Quick hits

Late on these because I’ve been at a Political Science conference.  Using 30 minutes of free WiFi in Chicago-Midway to see how many I can get through.  Relatedly, less quotations this week.  Sorry.

1) Really interesting Washington Post story on the incredible hardship faced by women after they have been freed from Boko Haram.

2) SAT and ACT are now making big money by having states (including NC) using them as Common Core tests.  Meanwhile, the tests actually designed to be used with Common Core… not so much.

 

3) Of course many of the businesses who are now opposing NC’s HB2 helped elect them social conservatives who brought us this backward legislation.

4) I hadn’t realized that the Washington DC Metro was so new when I started riding it as a kid.  It’s now really showing it’s age at 40.

5) Nicholas Kristof’s latest on what whites don’t get:

LET’S start with a quiz. When researchers sent young whites and blacks out to interview for low-wage jobs in New York City armed with equivalent résumés, the result was:

A) Whites and blacks were hired at similar rates.

B) Blacks had a modest edge because of affirmative action.

C) Whites were twice as likely to get callbacks.

The answer is C, and a black applicant with a clean criminal record did no better than a white applicant who was said to have just been released from 18 months in prison.

A majority of whites believe that job opportunities are equal for whites and blacks, according to a PBS poll, but rigorous studies show that just isn’t so. [emphasis mine]

6) Garrett Epps on how the challenge to redistricting backfired.

7) A former student of mine shared this in all seriousness on FB (and praised NC’s recent efforts on HB2).  Oh my.  Thought about defriending her for rank stupidity, but decided there’s utility in having some of the crazy come across my feed.

8) The Constitution as a Code of Honor.

9) Conor Friedersdorf on how the drug war has helped fuel the opioid epidemic.

10) I’ve really wanted to do a full post on Hillary Clinton and gender and perceptions of honesty.  I haven’t.  So, do me a favor and read Jill Abramson and Christina Cauterucci.

11) Every time I go through airport security, I feel like the terrorists have one.  In this case, IBM won by making $1.4 million for an app that makes a random left or right arrow.

12) So, this article about Jay Bilas and Mike Gminski is totally old, but new to me, about my two favorite basketball analysts who are both former Duke players.

13) The day after a friend was asking me about the relationship between religiosity and income in the US, this from Andrew Gelman popped up in my feed.

14) Hillary Clinton’s taking autism seriously from a policy perspective.  Of course, my favorite thing about Hillary is that she takes most everything seriously from a policy perspective.

Clinton’s autism plan, announced Tuesday, is well-informed and shows a grasp of the issues that few outside of disability rights circles have. If she wins the election and does even half of the things she promises, she could make an enormous difference in the everyday lives of autistic people. If she loses, she has still tremendously raised the bar on how presidential candidates can and should address autism.

Her plan focuses on necessary and sorely needed support programs for autistic people: improving employment opportunities and housing availability, significantly limiting the use of physical restraints, guaranteeing access to assistive communication technology for people who are nonverbal or have difficulty with spoken language and a specific call to do research on adult autism prevalence and needs. These issues are of vital importance to autistic people and our loved ones. No other major US presidential candidate has made these issues a part of his or her political platform.

15) Really good Paul Pierson and Jacob Hacker on the institutionalized resistance to change in the Republican party.

16) Well, North Carolina can no longer claim to be the more sensible, non-backward Carolina (seriously, Nikki Haley looking like a statewoman compared to our “leaders”), but we’ll always have Mississippi.

17) If Donald Trump published an academic article.  Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

18) Frum with a really interesting take on how the world might have been different had the Allies lost WWI.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Nice look at the the very nice work some friends of mine having done on conspiracy theories in American politics.

2) Plenty disturbing that this professor was ever suspended.

3) I always talk about the symbiotic relationship between media and politicians.  Jim Rutenberg on just how true this is in the case of Trump.

4) Vox, of course, with a very nice explainer of how a brokered convention would work.

