Quick hits (part I)

1) Not responding to your exercise regimen?  You will probably respond better to a different one.

2) I think it is the NYT pushing it so much that finally got me into Mindfulness meditation (4 months in and going strong).  This page is a great explanation of what it’s really all about and how to get started, if you so inclined:

Basic mindfulness meditation is the practice of paying attention to the present moment with an accepting, nonjudgmental disposition. The goal isn’t to stop thinking, or to empty the mind. Rather, the point is to pay close attention to your physical sensations, thoughts and emotions in order to see them more clearly, without making so many assumptions, or making up stories.

It’s a deceptively simple exercise — just be right here, right now, without daydreaming. But with practice it can yield profound results, giving us greater control of our actions, and making room for more kindness and equanimity, even in difficult situations. With time, mindfulness meditation can even help us better understand what causes us stress, and what we can do to relieve it.

Though mindfulness meditation was inspired by Buddhist practices, today it is available as a wholly secular practice that emphasizes stress reduction, the cultivation of focus and the development of tranquility.

“There’s a misconception that mindfulness is religious,” said Mr. Smith. “What we have to explain is that it’s a stress reduction technique and a way to get yourself stronger mentally. It’s a self-care practice.”

3a) Theda Skocpol on the need to rebuild the Democratic party from the ground up

3b) And Emma Green on the ideological reasons Democrats have neglected state and local politics:

The unevenness is partly a reflection of progressives’ reluctance to push their policy agendas through states. Historically, arguments against federalism—or the principle that power should be robustly shared between state and national governments—have centered on race. “Progressives are deeply skeptical of federalism, and with good reason,” Gerken wrote in a 2012 essay in Democracy. “States’ rights have been invoked to defend some of the most despicable institutions in American history, most notably slavery and Jim Crow.” Others see the decentralization of governing power as a way of stifling dissent, she argued.

This is one reason why the national Democratic Party has often looked to Washington to make and enforce policy. But there’s another ideological explanation, argued Ernest Young, a professor of law at Duke University, in an interview: The progressive project is ultimately about working toward a society built on one unified vision of policy and culture, rather than a diverse array of policies and cultures. “If you’re confident that you can get the right answer to something, like health-care policy, or welfare, or any number of very difficult social problems, it’s hard not to say that right answer should be equally available to everyone,” Young said, meaning that progressives believe their “right answers” should be legislated through federal policy. “If you’re a more Burkean type of conservative, and you’re skeptical that we’re ever going to find out right answers to these questions, you might favor different solutions in different jurisdictions, and see from experience what works out. That tends to lend itself to a commitment to federalism, and local governments, too,” he said.

4) Very depressing that even Obama and Democrats are refusing to take science seriously when it comes to “forensic science” (which, DNA aside, is rarely actual science).  Surely, thousands of people will continue to be falsely convicted due to this scientific and moral failing.  Radley Balko:

In September, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued a scathing report on the use of forensic analysis and expertise in the criminal-justice system. The report, “Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison Methods,” looked at pattern matching forensic disciplines such as bite mark matching, shoe print matching, blood spatter analysis, fingerprint matching and hair fiber analysis. It also looked at DNA testing when investigators find biological material from multiple sources, a scenario that can bring human subjectivity into the testing. With the exception of single-source DNA testing, the report found serious deficiencies in all areas of forensics it studied.

The PCAST report was damning, but if you’ve been following these issues with any regularity, it wasn’t at all surprising. That was in September. It’s now January. And not only has the Obama administration done nothing about the report, the Justice Department has publicly denounced it. That report, along with others and an administration that seemed unusually equipped to take it seriously, presented a small window in which to reform a system. That window is about slam shut. And we’re about to be governed by a new administration that seems likely to board it up, wallpaper it and overlay it with brick. This wasn’t just a missed opportunity; it was a catastrophe. And it’s difficult to overstate the consequences.

5) I’m sure you are as shocked as I am that credit reporting agencies have been lying to consumers.

6a) What’s up with the disk storage in the Star Wars movies?  And the retro technology in general?

6b) And really enjoyed this essay on the nature of “The Force” and the return of “reverence” in Star Wars films.

6c) And this is too good, “Did Inadequate Women’s Healthcare Destroy Star Wars’ Old Republic?

