Links 9/22/17

Links for you. Science:

Every childhood vaccine may go into a single jab
Scientists discover an underwater city full of gloomy octopuses
In Irma’s wake, millions of gallons of sewage and wastewater are bubbling up across Florida
Importance of Personal Research Collections for Graduate Students
Camera traps capture ‘fantastically bizarre’ animal behavior in South African park


“There’s nothing to prevent the federal government from creating as much money as it wants and paying it to someone.” ~ Alan Greenspan
Sean Spicer’s Emmys love-in shows how little those with power fear Donald Trump (excellent)
The learned helplessness of Equifax
As flooded Houston neighborhoods dry out, residents wonder: Are they worth the risk? (over a 30-year mortgage, you have a ~1/4 chance of experiencing a 100-year flood)
Facebook’s Heading Toward a Bruising Run-In With the Russia Probe (“the political juice of the Russia story is pushing Facebook toward a bruising encounter with the reality that it’s not God, not a government, not the law. It’s just a website.”)
Nursing home that lost patients asked Gov. Scott for ‘immediate assistance’ three times before they died (Bad Skeletor! Bad!)
Bad News About Your Right to Privacy, Faculty
Why I’m Not Worried About Household Debt
When you treat politics as entertainment, you get Sean Spicer at the Emmys
Fearing revolt from businesses, D.C. to shift focus away from worker protections
Can You Win in Trump Country with a Bernie Sanders Platform?
Ken Burns’s Vietnam War
The Graham-Cassidy Bill: A Last-Ditch GOP Effort To Deprive Millions Of Health Care
The Shocking Dishonesty of the GOP’s Latest Repeal Push
Silicon Valley CEO Called Employees the N-Word and Hit Three Women, New Lawsuit Claims
Koch network ‘piggy banks’ closed until Republicans pass health and tax reform

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Under Construction

Observed at the corner of 19th and N Streets, NW, Dupont Circle, D.C:

Under construction

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An Inconvenient Fact

Gail Sheehy has a really interesting piece about Heather Heyer, the activist who was murdered by a Nazi in Charlottesville. Like most people, she is complex and contradictory, but this part struck me (boldface mine):

That seems to have laid a base for Heather becoming a fighter for social justice. She developed into a progressive Democrat. By 2015, she became an avid supporter of Bernie Sanders. She, along with the majority of Charlottesville, voted for Sanders in Virginia’s Democratic primary. “When Bernie wasn’t the Democratic nominee, Heather didn’t even vote in the general election,” Bro told me.

According to Sheehy’s piece, Heyer was quite tenacious in her beliefs. So if the Nazi’s car doesn’t start or breaks down–and thus Heyer isn’t murdered–it’s easy to see her as the kind of Sanders supporter a certain faction of the Democratic Party loves to excoriate.

This isn’t meant to defame Heyer, or to defend not voting against Trump. But people are complex and contradictory. Heyer’s reality was different from how she has been portrayed. Perhaps some could learn to have a little more empathy for those who don’t see things the way they do. Online Twitter battles notwithstanding, it’s pretty clear Heyer wasn’t the enemy.

Added: In a bizarre twist, promotional material for Clinton’s book tour begins, “Friend — I have been thinking lately about bravery — the bravery of citizens like Heather Heyer who lost her life fighting the organized forces of hate and divisiveness.”

