Quick hits (part I)

1) How could I not love the NYT feature, “How to raise a reader.”  Alas, I wish my oldest was willing to read more novels and fewer Dungeons and Dragons guidebooks.  (At least he has good taste in blogs).

2) How the prosperity gospel (oh how I hate the prosperity gospel for being so obviously at odds with the real one) explains Evangelical support for Trump.

3) Meant to include last week.  Deborah Tannen on how absurd it is that Republicans were hanging on the fact that Trump said to Comey he “hopes” that Comey could let the Flynn investigation go.  When I say to my kids, “I hope you get off the computer and ready to go in five minutes” they know its an order.  Language is a lot more than just word choice.

4) I’ll be honest, the latest research is not encouraging for diet soda.

People who drink diet sodas daily have three times the risk of stroke and dementia compared to people who rarely drink them, researchers reported Thursday.

It’s yet another piece of evidence that diet drinks are not a healthy alternative to sugary drinks, and suggests that people need to limit both, doctors said…

The researchers accounted for age, sex, education, overall how many calories people ate, diet quality, physical activity, and smoking.

If I were not already a regular soda drinker, I would be wary of starting.  But as a very healthy (by every objective measure) diet soda drinker, I’m not stopping now.  Also, I still believe that used responsibly (i.e., not, “oh, I had Diet Coke, now I can have cake for dinner) diet soda is probably preferable to consuming all that sugar in regular soda.

5) Of course most new terrorist attacks show how utterly pointless Trump’s travel ban is.  That is, pointless except as xenophobic symbolism appealing to the Republican base.

6) Speaking of stupid Trump policies– undoing Obams’s Cuba policy is stupid, stupid, stupid.  And doing it in the name of human rights– just after his visit to Saudi Arabia– is extraordinarily dishonest.

7) Not every day I link to the Hindu Times, but the latest research on genetic immigration into the Indian sub-continent is really interesting:

The thorniest, most fought-over question in Indian history is slowly but surely getting answered: did Indo-European language speakers, who called themselves Aryans, stream into India sometime around 2,000 BC – 1,500 BC when the Indus Valley civilisation came to an end, bringing with them Sanskrit and a distinctive set of cultural practices? Genetic research based on an avalanche of new DNA evidence is making scientists around the world converge on an unambiguous answer: yes, they did.

This may come as a surprise to many — and a shock to some — because the dominant narrative in recent years has been that genetics research had thoroughly disproved the Aryan migration theory. This interpretation was always a bit of a stretch as anyone who read the nuanced scientific papers in the original knew. But now it has broken apart altogether under a flood of new data on Y-chromosomes (or chromosomes that are transmitted through the male parental line, from father to son).

Lines of descent

Until recently, only data on mtDNA (or matrilineal DNA, transmitted only from mother to daughter) were available and that seemed to suggest there was little external infusion into the Indian gene pool over the last 12,500 years or so. New Y-DNA data has turned that conclusion upside down, with strong evidence of external infusion of genes into the Indian male lineage during the period in question.

The reason for the difference in mtDNA and Y-DNA data is obvious in hindsight: there was strong sex bias in Bronze Age migrations. In other words, those who migrated were predominantly male and, therefore, those gene flows do not really show up in the mtDNA data. On the other hand, they do show up in the Y-DNA data: specifically, about 17.5% of Indian male lineage has been found to belong to haplogroup R1a (haplogroups identify a single line of descent), which is today spread across Central Asia, Europe and South Asia. Pontic-Caspian Steppe is seen as the region from where R1a spread both west and east, splitting into different sub-branches along the way.

8) I did not follow the case of the texting-encouraged suicide till I read about the verdict yesterday.  Technology aside, the case raises so many fascinating legal issues around responsibility, culpability and free will.

9) The Gif (always soft “g” to me!) is thirty years old and going strong.  Pretty cool history of the matter in Wired.

10) How Amazon purchasing Whole Foods may signal the end-of-the-line for an increasing number of cashiers.

11) Also led me to a link on a Neil Irwin story from last year on how Walmart paying it’s employees more has been good for business:

As an efficient, multinational selling machine, the company had a reputation for treating employee pay as a cost to be minimized.

