No permit for concealed gun; but forget the concealed slingshot

If it’s not bad enough that some NC Republicans are so obsessed with gun “rights” that they thing even requiring a concealed carry permit is too burdensome, they’ve got to name the damn thing “Constitutional Carry.”  Oh please!  From the Charlotte Observer:

A Cabarrus County state legislator has introduced a bill that would do away with the need for a permit to carry a concealed gun.

Sponsored by Rep. Larry Pittman, House Bill 69 (called the Constitutional Carry Act) would eliminate the need for concealed-carry permits for North Carolinians who carry handguns, but not for larger firearms. Any U.S. citizen 18 years or older would be able to carry a concealed handgun under the proposed legislation, unless otherwise disallowed by state or federal law.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Lynn Vavreck, “you are married to your party.”

2) Tom Edsall explores Trump’s populism:

Those who do not experience the benefits of prosperity, Inglehart and Norris write, can see “others” — “an influx of foreigners,” for example, as the culprit causing their predicament:

Insecurity encourages an authoritarian xenophobic reaction in which people close ranks behind strong leaders, with strong in-group solidarity, rejection of outsiders, and rigid conformity to group norms.

According to the two authors,

The proximate cause of the populist vote is anxiety that pervasive cultural changes and an influx of foreigners are eroding the cultural norms one knew since childhood. The main common theme of populist authoritarian parties on both sides of the Atlantic is a reaction against immigration and cultural change. Economic factors such as income and unemployment rates are surprisingly weak predictors of the populist vote.

In support of this argument, the authors point to 2016 exit poll data showing that Hillary Clinton won voters who said the economy was the most important issue by 11 points, 52-41, while Trump carried those who said immigration was the most important issue facing the country by nearly two to one, 64-33.

In addition to immigration, issues related to race play a central role.

3) Mental health and gun rights is far more complicated than on first glance (and why I held off posting upon the news, because I figured it was).

4) NC sport fan alert: we are about to be so screwed by HB2 for the next 5 years.

5) Drum with a pessimistic view of AI and the future of employment.  I think he’s probably right.

6) The tech behind the Super Bowl half-time drones.

7) NYT, “In One Facebook Post, Three Misleading Statements by President Trump About His Immigration Order.”  Of course, “misleading” is putting it mildly.

8) Tom Price is just the worst.  Great Leonhardt column on the matter:

Each year, a publication called Medscape creates a portrait of the medical profession. It surveys thousands of doctors about their job satisfaction, salaries and the like and breaks down the results by specialty, allowing for comparisons between, say, dermatologists and oncologists.

As I read the most recent survey, I was struck by the answers from orthopedic surgeons. They are the highest-paid doctors, with an average salary of $443,000 in 2015 — which, coincidentally, was almost the exact cutoff for the famed top 1 percent of the income distribution.

Yet many orthopedists are not happy with their pay. Only 44 percent feel “fairly compensated,” a smaller share than in almost every other specialty. A lot of orthopedists aren’t even happy being doctors. Just 49 percent say they would go into medicine if they had to make the decision again, compared with 64 percent of all doctors.

I know that many orthopedists have a very different view: They take pride in helping patients and feel fortunate to enjoy comfortable lives. But despite those doctors, it’s clear that orthopedics suffers from a professional culture that does not live up to medicine’s highest ideals. Too many orthopedists are rich and think it’s an injustice that they’re not richer.

This culture helped shape Dr. Tom Price, the orthopedic surgeon and Georgia congressman who is Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of health and human services…

Yet he hasn’t been content to make money in the standard ways. He has also pushed, and crossed, ethical boundaries. Again and again, Price has mingled his power as a congressman with his desire to make money.

9) Yes, we are having the wrong arguments about GMO’s (but the author interviewed here is a little too willing to be agnostic on the science):

By focusing so much on GMOs, you’re not paying attention to species loss or the decline in aquifers or soil depletion or greenhouse gasses or all the other problems tied up on industrial food production. And I’m sympathetic to that argument. I think GMOs have gotten a lot of attention because they elicit a visceral fear from people, but really we have a lot of other agricultural problems that predate GMOs. If you think about factory farming or fossil fuels or toxic chemicals or soil loss — those things all existed before GMOs, and GMOs just scaled them up.

10) Life under “alternative facts,” e.g., the Soviet Union.

11) Damn, when even war criminal and torture apologist John Yoo says you are abusing executive power, that’s really something.

12) Trump sort of takes on Texas state legislator who opposes the policy horror that is civil asset forfeiture.  I think Drum’s take is spot-on.

This demonstrates the problem with Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip style.1 My guess is that he has no idea what civil asset forfeiture is and has no real opinion about it. If, say, Trump had been in a meeting with a few senators, and Bob Goodlatte had remarked that “police can seize your money even if you weren’t convicted of a crime,” Trump probably would have reflexively answered, “Can you believe that?” Instead, a sheriff said it was a bad thing related to Mexicans, so Trump automatically agreed with him. That means it’s now official Trump administration policy.

