Quick hits (part I)

1) Larry Lessig’s awesome reaction to being insulted in hacked emails.

2) Big Pharma to America: More pills.  Always more pills.

3) Great response from the editor of the Arizona Republic for the deplorable backlash they received in response for endorsing Clinton.

4) My daughter is generally loving kindergarten, but it is undoubtedly too focused on academics without enough time for fun.  Pretty jealous of they do it in Finland.

5) Josh Barro on why he left the Republican party (and I highly recommend following him on twitter).

6) Former grad school friend David Kimball on actually effective election reforms (as opposed to Voter ID).

7) Aziz Ansari with a great video on why you should vote (it’s short, just watch):

8) Jamelle Bouie on how this election could make the Latino vote as Democratic as the Black vote.

For Trump, Latino immigrants join Muslims and Syrian refugees as potential threats, fundamentally incompatible with American life. If they’re here, they have to be removed, and if they’re not here, they need to be kept out. In turn, for Latino Americans and their families, this makes Trump an existential threat to their lives and livelihoods. Only 21 percent of Latinos say the GOP cares about their community, and 70 percent say that Trump has made the Republican Party more hostile to them. In another survey, polling and research firm Latino Decisions asked Latino registered voters to gauge two statements: “Donald Trump’s campaign talk and policy views make me fear for the future of my family and our country” and “Donald Trump truly has the best interest of my family and our country in mind.” Eighty-two percent of respondents agreed with the first statement, that Trump makes them fear for their families and their country. Eighteen percent agreed with the latter…

In the wake of Obama’s election, the national Republican Party was already on this path. But Trump has been an accelerant, driving Latino Americans away from the GOP with xenophobia and unyielding hostility. And in fact, this has had an unintended side effect: Asian Americans are leaving the Republican Party, too, in record numbers, and for similar reasons. A GOP that nominates Trump—and embraces nativism—is one that lacks room for all immigrant and nonwhite groups.

9) Trump has called for term limits.  Fortunately, the terrible idea of term limits has really dropped off.  But not surprising for Trump to embrace a terrible idea.  Lee Drutman explains why term limits are a bad idea.

Term limits also strengthen the power of lobbyists and interest groups for the same reason. In term-limited states, lawmakers and their staff have less time to build up expertise, since they are there for a limited time. But like the executive agencies of the state government, lobbyists and interest groups are also there year after year. They are the true repeat players building long-term relationships and the true keepers of the institutional knowledge. This gives them power.

It’s a nice fantasy that what Washington needs is a bunch of good old-fashioned common sense — common sense that can only come from people who aren’t “career politicians.” But the machinery of government is now incredibly complex. And the more we cling to the fantasy of electing uncorrupted political neophytes as saviors, the more we empower the lobbyists and bureaucrats who can accumulate a lifetime of experience and knowledge.

10) Trump and the increasing generational split among Evangelicals.

11) Republican election lawyer on the impossibility of actually rigging American elections.

12) NYT Editorial on “shameful silence” of Republicans on Trump’s vote-rigging claims.

13) I like Harry Enten’s formulation for the analysis of the gender gap this year, “Men Are Treating 2016 As A ‘Normal’ Election; Women Aren’t.”

14) The sugar conspiracy (thanks, DJC)

15) I really like the idea behind this piece– how to make a psychological exit ramp for Trump supporters to leave his odious campaign behind.

16) John Oliver clearly speaking directly to the Millennials who might think it a good idea to vote for Johnson or Stein.


17) Want to know what’s up with Trump always saying “the Blacks” and “the Hispanics”?  Read this.

18) David French on what happens when a conservative prominently opposed Donald Trump.  It’s ugly.

19) James Fallows on the debates:

From the opening moments of the first debate, she sent out a a nonstop stream of provocations, subtle or obvious, all tailored to wounding Trump’s vanities. The topics ranged from his not really being rich, to being a man of the beauty-pageant world, to not paying taxes, to being a chronic liar, to generally being preposterous. Sooner or later in each debate, usually sooner, it worked! Trump simply could not resist the bait. He would go off on exactly the tirades the Clinton campaign was hoping to evoke from him. You saw it again last night: for the first 30 minutes or so, he was so stately as to seem semi-sedated. Then she began teasing him, and she got him to snap and interrupt.

