Quick hits (part I)

1) Yglesias on how Trump’s domestic policy agenda is really GWB part II.

Bush rode into office on the strength of white working-class voters who were drawn to his heartland cultural politics, alienated by Al Gore’s aloof demeanor, and appeased by Bush’s repudiation of the hard-right orthodoxy of the congressional GOP of the era. Bush scolded congressional Republicans for seeking to “balance the budget on the backs of the poor” and promised to deliver a much-needed prescription drug benefit to America’s senior citizens.

“George Bush is a different kind of right-winger,” wrote the Economist’s US politics columnin April 2001, “a card-carrying conservative who nevertheless believes in active government.”

Fred Barnes of the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard called him a “big government conservative.”

None of this entailed a retreat from the Republican Party’s basic commitment to an agenda of tax cuts for high-income households and favorable regulatory treatment of businesses. It was, instead, a political strategy to make plutocracy workable. And while Bush-era deficits probably contributed to some long-term problems, the interest rate environment of the time was certainly conducive to “irresponsible” budgeting.

And, indeed, it’s very difficult to imagine Bush securing reelection in 2004 if his trillion-dollar tax cut had been paid for with cutbacks to public services. In reality, however, Bush expanded public services by lavishing new subsidies on American agriculture, introducing new health benefits on American seniors, and increasing federal K-12 education spending in exchange for the accountability reforms of the No Child Left Behind law.

When, eventually, Bush’s administration collapsed into ignominy, conservatives quickly pinpointed these big-spending ways as the reason. Even Bush’s brother Jeb found himself saying that “in Washington during my brother’s time, Republicans spent too much money.”

But by the time Jeb was out on the campaign trail distancing himself from his brother’s big-spending ways, Trump was kicking his butt precisely by distancing himself from the tight-fisted fiscal policies of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

2) Trump takes credit for a $1 billion investment in the US.  Drum points out that this happens about once per day, on average.

3) Wired on Apple’s need to move past the Iphone, on its 10-year anniversary.

4) And David Pogue’s take on the original Iphone from 10-years ago.  Nice reminder of how revolutionary it was.

5) Jeff Sessions should not be our next Attorney General.

6) Neurotracker has convinced professional teams and athletes that it can improve their performance by improving the mental tracking so key in many sports.  Alas, there’s no real evidence it actually does.  It’s honestly a pretty easy experiment to do (randomly assign a college or HS football, soccer, etc. team with experimental and control for a couple weeks, then test), so the fact that there’s not any such evidence makes me very skeptical.  I find the following critique compelling:

Williams, at the University of Utah, challenged the notion that tracking bouncing objects in a simulation could train or quantify anything other than a person’s ability to track bouncing objects in a simulation.

“I’ve never seen a soccer player chasing multicolor balloons around on the field,” Williams said. “It’s just not what soccer players do.”

What soccer players do, he said, is read patterns of play, anticipate what might happen next based on movements of teammates and opponents, and identify familiar sequences as they unfold. This “inside” knowledge, built up over time, promotes the effectiveness and efficiency that Ericsson argues are the hallmarks of expertise.

7) My 10-year old Evan received a mini-drone for Christmas.  A friend said, “so what do you do with it?”  My response, “crash it.”  Managed to actually get it down from 30 feet up in a tree where I stranded it within the first 5 minutes.  Loved this NYT article on Christmas drone horror stories.  We still have our and it still works and we’ve only broken to propellers.  We’ll try again when all our snow and ice melts.

8) This essay by Karl Marlantes on how Vietnam permanently disrupted Americans’ faith in their government is a must read.  (Also makes me think I need to move his novel, Matterhorn, further up my queue).

In the early spring of 1967, I was in the middle of a heated 2 a.m. hallway discussion with fellow students at Yale about the Vietnam War. I was from a small town in Oregon, and I had already joined the Marine Corps Reserve. My friends were mostly from East Coast prep schools. One said that Lyndon B. Johnson was lying to us about the war. I blurted out, “But … but an American president wouldn’t lie to Americans!” They all burst out laughing.

When I told that story to my children, they all burst out laughing, too. Of course presidents lie. All politicians lie. God, Dad, what planet are you from?

Before the Vietnam War, most Americans were like me. After the Vietnam War, most Americans are like my children.

America didn’t just lose the war, and the lives of 58,000 young men and women; Vietnam changed us as a country. In many ways, for the worse: It made us cynical and distrustful of our institutions, especially of government. For many people, it eroded the notion, once nearly universal, that part of being an American was serving your country.

9) Gotta love that the guns rights folks (and DJT Jr) are arguing that we need to make it way easier to buy silencers/suppressors, through legislation titled The Hearing Protection Act.

10) Love that a Dairy Queen owner who unleashed racist rants on his customers had his franchise pulled from him by DQ corporate.  That’s the power of social media for good.

11) The insanity of trying to get even a low-level Senate confirmation from today’s dysfunctional Congress.  Though, that will change.

12) Greg Sargent on Trump’s (lying, of course) response to Meryl Streep:

It’s often argued that we should perhaps give less attention to Trump’s tweets. But Monday’s barrage gets at something important. Yes, all politicians lie. But with only days to go until Trump assumes vast power, Monday’s tweetstorm is a reminder that we may be witnessing something new and different in the nature and degree of the dishonesty at issue. Here again we’re seeing Trump’s willingness to keep piling the lies on top of one another long after the original foundational lies have been widely debunked, and to keep on attacking the press for not playing along with his version of reality, as if the very possibility of shared reality can be stamped out by Trumpian edict, or Trumpian Tweedict.

13) Among the dumbest things we do in American democracy: abysmally poor compensation for state legislators.  Because, you know, it’s not like what state governments do is important or anything.  NPR:

While a few big states have full-time legislatures with higher pay (California pays lawmakers $100,113 a year and Pennsylvania pays $85,339) but in most states, legislators are paid like it’s a part-time job.

According to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states pay $30,000 a year or less to legislators. New Mexico doesn’t pay lawmakers at all, while those in New Hampshire make just $200 per two-year term…

Median household income in the United States was $55,775 in 2015, according to the Census Bureau.

“Not paying legislators is like a very penny-wise, pound foolish thing,” given the size of state budgets and complexity of issues that legislatures tackle every year, said Stanford University political scientist Neil Malhotra.

That low level of pay also keeps many people from entering politics, said Malhotra. “There’s very, very few working class people in legislatures. This might have something to do with why a lot of legislation does not seem very friendly towards working class people.”

14) I don’t doubt that there really is something to “attachment theory” that proper bonding in very-early childhood can be key for personality throughout life, but this article is absolutely preposterous in not addressing the role of genetics in this issue.  Any parent of more than one child can sure as hell tell you that.

15) How video game designers need to engineer in just the right amount of luck.

16) The difficulty in enforcing ethics laws under Trump.

17) Yglesias reminds of what we do know about Trump and Russia:

18) The Amherst College new mascot– Hamsters.  Kind of love it.  Kind of think it’s silly to change a mascot based on the now-odious, but mainstream enough in the 18th century views, of Lord Amherst.

