Chart of the day

Pew ran a cool “18 striking findings from 2018” a few weeks ago.  Lots of cool findings, here, but given how prominent religion is in America, I found this chart on the nature of Americans’ belief in God particularly interesting:

Nine-in-ten Americans believe in a higher powerbut just a slim majority (56%) believes in God as described in the Bible. Belief in a higher power is even common among religious “nones,” or those who identify as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” Meanwhile, about half (48%) of U.S. adults say that God or another higher power directly determines what happens in their lives all or most of the time, and three-quarters say they try to talk to God or another higher power

 

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Quick hits (New Year’s day edition)

1) Really enjoyed Austin Murphy’s account of what it’s like to go from a successful Sports Illustrated  journalist to delivering packages for Amazon.

2) Why it’s not a good idea to tie allowance to chores.  In our case, it’s a huge parent fail in not having my kids do more chores.  But at least we’re not giving them an allowance for it 😉

A range of experts I consulted expressed concern that tying allowance very closely to chores, whatever its apparent short-term effectiveness, can send kids unintentionally counterproductive messages about family, community, and personal responsibility. In fact, the way chores work in many households worldwide points to another way, in which kids get involved earlier, feel better about their contributions, and don’t need money as an enticement.

Suniya Luthar, a psychologist at Arizona State University who studies families, is skeptical of the idea of paying kids on a per-chore basis. “How sustainable is it if you’re going to pay a child a dime for each time he picks up his clothes off the floor?” she says. “What are you saying—that you’re owed something for taking care of your stuff?”

Luthar is not opposed to giving allowances, but she thinks it’s important to establish that certain core chores are done not because they’ll lead to payment, but because they keep the household running. “It’s part of what you do as a family,” Luthar says. “In a family, no one’s going to pay you to tie your own shoes or to put your clothes away.” Whatever the approach, she adds, it’s important to acknowledge that parenting is confusing and exhausting work, and it can be difficult to broker household labor agreements without ever resorting to bribery of some sort.

3) Christian nationalists (and their love of Trump) are the worst:

I have attended dozens of Christian nationalist conferences and events over the past two years. And while I have heard plenty of comments casting doubt on the more questionable aspects of Mr. Trump’s character, the gist of the proceedings almost always comes down to the belief that he is a miracle sent straight from heaven to bring the nation back to the Lord. I have also learned that resistance to Mr. Trump is tantamount to resistance to God.

This isn’t the religious right we thought we knew. The Christian nationalist movement today is authoritarian, paranoid and patriarchal at its core. They aren’t fighting a culture war. They’re making a direct attack on democracy itself.

They want it all. And in Mr. Trump, they have found a man who does not merely serve their cause, but also satisfies their craving for a certain kind of political leadership.

4) This NYT interactive series on women’s reproductive rights is amazing (honestly, I get more value from my $15/month for NYT than for about anything).  There’s too much here to take all on, but I found the part about feticide laws and how they take away women’s rights especially compelling:

Nine states recognize feticide only in later periods of a fetus’s development, such as when it could survive outside the womb. In 2004, Congress passed the first federal statute to give victim status to fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses, in cases of violent crime against pregnant women.

These laws have meant that pregnant women who were addicted to drugs, were suicidal, were in car accidents, fell down stairs, delivered at home, refused C-sections or went about their lives in ways that were perceived to harm their pregnancies have been detained and jailed for a variety of crimes, including murder, manslaughter, neglect, criminal recklessness and chemical endangerment.

5) The war between abstinence and medication-assisted-therapy approaches to drug addiction.  The fact that science has shown the latter approach to be far more effective does not always matter.

Anti-craving medications are not a silver bullet; relapse is common even among people who take them, and some in fact do better with an abstinence approach. But there is substantial evidence that buprenorphine and a similar drug, methadone — which has faced ideological resistance on and off for decades — reduce the mortality rate among people addicted to opioids by half or more; they are also more successful at keeping people in treatment than abstinence-based approaches.

6) Had a recent argument with my stepmom about how Trump was actually not making America great again.  I kind of wish I had these charts to show her.  Of course, it wouldn’t matter.  As my NeverTrump sort-of-still Republican sister tried to convince her mother and said, “but I’m right,” I explained that being right never convinced anybody.  But, still… facts.

7) Ezra Klein with a great summary of Hetherington and Weiler’s work a couple weeks ago.  Meant to do a post.  You should read it.  On a related note, I’ve assigned Prius or Pickup for my upcoming Public Opinion & Media class.

“Of the many factors that make up your worldview, one is more fundamental than any other in determining which side of the divide you gravitate toward: your perception of how dangerous the world is. Fear is perhaps our most primal instinct, after all, so it’s only logical that people’s level of fearfulness informs their outlook on life.”

That’s political scientists Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler, writing in their book Prius or Pickup, which marshals a massive trove of survey data and experimental evidence to argue that the roots of our political divides run so deep that they make us almost incomprehensible to one another. Our political divisions, they say, aren’t about policy disagreements, or even demographics. They’re about something more ancient in how we view the world.

Hetherington and Weiler call these worldviews, which express themselves in everything from policy preferences to parenting styles, “fixed” versus “fluid.” The fixed worldview “describes people who are warier of social and cultural change and hence more set in their ways, more suspicious of outsiders, and more comfortable with the familiar and predictable.” People with a fluid worldview, by contrast, “support changing social and cultural norms, are excited by things that are new and novel, and are open to, and welcoming of, people who look and sound different.”

What’s happened in recent decades, they argue, is that politics in general, and our political parties in particular, have reorganized around these worldviews, adding a new, and arguably irreconcilable, difference into our political divisions. That difference is visible in everything from what we think to where we live to how we shop, but it’s particularly apparent in how hard it is for us to understand how the other side views the world.

8) I’m not going to read this biography of John Marshall (pretty much never read biographies), but I really enjoyed what I learned in this review.

9) Vox recently recycled it and for all I know, I’ve linked it before, but I really like it.  Current American society/culture makes it too damn hard to make adult friendships.  David Roberts, “How our housing choices make adult friendships more difficult.”  Very true.  I’m very lucky that I have several truly good friends at NC State, but I really wish I know more people in my neighborhood.

10) I loved this essay from Jennifer Weiner on the value of re-learning piano and middle age.  A lot of it resonated with how I feel about taking up guitar.

11) So, as you know, I’m re-working my way through Breaking Bad (love it even more the 2nd time) with my firstborn and reader of this blog.  This time I went and found the video for this song that serves as the music for a terrific scene in a 4th season episode.

I think that will do it for now.  A few more that I wanted to put here, but I’m still hoping to find the time/incentive to give their own post.  Plus, still vacation for today.