5) Loved this summary of all the ways Finland gets it right on education:

Finland doesn’t waste time or money on low-quality mass standardized testing. Instead, children are assessed every day, through direct observation, check-ins and quizzes by the highest-quality “personalized learning device” ever created — flesh-and-blood teachers.

In class, children are allowed to have fun, giggle and daydream from time to time. Finns put into practice the cultural mantras I heard over and over: “Let children be children,” “The work of a child is to play,” and “Children learn best through play.” …

The emotional climate of the typical classroom is warm, safe, respectful and highly supportive. There are no scripted lessons and no quasi-martial requirements to walk in straight lines or sit up straight. As one Chinese student-teacher studying in Finland marveled to me, “In Chinese schools, you feel like you’re in the military. Here, you feel like you’re part of a really nice family.” She is trying to figure out how she can stay in Finland permanently.

In the United States, teachers are routinely degraded by politicians, and thousands of teacher slots are filled by temps with six or seven weeks of summer training. In Finland teachers are the most trusted and admired professionals next to doctors, in part because they are required to have master’s degrees in education with specialization in research and classroom practice.

“Our mission as adults is to protect our children from politicians,” one Finnish childhood education professor told me. “We also have an ethical and moral responsibility to tell businesspeople to stay out of our building.” In fact, any Finnish citizen is free to visit any school whenever they like, but her message was clear: Educators are the ultimate authorities on education, not bureaucrats, and not technology vendors.

6) Loved this profile of PPP pollster and all-around good guy, Tom Jenshttp://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/not-average-pollster-phones-trump-credible-says-n-c-manen.

7) Do baboons appreciate magic?  Watch this and make up your own mind.

8) Given that many a libertarian economist likes the idea of a basic income, maybe we should try and make this happen.

9) Republicans in NC insisted we could take the cheap, short-cut to addressing pollution in the lake that provides me drinking water.  They were wrong.

10) Great Seth Masket on the movie version versus the realities of politicians:

A familiar character in mainstream political films is the apolitical politician. This goes back at least to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), in which Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart), a good-natured, naive idealist who somehow can quote from the Constitution while knowing nothing about the actual functioning of the federal government, is appointed to the United States Senate. With a bit of coaching from his sole legislative aide (with whom he’s in love), he stages a filibuster that roots out the corruption at the heart of the Senate and destroys an evil political machine in the process. His instincts and his strength of character prevail over entrenched political power…

As with the other films, this is fundamentally a silly concept. The idea that someone would be perfect for a job precisely because they have absolutely no experience with it is perverse. It represents a profound misunderstanding of how government functions, assuming that budgets would be balanced, wars would be ended, and the people’s needs would be met if we could just get politics out of the equation. It also displays a serious misunderstanding of what corruption is, seemingly suggesting that the normal logrolling that keeps a legislature functioning is inherently evil. Someone who doesn’t understand politics would be far more at risk of being corrupted of course—they wouldn’t know whom to trust… [emphasis mine]

But we can see elements of such characters in the rise of Trump. Here is a candidate whose chief selling points are that he is an outsider, untainted by actual government service, and that he gets things done through instinct and character. What’s more, as he explains it, the problems facing the country, whether due to a slow economy or a shadowy foreign army, are easy to fix once you get rid of the stupid, corrupt people in government.

11) Even if you are not a sports fan, you should appreciate pretty much the most improbably comeback in college basketball history.  I believe I read somewhere the odds of Texas A&M winning this game had fallen to .03%.

12) I love the song “Stressed Out” by 21 Pilots.  On how it is an anthem for millennials.

13) This short video is titled “why empathy is a bad thing.”  Good points, but should be titled why empathy can be a bad thing.

14) Put me in the camp that believes Emily’s List is totally wrong and counter-productive going after Chris Van Hollen in Maryland. In a world of limited resources, hard to see how it is truly justified going after a liberal Democrat who has been very solid on women’s issues.

15) Really, really good one on the lies behind NC’s new legislation:

But mostly, the backers of this bill are liars. They are cynically creating and exploiting public fears to score points with their base, raise money, and win victories against LGBT people in areas of employment and public accommodations—victories they know they couldn’t get if they attacked the issue honestly.