19) Interesting idea from Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse— many Republican politicians actually want to fight climate change but the fossil fuel industry they are beholden to will not let them.  I’m not convinced.  If true, just more profiles in cowardice.

20) Even if you have good health insurance through your employer, an ACA repeal can really hurt you, too.

21) Hooray for San Diego for not being a hostage to the NFL and refusing to spend hundreds of millions of public dollars to further enrich a billionaire.  And, on the not-so-great economics of having an NFL team in your city.

22) Some interesting research suggests conservative politicians in several countries are more attractive than liberal politicians.

23) This long, thoughtful, post from an Ohio teacher on our way over-reliance on standardized testing is really, really good:

The most critical solution to this is to untie student, teacher, and school accountability measures from testing outcomes, or to combine these scores with a variety of other measures of success. In addition, we need to dramatically reduce the time spent on testing by requiring tests in fewer grades, or not administering tests every year. No high-performing nation in the world tests all students annually…

We are not in an education crisis. We are in a crisis of poverty that is being exacerbated by the school accountability movement and the testing industry. At best, this movement has been misguided. At worst, it is an intentional set up to bring about the demise of the public education system – mandatory testing designed to produce poor results which leads to greater investment made in test preparation programs provided by the same companies who produce the tests, coupled with a related push for privatization of the educational system. All touted as a means to save us from this false crisis.

24) Best explanation I’ve yet read for why recent rules changes have led to college football being so high scoring (it’s all about the blocking on the run-pass option).

25) Pippa Norris responds to the many issues raised on the whole “is North Carolina a democracy” flap.

 

 

Quick Hits (part II)

1) Lee Drutman and Mark Schmitt on the need to fight Trump on norms:

But Trump is no mere Tammany Hall hack. The norms and constitutional provisions he has either violated or is on track to violate go far beyond “honest graft.” His approach is not mere greasing the wheels — it’s puncturing and slashing the tires. Trump’s rewriting of the rules — refusing to acknowledge that he must divest from his businesses, continuing to keep his tax returns secret, tweeting nuclear arms policy, publicly rejecting the findings of the intelligence community on Russian campaign hacking — is so vast that it has swamped his presidency before he has even taken the oath of office.

In this context, challenging Trump primarily on “normal politics” — legislative fights over safety net programs and taxes — is like ignoring a cancer diagnosis and instead devoting all your time to going to your chiropractor because in the past, he’s succeeded at getting rid of your sore back. [emphasis mine]

Defending basic democratic norms and maintaining a strong focus on corruption is the right strategy. Not only is it more likely to work but it is likely to leave our politics in a better place in the end.

 First, making the fight about entitlements and taxes is only going to reinforce existing partisan divides, at a time when Democrats and Republicans need to figure out how to build alliances to minimize the damage Trump can do to basic norms, rather than reinforcing the divide that Trump exploited in the general election.

The only chance of checking Trump’s likely excesses and recklessness is if Republicans step in, as Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have done in response to Russia’s interference in the election and Trump’s apparent willingness to lift sanctions. Other conservative Republicans, outside Congress, have expressed deep misgivings about Trump’s refusal to even acknowledge conflicts of interest or his failure to hold press conferences. The potential for cross-partisan alliances on protecting democratic norms and civil liberties, and preventing corruption, is much broader than on programs.

Second, it can be hard to hit Trump on policy because he’s made a long game of being ideologically elusive.

2) Charles Feeney is “the James Bond of philanthropy” and basically the anti-Trump when it comes to giving (i.e., he uses his own money and doesn’t make a big show).

3) Really good piece in the Chronicle of Higher Ed on how implicit bias is probably not all it’s made out to be:

That’s essentially Blanton’s argument as well. Public discussion about implicit bias has been based largely on the results from one particular test, and that test, in his view, has been falsely sold as solid science. “They have engaged the public in a way that has wrapped the feeling of science and weight around a lot of ‘cans’ and ‘maybes,’” Blanton says. “Most of your score on this test is noise, and what signal there is, we don’t know what it is or what it means.”

Blanton is not saying there’s no such thing as unconscious bias, nor is he arguing that racial discrimination isn’t a deep and abiding problem in American life (though at least one white-supremacist-friendly website has mentioned his research in an attempt to make that case — illustrating how such discussions can be misconstrued). He just thinks that scientists don’t know how to measure implicit bias with any confidence and that they shouldn’t pretend otherwise. “It is such an important problem that it deserves a stronger science,” he says.

3) Andrew Gelman undermines the claim that North Carolina isn’t really a democracy.  Among other things, 11 other states actually perform worse.

4) Florida’s stand your ground law associated with an increase in homicides:

Results  Prior to the stand your ground law, the mean monthly homicide rate in Florida was 0.49 deaths per 100 000 (mean monthly count, 81.93), and the rate of homicide by firearm was 0.29 deaths per 100 000 (mean monthly count, 49.06). Both rates had an underlying trend of 0.1% decrease per month. After accounting for underlying trends, these results estimate that after the law took effect there was an abrupt and sustained increase in the monthly homicide rate of 24.4% (relative risk [RR], 1.24; 95%CI, 1.16-1.33) and in the rate of homicide by firearm of 31.6% (RR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.21-1.44). No evidence of change was found in the analyses of comparison states for either homicide (RR, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.98-1.13) or homicide by firearm (RR, 1.08; 95% CI, 0.99-1.17). Furthermore, no changes were observed in control outcomes such as suicide (RR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.94-1.05) and suicide by firearm (RR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.91-1.06) in Florida between 2005 and 2014.

Conclusions and Relevance  The implementation of Florida’s stand your ground self-defense law was associated with a significant increase in homicides and homicides by firearm but no change in rates of suicide or suicide by firearm.

5) Political Scientist/Economist/noted libertarian Mike Munger takes to the NYT Op-Ed to argue that football need to be more like rugby to be safer.

6) Drum  says Democrats need a “show us the replacement” mantra regarding Republicans and Obamacare.

7) Thomas Mills on the new governor in town:

What a difference a governor makes! Just a week or so ago, people were asking, “With veto proof majorities in the legislature, what can Roy Cooper do?” Well, yesterday he told us. He can try to expand Medicaid. He can call out Republicans who won’t repeal HB2. He can call on the legislature to raise teacher pay to the national average. In other words, he can set the Democratic agenda and establish the terms of the political debate in a year with special legislative elections. And he can put the GOP on the defensive from the start of his administration…

Cooper is clearly no Pat McCrory. He has a firm grasp of state government and a willingness to push an agenda that McCrory lacked. The legislature has had four years dealing with a push over. They’ll now have to figure out how deal with a governor who clearly plans to make himself a force in Raleigh.

8) Reihan Salam on the policy disaster that would follow from “repeal and delay.”

9) John Cassidy asks if Obamacare can “save the Democrats”

In addition to harming large numbers of Trump voters, repealing most of the A.C.A. would enrage some rich and powerful economic interests that the Republican Party has traditionally courted, such as doctors, hospitals, and insurers. It took the American health-care industry, which is now bigger than the entire economy of France, half a decade to prepare for and implement the law’s provisions. Many working in health care believe it would be folly to destroy the new system before building a proper replacement.