The white people divide

So, I’ve written a lot about the increasing polarization of white voters based on college education, but I think the polarization based on religion is definitely an interesting one, too.  Here, Ron Brownstein (political demographic analyst non pareil) makes the case that, “The foundation of Trump’s coalition is cracking.”  As always, lots of cool charts and numbers, but I think the most interesting ones look at the religion divide.  A key chart:

And some of the analysis:

Though Republican candidates almost everywhere registered large margins among white voters without a college degree, Democrats ran much more competitively among the roughly half of that group who are not evangelical Christians, according to previously unpublished results from the 2018 exit poll conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool, a consortium of media organizations including CNN.
Democrats, the analysis found, ran particularly well this year among white working-class women who are not evangelicals, a group that also displayed substantial disenchantment in the exit poll with Trump’s performance. Those women could be a key constituency for Democrats in 2020 in pivotal Rust Belt states such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where relatively fewer blue-collar whites are also evangelical Christians.

Nationwide, nearly three-fifths of blue-collar white women who are not evangelicals voted Democratic in last month’s House races, while an equal number said they disapproved of Trump’s performance in office, the analysis of exit poll results found. That was well over double the Democratic share of the vote among non-college white women who are evangelical Christians. And while Republicans last month still carried a majority among working-class white men who are not evangelicals, Democrats attracted about twice as much support from them as they did among the equivalent men who are evangelicals.

“It’s another overlay to the conclusion that there are some parts of the white non-college population that are open to Democrats and can be moved a few points in your direction,” says Ruy Teixeira, a long-time Democratic analyst of voting trends who now serves as a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress.

In short, those people who claim to love Jesus the most are also the most immovable in their support of party that stands for separating families on our border, making it harder for poor kids to have food to eat, and making it harder for Americans to be able to afford health care.  But the good news is that they are a shrinking portion of the electorate and “not all white people” are so closed-minded.

Also, some good analysis of what this means for the Democrats in 2020 in the article, if you are so inclined.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Talk about policy disaster and unintended consequences.  A very ill-considered U.S biofuel law has proved disastrous for the rainforests of Borneo.  And made climate change worse.

2) My oldest has been watching Breaking Bad and is about half-way through Season 2.  I wish I could just watch them all with him, but I really shouldn’t take the time, so I’m just watching here and now when I can.  I think I appreciate it even more now.  So well-written.  And so funny.  Oh man did I love watching this scene yesterday.

3) As we know, Republicans are obsessed with virtually non-existent in-person voter fraud.  Meanwhile absentee voter fraud is way easier.  And now there’s very serious evidence that there was serious and widespread actual fraud in the NC 9th district.  Meanwhile the director of the NC Republican Party, Dallas Woodhouse, provides the best evidence yet for what a scurrilous character he is in the face of a unanimous decision.

The head of the state GOP, Dallas Woodhouse, has gone further, accusing the board of a partisan campaign. The nine-member board, with four Democrats, four Republicans and one unaffiliated voter, agreed unanimously to delay certification.

4) What Payless did with their fake Palessi shoe store is so awesome.

5) How restaurants got to be so loud:

That’s not dangerous—noise levels become harmful to human hearing above 85 decibels—but it is certainly not quiet. Other sounds that reach 70 decibels include freeway noise, an alarm clock, and a sewing machine. But it’s still quiet for a restaurant. Others I visited in Baltimore and New York City while researching this story were even louder: 80 decibels in a dimly lit wine bar at dinnertime; 86 decibels at a high-end food court during brunch; 90 decibels at a brewpub in a rehabbed fire station during Friday happy hour.

Restaurants are so loud because architects don’t design them to be quiet. Much of this shift in design boils down to changing conceptions of what makes a space seem upscale or luxurious, as well as evolving trends in food service. Right now, high-end surfaces connote luxury, such as the slate and wood of restaurants including The Osprey in Brooklyn or Atomix in Manhattan.

This trend is not limited to New York. According to Architectural Digestmid-century modern and minimalism are both here to stay. That means sparse, modern decor; high, exposed ceilings; and almost no soft goods, such as curtains, upholstery, or carpets. These design features are a feast for the eyes, but a nightmare for the ears. No soft goods and tall ceilings mean nothing is absorbing sound energy, and a room full of hard surfaces serves as a big sonic mirror, reflecting sound around the room.

The result is a loud space that renders speech unintelligible. Now that it’s so commonplace, the din of a loud restaurant is unavoidable. That’s bad for your health—and worse for the staff who works there. But it also degrades the thing that eating out is meant to culture: a shared social experience that rejuvenates, rather than harms, its participants.

On the bright side for me, most of my restaurant meals are at the campus pizza joint, Wendy’s, and Bojangles, so I don’t run into this problem very often.

6a) It’s just a real shame that Chevy is going to stop making the Volt.  We need to price carbon, damnit:

This is where government policy becomes part of the story.

Gas is cheap and has been for a while. But that is only because its price is mostly a function of what it costs to drill, refine, and distribute petroleum. It doesn’t account for the long-term costs of spewing all that extra carbon into the air ― costs that, as last week’s national report on climate showed yet again, society is already bearing in some very painful ways.

The most direct way to address this would be to tax carbon, ideally in a way that simultaneously protects lower-income people and those who depend on transportation for a living from financial harm. This is what European nations do with their high gas taxes and it’s one reason consumers there opt for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars ― and are likely to embrace electric vehicles more quickly than American consumers will.

6b) GM’s shift away from cars is bad for the planet.

7) Yglesias on Paul Ryan leaving Congress:

Paul Ryan is heading out of Congress the way he served: with a blizzard of false statements about substantive matters of public policy.

That started with Thursday’s bizarre exit interview with the Washington Post’s Paul Kane, in which Ryan claimed to regret congressional inaction on debt and immigration when he was, in fact, personally responsible for congressional inaction on debt and immigration.

8) Another great piece in the NYT’s series on China, “How China’s Rulers Control Society: Opportunity, Nationalism, Fear.”

9) Obviously I loved this in the Post, “A guide to picking the right apple for the right recipe.”  Braeburn, baby.

10) This was kind of awesome, “People Getting Stabbed In Medieval Art Who Just Don’t Give a Damn.”

11) I never eat at Panera, but it’s founder has a sharp critique of American capitalism:

Last year, when Shaich took Panera private, he also stepped down as the C.E.O. (he is still the chairman of the board), to focus on a pet cause: warning the world about the dangers of short-term thinking. He has been travelling the country, giving speeches and talking to business leaders and policymakers about the urgent need to return to the tradition of investing for the future. Some people are starting to listen. Tech titans including Reid Hoffman and Marc Andreessen have financially backed the creation of a new investment framework called the Long-Term Stock Exchange, which would give shareholders greater influence over a company the longer they hold shares. “We all believe the system is bigger than us, and we can’t fix it,” Shaich said. “But, if we don’t take control of that system, it’s misserving us in powerful ways.” He also founded an investment fund called Act III Holdings, which offers capital, with fewer time constraints, to entrepreneurs in the restaurant industry. (The Mediterranean chain cava is one of his investments.) “We’ve ended up in a situation, to the detriment of all of us, where our public companies are not able to do the things we want in the economy,” he said. “We say we want G.D.P. growth, but G.D.P. doesn’t come simply from a sugar high of tax cuts. G.D.P. growth only comes from innovation and productivity increases. And innovation and productivity increases occur because people make commitments and they make transformative events.” He added, “This system doesn’t serve the American people. There is an opportunity to ask ourselves, is this what we want?”