Sad. But then again, Jeff Sessions is a huge fan of civil asset forfeiture and all the corrupt incentives it creates, so he probably would have gotten Trump on board one way or another. It’s yet another big win for the working class.

13) I love this– science determines what makes a good dancer:

…very specific patterns may make some people appear to be better dancers than others. That’s the conclusion of a study published on Thursday in Scientific Reports, in which researchers asked 200 people to rate 39 female dancers. A few features stood out as contributing to higher-quality dance: big hip swings, and the right and left limbs moving independently of one another (which the researchers describe as asymmetric arm and thigh movements).

14) A fair amount of public policy comes down to different organized interests fighting each other.  Who gets to do basic laser eye surgery in NC is a great example.

15) Don’t worry about skynet, worry about the AI coming for your middle class job.

16) School integration works.  We should be doing more, not less.

17) The right very much has it’s own political correctness.  Great take from Conor Friedersdorf.

Trump has yet to name right-wing extremism.

He said nothing about the attack in Quebec City. His press secretary, who did mention that attack, suggested that it showed the need for recent security measures taken by the Trump administration, though those measures were targeted narrowly and exclusively at stopping foreign threats from seven majority-Muslim countries. It was as if the press secretary could only conceive of Islamist terrorism.

That is the politically correct posture under Trump…

The White House’s behavior doesn’t make much sense if it prizes common sense over political correctness. But it makes perfect sense if a White House staffer wanted to maintain plausible deniability while catering to the sensibilities of the alt-right, a community where diminishing the relative suffering of Jews in the Holocaust is politically correct––transgressing against Holocaust norms gives them a special thrill. Or even if the original omission was inadvertent, but the White House didn’t want to offend those sensibilities by changing the statement.

18) Amy Davidson on the total Trumpism of Sessions.

19) It may not be “extreme vetting,” but we already have a very good, very thorough vetting system in place for refugees.  This is important as the right is very much suggesting otherwise.  It is 100% foolproof?  Nope.  Also cannot guarantee you computer or phone battery won’t catch on fire right now.

20) Good read from the Marshall Project: exonerated… then deported.

21) Happy 45th birthday to me.

 

Taking it to the streets

Or the front of the airport terminal, as the case may be.  Was very excited to have our very own refugee ban protest at the Raleigh-Durham airport yesterday.  For the first time ever, the whole Greene family went to a protest together.  As I said on Facebook, the family that protests together, stays together.  It was a great crowd and all the kids seemed to enjoy the energy of it.  Oh, yeah, and it felt good to stand up for our beliefs.  Here’s the N&O story.

Outside RDU’s Terminal 2, chants including “No ban, no wall” and “refugees are welcome here” were heard throughout the three-hour protest. Cheers rang out every time a new airport shuttle carrying demonstrators arrived, adding to a crowd that airport officials estimated at more than 1,000. With a permit originally approved for only 150 people, the crowd grew so large it shut down traffic to the upper level of the terminal.

And, count on Dallas Woodhouse with absurd comments:

The head of North Carolina’s Republican Party, Dallas Woodhouse, said that the United States will always welcome immigrants but that the president is installing a system that “puts America first.”

“We will make sure the people entering this country, broadly speaking, do so legally and within the rules,” Woodhouse said in a phone interview. “The first question we’re going to be asking is does this person coming here serve the interest of the American people? Do they want to cause harm to us?”

Woodhouse said there are imperfections in the travel ban that would be fixed.

“When you have a president that is fundamentally reasserting a strong patriotic system that puts American interests first, there’s always going to be some details that need to get worked out,” Woodhouse said.

Competent people work out the details first, or at least try to.  And “a strong patriotic system”?  Please.

Anyway, here’s a couple of photos.  As for the great slogan on David’s sign, you’ll not be surprised to learn I thought of it, given my need to call out false Christianity.  But my wife came up with adding the #alternativefacts, which makes it 100x better. Evan came up with “Dump Trump” on his own :-).

img_1517 img_1523

Quick hits (part I)

1) This is disturbing:

Common stereotypes associate high-level intellectual ability (brilliance, genius, etc.) with men more than women. These stereotypes discourage women’s pursuit of many prestigious careers; that is, women are underrepresented in fields whose members cherish brilliance (such as physics and philosophy). Here we show that these stereotypes are endorsed by, and influence the interests of, children as young as 6. Specifically, 6-year-old girls are less likely than boys to believe that members of their gender are “really, really smart.” Also at age 6, girls begin to avoid activities said to be for children who are “really, really smart.” These findings suggest that gendered notions of brilliance are acquired early and have an immediate effect on children’s interests.

2) What to do about it?

What is to be done? Research provides some clues. The psychologist Carol Dweck has written that emphasizing the importance of learning and effort — rather than just innate ability — for success in any career might buffer girls against these stereotypes. The relevant stereotypes, already in place at the age of 6, seem to fixate on who is supposed to have innate ability. If innate ability is seen as secondary, then the power of these stereotypes is diminished. Other research indicates that providing girls with successful role models might similarly “inoculate” them, boosting their motivation and protecting them from the idea that they are not intellectually competitive. One study even suggested that witnessing a more equal distribution of household chores could help balance the career aspirations of boys and girls.

