Quick hits (part I)

1) I miss James Surowiecki, but Adam Davidson is a great replacement at the New Yorker.  Nice column on the absurdity of Trump’s “buy American” executive order:

Snap-on Tools is actually a good example of why Buy American is a fairly meaningless phrase. It is no easy feat to find a product manufactured entirely of material from the U.S., produced by people in the U.S., using tools made in the U.S. In this sense, the executive order recognizes that no blanket order to buy only American will work. The products we buy are made of raw materials transformed into intermediate goods that are then assembled into a finished product. It’s not possible, or even advisable, to insure that an entire production chain will occur in one country. So a politician who wants to increase the percentage of American-made content in the products that are sold here needs to dig deeper. How will the U.S.-made content of a good be defined? Will it be by weight, by dollar value, by labor hours involved? Each metric would have different findings. A car’s bulk, for example, is primarily made up of steel, aluminum, and glass produced by huge machines with not much labor. However, some of the smaller, fussier bits are made by hand in the U.S. Gas tanks, for example, because of strict emissions laws, are surprisingly complex and require a lot of engineering and manual assembly and are often made in the U.S. A gas tank might be relatively cheap and light, but for American workers it’s worth a lot more than many tons of steel. Very quickly, any discussion of the U.S.-made content of any product will turn to the value of intellectual versus physical content…

There is a real problem in the American economy. For much of the twentieth century, there was a wind at the back of working people—a steady increase in jobs, wages, and opportunity for those with basic education and a willingness to put in a hard day’s work. We have shifted from the era of good work for many to the age of the hustle, where those with luck, good connections, education, and ambition can do far better than their grandparents could have dreamt, while those without see their incomes stagnate or fall and face a future filled with doubt. A sober and serious look at the U.S. economy leads, inevitably, to the conclusion that we haven’t cracked this problem yet. In place of serious consideration from the White House, we have absurdist, self-contradicting theatrics.

2) Very cool NYT Magazine feature on how Singapore is creating more land for itself.

3) Small potatoes, but so telling.  Local government knows best; except when the Republican legislators in Raleigh know better.  Again.

4) Jason Lloyd on improving the relationship between science and society.

5) Got into an interesting discussion about racism and Trump based on this Monkey Cage posting looking at 2016 ANES data.  Just measuring racial resentment, the big difference is that Democratic voters now score way lower, not that Republicans were higher in 2016.  That said, I think the key fact is that racial resentment is presumably more important in impacting vote choice than it was prior to Obama.

6) Max Fisher on why North Korea is such a damn difficult problem.

7) Not at all surprised to learn that– not just high school students– but college students don’t learn so great at 8:00am either.  Only 8am class I ever had was teaching one– Intro to American Government in my 2nd year at Texas Tech.

8) I’m basically not a baseball fan at all anymore.  But I used to be, and thus I very much enjoyed this 538 article on how the “save” statistic ruined relief pitching and how it should be replaced.

9) And let’s stick with sports to mention how much I love this concept for fixing the awful endings of so many basketball games.  I learned about it from this Slate sports podcast where it was discussed.  I especially enjoyed Josh Levin’s point that the end of hockey games becomes even more hockey and is great.  In contrast to the end of basketball ruining what we love about the sport.

10) Seth Masket on Trump’s poor record of accomplishment:

The Republican Party, although enjoying control over a great many governments within the United States right now, is facing a significant crisis in that it can’t translate its ideals into law. The one notable legislative success of the Trump administration’s first hundred days — Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch — is the exception that proves the rule. He was a person sent by the White House, rather than a bill formulated in a chamber that’s hostile to democratic lawmaking procedures. There was no negotiation over who he was; it was simply a matter of a yes or no vote.

Writing laws isn’t nearly that easy. Even if Ryan and Trump get better at it, they have significant hurdles to overcome.

11) Found this article about why America has fewer IUD choices than other developed countries surprisingly interesting.  Mostly, because it’s another example of us just being worse at sensible policy.

12) Good on Prince Harry for fighting against the stigma on mental health.

13) It’s entirely possible I shared this when it came out 2 years ago, but I really do like Aaron Carroll’s simple rules for healthy eating.

14) Really liked this Op-Ed entitled, “My Daughter Is Not Transgender. She’s a Tomboy.”

Quick hits (part I)

1) I’m glad I never quick-hitted this “do millennial men want stay-at-home wives” piece because it was so thoroughly debunked here.

2) Evidence for democracy in early Meso-American societies.

3) Totally buy that filling up escalators with two people standing on every step is way more efficient for moving large numbers.  Alas, try getting Americans with our cultural ideas of personal space to do that.

4) In case you missed the fabulous LA Times anti-Trump editorial:

What is most worrisome about Trump is Trump himself. He is a man so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality that it is impossible to know where his presidency will lead or how much damage he will do to our nation. His obsession with his own fame, wealth and success, his determination to vanquish enemies real and imagined, his craving for adulation — these traits were, of course, at the very heart of his scorched-earth outsider campaign; indeed, some of them helped get him elected. But in a real presidency in which he wields unimaginable power, they are nothing short of disastrous.

Although his policies are, for the most part, variations on classic Republican positions (many of which would have been undertaken by a President Ted Cruz or a President Marco Rubio), they become far more dangerous in the hands of this imprudent and erratic man.

5) Hua Hsu says we shouldn’t want perfect robot referees.  I am entirely unpersuaded.  For example, you cannot completely take the referee out of soccer, but we should so have a chip in the ball and every player– no more bad offside calls for starters.