12) This “how to help someone who is suicidal” is really interesting, but, given the stakes, really needs a nice TLDR summary.  It’s sort of– keep in contact and show them you care.

13) Drum nicely defends Hillary Clinton from the left-wing rage at her suggestion that Europe may need to re-think it’s refugee policies.

14) The WiredGuide to online shopping” is actually not so much a guide, but a great history of online shopping.

15) Speaking of guide’s the NYT’s Thanksgiving-themed guide to gratitude had a lot of useful ideas.  Seriously– you cannot go wrong with more gratitude in your life.  I’m grateful you are reading this :-).

16) America’s churches are emptying out:

Many of our nation’s churches can no longer afford to maintain their structures—6,000 to 10,000 churches die each year in America—and that number will likely grow. Though more than 70 percent of our citizens still claim to be Christian, congregational participation is less central to many Americans’ faith than it once was. Most denominations are declining as a share of the overall population, and donations to congregations have been falling for decades. Meanwhile, religiously unaffiliated Americans, nicknamed the “nones,” are growing as a share of the U.S. population.

Any minister can tell you that the two best predictors of a congregation’s survival are “budgets and butts,” and American churches are struggling by both metrics. As donations and attendance decrease, the cost of maintaining large physical structures that are in use only a few hours a week by a handful of worshippers becomes prohibitive. None of these trends shows signs of slowing, so the United States’ struggling congregations face a choice: Start packing or find a creative way to stay afloat.

17) NC State undertook a look at faculty salaries to make sure we are paying women and minorities.  Best evidence suggests that we are.  Hooray.

18) Enjoyed Jamelle Bouie on Mississippi:

Mississippi isn’t just a deep-red state—Donald Trump won nearly 58 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 40 percent—it’s also a largely rural one defined by stark racial polarization. Black residents almost uniformly support Democratic candidates and white residents almost uniformly support Republicans, which makes Mississippi electorally “inelastic.” There’s a narrow band of outcomes and an almost unshakable GOP advantage.

This political divide is a direct holdover from the state’s past, a product of its deep entanglement with slavery and its culture of exclusion and hierarchy. Just two facts show the extent of Mississippi’s reliance on slave labor: On the eve of the Civil War, 55 percent of people living in the state were enslaved, and at the height of the domestic slave trade, Natchez, which sits on the bank of the Mississippi River, was one of the richest cities in the United States, with half the nation’s millionaires.

Mississippi whites are still among the most conservative in the nation, a direct consequence of the state’s experience with slavery, emancipation, and its aftermath. “These attitudes grew out of the historical incentives to subjugate African Americans—incentives that strengthened through the antebellum period and morphed in the postbellum period into significant institutional and social customs designed to keep blacks in socially, politically, and economically marginalized positions,” Acharya, Blackwell and Sen write.

These attitudes are so ingrained, so tied to the particular history and culture of the Deep South, that it continues to weigh on the politics of the region, well after the civil rights era and the death of Jim Crow. We can feel some of this weight in the context of Tuesday’s runoff election for Senate in Mississippi.

19) Interestingly, college students are abandoning the History major much faster than they are other Humanities majors.

If the decline of the humanities already keeps you up at night, a new article, published by the American Historical Association, won’t help much.

Since the Great Recession of 2008, writes Benjamin M. Schmidt in Perspectives on History,undergraduate majors have been shifting away from the humanities. And of all the disciplines, history has fared the worst, even as college and university enrollments have grown.

Schmidt, an assistant professor of history at Northeastern University, looked at the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded annually, as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics. In 2008 there were 34,642 degrees awarded to history majors. In 2017 that number was 24,255, a 30-percent drop. And there’s been about a 33-percent decline in history majors since 2011, the first year in which students who watched the financial crisis unfold could easily change their majors, Schmidt found.

Because the drop has been so intense, it’s no longer possible that the history major and other humanities majors are just weathering a low point in a long-term average. No, this is a certifiable crisis.

As you know, I generally strongly prefer social sciences to humanities, but I’ll definitely take History over all the others (and I did).

20) If you find Evolution interesting (and you should!) this is a great Wired article on scientific controversy over how much evolution is adaption versus genetic drift.

Quick hits (part I)

1a) Political Scientist Hans Noel and former-Republican columnist Jennifer Rubin in clear agreement (and me too, for that matter) on how Democrats should proceed on Trump’s malfeasance.  Noel:

If I were giving advice to Democrats, I’d say impeachment is not a good move, unless you’re sure that the Senate is going to convict. The worst thing would be for Trump to appear vindicated by the process.

But that’s not an argument you’re going to be able to make to activists who are demanding that Democrats move forward. So, for sure, there is going to be impeachment material that is discussed in committee. It’s a question of whether the Democrats can slowly manage all of that — have hearings, subpoena the president’s tax returns, and spread it out over the course of two years. Better to have all the material that you would use for impeachment and then let the voters decide in 2020.

1b) Rubin:

Back inside the Beltway, House Democrats will have the power to hold hearings, subpoena witnesses and documents, and hold non-complying witnesses in contempt. Shining a light on the administration’s skullduggery will strengthen the hand of those resisting improper order and give underlings pause about cooperating. Moreover, the House will slowly build the case for removing — by election in 2020, most likely — Trump and his Senate enablers. That worked well in the midterms, and a campaign built around the inarguable proposition that Trump is abusing his power may help reassemble a winning coalition for Democrats.

The Trump resistance, including groups such as Nobody Is Above the Law, also continue to protest peacefully, both laying down a marker in defense of democratic norms and keeping their own voters engaged and enthusiastic. Trump remains the Democrats’ best organizing tool.

What is not, in all likelihood, going to be possible is to impeach and remove Trump. The Senate will remain in GOP hands, making removal (requiring a two-thirds majority) almost inconceivable. Impeaching without removing Trump undoubtedly would fire up his cult and provide weird vindication. Better to investigate, embarrass and — after he leaves office — prosecute him for any crimes (e.g. obstruction of justice) taken in office.

2) The futility of trying to stop mass shooters while we have a country awash in guns:

While retrospective analyses about where laws failed, or might be strengthened, are certainly worthwhile after such tragedies, they can also start to feel futile. The challenge, as Jeffrey Swanson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the Duke University School of Medicine, told me on Friday, is that the risk factors for gun violence are widely varied, complex, and nonspecific. “They tend to apply to many more people who are not going to do what you’re trying to prevent,” he said.

Balancing the rights of those with mental-health issues and the desire to safeguard the public is, arguably, the most vexing dilemma in the gun-control debate. The vast majority of people with histories of mental illness will never be violent. Yet studies, including research by Swanson, have shown that people with serious mental illnesses do pose an increased risk of violence compared to those without, and the problem is made far worse when coupled with substance abuse. The puzzle for lawmakers is that predicting violence is maddeningly inexact.