But in early 2015, Walmart announced it would actually pay its workers more.

That set in motion the biggest test imaginable of a basic argument that has consumed ivory-tower economists, union-hall organizers and corporate executives for years on end: What if paying workers more, training them better and offering better opportunities for advancement can actually make a company more profitable, rather than less?

It is an idea that flies in the face of the prevailing ethos on Wall Street and in many executive suites the last few decades. But there is sound economic theory behind the idea. “Efficiency wages” is the term that economists — who excel at giving complex names to obvious ideas — use for the notion that employers who pay workers more than the going rate will get more loyal, harder-working, more productive employees in return. [emphasis mine]

12) It’s not inherently wrong for Megyn Kelly to interview Alex Jones, but as she’s actually done it– as Julia Belluz nicely argues– is all wrong:

Reporting on Jones makes sense; he has indeed gained prominence since the last election. But a serious sit-down interview was a poor choice of format for covering him. It’s extremely difficult to have a reasonable exchange with a person who regularly rants and spews nonsense, as Jones does. It’s like running a straight one-on-one with a climate change denialist or someone who refuses to accept the Holocaust happened.

Jones doesn’t live in reality, and Kelly’s interview risks validating him and disseminating his bullshit. It doesn’t leave space for context and debunking.

It also sends the message that in an era of “fake news” and a president who regularly attacks the media, hoaxers like Jones are worthy of an hour of primetime TV to share their ideas.

If Jones’s words didn’t have dangerous real-world consequences, it wouldn’t matter much that he’ll soon have this megaphone. But they do — from spurring people to violent action to undermining institutions such as the media, science, and government.

13) Did you know about the giant, lost, medieval-era city on the outskirts of St. Louis? Me neither.

14) Just to be clear, any parent who would yell at the lifeguard for telling their kid not to run at the pool is a horrible parent.

15) A very nice interview explaining what the hell is going on with Qatar.

16) The story of a Maine woman who was attacked by a rabid raccoon and drowned it in a puddle is pretty amazing.

17) Even if you are not a Duke basketball fan, you might enjoy the story of the man with Downs Syndrome (recently passed away) who was a fixture behind Coach K and the Duke bench for decades.

Photo of the day

How did it take me almost a week to learn of the free solo climb of El Capitan truly an astounding feat.  You fall; you die.  That simple.  The National Geographic story and photos.  Also, a really good piece in the New Yorker.

Picture of Alex Honnold free solo climbing upper pitches Freerider on El Capitan

Rock climber Alex Honnold training on Freerider for the first ever rope-free climb of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. He completed the feat on Saturday, June 3rd. The historic event was documented for an upcoming National Geographic feature film and magazine story.

 
PHOTOGRAPH BY JIMMY CHIN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Quick hits (part II)

1) Even though I hardly follow baseball at all anymore, I found this interactive WP article about how hitters are now trying to hit balls with a greater upward angle to be really fascinating.

2) I’ll say that “cultural appropriation” is about the worst of what the left has to offer and rightly lampooned by conservatives.  The case of the Portland burrito cart run by white women (!!) demonstrates the level of absurdity.

3) William Ayers is still not afraid of President Trump because he thinks we over-emphasize the powers of the presidency:

I am, however, sticking to my pre-election conclusion: one man, no matter how ill-informed, arrogant, or unqualified, cannot destroy the United States or the world. The United States Presidency is far more limited in its scope and influence than we tend to give it credit for in our public discussions. Moreover, everything that Trump has done so far has had the effect of weakening the office still further, whether by appointing ill-prepared department heads who will spend their time fighting their own bureaucracies, taking extreme positions that mobilize resistance, or making policy proposals so absurd that he gets excluded from the important conversations. That’s not the world I would like to see, but it’s one I can live with.

I think Ayers is largely right.  Yet, if Trump were simply a more competent demagogue I think there’s enough evidence that he could do very serious damage to our democracy.

4) Speaking of democracy, Bartels and Achen have a helluva a critique.  Nice interview in Vox.

“Election outcomes,” Achen and Bartels conclude, “turn out to be largely random events from the viewpoint of democratic theory.”