7) Trump appoints Wall Street lawyer to regulate Wall Street.  Chait’s summation, “‘“Drain the swamp’ continues to be one of the greatest cons in the history of presidential campaigns.”

8) Kevin Drum argues that people should understand gravity better and that his explanation is more intuitive than warped space-time.  I’m not so sure.

9) How religion can (indirectly) help influence the gender wage gap:

Wiseman and Dutta looked at how two different measurements of religiosity among residents of different states — belief in God and participation in religious activity — correlated with the gender wage-gap in those states. Even after controlling for age, education, marital status, occupation, time in the workforce, and other factors, they found that this correlation was rather significant: specifically, the that a three percent increase in a state’s religiosity related to a one percent increase in its gender wage-gap.

These findings are consistent with the idea that religious beliefs and institutions, even informal ones, can shape social interactions and thus economic behavior. Women’s roles as mothers and workers are shaped by religious norms and customs, even when those norms aren’t directly dictated by religious dogma.

Traditional religious attitudes might also affect employer behavior, shaping managers’ decisions about whom to hire or lay off, or a family’s decision about who should be the primary breadwinner. Zooming out, the state government’s distribution of resources — like education, health care, and parental leave — can also be shaped by prevailing cultural norms that are shaped by religious attitudes. It stands to reason that policies that have been shown to promote gender parity, like pay-transparency legislation or investments in high-quality child care, might face heavier opposition in those states where religious institutions exert more influence. (That said, the working paper didn’t make any of these claims directly — rather, it provided a jumping-off point for some informed speculation.)

10) Important changes in how Obamacare has changed the practice of medicine for the better will outlast any changes/repeal Republicans make to the ACA.

11) I’m a big fan of art and advertising paintings on the sides of buildings.  So is Atlas Obscura.  I like driving by this one on my way to work.

Image result for raleigh nehi bottling company

12) Norm Ornstein on the GOP’s ethics “disaster” (worthwhile read even with the House GOP backing off):

I have rarely been more angry or dismayed at the conduct of Congress than I was Monday night with the unconscionable, deplorable, underhanded move by Representative Bob Goodlatte to eviscerate and undermine the Office of Congressional Ethics. When House Speaker Paul Ryan and his counterpart Nancy Pelosi indicated weeks ago that they would continue OCE, the reform community—left and right—breathed a sigh of relief. Ryan, like his predecessor John Boehner, had seen the value to the integrity of the House of the office, which has been a stalwart of bipartisan and nonpartisan comity and independence. That makes this bait-and-switch action even more outrageous…

Given Ryan’s solidarity with President-elect Trump on Russian hacking—preceded by his deep-sixing any bipartisan statement during the campaign warning against foreign attempts to influence our elections—along with Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz’s indifference to any investigation of conflicts of interest or ethical problems with the president-elect and his cronies, this is chilling evidence that we are headed for a new age of official embrace or at least acceptance of unethical and illegal behavior. The core of America’s political system depends on real checks and balances, on a Congress that puts country ahead of party. The House leadership showed this week that party comes first. [emphasis mine]

13) Life in Elkhart, Indiana has improved considerably under President Obama.  In this partisan era, though, not even that penetrates partisan biases:

Democrats and Republicans, though, appear to be equally guilty of viewing objective facts through partisan filters–Nyhan said that there’s no conclusive evidence to suggest that one party is more susceptible than the other. Though some research has indicated that even strongly partisan people are more likely to answer questions about politics correctly if they are getting paid to do so, paying Americans to listen to facts doesn’t seem a particularly realistic solution. Little will change, Nyhan said, if the environment in which political leaders and the media promote incorrect information doesn’t change.

There is, however, one way to pierce partisan biases, Nyhan said. If reality intrudes, people may be more willing to accept it. Someone can debate climate change for years, but if his house is threatened by a tide that rises every year as the planet warms, he may be more likely to accept that climate change exists.

But in Elkhart, people have jobs they didn’t have six years ago, and they’re working more hours. Their homes are worth more than they were before Obama took office, on average, and their paychecks are fatter than they used to be. Yet Obama is, and will likely remain, the president who didn’t do anything right.

