November 26, 2016 Leave a comment
4/6 of the family on the day after Thanksgiving. Pretty happy to get this with the 2 second self-timer on the camera. There’s also a 12 second timer, but that takes the fun out of it.
Politics, parenting, science, education, and pretty much anything I find interesting
November 26, 2016 4 Comments
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.
November 10, 2016 Leave a comment
I know, I’m a monster. My oldest (just 17) has always been kind of interested in politics, mostly because he’s an inquisitive kid and likes to have me explain things to him. Nothing I’m better at explaining, than politics (I think). So, he knows a lot about it, and is a good liberal, but has never shown any particular interest. Yesterday, he came home from school and told me he had had a bad day because he was so upset about the election. He said he was anti-social because he was afraid he’d say some things he would regret. He used all his free time in school to read up on the election in the New York Times, the Guardian, and the Raleigh News & Observer. Whoa!
Yes, of course I wish that he didn’t feel so bad, but I was so pleased to see he is not only intellectually interested in politics, but that he cares enough to take this hard. And, yeah, he’ll tell me he really enjoyed reading something that I left open on the computer, but I’ve never known him to see out political information on his own. Okay, I suppose I would trade a Clinton presidency for more disinterest in my son, but if Donald Trump has gotten him to take a real and genuine interest in politics, that’s a very nice silver lining for me.
October 30, 2016 3 Comments
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.
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.
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.
October 29, 2016 5 Comments
1) I’m quite disturbed by the verdict in Oregon. Looking forward to reading more about it. Hard not to see a race angle. German Lopez:
The defense argued there was no intent to keep federal employees off the refuge. But come on. An armed group occupied a federal building. Your imagination doesn’t have to stretch very far to realize what was happening.
Yet a jury found them not guilty.
It is impossible to ignore race here. This was a group of armed white people, mostly men, taking over a facility. Just imagine: What would happen if a group of armed black men, protesting police brutality, tried to take over a police facility and hold it hostage for more than a month? Would they even come out alive and get to trial? Would a jury find them and their cause relatable, making it easier to send them back home with no prison time?
One doesn’t have to do much imagining here, either. The social science is pretty clear: People are much more likely to look at black people and see criminals and wrongdoers. They don’t get the privilege of innocence in the same way that white people — including these militants in Oregon — do.
2) On how kids can drink too much milk (my slightly underweight 16-year old would be an unhealthily underweight kid without his half gallon or so of whole milk per day).
3) Of course kids should eat healthy, varied diets, but I disagree with the suggestion that we shouldn’t sneak healthy foods into more kid-friendly foods because it will send the wrong messages. It’s not always so easy to get kids to eat healthy, varied diets.
5) Fred Hiatt argues that Hillary Clinton is not just lucky to have Trump as her opponent, but a good candidate.
6) Dana Goldstein with a thoughtful Marshall Project piece on how to decide at what age we treat criminals as adults:
If people in their twenties are a lot like adolescents socially and biologically, should they really be considered full adults under the law? Many advocates who work directly with this population say no. “For many years, the idea of how to achieve public safety with this group was you want to lock them up, protect the community by not having them around,” said Yotam Zeira, director of external affairs for Roca, a Massachusetts organization that provides counseling, education, and job training to 17 to 24-year old male offenders. “The sad reality is that after you lock them up, nothing gets better. Public safety is not really improved. Prosecutors know they are prosecuting, again and again, the same people.”
7) No, Brexit polling does not mean Trump will pull this out.
8) Molly Ball on Trump’s graying army:
The crowd at the Donald Trump rally was a sea of gray and white. They hobbled on walkers and canes into the massive amphitheater, searching for a place to sit on the lawn.
They were old enough to remember a different America—an America that was great. A place of strength and confidence, where men were men and women were women, where people respected the flag and their elders and prayed to God. That was not the America they saw today.
“I am 72 years old, and I have seen our country absolutely fall apart,” Jim Smith, a gray-haired grandfather with an eagle on his T-shirt, told me. Smith retired to the beach after a career in the Army that took him all over the world; at one point, he worked for NATO running logistics in Bosnia. But today, he did not like what he saw all around him.
