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.

More on NC Voter ID

If you really want to understand anything on voting law, Rick Hasen’s blog is definitely the place to go.   (It was a great thrill for me to bring him to NC State as a guest speaker a few years ago).  Here’s his incredibly thorough discussion of the NC Voter ID decision.  I found this third point most interesting:

3.  Now what is meant by racially discriminatory intent? In the 5th Circuit case, it seems the court there said that acting with knowledge of effects on minority voters is just as bad as acting with that purpose. (See my analysis of the 5th Circuit opinion here.) The 4th Circuit offered a similar, though not identical, analysis: “But intentionally targeting a particular race’s access to the franchise because its members vote for a particular party, in a predictable manner, constitutes discriminatory purpose. This is so even absent any evidence of race-based hatred and despite the obvious political dynamics.” And later there is this key part: “Our conclusion does not mean, and we do not suggest, that any member of the General Assembly harbored racial hatred or animosity toward any minority group. But the totality of the circumstances — North Carolina’s history of voting discrimination; the surge in African American voting; the legislature’s knowledge that African Americans voting translated into support for one party; and the swift elimination of the tools African Americans had used to vote and imposition of a new barrier at the first opportunity to do so — cumulatively and unmistakably reveal that the General Assembly used SL 2013-381 to entrench itself. It did so by targeting voters who, based on race, were unlikely to vote for the majority party. Even if done for partisan ends, that constituted racial discrimination.” [emphasis mine]

Yep. Key point.  Even if this was not enacted out of racial animus (it wasn’t), that does not mean it is not racially discriminatory in an unconstitutional manner.

NC Voter ID goes down

Wow.  So, this is big.  Now I don’t have to take my drivers license with me to the polls (actually, I’m in the habit of not doing so as we usually take a family walk to our polling place and I don’t usually carry my wallet then).  Anyway, seems to me the 4th Circuit Opinion got this just right.  I’m sure I’ll have more to post on this, but for now, here’s some key parts nicely highlighted by the N&O:

 The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday overturned North Carolina’s 2013 elections law that included a provision requiring voters to show ID at the polls.

The three-judge panel found that the law was adopted with “discriminatory intent.” The case was sent back to U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, who in April issued a 485-page ruling dismissing all claims in the challenge to the state’s sweeping elections law overhaul.

“In holding that the legislature did not enact the challenged provisions with discriminatory intent, the [original district] court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees,” the ruling states. “This failure of perspective led the court to ignore critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.”… [emphases mine]

Challengers of the elections law overhaul shepherded through the Republican-led General Assembly in 2013 and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory quickly lauded the ruling.

Many echoed a line from the 83-page ruling that bats back contentions by advocates of the law, who claimed IDs were needed at the polls to prevent voter fraud.

“Although the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision, they constitute inept remedies for the problems assertedly justifying them and, in fact, impose cures for problems that did not exist,” the 4th Circuit judges wrote…

The 4th Circuit ruling is the third voting rights decision to be issued during the past two weeks.

The first decision was in Wisconsin, where a federal district judge found the state’s ID law too restrictive.

Then the full 5th Circuit appeals court found that Texas’s voter ID law violated the Voting Rights Act and opened the door for putting the state under federal supervision again.

“We applaud the appeals court for recognizing the discriminatory intent behind the monster voter suppression law,” Bob Hall, director of Democracy NC, a voting rights organization, said in a statement about the N.C. case. “The ruling makes clear that the North Carolina General Assembly cherry-picked the law to suppress African American and young voters because of the 2008 election. Today’s ruling begins to right that wrong.”

Photo of the day

One more from my vacation.  Some amazing color in the sky over the Atlantic most evenings.  This was a couple of hours after the rainbow I posted last week.

IMG_3715

Quick hits

Decided I didn’t want to spend the last day at the beach working on quick hits for Saturday, so, here you go with an evening edition instead.  Lots of good stuff.

1) Reviews of two books that take dramatically differing views of America’s police.  Of course, one is far more grounded in reality.

2) The Prosperity Gospel is such a disgusting perversion of Christianity.  Donald Trump is a disgusting perversion of American politics.  Naturally, they are a great fit.

3) Sure, politicians are not typically known for their honesty, but, not surprisingly, Donald Trump’s mendaciousness is clearly in a class by itself.