If Achen and Bartels are right, democracy is a faulty form of politics, and direct democracy is far worse than that. It virtually guarantees that at some point, you’ll end up with a grossly unfit leader.

And that, of course, is what we now have.

5) Due to very low birth rates, Japan’s population is predicted to fall by 1/3 by 2060.  Sounds like a recipe for political turbulence.

6) New season of Invisibilia is out and the first two episodes about Emotion are fascinating.  Loved listening to and discussing these with David.  Here’s an interview with Lisa Barrett, one of the key subjects:

On the “classical” theory of emotions

The classical view of emotion is the idea that somewhere lurking deep inside you are the animalistic engine parts of your brain. There are circuits — one each for anger, sadness, fear, disgust and so on. And that when something happens in the world to trigger one of those circuits — say, for fear — you will have a very specific facial expression, a very specific bodily response, and that these expressions and responses have universal meaning. Everyone in the world makes them and recognizes them without learning or any experience at all.

On the wide variety of human emotions

There’s tremendous variability when it comes to emotion. Variety is the norm. It’s not the case that there are there’s one set of facial movements that you make when you’re sad, or when you’re angry, or when you’re afraid. For example, people don’t just scowl when they’re angry or smile when they’re happy. People smile when they’re sad, they cry when they’re angry, they scream when they’re happy. A person can tremble in fear, jump in fear, freeze in fear, scream in fear, hide in fear, attack in fear, even laugh in the face of fear.

So, I think that’s one important observation that’s really meaningful for understanding how emotions work in everyday life. That it may feel to you as if you look at someone’s face and you just know how they feel. But in fact your brain is guessing, [and] it’s using your own experiences from the past to make those guesses.

7) Ezra Klein on whether Elizabeth Warren’s more confrontational or Cory Booker’s conciliatory approach is the antidote to Trumpism.  I think I like Booker more, in general, but I’m with Warren here.

8) You know I love my social science, but I actually find it disheartening to think that preschools should be focusing more on academics.

9) Love this from my friend, Matt Shipman– you may be a scientist and not know it.  It’s all about the scientific method.

 

10) Jamelle Bouie makes the case that the rise of racist hate crimes is definitely related to the rise of Trump:

Throughout American history, the ascendance of political racism—the use of explicit prejudice to energize voters and win elections, often as a backlash to the social and economic advancement of black Americans and other nonwhite groups—has brought corresponding waves of racial violence. The “white supremacy” campaign that struck North Carolina in the state’s 1898 elections combined heated, racist rhetoric with a campaign of terror against black Republican voters and their white allies. Likewise, during the heyday of the civil rights movement, the heated demagoguery of segregationists was fuel for the violent responses that marked the crusade for black rights.

11) Nice to see Political Science professor Larry Sabato take CNN to task for absurd levels of false equivalency.

12) Long-time Republican big-whig (and NeverTrumper) Pete Wehner tells Republicans to stop being complicit in the firing of Comey.

13) Okay, I disagree with this.  A University of Florida Dean lost her job for giving a strong reference to a former employee.  The problem? Said employee lost his job for ordering “adult” DVD’s with his university email address.  I don’t think either of these should be firable offenses.  As for the Dean, if somebody is an entirely excellent employee under your supervision, what’s wrong with reporting that reality.  I don’t think it’s the Dean’s responsibility to review the email receipts of all her employees.  Personally, I use my ncsu account to buy stuff all the time.  Though, it is more likely to be fidget spinners.  I get that it’s a public account, but what I buy with it on my own time should not necessarily be.

14) The case for going all-in on the placebo effect, even when patients know that’s what it is.

15) This Nautilus piece on evolution and survival of the friendliest was really, really interesting.

16) This is a really good CNN piece on the affront to justice and human decency of mandatory minimum sentences.  Mentioned, but under-played that this is, at heart, a problem of over-zealous prosecutors.  Presumably, to convince themselves that they are good people who are making the world a better place, they actually come to believe that it somehow benefits society to put a 50-year old housewife with no criminal history and no history of violence into jail for a minimum of 5 years for 5 grams of meth.