6) Excellent Emily Bazelon and Eric Posner (what a combo!) take on the problem with Gorsuch’s views on the administrative state.

7) This long, informative piece on the history of Republicans totally bogus war on almost totally non-existent voter fraud is really, really good.  Surprise– it’s in Politico.  I definitely learned stuff (or re-learned stuff I had forgotten).

8) Terrific and interactive NYT feature on how Uber uses psychological techniques to get more out of its drivers.

9) Greg Sargent with the headline captures it all, “Why is Trump flailing? Because Americans hate his agenda, and it’s based on lies.”

10) Pretty cool story and video on Seattle’s giant tunnel boring machine breaking through after 3 years.

11) Excellent Jennifer Victor post on how modern partisanship is all about hating the other side and how that makes functional politics so much harder.

12) Since I do a lot of research on the gender gap it’s always especially important for me to control for religiosity as women are always more religious than men.  Yet, I’ve never really come across much seeking to explain that.  Until this Pew interview:

Can you explain in a little more detail what exactly you’re talking about when you suggest a possible biological basis for religious differences between men and women?

I’m not an expert in genetics, but there appears to be some fairly compelling evidence (for example from studies of twins) that genes do affect our disposition to be religious. And if that’s the case, it’s at least plausible that the gender gap in religiosity is partly a matter of biology. If true, though, I doubt that it’s because there’s a “God gene” and women are more likely to have it than men. It seems easier to believe that physiological or hormonal differences could influence personality, which may in turn be linked to variations in “spirituality” or religious thinking…

Does this mean that Christianity is more appealing to women than to men, and if so, why do you think this is the case?

Christianity presents itself as a religion of the powerless: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Depending on your point of view, that’s appealingly feminine or appallingly effeminate. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in his characteristically abrasive way that women need “a religion of weakness that glorifies being weak, loving, and … humble as divine.”

It’s true that some religions are more appealing to women – or men – than others. If we look at alternative spirituality, some varieties attract mostly women and others are of more interest to men. (Satanism falls into the latter category.) Christianity, too, comes in many forms, to such an extent that it is difficult to generalize about its appeal. The more patriarchal versions are possibly better at keeping men involved. Where men are mostly responsible for public worship, as in Orthodox Judaism and Islam, then of course the gender gap will look different. Overall, though, I doubt that there are important differences between the major world religions in their appeal to men and women. They have all survived and thrived for centuries.

13) Love this story about high school journalists who busted their new principal’s fake degree (and shame on the school system for ever hiring her!!)

14) Never been a fan of the filibuster and I won’t cry to see it go.  Good take.  Even better, though, was how JP introduced this column in his FB share:

I agree, but would go further. The filibuster is an anti-democratic tool of obstruction and unaccountability, and the Senate would be better off without it. However, the Senate itself is an anti-democratic tool of obstruction and unaccountability, as Madison argued at the convention, and also needs to go if we really care about representative democracy.

Sorry to be short and late.  In Chicago learning fascinating new developments in Political Science.  Or something like that.  If you need more to read, just find a copy of Sapiens.

Or wait, if you are not DJC, you probably haven’t read the great Atlantic piece on Woolly Mammoths and climate yet.  It is as good as DJC told me (read it on the plane here).

Quick hits (part II)

1) I’ll use this article about a feud in the Lacks family (as in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) to say that I thought the book was way over-rated.  Would’ve made a nice New Yorker article.  Massive overkill as a book.  Also, if for some reason some cells from my mom had been cultured and still alive, the fact would mean absolutely nothing to me.

2) This headline really says enough, “Since 2007, the DEA has taken $3.2 billion in cash from people not charged with a crime.”

3) Garrett Epps is not pleased with Neil Gorsuch:

I fear that Gorsuch’s opaque manner actually does not hide, but rather displays, his jurisprudential philosophy. There is a strain of conservative legal philosophy (by no means the only one, but a powerful one) that regards the role of courts as blocking the naïve progressive impulses of the people—poor fools, using individual mandates and Medicaid expansions to construct a modern health care system! Thinking that labor unions contribute to prosperity! Falling for politically correct gabble about feminism and homophobia or whatever the latest fad may be!—and substituting the mature judgment of the high court. Some thinkers on the right now insist that a judge’s duty is to decide whether economic and social regulation is wise, and strike it down if, in the judge’s opinion, it is not. Faced with demographic and political irrelevance, a strain of right-wing thought sees the courts as the final firewall of a laissez-faire economic order.

Of course, the decisions gutting progressive measures are to be couched in soothing neutral language of law—nothing to see here, I just call balls and strikes.

I caught a whiff of that philosophy when Gorsuch insisted, over and over, he was an entirely non-political being who had sprung immaculate from the brow of Lady Liberty. He is simply a judge, he said over and over—a job which calls, apparently, for neither values nor any firm connection to human life as it is lived. Judges just, well, you know, Senator, judge; they channel the brooding omnipresence of reason and then reach results without a thought for the so-called real world the rest of us must live in.

4) Socially conscious investment fund fires their legal firm for enabling Trump’s kleptocracy.

5) All that DHA in baby formula now– no evidence it actually makes any difference.  Human milk and developing baby brains are complicated stuff.

6) Do we have to be so needlessly cruel with undocumented immigrants?  Yes, in Trump’s America.

7) OMG I love how Ashley Feinberg lays out how she step-by-step uncovered James Comey’s secret twitter account.

8) Amazing– NCAA has made a decision that’s better for fans of women’s college basketball than for ESPN’s ratings.

