In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist links:

Censure Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw

Republicans Shoot Themselves In The Foot Over Taxes. Again.

It Helps When Politicians Directly Experience Life Like The Rest Of Us

Shaming Works

‘Catch And Release’: Losing The Rhetorical War On Immigration

Programming Note About The Barr Report

Purity And Pragmatism

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Links 4/19/19

Links for you. Science:

Born between 1957-1989? You may not be protected from measles outbreak
Goodnight, Anti-Indoctrination Bills, and Good Riddance
A man kept one of the ‘world’s most dangerous’ birds on his farm. Then it killed him.
Squirrel Camp: Meet the scientists who live off the grid to study the frisky critters
Mathematicians Discover the Perfect Way to Multiply


Tump vs. the Trump Administration
Pete Buttigieg Was An Effective Mayor — With A Gaping Blind Spot
We Built a (Legal) Facial Recognition Machine for $60
Mick Mulvaney’s Master Class in Destroying a Bureaucracy From Within
Whose Jesus?
The Forbidden Truth About Analog Technology
The Republican Party Is Making America Great Again—for Plutocrats and Well-Heeled Thieves
Fox News’ Bernie Sanders Town Hall Did Not Go As Planned
Why Democrats Like Taxes Again
What can we learn from this thriving, car-free German neighborhood? Get rid of parking spaces
There’s been a lot of talk about the editorial independence of ThinkProgress from CAP in response to today’s news. Seeing that this is a topic I happen to know quite a bit about, I will offer what I know
The Freshmen: What About Sharice Davids?
Boston’s historic landmarks could use more love
US Workers Are Highly Taxed If You Count Premiums
Wendell Primus, the Most Powerful Staffer in Congress, Represents a Generational Divide on the Left
Twice as many companies paying zero taxes under Trump tax plan
Everyone’s Income Taxes Should Be Public

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Purity And Pragmatism

Before I get to the substance of an excellent post by Maha, I’ll add my standard disclaimer that, were I to vote today, I would vote Warren. The other disclaimer is by Maha herself, who writes:

I don’t want this to be just about Sanders, or just about the presidential field in 2020. This is about a powerful minority faction that assumes it has the sole right to determine who is a “real Democrat” and to set the agenda of the Democratic Party. And they don’t. Not any more.

Anyway, onto where the real ideological rigidity in the party lies (boldface mine):

I admit I sometimes find myself getting annoyed by people who will not accept even a shade of difference from their ideal policy proposal. But IMO such people are a minority, and such people are not the Democrats’ real problem when it comes to purity tests.

The landslide defeat of George McGovern in 1972 may have persuaded the Democrats to avoid the appearance of radicalism, but by the defeat of Walter Mondale in 1984 a rising faction of the Democratic party believed that even the legacy of the New Deal was too far from the mainstream.

The Democratic Leadership Council formed in the 1980s to give the party a new direction, and that direction was to the Right. The DLC proposed to reduce the role of unions, get tough on crime, cut spending, balance budgets, “reform” welfare, and promote free trade. The DLC’s best-known chairman was Bill Clinton, and when Clinton won the White House in 1992 it enshrined the DLC agenda as party orthodoxy

In 1992, the DLC approach may have been justified as a pragmatic accommodation to the dominance of Reaganism and movement conservatism. An influential paper from PPI argued in 1989 that Democratic “programs must be shaped and defended within an inhospitable ideological climate, and they cannot by themselves remedy the electorate’s broader antipathy to contemporary liberalism.” In other words, the Dems had to acknowledge that “liberalism” was a dirty word and that they were playing defense on the Right’s field. This, too, became party orthodoxy.

However, as the Right grew more extreme and less capable of so much as tying its shoes, never mind govern, Democratic Party orthodoxy didn’t adjust. Even after the “blue wave” years of 2006 and 2008, and the election of Barack Obama, Dem leaders remained stuck in 1992 and offered no real alternative to the Right. Democrats were rigidly fixed to the idea that they were playing defense in the Right’s field, and the only policy ideas that they would countenance were those considered to be “safe” and possibly even attractive to centrist Republicans.

What irks me about Dems who whine that the leftie-progressive wing are “purists” is that it’s the centrist-DLC-Third Way crowd, which has dominated the party agenda for many years, that set rigidly narrow limits on which policy ideas were considered legitimate and which were out of bounds and could not be taken seriously. Why aren’t they the “purists”?

They call themselves “pragmatic,” but what they really are is blind. They are the ones who rendered the Democratic Party irrelevant to much of the working class. They are the ones who pissed away Rust Belt votes. They are the ones who made room for the right-wing populism that made Donald Trump president…

But for most of the 1990s and 2000s the Democratic Party has functioned as a huge barrier that only allowed the most modest and unoriginal ideas to be promoted.

Even its one progressive signature bill, the Affordable Care Act, was a warmed over Heritage Foundation idea that had been tried out in Massachusetts by Mitt Romney. I would be the first to say that, as hard as it was to pass the ACA, a genuine single-payer bill wouldn’t have been possible in 2009. But it was the Democratic Party itself that had helped establish the parameters what was too “radical” and what wasn’t.

This trend was exacerbated by the need (and desire) for campaign contributions. There was a NY Times story this week about how wealthy donors and political operatives are panicking over the possible prospect of a Sanders nomination. Leaving aside how much work “Democrats” is doing to make it seem like wealthy movie producers and former Republican political operatives are representative of the Democratic Party, their fear is real*.

After this week’s excellent performance by Sanders on Fox, one wonders if what really scares them is that the guy who is very good at reaching out to the white and conservative-ish voters the New Democrats have always valued is… Bernie Sanders.