So from an unprecedented and potentially unpredictable confrontation, we saw the behavior many people anticipated from each candidate. Very carefully prepped Belichick-type execution of a precise plan from one side. On the other side, wild slugging by someone who might as well have had a bucket over his head. [emphasis mine]

20) With all the recent talk of Al Gore (who acted entirely appropriately regarding conceding the election) here’s a look back on how we was so robbed (it’s all about the overvotes).

21) Really interesting piece from Daniel Engber on the role of frame rate in film.

22) In case you missed Colbert’s R-rated “Venn diagram.”

23) I must say, one of the more enjoyable features of twitter this election season is the fact that Bill Mitchell is a real person posting non-ironically.

24) Ezra on Hillary and the debates:

Two things have been true throughout the debates. One is that Trump has been, at every turn, underprepared, undisciplined, and operating completely without a strategy. In one of the third debate’s most unintentionally revealing moments, Trump said, “I sat in my apartment today … watching ad after false ad, all paid for by your friends on Wall Street,” an inadvertent admission that he was inhaling cable news when he should have been prepping for the debate.

But the other reality is that Clinton has been, at every turn, prepared, disciplined, and coldly strategic. She triggered Trump’s epic meltdown purposely, and kept Trump off balance over multiple weeks that probably represented his last chance to turn the election around. She was ready for every question, prepared for every attack, and managed to goad Trump into making mistakes that became the main story the day after every single debate.

It is easy, now, to assume her victory was assured, to read Trump’s collapse as inevitable. But remember that he triumphed over a talented, 17-person Republican field in debate after debate to win the primary — one-on-one contests are unique, it’s true, but there was no particular reason to think Trump couldn’t use his bullying, blustering showmanship to take over the stage and expose Clinton as inauthentic and out of touch. The reason he didn’t is because she never let him.

We aren’t used to this kind of victory. We aren’t used to candidates winning not so much because of how they performed but because of how they pushed their opponent into performing. But the fact that we aren’t used to this kind of victory doesn’t make it any less impressive. Hillary Clinton has humbled Donald Trump, and she did it her way.

25) Dark Mirror season 3 came out yesterday on Netflix.  So loved the first two seasons.  Especially, the Christmas episode with John Hamm.  Brilliant.


Quick hits (part I)

[Note: this was all written compiled before the latest Trump news]

1) Just in case you missed SNL’s debate parody.  Damn is Alec Baldwin a great Trump.

2) Vox on Trump’s money-losing casinos:

Ultimately, the story of Trump in Atlantic City looks a lot like a large-scale version of the story of Trump University.

In both cases, rather than offering actual education or hospitality management, what Trump offered was a name vaguely associated in the public eye with money and opulence. The casinos were not, in fact, well-run, and the “education” offered was entirely useless. But Trump managed to construct business models for himself where personal enrichment did not depend on the underlying soundness of the enterprise. As long as the music was playing and cash was flowing in and out the door, Trump managed to grab some.

Eventually, it came to an end. So after casinos came the university, the steaks, the water, the television show, the suits, and now a presidential campaign.

3) The four traits that put kids at risk for addiction. At least none of my kids seem to have more than two of the four: “sensation-seeking, impulsiveness, anxiety sensitivity and hopelessness.”

4) The debate on whether wild blueberries are more healthy than farm-raised.  I love the (always frozen) wild blueberries and have them with my cereal 8-9 months a year when fresh farm-raised blueberries are too expensive.

5) Your tax dollars at work in the war on drugs, headline captures it all, “Cop Spends 2 Months Working Undercover At Burger King, Nets 5 Grams Of Weed.”

5) Great news for my wife (seriously), “A Happy Spouse May Be Good for Your Health.”

But a new study, published in Health Psychology, suggests that physical health may also be linked to the happiness of one’s husband or wife.

Researchers used data from a survey of 1,981 heterosexual couples, a nationwide sample of Americans older than 50 whose happiness had been assessed periodically since 1992 using well-validated scales. They also completed regular questionnaires on physical health.

A person’s good health was independently associated with the happiness of his or her spouse. Consistently, people with an unhappy partner had more physical impairments, engaged in less exercise and rated their overall health worse than those who had a happy partner.

6) Chris Cilizza on Trump’s PA meltdown:

The Trump in that video is the exact opposite of presidential. The word that kept coming to my mind when I watched it was “nasty.” He seems mean, angry, vindictive. None of those words tend to be what people use to describe presidents.