9) Drum with my favorite take on Trump and science:

The problem with science is (a) it’s bo-o-o-o-o-ring, (b) it’s depressing, and (c) it often clashes with stuff you want to do. Really, it’s just a bummer all around. Why on earth would anyone want to staff the egghead department, anyway?

10) Speaking of science, it’s pretty damn insidious how Republicans are trying to limit the EPA’s ability to use it.  TNR with the best description I’ve read about how they make it sound good, but it’s really awful:

The bill, introduced by Texas Republican Lamar Smith, requires the EPA to only use scientific studies for which all data is publicly available and the results are easily reproducible. This is much harder to do than it sounds. Many public health studies use private medical data, while others contain trade secrets and industry data. Moreover, public health studies are impossible to reproduce when, say, they’re based on one-time pollution events or on people who have died since the study was conducted.

David Stevenson, a member of Trump’s EPA transition team, told me last week that the HONEST Act would be instrumental in preventing regulations of carbon dioxide and other pollutions. “Almost everything that has been done in the last 10, 11, 12 years would not pass the standards [under the bill],” he said. “The Clean Power Plan, ozone regulations, particulate matter regulations—everything has been built on science that has not been peer-reviewed, that the data’s not visible, or that there’s only been one person doing the study.”

11) Accentuate the positive— almost certainly good for not just your mental health, but your physical health as well.  Science!  I don’t know if it’s making my youngest son any healthier, but our daily oral gratitude journal seems to be making a difference.

12) Seth Masket is right– gerrymandering is a too convenient scapegoat.  Most of the problem lies in natural sorting of residential patterns.  That said, I’m not sure Masket would have written this quite the same if he live in North Carolina.

13) Cassidy on the Trump White House as the Keystone Kops:

Today, there are still plenty of reasons to be concerned about Trump and his illiberalism. The White House’s recent decision to dismantle President Obama’s clean-air regulations offers fresh testament to the malevolence of the Trump Administration’s agenda, and next week’s meeting between Trump and Xi Jinping, China’s President, will be a reminder of the enormous responsibilities that rest on a President’s shoulders. But, even among ardent Trumpophobes, fear and foreboding have been supplemented by wonderment at the White House’s string of gaffes. These days, instead of Big Brother, it often looks like the Keystone Kops are in charge.

14) Frank Schaeffer argues that Democrats should forget about trying to persuade Trump voters with facts (agreed), it’s all about emotion.

15) Law professor in Vox on just how unfair to women– and probably illegal– Mike Pence’s “never dine alone” standard is.  Not to mention horribly offensive.  And pathetic.  Lots of great mockery on twitter this week.

16) But you can’t beat the Onion, “Mike Pence Asks Waiter To Remove Mrs. Butterworth From Table Until Wife Arrives.”

17) I got to talk to Joe Nocera this week– very cool.  And got one anodyne quote his recent Bloomberg column on the HB2 semi-repeal and the power of college basketball in NC.

18) I think Drum is right– Tom Price is a scandal just waiting to blow up.  The man is shamelessly unethical.

19) Really enjoyed this piece on Dan Monson, the man who got Gonzaga basketball rolling before Mark Few led them to perennial power status.  Monson left for more money and a more prestigious job– as pretty much all coaches do when given the chance– but things have worked out way better for Few.

20) Finally read the big Robert Draper piece about Trump, his advisers, and Congress.  Lots of good stuff.  Worth your time.

21) I’ve got lots of women friends and always have.  Actually, my wife started out as a female friend– admittedly, I wasn’t married at the time.  Anyway, in light of the Pence stuff, I particularly enjoyed this piece on the matter.  Personally, I couldn’t imagine not having female friends:

And how, without occasionally going out for a sandwich, could a married man ever make or keep female friends?

Because I was raised in a Southern Baptist community in Texas, the answer to that last question is still ingrained within me: a married man simply shouldn’t have female friends. It’s not necessary or proper. That’s what plenty of people I grew up around might say. Men and women are meant to serve God in a contained, organized partnership. Intimacy of any sort leads to sexual temptation; a man’s wife is the only woman outside of his birth family who should rightfully play a meaningful role in his life…

But it’s one thing to avoid a particular situation involving a particular woman who makes you feel a certain way; it’s another entirely to avoid all women as a group and as a rule because of the abstract possibility of sexual temptation. It’s telling, and extremely disheartening, that many people can’t tell the difference—that knowing the best thing to do for your partnership and subscribing wholesale to an idea about gender that calcifies woman as secondary could plausibly seem like the same thing. The Pence approach rules out a lunch meeting or a professional dinner with a woman.

22) We need to take the college dropout problem more seriously.  Among other things, colleges being more flexible can help.

23) Damn Trump, Sessions, and company are so dumb about immigration.  I used to have a friend (moved away) who was a highly-skilled college graduate, but she couldn’t work here because here husband was on an H1B.  The Obama administration wised up on that and let spouses work.  Now, Trump is looking to undo that, of course.  The result– smart, motivated people who would grow our economy (it’s not zero sum!!!) will not be able to work.

24) This Kristoff column on Trump voters who realize his policies are screwing them, but that they are still loyal to Trump is just painful.  The persistent theme seems to be they all thought when Trump talked about cutting stuff, it would only be cuts for brown people.

Quick hits (part I)

1) The headline for this WP essay just kills me, “I gave up TV, then qualified for Olympic marathon trials and got my PhD.”  Oh, please, plenty of people manage to accomplish similar goals while enjoying TV.  I got a PhD, tenure, full professor and co-wrote a book while watching lots of TV!

2) Scott Pelley is pulling no punches on Trump.  I hadn’t realized– good for him.