4) Bill Ayers on why he hates electoral politics:

For now, what bothers me so much about the whole mess is the extent to which elections have become an exercise in emotion-driven identity politics. This is true for nearly all people and across pretty much all issues. We want very much to think that elections, and politics in general, are about ideas, about figuring out what’s best for the country. But very little that has been said over the past year, and nothing that will be said from here on forward, is really about any of that.

What we’re really engaged in is a collective effort at ego protection, wishful thinking, and massive cognitive distortion brought about by emotion-driven biases. [emphasis mine]

5) I was shocked, shocked(!) to learn that Donald Trump doesn’t much believe in reading.

6) In other shocking news, GOP Congressional interns are really, really white.

7) Trump’s Art of the Deal ghostwriter thinks he’s a sociopath who would start a nuclear war.

8) I listened to Trump’s recent 60 Minutes interview.  The part about ISIS was truly, truly pathetic, as Drum points out:

This is pathetic. Trump acts like he’s back in the Celebrity Apprentice boardroom playacting a tough guy for the cameras. He declares that he will get “unbelievable intelligence”; he will “get rid of ISIS big league”; and he will “wipe them out.” But when Lesley Stahl repeatedly asks him about ground troops, he repeatedly says this isn’t in the cards. Maybe NATO will do it. Maybe other Arab countries will do it. Maybe troops will magically appear from a genie’s bottle. Even though Trump claims that we’re at war and President Obama is too weak and stupid to get it, in the end he basically endorses what Obama is doing right now. Like all the other armchair generals, he doesn’t have the backbone to risk taking an unpopular stand, even if it’s the only thing that would actually make a significant difference.

And when he’s done with this empty blather, what does Mike Pence say? “This is the kind of leadership America needs.” Heaven help us.

9) Drum also calls out Lesley Stahl for enabling Trump’s serial lying.

10) Slate with a list of (only) 141 reasons Trump is unfit to be president.

11) David Pogue is right.  We should be so done with passwords.  The technology is certainly there.

12) Can’t say I’m all that surprised to learn that the whole customized helmet to unflatten you child’s head (of course, I’m on record as being skeptical of the whole backsleeping thing anyway) is not medically necessary but largely being pushed by the customized helmet industry.

13) Sharp satire on Republicans coming out against Trump.

14) Nice Vox feature on how Trump won the primaries.  I like how it points out the number of truly lucky breaks that Trump got along the way in terms of where and when his opponents won and lost (e.g., I really do think thinks could have turned out different if not for Marcobot in NH).

15) Great New Yorker profile of America’s best jailhouse lawyer.  Mostly, it made me so sad and depressed at how institutionally corrupt our criminal justice system is.  And makes me think there’s probably tens of thousands of innocent people in prison.

16) Loved Brooks on Trump’s Pence announcement:

If you had to do a rough diagram of the Trump remarks it would be something like this: Pence … I was right about Iraq … Pence … Hillary Clinton is a crooked liar … I was right about “Brexit” … Pence … Hillary Clintons ads are filled with lies … We’re going to bring back the coal industry … Christians love me … Pence … I talk to statisticians … Pence is good looking My hotel in Washington is really coming along fantastically … Pence.

Donald Trump is in his moment of greatest triumph, but he seems more resentful and embattled than ever. Most political conventions are happy coronations, but this one may come to feel like the Alamo of aggrieved counterattacks.

17) It’s not nothing at all that Coach K has called North Carolina’s HB2 “embarrassing.”  K is a long-time, staunch Republican.

18) The psychology of why Americans are afraid of low crime levels.

19) Hans Noel argues that more contested conventions would be a good thing– and certainly help us avoid more Trumps.

20) They say a picture is worth 1000 words.  Love this tweet.

21) This USA Today is really harsh on HBO’s new Vice Principals.  And, you know what?  Strikes me as deserved.  I loved “Eastbound and Down,” but found the first episode of this new show simply unpleasant to watch.

22) That’s okay.  More time for me to watch season 3 of Bojack Horseman, which is getting rave reviews.

23) Love this from Will Saletan.  The headline captures it well, “Mike Pence’s New God:
The Christian conservative was supposed to bring morality to Trump’s campaign. Instead he caved to Trump.”

Photo of the day

Was pretty disappointed to have the afternoon on the beach rained out earlier this week.  But the amazing rainbow afterward almost made up for it.  Easily, the best rainbow I have seen in my life.  Pretty sure I’ve never seen the full 180 degrees before.  The wide angle on my camera was not wide enough, so this is the Iphone Panorama.

