Why do Republicans hate the Republican Party?

Okay, not hate, but not necessarily like so much.  Very interesting chart from a recent Pew survey:

Republicans Less Favorable Toward the GOP

I would love to see this measurement over longer time horizons.  Based on this, it looks like that 86 support around the turn of the year was the real outlier.  Are Republicans just generally more dissatisfied with their own party than Democrats?  And if so, is there something about one of the many asymmetry’s that explains this?  For example, we know that Republicans are much more compromise averse, but the nature of government (in America, at least) is compromise.  Or the nature of government is governing, and Republicans maybe aren’t big fans of that.  Anyway, this is interesting and definitely worth unpacking further.

You will not be surprised to learn where Trump’s support is coming from

From Greg Sargent on the latest WP/ABC poll:

In the last few weeks, Americans (and the media) have watched in awe as a New York real estate magnate prone to bellicose behavior and hyperbole has become the GOP’s leading candidate for the White House.

But how did this come to be? A lot of it has to do with education.

Trump’s support is strongest with Republicans in the Midwest, conservatives across the country who do not have a college degree and (perhaps not surprisingly) those who report the most negative views of immigration and Mexican immigrants in particular [emphasis mine], according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released last week.

Trump has certainly distinguished himself as the candidate willing to express outrage and horror about the nation’s immigration challenges. He has also espoused a range of demonstrably false, unproven and outright conspiratorial ideas about immigration.

I’ll refrain from snarky comments– and Sargent raises some nice points about this being the group that probably faces the most direct threat from immigration– but suffice it to say that I’m not surprised to learn that Trump’s support comes disproportionately from the less educated.

You might not actually be entitled to your “opinion”

This great piece has gone viral among my professor friends (and even some non-professor friends) for good reason.  It is amazing what people think they can get away with intellectually just by claiming something is their “opinion.”  Alas, it is so not that simple:

However, before you crouch behind your Shield of Opinion you need to ask yourself two questions.

1. Is this actually an opinion?

2. If it is an opinion how informed is it and why do I hold it?

I’ll help you with the first part. An opinion is a preference for or judgment of something. My favorite color is black. I think mint tastes awful. Doctor Who is the best television show. These are all opinions. They may be unique to me alone or massively shared across the general population but they all have one thing in common; they cannot be verified outside the fact that I believe them…

There’s nothing wrong with an opinion on those things. The problem comes from people whose opinions are actually misconceptions. If you think vaccines cause autism you are expressing something factually wrong, not an opinion. The fact that you may still believe that vaccines cause autism does not move your misconception into the realm of valid opinion. Nor does the fact that many other share this opinion give it any more validity. [emphases mine]

To quote John Oliver, who referenced a Gallup poll showing one in four Americans believe climate change isn’t real on his show, Last Week Tonight

Who gives a shit? You don’t need people’s opinion on a fact. You might as well have a poll asking: “Which number is bigger, 15 or 5?” or “Do owls exist?” or “Are there hats?” …

That’s where the second question comes in; is your opinion informed and why do you believe it? Though technically these opinions cannot be wrong they can be lacking in worth simply because they are lacking in structure.

Here’s an example. Let’s say I meet a fellow Doctor Who fan, and this fan’s favorite Doctor is David Tennant. Nothing wrong so far. However, upon further discussing the subject this fan tells me that he or she has never seen any of the pre-2005 episodes or heard any of the radio plays. Now, it’s possible that even if he or she had David Tennant would still be his or her favorite Doctor, but it’s also possible that it would be Tom Baker or Paul McGann or someone else.

In a perfect world someone confronted with this would simply say, “Well, David Tennant is my favorite that I’ve seen.” There’s plenty of reasons to not have seen any olderDoctor Who. It’s not all on Netflix, there’s a lot of it, radio plays can get rather expensive, etc. Having a narrow opinion from a narrow set of information is only natural.

What mucks it all up when a narrow set of information is assumed to be wider than it is.