Insurers are warning that a “repeal and delay” plan would create immediate turmoil on the government-run exchanges, many of which are already having trouble attracting more than one or two insurers to participate. Last month, two big trade groups—the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals—warned publicly that repealing the A.C.A. could cost hospitals a hundred and sixty-five billion dollars and trigger an “unprecedented public health crisis.” In a letter to Congress on Tuesday, Dr. James Madara, the chief executive of the American Medical Association, said, “We believe that before any action is taken . . . policymakers should lay out for the American people, in reasonable detail, what will replace current policies.” ..

It’s looking more and more like the Republicans are caught in a trap of their own making. Ever since 2008, they and their media outriders, such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, have demagogued the health-care issue in an outrageous fashion. Trump, in running for President, employed the same nihilistic strategy. Now they may pay for it. Despite the Republicans’ vague talk of stripping away government bureaucracy and setting up a more “market-based system” to replace Obamacare, there is no quick fix, no cheap way out. In a private health-care market, the only way to guarantee universal, or near universal, coverage is to employ mandates, subsidies, taxes, and legal directives—the very tools employed in the A.C.A. [emphasis mine]

10) Nice summary in Vox of Brian Schaffner’s latest on how racism and sexism drove support for Trump.

11) Jamelle Bouie says that Democrats don’t have a religion problem, they have a white people problem:

First, the facts. Among the most religious groups in the country are black and Latino Americans…

These voters back Democrats, overwhelmingly. In the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton won 67 percent of self-identified Hispanic Catholics and the vast majority of black churchgoers. She also won 71 percent of Jewish voters and 62 percent of voters who belong to other religious faiths and traditions. She suffered a crushing defeat among white evangelicals—losing them 16 percent to Trump’s 81 percent—and she lost white Catholics by an almost 2–1 margin, 37 percent to 60 percent.

Because white Christians are the majority of religious voters, and Clinton lost the majority of white Christians, you could say (as Wear does) that these numbers represent a “religion problem” for Democrats. But then to make that claim, you have to ignore race. You have to ignore that Democrats do extremely well with believers of color, Christian or otherwise. You have to ignore stark social and theological divides between black and white Christians, who historically have not understood politics and the Gospel in the same way. You have to ignore the fact that, in North Carolina, the Democratic Party won the state’s governorship on the strength of a movement rooted in black churches and tied to religious leadership. Most importantly, you have to ignore that Democrats lost the large majority of white voters, continuing a trend that dates back to 1968.

At this point, you have to answer an interpretive question. Are Democrats losing a collection of groups that happen to be white—religious voters, working-class voters, etc.—or are they losing whites specifically, with those subcategories following from that fact? Given the stark racial divides in those categories—Democrats win nonwhite religious voters by the same margins that they win nonwhite voters without college educations—the broad answer is clear: The Democratic Party doesn’t have a religion problem as much as it has a white voter problem. That white voter problem emerged in the aftermath of the civil rights movement as a resentful backlash to perceived disorder and unfairness and has gotten worse with almost every subsequent presidential election. [emphasis mine]

12) Jerome Groopman with the most notable medical findings of 2016.

13) I think I missed this back in November: Alex MacGillis‘ look at poor (white, of course) voters voting against their economic interests.

14) One man’s quest to change the way we die.  More power to him because we are awful at this in America.

 

Super-late quick hits (part II)

1) Great stuff from Bill Ayers on the stupidity on business as a metaphor for government:

I think I’ll take my Prius drag racing.

It makes perfect sense, right? After all, a Prius is just like those cars you see tearing down the track at drag races. It has four wheels, each with an inflated rubber tire. It has an engine powered by oil-based fuel. It’s got a seat for a driver, with a steering wheel. It’s got a transmission system, and a bunch of electrical support stuff. I mean, they’re practically the same thing.

Of course, this is crazy. A Prius, despite some superficial similarities, is not a drag racer. Attempting to run mine on a drag strip is likely to fail, and cause a fair amount of damage in the process. A drag racer is built for speed. A Prius (unless you heavily modify it!) is built for gas mileage.

Along similar lines, why do so many people insist on arguing that “government should be run like a business”? …

The fact that “business” and “government” both belong to the broader category called “human organization” tells you very little about how to run the latter. The differences between them are far more important than the similarities. And like the comparison between Prius and drag racer, what is most important is the purpose for which each was built.

A business is an organization designed to produce some product or service for the wider world, usually (though not always) at a profit. A business creates what it creates. It is primarily concerned with two groups of people: the owners (who control the business, and in whose interest it presumably operates) and the customers. A business can define its own customer base, to a substantial degree, and doesn’t need to concern itself with anybody else in society. Businesses don’t even have to be all that concerned about their employees, except as these are necessary to produce the product or service.

Governments look nothing like this. They are not meant to operate at a profit, and those that do are generally regarded as corrupt and illegitimate. Governments do not produce individual goods or services, but provide public goods to a broad group of people known as citizens. Except at the margins, governments have very little ability to define who they serve, and governments that decide to serve only one segment of the population usually find themselves losing legitimacy. Legitimate governments can’t pick their “customer base”…

But the chief purpose of the government is not to be a business, but to provide a safe, secure, and fair environment in which everybody can pursue their own individual business. If businesses are like sports teams competing, government is like the referee enforcing the rules of the game.

Ultimately, the purpose of a business is to advance the interests of its owners, usually a small group of people. The purpose of a government is to advance the interests of everybody. A business is partial to itself. A good government is impartial towards all.

2) Trump’s OMB pick Mick Mulvaney thinks it’s a good idea to blow up the debt ceiling.  Ugh.  And he doesn’t think the government should fund scientific research.  Double-ugh.  And he’s part of a larger trend of Trump surrounding himself with Tea Partiers.  Triple-ugh.

3) Recently finished Peter Brown’s The Wild Robot to my 10-year old.  Perhaps the favorite book I have read my kids not written by EB White or Roald Dahl.  So good.

4) The Republican approach to health care policy?  Maybe wait before going to the ER when your kid breaks his arm.  Seriously.

5) Bipartisan Op-Ed arguing that we need nuclear power to slow global warming.  I firmly agree.  And there’s amazing technological advances in contemporary reactors.

6) Also, global warming really sucks for polar bears.  Great photo essay in the NYT.

7) So clear that we all benefit by waiting longer to merge with a lane closure and do a zipper merge.  The problem is that so many drivers are not aware and act counter-productively.  Doesn’t seem that a public service campaign on the matter would be all that hard.

8) A review of the year in cool quantum physics stuff.

9) Nicholas Kristof has a conversation with an Evangelical pastor on whether you can be Christian without believing in the virgin birth or the Resurrection.  Whether those beliefs make you a “Christian” or not, you could do a lot worse than following Jesus’ teachings in the gospels, regardless of whether you believe the other stuff.