Early and consistent exposure to such protective factors – and to the countless contributions made by women – may have the best chance of convincing little girls that they are, in fact, smart enough.

4) This is fascinating!  Breast milk has a gender bias.

In 1973, the biologist Robert Trivers and the computer scientist Dan Willard made a striking prediction about parents and their offspring. According to the principles of evolutionary theory, they argued, the male-to-female ratio of offspring should not be 50-50 (as chance would dictate), but rather should vary as a function of how good (or bad) the conditions are in which the parents find themselves.

Are the parents’ resources plentiful — or scarce? The Trivers-Willard hypothesis holds that when their conditions are good, parents will have more male offspring: Males with more resources are likely to gain access to more females, thereby increasing the frequency with which their genes (and thus their parents’ genes) are preserved in future generations. Conversely, male offspring that lack resources are likely to lose out to males that have more resources, so in bad conditions it pays for parents to “invest” more in daughters, which will have more opportunities to mate.

It follows, as a kind of corollary, that when parents have plentiful resources they will devote those resources more to their sons, whereas when resources are scarce, parents will devote them more to their daughters.

In short: If things are good, you have more boys, and give them more stuff. If things are bad, you have more girls, and give more of your stuff to them.

In recent years, evidence has emerged suggesting that in various mammalian species, breast milk — which is, of course, a resource that can be given to children — is tailored for the sex of each offspring. For example, macaque monkey mothers produce richer milk (with higher gross energy and fat content) for sons than for daughters, but also provide greater quantities of milk and higher concentrations of calcium for daughters than for sons.

5) Ryan Lizza on Trump, Mexico, and foreign policy:

The incident also made it clear that congressional Republican leaders, who, during the Obama years, were vocal about the President’s relationships with other countries, have no interest in policing Trump’s foreign policy. At a press briefing in Philadelphia yesterday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who casually announced that Congress would find some fifteen billion dollars to pay for the border wall, had nothing to add about Trump’s detonation of the U.S.-Mexico alliance. “The President can deal with his relationships with other countries,” McConnell said.

Finally, and perhaps most important, Trump’s treatment of Mexico reinforces an emerging world view that casts aside the values at the center of American foreign policy since the Second World War. As with his degrading comments about nato, his view that Taiwanese democracy and independence is a negotiating chip with China, his cavalier attitude toward Russia’s annexation of Crimea and meddling in Ukraine, his abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership without even a cursory consultation with allies in the region who fear Chinese hegemony, his obsessions with the use of torture and the seizure of Iraq’s oil fields, Trump’s views on U.S.-Mexico relations are devoid of the liberal values that have kept Western democracies together for decades. During the Cold War, Reagan pushed Mexico to liberalize its economic and political system and tried to bring the country closer to America and away from any Communist-inspired Latin American movements. Both Bushes, Clinton, and Obama made economic integration with Mexico a priority, and they all worked toward humane immigration solutions. Trump, meanwhile, is treating Mexico like a nineteenth-century colony. Other countries are watching, and the long-term effect could be to gradually isolate us from the rest of the world.

6) The abortion “gag rule” is a political football that changes every time the president’s party changes.  But this time is different.  And bad for, you know, actually helping people.

7) Rapidly-improving artificial intelligence may largely replace much of the diagnostic work of radiologists, pathologists, and dermatologists.

8) Do not miss the “bad lip reading” version of the inauguration.

9) Brian Schaffner actually did a survey experiment on the inauguration crowd size.  Results.

10) PPP with a North Carolina poll.  Not suprisingly, my fellow NC denizens love Krispy Kreme donuts and UNC sports.

11) Jason Kander on Trump’s ongoing voter fraud lies.  The real problem is that Trump differs only in degree from his fellow Republicans:

By deliberately undermining confidence in the integrity of our democracy, the president can make it quite a bit easier for his party to push legislation making it harder for certain eligible voters to vote. Curtailing voting rights by dishonestly inventing widespread fraud has been a major part of the Republican Party’s political strategy for a while. Now that plan is getting a major boost from a president who has no problem just making stuff up.

12) Why are journalists more liberal than the public?  Journalists want to live in cities and therefore have metropolitan values.  And they tend to be relatively smart people who are in a career pursuing facts and the public good of an educated public, not money.

13) It really is banana republic stuff that we let members of Congress, e.g., Tom Price, trade stocks in the sectors they regulate.  And, even if what people like Price are doing is legal, it sure as hell is unethical.

14) Andrew Reynolds shares a summary of his responses to his famous NC is no longer a democracy Op-Ed.

15) Apparently, being an airline pilot is a depressing job.

16) The headline pretty well gets it: “A Wall Alone Can’t Secure the Border, No Matter Who Pays for It.”

17) Another good reason not to make it easier to get a gun silencer— the loud noise of a gun is an important safety feature.