The wheel turns, I suppose.

*New Democrat/Clinton-aligned political operatives also realize that 2020 is the last chance for most of them to gain administration positions. After that, most of them will be too old and their patrons too far removed from power to really help them.

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Links 4/18/19

Links for you. Science:

Measles Outbreak: Yeshiva’s Preschool Program Is Closed by New York City Health Officials
AMNH Backs Out Of Bolsonaro Gala After Sustained Public Outcry
How Giant Sea Spiders May Survive in Warming Oceans
DC ‘Shark Tank’ winner explains what’s wrong with city’s water
Exploding Aphids Plaster Holes in Their Home With Bodily Fluids


Modern Monetary Theory, explained: A very detailed walkthrough of the big new left economic idea. (worth the read)
How ‘Liberal’ Late-Night Talk Shows Became a Comedy Sinkhole
Maybe Rich Liberals Don’t Hate Sanders Because They Fear He Can’t Win, But Because They’re Rich
Mourning Notre Dame
The Cost of Child Care Is Crushing American Families. What Will the Presidential Candidates Do About It?
Bernie Sanders’ Tax Returns are Irrelevant
Sanders Takes the Campaign Against CAP to Eleven
A shower at D.C.’s new day services center leaves one homeless man feeling more than clean
A Bernie Sanders exchange on Fox highlights a big Trump vulnerability
The Dangerous Bullying of Ilhan Omar
BERNIE SANDERS CAN BEAT TRUMP (this is from Peter Daou. Wow.)
Trump Can’t Blame Mexico for U.S. Drug Problems
Should William Barr Recuse Himself From Mueller Report? Legal Experts Say Attorney General’s Ties to Russia Are Troubling
F.B.I. Bars Some China Scholars From Visiting U.S. Over Spying Fears
GOP Rep. Randy Fine calls Jewish Facebook commenter a ‘Judenrat’ Nazi collaborator
Is Trump a Russian Agent?: Explaining Terms of Art and Examining the Facts
Immigrants Didn’t Kill Your Union
Anxious Times In Pakistan’s Pagan Valley
Repealing Trump’s Tax Cut Would Bring in Billions—and 2020 Democrats Want to Put That Cash to Use

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Programming Note About The Barr Report

And it is the Barr Report, not the Mueller Report. I likely won’t have much to say for a few days about it because it will be long and it will require some thought to put it in context. Consider that when you read HOT TAKES! about the Barr Report over the next 24 to 48 hours (also remember that our national political press corps on the whole is very stupid and credulous).

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‘Catch And Release’: Losing The Rhetorical War On Immigration

What worries me about the politics of immigration is that the notion that the choices are between completely ‘open borders’ and Trump’s brutality. Dan Nexon puts it very clearly:

The root of the problem isn’t the phrase ‘open borders’, it’s ‘catch and release’, which was the previous policy (certainly pre-Obama). The phrase catch and release taps into previous right-wing propaganda in which lenient liberal judges would free dangerous criminals and then said criminals would murder your family. (Of course, the overwhelming majority of undocumented immigrants just want to work crappy jobs, and, in some cases, not get murdered themselves which would happen if they were to stay in their countries of origin).

Once treating crossing the border without authorization became a ‘serious problem’ of national security (BOOGA! BOOGA!), as opposed to a misdemeanor, it closed off a lot of rhetorical options. Because the immigration that could lead to the looming nightmare of taco trucks on every corner isn’t a national security threat. It’s not even really a ‘cultural threat’ (immigrants don’t really want to live in places where people hate them for being different anymore than the native-born do).

In other words, once we’re fighting over ‘open borders’, we’ve already lost the rhetorical war. The issue is that the ‘catch and release’ policy, while not ideal, isn’t a security threat. That’s the ground on which we have to fight.

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Links 4/17/19

Links for you. Science:

A Deadly Pig Disease Is Reshaping Global Soybean Markets
Dogs Watch Us Carefully and Read Our Faces Very Well
This ‘frenemy’ fungus provides clues about a deadly new one
A rare trio of bald eagles — two dads, one mom — are raising eaglets together in one nest
Trolls hijacked a scientist’s image to attack Katie Bouman. They picked the wrong astrophysicist.


What Is Freedom?
Elizabeth Warren: My plan for public lands
Bernie Sanders’ Letter Accusing CAP of Undermining Democratic Unity (CAP is bad. Not utterly evil, just bad. New Democrats are one of many reasons we’re in this mess)
Congress, stop blocking D.C. from regulating its marijuana market
Prediction regarding Peter Buttigieg: this candidacy will expose the major faultiness between white gay men and the rest of the LGBTQ community.
Just say it: Trump’s attacks on Ilhan Omar are designed to incite hatred
Dupont Circle Metro station entrance to get precipitation-shielding escalator canopy (42 years to figure this out…)
Niall Ferguson isn’t upset about free speech. He’s upset about being challenged
Trump Is Endangering a Member of Congress Because He Thinks It’s Good Politics
Ask Him Anything
Leaving NYC
Trump’s War on Democracy: An Update
Trump Would Wreck the Rule of Law to Keep Hiding His Taxes
Trump’s plan for sanctuary cities must mean he actually believes his own lies
Bernie Sanders Accuses Liberal Think Tank Of Trying To Stymie His 2020 Campaign (the letter isn’t bad)
My people didn’t integrate well into America. And they were German
Bernie Sanders Imagines a Progressive New Approach to Foreign Policy
Yemeni bodegas boycott New York Post over attacks on Ilhan Omar

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