As long as the discussion about gun control continues to center on an individual’s right to bear arms, finding solutions that make an actual dent in the number of mass shootings will remain elusive. The starting point of America’s debate about guns is the idea that every person should be able to have one for self-defense.  As a result, access to guns is far easier in the United States than in any other wealthy, industrialized country. A recent study estimated that there are three hundred and ninety-three million civilian-owned firearms in the United States, a rate of 120.5 guns for every hundred residents, making the country’s firearms-ownership rate twice that of the second-highest nation, Yemen.

“Gun control in our country is not really gun control anymore—it’s people control,” Swanson said. “We have to figure out the people who are so dangerous that it’s justified to limit their Second Amendment right. That’s really hard to do.” [emphasis mine]

3) It’s the damn guns.  German Lopez, “America’s easy access to guns is enabling all these mass shootings: It’s the guns. The guns are the problem.”

4) “Appearance is political” and the Georgia governor’s race.  Good stuff.

5) What if everyone voted?

Many political scientists say that policies that make voting easier would also make American democracy more representative and less likely to favor the interests of wealthier, older and white voters who typically turn out at higher rates. Broader participation, proponents say, could ease polarization, lift faith in government and dampen criticism that politicians representing the views of a minority of Americans wield the majority of power in Washington.

6) The amount of problems in actual voting is truly ridiculous in a prosperous, modern country.  Conor Friedersdorf:

Tuesday’s problems were not unforeseeable––they were explicitly foreseen. In 2014, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration warned of an “impending crisis.” The report inspired a nationwide survey conducted by the Brennan Center. In 2015, it produced America’s Voting Machines at Risk. Its authors later warned in The Atlantic, “The problem of aging voting technology reaches nearly every corner of the United States. Unlike voting machines used in past eras, today’s systems were not designed to last for decades.”

Wired emphasized that 43 states “use systems that are no longer manufactured. Some election officials have resorted to scouring eBay for decommissioned equipment they can cannibalize to extend the life of machines. Georgia was in such dire straits over the lack of parts for its voting machines that it hired a consultant to build customized hardware that could run its Windows 2000-based election system software.”…

The 2014 report was a warning. The 2015 survey was a warning. Glitches in 2016 and 2018 were confirmation of a forewarned problem. And in 2020, when voting machines in many jurisdictions will be two years older than they are now, a glitch that alters the outcome of a race or significantly undermines faith in democracy will count as a preventable catastrophe. Acting now—spending now—is the likeliest way to prevent it.

Of course, the Republicans seem to have little interest in improving this.

7) Drum on why we should not trust the results of cherry-picked scientific studies:

Is this because scientists are under pressure from pharmaceutical companies to show positive results, and before 2000 they did exactly that? Or is it because scientists just like reporting positive results if they can? After all, who wants to spend years of their life on a bit of research that ends up being a nothingburger? I guess we’ll never know. But one thing we do know: we need to keep as sharp an eye on scientists as we do on anyone else, especially if there’s a lot of money at stake. When we don’t, they’re just as vulnerable to pressure and hopeful thinking as anyone.

8) I think Brian Beutler nails it on Jeff Sessions, “Sessions was a rotten figure, who got fired for doing one thing the right and decent way.”  Jonathan Blitzer with an extended take:

But, as the Trump Administration adopted increasingly draconian policies, it became clear that, for Sessions, orchestrating the most systematic and wide-reaching assault on immigrants in modern history was well worth enduring near-constant humiliations from the President. As the government’s top lawyer, Sessions was responsible for, among other things, cancelling daca, spurring family separations, trying to defund sanctuary cities, dismantling the asylum system, reshaping the immigration courts, and retooling multiple travel bans. To the extent that the President has styled himself as an anti-immigration crusader, it’s with a script written entirely by Sessions.

9) Chait on coming Democratic investigations of Trump:

The list ranges from Trump’s tax returns (which Republicans had voted to keep hidden) to his acceptance of undisclosed payments from foreign and domestic interests while in office to more routine incompetence and sleaze, like lavish expenses by Cabinet members and the hurricane response in Puerto Rico.

In public, Republicans are warning that investigating any of these matters will backfire on Democrats. “The business of presidential harassment,” offered Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “which we were deeply engaged in in the ’90s, improved the president’s approval ratings and tanked ours.”

It ought to be self-evident that McConnell is not actually expressing sincere concern for the political fortunes of the party with which he is engaged in zero-sum competition. Alas, it isn’t self-evident. The notion that rigorous oversight amounts to “harassment,” and can backfire on the congressional party, has taken hold in Establishment Washington. “There is scant evidence of a mandate for a scorched-earth pursuit of Trump,” two senior editors at Politico wrote the day after the election. In the Times, Nicholas Kristof warned that “Democrats jockeying for the presidential nomination in 2020 will tug the party toward impeachment talk or a blizzard of subpoenas — in ways that may help Trump.”

Yes, sometimes aggressive congressional oversight can backfire, like when Republicans fanatically pursued conspiracy theories like Benghazi and “IRS targeting” during the Obama years. The Republican investigation of Bill Clinton also created some blowback, although even that famous episode has a much less straightforward denouement than is widely understood. While hounding Clinton over his affair, Republicans lost the 1998 midterms, an outcome that suggests that there can be a price for going overboard in the pursuit of a scandal that is palpably unrelated to job performance. But the atmosphere of scandal and dysfunction still clung to the Clinton presidency, and it was that stink that allowed George W. Bush to make a case for change in 2000 in what was otherwise an atmosphere of peace and prosperity. As Fred Barnes reported at the time in The Weekly Standard, impeachment “played a historic role, holding Clinton accountable, seeking just punishment, and, not least, shaping the 2000 race and paving the way for a likely Republican victory.” A Bush adviser told him, “There are 13 people who are responsible for where we are now. They are the House impeachment managers.” The lesson seems clear: Even if Congress somehow overreaches in its pursuit of Trump — a prospect that is almost logistically impossible, given the staggering list of misconduct already in plain sight — it would still probably help the Democrats’$2 2020 presidential candidate run against the mess in Washington.

From the very beginning, when Donald Trump and his father ignored demands from the Nixon Justice Department that they stop discriminating against African-Americans, through his repeated tax fraud and financial scams, legal impunity has formed the through-line of his career. Holding him accountable serves not only Democrats’ self-interest but the rule of law. That process begins now.

I’m in inclined to think that impeachment itself is probably not wise, politically, but all the investigations exposing real and pervasive corruption.  Hell yeah.

10) Ezra on Republican claims of fraud,etc., on these close elections:

11) Let’s just share another good tweet on a different topic, while I’m at it:

12) Marc Hetherington goes beyond fluid/fixed voters to propose a solution for UNC’s “what do do about Silent Sam” problem.

13) Drum on media coverage of the caravan.

14) I’m still looking for more definitive accounts on youth turnout in 2018 but this study suggests midterm youth turnout was up dramatically:

15) I was so disappointed in the widely-loved novel, Annihilation.  The movie was so much better.  Mostly because, things actually happened.