In other words, you can form an opinion in a bubble, and for the first couple of decades of our lives we all do. However, eventually you are going to venture out into the world and find that what you thought was an informed opinion was actually just a tiny thought based on little data and your feelings. Many, many, many of your opinions will turn out to be uninformed or just flat out wrong. No, the fact that you believed it doesn’t make it any more valid or worthwhile, and nobody owes your viewpoint any respect simply because it is yours. 

This is so going to be the very first discussion topic for my Intro to American government discussions sections.  Based on observation (my grad students run these, I observe and give feedback and try really, really hard not to interject myself), this problem is absolutely rampant in these classes.  And, there’s actually no shortage of upper-level students who don’t quite seem to get this either.  And, of course, plenty of people, period, who just don’t get this.  This is probably a link worth bookmarking.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Hillary Clinton’s approach on capital gains is smart policy.  But, it disproportionately affects the richest Americans.  Of course Republicans hate it.  Drum’s take and Jordan Weissmann’s.

2) Speaking of Hillary and taxes, she’s also speaking out on the “hair and makeup tax” faced by women.  Enjoyed the emphatic “amen” on this from a female reporter friend.

3) Dahlia Lithwick on a the recent 8th Circuit abortion decision:

What the 8th Circuit panel did yesterday goes far beyond admitting evidence from a discredited “expert” or two, willing to testify to conclusions that have been long debunked by serious scientific and medical organizations. This court actually usedthat faux science—without testing or weighing it or even allowing it to be evaluated at trial—to advance their argument that Roe and Casey are bad law because they just don’t like them. They would just take the assertions of “one doctor” and “one woman” as proof that abortions are bad and states should regulate them however and whenever they see fit. For all their alleged faults, Roe and Casey represented judicial attempts to calibrate the complex and competing interests of medical science, state interests, pregnant women, and the unborn fetuses they carried. They were not a series of Post-it notes from one side of the abortion debate.

4) Some research a while back suggested that most campus rapes are committed by serial rapists.  The latest research?  Maybe not so much.

5) Fascinating piece in the Economist on how the ubiquitousness of English is seemingly affecting commonly-used grammar in other languages.

6) Drum on how the new EPA power plant rules that conservatives said would destroy America are (surprise!) not going to destroy America.

7) What 10 Republicans will get to participate in the first GOP debate?  Given the low polling averages at the bottom, there will probably be an element of chance in who is included.

8) Great Pew feature on the changing demographics of America.

9) Love this Jordan Weissman on Jeb’s economic proposals:

So Bush has managed to clear the ankle-high bar of looking relatively adult in the quadrennial freak show known as the Republican primary. This is not the same, however, as demonstrating that his ideas are particularly thoughtful or moderate. [emphasis mine] While he breaks with his party’s rabid base on immigration and education, when it comes to the all-important issues regarding the size and role of government, his positions seem to be GOP boilerplate mixed with a dash of hardcore conservative fantasy, all dressed up with some rhetorical gimmicks. Bush might be the grown-up in the room. But you have to consider the room.

10) A prostitute acting in self defense may have just killed a serial killer (and surely saved future lives in the process).

11) One thing NCLB has done well?  Helping Special Education students.  (Though I still strongly question the wisdom of standardized tests for children– such as my own– who are not even on a Kindergarten academic level).

12) And on a related subject, students with disabilities are being punished at disproportionate rates as the same rules do not always make sense for them (I’ll never forget the absurdity of Alex being sent “to the principal” for what amounted to the type of tantrum a three-year old would have).

13) Say what you will about Millennials, but I do appreciate the fact that they would much rather work in a vibrant downtown than a suburban office park.  This, of course, is bad news for office parks.

14) Daniel Kahneman thinks we all need to be less confident.  I’m quite confident that he is right about this:

What’s fascinating is that Kahneman’s work explicitly swims against the current of human thought. Not even he believes that the various flaws that bedevil decision-making can be successfully corrected. The most damaging of these is overconfidence: the kind of optimism that leads governments to believe that wars are quickly winnable and capital projects will come in on budget despite statistics predicting exactly the opposite. It is the bias he says he would most like to eliminate if he had a magic wand. But it “is built so deeply into the structure of the mind that you couldn’t change it without changing many other things”.