14) Greg Sargent’s headline gets it (in response to some pretty deplorable comments from the WSJ Editor), “Yes, Donald Trump ‘lies.’ A lot. And news organizations should say so.”  And Media Matters with Dan Rather’s response, beginning, “a lie, is a lie, is a lie.”

15) Fascinating tweetstorm on the Podesta hack.  But seriously, just write a blog post!!

16) Seth Masket with a good piece on the 20th century model of journalism in the 21st century:

As Jonathan Ladd has written, this conception of the news is tied to a rather narrow and recent time period and may simply no longer apply. Ladd writes here:

American journalism became largely nonpartisan in the mid-twentieth century after calls for reform by Progressive Era figures like Walter Lippmann. But… these few decades were an historical aberration made possible by the lack of party polarization and a legal and technological landscape that artificially restricted media industry competition. Beyond these few decades, partisan media are the historical norm in the United States.

We hear many complaints today about the rise of fake news, false equivalencies, deeply partisan news sources, etc., but that’s actually how the political media have typically behaved. Newspapers of the 19th and early 20th centuries were often publicly affiliated with a political party and saw their role as backing that party’s candidates. We seem to be moving back to that model today.

But even if we expect a mid-20th century non-partisan model of media behavior, it’s difficult to pinpoint just where we believe the media went wrong in 2016. Did it ignore Trump’s bigotry, conflicts of interest, sexual predation, and basic ignorance on many public policy issues? Hardly. It reported on these extensively. That’s a large part of the reason Trump had historically high unfavorability ratings throughout the election year. Voters knew who he was. Many were deeply uncomfortable with him. Many of those same people voted for him anyway. According to exit polls, two-thirds of voters felt that Trump lacked the temperament to be president. Among that two-thirds, one in five still voted for him…

One area where the media really did seem flummoxed was in false equivalency. Stories about Clinton’s emails dominated news coverage despite a lack of any evidence of actual wrongdoing, and this may have hurt Clinton significantly.

In part, this is a result of the persistence of the 20th-century non-partisan model of journalism. If you’re covering scandals in one campaign, you’re supposed to cover scandals in the other. Even if the race is between Josef Stalin and Mother Teresa (this one wasn’t), coverage should approach something like balance. Indeed, it may be appropriate for the media to provide more scrutiny of the candidate it thinks is going to win in this model.

17) Nice piece on the real differences between fascism (which does not really fit Trump) and right-wing populism (which does).

18) Of course liberals need to talk about economics and race.

Understanding how Trump and the GOP effectively use race requires seeing that the right is “waging a culture war around gender, elitism, and especially race, using coded and not so coded terms to trigger strong resentments.” This is specifically designed to persuade white voters to cast ballots that are not only against their interests but suicidal for the middle class.

Yes, the economic anxiety many Trump voters felt is real and must be addressed. But addressing that anxiety exclusively would be a big mistake, according to Haney-López, because “it assumes that economic pain comes first, and so, it implies that finances are more fundamental than scapegoating.”

Racial resentment has made the rigged economy we all live in now possible.

The parties have not switched their polarities from the North to the South, and the GOP didn’t become a party that is 90 percent white with 98 percent white elected officials by accident, Haney-López notes.

19) NYT Editorial on the “stolen Supreme Court seat.”  And, yes, “stolen” is about right.

20 Nice essay in Vox on the genuine free speech problem on America’s college campus.

Quick hits part II

1) This call to action for Political Scientists from Jennifer Victor is great:

EDITORIAL: It’s time for political science to update its disciplinary norms about public engagement. We can value neutrality, science, and objectivity while passing judgment against actions and proposals that jeopardize democratic institutions. These are not in conflict if we agree on basic values…

For example, threats to lock up a political opponent violate the due process clause in the Fifth and 14th amendments; encouraging voter suppression and intimidation violates the democratic standard of universal suffrage; questioning the independence of the judiciarythreatens the legitimacy of separation of powers and checks and balances; intimidating journalists violates the free speech and free press provisions of the First Amendment; calling for the proliferation of nuclear weapons threatens national security and our position in international treaties.

2) David Leonhardt on the Democrats real turnout problem.

3) Yeah, of course parents matter most, but some good evidence from a study comparing US and UK that public policy helping out kids helps cognitive outcomes.  (Obviously, it’s the UK with public policy benefiting kids).