3) Radley Balko on the foolhardiness of putting immigration enforcement above criminal law enforcement.

4) Fun take on how TV Opening Titles have gotten so good.  I totally agree, but, please, no reason to diss Magnum PI!

5) Vox interview with Pippa Norris on the entho-nationalist basis of Trump’s appeal.

I want to return to what you said earlier about the cultural roots of modern populism. In one of your recent papers, you tell a familiar but troubling story: Since at least the 1970s, Western societies have emphasized what you call “post-materialist” and “self-expression” values among the young educated strata of society. This has produced movements toward greater gender and racial equality, equal rights for LGBTQ people, more acceptance of diverse lifestyles and cultures, etc. It’s also resulted in less focus on redistributionist economics.

You argue that we’ve reached something of a tipping point culturally as less educated and older citizens, particularly white men, are now increasingly resentful of a society that no longer privileges them or their values.

Pippa Norris

The idea that values are being changed has long roots going back to the 1970s, but it has new traction, if you like. The argument is that you adopt the values at the time that you grew up and it’s part of your societal conditioning. Look, for example, at the actual groups who were growing up in Europe when there was a welfare state from cradle to grave. The arguments were about meeting basic material needs — full employment, free education, free health care, etc.

In many of these countries, values changed from a focus on material needs — jobs, economic growth, and the things people who lived through the Great Recession and the period of war cared about — to a different set of values, which was environmental, gender equality, participation, democracy and a whole range of other post-material values. This is a long-term change which my co-author, Ron Inglehart, has predicted for many decades.

What we think happened is that there’s been a tipping point in terms of where majority values have become the new minority. So it’s really about population change more than anything else. If a generation grows up with certain values, those values gradually take over that culture. We can see the manifestation in many policies.

Think, for example, of gay marriage and the way in which marriage rights were something that was not even discussed 20 years ago or even 10 years ago. They weren’t mainstream in the political agenda. And now many, many countries have equalized gay marriage, although affluent countries are still going through that process. Similarly, tolerance of homosexuality, ideas that women should have equal values, secular values as well, the idea that religion is no longer central to people’s lives. So those are values which are shifting.

Those people that are benefiting from these shifts take them for granted as they grow in their status and their power, but there’s been a tipping point when those groups and the values around them are no longer being reflected and, what’s more, they can’t even talk about them.

6) A scientifically-validated app that you can use to train your brain so that you won’t need reading glasses.  Cool!  One of the few benefits of my extreme nearsightedness (-10!) is that it delays onset of the need for reading glasses.  But once that small print starts becoming a problem, I am so doing this.  I’d like my wife to be the family guines pig as she’s definitely getting close.

7) No, we cannot blame fancy new dorms for the increasing cost of college.  And, yes, administrative costs are up.  But, mostly, its the cutbacks from state governments.

8) Nate Cohn concludes that poor Democratic turnout was not the driver of HRC’s defeat.  It’s that damn wwc:

If turnout played only a modest role in Mr. Trump’s victory, then the big driver of his gains was persuasion: He flipped millions of white working-class Obama supporters to his side.

The voter file data makes it impossible to avoid this conclusion. It’s not just that the electorate looks far too Democratic. In many cases, turnout cannot explain Mrs. Clinton’s losses.

9) Hobbyhorse riding is big in Finland ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.  Mika?

10) Oh man is the NFL evil and greedy.  And damn do they abuse the suckers who pay for their stadiums to support their greed.  The Las Vegas case is particularly egregious:

In the N.F.L.’s world, displays of principle and common economic sense are for chumps. Las Vegas and Nevada adopted the league’s preferred stance: They rolled belly up. Politicians raised taxes to provide a historic $750 million public subsidy.

This led to unremarked-upon cognitive dissonance in Las Vegas. Even as politicians increased taxes for stadiums, Clark County school officials voted last spring to increase public class sizes and to close a school for at-risk students. There was simply no money. “This is the last thing we ever want to do,” Linda Young, president of the school board, said at that time.

It’s a shame the school board did not build a football stadium, perhaps with a public school annex.

One team owner, Stephen M. Ross of the Miami Dolphins, voted against the relocation. “We as owners and as a league owe it to the fans to do everything we can to stay in communities that have supported us,” he said in a statement.

That was so sweet of him; I hope he has put a few food tasters on his staff.

The N.F.L. makes two demands of its owners: Build ever-grander stadiums with as many public dollars as you can find; and never, ever feel shame.

11) Cost of HB2 to the NC Economy? Just a measly $3.8 billion.

12) Good Conor Friedersdorf on how the egregious, scare-mongering lies of right-wing media set repeal and replace up for failure.

13) Damn, Texas is anxious to execute the mentally disabled.  Fortunately, five members of the Supreme Court believe otherwise.  Among other things, totally asinine to think that if an IQ test comes out 69 execution is off the table but at 74 it is okay.  This puts way too much faith in both the validity and reliability of IQ tests.  Love this key quote:

Texas cannot satisfactorily explain why it applies current medical standards for diagnosing intellectual disability in other contexts, yet clings to superseded standards when an individual’s life is at stake,” Justice Ginsburg wrote. She was joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

 14) Among the lessons of the AHCA failure– policy expertise and seriousness matter.  As I’ve often mentioned, there’s only one party in America that takes public policy seriously and we’re all the worse for it.

15) Alabama’s prisons are truly, horribly, shameful.  There is literally no excuse for this in a modern nation.  We really need judges to step in if the people of Alabama and their representatives are not going to.