18) You know the biggest reason I would never want to run for office (at least in our public-financing-free world)?  It really is hellish.

19) I didn’t re-read 1984 last year in anticipation of Trump; I just wanted to.  (And I loved it as an adult, as opposed to finding it a slog as a teenager).  But, damn, no am I sure glad I did.  Adam Gopnik on Trump and 1984.

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) Yglesias on how Trump’s domestic policy agenda is really GWB part II.

Bush rode into office on the strength of white working-class voters who were drawn to his heartland cultural politics, alienated by Al Gore’s aloof demeanor, and appeased by Bush’s repudiation of the hard-right orthodoxy of the congressional GOP of the era. Bush scolded congressional Republicans for seeking to “balance the budget on the backs of the poor” and promised to deliver a much-needed prescription drug benefit to America’s senior citizens.

“George Bush is a different kind of right-winger,” wrote the Economist’s US politics columnin April 2001, “a card-carrying conservative who nevertheless believes in active government.”

Fred Barnes of the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard called him a “big government conservative.”

None of this entailed a retreat from the Republican Party’s basic commitment to an agenda of tax cuts for high-income households and favorable regulatory treatment of businesses. It was, instead, a political strategy to make plutocracy workable. And while Bush-era deficits probably contributed to some long-term problems, the interest rate environment of the time was certainly conducive to “irresponsible” budgeting.

And, indeed, it’s very difficult to imagine Bush securing reelection in 2004 if his trillion-dollar tax cut had been paid for with cutbacks to public services. In reality, however, Bush expanded public services by lavishing new subsidies on American agriculture, introducing new health benefits on American seniors, and increasing federal K-12 education spending in exchange for the accountability reforms of the No Child Left Behind law.

When, eventually, Bush’s administration collapsed into ignominy, conservatives quickly pinpointed these big-spending ways as the reason. Even Bush’s brother Jeb found himself saying that “in Washington during my brother’s time, Republicans spent too much money.”

But by the time Jeb was out on the campaign trail distancing himself from his brother’s big-spending ways, Trump was kicking his butt precisely by distancing himself from the tight-fisted fiscal policies of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

2) Trump takes credit for a $1 billion investment in the US.  Drum points out that this happens about once per day, on average.

3) Wired on Apple’s need to move past the Iphone, on its 10-year anniversary.

4) And David Pogue’s take on the original Iphone from 10-years ago.  Nice reminder of how revolutionary it was.

5) Jeff Sessions should not be our next Attorney General.

6) Neurotracker has convinced professional teams and athletes that it can improve their performance by improving the mental tracking so key in many sports.  Alas, there’s no real evidence it actually does.  It’s honestly a pretty easy experiment to do (randomly assign a college or HS football, soccer, etc. team with experimental and control for a couple weeks, then test), so the fact that there’s not any such evidence makes me very skeptical.  I find the following critique compelling:

Williams, at the University of Utah, challenged the notion that tracking bouncing objects in a simulation could train or quantify anything other than a person’s ability to track bouncing objects in a simulation.

“I’ve never seen a soccer player chasing multicolor balloons around on the field,” Williams said. “It’s just not what soccer players do.”

What soccer players do, he said, is read patterns of play, anticipate what might happen next based on movements of teammates and opponents, and identify familiar sequences as they unfold. This “inside” knowledge, built up over time, promotes the effectiveness and efficiency that Ericsson argues are the hallmarks of expertise.

7) My 10-year old Evan received a mini-drone for Christmas.  A friend said, “so what do you do with it?”  My response, “crash it.”  Managed to actually get it down from 30 feet up in a tree where I stranded it within the first 5 minutes.  Loved this NYT article on Christmas drone horror stories.  We still have our and it still works and we’ve only broken to propellers.  We’ll try again when all our snow and ice melts.

8) This essay by Karl Marlantes on how Vietnam permanently disrupted Americans’ faith in their government is a must read.  (Also makes me think I need to move his novel, Matterhorn, further up my queue).

In the early spring of 1967, I was in the middle of a heated 2 a.m. hallway discussion with fellow students at Yale about the Vietnam War. I was from a small town in Oregon, and I had already joined the Marine Corps Reserve. My friends were mostly from East Coast prep schools. One said that Lyndon B. Johnson was lying to us about the war. I blurted out, “But … but an American president wouldn’t lie to Americans!” They all burst out laughing.

When I told that story to my children, they all burst out laughing, too. Of course presidents lie. All politicians lie. God, Dad, what planet are you from?

Before the Vietnam War, most Americans were like me. After the Vietnam War, most Americans are like my children.

America didn’t just lose the war, and the lives of 58,000 young men and women; Vietnam changed us as a country. In many ways, for the worse: It made us cynical and distrustful of our institutions, especially of government. For many people, it eroded the notion, once nearly universal, that part of being an American was serving your country.

9) Gotta love that the guns rights folks (and DJT Jr) are arguing that we need to make it way easier to buy silencers/suppressors, through legislation titled The Hearing Protection Act.