Surely, by now, the national groups behind this legislation—the Family Research Council, Alliance Defending Freedom, American Family Association—are fully aware that they are lying. They know that there is not a single case on record of a man taking advantage of a nondiscrimination bill, dressing up as a woman, being allowed into a women’s restroom, and sexually assaulting someone. They also know that ordinances like Charlotte’s would not eliminate single-sex restrooms and locker rooms.

So, these purported men of God are liars.

What about North Carolina’s governor, Pat McCrory? Here’s where it gets interesting, because if you read his comments closely enough, he knows that he, too, is a liar—but is lying in just the right way to cover his lying, sorry ass.

16) Oh, and just for fun, the law makes it harder for workers to sue if they’ve been discriminated against.

17) And just so we’re clear, law enforcement is clear about this fictional risk:

“It’s common sense — biological men should not be in women’s showers, locker rooms and bathrooms,” GOP Rep. Dean Arp of Monroe said, according to the Associated Press.

Even some citizens have expressed similar concerns.

“It’s going to open the door for people with malicious intent who would masquerade as transgenders to come in and actually take advantage and have access to our kids,” Donna Eaton of Carey said, according to Talking Points Memo.

Police departments and sexual assault experts, however, beg to differ, according to Media Matters, “a non-profit progressive information and research center,” as the organization defines itself.

In a new report, Media Matters interviewed 15 experts across the country — from law enforcement officials to sexual assault victim advocates — who all said that the notion that LGBTQ laws open up women’s bathrooms to sexual predators is baseless.

“Sexual assaults stemming from non-discrimination laws are not even remotely a problem,” John Elder, a spokesman for the Minneapolis Police, told Media Matters.

Other police departments around the country also said the “bathroom myth” was unsubstantiated.

18) Listened to a Seinfeld interview the other day.  This is old, but as relevant as ever about sports.

19) Even if you are not a fan of HBO’s Silicon Valley (and you should be) so long as you appreciate this modern golden-age of comedy, definitely check out this Wired feature.

 

Quick hits (part II)

1) Great piece on the conservative myth of a social safety net built on charity.  The real world– unlike Paul Ryan speeches– just doesn’t work that way.

2) What should we do when doctors and nurses make fatal errors?  Great stuff.

3) Title of the piece, “An Experimental Autism treatment cost me my marriage.”  Not at all what you think and far more fascinating than you expect.

4) Damn straight the US needs more roundabouts for traffic.

5) This National Review column blaming Trump on Obama is literally one of the dumbest things I have ever read::

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the creation of Trumpism. The p.c. insanity on college campuses. Globalization and the hollowing out of the working class. ISIS in Paris and San Bernardino. The broadcast media that donated $1.898 billion in free media to the cause. Let’s stipulate all of that and much else besides.

6) No women’s nipples on Facebook– under any circumstances!  Women’s nipples are bad.

7) History of Rock ‘n Roll in social media form.  Very, very cool.

8) Love this Rolling Stone look at Rubio’s political career.  It’s long-ish.  Read it anyway.

Still, in any other year, Rubio might have gotten away with it. But in this bizarre election season, in which a billionaire not-all-that-conservative demagogue has been embraced by Republican voters as, bafflingly, a tell-it-like-it-is populist, Rubio came across as exactly what he is: a malleable, transactional and utterly manufactured candidate, bolstered by the elites. “Poor Marco, he’s the failed savior,” says Miami Democrat Joe Garcia, who has known Rubio since he served in the Florida House. “He was going to lead the Republicans out of the political wilderness, like Moses. He looked good, he sounded good, and he takes them into the desert and…they go, ‘Fuck you! We’re voting for Donald Trump.'”…

“I think a great question is, how did Rubio start his D.C. career as the first Tea Party senator and wind up being the establishment choice?”

The answer is, Rubio has always been an establishment choice. Since his Senate run, his truest base has been the broad network of mostly white Republican elites operating behind the scenes.

