Links We Like

Here are some links we like and think you might find them interesting, too.  We try to repopulate this site regularly, and welcome suggestions for new additions.  Send your suggestions to jim@watchthecircus.com or put them in the Comments section.

Here’s Something Scary — “The Mind of Donald Trump”

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A psychologist looks at Donald Trump and concludes he is a narcissist, disagreeable and has a sense of grandiosity.  DUH!  But he proceeds to identify how these characteristics will influence his presidency — if we are dumb enough to elect him.  Read it here from The Atlantic.

A leading conservative on those who say Clinton is as bad as Trump:  You are Idiots

Charles Murray, infamous author of the Bell Curve and other books and essays which, although thoughtful, often wind up as attacks on the weak and poor, says those who engage in prescriptions of public public policy solutions must show the same analytical responsibility to choosing between Clinton and Trump.  Murray candidly says there is no choice.  Clinton is far superior to Trump and operates within mainstream notions of policy while Trump is…. well, read for yourself.  

Political Parties Ignore Most of Us

Have you ever thought that neither the Republicans or the Democrats and their respective political parties are looking out for the Average Joe?  Do the politicians of both parties seem to cater to the wealthy and to high pressure interest groups, and not care about what most Americans would like to address.  Well, guess what?  You are correct.  At least, that’s the conclusion of a study published by the Journal of the American Political Science Association in 2014.  It says:

“Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”  Read more here.

 

Angry man pointing fingerThe public feels that most Americans are angry at Washington and many believe the country would suffer lasting damage if people who did not share their principles got their way in politics. At the same time, the latest national Monmouth University Poll also found that most Americans feel the harsh rhetoric of politics is not justified and believe that we can recapture the spirit that landed astronauts on the moon in the 1960s. However, there are significant differences of opinion among those who hold ideologically extreme views.

Here is a wonkish column from the NYT raising the issue of whether we have exhausted our technological ingenuity and lost the economic promise technology brings with it.  Two sides to the issue.  Surprisingly, there is no mention of progress on wind and solar energy, which surely would contribute to our overall economic well-being.

Even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while.  Prominent Obama “birther” advocate and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump fits that bill in raising doubts whether his opponent, Ted Cruz, is qualified as a “natural born citizen” to be president under the Constitution.  Contrary to what Cruz says, it is not a settled question.  In fact, as the Post’s Fred Barbash writes, if the Framers’ original intention controls, it is likely that Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father, is not eligible.  I suspect that Cruz hopes the issue will go away and if he is elected president (horrors!), no court will wish to create a constitutional crisis by holding he is not eligible for the job.  After all, an “originalist” like Cruz, Scalia, et al., is only a follower of that rigid doctrine when it serves their purposes.

 

Worried about one of your kids being shot?  Not much of a risk — unless you are black.  Here is the latest data from the Pew Research Center. Click here for more more data from Pew about dangers to kids and what parents fear most.

Kids getting shot by race 2016

 

edsall-circular-thumbLarge-v4Thomas B. Edsall is one of the most fact-intense columnists in the business. Here he reviews the well-known failure of liberals, especially rich liberals, to pay attention to state legislative elections.  While the Dems win nationally (the presidency),  they are getting creamed where the real action is — at the state and local levels.  No sign of any solution as the right wing voters are mobilized in off-year elections and liberals are not.

 

Next time some blowhard attacks Bernie Sanders for wanting to reinstate the Glass-Steagall law President Bill Clinton repealed, claiming repeal did not contribute to the ’08 crash, direct them to this piece from Wall Street on Parade detailing how in fact it would have helped curb the damage.

The Year in Charts.  Steven Rattner, who contributes to the NYT op-ed page, has offered some interesting charts to summarize our economic and political picture at year-end.  A mixed bag.  See the article and charts here.

pete-seeger_0The FBI tracked famed folk singer and environmental advocate Pete Seeger for over 40 years — initially due to a letter he wrote complaining about mistreatment of Japanese-American citizens.  He was married to one of them.  Mother Jones has it all from a FOIA request.

Some very interesting historical demographic information shown in easy to understand graphic maps is available at American Panorama, a project of the University of Richmond.  Current sites include the geographic history of forced migration, foreign born population 1850-2010 and others.  More to come, according to the NYT, which had a link to the site.

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Where is the best place to grow up in your region?  The New York Times provides an interactive map of relevant information.

A perennial question is:  Why are poor states red?  This column addresses the issue.  Most of what she concludes is old news — southern race baiters learned the lesson long ago — but it bears updating and repeating.

Here is the best take yet on domestic reaction to terrorism by one of our favorite columnists.

The President seems frozen in place with warnings against blaming all Muslims for the acts of ISIS.  That is a warning that bears repeating, but we needissss_1447692609_600x315 to work with others on a Middle East solution to ISIS.  Roger Cohen of the NYT has the idea.

A very strange and very false ad appeared during the Republican debate suggesting that the 

Elizabeth WarrenConsumer Financial Protection Bureau was up to all kinds of malicious stuff to keep consumers from obtaining credit, buying homes, etc.  To anyone familiar with the actual work of the CFPB, the fingerprints of Big Business on the over-the-top ad was obvious.  Here, Pam Martens at Wall Street on Parade tracks down the details.

Want facts about the economy instead of GOP balderdash?  Pam Martens of Wall Street on Parade does a good job of fact checking the candidates — and better than the Mainstream Media.

Here is the report on the rising mortality rate of middle aged white males that many attribute to the poorer economic prospects of what was once the blue collar worker. . .old white guy with mustache and cap

And here is a New Yorker article poking some holes in that reasoning . . .