16) I’m sure the law and order types hate the idea of college classes in maximum security prison.

17) There are bipartisan steps we can take to actually make the ACA work better.  Alas, there’s really little evidence many Republicans have any interest in ACA working better.

18) Terrific episode of Hidden Brain on Bandwidth Poverty.  If you are not familiar with the concept, you should be.  And this is a great listen.

19) Nice mini tweetstorm from Christopher Frederico on the just released 2016 ANES data.  Short version: confirming Brian Schaffner’s analysis from earlier data, it’s all about the racial resentment.

20) Why professors should not shame their students, even anonymously.

21) Good take from Vox’s Brian Resnick on the crazy/scary new poll showing that 74% of Republicans believe Trump Tower was wiretapped.

22) Ross Douthat wrote a column about how Obamacare doesn’t actually save lies.  Nice rebuttal from Drum:

folks has never been likely to have much effect on death rates.1 Below age 55, it’s even less likely: the death rate is so minuscule that it would take a miracle to invent any kind of health-related practice that had a measurable effect on life expectancy. If the crude death rate is already below 0.5 percent, there’s just no way to reduce it much more.

And yet, people like health care anyway. They like it so much that we’re collectively willing to spend vast amounts of money on it. As you’ve probably heard many dozens of times, health care is one-sixth of the economy. On average, that means we all pay about one-sixth of our income to provide health care for ourselves.

Why? At the risk of repeating the obvious, most medical care isn’t about lifespan. Before age 65, almost none of it is about lifespan. It’s about feeling better.

23) This is cool– evolution is slower and faster than you think.

24) This will be my last quick hits ever.

Quick hits (part II)

1) This David Roberts piece on Trump and tribalism in modern politics is so good its worth at least 3 blog posts.  Instead, it’s only part of a quick hits.  So just trust me and read it.

2) Pretty soon, you might be able to do your own sperm counts on your smartphone!  Weird and cool all at once.

3) Meanwhile, as Zack Beauchamp put it, “The FBI probe into Trump and Russia is huge news. Our political system isn’t ready for it.”  I think he’s right.  I also think we keep running out of news oxygen under Trump.

4) As tempting as it may be to have your child be your confidant, it’s not really fair to them.

5) A recent Gallup poll on personal financial well-being.  Damn, partisanship is everything:

More Republicans, Fewer Democrats Feel Good About Their Money

6) Really like this Kristof column about Trump and Russia for calling out Nixon:

The greatest political scandal in American history was not Aaron Burr’s shooting of Alexander Hamilton, and perhaps wasn’t even Watergate. Rather it may have been Richard Nixon’s secret efforts in 1968 to sabotage a U.S. diplomatic effort to end the Vietnam War.

Nixon’s initiative, long rumored but confirmed only a few months ago, was meant to improve his election chances that year. After Nixon won, the war dragged on and cost thousands of additional American and Vietnamese lives; it’s hard to see his behavior as anything but treason.

7) Some encouraging evidence from an NCSU study that teaching critical thinking can reduce beliefs in pseudoscience.

8) Does the Premier League emphasis on entertaining soccer hurt them in more boring Champions League competitions?  Maybe.  Personally, I’ll sure take the trade as a viewer.

9) Never been a big fan of Jim Harbaugh.  Now I am.

10) Excellent Ezra take on the health care debate we should be having.  But, of course, are not.  (Not sure if I’ve already linked that one or not this week, with all the health care stuff going on.  Short version: if you haven’t read it, do).

11) Jamelle Bouie:

Indeed, it’s hard to overstate the scope of this disaster. Social policy of this scale is a massive undertaking. It requires broad consensus, policy expertise, clear White House direction, and strong congressional leadership. And even then, failure is always on the horizon. It took Democrats more than a year—and countless crises and complications—to craft and pass the ACA. What we’ve seen, over the past month, is that none of these ingredients exist among the present batch of Republican leaders in Washington. The Republican Party has no vision for health policy reform, no mutually agreed set of goals or principles. Instead, it has seven years of anti-Obamacare demagoguery. At the same time, President Trump’s ignorance—and overall disinterest in the business of policy—means his White House has little to negotiate or bring to the table. Paul Ryan’s inexperience as a congressional leader means he can’t corral members for difficult votes. And beyond problems of leadership, the fact that Trump and Ryan would essentially play games with 18 percent of the economy makes it clear that the Republican Party is unprepared for the responsibility of governance.

12) A day in the life of Fox News.  Short version: it’s disgusting.  E.g.,

One notable way Fox News stood apart from its competition, as it has been known to do for years, was in the stories it chose to highlight and the tone — in some of its opinion shows, unapologetically supportive of Mr. Trump and his agenda — with which it covered them.

There was extensive coverage of the health care vote, for example, but there was also considerable time given to topics, like a rape case in Maryland, that viewers would not have heard about if they had turned to CNN or MSNBC. The rape case, which involved an undocumented immigrant and went virtually uncovered on most networks, received almost hourly updates on Fox, and at times was used as proof that Mr. Trump’s calls for tighter borders and a crackdown on immigration were justified…

And while other networks were devoting time to the apology made by Representative Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House committee investigating Russian interference in the election, for not sharing information about intelligence with the committee’s top Democrat before giving it to Mr. Trump, Fox was touting a report about “potential” evidence that Mr. Trump’s team may indeed have been surveilled by the Obama administration. It was presented as vindication of Mr. Trump’s earlier assertions that his phones had been wiretapped.

 13) I agree– it’s ridiculous to judge the quality of a college basketball conference by two weeks in March.