Posted in Democrats, Resistance Rebellion And Death | Leave a comment

Links 9/21/17

Links for you. Science:

xenoGI: reconstructing the history of genomic island insertions in clades of closely related bacteria
Rifampin/Penicillin-Resistant Strain of RB51 Brucella Contracted from Consumption of Raw Milk (don’t do this)
Who Is Behind FDA-Weakening Bill Based on False Premise That It Restricts Access to Experimental Drugs for the Terminally Ill?
Florida’s Poop Nightmare Has Come True
Tenting the Homeless and Bleaching the Streets: How San Diego Is Fighting a Hepatitis Outbreak


You Won’t Get It If You Don’t Ask for It
The Surprising Provision Buried In Sanders’ Medicare For All Bill
‘Single Payer Is a Rational Health-Care System’: An Exclusive Interview With Bernie Sanders on His ‘Medicare for All’ Plan
An Abandoned Building in Congress Heights Is the Keystone in a Battle Between Tenants, Developers, and the District (forget YIMBY vs. NIMBY, this is the reality of urban housing for too many)
Hillary Clinton Tries to Explain ‘What Happened’
A convicted felon’s thoughts on what Martin Shkreli is about to experience
How Corporate Capitalism Looted Democracy
I Guess White Working Class Voters Get To Veto Everything Now
Fix The Lack of Lefty Media First
Class Clowns (a bit over the top, but there is a class element to this)
Dear Amazon, here’s our offer: not one dime
Did The Washington Post Break A Law When It Disciplined A Reporter Over A Jeff Bezos Op-Ed?
Picture-perfect Manchester, Vt., isn’t so perfect anymore
Our endless legal debate about campus rape misses the central problem
Sports is a hub for protests against racism. ESPN shouldn’t silence Jemele Hill.
Christians in U.S. Military ‘Serve Satan’ If They Tolerate Other Religions, Air Force Chaplain Says (the Air Force chaplaincy is particularly extremist)
Secret and Hidden Identities
Jewish mother and daughter mistaken for Muslims beaten in New York (the last sentence of the story is key)
Will Trump’s corruption continue damaging the country after he’s gone?

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The National Zoo in D.C. had a newborn Sumatran tiger. Unfortunately, the mother refused to care for him, so he was sent to the San Diego Zoo, which recently adopted an abandoned tiger kitten. What does that mean? Adorable video:

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Politics In The Face Of Ineradicable Racism

Max Sawicky has a good review of Ta-Neisi Coates recent essay, “The First White President.” Sawicky’s post is worth the whole read, but this part echoes something I’ve been writing about for a while (boldface mine):

My claim is that Coates’ analysis is both unsupported and destructive of progressive politics. His erudition and literary talent are not in question. I don’t fault his intentions. Some think he is facing hard truths and call his view realistic. That is the question, isn’t it? How real is it? What’s in question is not TNC’s experience of racial oppression, of the psychology underlying it, or his ability to bring it to life in a text. I’m talking about a political analysis.

If I felt under constant, homicidal threat as a person of Jewish descent, or if I had personally witnessed the deaths of relatives in the Holocaust, I don’t doubt that I would tend to dwell on my Jewishness, such as it is, and ponder the endurance of anti-Semitism through the ages. On this level, I can hardly fault TNC for centering race and white supremacy in his account.

Coates’ text still deserves rigorous criticism. It makes explicit reference to political events and persons. It embodies a political stance. Whether you call him a politician or public intellectual, TNC is interested in politics, and his politics are interested in you…

The problem here is that as matter of electoral dynamics, Trump’s victory was not necessarily the result of an uprising by the white working class (WWC). Coates himself makes clear that Trump won more white votes than Hillary Clinton in all types of economic and demographic groups. Trump’s white coalition transcended class.

Coates does not show any movement of WWC voters from Democratic to Republican due to Trump. That could be called a kind of uprising, if it had happened. There is some evidence for it, if we define WWC as those with no college. In this sense TNC sells his analysis a bit short. Even so, WWC voters were trending Republican before Trump ever put his face into presidential politics.

An alternative hypothesis is that the Democrats suffered from a multiracial working-class uprising, one in which white voters bolted for Trump, while non-white 2012 voters stayed home. That leads to a different narrative, one that proposes a Democratic Party failure in the realm of class politics.

