Quick hits (part II)

1) This Dana Priest piece on Russian election meddling as a failure of US intelligence is really good.

2) Seth Masket on how liberals and conservatives respond differently to sexual harassment claims.

3) Nice NYT editorial on Trump’s embrace of authoritarian leaders:

Authoritarian leaders exercise a strange and powerful attraction for President Trump. As his trip to Asia reminds us, a man who loves to bully people turns to mush — fawning smiles, effusive rhetoric — in the company of strongmen like Xi Jinping of China, Vladimir Putin of Russia and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines.

Perhaps he sees in them a reflection of the person he would like to be. Whatever the reason, there’s been nothing quite like Mr. Trump’s love affair with one-man rule since Spiro Agnew returned from a world tour in 1971singing the praises of thuggish dictators like Lee Kuan Yew, Haile Selassie, Jomo Kenyatta, Mobutu Sese Seko and Gen. Francisco Franco.

Mr. Trump’s obsessive investment in personal relations may work for a real estate dealmaker. But the degree to which he has chosen to curry favor with some of the world’s most unsavory leaders, while lavishing far less attention on America’s democratic allies, hurts America’s credibility and, in the long run, may have dangerous repercussions.

4) Kate Harding with a very pragmatic case behind, “I’m a feminist. I study rape culture. And I don’t want Al Franken to resign.”

5) How conference divisions (among other things) are ruining college football.

6) Catherine Rampell nails it, “If the tax bill is so great, why does the GOP keep lying about it?”

7) How to stop bullying?  Kids need to put their reputations on the line and be willing to embrace their low-status peers.

As a result, a child at the bottom of the social ladder becomes “untouchable.” Even if that child has a delightful personality and loads of friends elsewhere, in a social system in which she lacks social capital, she is not likely to acquire friends. Befriending an untouchable doesn’t earn the higher status child any social capital, and the idea is so overwhelmingly unattractive that it is generally not even considered. Science writer Amy Alkon coined the term “social greed” to describe the unwillingness to risk social capital without an anticipated return on investment.

Children with status erroneously believe that the reason untouchables have no social status is because they are repulsive, but in truth, it is precisely the reverse. The lack of social status is what makes an untouchable appear repulsive. This is why the single most effective peer intervention for eliminating bullying is for children to befriend those who are targets. But out of fear that associating with an untouchable could result in their own fall down the social ladder, children manufacture reasons to dislike low-status children, and justify their refusal to spend social capital to help them.

8) Somehow I missed this when it came out in September, but Siddhartha Mukherjee’s New Yorker article on re-thinking cancer is so good.  Short version: cancer is the seed are bodies are the soil.  The soil matters a ton, but we’ve been concentrating almost exclusively on the seeds.

9) Hans Noel’s take on the important role for party leaders in primaries, ” Party leaders should lead, not get out of the way.”

10) Lifting the ban on elephant trophies would actually probably help elephants.  I hate that there are horrible people out there that want to hunt elephants, but this can indirectly lead to protecting them.

11) Here’s an awesome idea– tax companies for using our personal data.

12) Totally agree with Frank Bruni, “Their Pledges Die. So Should Fraternities.”

“Imagine a world,” she said, “in which everything was the same about higher education except there have never been Greek organizations. An 18-year-old waltzes into a dean’s office and says, ‘I want to start an exclusive club on campus that doesn’t allow women and serves mostly white and privileged students and we’re going to throw parties all the time that are illegal, and at these parties, all the bad stuff that happens on campus is going to happen disproportionately. What do you think?’ ”

Wade’s hypothetical 18-year-old leaves out the part where undertakers cart the casualties away. Even so I think the dean turns his proposal down.

13) Conor Friedersdorf on how occupational licensing is way out of control.

Too often, occupational-licensing laws are less about protecting workers or consumers as a class than they are about protecting the interests of incumbents. Want to compete with me? Good luck, now that I’ve lobbied for a law that requires you to shell out cash and work toward a certificate before you can begin.

14) I had no idea there was a fun little game to play with Chrome when your internet connection is out.

15) Ryan Lizza on the “boil the frog” strategy to save Trump:

Boiling the frog works in politics, too. On Monday, Julia Ioffe reported, in The Atlantic, that WikiLeaks, which the American intelligence community sayscollaborated with the Russian government to distribute Democratic Party e-mails and try to help elect Donald Trump, regularly sent private messages from its verified Twitter account to Donald Trump, Jr., from September, 2016, until July, 2017. Last October, in the heat of the Presidential campaign, when top Trump campaign officials indignantly denied having any communication with WikiLeaks, such a disclosure would have been politically earth-shattering. But, after a year of incremental Trump-Russia revelations, the press and public’s capacity to be shocked by the details of the Russia scandal may be diminishing…

It helps to take a step back and remember how politically explosive it would have been, a year ago, to know that the Trump campaign was colluding with WikiLeaks.

Advertisements

Quick Hits (part II)

1) It’s been 60 years since the Russian dog, Laika, went into space.

2) Trendiest parenting fears of 2017.

3) This interview on “why we pretend to know things” is really, really good.