13659117_10103460556683579_8563836594715801507_n

Quick hits (part II)

1) Democrats– stop panicking about the polls.  If they look like this in 6 weeks, then you can panic.

2) Big Pharma is fighting legal marijuana because where it is legal for medicinal purposes, there are substantially less opiate prescriptions.

3) I do love this new anti-Trump ad.

4) A new study suggests it’s not how much weight you lift to build muscle, it’s mostly how hard you work your muscles (high weight for less reps; or lower weight for more reps).  The key is working your muscles to exhaustion.

5) Jonathan Ladd on how journalistic norms could actually hurt Trump in general election coverage.

6) As much as I love soccer, a lot of the Euro games were pretty disappointing to watch.  Good take from Franklin Foer.

7) EJ Dionne on Pence:

One could multiply the list of lost opportunities, but one of the biggest stories here is just how many Republicans have decided that their futures will be better served by staying away from Trump.

That left Pence as, in Gingrich’s terms, the best “normal person” option. Plusses for Pence include strong ties to Capitol Hill (including a friendship with House Speaker Paul Ryan), an agreeable personality (a Democrats I know in Indiana who has tangled with Pence on issues sees him nonetheless as a nice-guy sort of politician), and an appeal to social conservatives…

And it says something about the doubts so many conservative have about Trump and his need to appease them that he had to go to his right for a running mate. He could not turn instead to someone who might have broadened his appeal to middle-of-the-road voters. Trump received a fair share of the ballots of social-issue moderates in the northeast during the primaries. Those voters and moderate independents will not be reassured by Pence. In fact, social liberals will try to use Pence to tie Trump to the most conservative elements of the GOP.

8) Are conservatives actually serious about ISIS or do they just like to thunder on about how tough they are with no serious solutions to the intractable dilemma?  You know the answer.

9) Slate with a piece on the architectural wonder (Dorton Arena) 10 minutes from my house.

10) Invisibilia is an amazing podcast.  Really nice piece about it from Sarah Larson.  It is simple overwhelming how many incredibly good podcasts are being produced now.

11) White people really want their kids to go to school with other white kids.

12) The biggest challenges facing academic science.

13) I had no recollection of the Judo Olympian disqualified for (inadvertently) eating a marijuana brownie shortly before the 2012 games.  This is so stupid.  As if that would give an athlete any unfair advantage whatsoever.  Meanwhile, you can get roaring drunk every day and it’s all good.  And worst part is all the abuse the guy took.  Seriously, what’s wrong with people.

14) What college sports recruiters can teach your child.

15) I’m so going to start paying my horribly picky kids to eat healthy foods:

The researchers also found that the effects lingered after the experiment ended, though they did subside somewhat. Two months after the end of the experiment, kids who had been rewarded for their health behavior for a period of five weeks were still eating 44 percent more fruit and vegetables than they had before the experiment begun.

16) Title of this Wonkblog post is, “One way to curb police brutality that no one is talking about.”  I guessed the answer– more female cops.

17) George Packer on Nice:

The killer in Nice locked on in his own way. Maybe it happened in the space of a few hours, a few days. We’re a long way from the grand ideologies of Sayyid Qutb and Osama bin Laden. This is jihadism as impulse, as excuse. It hardly matters, because the result is always the same: a pile of bodies, a world of pain and grief.

Liberal democracies like ours seem, for the most part, to have learned how to avoid meticulously planned mass-casualty plots with the complexity and scale of 9/11. But they don’t know how to keep their citizens safe at night clubs and concerts, in supermarkets, on beachfront promenades, from truck drivers. Nor do the leaders of liberal democracies know how to reassure their publics. So citizens, who have a right to demand safety, will turn to leaders offering simpler and more radical solutions—to Marine Le Pen or Donald Trump—who will fail even more spectacularly, inflicting great damage on liberal societies.

No revelations come from the massacre in Nice. There is nothing to be learned. This is what we live with, what we are getting used to living with. None of it is surprising—that’s the most frightening thing of all.

18) Nate Silver on Pence as Trump’s “least worst choice.”

19) Why, yes, we are sending kids (back to) Central American countries to be raped and murdered.  Kristof.

20) Ezra Klein on Trump’s crazy speech announcing Pence and how it is ever more evidence of his extreme unfitness to serve as president.

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