16) EJ Dionne on the “mystery” of Evangelical love for Trump:

White evangelicals are not “voting their values” nearly as much as they are voting other aspects of their identity. This group is older than the average American. Its members are disproportionately southern. And, by definition, they are white.

Older white southerners are overwhelmingly Republican and conservative. They have been voting for conservative Republicans since 1980, and their drift toward the GOP began in 1964, when Lyndon Johnson’s embrace of civil rights led so many white southerners to abandon the Democratic Party.

Let’s look first at the demography. The average white evangelical is older than the average American: In a survey by PRRI in cooperation with the Brookings Institution released last week, 45 percent of respondents were over 50 years old, while fully 60 percent of the white evangelicals surveyed were over 50.

Politically, white evangelicals speak with a distinct drawl: Half of the white evangelicals surveyed live in the south, compared to only 28 percent of all other whites.

And it should not surprise us that white evangelicals are somewhat more conservative on issues related to race. Let’s just look at two of many examples from the PRRI survey. Respondents were asked to assess the impact of the rise of non-white groups to majority status in the United States by 2045. Among white evangelicals, 54 percent said the demographic change would be negative, compared with 39 percent of other whites.

Asked if “recent killings of African-American men by police are isolated incidents or are they part of a broader pattern of how police treat African-Americans,” 71 percent of white evangelicals said they were isolated incidents compared with 51 percent of white non-evangelicals.

To be clear, nothing we say here is designed to denigrate the faith of evangelicals or to deny its authenticity. But it is important to recognize what these numbers suggest: In politics these days, religious convictions seem to be taking a back seat to identity, partisanship and ideology. While this is by no means unique to white evangelicals, it is certainly important to understanding their current commitments.

17) My great friend Richard Clerkin had his research written up in the NYT.  Awesome!

Many issues seem to divide Democrats and Republicans, and new research has found one more: philanthropy.

Red counties, which are overwhelmingly Republican, tend to report higher charitable contributions than Democratic-dominated blue counties, according to a new study on giving, although giving in blue counties is often bolstered by a combination of charitable donations and higher taxes.

But as red or blue counties become more politically competitive, charitable giving tends to fall.

“There’s something about the like-mindedness where perhaps the comfort level rises,” said one of the authors of the study, Robert K. Christensen, associate professor at the George W. Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics at Brigham Young University. “They feel safe redistributing their wealth voluntarily. It also matters for compulsory giving.”

The study was conducted by four research professors who set out to explore how political differences affect charitable giving. It was published on Oct. 20 in the academic journal Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. The other authors were Laurie E. Paarlberg of Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, Rebecca Nesbit of the University of Georgia and Richard M. Clerkin of North Carolina State University.

18) Still looking for a good take on why Florida largely refused to move left while most of the rest of the country did.  I really enjoyed this conversation with NYT polling guru, Nate Cohn, which does not have an answer, but also discusses the issue.

Quick hits (part II)

Wow– so when was the last weekend I had both part I and part II up at the regularly-scheduled time.  Go me.

1) Fortunately, we really got just a glancing blow from Florence, but many others in NC were not so lucky.  If we had had to evacuate, we would have been fine, but it is not at all so simple for many.  Really enjoyed this take:

In the aftermath of landfall, it might be tempting to condemn the people who stayed behind, but please be gentle. Evacuation, like most disaster resilience actions—and really, like most of life—is easier if you have wealth, health and extensive social networks. Being able to pack up your life and leave takes privileges you may not even realize you have. Everyone is doing the best they can based on their personal context.

It takes money to displace yourself. It takes having somewhere better to go and a way to get there. Having a full tank of gas is a luxury when you live paycheck to paycheck. Spending money up front and then waiting for reimbursement requires that you have the money in the first place, while knowing what expenses are covered and how to file the paperwork requires knowledge not everyone has or has access to.

2) Greg Sargent on the latest polls and the Trump backlash:

The anti-Trump backlash is about to collide violently with the GOP’s structural, counter-majoritarian advantages in this election — and the winner of the clash will decide whether President Trump will be subjected to genuine oversight or will effectively be given even freer rein to unleash more corruption and more authoritarianism, while expanding his cruel, ethnonationalist and plutocratic agenda.

Three new polls this morning confirm that this anti-Trump backlash is running strong, with less than two months to go until the midterm elections:

  • new Quinnipiac University poll finds that Democrats have opened up a 14-point lead in the battle for the House, 52-38. Voters want Congress to be more of a check on Trump by 58 percent to 27 percent.
  • new CNN poll finds that Americans approve of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation by 50-38, a new high in CNN polling. By 61-33, Americans say it is examining a “serious matter that should be fully investigated,” as opposed to the “witch hunt” that Trump rage-tweeted about again this morning.
  • new NPR-Marist poll finds that Democrats lead by 12 points in the battle for the House, 50-38. Trump’s approval is at 39-52, making this the fifth recent poll to put Trump below 40 percent.

Crucially, these polls all dovetail with the basic story we’ve seen throughout this cycle, which is that Trump has provoked a backlash among minorities, young people and college-educated and suburban whites, especially women — and even seemingly among independents — that has powered Democratic victories in unlikely places. The new polling finds the backlash is running strong among these groups right now…

What is remarkable about the current moment is the degree to which Trump’s attacks on our institutions appear to be failing, both as a self-defensive tool and perhaps even as a midterm strategy.

For over a year now, Trump has waged a full-scale assault on the mechanisms of accountability arrayed around him. He has savaged the Mueller probe and law enforcement as riddled with corruption and as orchestrating an illegitimate Deep State conspiracy against his presidency. He has attacked the news media as the “enemy of the people,” by which he means Trump and Republican voters, characterizing the free press as part of of that conspiracy against his presidency and his supporters.

But today’s new polling confirms that these things are not working with the broader electorate. There is broad and growing support for the Mueller investigation. And the Quinnipiac poll shows Americans trust the news media more than Trump to tell them the truth by 54-30, and 69 percent say the media constitutes an important part of democracy. Support for our institutions appears to be holding.

3) Friedman on the GOP’s “Devil’s bargain.”

More and more, I wonder if the disgruntled senior Trump administration official who wrote the anonymous Op-Ed in The Times was actually representing a group — like a “Murder on the Orient Express” plotline where every senior Trump adviser was in on it. Why? Because the article so perfectly captured the devil’s bargain they’ve all struck with this president: Donald Trump is amoral, dishonest and disturbed, a man totally unfit to be president, but, as the anonymous author self-servingly wrote, “There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.”

That’s the anonymous-G.O.P. credo today: We know Trump is a jerk, but you’ve gotta love the good stuff — you’ve got to admit that his tax cuts, deregulation, destruction of Obamacare and military buildup have fueled so much growth, defense spending and record stock market highs that we’re wealthier and more secure as a country, even if Trump is nuts. So our consciences are clear.

This view is not without foundation. Economic growth and employment have clearly been on a tear since Trump took office. I’m glad about that.

But what if Trump is actually heating up our economy by burning all the furniture in the house? It’s going to be nice and toasty for us — at least for a while — but where will our kids sleep?