9) In a rational world, the press would care that all the Republican candidates are proposing to emulate policies that have been disastrous in Kansas and Louisiana.

10) Is ADHD too often diagnosed for what is just immaturity?  Probably.

11) Lee Drutman back with the realignment theme and how it relates to Merrick Garland:

But Republican senators are going to be forced to take public positions now. For Republicans facing tough reelections, opposing a moderate looks particularly bad in light of Trump at the top of the ticket. That is precisely what the pick is designed to accomplish.

This is not a one-off strategic choice for the Democrats. It signals the direction party leaders are likely to move in the years ahead. If Trump is the nominee (as still seems very, very likely), Democrats can effectively take their base for granted, as Obama just did. Clinton can run to the center and then as president continue to push a centrist agenda designed to split Republicans.

And as Trump becomes the standard-bearer for the Republican Party, Republicans in the Senate and elsewhere will have to decide whether they are with him or not. And if Democrats are canny (as Obama and Clinton both are), they will force more difficult choices on Republicans, hammering on the cracks in a Republican coalition that is falling apart.

As I’ve argued already, I believe we are at the beginning of a coming party realignment that will end with Democrats becoming the party of urban, cosmopolitan business liberalism and Republicans the party of suburban and rural nationalist populism. (For more on the political science underlying this likely realignment scenario, Jennifer Victor has a great explanation at Mischiefs of Faction.)

Obama’s decision to nominate Garland seems to me a clear sign that we are moving in this direction. It’s an unmistakable Democratic pivot to the center, intended to divide Republicans while taking the base for granted. We are going to see a lot more of this ahead.

12) Great Linda Greenhouse piece revisiting the Bork nomination.

13) Of course the “Biden Rule” is nothing but a Mitch McConnell created fiction.

14) Slate’s Jim Newell on how Kasich is trying to destroy the Republican party in order to save it.

15) Sarah Kliff on the stupidity of Trump’s health care proposals (fewer people covered for higher cost).

 

16) Ever wonder why we get 12 hours of daylight several days before the equinox?  I always have.

17) Jane Kelly was not nominated for the Supreme Court, but that does not mean this smear is not totally wrong and un-American.

18) The Simpsons predicted President Trump back in 2000.

19) The politics of barbecue in North Carolina makes the New York Times.  And just so we’re clear… Eastern style.

20) Pundit Jeff Greenfield says Hillary could do “just as much damage to her party” as Trump could do his.  Seriously??!!  Pundits.

21) It’s kind of amazing the atrocious behavior we let high school coaches get away with.

22) Samanta Bee skewers Ted Cruz.

 

 

 

 

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/can-you-trust-reviews-on-amazon-174800847.html

http://www.vox.com/2016/3/16/11246124/marco-rubio-2016-fear

Quick hits

1) Jamelle Bouie’s take on race and Trump’s appeal.

2) This new book on the history of Eugenics in America seems fascinating.  Loved the Fresh Air interview.  Especially the part about how America was complicit in the Holocaust.

3) Surprise, surprise, NC’s Voter ID law made it tougher for college students to vote.

4) Chait on why Trump is driving conservatives crazy.

5) Krugman on the GOP and the working class:

Stripped down to its essence, the G.O.P. elite view is that working-class America faces a crisis, not of opportunity, but of values. That is, for some mysterious reason many of our citizens have, as Mr. Ryan puts it, lost “their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.” And this crisis of values, they suggest, has been aided and abetted by social programs that make life too easy on slackers…

Meanwhile, the argument that the social safety net causes social decay by coddling slackers runs up against the hard truth that every other advanced country has a more generous social safety net than we do, yet the rise in mortality among middle-aged whites in America is unique: Everywhere else, it is continuing its historic decline.

But the Republican elite can’t handle the truth. It’s too committed to an Ayn Rand story line about heroic job creators versus moochers to admit either that trickle-down economics can fail to deliver good jobs, or that sometimes government aid is a crucial lifeline. So it ends up lashing out at its own voters when they refuse to buy into that story line.