15) So, those cool kids at 13?  Not so great at 23.

16) I must admit I’m quite partial to this theory for why social psychologists are liberal.  But given all the social-psychology I know, I think it may be just motivated reasoning (though, there’s probably some there there).

17) Just so we’re clear, you have the right to be rude to police officers.  Of course, just because you have the right to mouth off, doesn’t mean its a good idea as there’s little to stop them from escalating a situation and arresting you even if they should not have done so.

18) Back in 5th grade I was the Rubik’s Cube champ of West Springfield Elementary.  It took me several minutes on average.  I am in awe of the fact that people today can do it in under 10 seconds.

That’s me wearing my “I solved the Rubik’s Cube” t-shirt while hitting the mini-links in Ocean City, Maryland, circa 1982.

 

Which America do you want to live in?

Jamelle Bouie on the Sandra Bland arrest:

Yes, Bland could have been less irritated, and she could have obeyed the command to put out her cigarette. But it’s not illegal to be frustrated with the police, and it’s not a crime to smoke. Moreover, it’s an officer’s job to remain calm and resolve situations without additional conflict. It’s not an imposition to expect as much from men and women entrusted with the right to detain and to use lethal force.

Think of it this way: If you are inclined to blame Bland for her arrest (and by extension her death), then you’re sanctioning an America where police command total deference, where you have to obey regardless of what you’ve done or what’s the law. You might want to live in that America. I don’t. [emphases mine]

I also love this take from the Atlantic’s David Graham on how many Sandra Bland arrests happen that we never know about:

Bland’s arrest fits into the category of police overreacting to perceived challenges to their authority, even provocations as minor as an individual asking why he or she is being arrested. A prosecutor charges that Freddie Gray was given a “rough ride” in a police van as punishment for running away from police and making a scene when he was arrested (an arrest that the prosecutor further charges was unlawful). If Bland had not died—authorities called it a suicide, though they’re now also investigating it as a murder—it’s unlikely that the video would have seen the light of day. It certainly would not have received widespread-media attention.

As my colleague Rebecca Rosen notes, one of the biggest revelations in theJustice Department’s report on policing in Ferguson after Michael Brown’s death was how many egregious examples of police misconduct went essentially unremarked upon and unpunished, simply because they didn’t end with anyone dead. Yet each of those incidents did have a cost: a loss of dignity, dehumanization, a gulf between police and citizens, and often a violation of civil rights. How many cases like Sandra Bland’s are there? It shouldn’t take a tragedy for police to be called to account for abusing their authority.

Short version: We need to do a way better job in this country holding police accountable.  When we entrust a segment of the population to use lethal force in the name of the government, we need to hold them to the highest possible standards.  Alas, far too often it’s the lowest and far too many Americans seem comfortable with that just because they love their ideas of “law and order” too much.

Quick hits

https://news.ncsu.edu/2015/07/kuzma-food-factors-2015/

http://www.vox.com/2015/7/20/8999311/meat-ethics

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/opinion/the-campaign-of-deception-against-planned-parenthood.html

http://www.vice.com/read/how-ayn-rand-became-libertarians-sociopathic-pixie-dream-girl-720

But what makes Rand interesting has never been her work, which is universally middling. Instead, it’s the reactions her work inspires, especially from the kind of socially awkward white men who seem disproportionately drawn to libertarianism and for whom Rand is a mascot of sorts. The Randian view of the world is pitiless, cruel—”Whenever there’s a sneer of disgust at the disadvantaged, the ghost of Rand is hovering near,” Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig writes in The New Republic.

http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article27437917.html

http://prospect.org/article/how-american-south-drives-low-wage-economy

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/hillary-clinton-takes-aim-capital-gains-taxes-rich