4) Nobody legally bound to not-disparage Trump should ever be allowed on TV to discuss him.

5) How conservatives successfully work the refs, facebook style:

Four of Facebook’s chosen fact-checkers—the Associated Press, Factcheck.org, PolitiFact, and Snopes—are widely trusted and nonpartisan. The fifth, the Weekly Standard, has generally high-quality editorial content with a conservative ideological bent. This week, the Weekly Standard used its gatekeeping role in an incredibly troubling way, declaring that a story written by Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress was false, essentially preventing Facebook users from accessing the article…

Unfortunately, Facebook has now given the Weekly Standard what appears to be total veto power over ThinkProgress’ articles. According to a source who spoke to Quartz, Facebook selected the magazine as a fact-checker to “appease all sides”—that is, to convince conservatives that the social network isn’t beset by liberal bias. As a result, a Weekly Standard editor may compel a ThinkProgress writer to “change the headline” or risk losing Facebook traffic. Not because ThinkProgress was wrong, but because the Weekly Standard disagreed with its legal analysis. That is not fact-checking. It is censorship. Indeed, it is the kind of censorship that conservatives wrongly accuse Facebook of foisting upon right-wing outlets.

6) I’m with Drum on Serena Williams

As many people have pointed out, Osaka was playing well and there’s a pretty good chance she would have won regardless. Osaka was up a break, 4-3, and had to hold her serve twice to win the match. After the penalty made it 5-3, it meant she only had to hold her serve once to win. We’ll never know for sure, but there’s no question she was in command of the match both before and after the penalty.

So what’s the conclusion from all this? First, Williams was out of line about the coaching penalty. It’s true that “everyone coaches” and it’s also true that it doesn’t get called a lot. But it does get called, and Mouratoglou’s coaching was far from subtle. The umpire did nothing wrong here.

Ditto for smashing the racket. That was an obvious code infraction.

And that leaves only the third code infraction. This is a judgment call. There’s no question that Williams was ranting and screaming. In one sense, calling a verbal abuse penalty was a no-brainer. On the other hand, it’s the tail end of a grand slam, and some umpires would have just let Williams run out of steam and then allow the match to play out. You could justify either approach, I think.

As for the charge of sexism, I don’t see it. I watch a fair amount of tennis, and I’ve seen men throw temper tantrums. I’ve also seen them get called for it. But with the caveat that I haven’t seen every temper tantrum in recent history,¹ Williams really did have a pretty epic meltdown. I haven’t seen anything like it that I can remember. The penalty may have been a judgment call, but it was a perfectly justifiable judgment call.

If you want to take Serena’s side on this, that’s fine. But please don’t do it on a knee-jerk basis. Williams’s behavior was atrocious, and the umpire, at worst, made a barely incorrect judgment call toward the end of the match. That’s it.

7) Among the most worrisome potential impacts from the massive amounts of rain and flooding from Hurricane Florence in eastern NC is pig manure everywhere.

8) I have a little sympathy for kids who don’t want to do class presentations (even though I never require it myself), but not too much.  Logic like this, does not impress me:

But in the past few years, students have started calling out in-class presentations as discriminatory to those with anxiety, demanding that teachers offer alternative options. This week, a tweet posted by a 15-year-old high-school student declaring “Stop forcing students to present in front of the class and give them a choice not to” garnered more than 130,000 retweets and nearly half a million likes. A similar sentiment tweeted in January also racked up thousands of likes and retweets. And teachers are listening…

“Nobody should be forced to do something that makes them uncomfortable,” says Ula, a 14-year-old in eighth grade, [emphasis mine] who, like all students quoted, asked to be referred to only by her first name. “Even though speaking in front of class is supposed to build your confidence and it’s part of your schoolwork, I think if a student is really unsettled and anxious because of it you should probably make it something less stressful. School isn’t something a student should fear.”

Oh, my.  There’s a reason we don’t let 14-year olds decide what’s best.  I’m with these educators:

But when it comes to abolishing in-class presentations, not everyone is convinced.

“We need to stop preaching to get rid of public speaking and we need to start preaching for better mental health support and more accessibility alternatives for students who are unable to complete presentations/classwork/etc due to health reasons,” one man tweeted.

Some educators agree. “My thoughts are that we are in the business of preparing students for college, career, and civic life. Public speaking is a piece of that preparation,” says Ryan Jones, a high-school history teacher in Connecticut. “Now, some kids (many) are deathly afraid to do it, but pushing outside of comfort zones is also a big part of what we do.”

9) Yes, this Alabama pastor’s protest against Nike really does tell us a lot about “Christianity” for so many conservatives and it’s not pretty.

10) 538’s Perry Bacon, “Americans Are Shifting The Rest Of Their Identity To Match Their Politics.”

We generally think of a person’s race or religion as being fixed — and that those parts of identity (being black, say, or evangelical Christian) drive political views. Most African-Americans vote Democratic. Most evangelical Christians vote Republican. But New York University political scientist Patrick Egan has written a new paper showing evidence that identity and politics operate in the opposite direction too — people shift the non-political parts of their identity, including ethnicity and religion, to align better with being a Democrat or a Republican…

I don’t want to overemphasize the results of these studies. Egan still believes that the primary dynamic in politics and identity is that people change parties to match their other identities. But I think Egan’s analysis is in line with a lot of emerging political science that finds U.S. politics is now a fight about identity and culture (and perhaps it always was). Increasingly, the political party you belong to represents a big part of your identity and is not just a reflection of your political views. It may even be your most important identity.

11) Doctors have a really hard time stopping certain medical practices after it becomes clear they are wasteful or harmful.

12) Nice WP Op-Ed on the latest voter fraud fraud shenanigans from the Trump administration, focused on NC:

IT WAS 5 p.m. on a Friday, just as Labor Day weekend was starting, when, without warning, faxes arrived at North Carolina’s state board of elections and 44 county election boards. The faxes contained a demand so outlandish — and so blatantly in violation of state privacy laws — that several officials assumed they were a hoax. A federal subpoena demanded practically every voting document imaginable, going back years. Absentee, provisional and regular ballots. Registration applications. Early-voting applications. Absentee ballot requests. Poll books.

In fact, it was no hoax. The subpoena sought a list of items which, if satisfied, would force state and local officials to produce at least 20 million documents — in less than four weeks. Prosecutors also demanded eight years of records from the state Division of Motor Vehicles, through which voters are allowed to register to vote. No explanation was provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement or federal prosecutors, who sought the documents. It is a fishing expedition by the Trump administration to support the president’s repeatedly discredited assertions that voting fraud is widespread, especially by noncitizens casting illegal ballots.

The effect of this expedition, led by Robert J. Higdon Jr., the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, is easy to foresee: This is one more in a long line of GOP efforts to suppress the vote. Members of the state board of elections, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, voted unanimously to fight the subpoena, which would overwhelm local boards’ administrative capacity. It also would intimidate voters who, with good reason, would fear their votes and other sensitive information were being handed over to federal officials.