“Our economy is depleted, our military forces are depleted. We’re a country that’s in trouble,” he said, ticking off the issues: Spanish language everywhere, babies slaughtered by abortion. Muslims invading America, abetted by Democrats. “What culture do we have anymore?” he asked…
At Trump’s rallies across the country—not just in Florida, where the effect may be especially pronounced—it is common to find an abundance of the superannuated. In fact, senior citizens are his strongest demographic. In polls, voters over 65 tend to be the only age group he wins: In surveys conducted for The Atlantic by the Public Religion Research Institute, for example, Hillary Clinton led Trump in every age group under 65, but he beat her by a slight margin with those 65 or older.
In the primaries, too, Trump supporters were older, on average, than those of other Republican candidates. Despite the stereotype of the Trump supporter as a prime-aged working man, Trump’s campaign has actually been fueled primarily by support from the elderly.
This makes sense, doesn’t it? Trump’s whole candidacy is predicated on nostalgia—not just making America great, but making it great again, returning it to an imagined, prelapsarian state of greatness. (Appropriately, Trump stole the slogan from Ronald Reagan.) More so even than most Republican candidates, Trump has run a campaign aimed squarely and frankly at old people’s nostalgia, fear of danger, and anxiety about social change.
9) This local Texas election ad is indeed worthy of going viral, as it has.
10) It would not be hard to fix the problems with Obamacare. The problem is that Republicans are entirely unwilling to. Waldman:
Nothing demonstrates how unserious Republicans are about health care policy more clearly than this does. Their preferred reform ideas — such as letting insurers sell across state lines — are positively miniscule in comparison to the challenges the health care system presents. If they were being honest, they’d admit that their real goal is to get the government out of the business of offering or even guaranteeing coverage, and that they don’t really care how many people are uninsured. That’s not to mention the fact that they refuse to grapple with the massive destruction that repealing the ACA would cause. In fact, at this point, repealing the ACA could be more disruptive than it was to implement it in the first place, because so many changes have been made throughout the health care system and so many new people are now insured.
So let’s not forget that when news of some problem with the ACA emerges, as it did yesterday, the Republican position is always the same: This is a terrible thing, and we will fight to our last breath to stop Democrats from fixing it. Which means that the only way that the shortcomings in the ACA can be addressed — just as every major law has been tweaked in the years after it passed, including Social Security and Medicare — is to get a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress who are willing to do it.
11) Jon Bernstein on how Clinton as a transactional politician and Clinton’s “scandals”
Here’s a better theory of what’s going on, from Kevin Drum:
Make a list of the entire chain of command that had some oversight over the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server. That’s going to be at least half a dozen people.
Make a list of all their close family and friends. Now you’re up to a hundred people.
Look for a connection between any of those people and the Clintons. Since FBI headquarters is located in Washington DC and the Clintons famously have thousands and thousands of friends, you will find a connection. I guarantee it.
Write a story about it.
Something like this template has been used for 24 years, since the first Bill Clinton presidential campaign. Eventually, most people get the sense something is wrong with Hillary Clinton. After all, with so many of these stories, there must be something behind them.
And this sense makes it easier to run nonsense stories like the Wall Street Journal’s article. And so on and so on.
Both Clintons, especially Bill, are transaction-style politicians, rather than ideologues. Both of them have been willing to cut deals, to temporarily embrace positions they might not like very much, and to champion the best-available option and hope to win. I like these kinds of politicians, the Bob Doles and John Boehners and Nancy Pelosis. I’d much rather have them govern than any ideological warriors, including those ideologues I agree with on the issues.
I suspect that many people’s dislike of Hillary Clinton has to do with their discomfort with the complicated ethics of transactional politics as opposed to strict ideology-based politics…
So the woman who looks to be the next president is capable of saying one thing and doing another, and of crass political calculations. In that way, at least, she is not unlike a lot of successful U.S. presidents.
That’s no coincidence. The sorts of things presidents need to do — form coalitions and keep them together, bargain for marginal gains, and put a good face on all of it to convince both elites and voters that everything is going as planned — are the skills of transactional, hypocritical politicians. This doesn’t guarantee that Hillary Clinton, if elected, will be a good president, of course. But it’s a start.