6) Enjoyed this piece on how parenting has changed in 10 years as my kids are 11 years apart.  I’m always a little amused at how I’m the old parent now when I take Sarah to pre-school.  Meanwhile, when I coach David’s soccer team I’m one of the younger parents.

7) This Vox piece on how Peabody Energy has abused their workers and the American taxpayer is such a sad, depressing story of American business and politics.

8) Texas Governor claims “voter fraud is rampant.”  Right and Donald Trump has run the most honest campaign ever.

9) Dahlia Lithwick on the “disgraceful” Republican response to Merrick Garland.

Crucially, nobody who has been listening to Obama talk about his ideal jurist for the past eight years will be surprised to learn that caution, judicial restraint, and the ability to compromise are among Garland’s most prominent personal qualities. Those of us who are for less caution and more sharp elbows may have chosen, time and time again, to believe that Obama has been lying all these years about his distaste for liberal Scalias. But he wasn’t! And as someone who recently begged for a Justice Elizabeth Warren, I concede that Garland is precisely the kind of judge Obama most values—a “reasonable” one. That an organization like Fox News would criticize the president’s “reasonable” choice as a pretextual effort to look “reasonable” forpolitical gain is about the best distillation of everything that is deranged about our current politics. Obama breaks liberal hearts by being moderate, then is accused of faux-moderation by the right.

10) Loved this Seth Masket post on the responsibilities of political scientists in this current political “crisis.”

11) Hey Bernie supporters… Hillary Clinton is really liberal.

12) And a very strong endorsement for her approach from Political Scientists Pierson and Hacker.

13) Slate’s Jim Newell on the strategery behind the Garland nomination.

14) Some random blogger I’ve never heard of, but his analysis of why Trump will not win the general election (personally, I’d go with “is quite unlikely to win”) is pretty spot-on.

15) The sexism behind claims of Hillary’s “shouting.”

16) Drum on the silly Putin worship from the right.

This is such a tired cliche: Putin the 19th-century strongman, a modern-day Clausewitz who upends the world by simply taking charge and doing whatever he wants. Meanwhile, Obama mewls helplessly on the sidelines, issuing empty condemnations from the State Department but unable to stop the he-man who’s bullying him.

Sigh. Can you imagine the conservative reaction if Obama announced a bombing campaign with limited objectives, and then withdrew after six months? It would be merciless. He’s abandoning our ally! He was never serious in the first place! Our enemies are laughing at us! We need to crush our enemies, not annoy them with pinpricks!

But when Putin does this, he’s the reincarnation of a new world order, not a guy with a smallish military and a grand total of one (1) military base outside his own territory. Putin, like Donald Trump, is a helluva marketing genius, but that’s largely thanks to all the American conservatives who are in such thrall to him.

17) The pundits who accurately foresaw the rise of Trump.

18) I’m so not a fan of UConn, but I really do feel bad for what has happened to them in the world of college sports.  A really interesting story that touches on so much of that has happened with NCAA athletics.

19) After reading Drum’s article on assisted suicide a few weeks ago, I wondered why we don’t use inert gases for executions?  Now, I don’t like the death penalty, but if we’re going to have it, this seems like the way to go.

20) Hillary learned important lessons from her losing 2008 primary campaign.

We saw that in the 2008 Democratic primary—not with Clinton but with Barack Obama, who lost large states like Florida, California, and Texas, and either tied or lost the national popular vote (depending on how you count the Michigan primary). But the Obama campaign was less interested in winning states than in maximizing delegates in every contest. Where he had an advantage, Team Obama worked for landslides; where he was losing, Team Obama tried to fight to a draw or modest defeat. The result, after two months of voting, was a structural advantage. Unless Clinton won the lion’s share of delegates going forward (or his campaign imploded under some hypothetical crisis), Obama couldn’t lose.