Simply put: If you had questions before Saturday night about whether Trump had the proper temperament to hold the job he is seeking, it’s hard to imagine that you don’t have serious doubts today…

True character tends to be revealed when times are tough. Anyone can be magnanimous, happy and generous after a win. It’s a hell of a lot harder to maintain that dignity and charitableness after a defeat.

Trump has shown throughout this campaign that he runs well while ahead. His chiding of his opponents, his dismissiveness of the political press — it all plays great when he is on top of the political world.

But, last night in Manheim, he showed what we got glimpses of almost a year ago in Iowa: When he’s down, Trump is like a cornered animal. He lashes out — at everyone. That is when he’s at his most dangerous — to his own prospects and those of the party he is leading.

7) Fear leads to more support for Voter ID laws.

8) And nice piece from the Upshot on the social science reality of implicit bias.

9) Alex Wagner on the racism of Bill O’Reilly’s show.  (The Chinatown segment must be seen to be believed).  And the wonderfully profane Daily Show take.

10) So this is about how Washington bureaucrats are disdainful of typical Americans.  A key piece of evidence is this chart:

Ummm, but who would deny that “some” is generous for most of these policy areas.  That said, interesting reading.

11) Trump doing worse than Romney among white voters.  That spells doom.  Also, Harry Enten on how the declining level of undecided and third-party voters in recent polling is making Clinton’s lead safer.

12) How Donald Trump is creating conflict in NFL locker rooms.

13) Vox on the amazing rise of the Honeycrisp apple.  Yes, it is a good apple, but no way good enough to justify it’s super-premium price.  I prefer a good Braeburn, a good Cameo, (or the wondrous Suncrisps that I can only find at one vendor at the NC Farmer’s market).

14) No matter what the issue is, you know Trump will be “strong!”

15) 538 on the myth that Perot cost George HW Bush re-election in 1992 (I still have to semi-regularly swat down this myth).

16) I’m pretty sure I’ve written that I don’t actually object to “everybody gets a trophy” because the meaning of trophy has changed (liked the meaning of “marriage.”).  But, I still enjoyed this NYT debate on the matter.  Here’s the case against my take:

Trophies for all convey an inaccurate and potentially dangerous life message to children: We are all winners. This message is repeated at the end of each sports season, year after year, and is only reinforced by the collection of trophies that continues to pile up. We begin to expect awards and praise for just showing up — to class, practice, after-school jobs — leaving us woefully unprepared for reality. Outside the protected bubble of childhood, not everyone is a winner. Showing up to work, attending class, completing homework and trying my best at sports practice are expected of me, not worthy of an award. These are the foundations of a long path to potential success, a success that is not guaranteed no matter how much effort I put in.

I believe that we should change how we reward children. Trophies should be given out for first, second and third; participation should be recognized, but celebrated with words and a pat on the back rather than a trophy. As in sports as well as life, it is fact that there’s room for only a select few on the winners’ podium.

17) The economic challenges in widespread LED light bulb adoption.

18) Seth Masket on the stupidity of letting undecided voters decide debate questions:

We have a notion in our political discourse that the ideal citizen is one who is well informed about the issues of the day, approaches the candidates without any real preconceptions, and then makes a rational, informed decision about which candidate would best advance her interests and the nation’s. We also know from a great deal of public opinion and election research that this notion describes almost zero people.

Most voters are partisans, to one extent or another. They grow up with loyalty to one of the major parties, even if they never formally register as party members, and they perceive new information in ways that are generally favorable to their chosen party. Their knowledge of the political world may not be perfect, but it’s far better than that of independent voters.

 Actual independents just don’t follow politics very closely at all, for the most part. If they’re undecided between the presidential candidates, it’s in large part because they’ve tuned out and stopped receiving new information about them. And that’s fine. Undecided voters lead busy lives, like the rest of us, and unless they have reason to believe that their own individual vote will be pivotal (which is pretty unlikely), there’s little reason for them to be following the campaign that closely until right before the election. But there’s no reason for this indecision to give them an outsize voice in picking presidents.

19) The “Central Park 5” have been irrefutably vindicated.  Donald Trump is still sure they are guilty.  Because Donald Trump is never wrong.

20) In an interesting– but not the least bit surprising– finding, people who end up living in/near their hometown are much more likely to be Trump supporters:

So Trump has found a following among people who stayed home. One theory would suggest his supporters are sheltered: They haven’t encountered the world beyond what they knew growing up, and their support for Trump is potentially rooted in prejudice. You could also say these people are more in touch with their communities and are willing to dismiss Trump’s more incendiary remarks because he speaks to their news and those of their neighbors. Or both could be true. Either way, it’s a telling correlation. Hillary Clinton may have the hearts of the people who moved away. But way back home, they’re voting for Trump.