14) Not at all surprisingly, before popping pills for GERD, people should exercise and eat a healthy diet.

15) Krugman accurately predicted the failure of “replace” back in January due to the inexorable logic of the three-legged stool of Obamacare:

Here’s how I put it exactly 7 years ago:

Start with the proposition that we don’t want our fellow citizens denied coverage because of preexisting conditions — which is a very popular position, so much so that even conservatives generally share it, or at least pretend to.

So why not just impose community rating — no discrimination based on medical history?

Well, the answer, backed up by lots of real-world experience, is that this leads to an adverse-selection death spiral: healthy people choose to go uninsured until they get sick, leading to a poor risk pool, leading to high premiums, leading even more healthy people dropping out.

So you have to back community rating up with an individual mandate: people must be required to purchase insurance even if they don’t currently think they need it.

But what if they can’t afford insurance? Well, you have to have subsidies that cover part of premiums for lower-income Americans.

In short, you end up with the health care bill that’s about to get enacted. There’s hardly anything arbitrary about the structure: once the decision was made to rely on private insurers rather than a single-payer system — and look, single-payer wasn’t going to happen — it had to be more or less what we’re getting. It wasn’t about ideology, or greediness, it was about making the thing work.

It’s actually amazing how thoroughly the right turned a blind eye to this logic, and some — maybe even a majority — are still in denial.

16) Tax cuts (not reform, cuts) are going to be much harder now.  See Chait’s point #3.

17) Will Oremus on how the media is finally figuring out how to cover Trump’s lying:

It isn’t that Time, the Wall Street Journal, and others haven’t confronted Trump on specific claims. They have, of course. But they’ve failed until now to recognize that his untruths amount to something much more than a series of claims to be evaluated and debunked just as the claims of any politician must be. Trump’s reliance on dishonesty is not incidental to his character, or his appeal, or his approach to politics. It is his defining feature, shaping everything from how he talks, to the views he holds, to the way he conducts business and politics. If that sounds like an exaggeration, just go read the Time interview again and chase it with the Washington Post’s fact-check.

Trump’s lies are, and have long deserved to be, a top story in their own right. That the mainstream media have largely failed to treat them as such reveals the depth of its entrenched conventions around journalistic balance and respect for the presidency. Too many reporters and editors allow those conventions to constrain what should always be their core mission, which is to tell the public what they know to be true, no matter whom it offends or embarrasses.

The focus on Trump’s credibility may be late in coming, but it’s welcome nonetheless.

18) Of course we shouldn’t expect kids to sit still in class.  So dumb that we do.  Apparently, there’s some very cool programs to insert short movement breaks into the school day.  I think I’m going to email this to my kids’ elementary school principal.

19) Harold Pollack’s take on the Republican health care mess is another must-read:

As the conservative health-care analyst Philip Klein notes, the contrast with Obamacare couldn’t have been greater. Well before the Obama presidency, Democratic congressional leaders, interest groups and policy experts prepared the groundwork for the ACA, hammering out messy compromises, aligning House committees, working with presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama, all of whom proposed plans similar to what became the ACA. Then in 2009 and 2010, the House and Senate held dozens of hearings over the course of months, not days, and accepted more than 150 Republican amendments along the way. Learning the lessons of President Bill Clinton’s prior failed health reform effort, President Obama let Pelosi and her Senate counterpart Harry Reid take the lead, but he knew the intricacies of the legislation inside and out. Ryan and Trump threw in the towel after just 18 days.

So why did Republicans fail? In a word: insincerity. Republicans had seven years to do their own hard work, to coalesce around a credible conservative alternative to the ACA. They might have used this time to work with Republican governors, to explore which conservative policy ideas seem to stick, which aspects of ACA needed to be retained. They might have crafted a more moderate bill along the lines of the Cassidy-Collins bill, which would have given liberal states and Republican governors who adopted Medicaid expansion much greater leeway. Or they might have refined another conservative model, such as Avik Roy’s modifications to ACA exchanges, to turn ACA’s exchanges in a more conservative direction. They might have prepared the American public for whatever plan they chose…

There was a conspicuous smallness to this AHCA effort, a puzzling shoddiness given the human and political stakes. Many in the GOP, above all President Trump, seemed strangely uninterested in the policy details. To the extent Republicans did have an animating passion, it was to puncture President Obama’s legacy—and to avoid looking foolish by failing to honor their “repeal and replace” rhetoric.

Only they had no viable replacement. For all their endless warnings about how Obama’s signature health law was hurting American families, driving up costs and putting us on the path toward socialism, it turns out they didn’t care enough to put in the work.

20) Is increasing secularization making political conflict worse?  Peter Beinart makes the case.

21) Meanwhile, Sarah Posner on how Trump hijacked the religious right.

22) Super disturbing first-part of NYT series on over-militarization of the police (in form of no-knock SWAT raids).

Quick hits (part II)

1) Dana Goldstein reviews a new book on the for-profit college scam.

2) Costs/benefit-wise, guns in the home–especially due to dramatically heightened suicide risk– fail miserably.

3) Love a good, negative review, like the one of the new book Convergence arguing that everything is all coming together:

Watson’s apparent mastery of the ingredients and recipes of all the sciences might stagger a general reader used to the works of mortals. What will stagger the knowledgeable is the confidence with which he presents nonsense.

4) When it comes to analyzing college basketball, I love Ken Pomeroy.  Slate This article on how the metrics the NCAA uses grossly discriminate against mid-major teams is really good.

5) Sticking with college sports… all the TV money flowing in for football and basketball means that coaches of even the lowliest sports teams now well out-earn full professors.