Sean Illing
I’m trying to think about all of this in terms of our political circumstances. Most of us don’t understand as much as we think, and yet we’re all cocksure about a range of issues. So when we are arguing about politics, what are we really arguing about? Is it about getting it right or is it about preserving our sense of rightness?

Steven Sloman
I’m not sure there’s a sharp distinction between wanting to get it right and wanting to preserve our sense of rightness. In the political domain, like most domains in which we don’t just hear or see what’s true, we rely on social consensus. So argument is about trying to convince others while we’re trying to convince ourselves. Getting it right essentially means we’re convinced.

Of course, we’re biased to preserve our sense of rightness, but we have to be. If we weren’t, we’d be starting again each time we approached an issue; our previous arguments would be for naught.

Nevertheless, people differ on this. Everyone has a compulsion to be right, meaning that they want the people around them to think they’re right, and this is easily achieved by mouthing the things that the people around you say. And people who are more capable tend to be better at finding ways to interpret new facts in line with their community’s preconceptions.

But some people do try to rise above the crowd: to verify claims independently, to give fair hearing to others’ claims, and to follow the data where it actually leads. In fact, many people are trained to do that: scientists, judges, forensic investigators, physicians, etc. That doesn’t mean they always do (and they don’t always), just that they’re supposed to try. [I’m going to assume he means social scientists in that, too]

I like to live in communities that put a premium on getting things right even when they fly in the face of social norms. This means living with constant tension, but it’s worth it.

4) Wonkette with my favorite take on the Donna Brazile “rigged” election silliness.  On the bright side, when liberals whine about the “rigged” election, that’s a great shortcut to know I need not take them intellectually seriously.

5) HB2 continues to haunt NC.

6) When mean videos make it past the YouTube filters for kids.

7) How Fox News covered the Manafort indictment.  Surprise– not well.

8) So, we know vaccines don’t cause autism, but we still don’t really know what does other than “it’s complicated.”  Oh, yeah, and Fragile X and Tuberous Sclerosis Complex.

9) Britain’s National Health Service trying to incentive losing weight and quitting smoking before access to routine surgery.

10) The college kids taking on the twitter bots.

11) An Iowa teenager scapegoated for the problems with the ACA marketplace and what really caused the problems.

12) Nice profile of John Kasich.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Meant to do a post on this last week.  Anyway there are myriad examples of Donald Trump’s sad, little mind.  But few are better than his interview with Lou Dobbs.  Yglesias breaks down just how pathetic it is.

2) Speaking of sad minds… there’s a pesticide that experts believe likely (admittedly, the science is only suggestive not confirmed) damages children’s brains.  But why take chances with children’s brains?  So corporations can make more money, damnit!  The power to damage brains through presidential control of the bureaucracy.

3) Really liked Sarah Kliff’s piece on Bernie and Candanian health care:

Earlier this year, New Yorker write Atul Gawande went to the Appalachian area of Ohio, where he grew up, to ask people this question.

One of the things he ran into again and again was an opposition to health care as a right for people who don’t seem to deserve it. One woman he interviewed, a librarian named Monna, told him, “If you’re disabled, if you’re mentally ill, fine, I get it. But I know so many folks on Medicaid that just don’t work. They’re lazy.”

Another man, Joe, put it this way: “I see people on the same road I live on who have never worked a lick in their life. They’re living on disability incomes, and they’re healthier than I am.”

As Gawande notes in his piece, “A right makes no distinction between the deserving and undeserving.” But he often found this to be the key dividing line when he asked people whether everyone should have health coverage. Often, it came down to whether that person was perceived to be the type who merited such help.

In his speech at the University of Toronto, Sanders argued that a universal health care system would only come as the result of political revolution…

On his Canada trip, Sanders seemed to recognize that core to a system like Canada’s is a belief, by the people, that all other people ought to have equitable access to health insurance. Sanders is bullish that this belief exists to a wide extent in the United States too.

“Frankly, in the United States, I think most people do believe it is a right and it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or if you’re poor,” Sanders says.

But polling and reporting suggest otherwise. They show that belief doesn’t seem to exist in the United States right now. The question is whether Sanders can change that, whether he can persuade Americans to see health care the way he does — and the way Canadians do too.

4) Nice compilation on DJT’s absurd Halloween tweet.

5) It’s kind of hard to stop obsessing about tax cuts when that’s all Republicans talk about.  But EJ Dionne has a damn good point:

It is a victory for Republicans that the political conversation — when it’s not being hijacked by President Trump’s assorted outbursts and outrages — is focused on tax cuts. No matter how critical the coverage gets, the sheer amount of attention risks sending a message that taxes are the most important issue confronting the country.

This is entirely wrong, and it’s essential to challenge the whole premise of the debate. The United States does not need tax cuts now. Reducing government revenue at this moment will do far more harm than good. Conservatives are proving definitively that they don’t care in the least about deficits. And their claims that tax cuts will unleash some sort of economic miracle have been proved false again and again and again.

But there is an even bigger objection: The opportunity costs of this obsession are enormous because it keeps us from grappling with the problems we really do need to solve.

6) Some of the truly preposterously bad people Trump is trying to place in our government.

7) New theory on why humans eventually replaced Neanderthals in Europe.