17) OMG, I think I would take Ted Cruz over these “liberal” fascists at Evergreen State.  Unreal.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Very good Yglesias post on Trump the bullshitter:

Donald Trump says a lot of things that aren’t true, often shamelessly so, and it’s tempting to call him a liar.

But that’s not quite right. As the Princeton University philosophy professor Harry Frankfurt put it in a famous essay, to lie presumes a kind of awareness of and interest in the truth — and the goal is to convince the audience that the false thing you are saying is in fact true. Trump, more often than not, isn’t interested in convincing anyone of anything. He’s a bullshitter who simply doesn’t care…

He’s a man who doesn’t care much about the truth. He’s a man who cares deeply about loyalty. The two qualities merge in the way he wields bullshit. His flagrant lies serve as a loyalty test.

2) Nice blog post on Confirmation bias I came across.  I’m sure it will confirm what you know about confirmation bias ;-).

3) Nice NYT Op-Ed from libertarian Will Wilkinson on the welfare state:

Fortunately, defending a more freewheeling economy implies no hostility to the welfare state. On the contrary, a generous and effective safety net can be embraced as a tool to promote and sustain a culture of freedom, innovation and risk taking. Politically, repairing and improving the slipshod infrastructure of the safety net would liberate Republicans from the bad faith of attacking the welfare state in one breath, halfheartedly promising not to cut entitlements in the next and then breaking that promise once in power.

More important, grasping that government spending is compatible with high levels of freedom and economic vitality would give Republicans space actually to govern. The belief that it is necessary always and forever to reduce spending leads to the embarrassing spectacle of obstruction and paralysis unfolding on Capitol Hill.

A Republican Party that aimed instead to free markets and improve the effectiveness and composition of spending could govern, govern well and win elections doing it.

4) The misguided crackdown on fraud by the Army.  Pretty clearly a case of prosecutors who just can’t accept that there’s really a bunch of small fish when they thought they were going to reel in some giant ones.

5) This Economist/1843 piece on why the Mona Lisa is so popular (and what artworks in general, become popular) was terrific.  Not surprisingly, it has almost nothing to do with the quality of the art:

When Watts looked into the history of “the greatest painting of all time”, he discovered that, for most of its life, the “Mona Lisa” languished in relative obscurity. In the 1850s, Leonardo da Vinci was considered no match for giants of Renaissance art like Titian and Raphael, whose works were worth almost ten times as much as the “Mona Lisa”. It was only in the 20th century that Leonardo’s portrait of his patron’s wife rocketed to the number-one spot. What propelled it there wasn’t a scholarly re-evaluation, but a burglary.

In 1911 a maintenance worker at the Louvre walked out of the museum with the “Mona Lisa” hidden under his smock. Parisians were aghast at the theft of a painting to which, until then, they had paid little attention. When the museum reopened, people queued to see the gap where the “Mona Lisa” had once hung in a way they had never done for the painting itself. The police were stumped. At one point, a terrified Pablo Picasso was called in for questioning. But the “Mona Lisa” wasn’t recovered until two years later when the thief, an Italian carpenter called Vincenzo Peruggia, was caught trying to sell it to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

The French public was electrified. The Italians hailed Peruggia as a patriot who wanted to return the painting home. Newspapers around the world repro­duced it, making it the first work of art to achieve global fame. From then on, the “Mona Lisa” came to represent Western culture itself.

6) Really compelling story of a former NC State assistant football coach (now deceased) and his struggles with CTE.

7) Very cool interactive graphic on the popularity of various Netflix shows.

8) Oh, man, this Post feature on “butterfly babies” who have a super-rare genetic skin disease was so fascinating and disturbing.  Read it.

9) Definitely agree with this Wired piece to not use social media about terrorist attacks.  That’s exactly what they want.  In short, I know it’s hard, but we should all pay less attention to terrorist attacks.

10) How to make a rocket with a 2-liter bottle.  Somebody get me some liquid butane!

11) Even the Trump administration doesn’t seem to care about its travel ban any more:

It’s a feedback loop: The media talks about what Trump is thinking about, and Trump thinks about what the media is talking about, and the two quickly converge on a single obsession. In the administration’s first months, the cycle was disrupted frequently enough by outside events — like the first rulings against the travel ban — that it wasn’t as immediately apparent to the naked eye.

