man, full stop.

21) Libby Nelson’s headline says it all, “Mike Pence enabled Donald Trump. Stop saying he’d make a good president.”

22) This whole “as a father of daughters,” etc., is just stupid.  Satire:

Listen, as a father of daughters, I’m really against this kind of behavior, this kind of treatment of women. The kind where they get hurt or they can’t vote or we don’t give any money to them. You know the kind I’m talking about. The kind I don’t want my daughters to experience, and then I just sort of extrapolate out from there.

It didn’t always used to be this way. I used to only have sons. Things sure were different then. How merrily I used to drive down country lanes in my old Ford, periodically dodging off-road to mow down female pedestrians (you must remember I had no daughters then). Was what I did wrong? How was I to know? I had no daughters to think of.

Before I had daughters — Stimothy and Atalanta are truly the apples of my eye — I would follow women into voting booths and knock their hands away from the lever whenever they tried to engage in the democratic process. Who knew having daughters would change all that? Not I.

And Dara Lind, “You shouldn’t need a daughter to know Trump’s behavior is disgusting and wrong.”

23) Great Molly Ball article on Trump and women:

It is tempting to see the maleness Trump represents as a relic of an earlier time. But Trump is not really that, as David Brooks observed a few months ago: “It’s not quite right to say that Trump is a throwback to midcentury sexism,” the New York Times columnist wrote. “At least in those days negative behavior toward women and family members was restrained by the chivalry code.” Trump represents a more brutal, primal, animal version of the male id, one that mates and slays and subdues unrestrained. One that dominates. One that refuses to be humiliated, that always lashes back against the forces trying to subdue it.

24) Not surprisingly, Yglesias‘ take is great (read it in full!):

But what Republican Party leaders — from formal party leaders like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to lesser elected officials and quasi-party people like the Chamber of Commerce — should be learning this weekend is that they were wrong.

Not that Trump made a mistake and he needs to apologize, but that they made a mistake and need to apologize. The evidence was there, in spades, all along for anyone who wanted to see. But partisan and ideological incentives made them not want to see. The audio is vivid and stark and cuts through that fog of wishful thinking and self-deception. The people whose eyes its opened shouldn’t be demanding apologies from Trump, they should be offering apologies for their role in letting him get much closer to the White House than he ever should have.

25) And Jamelle Bouie with a great take:

The same Republican leaders who rushed to condemn Trump for his remarks on a hot mic were silent about his continued attacks on these men [central park five], which stretch back to the original event in 1989, when he placed an incendiary ad in New York City newspapers against the then-teenagers. “Bring back the death penalty. Bring back our police!” said Trump. “[M]uggers and murderers … should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes. They must serve as examples so that others will think long and hard before committing a crime or an act of violence.”

Republicans didn’t say anything because Trump wasn’t attacking Republicans. The ground didn’t shift for the GOP nominee until he did. His “grab them by the pussy” comments don’t just threaten his own bid at the White House; they threaten the whole Republican political apparatus. They undermine party enthusiasm. They give millions of Republican-voting women a reason to stay home. And what happens if they do? Suddenly, the House and Senate are at risk. Suddenly, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are leaders of a minority party…

But of course the GOP could tolerate his place at the top of the ticket so long as he restricted his threats to groups outside the party. President Trump, after all, would nominate their judges, sign their tax cuts, and affirm their plans to gut the social safety net. Ryan, the House speaker, said as much in his endorsement. “For me, it’s a question of how to move ahead on the ideas that I—and my House colleagues—have invested so much in through the years,” he wrote in June. “It’s not just a choice of two people, but of two visions for America. And House Republicans are helping shape that Republican vision by offering a bold policy agenda, by offering a better way ahead. Donald Trump can help us make it a reality.” For him and many Republicans, Trump’s frank advocacy of racial repression is a small price to pay for their expansive reversal of liberal social policy. It’s hardly even a price…

In fact, we now have a list of all the things the Republican Party will tolerate solely for the sake of the White House and a continued congressional majority. It’s a long list.

The Republican Party will tolerate racist condemnation of Mexican immigrants and Latino Americans at large. It will tolerate the same racist condemnation of Muslims, even as both attacks feed an atmosphere of paranoia, distrust, and violence.