12) SNL’s “Black Jeopardy” sketch was great and Dan Zak’s take on it was the best I’ve read.
13) Paul Waldman on how the GOP’s “politics is inherently evil” rhetoric helped give them Trump:
For the moment, let’s set aside the question of whether Republicans would really be winning with a different nominee (I think the race would be closer, but Democrats would still have the advantage). What this hypothetical alternative would bring is the skills, experience, and knowledge you gain by being active in politics, exactly what Trump lacks. He’d know how to run a proper campaign. He’d have a grasp of substantive policy issues, and know how to communicate Republican positions to voters in a persuasive way. He’d understand how not to alienate key groups of voters. He’d be in control of his emotions, able to give a speech or participate in a debate without damaging outbursts.
In other words, he’d be a politician. You may notice that no Republicans are saying this election would be a lock if only Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina had been their nominee.
Yet for years, Republicans have been running against “Washington,” an irredeemable Sodom of corruption and malfeasance. Anyone who wants to actually make government work is immediately suspect, an “insider” whose motives can only be nefarious. They look for “outsiders” who can tell voters, “Elect me because I’m not a politician, I’m a businessman.” Granted, there have been a few Democrats who have made that claim too, but Republicans are particularly attracted to it, despite the fact that it’s ludicrous on its face. If you hired a carpenter to build you a deck and you didn’t like the way it turned out, you wouldn’t say, “What we need to fix this deck is someone who’ll think outside the box. Like a computer programmer, or a librarian. Just as long as it’s not another carpenter.” No, if you were a rational person, you’d decide to get yourself a better carpenter.
14) On a related note, if Republicans really want a sane party in the future, they really need to drain the fever-swamp that is right-wing media:
Perhaps more important, however, the conservative media industrial complex successfully managed over the years to lock the Republican Party away from access to its own base. Those who consumed conservative media were taught not to trust politicians or, even worse, the mainstream media.
As a result, party leaders were beholden to a handful of individuals who controlled the conservative media and, thus, held the keys to their voters. Elected officials and candidates seeking office dared not criticize the conservative media’s most powerful members, for fear of the wrath that would ensue if they did.
The power the conservative press held allowed its members to decide who was accepted by the base and who wasn’t. True conservatives could be painted as unprincipled moderates, and, as in the case of Trump, unprincipled moderates could be painted as exactly what the base wanted.
The GOP “has appeased it, they’ve sucked up to it, they’ve been afraid of going up against it,” said Charlie Sykes, an influential conservative radio host in Wisconsin. “I think that you have seen that played out this year. Has there been any willingness on the part of any mainstream conservative to call out this alt-right media? I’m not seeing it.”
Republicans instead allowed their base to be held captive by a conservative press that moved their base further right, pushed conspiracy theories about Obama, and set unrealistic exceptions for them while in office.
15) In case you missed this NYT story based on lots of interviews with Trump. As if you needed more evidence of what a pathetic, small, little man he is:
The intense ambitions and undisciplined behaviors of Mr. Trump have confounded even those close to him, especially as his presidential campaign comes to a tumultuous end, and he confronts the possibility of the most stinging defeat of his life. But in the more than five hours of conversations — the last extensive biographical interviews Mr. Trump granted before running for president — a powerful driving force emerges: his deep-seated fear of public embarrassment.
The recordings reveal a man who is fixated on his own celebrity, anxious about losing his status and contemptuous of those who fall from grace. They capture the visceral pleasure he derives from fighting, his willful lack of interest in history, his reluctance to reflect on his life and his belief that most people do not deserve his respect.
16) Dahlia Lithwick calls on John Roberts to speak out about the Republican calls to keep the court at eight members.
17) How bad soccer analytics made soccer a much worse game for a long time.
18) Gerald Seib with a nice essay in WSJ on Republican populism.
19) Why Russia wants to undermine confidence in US elections:
To understand Russia’s recent attacks on American democracy, one simply needs to look back to the country’s Cold War tactics.
Outpaced by American military spending and military innovation—and challenged by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—the Soviet Union sought an alternative approach to counter the U.S. Rather than match America on the battlefield, the U.S.S.R. sought to erode the U.S. from the inside out—using the “force of politics” rather than the “politics of force” to break democracy, fracturing the unity of the American populace and degrading trust in U.S. institutions. In a program known as “Active Measures,” the Soviet Union would deploy agents and provocateurs to spread propaganda amongst American dissident groups and communist causes throughout the Western world.