8) Anatomy or Russian facebook ads.  Yes, Russia acted with malice.  But it could not have worked without millions of Americans stupid enough (and largely primed by right-wing media) to believe this crap.

9) Enjoyed this NYT feature on NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo.  Never even heard of the guy till last week.  Not only is he putting up amazing numbers, he has an amazing story.

10) Megan McArdle on Republicans using the tax code as a weapon.

11) And what they are proposing on Higher Ed and taxes is just stupid and counter-productive.

12) NYT with a nice winners/losers summary on tax proposals.  Short version– corporations and rich people win big.  Surprise surprise.

13) When your body is severely taxed and it’s got to choose between the brain and the body, it chooses the brain.

14) So that pumpkin pie filling in cans.  Not really so much real pumpkin.  But the whole “pumpkin” thing is actually complicated.

15) While watching the Redskins struggle mightily with a lineup decimated by injuries, it got me thinking that over the small sample of 16 regular season NFL games, the luck of the draw surely plays a hugely disproportionate role.  It does.  This was the best article I could find on it.

16) Sticking with sports, the case of NC State basketball player, Braxton Beverly, shows how stupid, stupid, stupid, the NCAA can be.  Beverly transferred to NC State after starting a summer class at Ohio State, but then OSU fired their coach.  Beverly never even practiced basketball with OSU, but the NCAA thinks he needs to sit out a year for trying to get a head start on his college coursework.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: The NCAA has a waiver process for a reason, and it should always be used with common sense and decency. I’m not sure how anybody could disagree with that sentence. And yet there’s nothing decent or sensible about the way the NCAA handled the cases of Jalen Hayes and Evan Batteylast week. And now the NCAA has doubled-down on stupidity and punished Braxton Beverly for reasons that even Duke fans find appalling.

Which is perfect, isn’t it?

The NCAA’s handling of this case is so indefensible it has Duke fans taking up for an NC State player. Thus, the people who reached this conclusion should be embarrassed and ashamed. Braxton Beverly deserved better. And if the folks who handled his waiver are too dumb to realize that — and too tone-deaf to avoid yet another public relations hit — then perhaps they should be replaced by decent humans who actually put student-athletes first the way the NCAA has forever pretended to do but so rarely actually does.

17) Nice summary of what my Chinese Politics scholar friend was telling me:

Perhaps most ominously, Xi envisions his updated police state as a model for the rest of the world. Twenty-five years ago, the liberal democratic system of the West was supposed to represent the “end of history,” the definitive paradigm for human governance. Now, Xi imagines, it will be the regime he is in the process of creating. “It offers a new option for other countries and nations,” he said during a three-hour, 25-minute speech that was its own statement of grandiosity. “It offers Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach to solving the problems facing mankind.” …

It would nevertheless be dangerous not to take China’s strongman seriously. He is imagining a world where human freedom would be drastically curtailed and global order dominated by a clique of dictators. When a former chief political adviser to the U.S. president applauds that “adult” vision, it’s not hard to imagine how it might prevail.

18) Jelani Cobb on John Kelly and the Civil War.

19) Adam Serwer with a great take on the pernicious persistence of false beliefs about the reality of the Civil War.

That the nation’s rebirth, in which the promises of its founding creed first began to be met in earnest, is regarded as sorrowful is a testament to the strength of the alternative history of the Lost Cause, in which the North was the aggressor and the South was motivated by the pursuit of freedom and not slavery. The persistence of this myth is in part a desire to avoid the unfathomable reality that half the country dedicated itself to the monstrous cause of human bondage. The freedom that the South fought for was the freedom to own black people as property. The states’ rights for which the South battled were the right to own slaves and the right to expand slavery.

20) Will Saletan on John Kelly’s dishonesty.  Indeed.

In the days ahead, you’ll hear a lot about Kelly’s character. On the left, you’ll hear that he’s a racist. On the right, you’ll hear that he’s a patriot. Some of these arguments hinge on interpretation or speculation about his motives. But this dispute doesn’t. Either Kelly told the truth about Wilson, or he didn’t. The evidence says he didn’t. Instead of admitting error, he’s repeating his smears and trying to make his story impossible to check. If anyone else behaved this way, you’d call that person a liar and a coward. That, four stars or not, is what John Kelly is.

21) And while we’re at it… I was reviewing the assigned reading for Women in the Military next week and noticed that John Kelly features prominently in this as the chief opponent of women having combat roles.  (And here’s something you can probably actually access).

22) The Politico feature on John Boehner that everyone was talking about earlier this week.  Good stuff.

 

Quick hits (part II)

1) Using algorithms to help with sentencing decisions seems like a good way to minimize the impact of human bias.  Alas, it actually exacerbates racial bias.

2) Paul Waldman and Jon Chait both with the exact same (and completely apt) take on Trump, Republican, and Russia.  “No puppet.  No puppet.  You’re the puppet!”

3) My friend/colleague who studies China made a compelling case to me at lunch the other day that goings-on in China of late are really important.  Here’s the NYT story.