10) Love that a Dairy Queen owner who unleashed racist rants on his customers had his franchise pulled from him by DQ corporate.  That’s the power of social media for good.

11) The insanity of trying to get even a low-level Senate confirmation from today’s dysfunctional Congress.  Though, that will change.

12) Greg Sargent on Trump’s (lying, of course) response to Meryl Streep:

It’s often argued that we should perhaps give less attention to Trump’s tweets. But Monday’s barrage gets at something important. Yes, all politicians lie. But with only days to go until Trump assumes vast power, Monday’s tweetstorm is a reminder that we may be witnessing something new and different in the nature and degree of the dishonesty at issue. Here again we’re seeing Trump’s willingness to keep piling the lies on top of one another long after the original foundational lies have been widely debunked, and to keep on attacking the press for not playing along with his version of reality, as if the very possibility of shared reality can be stamped out by Trumpian edict, or Trumpian Tweedict.

13) Among the dumbest things we do in American democracy: abysmally poor compensation for state legislators.  Because, you know, it’s not like what state governments do is important or anything.  NPR:

While a few big states have full-time legislatures with higher pay (California pays lawmakers $100,113 a year and Pennsylvania pays $85,339) but in most states, legislators are paid like it’s a part-time job.

According to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states pay $30,000 a year or less to legislators. New Mexico doesn’t pay lawmakers at all, while those in New Hampshire make just $200 per two-year term…

Median household income in the United States was $55,775 in 2015, according to the Census Bureau.

“Not paying legislators is like a very penny-wise, pound foolish thing,” given the size of state budgets and complexity of issues that legislatures tackle every year, said Stanford University political scientist Neil Malhotra.

That low level of pay also keeps many people from entering politics, said Malhotra. “There’s very, very few working class people in legislatures. This might have something to do with why a lot of legislation does not seem very friendly towards working class people.”

14) I don’t doubt that there really is something to “attachment theory” that proper bonding in very-early childhood can be key for personality throughout life, but this article is absolutely preposterous in not addressing the role of genetics in this issue.  Any parent of more than one child can sure as hell tell you that.

15) How video game designers need to engineer in just the right amount of luck.

16) The difficulty in enforcing ethics laws under Trump.

17) Yglesias reminds of what we do know about Trump and Russia:

18) The Amherst College new mascot– Hamsters.  Kind of love it.  Kind of think it’s silly to change a mascot based on the now-odious, but mainstream enough in the 18th century views, of Lord Amherst.

19) Interesting idea from Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse— many Republican politicians actually want to fight climate change but the fossil fuel industry they are beholden to will not let them.  I’m not convinced.  If true, just more profiles in cowardice.

20) Even if you have good health insurance through your employer, an ACA repeal can really hurt you, too.

21) Hooray for San Diego for not being a hostage to the NFL and refusing to spend hundreds of millions of public dollars to further enrich a billionaire.  And, on the not-so-great economics of having an NFL team in your city.

22) Some interesting research suggests conservative politicians in several countries are more attractive than liberal politicians.

23) This long, thoughtful, post from an Ohio teacher on our way over-reliance on standardized testing is really, really good:

The most critical solution to this is to untie student, teacher, and school accountability measures from testing outcomes, or to combine these scores with a variety of other measures of success. In addition, we need to dramatically reduce the time spent on testing by requiring tests in fewer grades, or not administering tests every year. No high-performing nation in the world tests all students annually…

We are not in an education crisis. We are in a crisis of poverty that is being exacerbated by the school accountability movement and the testing industry. At best, this movement has been misguided. At worst, it is an intentional set up to bring about the demise of the public education system – mandatory testing designed to produce poor results which leads to greater investment made in test preparation programs provided by the same companies who produce the tests, coupled with a related push for privatization of the educational system. All touted as a means to save us from this false crisis.

24) Best explanation I’ve yet read for why recent rules changes have led to college football being so high scoring (it’s all about the blocking on the run-pass option).

25) Pippa Norris responds to the many issues raised on the whole “is North Carolina a democracy” flap.

 

 

Quick Hits (part II)

1) Lee Drutman and Mark Schmitt on the need to fight Trump on norms:

But Trump is no mere Tammany Hall hack. The norms and constitutional provisions he has either violated or is on track to violate go far beyond “honest graft.” His approach is not mere greasing the wheels — it’s puncturing and slashing the tires. Trump’s rewriting of the rules — refusing to acknowledge that he must divest from his businesses, continuing to keep his tax returns secret, tweeting nuclear arms policy, publicly rejecting the findings of the intelligence community on Russian campaign hacking — is so vast that it has swamped his presidency before he has even taken the oath of office.

In this context, challenging Trump primarily on “normal politics” — legislative fights over safety net programs and taxes — is like ignoring a cancer diagnosis and instead devoting all your time to going to your chiropractor because in the past, he’s succeeded at getting rid of your sore back. [emphasis mine]

Defending basic democratic norms and maintaining a strong focus on corruption is the right strategy. Not only is it more likely to work but it is likely to leave our politics in a better place in the end.