4) Do Working Class Whites really vote against their interests?  No, says Kirk Noden (I still say they do, no matter how much Democrats love corporate America).  That is, unless their interests are expressing white identity.

5) Paul Waldman makes the case for the do not cooperate with Trump camp:

It’s important that Democrats keep reminding the American public, every day for the next four years, of who’s sitting in the White House and what that means. Trump ran one of most vile presidential campaigns in American history, one based on racial and religious hatred, resentment and fear. He sought to normalize toxic misogyny. He celebrated violence. He mainstreamed white supremacy. His election has spurred a wave of racist intimidation and hate crimes, as bigots across the country have become emboldened by his victory to act out their most despicable impulses. He’s a demagogue and a dangerous fool, and while Democrats aren’t going to question the legitimacy of his presidency the way Republicans did with Obama, he shouldn’t ever be treated like an ordinary president with whom Democrats just have some substantive disagreements.

So, absent an incredibly powerful reason to cooperate with him on any particular bill, the last thing Trump should get from Democrats is a clean slate and a hand extended in cooperation.

6) And Josh Chafetz on why even a Republican Congress might block some of Trump’s agenda.

7) And Drum on the difficulty of doing something about NAFTA.

8) Harry Enten makes the best case that shy Trump voters really weren’t a thing:

The second reason to be skeptical of the “shy” theory is that Republican Senate candidates outperformed their polls too. The theory behind the “shy” phenomenon is that voters are reluctant to admit support for particularly controversial or politically incorrect candidates. Yet mainstream Republican Senate candidates such as Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey — hardly examples of bomb-throwers like Trump — all did better than the polls indicated they would. They weren’t alone. A look across Senate races reveals that most Republican Senate candidates bested their polls.

9) Tim Noah’s nice takedown of the contemporary horribleness of the electoral college.

10) Blame Trump’s victory on college-educated whites.  Yeah, I’m actually pretty sympathetic to this argument.

Perhaps, then, these Trump voters are the most deplorable of them all. They’re not suffering or desperate, and have no concrete reason to hate the status quo or to feel like they are in decline. They understand that Trump is manifestly unprepared to be president, have heard his many lies and insults, yet voted for him anyway. And without them, Trump wouldn’t have won. The media ought to focus on their motivations, too—and reporters won’t even have to fly to Youngstown to find them.

11) Late-deciding voters seemed to have broken pretty strongly for Trump.

12) Sadly, one of Trump’s most important flaws, is that he does not get the best people, but the worst.  Or as Chait puts it, “building a team of racists.”

13) Trump is a really, really unpopular President-Elect.  Yglesias.

 

14) Trump’s policies are a disaster for the environment and he will be able to enact most of these.

15) Donald Trump settled for over $20 million for using his name, Trump University, to defraud people.  And what is the media totally focused on?  A tweet about Hamilton.  Ugh.  There’s your damn media bias.  Yglesias:

The Hamilton blow-up — because it’s easy to understand, bizarre, and connects with a pop culture phenomenon — has naturally ended up getting the bulk of the news pickup. One potential reason is that Trump’s tweets are public, whereas it took diligent reporting by the Washington Post to get the hotel story. The idea is that other prestigious outlets may be disinclined to pay attention to a story the Post “owns” and to give due credit to its significance.

Meanwhile, a second-order controversy even broke out among the people I follow on Twitter as to whether the Hamilton audience booing Mike Pence in some sense played into Trump’s hands.

But the truth is that nothing about the Hamilton story — not Pence’s decision to attend, not the crowd booing him, not the cast of the musical directing some respectful criticism in the direction of I his boss, not Trump’s tweets about what happened, and not the subsequent second-order controversy — is in any way important to how he runs the country.

By contrast, foreign governments directly putting money into Donald Trump’s pocket is very important. The fact that these attempted bribes are being paid to a man who is also paying out millions of dollars to avoid standing trial for his corrupt business practices is very important. The fact that citizens are calling members of congress to ask them to do something about this is also very important.

16) Interesting and not-at-all sympathetic review of Pope Emeritus Benedict’s new book.