10) John Cassidy on Trump’s challenge to democracy:

The big unknown isn’t what Trump will do: his pattern of behavior is clear. It is whether the American political system will be able to deal with the unprecedented challenge his election presents, and rein him in. Especially with a single party controlling the executive and the legislative branches, there is no immediately reassuring answer to this question.

11) I never did watch “Making of a Murderer” (mostly because it struck me as way too much of a time investment), but this really interesting New Yorker article on true-crime as entertainment from back in January (just came across it as promoted as among their most popular articles of the year) makes me glad I did not invest the time.

12) Studies less unfavorable to sugar that are funded by the sugar industry should undoubtedly draw great scrutiny.  That said, these conclusions seem reasonable:

But the scientists behind the paper said more scrutiny of sugar guidelines was needed. The researchers reviewed guidelines issued by the W.H.O. and eight other agencies around the world and said the case against sugar was based on “low-quality” evidence.

“The conclusion of our paper is a very simple one,” said Bradley C. Johnston, a professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Toronto and McMaster University and the lead author of the new paper. “We hope that the results from this review can be used to promote improvement in the development of trustworthy guidelines on sugar intake.”

Dr. Johnston said he recognized that his paper would be criticized because of its ties to industry funding. But he said he hoped people would not “throw the baby out with the bathwater” by dismissing the conclusion that sugar guidelines should be developed with greater rigor. He also emphasized that he was not suggesting that people eat more sugar. The review article, he said, questions specific recommendations about sugar but “should not be used to justify higher intake of sugary foods and beverages.”

13) Excellent, thorough, Nate Cohn piece looking at how the Obama coalition fell apart for HRC.  Make sure you read this one.

14) Not surprisingly, the relationship between the political attitudes of elite donors and the Democratic party is far more complex than the simplistic portrayals we commonly get.

15) The way in which we basically let police departments steal money from people in this country is just disgusting.  Drum is not having it and either am I.

16) Greg Sargent on why we should be terrified of Trump’s decision-making process.

17) Ezra Klein asks whether Republicans are more addicted to power or ideas.  It’s cute that he even pretends it’s a question:

We are about to learn whether Republicans are more addicted to power or to ideas. This is, it’s worth noting, a live debate. In the Bush years, the GOP cut taxes, expanded Medicare, and started two wars without paying for a dime of it. Then after Barack Obama took office, Republicans became very worried about budget discipline.

 Fiscal conservatism, liberals complained, seemed to mean Republicans could rack up debt for any reason while Democrats couldn’t even borrow to save the economy during a financial collapse (which is, for the record, exactly the time you would want to debt finance).

But the GOP swore otherwise. The Tea Party, they said, was a correction to the regrettable excesses of the aughts. Bush-era Republicans had gone Washington and become addicted to power rather than conservatism. They had betrayed their own ideas and were now being punished by their own voters. It wouldn’t happen again. The opposition to Obama’s debt financing was the principled stand of a chastened GOP, not a cynical ploy to trip up a Democratic president.

If House Republicans — and particularly the House Freedom Caucus, the most debt-obsessed of all House Republicans — decide that Trump only needs to pay half the cost of his plans, then there’ll be no more mystery. Partisanship and power, not ideas and ideology, will have proven the GOP’s real addiction.

18) Poland for a very, very disturbing case study of what can happen when populists come to power in a democracy:

The Law and Justice Party rode to power on a pledge to drain the swamp of Polish politics and roll back the legacy of the previous administration. One year later, its patriotic revolution, the party proclaims, has cleaned house and brought God and country back to Poland.

Opponents, however, see the birth of a neo-Dark Age — one that, as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to move into the White House, is a harbinger of the power of populism to upend a Western society. In merely a year, critics say, the nationalists have transformed Poland into a surreal and insular place — one where state-sponsored conspiracy theories and de facto propaganda distract the public as democracy erodes.

In the land of Law and Justice, anti-intellectualism is king. Polish scientists are aghast at proposed curriculum changes in a new education bill that would downplay evolution theory and climate change and add hours for “patriotic” history lessons. In a Facebook chat, a top equal rights official mused that Polish hotels should not be forced to provide service to black or gay customers. After the official stepped down for unrelated reasons, his successor rejected an international convention to combat violence against women because it appeared to argue against traditional gender roles.

Over the weekend, Warsaw convulsed in street protests amid allegations that the Law and Justice party had illegally forced through a budget bill even as it sought to restrict media access to Parliament.

 

18) David Leonhardt suggests maybe Democrats have been bringing knives to a gun fight.  I think he might be right, but it’ll be a helluva mess if bullets just start flying everywhere.

If he were merely a rogue politician, this story would be a local one. But too many Republicans elsewhere have begun to ignore political traditions, and even laws, to exert power. While Democrats continue to play by more genteel rules, Republicans have subscribed to the Capone school of politics (as Sean Connery fans can recite): “They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.”

 

19) Must-read NYT piece on Steve Kerr and how we was shaped by his father, who was assassinated as president of American University in Beirut in 1984.

[Super-late] Quick hits (part I)

What can I say, I’ve been enjoying hanging with family, watching movies, reading, and taking time off from blogging.  But, I should be able to knock this off during a Boxing Day American Ninja Warrior marathon 🙂

1) Dan Hopkins on an important part of the election story– late deciders really did break for Trump in large numbers.

2) Maria Konnikova on the concept of time travel as a cultural invention.

3) Running as a thinking-person’s sport:

Running seems to require a greater amount of high-level thinking than most of us might imagine. The sport seems to change how the brain works in surprising ways, according to a new report.

The study, published this month in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, found that the brains of competitive distance runners had different connections in areas known to aid in sophisticated cognition than the brains of healthy but sedentary people. The discovery suggests that there is more to running than mindlessly placing one foot in front of another.

4) The ideal parent for many teenagers– the potted plant parent.  Fortunately, my teenager wants more out of me.

5) Drum on Trump’s mafia approach to government:

On a more serious note: Are you fucking kidding me? The Trump Organization is going to poach business away by “encouraging” foreign governments to see the benefits of holding their events at a Trump property? And Newt Gingrich thinks we should just go ahead and change the law to allow this kind of thing? And if nobody salutes when that gets run up the old flagpole, then Trump should just go ahead and issue pardons to anyone who gets harassed by overzealous prosecutors.

What country do I live in, anyway?

6) Tim Wu on how the airlines collude on their absurd ticket change fees.

7) NC Capitol reporter extraordinaire, Mark Binker, with a long-piece on “who killed the HB2 repeal.”

8) And Rob Schofield with “three simple truths”

#3 – Conservatives never really wanted repeal. This is the ultimate truth about HB2, of course. As soon as rumors of a repeal (even Berger and Moore’s lame proposal of a quasi-repeal that would have taken effect in 6 or 8 months) emerged, the religious right turned apoplectic and used all of its powers within GOP circles to save their treasured monument to discrimination. That’s why Berger couldn’t even pass his disingenuous “cooling off period” proposal: conservatives in his own ranks wouldn’t support it. And when Democrats rightfully balked at what they saw as a clear double-cross, the whole thing fell apart.