Which brings us back to 2016. Bernie Sanders has a strong campaign. He’s dominated contests like New Hampshire and kept margins close in states like Massachusetts and Nevada. But Hillary Clinton, having learned lessons from her last campaign, is running a race for delegates. And like Obama before her, she’s run up the score in favorable states and held tight in contested ones.

21) Post coming soon on Trump and the gender gap.  Expect lots of ads like this.

22) The Democratic Party’s crazy 1924 convention may be some useful history for Republicans in 2016.

23) How the NY Times has successfully re-invented itself in on-line publishing.

24) Loved this great NY Times Magazine post-mortem on Rubio’s campaign.

Photo of the day

All baseball parks need to have nets extending past the dugouts.  Baseball is way too boring to expect fans to pay constant attention.  Back when I used to go to minor league games, I used to always sit behind the net for this very reason.  Anyway, pretty amazing photo here.  The NPR story also has the after photo.

A man's fast reaction helped keep a young fan from being struck in the face by a baseball bat at a spring training game this weekend.

A man’s fast reaction helped keep a young fan from being struck in the face by a baseball bat at a spring training game this weekend.

Christopher Horner/Twitter

Self-indulgent photo of the day

I went to one of the most entertaining basketball games I’ve ever been to this week.  Mind you, I went to Duke, but this week’s playoff game at Cary High School (where my oldest son attends), was about as good an atmosphere for a game as I’ve been at.  Cary came from down 16 points in the 4th quarter to win in overtime.  Anyway, I looked through the on-line photos of the game, and there’s your’s truly in the standing room only behind the baseline.

Kyle Gensler (15) of Cary High School. Cary High School hosts New Hanover High School for Semi Final playoff basketball on Tuesday March 1, 2016, in Cary N.C. After a lack luster first half Cary fights back to tie the game and force OT. Cary finishes strong and takes the victory in overtime by a score of 58 to 49. (Chris Baird / HighSchoolOT.Com).

Quick hits (part III)

Like I said, I had a lot of quick hits this week.  This finishes them off.

1) Should you just ignore your feelings?

2) I think the headline says it all, “Homeopathy successfully turns water into a placebo.”

3) Of course we should have college education for prisoners.  That is, unless of course, you are actually a fan of more recidivism.

But the most effective way to keep people out of prison once they leave is to give them jobs skills that make them marketable employees. That, in turn, means restarting prison education programs that were shuttered beginning in the 1990s, when federal and state legislators cut funding to show how tough they were on crime.

4) Just great, now we’ve got nutty and dangerous (anti Monsanto!) conspiracy theories about Zika.

5) The meaning of life without parole.

In his opinion on Montgomery v. Louisiana, Justice Kennedy wrote, “Prisoners like Montgomery must be given the opportunity to show their crime did not reflect irreparable corruption; and, if it did not, their hope for some years of life outside prison walls must be restored.” The question is not if Mr. Montgomery, Neal, or others like them should be excused for the crimes they committed. The question is whether it makes good public policy—does it make us safer and align with our espoused notions of justice—to keep aging men and women in prison until the day they die?

6) Poor Jeb! even his tweets get mocked.

7) Really good piece by Connor Friedersdorf on public shaming and scapegoats in the culture war.

8) Roger Hartley says Republicans face a no-win situation over replacing Scalia.

It is this stark for the GOP. Some say it is a choice between the Supreme Court and the presidency, but I believe the strategy to battle Obama’s potential nominee is a no-win proposition. Holding the line for the Supreme Court will likely mean four-to-eight years of liberal justices under a Democratic President Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. True, the Supreme Court is a rallying cry for conservatives and will raise turnout among conservatives — but that will also remind Democratic voters of evangelicals’ vision for the court and likely raise turnout among them, as well.

The smart political move is to fight this battle a little, activate the GOP base, take a hard stance to force the president to nominate a more moderate candidate and then cut the losses — approve the nominee and move on to the general election. The problem is that what I saw on “Meet the Press” demonstrates that Republicans cannot; the far right of the party won’t let them. Antonin Scalia’s death, then, is likely a disaster for the GOP.