4) Yglesias makes the case that Corker and Flake need to actually use their leverage as Senators:

I don’t live inside the minds of Flake, Corker, and McCain, so I can’t know exactly how much of a high point of ideological principle they view this bank regulation thing to be. But in general, to take action against Trump, they need to do four things:

  1. Identify something they want to force Trump to do.
  2. Identify something Republicans want to pass that they think is less important than No. 1.
  3. Say that unless No. 1 happens, they will scuttle No. 2.
  4. Repeat as necessary.

Part of the genius of the American system of government is that issues don’t need to be closely related for senators to make them be closely related. Flake, Corker, and McCain all care a lot about foreign policy, for example. So one thing they might be concerned about is the extent to which the State Department’s senior leadership ranks are riddled with vacancies. They could have stood up and said they would scuttle the bill on bank lawsuits unless Trump submitted a full slate of well-qualified nominees for these positions.

Or since all three men have spoken out about the Trump administration’s troubling dishonesty, perhaps the thing they want is for Chief of Staff John Kelly to apologize to Rep. Frederica Wilson for lying about her in the White House briefing room…

The point isn’t that anti-Trump Republicans should adopt all of my policy views. It’s that they need to engage in some self-reflection about their own policy views. Pick some things that seem important to them but unlikely to happen, pick some things that seem likely to happen but less important, and threaten to scuttle the likely things unless they get their way on the important things. That’s what legislators do — they legislate.

5) Honestly, the workaday NYT headline says it all, “Tax Cuts Are the Glue Holding a Fractured Republican Party Together.”

6) An experiment that made participants feel less susceptible to fear made them temporarily more liberal.

7) I have to say, this Burger King anti-bullying ad really is very good.  For my part, I ran with Evan in his middle school’s “anti-bullying 5K” today.

8) Seth Masket, “Meet Fox News, Our Director of National Policy.”

I strongly recommend reading through Matthew Gertz’s Twitter thread in which he watched Fox & Friends while following Trump’s Twitter feed. Basically, approximately 30 minutes after a Fox story, Trump would tweet something related to it. Fox called congressional Democrats obstructionists at 6:08 a.m. on October 18th, and Trump tweeted that Democrats are opposed to his tax reductions 30 minutes later. Fox ran a story about James Comey at 6:29 a.m., and Trump tweeted a criticism of Comey 27 minutes later. This pattern continues. (The president TiVo-ing Fox & Friends helps account for the time lag.)…

Presidential scholars will tell you that the presidency is a constitutionally weak position, but that one of the major strengths it has is setting the agenda for the federal government. No one can compete with the media attention the president will receive, and what he decides will be an important issue often ends up becoming so; whoever sets the president’s agenda possesses a great deal of power. Often, that role has fallen to the major political parties, but Trump’s relationship with his party is a tenuous one. Sometimes it falls to the president’s most immediate set of advisers.

In Trump’s case, it appears to be Fox News. The news network devoted to covering the federal government is, in fact, setting that government’s agenda. Reporters and news outlets have occasional had some sway with the president, but it’s hard to think of a parallel to this relationship. Indeed, this helps to explain why the Republican agenda has been so fraught and disorganized.

9) Enjoyed Popular Science’s round-up of the 12 most important health innovations of the year.

10) Andrew Sullivan lets loose on the “Trump abyss.”  Wow.

Yes, the forms of the Constitution remain largely intact after nine months. But the norms that make the Constitution work are crumbling. The structure looks the same, but Trump has relentlessly attacked their foundations. Do not therefore keep your eyes on the surface. Put your ear to the ground.

And we know something after a year of this. It will go on. This is not a function of strategy or what we might ordinarily describe as will. It is because this president is so psychologically disordered he cannot behave in any other way. His emotions control his mind; his narcissism overwhelms even basic self-interest, let alone the interest of the country as a whole. He cannot unite the country, even if, somewhere in his fathomless vanity, he wants to. And he cannot stop this manic defense of ego because if he did, his very self would collapse. This is why he lies and why he cannot admit a single one of them. He is psychologically incapable of accepting that he could be wrong and someone else could be right. His impulse – which he cannot control – is simply to assault the person who points out the error, or blame someone else for it…

If I were asked which were the problems that are most overlooked right now, I’d say record levels of social and economic inequality, declining social mobility and a dangerous, unsustainable level of debt. Acquiescence to all three poses a threat to the legitimacy of democratic capitalism. My own understanding of conservatism would be particularly concerned about all three, because conservatives should want to conserve our system of government and support for free market economics.

So what does the ostensibly conservative party in America – the Republicans – propose we do? They propose that we make all of this de-legitimization of democratic capitalism much, much worse. I’m referring primarily to their proposed massive tax cut to the super-wealthy, the abolition of the estate tax, and their bid to add over a trillion dollars to the debt.

11) Damn.  I will take a libertarian anyday, or heck, a Mitt Romney Republican, over these damn totalitarians in liberal guise on college campuses.  I don’t know anything about the University of Oregon president.  I do know that nothing justifies students preventing him from giving his “state of the university” speech.

12) Is there something about the state of Oregon.  Reed College, which, like Oberlin, pretty much represents extreme liberalism amok on campus, apparently has pretty much lost its mind.  This essay from a Reed professor was just sad.  Worst part is that the college administration allowed this.  On the bright side, as much as everybody likes to say “kids today” Reed and Oregon are still outliers.  That said, actual liberals need to vociferously speak up against this authoritarian crap.