21) Among the Republicans endorsing Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary under GWB and former prosecutor of Hillary Clinton, Michael Chertoff.

22) Love Kevin Drum’s take on having learned nothing from having cancer.  Sometimes you just have a horrible disease, and it sucks, and that’s that.

23) Excellent Jack Shafer take on Mike Pence and “the year of disinformation”

Pence’s personal disinformation campaign is part of something much bigger this year. Political campaigns have always peddled bogus rumors and told lies in hopes that their mendacity will take root and hobble their opponents. These efforts don’t usually go very far because most reporters—even those of the pliant, gullible sort—resist being used by sources who traffic in lies.

But in campaign 2016 these disinformation efforts have become rampant, and they are gaining currency as never before thanks to the pick-up they’re getting from traditional media. Traditional media once shied from repeating stories they hadn’t confirmed, or that hadn’t been confirmed by their peers. But as so much of cable television has devolved from news to discussion about what people read in the news, that’s changed. It’s not that the old news gatekeepers aren’t doing their jobs. Most are. It’s just that the fences have been breached.

24) Why don’t we hear more from the Christian left?  Because it’s smaller and far more diverse than the Christian right.


25) Watched the “Wiener” documentary this week.  Riveting.  Couldn’t take my eyes off of it– like a car wreck happening right in front of you.

It’s hard out there for conservative evangelicals

Interesting piece in the NYT profiling religious conservatives in Iowa.  I do have some sympathy, as the ground really has shifted amazingly fast under their feet:

The change in America seemed to happen so quickly that it felt like whiplash, the Odgaards said. One day they felt comfortably situated in the American majority, as Christians with shared beliefs in God, family and the Bible. They had never even imagined that two people of the same sex could marry.

Overnight, it seemed, they discovered that even in small-town Iowa they were outnumbered, isolated and unpopular. Everyone they knew seemed to have a gay relative or friend. Mr. Odgaard’s daughter from his first marriage disavowed her father’s actions on Facebook, and his gay second cousin will not speak to him. Even their own Mennonite congregation put out a statement saying that while their denomination opposes gay marriage, “not every congregation” or Mennonite does. Mrs. Odgaard, 64, the daughter of a Mennonite minister, was devastated.

“It all flipped, so fast,” said Mr. Odgaard, a patrician 70-year-old who favors khakis and boat shoes. “Suddenly, we were in the minority. That was kind of a scary feeling. It makes you wonder where the Christians went.”

Of course, there’s still plenty of Christians (though the number is declining).  Most of them are just more tolerant.  But, I can certainly see how it would be disorienting.  That said, stuff like this (although a paraphrase rather than a quote, just kills me):

While other Americans are anxious about the economy, jobs and terrorism, conservative Christians say they fear for the nation’s very soul. Some worry that the nation has strayed so far that God’s punishment is imminent.

Give me a break?  How about how a nation treats it’s poor, disadvantaged, and prisoners instead of how it treats it’s gay people??!!  I seem to recall the Jesus saying just a wee bit more about the former.  Have these people actually read the Gospels?  You know who treats the poor, disadvantaged, and prisoners really well?  Scandinavians.  And hardly any of them are actually practicing Christians. And God has not exactly wreaked vengeance upon Denmark.  Please, spare me your concern for “the nation’s soul.”

Quick hits (part I)

1) This is a terrific piece on the strengths and weaknesses of Hillary Clinton as a politician by Ezra Klein.  I’ve been meaning to write a post about it. Just read it.  Really.

2) As long as I am quick-hitting stuff I meant to give their own post… this Dara Lind piece on sex offender registries is a pretty much perfect case study in how good intentions can lead to bad policy.

3) Biblical literalism and the new Noah’s Ark reconstruction.

4) Trump’s message to NC is increasingly less relevant.

5) The right-wing lies and myths about Hillary’s health are just plain wrong.  And the mainstream media should call them out on this.

6) A liberal professor with his take on why all the liberal professors.

7) A teacher shared her evidence-based policy on homework (that is, there’s little evidence it helps) and it went viral.  There’s actually nothing new here, but presumably good that people are starting to pay attention.

8) I’m so with Drum… if you’ve got something more than one simple thought to say, write a damn blog post!  Enough with the tweetstorms!