13) Really good Pro Publica piece on the growing gap between prosperous cities and those cities left behind:

You might expect regional inequality to self-correct, given how costly and congested the hyper-prosperous cities have become. Instead, the success of these cities feeds on itself, as more employers and highly educated people decide they need to be where the action is. It’s a winner-take-all, rich-get-richer effect. The result is less than ideal for everyone: Those in the winner-take-all cities struggle to get by even with a decent salary, while those in the left-behind cities face demoralizing blight and struggle to find fulfilling work.

This is the exact opposite of what was supposed to happen in the digital age. The internet was supposed to free us to live anywhere. But as Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti foresaw in his 2011 book, “The New Geography of Jobs,” the tech economy in fact encourages agglomeration: Innovation happens best in close proximity, not to mention that it’s easier to make your venture-capital pitch face to face. “It is almost as if, starting in the 1980s, the American economy bifurcated,” Moretti wrote. “On one side, cities with little human capital and traditional economies started experiencing diminishing returns and stiff competition from abroad. On the other, cities rich in human capital and economies based on knowledge-intensive sectors started seeing increasing returns and took full advantage of globalized markets.”

14) Voter Study Group on the hopelessness of third parties:  Pay particular attention to the last point.  Third parties in America are utterly hopeless without major structural changes which the American public is entirely unwilling to embrace. [emphases in original].

Key Findings

  • Two-thirds of Americans want a third party. Sixty-eight percent of Americans say that two parties do not do an adequate job of representing the American people and that a third party is needed.
  • But third-party enthusiasts don’t agree on what that third party should be. About one-third want a party of the center, about one-fifth want a party to the left of the Democrats, and about one-fifth want a party to the right of the Republicans, with the remainder wanting something else. It would take at least five parties to capture the ideological aspirations of Americans.
  • Partisans are not about to abandon their party; most value what makes their party distinct from the other major party. Seventy-seven percent of Americans feel better represented by one party or the other, leaving only 23 percent who are equivocal between the two existing parties. And overwhelming majorities of partisans feel well-represented by their parties (81 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans) and very poorly represented by the other major party (68 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Republicans).
  • Americans neither support nor see the necessity for reforms that would help create a multiparty system. Electoral reforms like ranked-choice voting would be necessary for third parties to gain support — even more so given that the actual demand is for multiple additional rather than a single third party. But our research shows little understanding of or support for such reforms. Few make the connection between their stated desire for a third party and the electoral reforms that would make that possible.

15) So, we’re kind of wrong about everything.  The end of the piece mentions Factfulness, which I gave up reading because I actually felt like I already knew pretty much all of it.  My 12-year old son is really enjoying it now, though.

16) Excellent Adam Serwer on the NRA’s problem with Black men shot by police:

Loesch’s reaction is an example of what one might call the “Rice rule,” after Tamir Rice, the 12-year old killed by a white police officer while playing in a park with a toy gun: There are no circumstances in which the responsibility for a police shooting of an unarmed black person cannot be placed on the victim.

At the same time, scolding dead people for being unarmed is standard procedure for the NRA, which attacked Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of Mother Emanuel AME Church, where nine parishioners were massacred by the white supremacist Dylann Roof, for supporting gun control. The group similarly suggested that shootings at Planned Parenthood; at Umpqua Community College in Oregon; in Fresno, California; and at the Capital Gazettein Maryland were so deadly because the victims weren’t armed. The NRA even faulted James Shaw Jr., who prevented a mass shooting at a Waffle House by tackling the shooter, for not being armed while he did it. Ted Nugent, the closest thing the NRA has to a celebrity spokesperson, once called mass-shooting victims “losers” who “get cut down by murderous maniacs like blind sheep to slaughter.”

But the NRA’s conspicuous lack of outrage after the shootings of Philando Castile, Jason Washington, and Alton Sterling, all black men killed by police while in possession of a firearm, suggests an impossible double standard. When armed black men are shot by the police, the NRA says nothing about the rights of gun owners; when unarmed black men are shot, its spokesperson says they should have been armed. To this day, Loesch defends Castile’s shooting as justified—despite the fact that Castile informed the officer he was carrying a firearm. In Washington’s case, Loesch said she was “never going to keyboard quarterback what police are doing.”

17) Really like how Montgomery County, MD is re-thinking “gifted” education.

Quick hits

So, I was completely computer-less from Wednesday morning until Friday night this week.  I’ll admit, it was oddly liberating, but I’m sure I failed to read so much good stuff.  So this solo edition of quick hits is an amalgam of really recent stuff and older stuff I somehow missed posting before.

1) WP editorial on the abuse of migrant kids in detention, “Migrant kids were stripped, drugged, locked away. So much for compassion.”

2) (Big) Steve Saideman with an “it’s all identity politics” post:

Either way, much of politics is very much identity politics.  The only people who deny this reality are those whose identities already dominate politics.  I remember reading books about Race and US foreign policy–and it blew my mind to think that white folks and their race influenced US foreign policy.  Seems obvious now, but it was in a time and a context where folks were wondering about whether US foreign policy would remain rational and realist if other groups with other views of the
national interest, or their group’s interests, would shape US foreign policy (Mrs. Spew considers anyone using the term identity politics dismissively is really anti-civil rights so she substitutes civil rights activism for identity politics).

So, today, in the US, when I hear people dismiss identity politics, they tend to be white Christian folks who have always won and imposed their values on US politics (and projecting themselves, fear what the others would do if they are in power).  There was, of course, conflict among these folks about who and what counts as white (are Italians white? are Arabs?) and as Christian (in Lubbock, where I lived, the category of Christian is much narrower than I conceived).  But these folks tend to agree that when People of Color push issues favorable to their group or point out that Black Lives Matter, they get upset, because they are uncomfortable with being informed that their vision of “All Lives Mattering” might just still have some identity politics to it.

In sum, identities always matter, politics is often about defining the content of the identity, the boundaries of identities and how one should treat those of other identities.

3) The group that definitely faces prejudice in college admissions?  Introverts.

4) My former student who made the political big time with a nice NYT quote on how Republican tax cuts can help fund Republican campaigns:

“The American people know that the Republicans who control Washington sold them out with a disastrous tax giveaway to the rich and big business that the rest of the country is being forced to pay for,” said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the liberal campaign group American Bridge. “The fact that those same corporations and wealthy individuals have turned around to bankroll Republican campaign efforts is further proof of what this travesty was all about.”

5) Now that it’s a week old and Trump is up to new nightmares, we’ve already forgotten about Peter Strozk.  But this is still a good take:

And this is why the crux of this complicated saga is actually pretty straightforward. Strzok stood accused of undermining public trust in the independence of the FBI through his carelessness. This is indeed a significant offense, one that liberals and conservatives alike should take very seriously. But by caving to a massive campaign of vilification by the president, and publicly violating Wray’s promise that the investigation into Strzok would be done by the book, the bureau’s leadership has undermined that trust in a much more public, deliberate, and grievous manner than the man they scapegoated ever did.