It will tolerate a policy platform that treats these groups—and Syrian refugees to the United States—as a dangerous fifth column. In Trump’s vision of America, Latino immigrants, when they aren’t “stealing jobs,” are the vector for crime and disorder, plunging towns and cities into lawlessness. It’s why Trump wants to root them out with a new “deportation force,” home by home, person by person. And it’s why he wants a wall on the Mexican border—a concrete prophylactic to keep those dark-skinned migrants from reaching our borders. [emphasis mine]

 

Racism and free speech

So, I ended up sitting in on a talk by the NCSU Chancellor the Alumni Association and a lot of what he had to say was explaining recent events on campus.  I have to confess to being often shamefully unaware of what’s going on on the broader campus and this was one of those time.  Apparently, the Chancellor has come under much criticism for not punishing students for engaging in a racist conversation in an on-line chat.  The story from the student newspaper captures it pretty well:

Two students issued an apology to the entire NC State student body Wednesday after screenshots of a GroupMe chat laced with racial epithets were posted to the Wolfpack Students Facebook group Tuesday night.

The screenshots, which feature an extensive conversation between two NC State freshmen, Connor Jackson and Brennen Smith, showed texts that mock the Black Lives Matter protests that have been taking place in Charlotte and around campus. The conversation also featured messages like “Bruh we in the private chat you can call a n—– a n—–,” and the N-word was used repeatedly. 

In their apology, which was emailed to all NC State students, Jackson, who is studying psychology, and Smith, who is studying agricultural sciences, said that they know what they said “is very offensive and hurtful to the African-American community here on campus.” 

The two mentioned that they hope their close friends and the entirety of the NC State community will forgive them and their actions. 

“We’re sorry for our words, and we’re sorry for how they hurt many people, some of whom are very close to us,” they wrote. “The pain we’ve caused will take a long time to heal; it is just our hope that it will be able to at some point.”

The initial post in Wolfpack Students drew a lot of reactions from group members, garnered the attention of members within Student Government and prompted a video message from Chancellor Randy Woodson. 

“Along with most of you, I share great disappointment and frustration that some in our community not only have bigoted views, but choose to express those views that stand in direct opposition to the diverse and inclusive campus culture that we’re striving to achieve,” Woodson said in the video. “This university will not be defined by a few on our campus who profess racism or hatred.”

Mike Mullen, vice chancellor and dean of the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, said that while the messages the students sent to each other “may be hurtful or hateful, they are not hate speech in the sense that anyone is directly threatened,” and therefore are protected under the First Amendment and not punishable under the university’s code of student conduct. 

Achaia Dent, the organizer behind the die-in protest that was staged at Talley Student Union on Sept. 23 and a freshman studying animal science, said that she thinks Jackson and Smith’s apology was unintentional and that the university should be doing more to combat racism on campus. 

“I think that we have a lot of work to do as a university and as a community,” Dent said. “I don’t think there was meaning behind [their apology]. I think that they’re sorry they got caught, I don’t think they’re sorry for what they did.” 

The texts were screenshotted by Marcus Lowry, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering and Jackson and Smith’s suitemate, after he was added to the group by a friend. According to the Nubian Message, within an hour of Lowry discovering the messages, the resident advisor and resident director in Sullivan Hall had been alerted and the messages were posted on social media.

“I think the situation has been handled as well as to be expected, but that’s honestly not saying much,” Lowry said in an email. “The chancellor released a video addressing the subject, but I think it will end up doing more harm than good. I believe that him protecting racism with the First Amendment in the video just opens the door for more racists to show their true colors.”  [emphasis mine]

And the follow-up story about the racial climate campus forum:

Casting the forum as a legal conversation was a “subterfuge for what’s actually happening here,” according to Ashlyn Sanders, an alumnus of Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill and the sister of Robyn Sanders, a graduate student studying public administration.

“Their position coming in was from a legal perspective but that’s not what are students needed to hear, obviously by the tone of the room,” said Paul Nolan, student body president and a senior studying materials science and engineering. “I think it just exemplifies the problem, our administration isn’t talking to students about how they feel and what they need.”

Well, damn, who does our Chancellor think he is in needing to follow the law?!  Much as people may want the university to make them feel better by punishing people for racist comments in an on-line chat, that’s not how it works in a free society of a public university.  The Chancellor cannot give the students what they want if what they want disregards the US Constitution and NCSU regulations.  The Chancellor could not be more clear that racism is socially unacceptable.  But universities and governments cannot punish people for what’s socially unacceptable, just illegal or in violation of a code of conduct.

NC State, like any institution in society, is far from perfect on matters of race.  But we do a damn good job and the values of anti-racism and anti-sexism are pervasive throughout the faculty and administration.  In a university with over 30,000 students and thousands of employees, the “racial climate” cannot be defined by a couple of first-year morons who use the N-word in an on-line chat.

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