9) John McWhorter (by the way, I love how he has gone full-bore on being a public intellectual– I’ve loved pretty much everything I have read by him) on the changing language of race.  I especially like this part:

Notably, black has persisted robustly alongside African-American—note how clumsy “African American Lives Matter” would seem. The reason is that despite the persistence of racism after the early ’70s, few could say that black people since then have lived under the bluntly discriminatory, life-stunting conditions that blighted all black lives then. As such, African-Americandidn’t have as much ugly thought to replace, which is why it always had a slight air of the stunt about it, always felt as a bit in quotation marks. Black never connoted the ugly-newsreel/segregated water-fountain pain of Negro and colored, and African-American was created not because black had become especially freighted with negative associations, but because the hyphenated conception of identity had become so attractive and in vogue at the time. I personally have always found African-American clumsy, confusing, and implying that black history since 1600 was somehow not worthy of founding an identity upon, and I only use it when necessary. Yet I would never have ventured this relatively idiosyncratic position about Negro and colored.

10) Find out how well Facebook knows your politics (and actually very handy advice for modifying the ads you see).

11) Harry Enten on house effects among various pollsters.  As long as you analytically take these into account, the poll can still be useful.

12) I’m pretty good with delay of gratification, but the idea of putting something aside for 72 hours before buying it sounds like a good one.

13) Sensible password rules.  Enough with one special character, one upper-case, etc.

14) Interesting take on how Gawker was done in (shared by pretty much every journalist I know on social media).

15) Jonathan Ladd thinks Trump’s epically bad campaign means he has a lot of potential upside.  Definitely the right idea, but I honestly think, too late:

Yet as you may have noticed, things are different this year. The Trump campaign is so weak that it appears to be affecting the race. Political science models predicting the 2016 election based on various fundamentals (i.e., variables that ignore the two candidates and their campaigns) mostly predict a very close election or a Republican victory. Trump is vastly underperforming these fundamentals. He is currently somewhere between 5 and 10 points behind in pollingaverages.

The reason is that his campaign is weaker than any in the modern media era. There is arguably a bigger mismatch relative to the opposing campaign than in any presidential election in American history. The many errors of messaging by Trump and his campaign staff are too numerous to list here.

The bottom line is that he has presented himself in ways that have little appeal beyond the Republican base, some of whom will vote for him because they like his message and others out of partisan loyalty. But many other Americans who would be willing to vote Republican this year are repelled by Trump.

The strange thing is that this means the details of Trump’s campaign tactics matter a lot. Normally, both campaigns are competent enough that they are deep into the diminishing marginal returns for campaign communication. But this year, the Trump campaign has been so weak, I don’t think diminishing returns have really kicked in yet. Trump could improve his fortunes a lot if he managed to run a weak but essentially normal presidential campaign.

16) Money is all good for college athletes when it comes to gold medals.  Just another example of the NCAA’s epic hypocrisy.

17) Face transplant a year later– impressive progress.

18) Social science approaches to improving voter turnout.

19) Are private prisons highly problematic?  Indeed.  But in terms of what’s wrong with our criminal justice system, they are probably not even in the top 10 problems.  That’s because, they are not nearly as widespread as their critics believe.  

20) Speaking of prisons, it’s pretty shameful Ramen seems to have replaced cigarettes as black market currency because we can’t even seem to feed prisoners enough decent food.

21) Melania Trump’s “diary.”  Good stuff.

22) The hundred best films of the 21st century.  I’ve seen a few.  Not enough.  I would say the Angry Birds movie is one of the 10 worst I’ve seen this century.


23) A new book says ADHD is over-diagnosed and medication is over-prescribed.  I don’t dispute that.  That said, I’ll go on record as saying a correct diagnosis and stimulant medication has made a huge difference for my son:

Influential patient-advocacy groups insist that only now is the true prevalence of A.D.H.D. finally being recognized after being drastically underestimated — akin to the spike in autism diagnoses once the narrowly defined condition was broadened into a spectrum in the 1990s. But Schwarz makes a convincing case that the radical expansion and promotion of A.D.H.D. has resulted in the label being applied in ways that are far beyond the needs of a historically underserved community, while nonpharmaceutical methods of treatment like cognitive behavioral therapy (which have been proved to complement the effectiveness of medication) are overlooked.

24) Toobin on how Ted Cruz is still running for president.