6) Liberals are turning to MSNBC in droves.  I’d prefer the NYT, but I’ll take political engagement with cable news channels with no political engagement.

7) How intellectual humility can make you a better person.  I think the constant rejection of trying to get articles published probably serves academics well in this regard.

8) Impossible Foods Impossible Burger is about to massively scale up.  I sure do hope this is the  beginning of the end of meat.

9) Democrats are divided on how to approach Gorsuch.  Here’s an idea– it’s Merrick Garland’s seat.

10) A looming future of antibiotic resistance?  Maybe.  But I’m actually an optimist on what scientists will be able to accomplish on this.

11) Kevin Drum is right that fiscal conservatives should love national healthcare.  The problem is, more than they like saving money, they hate giving government benefits to people they think do not deserve them.  Drum  with the key reason national health care saves money:

It’s ironic, but it turns out that central governments are a lot better at keeping a lid on health care costs than the private sector. The reason is taxes. National health care is paid for out of tax revenue, and the public pressure to keep taxes low is so strong that it universally translates into strong government pressure to keep health care costs low. By contrast, the private sector is so splintered that no corporation has the leverage to demand significantly lower costs. Besides, if health care costs go up, corporations can make up for it by keeping cash salaries low. This is part of the reason that median incomes have grown so slowly over the past 15 years. Corporations simply don’t care enough about high health care costs to really do anything about it.

12) Why do comedians laugh at their own jokes?

13) Chait with a great piece on Ryan, Trump, health care, and taxes:

Liberals have been warning for years that the “alternative” Republican plan that could actually pass Congress was a mirage. There was no plan that could be both acceptable to conservative anti-government ideology and to the broader public. The dilemma Republicans find themselves in now — a plan that subsidizes too little coverage to be acceptable to vulnerable members, and too much coverage for the party’s right wing — has always been unavoidable. Whoever had to write the first version of the Republican health-care bill that would have to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office and pass both chambers was given a task with impossible parameters. Ryan is being turned into the fall guy for eight years of lies that the entire Republican party, himself included, told the country and itself.

However, Ryan does appear to be the mastermind behind the legislative sequence Trump has agreed to. The plan is rooted in Ryan’s obsessive quest to pass a huge tax cut for the rich that will be permanent. That strategy requires a series of difficult steps, which — if carried out correctly at every turn — will ultimately culminate in a massive tax cut that can be scored by the Congressional Budget Office as revenue-neutral after ten years, and thus avoid the arcane budgetary requirement that caused the Bush tax cuts to expire automatically after a decade. This intricate calculation, based on complying with the Senate’s budget rules, is the linchpin of the entire Republican legislative strategy.

 

14) Sometimes it really takes just a little bit of money to get a college student over the finishing line.  Good to see that some colleges realize what a good investment this is.

15) Unlike the rest of Europe, anti-immigrant, right-wing parties are making little headway in Spain.  Read the NPR story to find out why.

16) A student recently shared this with me– I missed it last year.  How Denmark treats their prisoners well and it is a win for everybody:

Still, the value of Denmark’s example to a reform-minded public lies not in replicating its particular strategies or techniques but in adopting its broader ethos — one that grants prisoners dignity and allows room for error.

This is a lesson that the United States needs to learn. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, yet we have little to show for either the money invested or the lives lost to this system. U.S. prisoners wear anonymous facility garb, eat mass produced food in assembly cafeteria lines, and spend hours on end in tiny, bleak cement cells. As President Obama noted this past week, as many as 100,000 prisoners across the United States are housed in solitary confinement. Hundreds of these prisoners are released directly to the streets every year, often with dangerous consequences: two went on shooting rampages upon release in 2013…

Officials say a zero tolerance policy is the only way to ensure safety in a facility full of felons. But in reality, such policies do little. Prisoners use drugs, escape and recidivate. In spite of invasive search routines for prisoners and visitors alike, prisons across the United States report problems with contraband from drugs to cellphones to prison-made knives. Even though U.S. prisoners are not permitted to have knives or prepare their own food for safety reasons, in 2011 the Supreme Court found that one California prisoner died unnecessarily every week — lives lost not to violence, but to medical negligence. And when a prisoner escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility in New York in June 2015, more than 60 prisoners complained of a backlash of abusive beatings. Danish prison officials say that their prisoners act out less because they are treated humanely; they, too, are allowed to make mistakes. [emphasis mine]

17) Should have had this last week.  No, smartphones are not luxury items.  Giving up your Iphone does not exactly save you enough to buy health insurance.  Only out-of-touch Republican legislators seem to think so.

18) Dahlia Lithwick on how Trump’s own words were a key in knocking down travel ban 2.o.

19) William Ayers on political conflict on campus:

20) Speaking of which, NC State students not particularly big fans of free speech:

21) Last, and certainly not least, the latest research strongly suggests that Voter ID laws do not reduce turnout.  If you are a liberal, you were probably too ready to believe the earlier research that they do.  To be clear, I still strongly oppose Voter ID laws because they are a solution to a problem that does not exist and do disproportionately impact minorities and young people.  Just because they are not as effective at demobilization as their Republican sponsors hoped, does not make them okay.

 

Quick hits (part I)

1) This Andrew Sullivan essay on intersectionality as religion is a definite must-read (in response to recent Charles Murray incident):

“Intersectionality” is the latest academic craze sweeping the American academy. On the surface, it’s a recent neo-Marxist theory that argues that social oppression does not simply apply to single categories of identity — such as race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc. — but to all of them in an interlocking system of hierarchy and power. At least, that’s my best attempt to define it briefly. But watching that video helps show how an otherwise challenging social theory can often operate in practice.