Cold War efforts to use propaganda to shatter the U.S. democratic system largely failed, but the internet and particularly social media have provided Russia’s “Active Measures” a renewed opportunity to foment American dissent. In contrast to the Soviet era, social media and the wealth of information available through the internet provides Russia the ability to access and disrupt American political figures and democratic institutions without setting foot in the U.S. Plus, the costs associated with hacking and social media manipulation are far lower for Russia—both in terms of money and risk—than deploying actual humans to influence U.S. elections.
20) On how Pat McCrory lost support with moderates. I’ve been saying some version of the following quote a long time– glad to finally see it in print:
Unaffiliated voters and moderate Democrats helped propel McCrory to office in 2012, and he needed their help. There are at least 644,334 more registered Democrats than Republicans in North Carolina, and roughly a third of all voters—more than two million people—are unaffiliated. CNN exit polls show McCrory won 62 percent of independents and a whopping 15 percent of Democrats four years ago. He even won the Democratic strongholds of Mecklenburg and Wake counties. But as Steven Greene, political science professor at N.C. State University, notes, “That Pat McCrory doesn’t exist anymore.”
21) Former Wikileaks insider on the craziness that Julian Assange.
22) David Wong with a nice piece on the urban/rural divides that divide our politics.
23) I found this Vox headline unintentionally hilarious, “Why women are still voting for Trump, despite his misogyny?” You probably also knew the answer without clicking the link. It’s called, Party Identification. I actually went to the article, searched on part* and decided that with no hits for partisanship or party identification, it was not worth reading.
September 17, 2016 Leave a comment
1) Kaepernick’s girlfriend is Muslim. Official embarrassment to Congress, Rep. Steve King, thinks that must mean he supports ISIS.
2) James Hamblin on Clinton’s pneumonia. I love the headline and subhead, “Hillary Clinton Attended a 9/11 Memorial Service Despite Illness: Some see this as weakness.”
Pneumonia would explain both the coughing and fatigue. In contrast to the classically severe bacterial pneumonias that are a common cause of death in older and chronically ill people, a relatively mild “walking pneumonia”—usually caused by an atypical microorganism like Mycoplasma—tends to leave a person feeling well enough to walk around despite fighting a significant infection. Patients often don’t take adequate time to rest and recover, but try to operate while coughing and feeling fatigued.
The condition is common and treatable, and as a cause of Clinton’s symptoms—even for those who have no trust in the candidate’s physician—this is simply a much more likely diagnosis than anything more serious. And having pneumonia, especially of the variety where a person is so high-functioning, does not raise concern over her ability to execute the duties of the office. Presidents can and have served well with much more serious conditions (coronary artery disease,paralysis from Guillain-Barré syndrome, Addison’s disease, and, of course, various bullet wounds).
Rather, Clinton was told to rest and take it easy, but instead made a point of going to a 9/11 memorial service.
3) NYT feature on just what Trump supporters in rural Kentucky are thinking.
4) Yes, many obese people should try a low-carb diet before going with bariatric surgery, but if it was just as simple as following a diet, would they be so obese?
5) Speaking of which… how the sugar industry successfully (and disastrously for American’s health) shifted the blame to fat.