Please, let’s not recoil as if I’m blaming black folks for Trump. The responsibility lies with the Democratic Party for not keeping voters of all colors on board. But if the race factor is more about Democrats than Republicans, that goes against the grain of TNC’s focus on Trump’s explicit, vicious, unforgivable racism. The white supremacy rap doesn’t fly nearly as smoothly when applied to Hillary Clinton, whatever her faults.

If there wasn’t a WWC uprising, maybe it was more generally a white riot. Again, to cite the 2016 election as a sign of something new, we need to compare it to prior elections.

When it comes to turnout, the salient fact in 2016 was a modest increase in white turnout, and a significant decline in non-white turnout. This doesn’t debunk Coates, since his thesis would be supported by evidence of a great shift from D to R among white voters, but it takes us a step closer to some illumination which Coates provides himself, when he says “Trump’s share of the white vote was similar to Mitt Romney’s in 2012.” Actually, Trump did somewhat worse with white voters than Mitt Romney did in 2012, particularly with women. But we don’t need to quibble.

That’s the background, here’s the key point:

TNC claims that social-democratic proposals cannot overcome the depth of racism in the white working class. He goes so far as to describe their advocacy as “escapism.” If you take exception, he will remind you that “working class whites had been agents of racist terrorism since at least the draft riots of 1863.” This can be an intimidating assertion to a white reader, but it is also rubbish. It visits the sins of some on an entire racial-economic class, for all time. It’s like Trump and his ‘Mexican rapists.’

Such a standpoint lends cold comfort to the predominantly minority workers striking McDonalds, “Fighting for Fifteen,” and battling Walmart for union representation, or to minority youth financially blocked from a post-secondary education. Neither is there much hope for the Black Lives Matter movement, if it is doomed to eternal rejection by an irredeemable white majority.

The postulate of ineradicable racism is vulnerable to two criticisms:

1) It is not necessary to convert the WWC wholesale to progressive politics to win elections. Remember the tiny margins of defeat in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio. Only a few to whom class politics can appeal are needed. Even some who voted in response to Trump’s racial cues may be redeemable. Democratic politicians have been winning elections with the benefit of some racist votes for a long time.

2) Social-democratic proposals can motivate greater turn-out among people of color, who are overwhelmingly working class.

Either could have reversed the November outcome.

It is undeniable that ‘universal programs’ are not a sure-fire political winner. If they were, by now we would have full-spectrum social-democracy. More important, they do not go as far as desirable in addressing race-specific (and gender-specific) disparities. When a rising tide lifts all boats, it does not necessarily narrow the gaps between them. So more than class politics is needed for social justice. This is the truth of Coates’ disapproval of “raceless anti-racism” on the left. At the same time, there should be no doubt that social-democratic programs disproportionately benefit minorities and women. Not for nothing did Martin Luther King Jr. come to this view. Recognizing the needs of the white working class, those indeed held in common with minorities, doesn’t neglect the black working class. It magnifies its political salience. Some of the major injuries of black workers are also the injuries of all.

One observation that gives me a perverse hope–and it’s related to Sawicky’s observation that “Democratic politicians have been winning elections with the benefit of some racist votes for a long time”–is that roughly one-third of white racists voted Democratic. While racism might not be enough to prevent many whites from voting for Trump, it’s not enough to seal the deal completely. In other words, they are voting Democratic in spite of and in opposition to their racism. If we can figure out how to get just a few more prejudiced voters to vote Democratic, we can win, not only in presidential elections, but down ballot too (and there’s a lot of damage being done there too).

Perhaps racism is ineradicable, but, if that is the case, then we need to figure out how to bring racists to our side without betraying our principles. If this is distasteful, remember that we already do this.

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Links 9/20/17

Links for you. Science:

Fitness Costs of Plasmids: a Limit to Plasmid Transmission
Decimated by a Moth, Russia’s Colchic Boxwood Is Now on the Brink
The Case For Confronting Long-Term Opioid Use As A Hospital-Acquired Condition
FOIA, copies of your best-beloved Proposal, and Sharing
Machine learning about sexual orientation?


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