 First, making the fight about entitlements and taxes is only going to reinforce existing partisan divides, at a time when Democrats and Republicans need to figure out how to build alliances to minimize the damage Trump can do to basic norms, rather than reinforcing the divide that Trump exploited in the general election.

The only chance of checking Trump’s likely excesses and recklessness is if Republicans step in, as Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have done in response to Russia’s interference in the election and Trump’s apparent willingness to lift sanctions. Other conservative Republicans, outside Congress, have expressed deep misgivings about Trump’s refusal to even acknowledge conflicts of interest or his failure to hold press conferences. The potential for cross-partisan alliances on protecting democratic norms and civil liberties, and preventing corruption, is much broader than on programs.

Second, it can be hard to hit Trump on policy because he’s made a long game of being ideologically elusive.

2) Charles Feeney is “the James Bond of philanthropy” and basically the anti-Trump when it comes to giving (i.e., he uses his own money and doesn’t make a big show).

3) Really good piece in the Chronicle of Higher Ed on how implicit bias is probably not all it’s made out to be:

That’s essentially Blanton’s argument as well. Public discussion about implicit bias has been based largely on the results from one particular test, and that test, in his view, has been falsely sold as solid science. “They have engaged the public in a way that has wrapped the feeling of science and weight around a lot of ‘cans’ and ‘maybes,’” Blanton says. “Most of your score on this test is noise, and what signal there is, we don’t know what it is or what it means.”

Blanton is not saying there’s no such thing as unconscious bias, nor is he arguing that racial discrimination isn’t a deep and abiding problem in American life (though at least one white-supremacist-friendly website has mentioned his research in an attempt to make that case — illustrating how such discussions can be misconstrued). He just thinks that scientists don’t know how to measure implicit bias with any confidence and that they shouldn’t pretend otherwise. “It is such an important problem that it deserves a stronger science,” he says.

3) Andrew Gelman undermines the claim that North Carolina isn’t really a democracy.  Among other things, 11 other states actually perform worse.

4) Florida’s stand your ground law associated with an increase in homicides:

Results  Prior to the stand your ground law, the mean monthly homicide rate in Florida was 0.49 deaths per 100 000 (mean monthly count, 81.93), and the rate of homicide by firearm was 0.29 deaths per 100 000 (mean monthly count, 49.06). Both rates had an underlying trend of 0.1% decrease per month. After accounting for underlying trends, these results estimate that after the law took effect there was an abrupt and sustained increase in the monthly homicide rate of 24.4% (relative risk [RR], 1.24; 95%CI, 1.16-1.33) and in the rate of homicide by firearm of 31.6% (RR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.21-1.44). No evidence of change was found in the analyses of comparison states for either homicide (RR, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.98-1.13) or homicide by firearm (RR, 1.08; 95% CI, 0.99-1.17). Furthermore, no changes were observed in control outcomes such as suicide (RR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.94-1.05) and suicide by firearm (RR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.91-1.06) in Florida between 2005 and 2014.

Conclusions and Relevance  The implementation of Florida’s stand your ground self-defense law was associated with a significant increase in homicides and homicides by firearm but no change in rates of suicide or suicide by firearm.

5) Political Scientist/Economist/noted libertarian Mike Munger takes to the NYT Op-Ed to argue that football need to be more like rugby to be safer.

6) Drum  says Democrats need a “show us the replacement” mantra regarding Republicans and Obamacare.

7) Thomas Mills on the new governor in town:

What a difference a governor makes! Just a week or so ago, people were asking, “With veto proof majorities in the legislature, what can Roy Cooper do?” Well, yesterday he told us. He can try to expand Medicaid. He can call out Republicans who won’t repeal HB2. He can call on the legislature to raise teacher pay to the national average. In other words, he can set the Democratic agenda and establish the terms of the political debate in a year with special legislative elections. And he can put the GOP on the defensive from the start of his administration…

Cooper is clearly no Pat McCrory. He has a firm grasp of state government and a willingness to push an agenda that McCrory lacked. The legislature has had four years dealing with a push over. They’ll now have to figure out how deal with a governor who clearly plans to make himself a force in Raleigh.

8) Reihan Salam on the policy disaster that would follow from “repeal and delay.”

9) John Cassidy asks if Obamacare can “save the Democrats”

In addition to harming large numbers of Trump voters, repealing most of the A.C.A. would enrage some rich and powerful economic interests that the Republican Party has traditionally courted, such as doctors, hospitals, and insurers. It took the American health-care industry, which is now bigger than the entire economy of France, half a decade to prepare for and implement the law’s provisions. Many working in health care believe it would be folly to destroy the new system before building a proper replacement.