The bottom line: HB2 was, is and always will be a terrible stain on North Carolina’s national and international reputation. It has damaged thousands of lives and cost billions of dollars. Tragically, however, the conservative powers that be in this state do not see it this way. And as long as these people retain complete control over the levers of political power and adhere to their backward and bigoted views, things are unlikely to improve.

9) If you have access to the Chronicle of Higher Ed (they put most of their stuff behind a paywall, but I read this off a link from their FB page), this story on how little the pursuit of college athletic scholarships pay off for most athletes is really, really good.

10) Betsy DeVos and the failure of school choice in Detroit.

11) I’ve always been annoyed by my fellow political scientist/political pundit, Steffen Schmidt, for referring to himself as Dr. Politics.  Anyway, it turns out that he’s been telling reporters about his “focus group.”  The reality?  That focus group is just the people he talks to.

12) Yglesias with the emails again.  And he’s right again:

More broadly, the further the email issue receded into the past the less credible it seemed that a major historical turning point could really have hinged on something so trivial.

And certainly one can imagine a variety of scenarios in which Clinton might have won the election despite her email woes. More successful economic policymaking from the Obama administration could have done the trick. So could a better campaign message or better targeting of resources. It was, after all, a very close election.

The crucial point, however, is that in broad ideological terms, the 2016 election happened at a time when the incumbent president was popular and the insurgent demagogue promising dramatic change was not popular. The unpopular insurgent managed to win, despite accumulating fewer voters than the popular incumbent’s designated successor, largely because she had become personally unpopular thanks to a massive onslaught of criticism largely focused on her email server.

Even at the time, some of us found it hardly credible that a decision as weighty as who should be president was being decided on the basis of something as trivial as which email address the secretary of state used. Future generations must find it even harder to believe. But the facts are what they are — email server management, rather than any deeper or more profound root cause, was the dominant issue in Donald Trump’s successful rise to power.

13) What parents of early-teen boys need to know.  Short version, gender-wise, there’s a language gap, empathy gap, and attention gap.

14) Republican legislators in Wisconsin trying to micromanage the classes at UW.  How dare they teach a course called “The Problem of Whiteness.”

15) This is cool– how numeracy can combat motivated political reasoning:

Numeric political appeals represent a prevalent but overlooked domain of public opinion research. When can quantitative information change political attitudes, and is this change trumped by partisan effects? We analyze how numeracy—or individual differences in citizens’ ability to process and apply numeric policy information—moderates the effectiveness of numeric political appeals on a moderately salient policy issue. Results show that those low in numeracy exhibit a strong party-cue effect, treating numeric information in a superficial and heuristic fashion. Conversely, those high in numeracy are persuaded by numeric information, even when it is sponsored by the opposing party, overcoming the party-cue effect. Our results make clear that overlooking numeric ability when analyzing quantitative political appeals can mask significant persuasion effects, and we build on recent work advancing the understanding of individual differences in public opinion.

16) NC makes the NYT editorial page again for all the wrong reasons.

17) Really love the Christian Science Monitor’s Patrick Jonsson.  We have super-interesting conversations when he interviews me; he’s thorough; and he uses some of my more interesting quotes.

To Professor Greene, it is about more than partisan politics.

“People call this blatant partisanship, but that’s an insult to partisanship,” he says. “This is blatant undermining of democratic norms.”

18) Among the vacation reading, loved Megan Abbot’s You Will Know Me.

19) Charles Pierce on drug companies pumping opiates into West Virginia:

I guarantee you that, somewhere in the inter-office correspondence files of the various drug companies, there is a memo identifying these places as target-rich environments for legalized dope peddling. I guarantee you that, somewhere, somebody got a big old Christmas bonus for dropping nine million doses of oxy into a town with 392 inhabitants. The average American corporation doesn’t have the moral conscience with which god endowed the sea slug.

20) Lee Drutman on how Trump could be a popular president and how to stop that from happening.

21) New York’s Jesse Singal lays out the clear case for Trump’s impeachability.

22) Interesting thoughts on the photos of the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey.

23) Really good piece from Yochi Dreazen on Putin, Russia, Trump and the emails.

24) Used to love reading Nietzche back when I was in college.  Interesting in interview in Vox on how Nietzche can inform us today:

Sean Illing

And these grand “isms” that dominated the 20th century — communism and fascism in particular — are very much the kind of political religions Nietzsche anticipated, right?

Hugo Drochon

That’s right. These are attempted answers at this question of what mankind ought to become, but they’re still stuck in the shadow of God for Nietzsche, and that’s because they’re still founded in these unchallengeable dogmas — about history, about human nature, about the future.

These are all mistaken insofar as they claim their vision of morality or politics is the only one possible, the only true one. What the death of God made clear, or should have made clear, is that there are no absolutes.

What he wanted to say is that there can be many different ways of existing, and societies should be organized in such a way that they allow for the possibility of many types of existences and not insist that there must be one answer, one truth, one morality.

25) One of my longest ever open tabs– Aaron Carroll on how to measure a medical treatment’s potential for harm (number needed to harm) versus potential benefit (number needed to treat):

In other words, for about every 1,500 women assigned to get screening for 10 years, one might be spared a death from breast cancer (though she’d most likely die of some other cause). But about five more women would undergo surgery and about four more would undergo radiation, both of which can have dangerous, even life-threatening, side effects.

Thus, N.N.H., paired with N.N.T., can be very useful in discussing the relative potential benefits and harms of treatments. As another example, let’s consider antibiotics for ear infections in children. There are many reasons that parents and pediatricians might consider treatment. One commonly cited reason is that we want to prevent serious complication from untreated infections. Unfortunately, antibiotics don’t do that, and the N.N.T. is effectively infinite. Antibiotics also won’t reduce pain within 24 hours. Antibiotics have, however, been shown to reduce pain within two to seven days. Not all children will see that benefit, though. The N.N.T. is about 20 for that outcome.

Antibiotics can cause side effects, however, including vomiting, diarrhea or a bad rash. The N.N.H. for side effects in this population is 14.

This means that when a child is prescribed antibiotics for an ear infection, it’s more likely that he will develop vomiting, diarrhea or a rash than get a benefit. When patients are presented with treatment options in this manner, they are sometimes more likely to agree to watchful waiting to see if the ear infection resolves on its own. For most children with ear infections, observation with close follow-up is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

 

Quick hits (part II)

1) A Philosophy professor takes on the Professor Watchlist.  I checked– I’m not on there.  Yet.

2) Yglesias‘ take on the different groups of Trump voters and who Democrats should be trying to win over:

There’s no particular need to find a magic formula to lift the scales from the eyes of Trump’s biggest supporters or to shatter his stranglehold and Republican Party loyalists. Democrats don’t necessarily need to convince a single Trump fan to stop liking him. What they need to do is find a way to convince the people who don’t like Trump to support their nominee instead.

3)Fabulous essay by Yascha Mounk on the meaning of American and why he still wants to become an American citizen.