6) This essay on the “Falling Man” photo of 9/11 is fabulous. Seriously, just read it:
The resistance to the image—to the images—started early, started immediately, started on the ground. A mother whispering to her distraught child a consoling lie: “Maybe they’re just birds, honey.” Bill Feehan, second in command at the fire department, chasing a bystander who was panning the jumpers with his video camera, demanding that he turn it off, bellowing, “Don’t you have any human decency?” before dying himself when the building came down. In the most photographed and videotaped day in the history of the world, the images of people jumping were the only images that became, by consensus, taboo—the only images from which Americans were proud to avert their eyes. All over the world, people saw the human stream debouch from the top of the North Tower, but here in the United States, we saw these images only until the networks decided not to allow such a harrowing view, out of respect for the families of those so publicly dying. At CNN, the footage was shown live, before people working in the newsroom knew what was happening; then, after what Walter Isaacson, who was then chairman of the network’s news bureau, calls “agonized discussions” with the “standards guy,” it was shown only if people in it were blurred and unidentifiable; then it was not shown at all…
But the only certainty we have is the certainty we had at the start: At fifteen seconds after 9:41 a.m., on September 11, 2001, a photographer named Richard Drew took a picture of a man falling through the sky—falling through time as well as through space. The picture went all around the world, and then disappeared, as if we willed it away. One of the most famous photographs in human history became an unmarked grave, and the man buried inside its frame—the Falling Man—became the Unknown Soldier in a war whose end we have not yet seen. Richard Drew’s photograph is all we know of him, and yet all we know of him becomes a measure of what we know of ourselves. The picture is his cenotaph, and like the monuments dedicated to the memory of unknown soldiers everywhere, it asks that we look at it, and make one simple acknowledgment.
That we have known who the Falling Man is all along.
7) Fairfield, CT spends $16,000 per student per year and way outperforms Bridgeport and it’s $14,000. But I’m sure if you switched those numbers, little would change. Yes, Bridgeport may need more funding, but this is ultimately a story about the impact concentrated poverty has on school systems.
8) Krugman on Trump’s Putinophilia:
There are good reasons to worry about Mr. Trump’s personal connections to the Putin regime (or to oligarchs close to that regime, which is effectively the same thing.) How crucial has Russian money been in sustaining Mr. Trump’s ramshackle business empire? There are hints that it may have been very important indeed, but given Mr. Trump’s secretiveness and his refusal to release his taxes, nobody really knows.
Beyond that, however, admiring Mr. Putin means admiring someone who has contempt for democracy and civil liberties. Or more accurately, it means admiring someone precisely because of that contempt.
When Mr. Trump and others praise Mr. Putin as a “strong leader,” they don’t mean that he has made Russia great again, because he hasn’t. He has accomplished little on the economic front, and his conquests, such as they are, are fairly pitiful. What he has done, however, is crush his domestic rivals: Oppose the Putin regime, and you’re likely to end up imprisoned or dead. Strong!
9) Apparently, the giant island of garbage in the Pacific is pretty much a myth. Whoa! Not that we don’t have a huge problem with ocean pollution.
10) This XKCD on global warming is so, so good. Take a look.
11) It’s a shame that the NYT’s Public Editor just doesn’t get the problems with false equivalence. Chait eviscerates her.
13) Another example of our party asymmetry. Democratic governors just never are half this crazy, “Kentucky Gov Predicts, Calls for Bloodshed If Hillary Wins.”
14) So guilty of this common mistake of basing my spending/time decisions based on percentages instead of absolute dollars.
15) David Frum with the case against college diversity officers:
Today’s New York Times offers one modest illustration. Over the past 18 months, the Times reports, 90 American colleges and universities have hired “chief diversity officers.” These administrators were hired in response to the wave of racial incidents that convulsed campuses like the University of Missouri over the past year. They are bulking up an already thriving industry. In March 2016, the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education held its 10th annual conference in San Francisco. Attendance set a new record: 370. The association publishes a journal. It bestows awards of excellence.
As diversity officers proliferate, entire learned specialties plunge into hiring depressions. In the most recent academic years, job postings for historians declined by 8 percent, the third decline in a row. Cumulatively, new hirings of historians have dropped 45 percent since 2011-2012.
I anticipate the response: This only represents a tiny fraction of the growth among administrators! Diversity is important! Graduation rates among black university students have improved in recent years. Surely all these chief diversity officers are accomplishing something?
Yet the closest studies of disadvantaged-student performance discover that what such students need most is more intensive teaching and mentoring. As my colleague Emily DeRuy has reported, young people from impoverished backgrounds live in “relationship poverty”: “Research, which involved surveys of thousands of young people and in-person interviews with more than 100, suggests that if a web of supportive relationships surrounds these students, the chances that they will leave school shrink dramatically.” But that’s not only expensive—it also requires extraordinarily hard work, with uncertain chances of success. Even more relevantly: The students at risk are not all or even mostly “diverse,” as diversity is conventionally understood in the United States in 2016. If J.D. Vance’s marvelous Hillbilly Elegy pounds any one idea into the heads of America’s university presidents, that idea should be it.