But with the Comey/Russia scandal, the story of the Trump administration itself has become far more important than anything the administration can do or that can be done to it.

For all of Donald Trump’s griping about his communications staff, Trump himself appears to be fundamentally unable to direct even his own attention to the things his administration actually wants to do for America, much less the attention of anyone else. His obsession with the way his presidency is covered has deprived him of any chance to change it.

12) Really good National Review (!!) piece on the important implications of the decline of American retail:

And shops and jobs go together: One in ten employed Americans works in retail. Retail salesman is the single most common job in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And while much has been made of the decline in old-line industrial jobs that carry a certain nostalgic charge, there are 17 times as many retail jobs as jobs in automobile manufacturing, 100 times as many retail jobs as steel jobs, and 210 times as many Americans working in retail as in coal mining — not just miners, but all coal-mining jobs, from CEO on down. Shop jobs mostly are not especially high-paying (though they sometimes are), and they tend to be held by workers who for various reasons — sometimes lack of skill and education, but also things such as the need for flexible scheduling or physical limitations — often do not have a great many desirable options. People sometimes scoff: “Yeah, creative destruction is great — we’ll just tell all those unemployed steelworkers to become software designers!” But the fact is that steel mills and mines and factories employ a great many highly educated and highly skilled people, from engineers to machinists, and they are a lot more likely to be able to find good new jobs than is the 48-year-old mother of three who works four days a week at the local Sears. That job may not provide enough to support a family of five, but it may very well pay enough to take care of the mortgage and the electricity bill — for two-income families, those modestly paid retail jobs aren’t about pin money.

13) Clearly, schools need to do a better job making sure inappropriate quotes don’t get into the yearbook.  That said, please stop over-reacting like it’s a scourge on the whole school.  And I will admit to laughing out loud upon reading this particularly inappropriate quote:

On Thursday, Dana King, principal of Millbrook High School in Raleigh, apologized for publishing a yearbook quote from a male senior who said “I like my women how I like my milk: white, rich and 2% fat.”

14) Obviously I could not resist this story about trying to hunt down forgotten apple cultivars.

Now, some old varieties have become available again, through small specialty nurseries like the co-op that Mr. Bunker helped start in Maine and through university agricultural programs. Commercial growers, however, said old apples had faded for a reason and were probably not coming back.

“They’re hard to grow,” said Mac Riggan, the director of marketing at Chelan Fresh, which has 26,000 acres of fruit trees, mostly apples, in central Washington.

Old varieties, Mr. Riggan said, either bruise easily, don’t store well or don’t produce enough apples per tree. And economic pressure is relentless. “Land costs money,” he said.

I’m sure there’s some great ones.  But, honestly, it’s hard to beat a good Braeburn and you can get those anywhere.

15) Aaron Carroll on science’s reproducibility problem:

 true success will require a change in the culture of science. As long as the academic environment has incentives for scientists to work in silos and hoard their data, transparency will be impossible. As long as the public demands a constant stream of significant results, researchers will consciously or subconsciously push their experiments to achieve those findings, valid or not. As long as the media hypes new findings instead of approaching them with the proper skepticism, placing them in context with what has come before, everyone will be nudged toward results that are not reproducible.

For years, financial conflicts of interest have been properly identified as biasing research in improper ways. Other conflicts of interest exist, though, and they are just as powerful — if not more so — in influencing the work of scientists across the country and around the globe. We are making progress in making science better, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

16) I don’t follow British politics all that closely, thus I learned a lot in a short piece via the Economist’s endorsement of the Liberal-Democrats for the upcoming UK election.

17) Revisiting the giant flop that was E.T. the video game.

 

Photo of the day

Wired’s photo of the week:

A three-car crash ends in a blaze of fire but no major injuries during the Nascar Cup Series Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.SEAN GARDNER/GETTY IMAGES

Quick hits (part II)

1) As I’m currently reading Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Unfinished Business, I found this NYT Op-Ed about the role of daughters in providing care to aging parents quite interesting and quite relevant (and on the bright side, I have a daughter):

As Washington debates the relative merits of Obamacare or Trumpcare, many families have already come up with what is arguably the most reliable form of care in America: It’s called daughter care.