At Reed College in Oregon, where I work, a group of students began protestingthe required first-year humanities course a year ago. Three times a week, students sat in the lecture space holding signs — many too obscene to be printed here — condemning the course and its faculty as white supremacists, as anti-black, as not open to dialogue and criticism, on the grounds that we continue to teach, among many other things, Aristotle and Plato.

In the interest of supporting dissent and the free exchange of ideas, the faculty and administration allowed this. Those who felt able to do so lectured surrounded by those signs for the better part of a year.

13) Apparently stealing marathon bib numbers and designs prior to the race by social media and then using them to make counterfeits and run the race is a big thing.

14) The shameless disrespect for the judicial branch in NC is certainly one of the most frustrating– and woefully under-covered– aspects of the clowns currently running our state legislature.

15) The Supreme Court is not above playing fast and loose with facts.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Holy shoot, I had read that hundreds of women had accused Hollywood director, James Toback, of sexual harassment/assault.  But the details?  Damn!!

2) Is Trumpian race-baiting a winner for the GOP in Virginia?  Hopefully not.

3) Should your spouse be your best friend?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

It’s this feeling of security, Dr. Levine says, that leads us to describe our spouses as “friends.” But that language is not quite right, he says. First, couples still need what he calls “maintenance sex,” because it re-establishes physical closeness and renews attachment.

Second, the term “friendship” is “an underwhelming representation of what’s going on,” he said. “What people basically mean is, ‘I’m in a secure relationship. Being close to my partner is very rewarding. I trust them. They’re there for me in such a profound way that it allows me to have courage to create, to explore, to imagine.’”

Dr. Levine summarizes this feeling with the (somewhat awkward) acronym Carrp; your partner is consistent, available, responsive, reliable and predictable. But don’t we already have a word, “spouse,” that fits this description? I said. Why are we suddenly using the expression “best friend,” when that doesn’t seem to fit at all?

“Because not every spouse provides that,” he said, “and we’re indicating we don’t take it for granted. What we should probably be saying is ‘secure spouse.’”

There’s yet another problem with calling your husband or wife your best friend. The words mean totally different things.

Peter Pearson and Ellyn Bader are founders of the Couples Institute in Menlo Park, Calif., and the authors of “Tell Me No Lies.” They’ve also been married for more than 30 years. Dr. Pearson said there’s a critical difference between a best friend and a spouse. “One of the criteria for a best friend is you feel unconditionally accepted,” he said. “Do I care if my buddy Mark is messy in the kitchen, leaves his bathroom a shambles and doesn’t pay his income taxes?”

But with a spouse, he said, you can’t avoid these topics.

4) Interesting workplace research women’s lack of promotion stems from bias, not patterns of workplace actions and interactions.

5) When Republicans answer a poll that Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya do they really believe it or are they just giving a partisan answer?  Adam Berinksy’s latest research suggests the former:

Large numbers of Americans endorse political rumors on surveys. But do they truly believe what they say? In this paper, I assess the extent to which subscription to political rumors represents genuine beliefs as opposed to expressive responses—rumor endorsements designed to express opposition to politicians and policies rather than genuine belief in false information. I ran several experiments, each designed to reduce expressive responding on two topics: among Republicans on the question of whether Barack Obama is a Muslim and among Democrats on whether members of the federal government had advance knowledge about 9/11. The null results of all experiments lead to the same conclusion: the incidence of expressive responding is very small, though somewhat larger for Democrats than Republicans. These results suggest that survey responses serve as a window into the underlying beliefs and true preferences of the mass public.

6) I’d never even heard of the super-opiate, Carfentanil, but wow!

7) This Alexandra Petri satire is awesome, “I’d love to be able to look my grandkids in the eye, but if I do I’ll be primaried from the right.”

8) Of course American cannot afford to continue the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Drum:

This is a good time to remind everyone that Republicans just passed a budget that contained instructions for a net $1.5 trillion tax cut that will mostly benefit corporations and the rich. But $8 billion in net spending increases to provide medical care for kids? Sorry. Can’t be done. Gotta watch the deficit, you understand.

Or maybe they could fund CHIP and settle for a $1.492 trillion tax cut? That’s out of the question, of course.

At times like this I wish I were a religious man. At least then I’d feel some sense that eventually these meanspirited bastards would pay for their sins.

9) Paul Waldman’s headline on the Steele dossier is about right, “GOP spin about the new ‘Steele Dossier’ story is disingenuous nonsense.”

10) Nice point-counterpoint in Vox on the 1st amendment on campus.

11) Nikole Hannah-Jones on how housing segregation is the key to structural racism:

What’s important to understand is that segregation is not about test scores; it’s about denying full citizenship to a caste of children who have not, for one day in this country, been given full and equal access to the same educational resources as white children. So it’s not really about closing the test score gap. Segregation is about separating black children from white children, and therefore separating black children from the same resources as white children. I think we have to talk about it in these terms.