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/07/06/bernie_sanders_doubles_down_on_support_for_gun_sellers.html

http://reason.com/blog/2015/07/22/oklahoma-official-used-asset-forfeiture

http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/two-good-reasons-not-to-take-the-donald-trump-surge-seriously/

http://time.com/3965074/hillary-clinton-facebook-hair-makeup-tax/

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/07/why-lonely-people-stay-lonely.html

And because of this new evidence of the serious ramifications of loneliness, some researchers are investigating what it is, exactly, that makes lonely people stay lonely. In particular, could some behavior be at the root of their isolation? One long-held theory has been that people become socially isolated because of their poor social skills — and, presumably, as they spend more time alone, the few skills they do have start to erode from lack of use. But new research suggests that this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the socially isolated. Lonely people dounderstand social skills, and often outperform the non-lonely when asked to demonstrate that understanding. It’s just that when they’re in situations when they need those skills the most, they choke.

 

http://wunc.org/post/proposed-legislation-would-roll-back-environmental-safeguards

http://theweek.com/articles/567934/donald-trump-did-thing-right-about-john-mccain

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2015/07/north_dakota_fetal_heartbeat_bill_court_opinion_an_anti_science_states_rights.2.html

What the 8th Circuit panel did yesterday goes far beyond admitting evidence from a discredited “expert” or two, willing to testify to conclusions that have been long debunked by serious scientific and medical organizations. This court actually usedthat faux science—without testing or weighing it or even allowing it to be evaluated at trial—to advance their argument that Roe and Casey are bad law because they just don’t like them. They would just take the assertions of “one doctor” and “one woman” as proof that abortions are bad and states should regulate them however and whenever they see fit. For all their alleged faults, Roe and Casey represented judicial attempts to calibrate the complex and competing interests of medical science, state interests, pregnant women, and the unborn fetuses they carried. They were not a series of Post-it notes from one side of the abortion debate.

https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/context/science-heroic-tragic-statistical-flaw

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/surprise-epas-new-power-plant-rules-arent-going-destroy-america-after-all

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/we-dont-trust-drinking-fountains-anymore-and-thats-bad-for-our-health/2015/07/02/24eca9bc-15f0-11e5-9ddc-e3353542100c_story.html

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/07/donald-trump-joseph-mccarthy/399056/ Beinart on Trump and Joe McCarthy?  They are both opportunists.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2015/07/johnson-influence-english?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/bl/st/deepimpact

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/nytnow/rebuke-for-crying-child-in-a-diner-starts-a-parenting-debate.html?emc=edit_ml_20150723&nl=style&nlid=1611075&_r=0

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-if-most-campus-rapes-arent-committed-by-serial-rapists/

http://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson/trump-and-the-art-of-the-war-hero?mbid=social_facebook

What is worse, though, is the corollary to Trump’s smugness: his open disdain for people who aren’t fortunate. Being poor, he suggests, is as much the fault of poor people as being rich is entirely to his own credit. If they are not rich, then they are losers—and Trump knows what he thinks about losers. Luntz had originally brought up the war-hero point to ameliorate Trump’s comment that, although he had raised money for McCain’s 2008 Presidential campaign—“a million dollars!”—he had “never liked him much after that, ’cause I don’t like losers.” The contempt he has for undocumented immigrants or for a child in a rough neighborhood is of the same species as that he exhibited toward McCain. He likes the people who aren’t struggling. The other Republican Presidential candidates are now trying to distance themselves from Trump’s slurs against prisoners of war; they have been slow to do the same when it comes to his comments about Hispanics and immigrants and a half dozen other groups. They also need to look at how an unexamined affinity for the wealthy has become part of the G.O.P.’s ethos, too.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/21/upshot/election-2015-the-first-gop-debate-and-the-role-of-chance.html

http://www.pewresearch.org/next-america/#Americas-Racial-Tapestry-Is-Changing

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/07/no-child-left-behind-one-big-achievement/399455/