4) If we really want to end mass incarceration, we’re going to have to let out a lot of people convicted of “violent” crimes.  On the bright side, there’s a lot of people who’s prison sentences are way too long for violent crimes.  That’s low-hanging fruit.  On the downside, there’s a lot of people’s who’s sentences are way too long.  Good stuff in the NYT.

5) Chait on how Trump has proven liberals right about the Tea Party.

6) ESPN is losing subscribers like mad.  Just a theory off the top off my head, but maybe by paying increasingly ridiculous sums or sports coverage, they are basically killing the goose that laid the golden egg:

The rights to broadcast live sports cost cable companies a collective $16 billion last year, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers — up 50 percent from 2011. That figure is expected to grow another 30 percent by 2020.

7) The economic logic of ignoring fare evaders.  (Monitoring has costs!)

8) Of course Russia wanted trump to win and attempted to manipulate our election.  The CIA makes it official.

9) Recent graph that went viral showing that Millennials basically don’t care about democracy was actually a terrific example of how to lie with statistics.

10) Loved this Lee Drutman piece on the six factions within American democracy.  Here’s the cool summary chart:

 

11) Donald Trump needs to stop attacking private citizens on twitter.  Seriously.  He is going to get somebody killed or seriously injured.

12) One opponent of the Russian regime says that hacked his computer to make it look like he was into child pornography.  Entirely possible.  Entirely true that Russia/Soviet Union has a history off this type of approach to its enemies.

13) Andrew Gelman with 19 lessons or political scientists from the election:

10. The ground game was overrated. The Democrats were supposed to be able to win a close election using their ability to target individual voters and get them out to the polls. But it didn’t happen this way. The consensus after 2016, which should’ve been the consensus earlier: Some ground game is necessary, but it’s hard to get people to turn out and vote if they weren’t already planning to….

14. Red state–blue state is over. Republicans have done better among rich voters than among poor voters in every election since the dawn of polling, with the only exceptions being 1952, 1956, and 1960, which featured moderate Republican Dwight Eisenhower and then-moderate Democrat John Kennedy. Typically the upper third of income votes 10 to 20 percentage points more Republican than the lower third. This was such a big deal that my colleagues and I wrote a book about it. But 2016 was different. Take a look at the exit polls: Clinton won 53 percent of the under-$30,000 vote and 47 percent of those making over $100,000, a difference of only 6 percentage points, much less than the usual income gap. And we found similar minimal income-voting gradients when looking at other surveys. Will the partisan income divide return in future years? Will it disappear? It depends on where the two parties go. Next move is yours, Paul Ryan.

 

14) Of course “lock her up” was just for show.  Trump is such a con-man.

15) Incoming NC governor Roy Cooper’s adviser, Ken Eudy, does not stand up at sporting events to honor soldiers because he thinks it’s wrong to honor them to the exclusion of other important public servants.  He’s therefore under attack from the right.  Love his response, “If this is the worst thing that they can find about me, I feel pretty good,”

16) And, while we’re at it, the right’s version of political correctness, “patriotic correctness.

17) Brian Schaffner’s summary of the 2016 election in charts is great.  (Racism and sexism >economic anxiety and other good stuff).

18) Chait argues that Trump has finally killed the “pro-science” wing of the Republican Party.  I would argue that they’ve already been dead.  Either way… sad.

19) John Cassidy on Trump’s cabinet:

Some of Trump’s supporters may have believed they were electing a pragmatic businessman who wouldn’t be restricted by obligations to either party or other powerful interest groups. But he is putting together a cabinet that looks almost exactly like the modern Republican Party: older, white, anti-government, and extremely conservative on virtually every issue. It could have been constructed by the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, or one of the other corporate-funded institutes that have helped drag the G.O.P. so far to the right on issues ranging from taxation to environmental regulation to charter schools…

My own theory is that Trump is being pragmatic, but not in a policy sense. He’s pragmatically promoting his own interests, which, at this stage, are best served by throwing some large bones to the Republican Party. During the campaign, Trump needed the Party’s support to raise money, identify voters, and get them to the polls. In part, what he is doing now can be seen as payback—but I suspect it is more than that.

The one immediate political danger facing Trump is the possibility of a Republican revolt over his refusal to sell off his businesses and resolve the blatant conflicts of interest he’ll have in the Oval Office. (He has indicated all along that the most he would do is hand over day-to-day control of his companies to members of his family.) With the G.O.P. holding just a two-seat majority in the Senate, it would only take a handful of dissident Republicans to make life very tricky for him. The prospect of ongoing dissent from members of his own party, and maybe even public hearings about his business dealings, would cast a huge shadow over his Inauguration.

What’s the best way to keep today’s Republican Party in line? By setting before it the prospect of repealing Obamacare, defunding Planned Parenthood, gutting environmental regulations, upending the Paris climate-change agreement, greatly expanding school vouchers and charter schools, crippling the labor movement, further undermining the Voting Rights Act, and, possibly, even privatizing Medicare and Social Security. The deal doesn’t need to be explicit to be clear. The G.O.P. gets its legislative “revolution.” Trump gets to keep his businesses and further enrich himself.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Andrew Prokop on why the failure of populist Democratic Senate candidates should makes us skeptical of Democratic populism.

2) Nice interview with Brendan Nyhan on Trump and the erosion of Democratic norms.

3) I was initially concerned when a person I don’t know all that well posted, “5 reasons not to vaccinate your kids.”  But then I read it and all was well.

4) Interesting Forbes feature on how Jared Kushner helped Trump win.

By June the GOP nomination secured, Kushner took over all data-driven efforts. Within three weeks, in a nondescript building outside San Antonio, he had built what would become a 100-person data hub designed to unify fundraising, messaging and targeting. Run by Brad Parscale, who had previously built small websites for the Trump Organization, this secret back office would drive every strategic decision during the final months of the campaign. “Our best people were mostly the ones who volunteered for me pro bono,” Kushner says. “People from the business world, people from nontraditional backgrounds.”

Kushner structured the operation with a focus on maximizing the return for every dollar spent. “We played Moneyball, asking ourselves which states will get the best ROI for the electoral vote,” Kushner says. “I asked, How can we get Trump’s message to that consumer for the least amount of cost?” FEC filings through mid-October indicate the Trump campaign spent roughly half as much as the Clinton campaign did.

5) Dana Goldstein on Trump’s threat to public education.

6) Democracies— including our own– maybe not as stable as we thought.

7) The man running  for school board on a platform of ending high school  football:

Davis doesn’t think that football should be outlawed, any more than boxing or mixed martial arts are illegal. If a parent wants to send their child to a private gym, or enroll that child in a private football program, well, it’s a free country. Only don’t ask schools to sponsor a concussion delivery system, and don’t ask taxpayers to pick up the tab. Beyond abolishing high school football, Davis’s platform calls for banning heading in soccer, instituting concussion protocol training for coaches in every sport, and forbidding Clark County teams from playing against outside schools that don’t follow the same standards. “Schools have a mission of educating kids and protecting their welfare,” he says.