What people also don’t want to acknowledge is that schools are segregated because white people want them that way. It’s not simply a matter of zip codes or housing segregation or class; it’s because most white Americans do not wish to enroll their children in schools with large numbers of black kids. And it doesn’t matter if they live in the North or the South, or if they’re liberal or conservative.

We won’t fix this problem until we really wrestle with that fact…

Segregation in housing is the way you can accomplish segregation in every aspect of life. Housing segregation means that certain jobs are located in certain communities, that certain grocery stores are located in certain communities; it determines where parks are located, if streets are repaired, if toxic dump sites are built nearby. Segregation accomplishes so many other inequalities because you effectively contain a population to a geographic area and suddenly all the other civil rights law don’t matter.

We don’t have to discriminate if we’re living in totally segregated neighborhoods; all the work is already done. If you look at the history of civil rights legislation, it’s the Fair Housing laws that get passed last — and barely so. Dr. King had to get assassinated in order for it to get passed, and that was because it was considered the Northern civil rights bill. It was civil rights made personal; it was determining who would live next door to you and therefore who would be able to share the resources that you received. The same is true of school desegregation.

12) Really enjoyed this Dana Milbank column apologizing for being ignorant, but complicit, in the sexual harassment of Leon Wieseltier.

13) Of course the first FBI crime report from the Trump administration is missing a ton of important data.  Ugh.

14) This is absolutely true from Catherine Rampell, “Republicans are propping up scammers and cheaters.”

Republicans claim to believe no company is too big to fail. The almighty market must be allowed to work its magic, and firms with defective business models should face the consequences.

Yet over the course of this year, President Trump and Congress have worked to prop up lots of defective firms. By which I mean: Companies whose business models are contingent on scamming customers, shortchanging workers and suckling the government teat.

Just this week, the Senate limited consumers’ ability to fight back against financial firms that have cheated them. Which is of course an implicit subsidy to firms whose profits depend on cheating…

Congress, with Trump’s expected signature, nullified the rule this week, effectively shielding banks from facing consequences for large-scale bad behavior.

That rule just dealt with mandatory arbitration clauses in certain financial contracts. Congress and the administration have delayed or dismantled other regulations curbing forced arbitration in disputes involving  nursing homes for-profit schools and sexual harassment claims against government contractors…

In the long run, none of these actions are good for consumers, workers or the healthy functioning of markets. They merely reward firms that can’t hack it under 21st-century economic forces and 21st-century laws.

15) This is a damn, sad immigration story in Trump’s America.  A Yale student writes, “I Accidentally Turned My Dad In to Immigration Services.”

16) This Slate article on the debunking of Amy Cuddy and power posing does a nice exploration of the gender angle.

17) Latest evidence suggests that the DEA wrongfully killed a family in Honduras five years ago.  And then, of course, lied about it.  Hooray for the War on Drugs!

18) Yuval Harari on how to respond to the AI revolution.

Quick hits (part II)

1) As German Lopez points out, we already know what to do about opioid addiction– medication-assisted therapy.  The problem is, our backwards, anti-scientific views of the matter prevent the best practices from being widely used.

2) Or as this Scientific American piece puts it, “People Are Dying Because of Ignorance, not Because of Opioids.”

For about 20 years, the number of Americans who have tried heroin for the first time has been relatively stable. Heroin use specifically and opioid use in general are not going anywhere, whether we like it or not. This is not an endorsement of drug use but rather a realistic appraisal of the empirical evidence. Addressing the opioid crisis with ignorant comments from political figures and the inappropriate use of public funds do little to ensure users’ safety. Perhaps, for once, we should try interventions that are informed by science and proven to work.

3) Dan Drezner on the need for Rex Tillerson to resign ASAP.

4) Jennifer Rubin on the  “dunces” ruining (really, running) the GOP’s economic agenda.

5) Best thing I’ve read on Russian misinformation and the role of Facebook in 2016.

6) Nobody except Netflix knows how many people watch Netflix shows.  Nielsen has found a way to change that.

7) Personally, I think it is pretty cool that Google Maps added a feature letting you know how many calories you would burn by walking (rather than driving) a given route.  Alas, this is why we cannot have nice things:

“We’ve gotten into this habit of thinking about our bodies and the foods we take in and how much activity we do as this mathematical equation, and it’s really not,” she said. “The more we have technology that promotes that view, the more people who may develop eating disorders might be triggered into that pathway.”

On Monday night, Google pulled the feature, which it said was an experiment on its iOS app. The decision followed a wave of attention on social media; while some of the responsessaw Google’s feature as promoting exercise, there were several complaints that it was dangerous or insulting.

Some users were especially upset that the app used mini cupcakes to put the burned calories into perspective, framing food as a reward for exercise, or exercise as a prerequisite for food. (One mini cupcake, it said, was worth a little less than 125 calories, but no information was provided about how that calculation was made.)

At least have it as an option that can be turned off.  But, really, we have to worry about people being “triggered” by the number of calories involved in walking a few blocks?

8) Sarah Kliff on why American health care is so expensive.  The prices.  We pay more for literally everything.  Want to really understand it?

9) Kevin Drum on how Wisconsin is absurdly effective at voter suppression.  The fact that courts let Wisconsin get away with this is almost as damning as what Wisconsin Republicans have done.