25) Love this xkcd:

Linear Regression


Quick hits (part I)

This will be an Olympics heavy week– sorry, but I love them.

1) Texas set to execute man who did not kill anyone (nor pay/direct anybody to kill someone).

2) Parenting advice that really works:

If the David Brookses of the world were honest, their parenting advice would begin: Have a healthy kid, live in an affluent area (with low crime and good schools), be from a socially privileged demographic, and make a decent amount of money. From there on, it’s pretty much coasting.

Working so far (though I wonder if my oldest might not be on a better track with better parenting).

3) How Giuliani is ruining his reputation in service to Trump.

4) NYT Editorial says to stop treating marijuana like heroin.  Hell, yeah.

5) The second in Nicholas Thompon and Malcolm Gladwell’s conversations about Olympic track is likewise fascinating.

6) In a similar vein, I was totally fascinated by David Epstein’s discussion of the 800m race.

7) Why the French Burkini ban is stupid and how it fits into very different conceptions of religion and public life in France versus the US.

8) Somebody made up a crazy fake PPP memo (about their secret poll of Trump at 74% in Florida) that a bunch of wingnuts actually believed.  Really good stuff.

9) Have their been occasional sexist comments during network coverage of the Olympics?  I’m sure.  But I’m with Drum.  And, honestly, as you know I love Vox, but sometimes they really go off into SJW territory.

10) The “Carolina Comeback” that wasn’t.

11) Julia Azari asks whether America’s political parties aren’t too resilient for their own good:

Though there’s some benefit to the stability of a longstanding system, the long, rigid reign of two parties also limits the flexibility of American politics, reducing complex national decisions to simple binary contests and yoking together seemingly unrelated ideas—gun control, tax reform and health care, for example—in ways that make it impossible for any of them to move forward

This problem also creates problems for the parties themselves, in ways big and small. On the small side, as the Democratic coalition has become more diverse and reliant on voters who are people of color, Democratic state parties have run into some criticism for celebrating Jefferson-Jackson Day—usually an annual fundraising gala that celebrates two historic, slave-owning Democrats, hosted by a party that now prides itself on embracing racial equality. For the Democratic Party, there’s a point at which celebrating the heroes of its troubled past jeopardizes its political necessities for the future.

For Republicans, the problem is more immediate and profound: The party’s history of ideological unity and organizational continuity will tie future Republicans to the Trump candidacy, regardless of efforts to distance themselves from his positions. The story of parties’ remarkable resiliency gives a sense of how they’ve survived so long, but also how their survival might prevent American politics from representing all citizens and facing modern challenges.

12) Durham, NC is listening to science and not the whiners and moving their high school start times later.  Good for them.  Would love Wake County to do the same (especially as I have 3 high-schoolers to go).

13) This NYT feature on the history and fragility of Michelangelo’s statue of David was so fascinating (if, a little longer than needed).

14) Really, really good piece from Yglesias on the relative role of economic anxiety (very little) versus racial resentment (very much) on support for Trump.

15) Also a nice piece from Yglesias on how Trump’s first campaign ad shows he is doubling down on being Trump:

Donald Trump is running his first campaign ad for the general election, and it offers all the proof you’ll need that, in a fundamental sense, no meaningful change of approach can or will ever emanate from his campaign.

Because this is an ad, it’s professionally done and well-considered in its language — it’s not an off-the-cuff remark or full of anything so crazy that it will make lifelong Republicans cringe. But there’s nothing in here about free markets or traditional family values or America’s role as the world’s indispensable nation and guarantor of liberty.

 Instead it’s a pretty simple proposition — Hillary Clinton will let foreigners kill you and Donald Trump won’t [emphasis mine]

16) And Nate Silver argues that in his shakeup of campaign staff, Trump is doubling down on a clearly losing strategy.

17) Former Baltimore narcotics cop talks about the problem of cops being bad role models for each other.

18) Good for the Chinese Olympic swimmer being willing to discuss her period.  It really is crazy how taboo we treat such an ordinary part of women’s lives.

19) I’m sorry, say what you will, but race-walking is just stupid.  Worse than the breast stroke.  And hurdles are not like a slow swimming stroke, they test your ability to run and jump.

20) Continuing the Olympic roll, I love this 538 chart on how serving affects your chances of winning a point in various sports (especially as my son David was just asking me about this the other day).  You do not want to serve in beach volleyball.


21) Yeah, the Supreme Court is important, but this lifelong Republican ask how you can even consider that when you think about giving Trump control of our nuclear arsenal.