Even at this late stage, many commentators still take it for granted that Trump’s attempts to curb the independence of key political institutions will miraculously be foiled by the Constitution. But Strzok’s firing is only the latest in a series of cases in which high-ranking civil servants have been personally attacked by the president and then been forced to leave office under highly unusual circumstances: At this point, Trump has managed to dispatch the FBI’s director, its deputy director, its general counsel, and the head agent of its investigating agency.

6) So many idiots like this, ”

Sgt. Temo Juarez was a Trump guy. An Iraq combat veteran who served as a Marine infantryman and then an Army National Guardsman, his friends called him a “super conservative.” With his wife, he brought up their two daughters in Central Florida. He supported Trump in 2016, eager for a change.

But now, “I am eating my words,” he told the military newspaper Stars and Stripes in an interview published last week.

On Friday, Juarez and his family became the latest victims of Trump’s zero-tolerance policy on immigration.

On that day, his wife, Alejandra, left the country under a deportation order. She had come to the United States from Mexico illegally as a teenager two decades ago and had until now being living undisturbed with Temo, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and daughters, both natural-born Americans. This week, Temo will fly to Mexico with his daughters, 9-year-old Estela and 16-year-old Pamela — and leave his younger daughter there, even though English is her first language. He can’t do his construction job and take care of her in Florida by himself.

7) Nice Benjamin Wallace-Wells piece on John McCain.

8) We’re worried about the wrong bees (this one was really eye-opening to me):

Honey bees will be fine. They are a globally distributed, domesticated animal. Apis mellifera will not go extinct, and the species is not remotely threatened with extinction.

The bees you should be concerned about are the 3,999 otherbee species living in North America, most of which are solitary, stingless, ground-nesting bees you’ve never heard of. Incredible losses in native bee diversity are already happening. 50 percent of Midwestern native bee species disappeared from their historic ranges in the last 100 years. Four of our bumblebee species declined 96 percent in the last 20 years, and three species are believed to already be extinct. A little part of me despairs when I read in a scientific paper: “This species probably should be listed under the Endangered Species Act if it still exists.”…

The evidence is clear that many native wild pollinators are declining. That wouldn’t be a big deal, if commercial honeybees could pick up the slack. They can’t.

Managed honey bee colonies supplement the work of natural wild pollinators, not the other way around. In a study of 41 different crop systems worldwide, honeybees only increased yield in 14 percent of the crops. Who did all the pollination? Native bees and other insects.

9) Mark Joseph Stern on the evil Kris Kobach, “Kansas Is Living in the Mess Kris Kobach Made: The secretary of state ruined the Republican primary just like he ruins everything else.”

10) Trump hires the very worst people.  Paul Waldman:

President Trump, however, follows a different and far more bizarre script. When he gets betrayed by a former aide, he says that he knew all alongwhat a terrible person the aide was, and in fact he even knew before he hired her how awful she was.

Yes, I’m talking about Omarosa Manigault Newman, but only partly about her, because it goes much farther. We may have never had a president who filled out his administration with such a collection of corrupt, incompetent and immoral aides, and we’ve certainly never had a president who was so eager to tell everyone that his own administration is a wretched hive of scum and villainy…

So Trump’s story is that Omarosa was a “crazed, crying lowlife,” but he gave her a job in the White House, a job that many other people would have been happy to have. Then, though he said Monday that “People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart,” he kept her around for a year.

Trump would also like America to know that his attorney general is a complete failure. Trump’s displeasure comes from the fact that by recusing himself from the Russia investigation, Jeff Sessions has rendered himself unable to shut it down in order to protect him; as he says, “If we had a real Attorney General, this Witch Hunt would never have been started!” In another tweet, Trump refers to “the ‘Justice’ Department,” to communicate that this vital part of the government he leads is not doing its job…

Now let’s remind ourselves of something. One of the rationales that businesspeople always offer when they run for office is that unlike career politicians, they can bring their hard-nosed business sense to government, including in hiring. Instead of bringing on a bunch of cronies, with their commitment to efficiency and results they’ll hire the best people for the job. This is what Trump himself said in 2016 when he was asked by a hedge fund manager what criteria he would use to select members of his administration

11) Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial nominee is a true enemy of democracy.

12) Molly Roberts on why we don’t need a tape of Trump saying awful things:

But maybe confirmation is exactly what we’re looking for. The White House lies regularly, and when it’s not lying it’s at least spinning. We’re suffering whiplash from our collective plunge into a post-truth presidency, and something as stubborn and physical as a tape offers stabilization. A recording reassures Trump critics that they’ve been right all along, and more than that, it inspires the optimistic notion that, up against the sort of evidence that’s hardest to contradict, the rest of the country will finally start to see along with them.

It won’t. That’s not only because Sarah Huckabee Sanders could say the tape was tampered with, or because Trump’s backers would probably believe her. It’s because in a post-truth presidency and a post-truth country, it’s not only a matter of our inability to agree on individual facts and individual fictions. It’s also about the inevitable extension of that inability: Americans live in two totally separate realities, where one group’s good guys are the other group’s bad guys, and where Trump either augurs the disintegration of everything admirable in America or is the beginning of a better, brighter era ahead.

America knows Trump is racist, and his base continues to approve of him anyway. America knows he has catered to Russia at every turn, and his base continues to approve of him anyway, discounting the investigation into election interference as unimportant or a witch hunt. America knew during the election that he was a credibly accused sexual assaulter — and there was a tape — and it elected him anyway.

We don’t need a tape, not one bit. But even if we had one, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.

13) Really enjoyed this account of a UNC football player who gave up the game he loved and his NFL dream after too many concussions.

14) “How punitive, omniscient gods may have encouraged the expansion of human society”

Researchers have examined the relationship between “moralistic” gods – those who care about how we treat each other – cooperation and the size of human societies. This research continues to find a strong relationship between belief in such deities and social complexity. For example, the ancient Greeks appear to have appealed to Zeus during oaths, and in the Iliad, Homer attributes him with concern for justice. Along with having various deities, the Greeks also of course lived in a complex, interconnected social system.

Recent experimental research suggests that punitive, omniscient and morally concerned gods may curb selfishness because these gods trigger both the feeling of being watched and the fear of punishment for breaking the rules. Cross-cultural studies using historical or survey data have also found this relationship. But until now, no one had investigated the relationship between types of gods and selfishness directly using experimental methods with as culturally diverse participants as those in our study.

These results suggest that certain religious beliefs may have contributed to the stability of expanded trade, the moderation of conflict among coreligionists, and how coreligionists might be coordinated when confronting outsiders. Belief in a moralistic, punishing god could have helped people overcome selfish behavior to cooperate fairly with more far-flung individuals, laying the groundwork for larger social networks.

Our findings also partially explain why some religions have dominated the globe; conquest, violence and conversion all require extreme levels of coordination and cooperation. Indeed, Christianity and Islam in particular often tout belief in a moralistic, punishing and omniscient deity, and these traditions have spread around the world.

15) The rise of charter schools and failure of public school integration.

16) CRISPR and the future of food (sign me up).

17) Washington Post with the 23 best movies of the 21st century.  I’ve seen 14 and loved about half those 14.

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