It is operating, in Orwell’s words, as a “smelly little orthodoxy,” and it manifests itself, it seems to me, almost as a religion. It posits a classic orthodoxy through which all of human experience is explained — and through which all speech must be filtered. Its version of original sin is the power of some identity groups over others. To overcome this sin, you need first to confess, i.e., “check your privilege,” and subsequently live your life and order your thoughts in a way that keeps this sin at bay. The sin goes so deep into your psyche, especially if you are white or male or straight, that a profound conversion is required.

Like the Puritanism once familiar in New England, intersectionality controls language and the very terms of discourse. It enforces manners. It has an idea of virtue — and is obsessed with upholding it. The saints are the most oppressed who nonetheless resist. The sinners are categorized in various ascending categories of demographic damnation, like something out of Dante. The only thing this religion lacks, of course, is salvation. Life is simply an interlocking drama of oppression and power and resistance, ending only in death. It’s Marx without the final total liberation.

2) And Frank Bruni with his take on the “dangerous safety of college.”

3) Speaking of colleges… the ongoing fiasco and horrid waste of NJ taxpayer dollars that is Rutgers athletics.

4) As mentioned, I’m reading SapiensAustralians, where I learned that one of the unsolved mysteries in the study of prehistoric humans is how they managed to get to Australia around 50,000 years ago.  The latest on what scientists are learning about the original .

5) Speaking of humans…there really seems to be an increasing problem with male sperm.  And that’s a problem for all humans.  Mine have done their part, but I worry about my sons.

6) I’m not usually a big fan of the liberal rants, but this one against rural, white, conservatives is really, really good:

Here are the honest truths that rural Christian white Americans don’t want to accept; until they accept these truths, nothing is going to change:

  • Their economic situation is largely the result of voting for supply-side economic policies that have been the largest redistribution of wealth from the bottom/middle to the top in U.S. history.
  • Immigrants haven’t taken their jobs. If all immigrants, legal or otherwise, were removed from the U.S., our economy would come to a screeching halt and food prices would soar.
  • Immigrants are not responsible for companies moving their plants overseas. The almost exclusively white business owners are responsible, because they care more about their shareholders (who are also mostly white) than about American workers.
  • No one is coming for their guns. All that has been proposed during the entire Obama administration is having better background checks.
  • Gay people getting married is not a threat to their freedom to believe in whatever white god they want to. No one is going to make their church marry gays, have a gay pastor or accept gays for membership.
  • Women having access to birth control doesn’t affect their lives either, especially women they complain about being teenage single mothers.
  • Blacks are not “lazy moochers living off their hard-earned tax dollars” any more than many of their fellow rural neighbors. People in need are people in need. People who can’t find jobs because of their circumstances, a changing economy or outsourcing overseas belong to all races.
  • They get a tremendous amount of help from the government they complain does nothing for them. From the roads and utility grids they use to farm subsidies, crop insurance and commodities protections, they benefit greatly from government assistance. The Farm Bill is one of the largest financial expenditures by the U.S. government. Without government assistance, their lives would be considerably worse.
  • They get the largest share of Food Stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
  • They complain about globalization, yet line up like everyone else to get the latest Apple products. They have no problem buying foreign-made guns, scopes and hunting equipment. They don’t think twice about driving trucks whose engines were made in Canada, tires made in Japan, radios made in Korea, and computer parts made in Malaysia.
  • They use illicit drugs as much as any other group. But when other people do it is a “moral failing” and they should be severely punished, legally. When they do it, it is a “health crisis” that needs sympathy and attention.
  • When jobs dry up for whatever reason, they refuse to relocate but lecture the poor in places like Flint for staying in failing towns.
  • They are quick to judge minorities for being “welfare moochers,” but don’t think twice about cashing their welfare checks every month.

And plenty more good ones in that list.

7) LeVar Ball— most insane sports dad ever?  I’m thinking so.

8) I saw “Into the Woods” at my son’s high school last night.   First time seeing it.  The kids were terrific– fabulous performance.  As for the musical itself, I’ve concluded that it’s hugely over-rated.  I agree with both these takes.

9) I love the Oxford comma.  Always use it.  It matters.

10) Helpful reminder: “learning styles” are a fiction.

11) Chuck Todd makes a ludicrous argument that big data led to polarization.  Seth Masket shoots him down.  Classic post hoc ergo propter hoc.

12) The British wiretap thing.  Seriously, just step back for a minute and think about how insane it is that somebody like Trump is a president!  The man is a toddler.

13) Are teenagers using smartphones instead of drugs?!  Maybe.  But see #11.

14) Just so we’re clear.  Steve King is a disgusting, deplorable human being.  And he’s mainstream in today’s Republican party.

15) Using artificial intelligence to prevent suicide.

16) For-profit colleges suck. They are basically a scam on poor people.  And taxpayers.  Oh, and, of course, they are making headway with the Trump administration.

17) North Carolina’s loss (HB2) is South Carolina’s gain.  Ugh.

18) Why does Trump hate cities?  Because they show that liberalism (and ethnic diversity) works.

19) Love the headline for this take on Trump’s budget, “Trump’s Budget Expands the G.O.P.’s War on Math.”

20) On how the internet is saving culture because people are willing to pay for good content (agree, says this subscriber to Netflix, HBO, NYT, etc.)

21) Since I’m just queuing this up anyway, and one of quick hits two biggest fans (DJC) is already up and 6:00, I’m moving the queue time up in his honor.

 

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