Quick hits (part II)

1a) Ezra Klein argues that Trump’s response to Khizr is “horrifying, even for Donald Trump.”  Sadly, though, it’s not.  For Trump, this is literally par for the course.

Let’s be very clear about what Trump is doing here: as ABC wrote, he’s suggesting “Khan’s wife didn’t speak because she was forbidden to as a Muslim.” This is bullshit. It is flatly, verifiably, false. But that’s almost beside the point.

Trump listened to a speech by the bereaved father of a fallen Muslim soldier and used it to slander the fallen soldier’s family. That was his response. That is his character…

Trump also wanted the Khans to know that, like them, he had sacrificed for this country.

“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices,” Trump said. “I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”

I honestly do not understand how a human being can respond to a family that lost their son for this country by saying that he has sacrificed too, he’s worked really hard, he’s built “great structures,” he’s had “tremendous success.”


1b) And love this from and ABC News story:

Paul Rieckoff, the founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a non partisan group with close to 200,000 members, called Trump’s comparison of his sacrifices with those of someone like Khan “insulting, foolish and ignorant.”

“For anyone to compare their ‘sacrifice’ to a Gold Star family member is insulting, foolish and ignorant. Especially someone who has never served himself and has no children serving,” Rieckoff said. “Our county has been at war for a decade and a half and the truth is most Americans have sacrificed nothing. Most of them are smart and grounded enough to admit it.”

2) Interesting 538 piece on how Catholics are moving towards Clinton and Evangelicals towards Trump.

3) David Brooks:

This week I left the arena here each night burning with indignation at Mike Pence. I almost don’t blame Trump. He is a morally untethered, spiritually vacuous man who appears haunted by multiple personality disorders. It is the “sane” and “reasonable” Republicans who deserve the shame — the ones who stood silently by, or worse, while Donald Trump gave away their party’s sacred inheritance.

4) Karen Tumulty and Richard Costa on how we are witnessing a shift in how the political parties talk to the American public.

5) Great NYT feature on new treatments that use the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.  It seems that there’s some amazing new therapies that essentially cure previously incurable cancer, but only for a minority of patients.  That’s still great improvement, but frustrating that these therapies seem to be so hit and miss with who responds.

6) Rev William Barber is plenty familiar to those of us who follow NC politics.  Thursday was his big national coming-out party.

7) Was especially intrigued by Jon Haidt’s ideas on how to attack Trump in this Tom Edsall piece:

onathan Haidt, a social psychologist at N.Y.U., told me in an email that Democrats need to adopt a more subtle strategy in dealing with Trump. This, Haidt argues, is because the

mind is divided into parts that sometimes conflict, like a small rider — conscious, verbal, reasoning — sitting atop a large elephant — the other 98 percent of mental processes, which are automatic and intuitive.

The elephant “really runs the show,” Haidt said, Translating this analytic approach to the 2016 election, in Haidt’s view, means that

in matters of politics and morality, you must speak to the elephant first. Trump did this brilliantly in the Republican primary, and in his convention speech.

To counter Trump, Democrats have to get into the electorate’s automatic, intuitive and unconscious level of responding to events before attempting a critique based on reasoned argument, according to Haidt. To do this, he wrote, the goal should be to portray Trump in ways that conflict with “deep moral intuitions about fairness versus cheating and exploitation.”

And how do you do that?

Trump thinks about everything as a zero sum interaction, which he usually wins — and therefore the person who dealt with him loses. I think the Democrats should give voice to a long parade of people — former customers and partners — who deeply regret dealing with Trump. Trump cheats, exploits, deceives. Trump is a con man, and we are his biggest mark yet. Don’t let him turn us all into suckers.

The next step is to present a vision of Trump that violates “moral intuitions about loyalty, authority, and sanctity:”

The psychology of sacredness evolved as part of our religious nature, but people use the same psychology toward kings, the Constitution, national heroes, and, to a decreasing degree, to the American presidency. Trump degrades it all with his crassness, his obscene language, his fear-mongering and his inability to offer soaring rhetoric. What a contrast with Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Reagan…

Despite the overt chaos, the competing narratives of the fall campaign — each side’s attempt to define the other as weak or crazy and itself as tough and dependable — are clearly emerging from the conventions. The question is whether the Democratic Party can get emotional enough or reach deep enough into our brains to counter the sheer id of Trump’s primeval appeal.