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/07/school-discipline-children-disabilities/399563/

http://jezebel.com/hero-woman-acting-in-self-defense-may-have-just-offed-a-1720012696

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/nytnow/rebuke-for-crying-child-in-a-diner-starts-a-parenting-debate.html?emc=edit_ml_20150723&nl=style&nlid=1611075&_r=0

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-old-suburban-office-park-is-the-new-american-ghost-town/2015/07/20/b8e7653a-1f6e-11e5-bf41-c23f5d3face1_story.html

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jul/18/daniel-kahneman-books-interview?CMP=share_btn_fb

What’s fascinating is that Kahneman’s work explicitly swims against the current of human thought. Not even he believes that the various flaws that bedevil decision-making can be successfully corrected. The most damaging of these is overconfidence: the kind of optimism that leads governments to believe that wars are quickly winnable and capital projects will come in on budget despite statistics predicting exactly the opposite. It is the bias he says he would most like to eliminate if he had a magic wand. But it “is built so deeply into the structure of the mind that you couldn’t change it without changing many other things”.

 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2015/07/21/jeb_bush_s_policy_platform_is_inane_please_stop_treating_him_seriously.html

So Bush has managed to clear the ankle-high bar of looking relatively adult in the quadrennial freak show known as the Republican primary. This is not the same, however, as demonstrating that his ideas are particularly thoughtful or moderate. While he breaks with his party’s rabid base on immigration and education, when it comes to the all-important issues regarding the size and role of government, his positions seem to be GOP boilerplate mixed with a dash of hardcore conservative fantasy, all dressed up with some rhetorical gimmicks. Bush might be the grown-up in the room. But you have to consider the room.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com//2014/06/23/cool-at-13-adrift-at-23/

http://fusion.net/story/170591/the-next-time-someone-says-all-lives-matter-show-them-these-5-paragraphs/

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/ex-machina-2015

Real science fiction is about ideas, which means that real science fiction is rarely seen on movie screens, a commercially minded canvas that’s more at ease with sensation and spectacle. What you more often get from movies is something that could be called “science fiction-flavored product”—a work that has a few of the superficial trappings of the genre, such as futuristic production design and somewhat satirical or sociological observations about humanity, but that eventually abandons its pretense for fear of alienating or boring the audience and gives way to more conventional action or horror trappings, forgetting about whatever made it seem unusual to begin with.

“Ex Machina,” the directorial debut by novelist and screenwriter Alex Garland (“28 Days Later,” “Sunshine”), is a rare and welcome exception to that norm.

http://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson/merkel-and-the-crying-girl-five-lessons?mbid=social_facebook

http://theconversation.com/psychologists-are-known-for-being-liberal-but-is-that-because-they-understand-how-people-think-44066

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/s/rubiks-cube-champ-reveals-secrets-234548228.html

 

You are an experiment

Loved James Hamblin on the misguided-ness of GMO labeling.  Here’s his awesome conclusion:

Long-term effects of introducing certain crops into certain ecosystems, and the business practices with which they are grown and sold, are enormously important and remain to be seen and carefully considered. Some effects of agriculture will be desirable, some untoward, and effects of both kinds will come from crops that run the gamut of what has been “modified” by human intervention, and to what degree. But “GMO-free” does not mean fair trade, and it does not mean sustainable, and it does not mean monoculture-averting, and it does not mean rainforest-enabling, and it does not mean labor-friendly, and it does not mean healthy, though it puffs its chest and carries itself alongside those claims. Activists march with signs that say “I AM NOT AN EXPERIMENT.” But the state of having 7 billion food-consuming humans on this planet—6 billion more than there were two centuries ago—is an unprecedented experiment.

It’s because of this meaninglessness, and fear perpetuated by a “natural” food industry, that a right to know is in this case a right to be misled. And this act continues to give food companies the right to tout and sell “GMO-free” as some halo of wholesome virtue, which would be lovely and elegant if it meant progress toward sustainably feeding the world healthful food, but it does not.

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