17) Get used to the term Emoluments.  Trump will quite likely be in violation of the Constitution the day he is inaugurated.  Seriously.

The Constitution’s “Emoluments Clause,” provides that “no person holding any office of profit or trust under” the United States “shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”

The diplomats’ efforts in seek Trump’s favor by staying in his hotel “looks like a gift,” Painter told ThinkProgress in an email, and thus is the very kind of favor the Constitution seeks to prevent.

18) Interesting essay on what to do about Trump:

The first, and most obvious, is this: Treat every poisoned word as a promise. When a bigoted blusterer tells you he intends to force members of a religious minority to register with the authorities—much like those friends and family of Siegfried’s who stayed behind were forced to do before their horizon grew darker—believe him. Don’t try to be clever. Don’t lean on political intricacies or legislative minutia or historical precedents for comfort. Don’t write it off as propaganda, or explain it away as just an empty proclamation meant simply to pave the path to power. Take the haters at their word, and assume the worst is imminent.

Do that, and a second principle follows closely: You should treat people like adults, which means respecting them enough to demand that they understand the consequences of their actions.

19) Michael Tomasky on another reason Bernie would not have won the general election– Michael Bloomberg would have likely run as an independent.

20) A Yale History professor with 20 lessons from the 20th century.  Good stuff.

21) I really like this take on Trump and the party system from Dan Balz:

Trump took the elements of an independent candidacy — the lack of clear ideology, the name recognition of a national celebrity and the personal fortune needed to fund a presidential campaign — and then did what no one seemed to have thought of before. He staged a hostile takeover of an existing major party. He had the best of both worlds, an outsider candidacy with crosscutting ideological appeal and the platform of a major party to wage the general election.

22) Pat McCrory has so lost the NC election.  Every day he trails by more votes.  That’s fine that he doesn’t want to concede yet, but, hey, why not try and undermine faith in democracy and elections while you are at (with utterly baseless allegations), Pat?  Pathetic:

McCrory campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz disagreed.

“More than 80 counties have postponed their canvas meetings until next week, so let’s be clear: The counting is not complete and there is still no certified outcome. Roy Cooper is making presumptuous statements based on piecemeal results from a handful of Democrat-leaning counties in order to deflect attention away from serious voter fraud concerns that are emerging across the state.

“The real question people should be asking is, why is Roy Cooper fighting to count the votes of dead people and felons?” [emphasis mine]

23) Harry Enten uses actual voting data to make a pretty compelling case that (somehow!), Trump really did out-perform Romney with Latino voters.

24) Mark Lilla on “the end of identity liberalism”

It is a truism that America has become a more diverse country. It is also a beautiful thing to watch. Visitors from other countries, particularly those having trouble incorporating different ethnic groups and faiths, are amazed that we manage to pull it off. Not perfectly, of course, but certainly better than any European or Asian nation today. It’s an extraordinary success story.

But how should this diversity shape our politics? The standard liberal answer for nearly a generation now has been that we should become aware of and “celebrate” our differences. Which is a splendid principle of moral pedagogy — but disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics in our ideological age. In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.

One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end. Hillary Clinton was at her best and most uplifting when she spoke about American interests in world affairs and how they relate to our understanding of democracy. But when it came to life at home, she tended on the campaign trail to lose that large vision and slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop. This was a strategic mistake. If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded. Which, as the data show, was exactly what happened with the white working class and those with strong religious convictions. Fully two-thirds of white voters without college degrees voted for Donald Trump, as did over 80 percent of white evangelicals.

The moral energy surrounding identity has, of course, had many good effects. Affirmative action has reshaped and improved corporate life. Black Lives Matter has delivered a wake-up call to every American with a conscience. Hollywood’s efforts to normalize homosexuality in our popular culture helped to normalize it in American families and public life.

But the fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life. At a very young age our children are being encouraged to talk about their individual identities, even before they have them. By the time they reach college many assume that diversity discourse exhausts political discourse, and have shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good…

We need a post-identity liberalism, and it should draw from the past successes of pre-identity liberalism. Such a liberalism would concentrate on widening its base by appealing to Americans as Americans and emphasizing the issues that affect a vast majority of them. It would speak to the nation as a nation of citizens who are in this together and must help one another.

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.

serv

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.

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