The essential role that daughters play in the American health care system is well known but has received little attention. But some health care analysts are beginning to sound the alarm about the challenges women face as caregivers — not just for children but for aging parents — often while holding full-time jobs.

This week, the medical journal JAMA Neurology highlighted a looming crisis for women and their employers: the growing ranks of dementia patients who will end up relying on family members, typically daughters, for their care.

“The best long-term care insurance in our country is a conscientious daughter,” wrote the authors, all of whom are fellows at Stanford University’s Clinical Excellence Research Center, which studies new methods of health care delivery.

2) Thomas Edsall takes on the AHCA, “The Republicans don’t feel your pain.”

3) Evan Osnos on Trump and Comey:

That Trump believed he could fire the person leading law enforcement’s Russia investigation without a meaningful response from another branch of government is a sign of his unfamiliarity with the separation of powers, and, most perilous to himself, an enduring notion of impunity. Before entering the White House, Trump operated by a principle that, as he put it in a moment of “locker room” candor, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” The Constitution disagrees, and, by firing Comey and making a baldly contestable claim to his motives, Trump has invited a new investigation into why he took that step, how he described his reasoning, and whether it represents an abuse of office.

4) So apparently there’s a service you can get that will send telemarketers to a talking robot that keeps them on the line with carefully placed “hmmm” “uh-huh” etc., as long as it can to waste their time.  Okay, I’m not paying for it, but it makes me happy just knowing it exists.

5) Julia Azari and Seth Masket on how Congress must be the check on Trump to prevent a Constitutional crisis.

6) Are their any political creatures more craven and narrow-minded that NC Republican state Senators.  Possibly not.

7) Yes, there really is a four-year old living in the White House.  Trump insists he gets more ice cream scoops than his guests.  Seriously.  What a tiny, pathetic little man.  The fact that anybody supports him truly demonstrates just how powerful partisanship is (and that there’s a lot of other small-minded people out there).

8) Philip Bump on the “one little number” that is all the protection Trump needs.  Yes, yes, yes.

Those engaging in such speculation [about impeachment], though, are warned: There’s one little number that makes such a move unlikely. That number is 84 percent, Trump’s job approval rating among Republicans in the most recent weekly average from Gallup.

9) I think it is cool just how incredibly fast fidget spinners have become the lastest fad.  NYT with a timeline of just how fast they blew up.  And, yes, I’m using one right now while.

10) Thomas Mills on the two North Carolinas:

The Carolina I live in today has a vibrant downtown with plenty of restaurants and a healthy merchant class. Our schools are among the best in the state and some are ranked among the best in the nation. We have well-groomed parks, bike trails, bus service and sidewalks. We’re fifteen miles from a major airport and both north-south and east-west interstates are just minutes away. Our crime rate is low and our biggest struggles concern balancing growth with maintaining our quality of life.

In contrast, the Carolina where I was raised is losing population and the unemployment rate is above the state as a whole. The downtown of Wadesboro is a shell of the place where I sold newspapers and bought everything from clothes to bicycles to baseball gloves. A major artery connecting downtown to Highway 74, the major road running through the county, stayed closed for more than year because the town didn’t have resources to repair a collapsing bridge. Other towns in the county are essentially empty, devoid of any businesses other than a convenience store or two…

Republicans claim their tax cuts have led to magazines citing North Carolina as among the best states for business. That may be true, but those national publications are talking about places like the Triangle, the Triad, and Charlotte, not places like Anson County, Scotland County or Wilkes County. The GOP budget has hung those places out to dry…

In many of those areas, the state is the largest employer, but the Senate would stop providing health insurance to state government retirees for anybody joining the state workforce after 2020. That’s a great recruiting tool.  It’s like throwing an anchor to a sinking boat.

If rural North Carolina is going to catch up and compete they need a serious investment in infrastructure including broadband internet, not more tax cuts.

11) In recent years I’ve become convinced the key to the greatest success in men’s college basketball is getting not the best recruits– who invariably leave after only a year– but, the next best recruits (say, roughly those ranked 25-50) who are still really good but much more likely to give you 3-4 good years of basketball.  Gary Parrish with a nice piece arguing essentially this.