But maybe the university presidents already know it. “Diversity” is an easier problem to manage than “disadvantage.”
16) Blaise Pascal figured out back in the 17th century the social-science-validated approach for how to change minds.
17) Conor Friedersdorf explains how Trump exploited charity for personal gain. Of course, since this is just Trump being Trump, nobody seems to care. Imagine if Romney or McCain or Clinton had done these things.
18) James Surowiecki on the huge, anti-reform, problem of police unions:
On August 26th, Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, refused to stand for the national anthem, as a protest against police brutality. Since then, he’s been attacked by just about everyone—politicians, coaches, players, talk-radio hosts, veterans’ groups. But the harshest criticism has come from Bay Area police unions. The head of the San Francisco police association lambasted his “naïveté” and “total lack of sensitivity,” and called on the 49ers to “denounce” the gesture. The Santa Clara police union said that its members, many of whom provide security at 49ers games, might refuse to go to work if no action was taken against Kaepernick. A work stoppage to punish a player for expressing his opinion may seem extreme. But in the world of police unions it’s business as usual. Indeed, most of them were formed as a reaction against public demands in the nineteen-sixties and seventies for more civilian oversight of the police. Recently, even as the use of excessive force against minorities has caused outcry and urgent calls for reform, police unions have resisted attempts to change the status quo, attacking their critics as enablers of crime.
Police unions emerged later than many other public-service unions, but they’ve made up for lost time. Thanks to the bargains they’ve struck on wages and benefits, police officers are among the best-paid civil servants. More important, they’ve been extraordinarily effective in establishing control over working conditions. All unions seek to insure that their members have due-process rights and aren’t subject to arbitrary discipline, but police unions have defined working conditions in the broadest possible terms. This position has made it hard to investigate misconduct claims, and to get rid of officers who break the rules. A study of collective bargaining by big-city police unions, published this summer by the reform group Campaign Zero, found that agreements routinely guarantee that officers aren’t interrogated immediately after use-of-force incidents and often insure that disciplinary records are purged after three to five years.
19) House Freedom Caucus looking to impeach the IRS Commissioner because they hate taxes that much. Shameful.
20) Apparently Chromebooks are about to transform laptop design.
21) A full deconstruction of the hilariously absurd NC GOP response to the NCAA.
22) Ginning up false fears of voter fraud in Wisconsin.
23) Andrew Rosenthal on the deplorableness of Trump’s deplorables. And the photo KE cannot resist:
Damon Winter/The New York Times
24) So, how much do parents really matter anyway? Lessons from around the world.
Friedman: Is there one particularly brilliant parenting technique you came across in the course of your research?
Sarah: In South Asia—I’ve worked a lot in Nepal, and also in India—I’m very impressed by two particular parenting behaviors. One is that parents are very physically affectionate. Fathers as well as mothers, and close relatives are too. And that is combined with totally clear expectations on the part of the parents: You know, “I love you—and this is what we expect of you.”
Well, I’ve at least got one of the two, down🙂.
25) Really good Toobin piece on Kaepernick and a famous Supreme Court case on free speech:
More important, even amid the patriotic displays associated with the mobilization for war, the degradations of Nazi Germany had impressed themselves upon the American conscience. The result of the case flipped the result to a six-to-three victory for the family, and Jackson’s opinion in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette stands as perhaps the greatest defense of freedom of expression ever formulated by a Supreme Court Justice—and, not incidentally, a useful message for the N.F.L.
The core idea in Jackson’s opinion is that freedom demands that those in power allow others to think for themselves. In nearly every line, Jackson’s opinion is haunted by the struggle on the battlefield against, in his phrase, “our present totalitarian enemies.” “Struggles to coerce uniformity of sentiment in support of some end thought essential to their time and country have been waged by many good, as well as by evil, men,” Jackson wrote. “Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard. It seems trite but necessary to say that the First Amendment to our Constitution was designed to avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.” Such melodramatic phrasing may feel more appropriate for the worldwide crisis of that era than for the present one, but the message of tolerance also resonates on the less fraught setting of a football gridiron.