10) Barbara Radnofsky argues that impeachment was designed for a president like Trump:

The very embodiment of what the Founding Fathers feared is now residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Again and again, they anticipated attributes and behaviors that President Trump exhibits on an all-too-regular basis. By describing “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” the grounds for impeachment, as any act that poses a significant threat to society — either through incompetence or other misdeeds — the framers made it clear that an official does not have to commit a crime to be subject to impeachment. Instead, they made impeachment a political process, understanding that the true threat to the republic was not criminality but unfitness, that a president who violated the country’s norms and values was as much a threat as one who broke its laws.

Gouverneur Morris, who wrote the Constitution’s preamble, and future president James Madison were worried about a leader who would “pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation” — theft of public funds — “or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers,” as Madison put it. Morris, who like many in the colonies believed King Charles had taken bribes from Louis XIV to support France’s war against the Dutch, declared that without impeachment we “expose ourselves to the danger of seeing the first Magistrate [the President] in foreign pay without being able to guard against it by displacing him.”

11) Man bused for Meth that was actually Krispy Kreme donut glaze.  Thank you War on Drugs!

12) Those who care the most about the issue of GM foods are, of course, most likely to have the false belief that GM foods are worse for human health:

 

13) Saletan on the atrociously-misnamed “values voters” who support Trump.

14) Sure, GW Bush said some important things about the direction of the Republican Party.  But, he’s supporting Ed Gillespie’s racist, Trumpist campaign for Virginia governor that Bush was supposedly speaking against.  Actions.  Words.

15) Ryan Lizza on John Kelly this week:

Sanders shot back with the kind of statement that would be normal in an authoritarian country, suggesting that Kelly’s previous military service placed him beyond criticism. “If you want to go after General Kelly, that’s up to you,” she said. “But I think that that—if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”

No, it is not. Kelly is the chief of staff and a political operative. He held a press conference and told a lie that smeared one of Trump’s political opponents. No government official’s military background, no matter how honorable, makes him immune to criticism, especially given the subject at hand. Sanders’s response was unnerving. But the bigger lesson of the episode is that no matter how good one’s intentions are, when you go to work for Trump, you will end up paying for it with your reputation. For Kelly, not even his four stars prevented that. [emphasis mine]

16) OMG this essay from Kevin Williamson in National Review on the “white minstrel show” of politics is amazing.  I surely don’t agree with everything, but so much good, thought-provoking stuff in here.  A must-read.  Here’s a good snippet:

White people acting white have embraced the ethic of the white underclass, which is distinct from the white working class, which has the distinguishing feature of regular gainful employment. The manners of the white underclass are Trump’s — vulgar, aggressive, boastful, selfish, promiscuous, consumerist. The white working class has a very different ethic. Its members are, in the main, churchgoing, financially prudent, and married, and their manners are formal to the point of icy politeness. You’ll recognize the style if you’ve ever been around it: It’s “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” but it is the formality of soldiers and police officers — correct and polite, but not in the least bit deferential. It is a formality adopted not to acknowledge the superiority of social betters but to assert the equality of the speaker — equal to any person or situation, perfectly republican manners. It is the general social respect rooted in genuine self-respect.

Its opposite is the sneering, leveling, drag-’em-all-down-into-the-mud anti-“elitism” of contemporary right-wing populism. Self-respect says: “I’m an American citizen, and I can walk into any room, talk to any president, prince, or potentate, because I can rise to any occasion.” Populist anti-elitism says the opposite: “I can be rude enough and denigrating enough to drag anybody down to my level.” Trump’s rhetoric — ridiculous and demeaning schoolyard nicknames, boasting about money, etc. — has always been about reducing. Trump doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to duke it out with even the modest wits at the New York Times, hence it’s “the failing New York Times.” Never mind that the New York Times isn’t actually failing and that any number of Trump-related businesses have failed so thoroughly that they’ve gone into bankruptcy; the truth doesn’t matter to the argument any more than it matters whether the fifth-grade bully actually has an actionable claim on some poor kid’s lunch money. It would never even occur to the low-minded to identify with anybody other than the bully. That’s what all that ridiculous stuff about “winning” was all about in the campaign. It is might-makes-right, i.e., the politics of chimpanzee troupes, prison yards, kindergartens, and other primitive environments. That is where the underclass ethic thrives — and how “smart people” came to be a term of abuse.

Quick hits (part II)

1) On President Obama crying after leaving Malia at college. That’ll be me someday.

2) Aaron Blake on Trump’s absurd Puerto Rico tweets yesterday:

Anybody who is surprised at this from a president who attacked a former prisoner of war for being a prisoner of war, criticized a Gold Star family and made fun of a reporter’s physical disability has a short memory. This is who Trump is. He doesn’t accept criticism and move on; he brings a bazooka to a knife fight — even when those wielding the knife are trying to save lives.