Depends on what “Success” means for Carson’s “successful” separation of Siamese twins

This may be a “blockbuster” story if the mainstream media picks it up from this usually very reliable financial news website.  Ben Carson’s “I successfully separated Siamese twins” might be nearly as much bunk as some of his other claims.

More reasons the country will not become more liberal soon

This website has started writing about why the U.S. will continue to suffer the political gridlock which has characterized it since during the George W. Bush administration.  See our main page for the first chapter.  Meanwhile, our favorite columnist has come up with three other reasons, adding that if anything, the divide might worsen, with the Tea Partiers gaining ground.  Scary stuff.

New York Yankee logoA Definitive Guide to Yogi Berraisms 

This link supposedly identifies only those quotes from the late Yogi Berra that can be confirmed as from Yogi.

The Drug Industry’s Rapacious Pricing

Carolyn Johnson of The Washington Post writes about how drug companies take drugs discovered long ago — sometimes in nature — and impose huge price increases.  And it’s not just the selfish guy you read about. . . .

Did the Media Create the Trump Movement?

A George Washington University professor writes on the Washington Post website about how media coverage influences — and perhaps invents — the political “stories” that shape the presidential campaign.

There is No Excuse for How Universities Treat Adjuncts

The Atlantic blog site has a thoroughly reasoned story showing why universities and colleges are taking advantage of adjunct teachers with low pay, no benefits, surprise dismissals and general disrespect.  It suggests that adjuncts should join the move against employer classification of serfs as “contractors” — just as the Uber drivers, FedEx drivers and others have done.

Which States are Most in Debt Per Person?

Another good map from The Tax Foundation.  This one shows how much debt each state owes in public debt per capita. Not surprisingly, the richest states carry the most debt — those in the Northeast, the West Coast, Illinois and Minnesota.  But some poor states carry a lot, too, and since the data is per capita, one could argue these states may have less reserves to pay off the debt.  These include South Carolina, Kansas, Louisiana, Kentucky and Nevada.

Where the Candidates Stand on Taxes

The Tax Foundation, which does an excellent job on providing tax data while usually separating its basic anti-tax policy stance from content, provides a useful interactive site allowing you to compare the tax policy positions of the presidential candidates of both parties.  You can find it here.  The same outfit also provides an analysis of Jeb Bush’s tax plan here.

Labor and Productivity — Labor Day Downer

Happy Labor Day!  Labor may as well enjoy the holiday — workers ain’t doing too well.  The Economic Policy Institute decided to be a holiday downer and issue a report showing that while net productivity in the U.S. grew by 21.6 percent from 2000 to 2014, hourly compensation (wages and benefits) grew by just 1.8 percent. It’s pretty wonkish, but makes an important point.  You can find it at Understanding the Historic Divergence Between Productivity and a Typical Worker’s Pay: Why It Matters and Why It’s Rea

How to Address Race and Poverty — Gut It Out, White Folk!

We recently posted a piece suggesting that the only real way to address our issues of poverty and race is to mix up our neighborhoods — including the upper middle and rich ones.  Probably a pipe dream, as the country seems to be moving in the opposite direction.  Still, it’s nice to get some confirmation.  An easy-to-read report, full of charts and tables, some interactive, analyzes the relevant data and finds that poverty and race are becoming much more concentrated while moving from some of our most popular cities to the suburbs.  But the result is concentration, not dilution, as those whites who are able decamp for whiter and wealthier areas.  Read Architecture of Segregation: Civil Unrest, the Concentration of Poverty, and Public Policy by Paul A. Jargowsky, a fellow at the Century Foundation.

When Red States Take More from Blue States Is It Stealing?

As we enter into the Blue State v. Red State political season (did we ever leave it?), Wallet Hub reminds us that the anti-government red states get much more from the federal government than they give.  Eight of the ten most states most dependent on the federal government are red.  See the graphics here.  We will have a lot more on Red State-Blue State in later postings.

Trump Does Not Reflect America, Thank God

With all the Donald Trump nastiness about immigrants, it is time to review a 2013 report from the Center for American Progress surveying public opinion on the growing diversity of our population.  Among its conclusions:  “Americans are much more open to diversity and more supportive of steps to reduce racial inequalities than is commonly portrayed in politics and the media.”  Still true?  We’ll find out.  You can read the whole 67 page report here.

Feeling Ignored?  Vote, Jerk!

U.S. voters of all colors do a lousy job when it comes to voting.  This is especially true in mid-term elections, when there is no presidential contest, but the numbers are not great for any national election.  The Census Bureau has come out with a new 15-page report detailing how we are undermining our own democracy by not voting.  It appears to be a true thing that “we get the Congress we deserve.”  The press release is here. There is a link in it to get the full report.

U.S. Banks Helped Greece Into Bankruptcy — American Exceptionalism?

The Atlantic website recounts the responsibility of reckless banks — both in the U.S. and Europe — and their contribution to the Greek financial crisis.  Sadly, it is very much the same story of banks extending teaser loans to homeowners in the U.S. — a major contribution to our own financial crisis in 2008.

A Good Column on Racism and How to Address It.  We Never Will, However

One of our favorite columnists, Thomas B. Edsall in the New York Times, asks how receptive liberals will be to social and racial reform in their own backyards.  The tea leaves are not promising.  This coincides with our own view that too much weight has been put on public schools to “reform” race relations in the U.S. — at the expense of providing a good education.  Mixed race and mixed economic neighborhoods would have been a better place to start 60 years ago, but probably was impossible then.  Is it impossible now?

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