Insurers are warning that a “repeal and delay” plan would create immediate turmoil on the government-run exchanges, many of which are already having trouble attracting more than one or two insurers to participate. Last month, two big trade groups—the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals—warned publicly that repealing the A.C.A. could cost hospitals a hundred and sixty-five billion dollars and trigger an “unprecedented public health crisis.” In a letter to Congress on Tuesday, Dr. James Madara, the chief executive of the American Medical Association, said, “We believe that before any action is taken . . . policymakers should lay out for the American people, in reasonable detail, what will replace current policies.” ..

It’s looking more and more like the Republicans are caught in a trap of their own making. Ever since 2008, they and their media outriders, such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, have demagogued the health-care issue in an outrageous fashion. Trump, in running for President, employed the same nihilistic strategy. Now they may pay for it. Despite the Republicans’ vague talk of stripping away government bureaucracy and setting up a more “market-based system” to replace Obamacare, there is no quick fix, no cheap way out. In a private health-care market, the only way to guarantee universal, or near universal, coverage is to employ mandates, subsidies, taxes, and legal directives—the very tools employed in the A.C.A. [emphasis mine]

10) Nice summary in Vox of Brian Schaffner’s latest on how racism and sexism drove support for Trump.

11) Jamelle Bouie says that Democrats don’t have a religion problem, they have a white people problem:

First, the facts. Among the most religious groups in the country are black and Latino Americans…

These voters back Democrats, overwhelmingly. In the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton won 67 percent of self-identified Hispanic Catholics and the vast majority of black churchgoers. She also won 71 percent of Jewish voters and 62 percent of voters who belong to other religious faiths and traditions. She suffered a crushing defeat among white evangelicals—losing them 16 percent to Trump’s 81 percent—and she lost white Catholics by an almost 2–1 margin, 37 percent to 60 percent.

Because white Christians are the majority of religious voters, and Clinton lost the majority of white Christians, you could say (as Wear does) that these numbers represent a “religion problem” for Democrats. But then to make that claim, you have to ignore race. You have to ignore that Democrats do extremely well with believers of color, Christian or otherwise. You have to ignore stark social and theological divides between black and white Christians, who historically have not understood politics and the Gospel in the same way. You have to ignore the fact that, in North Carolina, the Democratic Party won the state’s governorship on the strength of a movement rooted in black churches and tied to religious leadership. Most importantly, you have to ignore that Democrats lost the large majority of white voters, continuing a trend that dates back to 1968.

At this point, you have to answer an interpretive question. Are Democrats losing a collection of groups that happen to be white—religious voters, working-class voters, etc.—or are they losing whites specifically, with those subcategories following from that fact? Given the stark racial divides in those categories—Democrats win nonwhite religious voters by the same margins that they win nonwhite voters without college educations—the broad answer is clear: The Democratic Party doesn’t have a religion problem as much as it has a white voter problem. That white voter problem emerged in the aftermath of the civil rights movement as a resentful backlash to perceived disorder and unfairness and has gotten worse with almost every subsequent presidential election. [emphasis mine]

12) Jerome Groopman with the most notable medical findings of 2016.

13) I think I missed this back in November: Alex MacGillis‘ look at poor (white, of course) voters voting against their economic interests.

14) One man’s quest to change the way we die.  More power to him because we are awful at this in America.

 

New Year’s Eve quick hits

1) Eric Schlosser (who wrote a terrific book about the history of our nuclear arsenal) on the risks of global catastrophe by mistake.

2) Life remains tough for an Oklahoma newspaper that had the temerity to endorse Hillary Clinton.

3) All earth’s species mapped into a single circle of life.  So cool.

4) Really interesting piece on how Rogue One brought back deceased actors to reprise their roles (no, not Weekend at Bernie’s style).

5) In this post-fact world, snopes.com has become more important than ever.  Apparently, now it is the target of those who would prefer we do not traffic in facts.

6) Time to admit email will never be 100% secure:

Dear reader: It’s time to admit it. We’ve lost this battle. We should accept that data breaches aren’t shocking aberrations anymore—they’re the new normal. The age of reliable security is gone. We need to adjust our thinking. E-mail will never be completely secure for everybody. Go ahead, get started on the stages of grasping this new reality: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

Actually e-mail was never intended to be secure. Most messages are sent as plain, easily readable, unencrypted text from your sending device to your e-mail service (Gmail or whatever), to your recipients’ e-mail services, and from there to their devices. Encryption is a rare, partial and inconvenient solution.

7) Pretty cool set of maps of where tv shows are most and least popular.

8) Things are looking up financially for the Washington Post.  That’s great news.  Of course, plenty of local papers are still hemorrhaging money.

9) Bob Hall with an Op-Ed about a point I must have made in at least a half-dozen HB2 interviews– this really does have it’s roots in gerrymandering:

The inability to repeal HB2 is a symptom of what is a grave threat to our democracy: partisan gerrymandering.

When the majority party, whether it’s Democrats or Republicans, gets to draw its own districts for its own advantage, our whole elective system becomes unfair. The proof is in the legislative maps – illogically shaped districts creating a jigsaw puzzle covering our state, making lawmakers virtually unaccountable to voters.