8) Trevor Noah on Trump’s lies.

9) James Fallows on Trump’s lies:

  • Unlike other public figures we’ve encountered, Donald Trump appears not even to register the difference between truth and lies. He lies when it’s not “necessary” or even useful. He lies when disproof is immediately at hand. He shows no flicker in the eye, or “tell” of any kind, when he is caught in a flat-out lie. Richard Nixon looked tense and sweaty when saying “I am not a crook.” Bill Clinton went into his tortured “it depends what the meaning of is is” answer precisely because he was trying to avoid a direct lie.
    Trump doesn’t care. Watching his face for discomfort or “tells” is like looking at an alligator for signs of remorse.
  • Thus the media have to start out with the assumption that anything Trump says is at least as likely to be false as true. He has forfeited any right to an “accurate until proven to be inaccurate” presumption of honesty. Thus a headline or framing that says “Trump claims, without evidence, [his latest fantasy]” does more violence to the truth than “Trump falsely claims…”

10) Raise your hand if you are the least bit surprised that Texas wants to use an unrealistic definition of “intellectually disabled” so that they can execute more people.

11) Big federal court decision requires NC Republicans to re-draw state legislative districts and hold a new election next year.  Typically classy response (to a unanimous decision):

“What the Fourth Circuit court put forward (Tuesday) would be the single largest disenfranchisement of the voters in North Carolina history,” asserted the Executive Director of the NC GOP, Dallas Woodhouse. “We would go from somewhere around 5 million people voting on legislative elections to probably 300,000. And we’re going to overthrow one full year of a General Assembly. And we’re going to throw out the legally cast votes of 4.5 million people in North Carolina. What the Fourth Circuit court has suggested is nothing but a banana republic kangaroo court that would disenfranchise 4.5 million people from districts that were precleared by the U.S. Justice Department and have had now three elections in them.”

“All of a sudden you have one circuit court,” Rucho joined in, “the most liberal, that has decided that they don’t believe in following legal precedent; that they don’t believe in following the constitution; and they use their own, let’s just say, their own fabricated law and interpretation of the constitution. This will be handled by the United States Supreme Court,” Rucho promised. “I think we have a rogue court there right now, and it needs to be addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

12) Adam Gopnik’s take on Democrats and identity politics.  A rare time I do not agree entirely with Gopnik (I just don’t think you can ignore the economic angle).

13) Ivanka Trump has written a few books.  Apparently, she is as self-delusional as her father:

Ivanka Trump’s 2009 self-help book, “The Trump Card,” opens with an unlikely sentence: “In business, as in life, nothing is ever handed to you.” Ivanka quickly adds caveats. “Yes, I’ve had the great good fortune to be born into a life of wealth and privilege, with a name to match,” she writes. “Yes, I’ve had every opportunity, every advantage. And yes, I’ve chosen to build my career on a foundation built by my father and grandfather.” Still, she insists, she and her brothers didn’t attain their positions in their father’s company “by any kind of birthright or foregone conclusion.”

The cognitive dissonance on display here might prompt a reader who wishes to preserve her sanity to close the book immediately…

This messy argument comes with correspondingly messy metaphors. “We’ve all got our own baggage,” Ivanka writes, before explaining what she means by baggage: “Whatever we do, whatever our backgrounds, we’ve all had some kind of advantage on the way.” Ivanka compares herself to a runner positioned on the outside track, whose head start at the beginning is just an illusion. “In truth, the only advantage is psychological; each runner ends up covering the same ground by the end of the race.” Soon, though—by page nine—she has grown tired of pretending to be her reader’s equal. “Did I have an edge, getting started in business?” she asks. “No question. But get over it. And read on.”

14) Steve Saideman on Trump’s over-reliance on generals.

15) Speaking of generals, I don’t know all that much about James Mattis, but the stuff I hear is good.  Makes me wonder why he wants to work for Trump.  Here’s Mattis‘ take on being “too busy to read” (of course, Trump never reads anything):

The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.

Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.

16) Perhaps the House “Science” Committee (which re-tweets climate change denying articles) needs to re-name itself under present Republican leadership.  Just depressing.

17) Art Pope-funded NC conservative Civitas Institute is suing to throw-out votes based on Same-day registration.  Still would not let McCrory win, but mostly, just so wrong:

Civitas wants the more than 90,000 SDR ballots removed from the statewide count in the governor’s race until all counties have verified the voters’ addresses. The group estimates that 3,000 of these ballots will be thrown out. But even if that estimate is correct and all of those ballots were cast for Cooper, McCrory would still trail by roughly 7,000 votes…

Hall said the McCrory team, Civitas and Woodhouse have “an elitist perspective on elections” that hearkens back to the pre-Civil War era.

“If they can no longer require property ownership as a prerequisite, then they’d like to require documentation that favors voters with long-term residency, plus identification attached to property, such as a Department of Motor Vehicles license,” he told Facing South.

18) John Cassidy on the victims of an Obamacare repeal:

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Price’s plan, or anything close to it, will end up being enacted. Indeed, despite his selection for a Cabinet position, there is still a great deal of uncertainty about what sort of health-care legislation Trump and the Republican Congress will actually pass. Repealing Obamacare might appear straightforward as a general principle, but the details are immensely complicated. At this stage, about the only thing we can say for certain, or near certain, is that the big losers in whatever legislation might emerge will be the poor and the sick. [emphasis mine]

 

Quick hits (part II)

1) How Republicans undermine trust in the media and universities:

But a closer look reveals that each party’s relationship to information — and the institutions that produce it — is quite distinct. Republicans aim rhetorical fire at “mainstream” news media and “elitist” experts, whom they view as biased actors surreptitiously working to advance the cause of liberalism. Democrats defend these traditional intellectual authorities, accusing Republicans of abandoning scientific consensus and cocooning themselves in a conservative media universe with little respect for objective inquiry.

A common history lies behind those sentiments: only the Republican Party has actively opposed society’s central information-gathering and -disseminating institutions — universities and the news media — while Democrats have remained reliant on those institutions to justify policy choices and engage in political debate, considering them both independent arbiters and allies. Although each party’s elites, activists and voters now depend on different sources of knowledge and selectively interpret the messages they receive, the source of this information polarization is the American conservative movement’s decades-long battle against institutions that it has deemed irredeemably liberal.

Universities are thus caught in the partisan crossfire but unable to plead nonpartisanship without evoking conservative suspicions. Like journalists, faculty members are no longer regarded as impartial conveyors of information by Republicans; academics seek to conform to norms of objectivity but face a skeptical audience on one side of the partisan aisle. As institutions that strive to inform policy debates even as they remain dependent on support from political leaders, universities confront the difficult task of fulfilling their traditional research role and engaging in more active problem-solving missions while they find themselves increasingly treated as combatants in an ideological battle.

2) Obviously, I’m no libertarian when it comes to welfare, but I enjoyed this take from Mike Munger on the welfare state as a bad polygamist.  (On a related note, I often find Libertarians really make me think about things; Republicans, not so much).