12) Great Charlie Sykes column on how so many conservatives have simply become anti-liberal:

If there was one principle that used to unite conservatives, it was respect for the rule of law. Not long ago, conservatives would have been horrified at wholesale violations of the norms and traditions of our political system, and would have been appalled by a president who showed overt contempt for the separation of powers.

But this week, as if on cue, most of the conservative media fell into line, celebrating President Trump’s abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James Comey, and dismissing the fact that Mr. Comey was leading an investigation into the Trump campaign and its ties to Russia. “Dems in Meltdown Over Comey Firing,” declared a headline on Fox News, as Tucker Carlson gleefully replayed clips of Democrats denouncing the move. “It’s just insane actually,” he said, referring to their reactions. On Fox and talk radio, the message was the same, with only a few conservatives willing to sound a discordant or even cautious note…

But perhaps most important, we saw once again how conservatism, with its belief in ordered liberty, is being eclipsed by something different: Loathing those who loathe the president. Rabid anti-anti-Trumpism…

actions, his conservative champions change the subject to (1) the biased “fake news” media, (2) over-the-top liberals, (3) hypocrites on the left, (4) anyone else victimizing Mr. Trump or his supporters and (5) whataboutism, as in “What about Obama?” “What about Clinton?”

For the anti-anti-Trump pundit, whatever the allegation against Mr. Trump, whatever his blunders or foibles, the other side is always worse.

But the real heart of anti-anti-Trumpism is the delight in the frustration and anger of his opponents. Mr. Trump’s base is unlikely to hold him either to promises or tangible achievements, because conservative politics is now less about ideas or accomplishments than it is about making the right enemies cry out in anguish.

13) Dahlia Lithwick with Laurence Tribe’s case for impeachment regarding the Comey firing.

14) Why everything we know about salt may be wrong.

15) Of course the Trump administration and Betsy DeVos are doing all the wrong things on student debt:

But with a series of regulatory changes, the Trump administration is taking us in the wrong direction, making student loans riskier, more expensive and more burdensome for borrowers.

First, the Education Department has weakened accountability for the companies that administer student loans. Second, it has made it more difficult for borrowers to apply for, and stay enrolled in, income-based payment plans. Third, Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, has given banks more leeway to charge borrowers high fees — as much as 16 percent of the balance owed — if they fall behind.

16) The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer and Peter Beinart on Comey.  Both really good takes.

17) Donald Trump wants steam catapults on aircraft carriers, damnit!  If it was good enough for Maverick and Ice Man…

18) Honestly, it never ceases to amaze how breathtakingly ignorant Donald Trump is about policy and how incoherent he is when attempting to discuss it.  Yglesias breaks down his recent Economist interview.

19) Big 538 piece on the long, complicated story behind all the false voter fraud claims from the right.

Quick hits (part I)

1) More evidence of the ongoing damage of environmental lead.  As Brendan Nyhan says (and Drum, of course):, “Can’t believe lead removal and mitigation isn’t a first-order policy concern.”  Yep.

2) Ed Yong on the evolution of beauty in animals, and the always-fascinating story of duck sex.

3) Pretty sure my undergrads could tear apart this pretty anemic “rich people always get better stuff” defense our Republican health care.

4) Economists who believe in Trump’s approach to supply side economics (tax cuts pay for themselves through greater economic growth) = economists who misread the question.

5) The Russian experiment to tame foxes is so fascinating and deserves the wider audience this book should bring it.

6) I hope it’s actually good, because I’m pretty sure I’m going to see Blade Runner 2049 no matter what.

7) How the damn anti-vaxxers created a measles outbreak in Minneapolis.

8) Yascha Mounk throws a glass of cold water on happiness over Macron’s win:

But while it’s only natural to be relieved, this is no time to get complacent. On the contrary, there are four reasons why the triumphalist narrative that is already taking hold in the aftermath of the French elections is understating the populist threat to liberal democracy…

Finally, and most important, a lot of the commentary on the rise of populism is treating the success of candidates such as Trump as though they were the result of a mysterious virus that might subside just as quickly as it spread. But to make this argument is to close our eyes to the fact that the current challenge to the political system has been steadily growing over time—which suggests that it has deep, structural causes.