9) The parallels between Trump and Andrew Jackson.

10) Friedman on this election season:

I find this election bizarre for many reasons but none more than this: If I were given a blank sheet of paper and told to write down America’s three greatest sources of strength, they would be “a culture of entrepreneurship,” “an ethic of pluralism” and the “quality of our governing institutions.” And yet I look at the campaign so far and I hear leading candidates trashing all of them.

Donald Trump is running against pluralism. Bernie Sanders shows zero interest in entrepreneurship and says the Wall Street banks that provide capital to risk-takers are involved in “fraud,” and Ted Cruz speaks of our government in the same way as the anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist, who says we should shrink government “to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” (Am I a bad person if I hope that when Norquist slips in that bathtub and has to call 911, no one answers?)

I don’t remember an election when the pillars of America’s strength were so under attack — and winning applause, often from young people!

Trump’s famous hat says “Make America great again.” You can’t do that if your message to Hispanics and Muslims is: Get out or stay away.

11) How could anybody who has ever watched a basketball game on TV possibly think it is a good idea to show an entire game from a floor level camera.  Seriously?!

12) Jeff Shesol on how to recognize a Constitutional crisis:

Whatever tack the Party takes, the fact remains that Republican revanchism has already created a constitutional crisis: we refer to it as “politics as usual.” If the Court fight of the nineteen-thirties was, for the body politic, an acute illness—life-threatening but reversible—we are afflicted, today, with something more chronic. The radicalism of the American right manifests itself in suicide-pact politics, from government shutdowns to flirtations with the “fiscal cliff”; in what Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, in their study of our American dysfunction, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks”, call “the new nullification,” a strategy that starves federal agencies of funds and personnel; in the contempt not just for government but for governance; in the denial of an opponent’s legitimacy, humanity, and love of country. [emphasis mine]

None of this is unconstitutional, in the strictest sense, but it does offend a principle at the core of the Constitution, one that Justice Robert H. Jackson reaffirmed in the nineteen-forties. “The Constitution,” he wrote, “contemplated a really effective government.” To that end, we speak not only of constitutional rules and requirements but of norms and understandings. When the latter break down, as is happening now, we see just how tenuous the American experiment can be, how dependent on restraint and good faith.

13) I was really surprised to find out that many colleges keep charging more per credit hour after the “full time” of 12.  That makes it harder to graduate on time for many.  NC State has always been the same price for 12+

14) EJ Dionne (correctly) says Democrats need to sell the party’s positives better.

Democrats need to insist that while much work remains to be done, the United States is in far better shape economically than most other countries in the world. The nation is better off for the reforms in health care, financial regulation and environmental protection enacted during Obama’s term and should be proud of its energetic, entrepreneurial and diverse citizenry.

If Clinton, Sanders and their party don’t provide a forceful response to the wildly inaccurate and ridiculously bleak characterization of Obama’s presidency that the Republicans are offering, nobody will. And if this parody is allowed to stand as reality, the Democrats will lose.

15) Really cool graphic of the year in temperature and precipitation for your city.

16) On not telling your kids they can be anything they want to be:

Telling kids that they can do anything—whether fueled by imagination or hard work—obscures the critical role of chance in success. Not every child who wants to be a surgeon or sports star can become one, even if they work hard at it. At the same time, in every success story there is the grace of good fortune. As Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman puts it: “Success = Talent + Luck. Great success = A little more talent + A Lot of Luck.”

While Kahneman acknowledges that skill is a key part of success, his work emphasizes that chance plays a predominant role. This can be a bitter pill for those who want to believe that we control our own destiny, and that, therefore, our destiny reflects something about our internal qualities, such as ability, drive, or worth.  Implicit in this way of thinking is a different equation: Highly successful person = person with the right stuff. From here, it’s not a far leap to the notion that the haves have it because they are innately special, or because they worked hard and deserve it.

17) Been meaning to give this great Hans Noel post on “identity conservatives” versus “philosophical conservatives” it’s own post for far too long.  Just read it.

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