3) Seth Masket says the ballot is too damn long.  Damn straight.  When esteemed political science professor/bloggers have no idea who to vote for in way-down-the-ballot races, you really have to question whether these positions should be on the ballot.

4) Jon Rauch on why Hillary Clinton (or any good politician) needs to be two-faced:

Is it hypocritical to take one line in private, then adjust or deny it in public? Of course. But maintaining separate public and private faces is something we all do every day. We tell annoying relatives we enjoyed their visits, thank inept waiters for rotten service, and agree with bosses who we know are wrong.

The Japanese, whose political culture is less idealistic than our own, have a vocabulary for socially constructive lying. “Honne” (from “true sound”) is what we really believe. “Tatemae” (from “facade”) is what we aver in public. Using honne when tatemae is called for is considered not bravely honest but rude and antisocial, and rightly so. Unnecessary and excessive directness hurts feelings, foments conflict and complicates coexistence…

Often, the only way to get something done is to have separate private and public truths. Behind closed doors, nothing is settled until everything is settled. Until the deal is done, everyone can pretend not to have decided anything. But the moment the conversation becomes public, plausible deniability ceases. Everyone knows I’ve made an offer. Angry interest groups, adversaries in the other party, and even purists in my own party start cutting attack ads and lining up challengers to prevent a deal and defeat me.

5) I think Rubio is a very skilled politician.  As a human being, however, my opinion of him is much lower.  Fred Hiatt:

But as evident as Obama’s mistakes have become with time, it is even more obvious that the 2016 candidate most committed to the values these Republicans claim to cherish is Hillary Clinton. She believes in U.S. leadership and engagement on behalf of democratic allies.

Trump, by contrast, trashes the United States’ allies, speaks casually about the use and spread of nuclear weapons and admires the world’s most odious dictators, including Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

What explanation can there be for Rubio’s support of such a man, beyond placing party over country and self-preservation over self-respect? …

But not so long ago, Rubio understood that even that awesome power is secondary. “I think the most important thing a president will ever do is provide for the national security of our country,” he said a year ago.

“Donald Trump has zero foreign policy experience,” he added as the campaign went on. Trump was a “con artist.” He was “an erratic individual” not to be trusted with the nation’s nuclear codes. He was “a serious threat to the future of our party, and our country.” Trump “praised dictators Saddam Hussein and Moammar Qaddafi, and . . . said China was too soft on dissidents,” Rubio noted. He was “not ready for the test.” His rhetoric “reminds me of third-world strongmen.”

These are not the usual insults traded in the heat of a primary campaign. They represent Rubio’s considered, and accurate, judgment that Trump is unfit to be commander in chief.

6) Great summary of the research on how the lack of women in office reflects women’s lesser inclination to run, based in large part upon their lower political self-confidence and ambition.

7a) Catherine Rampell’s headline nails it, “Want to save the Republican Party? Drain the right-wing media swamp.”

If Republicans truly want to save the Republican Party, they need to go to war with right-wing media. That is, they need to dismantle the media machine persuading their base to believe completely bonkers, bigoted garbage.

It is, after all, the right-wing radio, TV and Internet fever swamps that have gotten them into this mess, that have led to massive misinformation, disinformation and cynicism among Republican voters. And draining those fever swamps is the only way to get them out of it.

For a sense of just how misinformed Republican voters have become, consider a few of the provably wrong things many believe.

Seven in 10 Republicans either doubt or completely disbelieve that President Obama was born in the United States. Six in 10 think he’s a secret Muslim. Half believe global warming is possibly or definitely a myth concocted by scientists.

Among just Trump voters, 7 in 10 believe government economic data are fabricated. Half don’t trust that votes will be counted accurately in the November election.

7b) And a somewhat longer take in Busines Insider arguing essentially the same thing.

8) Do parents violate their children’s privacy when they post their photos on-line?  Ehh, either way, mine will simply have to live with it.  Actually, Evan sometimes asks me not to post specific photos on-line, and I always listen.

9) Nice Op-Ed from Erika Christakis on her Halloween email from last year that set of a firestorm at Yale (I’m so with her).

10) A NYT analysis suggests that GMO foods aren’t living up to their promise.  I’m okay with that as there’s still plenty of reason to believe the promise is there and no reason to believe they threaten human health.

11) Catherine Rampell argues that the Democrats need a stable, sane opposition Republican party to help keep themselves sane and not prone to lazy thinking.  She’s right.  The only problem with her analysis is the implication that it’s only recently that Republican policy-thinking has become nihilist and intellectually bankrupt.

12) Dan Wetzel on Louisville basketball’s escort scandal and the depths to which college sports have sunk.

13) Really enjoyed this NYT Magazine story on the professor who lost her job at a Christian college for wearing a hijab.

14) How Trump hacked the politics of foreign policy.

15) We really can and should do more to ensure that our teacher training programs are doing a good job.

16) Seriously, Donald Trump is just about the worst human being ever (or, at least with a major party nomination for president) and we’ve got a press obsessed with emails that almost surely don’t matter.  David Farenthold on Trump’s “charity” through the years.  The opening anecdote is something:

In the fall of 1996, a charity called the Association to Benefit Children held a ribbon-cutting in Manhattan for a new nursery school serving children with AIDS. The bold-faced names took seats up front.

There was then-Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) and former mayor David Dinkins (D). TV stars Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford, who were major donors. And there was a seat saved for Steven Fisher, a developer who had given generously to build the nursery.

Then, all of a sudden, there was Donald Trump.

“Nobody knew he was coming,” said Abigail Disney, another donor sitting on the dais. “There’s this kind of ruckus at the door, and I don’t know what was going on, and in comes Donald Trump. [He] just gets up on the podium and sits down.”

Trump was not a major donor. He was not a donor, period. He’d never given a dollar to the nursery or the Association to Benefit Children, according to Gretchen Buchenholz, the charity’s executive director then and now.

But now he was sitting in Fisher’s seat, next to Giuliani.

“Frank Gifford turned to me and said, ‘Why is he here?’ ” Buchenholz recalled recently. By then, the ceremony had begun. There was nothing to do.

“Just sing past it,” she recalled Gifford telling her.

So they warbled into the first song on the program, “This Little Light of Mine,” alongside Trump and a chorus of children — with a photographer snapping photos, and Trump looking for all the world like an honored donor to the cause.

Afterward, Disney and Buchenholz recalled, Trump left without offering an explanation. Or a donation. Fisher was stuck in the audience. The charity spent months trying to repair its relationship with him.

“I mean, what’s wrong with you, man?” Disney recalled thinking of Trump, when it was over.

For as long as he has been rich and famous, Donald Trump has also wanted people to believe he is generous. He spent years constructing an image as a philanthropist by appearing at charity events and by making very public — even nationally televised — promises to give his own money away.

It was, in large part, a facade. A months-long investigation by The Washington Post has not been able to verify many of Trump’s boasts about his philanthropy.

Instead, throughout his life in the spotlight, whether as a businessman, television star or presidential candidate, The Post found that Trump had sought credit for charity he had not given — or had claimed other people’s giving as his own.

 

 

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