9) I presume I missed this two years ago, but nice to see Columbia Journalism Review give credit to the terrific (and incredibly rare) state politics coverage from our local TV station, WRAL.

10) So, somehow I had never read the famous 1948 short story, “The Lottery.”  Alexandra Petri has, and she has a lot of fun with it.  Well worth reading both.

11) Will Saletan with all the ways Republicans are trying to defend the AHCA.  A lot of explanation that really comes down to one thing: lie.  

12) Catherine Rampell makes the case that Trump’s policies are basically waging a war on Millennials.

13) Warren Buffett appreciates the biggest long term threat to our economy– health care:

Mr. Buffett, in a remarkably blunt and pointed remark, implicitly rebuked his fellow chief executives, who have been lobbying the Trump administration and Washington lawmakers to lower corporate taxes.

In truth, Mr. Buffett said, a specter much more sinister than corporate taxes is looming over American businesses: health care costs. And chief executives who have been maniacally focused on seeking relief from their tax bills would be smart to shift their attention to these costs, which are swelling and swallowing their profits.

It was clarifying to hear Mr. Buffett frame things this way. The need for corporate tax relief has become the lodestar of the corner office, with C.E.O.s rhapsodizing over President Trump’s plan to try to stimulate growth by cutting tax rates for businesses.

14) The key to Trump’s win… white turnout up; Black turnout down:

15) With Comey, it’s easy to forget the mess that is Michael Flynn and Trump’s failure to fire him after he knew he was compromised by the Russians.

16) In no surprise at all, cultural anxiety– not economic concerns– where key in white working class voting for Trump.  German Lopez with summary of PRRI report:

The new survey, by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) for the Atlantic, focused on white working-class voters (those without a college education or salaried jobs), who were part of the key demographic behind Trump’s rise. It looked at how much of their support for Trump correlated with, among other factors, “fears about cultural displacement” — a polite way of describing fears of immigrants from other countries and people of other races.

PRRI concluded: “White working-class voters who say they often feel like a stranger in their own land and who believe the U.S. needs protecting against foreign influence were 3.5 times more likely to favor Trump than those who did not share these concerns.”  [emphasis mine]

17) This interactive dialect map is from 2013 and I probably shared it then, but a friend recently posted on FB and it is so amazing how accurate this is.  It pegged me to Arlington, VA– just miles from my childhood home of Springfield, VA.

18) Good thing Jessica Colotl has had her DACA status revoked and is being sent back to Mexico.  Just the kind of person who is ruining this country.  And, oh my, this 60 Minutes story about the woman married to an illegal immigrant who voted for Trump because she didn’t think her husband was a “bad hombre.”  Ugh.

19) Dylan Matthews on how liberals can improve the tax code.

20) Okay, I really don’t know enough history on the matter to say “worst Attorney General ever,” but now Sessions wants to re-up harsher punishments on low-level drug offenders.

21) Very much enjoyed Friedersdorf’s practical political advice for liberals.

22) David Leonhardt on how the French media got the leaks right and American media didn’t:

The two cases obviously are not identical. (And van Kote wasn’t criticizing American journalism; the criticisms are mine.) But they are similar enough to say that the French media exercised better, more sober judgment than the American media.

This issue isn’t going away. Our digital world ensures that the private information of public figures, and not-so-public ones, will be released again in the future.

The media cannot always ignore that information, tempting as it may seem. But it also should not pretend that the only two options are neglect and sensationalism. There is a middle ground, one where journalistic judgment should prioritize news over the whiff of news.

23) The Census is important.  The director quitting in protest is not good.

24) The 13-year old Spanish girls soccer team that beat all the boys.  At younger ages, there’s really no reason girls teams shouldn’t be able to beat boys.  13 is probably about the last age this could happen.

25) The nationalist/populist right can only do as well as the center-right will let it.  In France, that was a huge loss.  In the U.S., the mainstream right gave it the presidency.

26) Congratulations to EMG (or actually, EGW now) on her lovely wedding yesterday evening.  My guess is she’s not spending her post-wedding morning catching up on quick hits– but she better get to it.

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