Consider our incoming legislature that will be sworn in this January. More than 90 percent of them ran uncontested in November or won their election by a comfortable double-digit margin. Largely because of gerrymandering, citizens have no choice and no voice in our elections.

Lawmakers from these heavily gerrymandered districts are far more concerned with fending off potential primary opponents than facing a substantial general election challenge. As such, they arrive in Raleigh with no incentive to ever reach across the aisle and compromise.

That inability to conduct a civil discussion and reach an overall agreement was on full display in the special session called to repeal HB2, but failed to do just that.

10) The biggest reason I tell my students not to watch Fox News is not the ideology, but the lies and the stupidity.  Kevin Drum with a great case-in-point on how they get it totally wrong on Food Stamp fraud.

11) Using IBM’s Watson not just to win Jeopardy, but to fight cybercrime.

12) Personally, I don’t think Steve Martin’s Carrie Fisher tweet was sexist.  Is it sexist to admit you were first attracted to them for physical appearance, but then realized they were so much more?  Enough with the social justice warriors.

13) Can’t say I find it surprising, but it is oh so depressing to read of the racist, rogue, police in Louisiana.  This was stopped by Obama’s DOJ.  Any confidence that would happen under Trump.  Racist local cops must be ecstatic.

For a shocking glimpse of what’s been happening in the name of criminal justice in America, look no further than a Justice Department report last week on police behavior in Louisiana. Officers there have routinely arrested hundreds of citizens annually without probable cause, strip-searching them and denying them contact with their family and lawyers for days — all in an unconstitutional attempt to force cooperation with detectives who finally admitted they were operating on a mere “hunch” or “feeling.”

This wholesale violation of the Constitution’s protection against unlawful search and seizure by the police in Evangeline Parish, including in its largest city, Ville Platte, was standard procedure for putting pressure on citizens who the police thought might have information about crimes, according to the findings of a 20-month federal investigation. The report described as “staggering” the number of people who were “commonly detained for 72 hours or more” with no opportunity to contest their arrest, in what the police euphemistically termed “investigative holds.” …

Reforms have since begun, a tribute to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section, which carried out the investigation and demanded wholesale changes. This bureau has done notable work during the Obama administration, investigating 25 law enforcement agencies and requiring and overseeing major reforms. To fully secure national justice, its work must continue. One big question in Washington now is whether President-elect Donald Trump and his choice for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, might ever commit themselves to this cause.

14) More TV shows should just say no to season 2.

15) I never did a post on the latest important work on inequality.  I really should have.  But, it’s the end of the year and time to clear out tabs.  Yglesias with a really good summary of the work:

A child born in 1940 had an extremely good chance of growing up to earn more money than his parents did. Due to regression to the mean, children of the very, very wealthy were somewhat less likely to out-earn their parents (if your dad is Jeff Bezos, it’s hard to beat that no matter how many advantages you have in life). But from the bottom of the income distribution all the way up to the 95th percentile or so, families were extremely likely to experience upward mobility.

For kids born in 1980, that’s much less true. The very most disadvantaged kids are, fortunately, pretty likely to grow up to be somewhat less disadvantaged than their parents. But for people born into the broad middle 60 percent or so of the income distribution, experiencing upward mobility relative to your parents has become a crapshoot.

Raj Chetty et. al.

16) Speaking of clearing out tabs, I still haven’t read this NYT Magazine piece on “The Great AI Awakening.”  It looks good, but, I just haven’t.  Please tell me if I need to.

16) Frum on how Trump made Russia’s hacking more effective:

The content of the Russian-hacked emails was actually remarkably unexplosive. Probably the biggest news was that Hillary Clinton had expressed herself in favor of a hemispheric common market in speeches to Wall Street executives. Otherwise, we learned from them that some people at the Democratic National Committee favored a lifelong Democrat for their party’s nomination over a socialist interloper who had joined the party for his own convenience. We learned that many Democrats, including Chelsea Clinton, disapproved of the ethical shortcomings of some of the people in Bill Clinton’s inner circle. We learned that Hillary Clinton acknowledged differences between her “public and private” positions on some issues. None of this even remotely corroborated Donald Trump’s wild characterizations of the Russian-hacked, Wikileaks-published material.

These Wikileaks emails confirm what those of us here today have known all along: Hillary Clinton is the vessel for a corrupt global establishment that is raiding our country and surrendering our sovereignty. This criminal government cartel doesn’t recognize borders, but believes in global governance, unlimited immigration, and rule by corporations.

Or:

The more emails WikiLeaks releases, the more lines between the Clinton Foundation, the secretary of state’s office and the Clintons’ personal finances—they all get blurred … I mean, at what point—at what point do we say it? Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt person ever to seek the office of the presidency.

Without Trump’s own willingness to make false claims and misuse Russian-provided information, the Wikileaks material would have deflated of its own boringness. The Russian-hacked material did damage because, and only because, Russia found a willing accomplice in the person of Donald J. Trump.

17) Time for my annual last-day-of-the-year large-scale charitable giving.  I’ll be using Givewell.org as my guide.

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