8) I read this “you probably don’t need dental x-rays every year” piece at home while my wife as at the dentist with the kids getting (very likely) unnecessary dental x-rays.

9) Wikileaks has lost the moral high ground.

10) Sure, humans are not the only animals with a theory of mind, but we may be the only ones to understand ignorance:

“We might be the only species that can think about things that aren’t facts we have about the world, about other possible worlds, about states in the past or future, about counterfactuals,” says Santos. “We can simulate a whole fictional world. And if you’re a species that can get outside your own head, you can apply that to other people.” A chimp won’t wonder if it’ll be hungry tomorrow. It only cares if it’s hungry now. An orangutan isn’t going to write a novel, because this is the only reality that it knows…

Based on this work, Santos originally said that while non-human primates don’t understand false beliefs, they can reason about another individual’s knowledge and ignorance. That’s a view shared by other scientists who have done similar studies. But Santos now thinks that she was wrong. She and Martin argue that our closest relatives have no concept of ignorance at all. They know stuff. They can reflect on what they know. They can track if others know the same things as them. But if others don’t share the same knowledge, they’re at a loss. “They just have no prediction about what’s going on,” says Santos.

11) Speaking of animal intelligence, more evidence that crows have lots.

12) Andrew Prokop on how Sanders’ supporters really could become a Tea Party of the left.

13) I think I’ll try and stay healthy as I can without the benefit of starting the day with an icy cold shower.

14) The problem of victim impact statements.

15) Apparently Trump voters just want “respect.”  Somehow respect is conflated with another word that starts with r.

With Trump, they are finding someone who gives them respect. He talks their language, addresses their concerns. Sometimes it is celebrating what defines their neighborhood, what they in Parma have in common: being white. They and Trump are playing in dangerous territory, with the need for respect tipping into misplaced revenge.

In another all-white working-class neighborhood not far away, a collection of retired workers, all Trump voters, gather in the mornings at McDonald’s. When the talk turned to politics the N-word is thrown around with ease, and racial jokes are par for the course.

16) Josh Marshall on how Trump will try and get out of the debates.

17) The more awfulness we’re seeing from Trump, the more I am appreciating all the commentary on the utter moral cowardice of the vast majority of elected Republicans:

Conservatives boasted too that they knew that the old-fashioned virtues of good character mattered as much as a man or woman’s ideology. By this reckoning, Trump’s bragging, vainglory, dark fury and towering vanity should disqualify him from the presidency regardless of his politics. Republican grandees must agree with Hillary Clinton when she said: “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons”, not least because Marco Rubio, one of their own, has said as much himself. Yet McCain and Ryan, those enemies of appeasement, have folded and endorsed Trump. Rubio, that piercing judge of his character, has decided that, after all, Trump’s finger should be on the button. Presidents Bush père et fils are bravely abstaining. Bobby Jindal, who described Trump as a “narcissist and egomaniacal madman”, wants him in the White House. Nearly all the Republican names you remember follow suit. The Dick Cheneys, Rand Pauls and Condoleezza Rices are backing Trump or refusing to commit. Confronted with a dictatorial menace in their own time and their own country they lack the courage to risk the unpopularity that Churchillian dissent would bring.

Even when Trump followed his years of promoting the interests of a dictator of a hostile foreign power by urging Vladimir Putin to hack Clinton’s emails, they held steady in their cowardice. The Republicans, the party of red-baiters and Cold Warriors, is now in the pocket of a Kremlin “useful idiot” and the best its national security conservatives can manage are embarrassed mutters.

Only Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz openly oppose him, among prominent Republicans. And when a once mighty political movement relies on Cruz to uphold its honour it is so deep in the dustbin of history it is already composting.

18) All the Back the Future movies are currently streaming on Netflix.  Yesterday was Evan’s (age 10) first exposure.  He liked it, didn’t love it.  This was the first time I paid full attention in a while (I’ll always tune in for a bit if it is playing on TV) and I was just awed at how good the screenplay is.  A near-perfect movie.

…That’s the first 12 minutes of Back to the Future. Twelve minutes. Every single action has a purpose, every piece of scenery has a reason. The dialogue sets up plot, moves the narrative, character is built throughout—and we still don’t even really know what the movie is about.



Quick hits

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

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

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

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

4) Bill Ayers on why he hates electoral politics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13) Sharp satire on Republicans coming out against Trump.

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

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

16) Loved Brooks on Trump’s Pence announcement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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