But it’s also hugely counterproductive. In three tweets, Trump has moved a simmering, somewhat-negative story for his administration to the front burner. He decided to attack a sympathetic character and turn this into a partisan political debate. Cruz is pleading for help by saying, “We are dying.” Trump essentially told her to stop complaining. He’s also arguing that somebody who is in charge of saving lives is somehow more interested in politics. That’s a stunning charge…

Trump may succeed in getting his base to fight back against the narrative that the Puerto Rico recovery isn’t going well. And perhaps this will all result in the same political stalemate we’ve seen on so many Trump-related controversies, with 35 percent to 40 percent of the country standing by Trump, and most of the rest being outraged.

But that’s not really the point. Most controversies are temporary and blow over. Puerto Rico is a legacy issue for Trump — something that, like Hurricane Katrina, could color views of him for years or decades to come.

3) I had vaguely heard of this “four tendencies” framework and a friend said that it really helped her understand her child.  I’m very much a questioner.  Curious about your thoughts on this and its validity.

4) Great Ezra Klein piece on the broken Senate.  This is going to my Intro and Public Policy classes.

The root issue here is that the Senate’s legislative process has been upended by the abusive use of the filibuster, and neither party has been willing or able to address it. The result is the US Senate is moving towards a process where major bills are protected from filibusters, but the cost of that protection is those bills are distorted by a nonsensical process where the goal is surviving parliamentary challenge, not writing the best policy. The possible costs here are immense: a future in which most significant legislation is drafted poorly and the country is left to suffer the consequences.

“Reconciliation was designed for minor budgetary adjustments, not major policy proposals,” said Alan Frumin, a former Senate parliamentarian.

Neither party likes this state of affairs. Neither party meant to create this state of affairs. And it’s time both parties had the courage to come together and address it.

5) Catherine Rampell on the “ridiculous” GOP tax plan.

6) Drum points out that the vast majority of economists think the GOP is a joke on taxes.

7) Pornhub, yes Pornhub, taking major steps to help users with visual impairments.

8) German Lopez, “A massive review of the evidence shows letting people out of prison doesn’t increase crime.”

9) Cory Booker knows that to end mass incarceration, we have to address it at the state level.  John Pfaff on why that’s such a hard problem:

But any federal law aimed at reducing state incarceration rates must confront the fact that criminal justice costs and benefits are scattered across agencies at every level of government. Decarceration will create winners and losers, and the losers are going to fight to keep prisons full. Any federal action that is blind to these realities will fail.

10) There is no free speech crisis on campus.

More interesting than the flaws in the poll’s execution is the buried lede: the poll failed. Look behind the absurd headlines and the poll demonstrates the opposite conclusion. College students are much more open to free speech than the general public. If it’s “chilling” that 20% of college students misunderstand free speech, what word should we use to describe the quarter of the American public and almost half of Republicans who support censoring unfavorable media outlets. Also from this poll, the college students who identified as Democrats were more open to free speech than their Republican peers. And perhaps the most important lesson from these poll results: a carefully constructed poll can get a small minority of respondents to endorse almost anything.

There is no public space in America more open to diverse opinions than our college campuses. What we are seeing there is not a crisis of tolerance, but a stark collapse in support for the Party of Donald Trump among the cream of a rising generation.

11) Republicans are pushing tax cuts, not tax reform, as Ryan Lizza explains.  I sure wish the media understood the difference.

Instead of doing the hard work of crafting a revenue-neutral tax reform, which requires taking on powerful political constituencies and working with Democrats, Republicans will fall back on arguing that the economic effects of the tax legislation will be so powerful that it will pay for itself with growth.

12) As Paul Waldman puts it, “the media needs a tax tutorial.”

To appreciate how the press is allowing the GOP to deceive the public, you first have to understand the fundamental argument Republicans are making. Their central justification for the tax cuts is that while it looks like they’re a big giveaway to the elite, in fact they are sprinkled with a magical pixie dust that not only spreads their benefits to everyone, but enables us to cut $1.5 trillion in taxes over the next 10 years without costing the government a cent. In fact, not only won’t the deficit go up, it will go down!

This argument is, in a word, false. Untrue, bogus, fallacious, fraudulent, phony. Yet again and again, reporters allow it to go unchallenged…

Which is why, every single time a Republican makes the claim that cutting taxes will create jobs and increase growth, the journalist doing the interview has an obligation — not an option, but an obligation — to say, “Hold on a minute. According to all the evidence we have, what you just said is false. Can you tell me what evidence you have for that claim?”

That’s not combative or hostile or biased, it’s basic journalism. It’s making sure that important political figures don’t throw up a fog of misleading justifications for what they’d trying to do. We may not be able to stop them from trying to deceive the public. But we don’t have to make it easy.

13) Don’t ever get stung by a tarantula hawk (wasp).  If you do, “just lie down and start screaming.”

14) Nice Brett Stephens column on the dying art of disagreement.

15) Why we cannot destroy hurricanes with bombs (or anything else).

16) How do public employees in NC get a $50,000 raise?  Political connections, of course, from those Republican stewards of taxpayer dollars.

17) Kind of crazy how Richard Rorty predicted Trump about 20 years ago.

Members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers – themselves desperately afraid of being downsized – are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.

At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking for a strongman to vote for – someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots.

18) How technology has changed news photography.

19) Trump’s attempts to the contrary, Americans actually understand what the NFL protests are about.

20) Can American basketball teams build better players by following the model of European soccer?

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: