Politics and Public Policy

Author={Sasso, James},
Title={Donald Trump Isn’t the Only One to Blame for the Capitol Riot. I’d Know.},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={One of the people who researched the January 6th riots for the congressional committee writes here about what was not covered in depth in the committee hearings: that the fundamental cause of the January 6th riots was not so much Trump as lack of faith in government. “The federal government had worked against everyday Americans for years, the rioters told us, favoring entrenched elites with its policies.” He talks about how this is an opinion held widely not just by crazy conspiracy theorists, but by ordinary people – and that is why those people supported the Jan 6th riots, they felt it was the only course of action left for holding those in power responsible. He suggests reforms to political financing and re-investment in local economies as the (long-term) solution.},
category={Politics, Criticality, january 6th riots, mistrust of government}
% NY Times letter:
% Doesn’t what is described in this essay just prove the rioter’s point?
% If the real lesson learned from the researchers looking into the January 6th riot was that the cause was mistrust in government more than anything Trump did, and that reason was shunted aside in the hearings in favor of detailing why Trump was the cause, is that not a perfect example of pushing aside truth and transparency in favor of a political agenda?
% As clear and insightful as this essay is, in the light of it (and the fact that it comes out months after the hearings), I don’t see how the January 6th hearings are much more than the political witch hunt that Trump claimed. Trump is a terrible person, but if he wasn’t the primary cause of the riots, let’s say that instead of using congressional hearings to try to prevent his being elected again. If the solution to preventing another January 6th is to re-establish trust in government, the hearings were certainly not the first step to achieving that.
% Here’s to hoping the publishing of this essay is.

Author={Raskin, Jamie},
Title={The Second Amendment Gives No Comfort to Insurrectionists},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Makes a (very convincing) argument that the 2nd amendment does not protect an imagined right of citizens to overthrow the government. Raskin points out that this would both be conceptually nonsensical and also that it is not supported by anything in precedent or history. The “militia” in the second amendment is clearly referring to a state institution, not a free citizenry one. If you want to overthrow the government (ala the Declaration of Independence) you have to do it against the laws and powers of the state. Arguing the constitution has some invisitble-ink right to arm oneself against the governement is nothing but a right-wing fabricated talking point.},
category={Criticality, Politics, second amement, right to bear arms, insurrection, militias}
% Good thing too, because if this (bizarro-world) right WERE in the constitution, there is no way automatic weapons (or tanks, or RPGs) could be illegal for the public to own, as they are.
% If you want to start an insurrection, you need automatic weapons. If you have automatic weapons, you are doing something illgal and anti-government, not defending it. Suck it up right-wingers.

Author={Beaumont, Thomas},
Title={Biden’s win hides a dire warning for Democrats in rural U.S.},
journal={AP News},
comment={Even though Democrats are doing better in red states like Georgia, it’s not by winning over rural voters who still find them too far to the left. It’s by winning more of the urban centers in those states. This is true both in the south and the north. In rural areas Trump did BETTER in 2020 than he did in 2016. This defies the idea that some red states are trending towards Democrats. Rural voters are actually being more and more left behind by the Democrats.},
category={Politics, democrats}

Author={Bellafante, Ginia},
Title={Liberal New Yorkers Threw Money at Doomed Candidates All Over the U.S.},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Weatlyh Democratic donors from NYC poured money into long-shot races around the country because those are the ones that get media attention: “so begins a precarious feedback loop: the more Rachel Maddow talks about you, the more money you raise and then the more you have to spend buying ads on Rachel Maddow.” Sara Gideon, challenging Susan Collins in Maine, raised 100,000 dollars from a nine-block radius on the Upper East Side. Bloomberg put down 100 million against Trump in Florida, Texas, and Ohio all of which went to Trump. Meanwhile progressives are losing races in NYC (like in Coney Island) because nobody pays attention to those down-ticket races.},
category={Politics, donations, nyc, democrats}

@article{gelman2012probability, title={What is the probability your vote will make a difference?}, author={Gelman, Andrew and Silver, Nate and Edlin, Aaron}, journal={Economic Inquiry}, volume={50}, number={2}, pages={321–326}, year={2012}, publisher={Wiley Online Library}, comment={A calculation of the probability that any individual’s vote will determine the outcome of a presidential election (in a 2008 election environment). In a presidential election, the probability that your vote is decisive is equal to the probability that your state is necessary for an electoral college win, times the probability the vote in your state is tied, conditional on your state being necessary.'' They find that there is a 1 in 60 million chance of a randomly selected voter having an impact on the presidential election. In a battleground state it is more like 1 in 10 million. In New York it is about 1 in a billion. They suggest that the argument for voting is could be something like it’s like you have a chance at winning the lottery of having say over national policy.’’ Though they point out that would be moot in a state with 1 in a billion chance of impact.}, category={Politics, Science, voting, presidential elections, probability} }

Author={Nolan, Rachel},
Title={Cage of Gold},
year={2020}, month={09}, comment={A review of The Deportation Machine by Adam Goodman. The US is not a nation of immigrants, it’s a nation of deportation. That has been true for its entire history. Like plea bargaining where 90% of federal cases are plea bargained (making the question of innocence irrelevant) 90% of immigration cases never have a hearing, people take the “voluntary departure” option in exchange for paying their own way out of the US and not having a record (so they could potentially try to enter again another time).Between 1920 and 2018, the latest year for which data was available, the country deported 56.3 million people, more than the 51.7 million who were granted lawful status. Roughly nine out of ten deportees were Mexican. (Goodman does not include self-deportations in this number, since he acknowledges that they are “unquantifiable.”) In the 1990s Democrats supported “expedited deportation” which made actual deportation more like voluntary departure – hearings are not longer required.},
category={Politics, Criticality, immigration}

Author={Bazelon, Emily},
Title={How Will Trump’s Supreme Court Remake America?},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={An analysis of the current popularity of conservative judges claiming “originalist” or “textualist” readings of the constitution. Despite the fact that a strict originalist reading of the constitution would put a judge in favor of the idea that because the constitution uses the word ‘he’ there is no way to accept a female president — among many other inconsitencies, many of which are laid out in this article. Conservative judges are hiding behind this theory, and clearly not sticking to it. This article also talks about the new interpretation of Clarence Thomas as someone who promotes pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps black radicalism, and hiding behind claims of originalism to achieve that.},
category={Politics, Criticality, supreme court, originalism, textualism, conservatives}
% See also this piece from On The Media with an in-depth look at the motivations of Clarence Thomas:
% \url{}

Author={Goel, Vindu},
Title={What Is Article 370, and Why Does It Matter in Kashmir?},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A very clear breakdown of the history and troubles of the Kashmir region if India and Pakistan. (Including the fact that when Britain left the colonies, it divided the country into Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India — which of course led to a giant war.)},
category={Politics, india, pakistan, kashmir}

Author={Perlstein, Rick},
Title={Training Teenagers for Guerrilla Warfare in the Wealthy Suburbs? Welcome to 1969},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={In 1969 the public school in the wealthy NYC suburb of Scarsdale offered a hands-on training elective course in guerrilla warfare tactics. Describes how this is in the context of ever-increating acceptance of violent resistance by the left wing (including recounting of the armed takeover of a Cornell University building by Cornell University’s Afro-American Society — who eventually left the building and were joined in a march by other students.) The article claims the move towards violence essentially disappated with Woodstock, which “proved” that all those hippies could get together and maintain their peaceful ideals.},
category={Politics, woodstock, cornell, guerrilla warfare, scarsdale}

Author={Chinoy, Sahil},
Title={What Happened to America’s Political Center of Gravity?},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={The Republican party is politically far to the right of other major conservative political parties world wide, sharing values with only the most extreme conservative political parties. The Democratic party, while it has moved leftwards in recent years, is right in the middle of most moderate left-leaning political parties worldwide. This means that someone who claims to be a “moderate” or an undecided voter in the US is well to the right of most conservative parties world wide.},
category={Politics, democrats, republicans, political center}
% This is research and a simple graph that shows a thing I’ve been saying for
% years: that because the republicans are so extreme, and the democrats so
% moderate, the center in America is far more conservative than other places,
% making the whole country weirdly conservative. Note that I think this
% isn’t the PEOPLE of the US really - it’s the parties that do this.
% The people are given a binary choice between one extreme and one
% average and that normalizes the political center in a very
% conservative place. If given the choice between two moderate parties,
% I think the people of the US would do a better job of identifying a
% more reasonable center.

Author={Chokshi, Niraj},
Title={Sandusky, Ohio, Swaps Columbus Day Holiday for Election Day},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Sandusky, Ohio (home to Cedar Point amusement park) has voted to swap their Columbus Day holiday for Election Day, with the support of the local unions. When similar legislation was proposed at the national level, Mitch McConnell called it a “Democractic power grab.”},
category={Politics, columbus day, election day, holidays, voting}
% Mitch McConnell I guess is arguing that more people voting = Democratic power
% grab. Literally, democracy is a Democratic power grab. How can nobody be
% calling him on this shit? How can someone who FUNDAMENTALLY doesn’t believe in
% democracy be allowed to have power in this country?

Author={del Bosque, Melissa},
Title={Checkpoint Nation},
comment={The border patrol has almost unlimited power to stop and search people anywhere within 100 miles of a border (including sea coasts) of the US. This include many of the entire greater metropolitan areas of the major cities of the US.},
category={Politics, border patrol}

Author={Fisher, Max and Taub, Amanda},
Title={Could the United States Become a Different Kind of Democracy?},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Argues that American democracy is built on the assumption that the three branches of government would each defend their own power turf. There is the possibility that the American democracy is heading the way of some latin american democracys where it’s “presidentialism” or “delegative democracy”. The voters still choose their leader, but the leader makes sure the power structures are aligned to his or her decisions. In the US the parties are more and more defer to the leadership of the party, rather than one branch acting as a check on the other. Also briefly touches on the idea that democracies rely on conventions of behavior at least as much as they do on strict guidelines.},
category={Politics, democracy, presidentialism, delgative democracy, hugo chavez}
% Doesn’t address how political parties - not in the constitution - seem to be BUILT to default to increasing this problem. I’m not convinced this isn’t an issue that’s been there since the founding.
% Is it worse now than it was during the civil war years?
% Maybe this is just a thing that’s ALWAYS been broken with American democracy?

Author={Browning, Christopher R.},
Title={The Suffocation of Democracy},
journal={The New York Review of Books},
comment={A historian weighs the comparisons between Nazi Germany and the modern day US. While this article is carefully written to not directly pop the bubble of belief that Trump is a new Hitler (if that is something you are holding on to) it carefully walks through what’s similar and what’s different without attributing Trump with any particular role, of Hitler or otherwise. He finds similarities between the current US and the Weimar period — particularly in the weakening of the Democratic order. But the most interesting thing is the DIFFERENCE between the Nazis and the US now: it is no longer necessary to eliminate opposition parties. They can be left in place by dictators and used to claim democractic legitimacy. Also control of the press and media is unneccesary because the “truth” of the media is no longer important. Browning calls this “illiberal democracy.”},
category={Politics, nazis, democracy, germany}
% Nice to have a historian break down these similarities while reading Rise and Fall.
% “it is also possible that adversarial momentum will build, room for concessions will disappear, and he will plunge the country into serious economic or military conflicts as a captive of his own rhetoric. Historically, such confrontations and escalations have often escaped the control of leaders far more talented than Trump.”
% …once again we see Adam Curtis’ central idea - that the systems have now are too complicated to be controlled by any individual person or group - asserting itself

Author={Tavernise, Sabrina},
Title={Planning to Vote in the November Election? Why Most Americans Probably Won’t},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Only about 1/3 of eligible voters vote in midterm elections. In the second half of the 19th century above 80 percent voted. The US ranks 26th of 32 developed nations for voter turnout. More than 80 percent of Americans with college degrees vote, while only abou 40 percent with high school degrees do.},
category={Politics, voting}

Author={Segall, Eric J.},
Title={Does Originalism Matter Anymore?},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Argues that the Supreme Court Justices who recourse to Originalism interpretations of the Constitution are really just using the argument as a smokescreen for their purely contemporary conservative-politics based decisions.},
category={Politics, supreme court, originalism, constitution}
% Nice to see this thing that always seemed true to me. If Originalism was EVER a real thing, how on earth could Scalia have not thought that the Second Ammendment had that “militia” clause in it?

Author={Baker, Peter},
Title={Coming Attractions: Trump Showed Kim a Faux Movie Trailer About a Transformed North Korea},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={The White House (possibly in coordination with South Korea) created a fake movie picture by “Destiny Pictures” in which Trump and Kim Jong Un play heroes of a new future. Trump said “they have great beaches. You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean, right? I said, ‘Boy, look at the view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo behind?’” The claim to be by “Destiny Pictures” which has created a real headache for the actual film production company, Destiny Pictures.},
category={Politics, movie trailers, north korea, trump, films, surrealism}

title = “Buying the Verdict”,
author = “Lauren H. Cohen and Umit G. Gurun”,
institution = “National Bureau of Economic Research”,
type = “Working Paper”,
series = “Working Paper Series”,
number = “24542”,
year = “2018”,
month = “April”,
doi = {10.3386/w24542},
URL = “”,
abstract = {We document evidence that firms systematically increase specialized, locally targeted advertising following the firm being taken to trial in that given location - precisely following initiation of the suit. In particular, we use legal actions brought against publicly traded firms over the 20 year sample period that progress to trial from 1995-2014. In terms of magnitude, the increase is sizable: targeted local advertising increases by 23% (t=4.39) following the suit. Moreover, firms concentrate these strategic increases in locations where the return on their advertising dollars are largest: in smaller, more concentrated advertising markets where fewer competitor firms are advertising. They focus their advertisement spikes specifically toward jury trials, and in fact specifically toward the most likely jury pool. Lastly, we document that these advertising spikes are associated with verdicts, increasing the probability of a favorable outcome.},
category = {Politics, Criticality, Economics, law, juries},
% I can’t find a pdf of this online, so I haven’t actually read this paper.

title = “The Political Economy of Ideas: On Ideas Versus Interests in Policymaking”,
author = “Sharun Mukand and Dani Rodrik”,
institution = “National Bureau of Economic Research”,
type = “Working Paper”,
series = “Working Paper Series”,
number = “24467”,
year = “2018”,
month = “March”,
doi = {10.3386/w24467},
URL = “”,
abstract = {We develop a conceptual framework to highlight the role of ideas as a catalyst for policy and institutional change. We make an explicit distinction between ideas and vested interests and show how they feed into each other. In doing so the paper integrates the Keynes-Hayek perspective on the importance of ideas with the currently more fashionable Stigler-Becker (interests only) approach to political economy. We distinguish between two kinds of ideational politics – the battle among different worldviews on the efficacy of policy (worldview politics) versus the politics of victimhood, pride and identity (identity politics). Political entrepreneurs discover identity and policy ‘memes’ (narratives, cues, framing) that shift beliefs about how the world works or a person’s belief of who he is (i.e. identity). Our framework identifies a complementarity between worldview politics and identity politics and illustrates how they may reinforce each other. In particular, an increase in identity polarization may be associated with a shift in views about how the world works. Furthermore, an increase in income inequality is likely to result in a greater incidence of ideational politics. Finally, we show how ideas may not just constrain, but also ‘bite’ the interests that helped propagate them in the first instance.},
comment = {This uses a lot of jargon of political science to talk about something I’ve thought about for years: that much in politics is understood as arising purely from the interests of those who participate. (And in fact the field of “political economy” is basically entirely built on this idea.) But shifting the culture is more about propogating ideas. These guys come up with a preliminary model for how that works.},
category = {Politics, political economy, interest-based politics, ideas-based politics, identity politics}
% download pdf here: \url{}

Author={Edsall, Thomas B.},
Title={The 2016 Exit Polls Led Us to Misinterpret the 2016 Election},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Edsall cites recent research by Pew and Center for American Progress that suggests that the 2016 exit polls were highly inaccurate and misinterpreted. While the exit polls shows the largest chunk of the Democractic base as being college-educated and white, in fact later more careful research shows that the largest chunk of the Democractic base is without-college-degree and white — otherwise known as white working class. 33 percent of the Democractic voters in 2016 were whites without college degrees — much larger than the 26 percent with college degrees and the 28 percent that make up the racial and ethnic minorities without degrees. Hillary won a substantially smaller percentage of the working class vote than Obama did. Most political analysts believe (falsely, apparently) that the key to Democratic voting is whites-with-degrees.},
category={Politics, democrats, 2016 election, exit polls}
% So… Hillary lost the election because she didn’t appeal to working class voters. Not as much as Obama, not as much as Trump. And again, we see she was simply the wrong candidate.

Author={Frank, Thomas},
Title={Four More Years},
comment={Kinda meanders around for a while, but eventually gets down to some really interesting points about how the Democratic party is making a huge mistake by avoid self-criticism on what went wrong in 2016. It has some interesting corollary to Edsall’s 3-29 piece in the Times. It has led the Democrats into a trap familiar to anyone with experience of left-wing politics: the party’s own high regard for itself has come to eclipse every other concern. Among the authorized opinion leaders of liberalism, for example, the task of deploring and denouncing the would-be dictator has crowded out the equally important task of assessing where the Democratic Party went wrong. Indeed, the two projects appear to them to be contradictory --- they find it impossible to flagellate Trump one day and examine themselves the next. Of the two, it is introspection that must hit the bricks. And it is uncompromising moral stridor that has come to dominate the opinion pages and the airwaves of the enlightened --- a continuous outpouring of agony and aghastitude at Trump and his works. This is unfortunate, because what happened in 2016 deserves to be taken seriously. This country of 320 million people was swept by a tidal wave of populist rage. Alongside the ugly eruption of bigotry there swirled perfectly natural concerns about deindustrialization, oligarchy, the power of big banks, bad trade deals, and the long-term abandonment of working-class concerns by the Democrats.'' But most leading Democrats can’t seem to see any of that. They don’t know what to make of Trump and his supporters, so violently does Trumpism transgress the professional norms to which they are accustomed. It is distasteful to them that they should be required to learn anything from a clown like the current president — that they should have to change in any way to accommodate his preposterous views. And so they cast about for leaders who might allow them to prevail without doing anything differently: a celebrity who might communicate better, a politician who might turn out the base more effectively. They devour articles about Trump voters who have had a change of heart and now beg forgiveness for their sins. They chide other liberals whom they regard as insufficiently enthusiastic about the Democratic Party. Above all, they dream of a deus ex machina, a super-prosecutor who will bring down justice like fire and reverse the unfortunate results of 2016 without anyone having to change their talking points in the slightest.’’ On the other hand, in the vast catalogue of social posturing, there are few more repugnant sights than rich people congratulating themselves for being righteous. In particular, it is a terrible way to win back the blue-collar white voters who were responsible, even more than were the Russians, for Trump’s win.'' For them, there’s an alternative to political victory: a utopia of scolding. Who needs to win elections when you can personally reestablish the rightful social order every day on Twitter and Facebook? When you can scold, and scold, and scold, and scold. That’s their future, and it’s a satisfying one: a finger wagging in some deplorable’s face, forever.’’},
category={Politics, democractic party, trump, 2016 election, democrats}

Author={Protess, Ben and McIntire, Mike and Eder, Steve and Drucker, Jesse},
Title={Mueller Wants Trump’s Business Records. What’s the Russia Connection?},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A rundown of Trump’s business connections to Russia. Including how Deutsche Bank was willing to finance Trump projects for billions of dollars (mostly repaid) while other banks wouldn’t work with him. That’s unrelated to Russia, but Deutsche Bank also had to pay 600 million dollars in fines for Russian money laundering. Not necessarily connected to Trump, but clearly Deutsche Bank is evil.},
category={Politics, banking, deutsche bank, trump, money laundering}

Author={Goldmacher, Shane},
Title={How Party Bosses, Not Voters, Pick Politicians in New York},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={30 percent of people in elected office in NY State are there because their party put them there by having the previous member step down early so the replacement nomination can be selected by the party, and avoid the primary runoff, as the law allows in NY. This prevents voters from voting for any alternative other than the one selected by the party. Of course, lobbyist have a heavy hand in the selection as well.},
category={Politics, new york state, democracy, elections}

Author={Feige, David},
Title={When Junk Science About Sex Offenders Infects the Supreme Court},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={The Supreme Court has long upheld harsh punishments for sex offenders based on citations showing 80% of sex offenders commit a second offence, quoting the Supreme Courts written standard of ``frightening and high’’. The standard has then been used as precedent on many other decisions and as the basis for legislation. This is totally bullshit. The 80% number is based on a single article from 1980 in Psychology Today, not written by a scientist, and the author himself is horrified at it being quoted. There has been much real research since then showing sex offenders actually reoffend at far lower rates than other criminals.},
category={Politics, sex offenders, recidivism, prison}
% It makes one wonder what other bad science the Supreme Court has based decisions on. And the wisdom of precedent as a legal basis for things, since it assumes that historical and higher up decisions were reasonable. Especially when it comes to science, it seems that is more a matter of faith in the legal system, and an old father-knows-best type of notion about lawyers, than a basis in reality.

Author={Cohn, Nate},
Title={The Obama-Trump Voters Are Real. Here’s What They Think.},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Looks comprehensively at what the decisive factors in the Clinton v. Trump election were, and finds that it was unquestionably white working-class voters in battleground states who switched from Obama to Trump. Surveys indicate that those voters are now solidly Republican, though they could be lured back to Democrats by either the Republicans running a more traditional candidate (the voters do not like many traditional soft Republican ideas) or by a Democratic candidate that supporst abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and a higher minimum wage but ALSO includes racially white-power tinged working-class populism.},
category={Politics, trump, clinton, 2016 election, voters}
% Not mentioned explicitly here is the fact that (while it’s not a sure thing) it seems likely that given this Bernie Sanders WOULD have won the election, or at least been a better candidate and done better than Clinton.
% It’s still shocking to me that nobody saw this coming BEFORE the election. It’s feels like all anyone was looking at before the election was national results, which as this article points out, has nothing to do with winning.
% See also: \url{}
% ``‘it’s clear that large numbers of white, working-class voters shifted from the Democrats to Mr. Trump. Over all, almost one in four of President Obama’s 2012 white working-class supporters defected from the Democrats in 2016, either supporting Mr. Trump or voting for a third-party candidate.’
% andL \url{}
% See also this article about 4 million Obama voters who didn’t vote at all in the Clinton-Trump election:
% They are young, progressive people of color. Until the 2016 election, they were considered the future of the party. If the Democrats don’t come back around to thinking of them as the future, they are going to lose more elections.

Author={Kohut, Meridith},
Title={The Battle for Venezuela, Through a Lens, Helmet and Gas Mask},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Amazing photographs of street protests against the Maduro government in Venezuela.},
category={Politics, venezuela, street protest, riots}

Author={Thrall, Nathan},
Title={The Past 50 Years of Israeli Occupation. And the Next.},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={An excellent article covering the history of Palenstine since the 1967 war. Describes how Israel has kept control of Palestinian land indefinitely through the three pillars of American backing, Palestinian weakness, and Israeli indifference. This is based on the myth that the situation is temporary and eventually Israel will have to offer the Palestinians some kind of compromise. Also that the US give more military support to Israel than all other countries combined. US support is contingent on the myth that this is a temporary situation, but it has been and remains in this state for decades now because it is simply easier for Israel to maintain. Also describes the Palestinians’ belief in a myth that if they remain peaceful, Israel will eventually feel bad and offer concessions. Describes how this is false with examples of how any time Palestine (or any other country dealing with Israel) has won something it was through resistance and bloodshed. The only other option would be the US to force Israel to concessions.},
category={Politics, palestine, israel, midddle east, 1967 war}

Author={Broad, William J. and Sanger, David E.},
Title={‘Last Secret’ of 1967 War: Israel’s Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={In preparation for the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Israel put together an atomic weapon intending to detonate it if they were beginninf to lose the war. They selected a mountain top where the explosion would have been seen by all of Israel’s enemies. Israel has never admitted that even has any nuclear weapons. It was code-named Shimshon, or Samson because Samson brought down the roof of the Philistine temple killing his enemies and himself.},
category={Politics, superscience, israel, middle east, 1967 war, nuclear bomb}
% Yet another entry into the “can you believe the insane secret shit government pulled in the 50s, 60s, and 70s?
% which forces one to ask: if that was then, what are they doing now?
% and why should we believe it’s LESS insane shit? All public indicators are it would be epochly MORE insane shit going on.

Author={Bruder, Jessica and Maharidge, Dale},
Title={Snowden’s Box},
comment={An amazing narrative article about some of the reporters on the recieving end of the information Snowden released. Covers basic issues of information security as well. The more details that emerged about the reach and sophistication of government surveillance, the more absurd our situation seemed. Some of the most sensitive intelligence information in the world had traveled in plain sight through the U.S. mail, then sat in my hallway, where it could have been pilfered as casually as all those other packages. Thinking about that made my head spin. It also reflected what I consider to be one of the great lessons of adulthood: that most of the institutions and endeavors we regard as ironclad — from parenting to politics — are actually held together with chewing gum and duct tape. Nothing truly works, at least not for long, or not in the way it’s supposed to. This reality is terrifying, because it exposes the precariousness of the existing order. But it’s also liberating, because it encourages the individual to act, to defy the ominous mythology of competence and control.'' In a video posted by the Guardian on June 9, 2013, Snowden seemed strangely prescient about what was to come. “There will be a time,” he said, “when policies will change”: The only thing that restricts the activities of the surveillance state are policy. Even our agreements with other sovereign governments. We consider that to be a stipulation of policy rather than a stipulation of law. And because of that, a new leader will be elected. They’ll flip the switch, say that because of the crisis, because of the dangers that we face in the world, you know, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority. We need more power. And there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it, and it will be turnkey tyranny.’’},
category={Politics, Criticality, infosec, edward snowden, whistleblowers}
% one of the concluding points it has is that if everyone everywhere just started encrypting things all the time, it would make the people who NEED that encryption a lot safer. Kinda an infosec herd immunity.

Author={Perlstein, Rick},
Title={I Thought I Understood the American Right. Trump Proved Me Wrong.},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Through a detailed look at the history of the American right, a historian of conservatism looks back at how he and his peers failed to anticipate the rise of the president because historians undervalued the power of the fringe movements of conservatism. Conservatism was thought to be vanquished by the New Deal at the end of World War II, until William F. Buckley Jr. restarted the movement with the National Review. National Review wanted to express an intelligent conservative viewpoint, a coherent view that eventually became the dominant form of conservatism. Part of this was conservatives denouncing the paranoid fringe. But Trump forced a change to that narrative - he embraced the paranoid fringe. Historians never saw this coming. Richard Hofstadter pushed the idea that there was a “consensus” school of historians; that Americans agreed upon moderate liberalism as the nation’s natural governing philosophy. This idea discounted the conservatives of the 1960s as far-right kooks (like Barry Goldwater and Joseph McCarthy). He called them “the paranoid style in American politics”. But Reagan’s success undermines Hofstadter’s notion that conservatism was over. Lisa McGirr wrote a book in 2001 called “Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right” which became a cornerstone of the movement among historians to deal with the right as smart people reacting against liberal permissiveness. But Perlstein argues these historian gave too MUCH credit to the conservatism being a sensible movement and not enough to the crazy fringe. Hofstadter was overly dismissive, and McGirr (and Perlstein) gave conservatives too much credit. Leo Ribuffo comes along and argues that America’s anti-liberal traditions were far more deeply rooted in the past, and far angrier, than most historians would acknowledge. Among the fringe conservative history now recognized as relevant (in the wake of Trump) is the Klan’s notion that social democracy should be reserved only for white people and supported public education - to weaken catholic schools. The Klan had a group called the Black Legion with 135,000 people in it in 1936. Humphrey Bogart starred in a movie about it. But most historian had never heard of it. This article also covers Father Charles Coughlin, a radio priest out of Detroit with 30 million listeners who started a magazine called Social Justice. But he started preaching anti-Semitism like Henry Ford and led to support of a pro Hitler rally in 1939 Madison Square Garden where the leader spoke in front of an enormous picture of George Washington flanked by swastikas.},
category={Politics, Criticality, history, conservatism, republicanism, nazis, social justice}
% Washington flanked by swasitkas: \url{}

Author={Taylor, Alan},
Title={Tiananmen Square, Then and Now},
journal={The Atlantic},
comment={An amazing set of photos from the Tiananmen Square uprising, including a photo of crushed bicycles and protesters after the tanks rolled in.},
category={Politics, china, bicycles, tiananmen square}

Author={Krauze, Enrique},
Title={Will Mexico Get Half of Its Territory Back?},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Covers the long term impacts of the Mexican-American war and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (signed on Feb. 2, 1848), in which Mexico — invaded by American soldiers, its capital occupied, its ports and customs stations seized — was forced to accept the American annexation of Texas and concede more than half the rest of Mexican territory, now including most of the states of Arizona, New Mexico and California.'' Claims the treaty might be entirely invalid, and even if it isn't that crucial components of it have been completely ignored since the beginning. Argues that Films, documentaries and memorable TV series have helped to modify the memory of two original sins, slavery and racism against African-Americans, and, with somewhat lesser attention perhaps, the racist slaughter and repression of the American Indians. A third sin should be added to these: the aggression against Mexico and the plundering of its territory.’’ Raises the question, ``How much of the historic prosperity of the United States of America stems from the development of territories originally inhabited by Mexicans and ripped away from Mexico through an invasion and a war of territorial conquest?’’ Argues this prosperity should be repaid through immigration.},
category={Politics, mexico, mexican-american war, immigration}

Author={Garrow, David J.},
Title={When Martin Luther King Came Out Against Vietnam},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={About the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s speech at Riverside Church in Upper Manhattan against the Vietnam War, one year before he was assasssinated. In the final years of his life he rejected the optimism of the “I Have a Dream” speech and instead mourned how it had “turned into a nightmare.” He highlighted how civil rights was never a discrete problem in American society, and that racism went hand in hand with the fellow evils of poverty and militarism. He was against the war early, but decided not to denounce the war right away because “Sometimes the public is not ready to digest the truth.” Dr. King remained relatively mute about the war through most of 1966, but by year’s end he was expressing private disgust at how increased military spending had torn a gaping budget hole in Johnson’s Great Society domestic programs.'' He got a standing ovation in the church, but the press came out against him. The New York Times called Dr. King’s remarks both “facile” and “slander.” It said the moral issues in Vietnam “are less clear-cut than he suggests” and warned that “to divert the energies of the civil rights movement to the Vietnam issue is both wasteful and self-defeating,” given how the movement needed to confront what the paper called “the intractability of slum mores and habits.”’’ ``Dr. King was indeed ahead of his time, but not for long. A year later, antiwar sentiment pushed Johnson out of his re-election bid, and today we remember opposition to the war as a widespread phenomenon, so much so that Dr. King’s Riverside Church speech is often overlooked as just one more statement against an unpopular conflict.’’},
category={Politics, war, vietnam, mlk, martin luther king, anti-war protests}

Author={Steinhauer, Jennifer},
Title={Republicans Land a Punch on Health Care, to Their Own Face},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A breakdown of the failure of Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act in early 2017. Squarely puts the blame on the far-right Freedom Caucus — a group of Republicans who have defined themselves entirely by opposition, and so have proven themselves incapable of actually governing, when give the power to do it. Since they were completely unbending Republicans tried to offer them concessions, but those concessions in turn lost them more moderate Republicans. It was not clear there were ANY concessions that could be made to win over the Freedom Caucus Republicans anyway.},
category={Politics, governing, health care, affordable care act, obamacare, republicans}
% There could be a lesson here for hard-left politicians too. Defining yourself entirely by opposition can leave you powerless.

Author={Levy, Ken},
Title={The Problems With Originalism},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A very simple explanation of both Originalism and Textualism as ways of reading the constitution, and why those methods, by their own understanding, and demostrably (and fairly simply) false. Promotes Principled Pragmatism'' - which says judges should consider not only the constitutional language as the ratifiers interpreted it but also the constitutional language as we moderns interpret it, the structure of the Constitution as a whole, the overall purposes of the Constitution as stated in its preamble and — yes — the public policy consequences of each possible decision.’’ As opposed to simple subjectivism.},
category={Politics, constitutional law, originalism, textualism, scalia}

Title={Is America’s Military Big Enough?},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={An infographic showing the size of the US’s military, and Trump’s budget proposal to increase the size. Covers the fact that the size of the military is based on our commitment to defending allies overseas, and maintaining the ability to fight two full-scale wars in two places at once. Points out that while Trump has promoted the idea of increasing the size, he does not seem to have a reason or a goal that fits with any of his proposals, other than to simply have MORE weapons systems he can show people.},
category={Politics, military size, infographics}
% Trump is essentially doing the opposite of the thing that liberals do. The left always talks about the insane size of our military, and military spending, without talking about the reasons WHY it is that size. (Except when they float the near-conspiracy theory that it is is a hand-out to weapons manufacturers.) They simply say we need to shrink it.
% I think the left should talk about how it is in fact NOT ok for our goal to be defending countries all around the world, maintaining our domination through military protection, and we should NOT continue to pursue the ability to carry on two wars at once. It’s all insane.
% The policy and politics people will continue to ignore the left about this issue unless the left takes up talking to them in their own terms - like trying to convince a bible-thumper to be anti-death penalty.
% Trump is essentially threatening to make all the liberal conspiracies true: military for military (and weapons manufacturers) sake, rather than for some imagined purpose that we need to be defending our allies.

Author={Whitebook, Joel},
Title={Trump’s Method, Our Madness},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={First a good explanation of the difference between neurosis and psychosis - where neurosis is where a person separates one aspect of their personality from reality, while psychosis is the nearly complete separation from reality. Then treating a patient with psychosis is used as a metaphor for how the American public experiences Trump. This is another place where Adam Curtis’ recognition of Surkov, the Russian puppet master, and his tactic of keeping enemies confused by never making sense, is brought up in the context of the Trump administration.},
category={Politics, hypernormalization, adam curtis, trump, russia, surkov}
% It’s a little annoying that he asides Curtis as “over-the-top” when discussing Trump. Especially since Curtis’ “over-the-top”ness was far more accurate about the outcome of the election than anyone’s even-handed analysis.
% Also, for some reason it seems like the only thing people take away from Hypernormalisation is Surkov? I didn’t think that was the most convincing part of the film, precisely because I think Trump IS psychotic, not calculating and strategic. It’s just that his psychosis happens to FUNCTION in a way that is beneficial to him - through sheer happenstance.

Author={Carey, Kevin},
Title={Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Multiple studies now show that vouchers that allow students to attend non-public schools yield worse results than public schools. ``“Students who use vouchers to attend private schools have fared worse academically compared to their closely matched peers attending public schools,” the researchers found. Once again, results were worse in math.’’ This is based on analysis of test scores, but test scores are also what Republicans base their argument for vouchers on. Well-regulated charter schools do have a strong positive impact on test scores.},
category={Politics, education, vouchers, charter schools}

Author={Kolbert Elizabeth},
Title={Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds},
journal={The New Yorker},
comment={Discusses different implications of human inability to reason. Humans’ biggest advantage over other species is our ability to coöperate. Coöperation is difficult to establish and almost as difficult to sustain. For any individual, freeloading is always the best course of action. Reason developed not to enable us to solve abstract, logical problems or even to help us draw conclusions from unfamiliar data; rather, it developed to resolve the problems posed by living in collaborative groups.'' the task that reason evolved to perform, which is to prevent us from getting screwed by the other members of our group. Living in small bands of hunter-gatherers, our ancestors were primarily concerned with their social standing, and with making sure that they weren’t the ones risking their lives on the hunt while others loafed around in the cave. There was little advantage in reasoning clearly, while much was to be gained from winning arguments.’’ Also covers the illusion of explanatory depth: People believe that they know way more than they actually do. What allows us to persist in this belief is other people. In the case of my toilet, someone else designed it so that I can operate it easily. This is something humans are very good at. We’ve been relying on one another’s expertise ever since we figured out how to hunt together, which was probably a key development in our evolutionary history. So well do we collaborate, Sloman and Fernbach argue, that we can hardly tell where our own understanding ends and others’ begins.'' Where it gets us into trouble, according to Sloman and Fernbach, is in the political domain…“As a rule, strong feelings about issues do not emerge from deep understanding,” Sloman and Fernbach write. And here our dependence on other minds reinforces the problem. If your position on, say, the Affordable Care Act is baseless and I rely on it, then my opinion is also baseless. When I talk to Tom and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views. If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Trump Administration.’’ If we—or our friends or the pundits on CNN—spent less time pontificating and more trying to work through the implications of policy proposals, we’d realize how clueless we are and moderate our views. This, they write, “may be the only form of thinking that will shatter the illusion of explanatory depth and change people’s attitudes.”'' Providing people with accurate information doesn’t seem to help; they simply discount it. Appealing to their emotions may work better, but doing so is obviously antithetical to the goal of promoting sound science. “The challenge that remains,” they write toward the end of their book, “is to figure out how to address the tendencies that lead to false scientific belief.”’’},
category={Politics, Science, Criticality, confirmation bias, illusion of explanatory depth}
% See also this paper on the illusion of explanatory depth: rozenblit2002misunderstood
% See Fernbach and Sloman’s article in the Times as well: \url{}

Author={Zaretsky, Robert},
Title={Trump and the ‘Society of the Spectacle’},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A nice summary of the thought behind Guy Debord’s Society of Spectacle, including how images were to dubord what commodoties were to Marx. Talks about how it applies to the Trump administration. Ends with a call for national protests and marches and a return to local politics and community organizing. Includes an awesome photo of Trump seen through a television camera viewfinder.},
category={Politics, trump, society of spectacle, guy dubord, marx}
% The explanation of Trump as spectacle is somewhat unconvincing compared to, say, Adam Curtis’ societal analysis. Zaretsky’s calls for local community organizing also seems pretty unconvinving.

Author={Podkul, Cezary and Kravitz, Derek and Parker, Will},
Title={Why Developers of Manhattan Luxury Towers Give Millions to Upstate Candidates},
comment={Documents how real estate developers in NYC gives vast sums of money to support (Republican) political campaigns in upstate New York as a way to get legislation passed through state legislature in their favor.},
category={Politics, albany, nyc, new york state, real estate developers}
% Once again we see how upstate NY is ACTUALLY just part of NYC. Even if one of the ways real estate developers exploit that fact is by supporting anti-NYC sentiment in upstate NY.

Author={Kudler, Adrian Glick},
Title={Our cities, our politics},
comment={Discusses the fact that the US is polarized based on type of place: urban vs rural, and the differences aren’t about a single issue, but pretty much everything. Raises the question: if richer more centrist liberals are moving into cities, will the cities become more centrist in politics than their traditional left-wing working class? There’s a shift that’s been happening over the past 10 or 15 years, where the more conservative upper middle class is moving from the suburbs into urban areas, which have for a long time been bastions of a more liberal working class. How is that changing cities? Lily Geismer: A lot of it has to do with how you define liberal and conservative. Oftentimes there's this affluent group of people who have come in, who are quite liberal on social issues, and are liberal about issues on the national level. But what I tracked in my research is the closer you got to people’s property values, their tax rates, and their children’s educations, they became less collective-minded or less progressive, which is sort of more conservative in their values.'' Also a nice thought about public-private partnerships: There always was a place for the private sector and this idea of public-private partnerships. That was at the heart of things like urban renewal in the 1950s and 1960s. But there’s a difference—the New Deal was about stimulating those sectors and working in partnership, and this is letting the private sector do a lot, if not most, of the work. And that shift occurred in the 1970s, in response to a recession and the rise of inflation. There was pushback against Keynesian economic models that led to this notion that the private sector is a more effective way of getting things done. There’s also a lot of pushback against large government bureaucracy that emerges during that time, this idea that it’s better and more efficient if it comes from the private sector.’’},
category={Politics, polarization, urban vesus rural, yuppies, public-private partnerships, keynesian economics, Economics}
% One of the huge unspoken problems is that neither the left or the right actually wants to do ALL the things necessary to achieve the outcomes that come from their values.
% For instance, if the liberals actually want to increase social safety net programs, they HAVE to address the more than a billions dollars a day we spend on defense.
Why do we spend so much on defence? Because we have a military presense across the world.
% If we reduce that military presense significantly, we reduce our global influence significantly. If we reduce our global influence, we reduce the resources we have for social safety nets.
% Or conservatives might want to cut down the government, and keep the military at home. But that would mean cutting back our miltary, and our global influence too.
% Without that global influence, we won’t be able to keep global corporations, a group conservatives are very committed to.
% The truth is, if we want to become an isolationist, independent country, if we want to not be responsible for the rest of the world, if we want to take care of our own, the whole system has to change. Burn the whole thing down.
% And it will come with an economic haircut for the middle class and the wealthy, (assuming your are willing to build the social safety net for the poor.)
% There is no way to keep what we have now and at the same time change things for the values of the right or the left.
% It’s like a political version of intersectionality - there’s no way to move forward without considering all the different influences. Interestingly, there’s no way to move forward without causing pain to some of those influences. (That might be true of intersectionality in general.)
% Sadly no liberal with that agenda has ever made it into power. Even more sadly, an insane right-wing demagogue HAS made it into just such a position of power.
% There is of course the middle-ground policy-tweaking of the Obama administration - where people in power try to keep everyone happy while squeezing out some small benefits for the poor.
% This, by definition, requires not cutting benefits to most people.
% This also, clearly, does not work. There is no way for the US to reduce its insane carbon output without cutting back on consumer goods, global trade, and global influence. That won’t happen without cutting down our global military presense. If it does happen, the middle class (and the rich) will be generally far worse off than it is now.

Author={Vereau, Gery},
Title={New Jersey Municipal IDs Safer, Some Say},
journal={Reporte Hispano},
comment={(Translated on Voice of NY from Spanish-language original) Municipal IDs in New Jersey were distributed to folks, and then the information used to identify them was deleted immediately after they were issued the ID. This makes them safer than in NYC, where a private company was hired to gather the information, and it is all currently stored in a database. This article also defines sanctuary cities - non-sanctuary cities give information they have to ICE after someone has been held for 48 hours. Sanctuary cities will only do it under court order. Points out that it will be difficult for the Trump administration to defund sanctuary cities because almost no federal funding goes directly to cities.},
category={Politics, municipal ids, sanctuary cities, new jersey, nycid}
% So for once it might be a good thing that cities aren’t getting their fair share of funding from the federal government!

Author={Murphy, Jarrett},
Title={Some Question City’s Decision to Keep IDNYC Documents},
journal={City Limits},
comment={In the wake of the Trump election, the city considers destroying documentation about immigrants captured by signing up for NYCID. Some legislators in Staten Island are suing to prevent the destruction. Advocates who opposed NYCID when the law passed because it is the only municipal id program in the country that kept copies of documents, now are pointing out that this wouldn’t have been a problem if they had just not retained the documents in the first place.},
category={Politics, municipal ids, nycid}

title = “Populism and the Return of the “Paranoid Style”: Some Evidence and a Simple Model of Demand for Incompetence as Insurance against Elite Betrayal”,
author = “Rafael Di Tella and Julio J. Rotemberg”,
institution = “National Bureau of Economic Research”,
type = “Working Paper”,
series = “Working Paper Series”,
number = “22975”,
year = “2016”,
month = “December”,
doi = {10.3386/w22975},
URL = “”,
abstract = {We present a simple model of populism as the rejection of “disloyal” leaders. We show that adding the assumption that people are worse off when they experience low income as a result of leader betrayal (than when it is the result of bad luck) to a simple voter choice model yields a preference for incompetent leaders. These deliver worse material outcomes in general, but they reduce the feelings of betrayal during bad times. We find some evidence consistent with our model in a survey carried out on the eve of the recent U.S. presidential election. Priming survey participants with questions about the importance of competence in policymaking usually reduced their support for the candidate who was perceived as less competent; this effect was reversed for rural, and less educated white, survey participants.},
comment = {People who feel like they are suffering because they were betrayed by a leader are more likely to vote for incompetent leaders.},
category = {Economics, Politics, voting}
% Download pdf here: \url{}

Author={Cohn, Nate},
Title={How the Obama Coalition Crumbled, Leaving an Opening for Trump},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Looking at the data on the election shows that Clinton did not lose because of a turnout problem, but because lower-income working-class white voters of the North who voted for Obama in the last election, voted for Trump in this one. The Clinton administration knew this was a problem. Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Trump ran against the establishment — and against a candidate who embodied it far more than John McCain or Mr. Romney did. The various allegations against Mrs. Clinton neatly complemented the notion that she wasn’t out to help ordinary Americans.'' There was also a large decline in black voter turnout - likely because there was just less interest in voting for a white person at the top of the ticket. Note that decline was similar across the country, regarldess of new laws that might reduce turnout. If black turnout had matches 2012 levels Clinton probably would have won. However, Obama could have won even with low black turnout. Also: Mrs. Clinton’s gains were concentrated among the most affluent and best-educated white voters, much as Mr. Trump’s gains were concentrated among the lowest-income and least-educated white voters.’’},
category={Politics, 2016 election, trump, obama, clinton, romney}
% If the Clinton folks knew this was a problem, why wasn’t it recognized/publicized by the “expert” analysts and commentators - like Nate Cohn?
% The message here is the thing I keep pointing out: that every election since 2000 has been won by the anti-establishment candidate. Why that isn’t the big take-away headline of these articles I don’t understand.
% The other big message is that Clinton was an incredibly weak candidate. If you read between the lines, it does sound like Bernie coudl have won this thing.

Author={Levitsky, Steven and Ziblatt, Daniel},
Title={Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Researches from Harvard who claim that Trump tests positive as an anti-democratic politician. Points out that democracy depends on politicians adhereing to a bunch of unstated traditions and guidelines: ``Democratic institutions must be reinforced by strong informal norms. Like a pickup basketball game without a referee, democracies work best when unwritten rules of the game, known and respected by all players, ensure a minimum of civility and cooperation. Norms serve as the soft guardrails of democracy, preventing political competition from spiraling into a chaotic, no-holds-barred conflict. Among the unwritten rules that have sustained American democracy are partisan self-restraint and fair play. For much of our history, leaders of both parties resisted the temptation to use their temporary control of institutions to maximum partisan advantage, effectively underutilizing the power conferred by those institutions. There existed a shared understanding, for example, that anti-majoritarian practices like the Senate filibuster would be used sparingly, that the Senate would defer (within reason) to the president in nominating Supreme Court justices, and that votes of extraordinary importance — like impeachment — required a bipartisan consensus. Such practices helped to avoid a descent into the kind of partisan fight to the death that destroyed many European democracies in the 1930s.’’},
category={Criticality, Politics, trump, democracy}
% See also taub2016democracy

Author={Pozen, David},
Title={Why G.O.P. Electoral College Members Can Vote Against Trump},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Looks at the legal and ethical arguments for and against electors in the Electoral College voting against Trump and their state’s mandate. Points out that the Electoral College was NOT as much put in place to protect against the will of the masses, but actually to reach a compromise by granting power to slave-holding states and give them a way to exercize their three-fifths rights of slaves. Ends with a call to eliminate the undemocratic institution no matter what happens.},
category={Politics, trump, electoral college, slave states}

Author={Malik, Kenan},
Title={All the Fake News That Was Fit to Print},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Op-ed pointing out that ``fake news’’ is not new, but is in fact something that used to be done regularly by governments, and now can be published anywhere.},
category={Politics, Criticality, fake news}

title = “Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election”,
author = “Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow”,
institution = “National Bureau of Economic Research”,
type = “Working Paper”,
series = “Working Paper Series”,
number = “23089”,
year = “2017”,
month = “January”,
doi = {10.3386/w23089},
URL = “”,
abstract = {We present new evidence on the role of false stories circulated on social media prior to the 2016 US presidential election. Drawing on audience data, archives of fact-checking websites, and results from a new online survey, we find: (i) social media was an important but not dominant source of news in the run-up to the election, with 14 percent of Americans calling social media their “most important” source of election news; (ii) of the known false news stories that appeared in the three months before the election, those favoring Trump were shared a total of 30 million times on Facebook, while those favoring Clinton were shared eight million times; (iii) the average American saw and remembered 0.92 pro-Trump fake news stories and 0.23 pro-Clinton fake news stories, with just over half of those who recalled seeing fake news stories believing them; (iv) for fake news to have changed the outcome of the election, a single fake article would need to have had the same persuasive effect as 36 television campaign ads.},
comment = {Quantitative science that finds fake news was not a factor in the election. ``our data suggest that social media were not the most important source of election news, and even the most widely circulated fake news stories were seen by only a small fraction of Americans.’’},
category={Politics, Criticality, fake news}
% See URL here: \url{}
% See also this NY Times article on the topic: \url{}
% Which links to a couple of other papers on similar research, including this meta-study:
% Kalla, Joshua and Broockman, David E., The Minimal Persuasive Effects
% of Campaign Contact in General Elections: Evidence from 49 Field
% Experiments (September 25, 2017). Forthcoming, American Political
% Science Review; Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research
% Paper No. 17-65. Available at SSRN:

Author={Johnson, Steven},
Title={Why Blue States Are the Real ‘Tea Party’},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Points out that the divide in this country isn’t red versus blue states, but red country versus blue cities. And that urban areas pay far more in taxes, and contribute far more to the economy, but get far less of that money back in services — largely because by law urban areas have less representation in government. Predicts that soon there shall be a reckoning around this issue.},
category={Politics, taxes, representation, electoral colleg, electoral collegee}

Author={Vavreck, Lynn},
Title={Why This Election Was Not About the Issues},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A professor does the research to show that a far higher percentage of political ads were aimed at the opponents character rather than issues than in other elections. It is possible that you can therefore blame the candidates for focussing on character rather than issues, and the media for simply following the attacks.},
category={Politics, 2016 election, trump, clinton}
% More evidence that the person to blam for the 2016 election disaster is Hillary.

Author={Krugman, Paul},
Title={Why Corruption Matters},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Krugman argues that it isn’t the amount of money that is a problem with corruption, it’s the way it incentivizes bad policy. He says, ``Normally, policy reflects some combination of practicality — what works? — and ideology — what fits my preconceptions? And our usual complaint is that ideology all too often overrules the evidence. But now we’re going to see a third factor powerfully at work: What policies can officials, very much including the man at the top, personally monetize? And the effect will be disastrous.’’},
category={Politics, trump, corruption, public policy}

Author={Umansky, Eric},
Title={How Journalists Need to Begin Imagining the Unimaginable},
comment={Makes the argument that journalists failed in their coverage of Trump — reporters fundamentally didn’t believe it was possible he could be elected (in the US). Calls for journalists in coming years to make it their jobs to document changing norms, since normal is going to be shifting all the time.},
category={Politics, trump, journalism, reporting}

Author={Badger, Emily},
Title={As American as Apple Pie? The Rural Vote’s Disproportionate Slice of Power},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A look at the history of the power divide in the Senate and US government in favor of rural areas over urban areas.},
category={Politics, gerrymandering, senate}
% The Times does an overview of the current thinking on gerrymandering ahead of coming Supreme Court decisions in 2017:
% \url{}

Author={Crain, Caleb},
Title={The Case Against Democracy},
journal={The New Yorker},
comment={Review of books arguing against systems of popular democracy and for some kind of modified representative system. Describes David Estlund’s defense of democracy, which ends up resting on the argument that universal suffrage is so established in our minds as a default that giving the knowledgeable power over the ignorant will always feel more unjust than giving those in the majority power over those in the minority.'' Describes Jason Brennan's argument that American voters have remained ignorant despite decades of rising education levels. Some economists have argued that ill-informed voters, far from being lazy or self-sabotaging, should be seen as rational actors. If the odds that your vote will be decisive are minuscule—Brennan writes that you are more likely to win Powerball a few times in a row'---then learning about politics isn’t worth even a few minutes of your time.'' And, ``He was equally unimpressed by the argument that it’s one’s duty to vote. It would be bad if no one farmed,’ he wrote, but that does not imply that everyone should farm.' In fact, he suspected, the imperative to vote might be even weaker than the imperative to farm. After all, by not voting you do your neighbor a good turn. If I do not vote, your vote counts more,’ Brennan wrote.’’ Brennan splits voters into groups: Brennan calls people who don’t bother to learn about politics hobbits, and he thinks it for the best if they stay home on Election Day. A second group of people enjoy political news as a recreation, following it with the partisan devotion of sports fans, and Brennan calls them hooligans. Third in his bestiary are vulcans, who investigate politics with scientific objectivity, respect opposing points of view, and carefully adjust their opinions to the facts, which they seek out diligently. It’s vulcans, presumably, who Brennan hopes will someday rule over us, but he doesn’t present compelling evidence that they really exist. In fact, one study he cites shows that even people with excellent math skills tend not to draw on them if doing so risks undermining a cherished political belief. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. In recent memory, sophisticated experts have been confident about many proposals that turned out to be disastrous---invading Iraq, having a single European currency, grinding subprime mortgages into the sausage known as collateralized debt obligations, and so on.'' But Brennan doesn't really offer any kind of viable alternative or method for selecting vulcans. Some other references are referred to as well: In The Myth of the Rational Voter' (2007), the economist Bryan Caplan suggested that ignorance may even be gratifying to voters. Some beliefs are more emotionally appealing,’ Caplan observed, so if your vote isn’t likely to do anything why not indulge yourself in what you want to believe, whether or not it’s true? Caplan argues that it’s only because of the worthlessness of an individual vote that so many voters look beyond their narrow self-interest: in the polling booth, the warm, fuzzy feeling of altruism can be had cheap.’’ The author wraps up by comparing voting to combat: ``But maybe voting is neither commons nor market. Perhaps, instead, it’s combat. Relatively gentle, of course. Rather than rifles and bayonets, essentially there’s just a show of hands. But the nature of the duty may be similar, because what Brennan’s model omits is that sometimes, in an election, democracy itself is in danger. If a soldier were to calculate his personal value to the campaign that his army is engaged in, he could easily conclude that the cost of showing up at the front isn’t worth it, even if he factors in the chance of being caught and punished for desertion. The trouble is that it’s impossible to know in advance of a battle which side will prevail, let alone by how great a margin, especially if morale itself is a variable. The lack of certainty about the future makes a hash of merely prudential calculation. It’s said that most soldiers worry more about letting down the fellow-soldiers in their unit than about allegiance to an entity as abstract as the nation, and maybe voters, too, feel their duty most acutely toward friends and family who share their idea of where the country needs to go.’’},
category={Politics, voting},
% This article and books mentioned in it would be interestingly compared to Adam Curtis’ 4th episode of Century of Self, about politics.
% See this article for more of the metaphor of politicos as sports fanatics/hooligans: \url{}
% And this article about how partisan party identification outweighs any other ideals of a voter: \url{}

Author={Hannah-Jones, Nikole},
Title={Trump’s Inconvenient Racial Truth},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A masterful piece that argues that Trump is clumsily making the correct argument that Democrats take black American’s votes for granted. She argues that ``Instead of seeking aggressive racial-equality initiatives, Democrats too often have opted for a sort of trickle-down liberalism. If we work to strengthen unions, that will trickle down to you. If we work to strengthen health care, that will trickle down to you. If we work to make all schools better, that will trickle down to you. After decades of Democratic loyalty, too many black Americans are still awaiting that trickle.’’},
category={Politics, race, democracts, votes, trump}
% Of course white liberals should be holding Democrats accountable for their support of black communities as well.

Author={Goldenberg, Sally},
Title={City Council takes new stab at old issues with city’s Public Design Commission},
comment={The Public Design Commission (otherwise known as the Art Commission) is a little known agency of the New York City government that has power over the aesthetic qualities of public projects. There are many people who feel it just slows down the approval of public projects uneccessarily and operates with little transparency.},
category={Politics, nyc, art, public design commission, art commission}

Author={Douthat, Ross},
Title={The Dangers of Hillary Clinton},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A powerful essay by the conservative columnist talking about the history of Hillary as an establishment candidate. it’s convinced that if an idea is mainstream and commonplace among the great and good then it cannot possibly be folly.'' Indeed what is distinctive about Clinton, more even than Bush or Obama, is how few examples there are of her ever breaking with the elite consensus on matters of statecraft.’’ Too bad it’s from a conservative source making it sound like a sophisticated cover for accusations of a vast left-wing conspiracy of the elite, rather than a fine critique of establishment values.},
category={Politics, hrc, hillary, clinton, establishment}

Author={Chozick, Amy and Confessore, Nicholas and Barbara, Michael},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Wikileaks posted pieces of the highly-paid speeches Hillary Clinton gave at financial firms, revealing her to be more of a ``technocrat at hoome with her powerful audience’’. She says she dreams of open trade and open borders, and talks about having both a public and private position on politically contentious issues. She admits that her family’s increasing wealth makes her kind of removed from the struggles of the middle class.},
category={Politics, hillary, clinton, financial firms, hrc}
% More here: \url{}

Author={Rothschild, David and Goel, Sharad},
Title={When You Hear the Margin of Error Is Plus or Minus 3 Percent, Think 7 Instead},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Comparing election results to polls taken near election day finds that the margin of error of those late polls was more like 7 percent rather than the usually stated 3 percent. This is due to nonsampling error: like frame error (mismatch between people who are included in the poll and the true population). This includes phone-based surveys which exclude people without phones and nonresponse error (where responding to a survey is affected by how the person would answer the survey — supporters of a trailing candidate are less likely to respond to surveys). Nonresponse rates exceed 90 percent for election surveys.},
category={Politics, polling, margin of error}
% This article contains links to a number of papers that look very interesting, including the author’s own paper, here: \url{}

Author={Taub, Amanda and Fisher, Max},
Title={Why Referendums Aren’t as Democratic as They Seem},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Voter referendums are often bad democratic processses. Voters typically have to use short hand to understand complex issues, and so end up following some leader who tells a compelling story. Leaders like referendums because they can get popular legitimacy for a decision they want to take, and use that to silence opponents. But they often backfire when voters choose the opposing view. Some of this can be mitigated by requireing higher voter turnouts or supermajorities to win.},
category={Politics, referendums, brexit, farc}
% It’s a compelling case for representative democracy. You actually WANT a professional expert to represent you in government, because who has time to understand every complex issue?
% The problem is that if your representative democracy starts going corrupt, tools like referendums (or mass protests) start to look like a useful way to override the failings of representation. But what other choice does an angry public have?
% Beside that, what are representative votes but simply referendums on who should represent you? Does not every criticism of referendums in this article not also apply to representative votes? (How else would Trump have any shot at winning?)
% Perhaps the problem is not referendums, but democracy itself.

Author={Zinn, Howard},
Title={The Optimism of Uncertainty},
journal={The Nation},
comment={An elegant little essay where Zinn argues that history shows change comes as a surprise, that small acts should be taken because you don’t know how many people might actually share your views, and that those acts might suddenly lead to big change. ``Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society. We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Even when we don’t “win,” there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that we have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile. We need hope.’’},
category={history, Politics, change}

Author={Bravin, Jess and Radnofsky, Louise},
Title={Regrets Only? Native Hawaiians Insist U.S. Apology Has a Price},
journal={Wall Street Journal},
comment={In 1993 the US Congress and the Clinton administration apologized for the illgal coup and overthrow of the Hawaiian government, and Hawaii’s annexation by the US. For a number of years the movement for independence on Hawaii referred to the Apology Resolution as legally binding concession to return Hawaii to native Hawaiians. In 2009, the Supreme Court heard this case, and acknowledged that while the native Hawaiians had a MORAL standing for independence, the Apology Resolution did not grant them a legal standing.},
category={Politics, hawaii, independence, statehood}

Author={Preston, Julia},
Title={Immigrants Aren’t Taking Americans’ Jobs, New Study Finds},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Research that shows immigrants do not take jobs from Americans. “We found little to no negative effects on overall wages and employment of native-born workers in the longer term,”'' Some immigrants who arrived in earlier generations, but were still in the same low-wage labor markets as foreigners just coming to the country, earned less and had more trouble finding jobs because of the competition with newer arrivals.’’ eenagers who did not finish high school also saw their hours of work reduced by immigrants, although not their ability to find jobs. Professor Blau said economists had found many reasons that young people who drop out of high school struggle to find work. “There is no indication immigration is the major factor,” she said.'' High-skilled immigrants, especially in technology and science, who have come in larger numbers in recent years, had a significant “positive impact” on Americans with skills, and also on working-class Americans. They spurred innovation, helping to create jobs.’’},
category={Politics, immigration, jobs, Economics}

title={More Mexicans Leaving Than Coming to the US},
author={Gonz{'a}lez-Barrera, Ana},
journal={Pew Research Center},
comment={The net number of immigrants from Mexico is below zero. More Mexicans are returning to Mexico to be with their families than are immigrating into the United States.},
category={Politics, immigration, mexico, border}
% See some updated numbers on similar issues in this article: \url{}
% It would be interesting to see if the 2015, post-financial crisis, numbers have continued, or if they have changed under Trump.

Author={Keller, Josh and Pearce, Adam},
Title={This small Indiana county sends more people to prison than San Francisco and Durham, N.C., combined. Why?},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Cities have made progress in reducing the number of people being sent to prison (it ISN’T an intractable problem!) But in conservative rural areas insane prison sentances, particularly for drug crimes, are still the norm. Now rural areas are sending far more people to prison for longers times than cities are.},
category={Politics, prison, rural vs urban}

Author={Fisher, Anthony L.},
Title={No, Ralph Nader Did Not Hand the 2000 Presidential Election to George W. Bush},
comment={The latest effort to debunk the myth that Nader cost the Al Gore the 2000 election, and allowed George W. Bush to win by the slim margin he did in Florida. The most glaring problem with this idea is in the subtitle: ``More than 12 times as many Florida Democrats rejected Al Gore in favor of Bush than they did for Nader.’’ },
category={Politics, nader, gore, bush, 2000 election, florida}
% See these two article from closer to the 2000 election:
% Tim Wise: \url{}
% Jim Hightower in Salon: \url{}
% And Tony Schinella in in 2004: \url{}
% I heard Tony Schinella interviewed on On The Media August 2016: \url{}

Author={Parlapiano, Alicia and Pearce, Adam},
Title={Only 9% of America Chose Trump and Clinton as the Nominees},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {A brief feature that shows how few people actually voted for Trump or Clinton (and, by extension, how much power the two parties have for such a small amount of support.)},
category = {Politics, voting, primaries}
% Though it does suggest that the power of an individual vote is pretty significant - as long as you are voting for the person your party tells you to vote for.

title={Growth in the US Ex-Felon And Ex-Prisoner Population, 1948 to 2010},
author={Shannon, Sarah and Uggen, Christopher and Thompson, Melissa and Schnittker, Jason and Massoglia, Michael},
booktitle={Annual Meetings of the Population Association of America},
comment={An estimate of the number of people with conviction records, but no longer in prison. In 2010 it was 5 million, with roughly 2 million more people in prison.},
category={prison, Politics, social justice, CUP, VOCAL, re-entry}
% police records, arrest records…
% See also these article about the number of people with ARREST records, as opposed to those with CONVICTION records:
% \url{}
% \url{}

Author={Irwin, Neil},
Title={Humans Are Lousy at Predicting Rare Events. Exhibit A: Donald Trump.},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {While it’s possible that Trump’s nomination and Leicester City’s win were incredibly unlikely events to happen, it is more likely that odds were simply misjudged. This is probably because of recency bias — we predict things based more on what’s happened recently than on a longer history. Or it could be that the sample is too small (one presidential election every 4 years, and one soccer championship a year do not yield very big samples). Or it could be that the rules in these games are always changing. ``In a game, the rules are fixed. If you spin a roulette wheel, or even send a baseball team out on the field to face an opponent, there are a set range of things that can happen, and it’s relatively straightforward to figure out the probability of each. But in politics, external events, media coverage, public opinion and the strategies of opponents — even the number of opponents — are constantly in flux in unpredictable ways. That means something that happened in a past year may or may not be good evidence for what will happen this year.’’},
category = {Politics, trump, 2016 election, soccer, leicester city, games, prediction, probability, recency bias, sample sizes}
% Doesn’t this suggest that probability is more or less useless in the real world, other than for some near-laboratory sterile predictions, like coin tosses?

Author={Khanna, Parag},
Title={A New Map for America},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {A proposal to reorganize the country around major metro regions and their hinterlands. The states aren’t about to go away, but economically and socially, the country is drifting toward looser metropolitan and regional formations, anchored by the great cities and urban archipelagos that already lead global economic circuits.'' America is increasingly divided not between red states and blue states, but between connected hubs and disconnected backwaters.’’ Federal policy should refocus on helping these nascent archipelagos prosper, and helping others emerge, in places like Minneapolis and Memphis, collectively forming a lattice of productive metro-regions efficiently connected through better highways, railways and fiber-optic cables: a United City-States of America.'' Similar shifts can be found around the world. Despite millenniums of cultivated cultural and linguistic provinces, China is transcending its traditional internal boundaries to become an empire of 26 megacity clusters with populations of up to 100 million each, centered around hubs such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing-Chengdu.’’ ``What would this approach look like in America? It would start by focusing not on state lines but on existing lines of infrastructure, supply chains and telecommunications, routes that stay remarkably true to the borders of the emergent super-regions, and are most robust within the new urban archipelagos.’’},
category = {macro-urbanism, regional planning, megacities, states, Politics}
% Sort of half smart and half useless observation.

Author={Cockburn, Andrew},
Title={Down the Tube},
comment = {Most of the vast amount of money raised by campaigns is spent on TV ads which are almost entirely ineffective (with some tiny exceptions). Direct mailings don’t work either. The only thing that actually works is meetingpeople face-to-face and talking to them. Unfortunately to do that a politician needs to mobilize many hard-core supporters who after an election might mobilize to force the politician to do the things they want, hard-core as they may be.},
category = {Politics, campaign spending, campaign finance reform, tv advertising}

title = “The Performance of Elected Officials: Evidence from State Supreme Courts”,
author = “Elliott Ash and W. Bentley MacLeod”,
institution = “National Bureau of Economic Research”,
type = “Working Paper”,
series = “Working Paper Series”,
number = “22071”,
year = “2016”,
month = “March”,
doi = {10.3386/w22071},
URL = “”,
abstract = {This paper provides evidence on the effect of electoral institutions on the performance of public officials. Using panel data on state supreme courts between 1947 and 1994, we measure the effects of changes in judicial electoral processes on judge work quality – as measured by citations by later judges. Judges selected by non-partisan elections write higher-quality opinions than judges selected by partisan elections. Judges selected by technocratic merit commissions write higher-quality opinions than either partisan-elected judges or non-partisan-elected judges. Election-year politics reduces judicial performance in both partisan and non-partisan election systems. Giving stronger tenure to non-partisan-selected judges improves performance, while giving stronger tenure to partisan-selected judges has no effect. These results are consistent with the view that technocratic merit commissions have better information about the quality of candidates than voters, and that political bias can reduce the quality of elected officials.},
comment = {Research that indicates having an elite panel of experst choose your judges results in higher quality judging than elections do. Suggests that this might be true for other fields too.},
category = {Politics, judges, elections}
% Download pdf here” \url{}

Author={House of Representatives Staff},
Title={FOIA Is Broken: A Report},
journal={U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform},
year = {2016},
month = {01},
comment = {A report on how despite the Obama administration’s chamioning of FOIA, it is currently not working.},
category = {Politics, freedome of information act, foia request, house of representatives, us government}

title = “The Limits of Propaganda: Evidence from Chavez’s Venezuela”,
author = “Brian Knight and Ana Tribin”,
institution = “National Bureau of Economic Research”,
type = “Working Paper”,
series = “Working Paper Series”,
number = “22055”,
year = “2016”,
month = “March”,
doi = {10.3386/w22055},
URL = “”,
abstract = {In this paper, we investigate viewer responses to changes in the ideological content of television programming using variation induced by cadenas, unannounced takeovers of the public television airwaves by the government in Venezuela. Using high-frequency ratings data, we find that, consistent with the predictions of our choice model, the drop-off in ratings during cadenas is concentrated among viewers of news programming on opposition private channels, as opposed to viewers of news on pro-government public channels. Also consistent with the predictions of our model, the drop-off in ratings for private channels with moderate ideology takes an intermediate value. In addition, the drop-off is stronger for viewers with access to cable channels, which are not required to air cadenas. Consistent with this result, we also show that viewership of an opposition cable channel rises during cadenas. Complementing this analysis, we then estimate the parameters of the theoretical model in a structural analysis. Using these parameter estimates, we consider counterfactual scenarios, allowing for an examination of the dynamic responses of viewers of differing ideology to cadenas and an analysis of the welfare consequences of cadenas.},
comment = {An analysis of the effectiveness of propadanda in Venezuela.},
category = {venezuela, propaganda, chavez}
% See pdf here: \url{}
% Funny to think of this as a response piece to the film The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

Author={Taub, Amanda},
Title={The rise of American authoritarianism},
comment = {Reviews current study of the authoritarian'' trait in the american public. Claims that the rise of the authoritarian trait, combined with activation’’ of authoritarian tendencies, and the fact that most of the people who display this trait are in the Republican party as the cause for the rise of Donald Trump.},
category = {authoritarianism, Politics, trump}
% There’s something about this that bothers me that I can’t quite put my finger on. The article talks about how the study of authoritarianism in the mid-20th century was just junk-science. But I’m not totally convinced it still isn’t.
% Is authoritarianism really a valid trait of voters? Is it any more or less valid than say idealistic-hippie? Nobody is counting the idealistic-hippie vote as far as I know.

Author={Knafo, Saki},
Title={A Black Police Officer’s Fight Against the N.Y.P.D.},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Some police officers claim that the quota system is still in place (albeit implemented with euphemisms) despite a ban on quotas. Also talks about how stop-and-frisk maybe isn’t as big a problem as being arrested for minor offenses.},
category = {stop and frisk, arrest, nypd, quotas, Politics}
% Also see the NYPD’s new Compstat 2.0 system of public data: \url{}

author = {Gilens,Martin and Page,Benjamin I.},
title = {Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens},
journal = {Perspectives on Politics},
volume = {12},
issue = {03},
month = {9},
year = {2014},
issn = {1541-0986},
pages = {564–581},
numpages = {18},
doi = {10.1017/S1537592714001595},
URL = {},
comment = {This ever-more-famous paper has data that suggests the US is nothing but an oligarchy. ``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. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.’’ Krugman comments on it: \url{}},
category = {oligarchy, politics, krugman}

Author={LePore, Jill},
Title={Baby Doe},
journal={The New Yorker},
comment = {About how the systems to prevent child abuse are heavily influenced by politics and culture. Has some interesting asides about how the press picked up the story of child abuse in the 1960s as part of a new wave of the unseen catastrophe'' became a major part of reporting. Why was the press so interested in child abuse after 1962? One reason is that the unseen catastrophe was a mainstay of the early-sixties exposé. A month before “The Battered-Child Syndrome” appeared, The New Yorker serialized Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.” Seven months later, the magazine published “Our Invisible Poor,” by Dwight Macdonald. Carson ushered in the modern environmental movement; Macdonald is credited with helping to launch the War on Poverty. And Kempe launched the campaign against child abuse.’’ ``Still, that doesn’t quite explain the relative lack of interest in child abuse in the twenties, thirties, forties, or fifties. This is nicely addressed by Macdonald. “There is a monotony about the injustices suffered by the poor that perhaps accounts for the lack of interest the rest of society shows in them,” he wrote. “Everything seems to go wrong with them. They never win. It’s just boring.”’’},
category = {child abuse, unseen catastrophe, poverty, silent spring}

Author={Greenberg, David},
Title={Why Spin Is Good for Democracy},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Argues that spin is good for democracy, because nobody believes spin doctors are telling the truth, even though we enjoy'' what they have to say. They are the ironic non-truth tellers, but everyone’’ knows that, so they have useful contributions to the political debate. References the history of spin — that it used to be known as propaganda, but that was too top-down of a term. Also references the documentary Spin — satellite feeds of political candidates rehearsing without makeup or restraint.},
category = {spin, propaganda}
% There’s a number of problems with this op-ed. The main being that while spin might be good for the media-chattering classes, (who, apparently ``enjoy’’ it? Why would anyone enjoy spin?) it is not at all clear that it is good for democracy. And while the media-chatterers might fully understand spin, in their insane obsession with horse-race politics, it is not clear that the end result of spin is actually out-of-context content used to bolster TV ads — which are where MOST people get their political information, and spin contributes strongly to the democracy-warping message of those ads.

Author={Onishi, Norimitsu},
Title={U.S. Support of Gay Rights in Africa May Have Done More Harm Than Good},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Reports from some countries in Africa suggest that the US support of gay rights did little but expose people as being gay, and hense open those people up to persecution. Before the US campaigns many people didn’t even know there was such a thing as ``gay people’’},
category = {gay rights, africa, international development}

title = “Voter Preferences and Political Change: Evidence from Shale Booms”,
author = “Viktar Fedaseyeu and Erik Gilje and Philip E. Strahan”,
institution = “National Bureau of Economic Research”,
type = “Working Paper”,
series = “Working Paper Series”,
number = “21789”,
year = “2015”,
month = “December”,
doi = {10.3386/w21789},
URL = “”,
abstract = {Local interests change sharply after the energy booms that began in 2003, when hydraulic fracturing spurred extraction of formerly uneconomic oil and gas reserves. Support for conservative interests rises and Republican political candidates gain votes after booms, leading to a near doubling in the probability of a change in incumbency. All of this change occurs at the expense of Democrats. Voting records of U.S. House members from boom districts become sharply more conservative across a wide range of issues, including issues unrelated to energy policy. At the level of the individual, marginal candidates skew their voting behavior somewhat toward more conservative causes, but generally not enough to maintain power. Thus, even when the stakes are high and politicians risk losing power, ideology trumps ambition.},
comment = {Fracking makes people more conservative},
category = {fracking, politics, extraction},
% I don’t have access to this article and therefore haven’t read it yet.
% See also this piece that describes how fracking was NEVER economic: \url{}

title={The Gun},
author={Chivers, C.J.},
publisher={Simon & Schuster},
comment={Covers the history of machine guns and particularly the AK-47. Mentions the defense of the NY Times with machine guns during the riots of the 19th Century. Discusses how the loose and imprecise construction of the Kalashnikov, made with stamped steel, is one of the features that made it superior to the finely designed and constructed rifles of the West. Chivers argues that the AK-47, as a weapon, had a much bigger impact on the world/history and global war than the atomic bomb did. He also briefly mentions how you can monitor the price of Kalashnikov’s in countries to predict the stability of that country’s government - higher prices mean less stability.},
category={war, guns, weapons, design, AK-47, Kalashnikov}
% (If the atomic bomb represents the pinnacle of the failure of modernism, what does it say that the AK-47 was so successful?) For me, this book makes the argument that the assault rifle (\emph{true} assault rifles - which are banned in the US - not the oversized semi-automatic handguns which the US keeps trying to ban) are the fundamental tool of modern war. Without them, you cannot carry out a war/defense. With them, a small underfunded country like Iraq can hold the largest most modern army in the world at bay nearly indefinitely.

Author={Chivers, C.J.},
Title={How Many Guns Did the U.S. Lose Track of in Iraq and Afghanistan? Hundreds of Thousands.},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Chivers covers the US milatary’s policy of distributing small arms in Iraq and Afghanistan without tracking where the guns were going. Apparently, it simply became a strategy of nation building to dump weapons on the countries. Possibly millions of guns were lost track of in the wars.},
category={Politics, guns, weapons, war, iraq, afghanistan}

Author={Beckett, Lois},
Title={How the Gun Control Debate Ignores Black Lives},
comment = {An in-depth article about the reality of gun-violence and politics in America. In 2009, the gun homicide rate for white Americans was 2 per 100,000 — about seven times as high as the rate for residents of Denmark, but a fraction of the rate for black Americans. In 2009, black Americans faced a gun homicide rate of nearly 15 per 100,000. That’s higher than the gun homicide rate in Mexico.'' Even in high-crime cities, the risk of gun violence is mostly concentrated among a small number of men. In Oakland, for instance, crime experts working with the police department a few years ago found that about 1,000 active members of a few dozen street groups drove most homicides. That’s .3 percent of Oakland’s population. And even within this subgroup, risk fluctuated according to feuds and other beefs. In practical terms, the experts found that over a given stretch of several months only about 50 to 100 men are at the highest risk of shooting someone or getting shot.’’ Includes an account of how Boston dramatically lowered gun deaths by working with the community of men most at risk to change the dynamics and offer them protection if someone is shot, called Operation Ceasefire, or more technically focussed deterrence''. Part of what seems to make Ceasefire effective is that it treats the men it targets as both dangerous and also in need of help. Such initiatives, however, fit into no political camp and thus have few powerful champions. “It has no natural constituency,” said Thomas Abt, a Harvard Kennedy School researcher who has worked on crime policy at the Justice Department. “To vastly oversimplify, progressives want more prevention and conservatives want more enforcement. Focused deterrence” — what academics call Ceasefire and similar approaches — “challenges the orthodoxy on both sides. It makes everybody uncomfortable.”’’ Most researchers agree that a better background check system could help curtail both urban gun violence and mass shootings, though there’s no hard data to indicate how much.'' Children are in far more danger outside of schools than in schools. If we had to take officers out of the community to put them in schools, then actually children will be less safe rather than more safe.’’},
category = {guns, gun control, focused deterrence, ceasefire}
% Super interesting bit about how solutions that appear effective but have now political constituency are difficult to carry off.
% This author writes REALLY good stories about guns.

Author={Beckett, Lois},
Title={Why Do Democrats Keep Trying to Ban Guns That Look Scary, Not the Guns That Kill the Most People?},
comment = {Looks at how assault weapons get all the political attention simply because they are scary looking, and there’s no evidence that an assault weapons ban would save lives. Meanwhile handguns are more or less ignored even though almost all murders are done with them.},
category = {guns, gun control, assault weapons}
% The Times has a good constitutionally-based op-ed arguing for gun registration, which points out that “a well regulated militia” MEANS gun registration: \url{}

Author={MacGillis, Alec},
Title={Who Turned My Blue State Red?},
comment = {Challenges the idea presented in What’s the Matter with Kansas that red state voters are voting against their own best interest because they are being distracted by cultural politics. Instead MacGillis has data showing that the lowest-income people, who benefit from social safety net programs very strongly in those states simply don’t vote. Meanwhile people a couple of rungs up on the income ladder, who don’t use the safety net programs as much (not counting the usual lack of acknowledgment for the Mortgage Interest Deduction) see the high use of safety net programs in their state specifically as a sign of their state’s decline. And the do vote — for people who promise to get rid of the symbol of their state’s decline.},
category = {red state politics, republicans, democrats, safety net programs}
% This is a far more rational explanation of red state politics than What’s the Matter With Kansas was.
% I also see this as indicative of the problems with Christianity — this is serious Christian country we are talking about here. And, following the guidance of the bible, any one of these red state voters would be likely to take care of their literal neighbor who was having trouble. But if it comes to changing the system to try to support their “neighbors” they just see that as undeserved charity.
% The biblical idea of helping your neighbor, at least as it is understood by most Americans, allows one to be committed to your family unit, and near-family units, and feel like you are a good Christian, without having to care at all about anyone you don’t interact with daily.
% This of course reinforces the fact that a person might not be a racist at all with people they know personally, but fully support systemically racist policies.

Author={Kirchner, Lauren},
Title={What’s the Evidence Mass Surveillance Works? Not Much},
comment = {Overview of evidence that mass surveillance yields almost nothing useful.},
category = {surveillance}

Title={In Two Corruption Cases, the Culture of Albany Will Go on Trial},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Albany has been a fucked up place for more than 100 years.},
category = {Albany, corruption, politics}

title={Do Justices Defend the Speech They Hate? In-Group Bias, Opportunism, and the First Amendment},
author={Epstein, Lee and Parker, Christopher M and Segal, Jeffrey},
booktitle={APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper},
url = {},
abstract = {In contrast to the traditional political science view, which holds that justices on the left are more supportive of free speech claims than justices on the right, and in contrast to a newer view among legal academics that justices on the right are more supportive of free speech claims than justices on the left, we use in-group bias theory to argue that Supreme Court justices are opportunistic supporters of free speech. That is, liberal (conservative) justices are supportive of free speech when the speaker is liberal (conservative). A two-level hierarchical model of 4,519 votes in 516 cases confirms the in-group bias hypothesis. Although liberal justices are (overall) more supportive of free speech claims than conservative justices, the votes of both liberal and conservative justices tend to re ect their preferences toward the speakers’ ideological grouping, and not solely an underlying taste for (or against) the First Amendment.},
comment = {In contrast to the traditional political science view, which holds that justices on the left are more supportive of free speech claims than justices on the right, and in contrast to a newer view among legal academics that justices on the right are more supportive of free speech claims than justices on the left, we use in-group bias theory to argue that Supreme Court justices are opportunistic supporters of free speech. That is, liberal (conservative) justices are supportive of free speech when the speaker is liberal (conservative). Referenced in this NY Times article: \url{}},
category = {in-group bias, supreme court}

Author={Scheiber, Noam},
Title={How an Area’s Union Membership Can Predict Children’s Advancement},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Shows that children born to low-income families typically ascend to higher incomes in metropolitan areas where union membership is higher. ``Their most interesting explanation is that unions are effective at pushing the political system to deliver policies — like a higher minimum wage and greater spending on schools and other government programs — that broadly benefit workers.’’ Also links to studies showing that unions raise wages even for nonmembers, and reduce inequality.},
category = {unions, minimum wage, inequality}

title={Climate-Science Communication and the Measurement Problem},
author={Kahan, Dan M},
journal={Political Psychology},
abstract={This paper examines the science-of-science-communication measurement problem. In its simplest form, the problem reflects the use of externally invalid measures of the dynamics that generate cultural conflict over risk and other policy-relevant facts. But at a more fundamental level, the science-of-science-communication measurement problem inheres in the phenomena being measured themselves. The “beliefs” individuals form about a societal risk such as climate change are not of a piece; rather they reflect the distinct clusters of inferences that individuals draw as they engage information for two distinct ends: to gain access to the collective knowledge furnished by science, and to enjoy the sense of identity enabled by membership in a community defined by particular cultural commitments. The paper shows how appropriately designed “science comprehension” tests — one general, and one specific to climate change — can be used to measure individuals’ reasoning proficiency as collective-knowledge acquirers independently of their reasoning proficiency as cultural-identity protectors. Doing so reveals that there is in fact little disagreement among culturally diverse citizens on what science knows about climate change. The source of the climate-change controversy and like disputes is the contamination of education and politics with forms of cultural status competition that make it impossible for diverse citizens to express their reason as both collective-knowledge acquirers and cultural-identity protectors at the same time.},
publisher={Wiley Online Library},
comment = {This paper looks at the difference between what people \emph{know} based on science, and what they \emph{believe} based on cultural influences. Referenced in this NY Times article on the same subject \url{}},
category = {climate change, science, belief, politics}

title={Unintentional gerrymandering: Political geography and electoral bias in legislatures},
author={Chen, Jowei and Rodden, Jonathan and others},
journal={Quarterly Journal of Political Science},
url = {},
comment = {Study that shows that geography alone (where Democracts live versus Republicans) can create biased congressional districts. In Flordia, they are biased towards Republicans. Covered in this NY Times article \url{} And also this earlier report by the authors: \url{}},
category = {gerrymandering, redistricting, geography, CUP}
% See also this article about how the Supreme Court might set new standards in 2017: \url{}

Author={Greenhouse, Steven},
Title={Farm Labor Groups Make Progress on Wages and Working Conditions},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Farm labor groups have been successful in their organizing, but the gains might be too modest.},
category = {farm labor, food, CUP}

Author={Zukin, Cliff},
Title={What’s the Matter With Polling?},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Polling is broken. Only a small percentage of people respond to calls. Cell phones have to be dialed by hand and don’t match the areas they have exchanges for. And the internet correlates inversely with likely voters.},
category = {polling, politics}

title = “Household Surveys in Crisis”,
author = “Bruce D. Meyer and Wallace K.C. Mok and James X. Sullivan”,
institution = “National Bureau of Economic Research”,
type = “Working Paper”,
series = “Working Paper Series”,
number = “21399”,
year = “2015”,
month = “July”,
doi = {10.3386/w21399},
URL = “”,
abstract = {Household surveys, one of the main innovations in social science research of the last century, are threatened by declining accuracy due to reduced cooperation of respondents. While many indicators of survey quality have steadily declined in recent decades, the literature has largely emphasized rising nonresponse rates rather than other potentially more important dimensions to the problem. We divide the problem into rising rates of nonresponse, imputation, and measurement error, documenting the rise in each of these threats to survey quality over the past three decades. A fundamental problem in assessing biases due to these problems in surveys is the lack of a benchmark or measure of truth, leading us to focus on the accuracy of the reporting of government transfers. We provide evidence from aggregate measures of transfer reporting as well as linked microdata. We discuss the relative importance of misreporting of program receipt and conditional amounts of benefits received, as well as some of the conjectured reasons for declining cooperation and survey errors. We end by discussing ways to reduce the impact of the problem including the increased use of administrative data and the possibilities for combining administrative and survey data.},
category = {polling, household surveys}
% I haven’t read this paper but it looks like it has a lot of scholarly detail related to the Times article What’s the Matter With Polling?

Author={Fleetwood, Blake},
Title={Police Work Isn’t as Dangerous as You May Think},
journal={Huffington Post},
comment = {Your chance of being shot as a police officer are less than as an average citizen. Being a police officer is dangerous mostly because of the amount of time spent around motor vehicles.},
category = {Politics, police safety, stop and frisk}
% Also see this one with basically the same info: \url{}
% David Brooks mentions this fact in his collumn: \url{}

title = “An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force”,
author = “Roland G. Fryer, Jr”,
institution = “National Bureau of Economic Research”,
type = “Working Paper”,
series = “Working Paper Series”,
number = “22399”,
year = “2016”,
month = “July”,
doi = {10.3386/w22399},
URL = “”,
abstract = {This paper explores racial differences in police use of force. On non-lethal uses of force, blacks and Hispanics are more than fifty percent more likely to experience some form of force in interactions with police. Adding controls that account for important context and civilian behavior reduces, but cannot fully explain, these disparities. On the most extreme use of force – officer-involved shootings – we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account. We argue that the patterns in the data are consistent with a model in which police officers are utility maximizers, a fraction of which have a preference for discrimination, who incur relatively high expected costs of officer-involved shootings.},
comment = {See also this Times article covering this research: \url{}. In officer-involved shootings in these cities, officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white. Black and white civilians involved in police shootings were equally likely to have been carrying a weapon.'' And, in Houston, in tense shoot-or-don't-shoot situations, Fryer found that cops were about 20\% less likely to shoot if the suspect was black. However, lethal use of force is very rare. Fryer also found that excessive use of every day force, like drawing a weapon, shoving someone against a wall, or putting hands on someone is far more common for black people than white people. “Who the hell wants to have a police officer put their hand on them or yell and scream at them? It’s an awful experience,” he said. “I’ve had it multiple, multiple times. Every black man I know has had this experience. Every one of them. It is hard to believe that the world is your oyster if the police can rough you up without punishment. And when I talked to minority youth, almost every single one of them mentions lower level uses of force as the reason why they believe the world is corrupt.”’’},
category = {Politics, police safety, stop and frisk, guns, lethal force}
% It sounds like the only city he studied lethal force in was Houston, where (seems like) it might simply be that far more people carry guns. Which could explain why more white people have guns, and therefore lethal force is used more freely. I should read Fryer’s paper and see how it actually all shakes out.
% See follow up questions in the Times: \url{}
% See this report on research that shows that police killings of black people negatively affect the mental health of black people: \url{}
% Though… if you combine this with the belief that Fryer’s research is valid, you would conclude that it’s the reporting of police killings of black people that’s the problem.

Author={Turkewitz, Julie and Griggs, Troy},
Title={Handguns Are the New Home Security},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={New research shows that while the percentage of households with guns has declined to 22 percent from 25 percent, the net numbers of guns and gun owners have gone up. In 1994, about 44 million Americans owned 192 million guns. Today, about 55 million Americans own 265 million guns.'' The 2015 study also revealed that many of America’s guns were concentrated in a small number of hands. About half of the nation’s guns are owned by 3 percent of the population.’’ In 1994, 46 percent of respondents chose protection as the primary reason to own a gun. Two decades later, 63 percent of respondents made that selection.''Handguns made up 42 percent of the country’s privately owned firearms, up from 34 percent in 1994.’’},
category={Politics, guns, handguns}

Author={Furman, Jason},
Title={Smart Social Programs},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Opinion piece, but overview of research into the effectiveness of social safety net programs. Argues that mitigating the stress of poverty, particularly at an early age, has positive \emph{longterm} outcomes.},
category = {social safety net}

Author={Wolfers, Justin and Leonhardt, David and Quealy, Kevin},
Title={1.5 Million Missing Black Men},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {``For every 100 black women in this age group living outside of jail, there are only 83 black men. Among whites, the equivalent number is 99, nearly parity.’’},
category = {race, demographics}

Author={Klein, Naomi},
Title={`The Age of Acquiescence,’ by Steve Fraser},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Noami Klein reviews this book. During the first Gilded Age there were uprisings and rebellions by the working class against it. Because those people could remember a time before capitalist domination, they had a vision for what they could fight for. Now, having been fully embraced by capitalism for so long, rebellions no longer have a vision for which to fight. It seems that both Fraser and Klein don’t address the possibility that the effectiveness of the rebellions of the first Gilded Age, may be directly related to their violence, as well as their willingness to engaging in populist rhetoric.},
category = {revolution, inequality}

Author={Quartz, Steven and Asp, Anette},
Title={Unequal, Yet Happy},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Our current gilded age is marked by complacency of the general population, unlike the previous one. Status is no longer strictly associated with income, or the signifiers of income. What’s cool'' is no longer what is most expensive. Because of this more people are happy with less income, and therefore there is less outrage at inequality.}, category = {inequality, revolution} } % Everyone seems to understand this except the design world. In design, people still live with the notion that there are strict indicators of wealth. %The better among them want everyone to live in that designed world, and make the indicators of wealth more equally distributed. %But the design world has virtually no sense that what is cool’’ is not related to price.
%Meanwhile, all the grunge, goths, punks, slummers, street styles, and the genuinely poor are living their lives happily without the input of deisgners, since nobody serious needs to \epmh{look} wealthy anymore.

Author={Boyd, E.B.},
Title={Getting Out Of Afghanistan},
journal={Fast Company},
comment = {A (long) article about how difficult and expensive it was to extract the US from Afghanistan. It turns out that Afghanistan was exceptionally difficult to extract from, compared to other wars, for a variety of reasons, not the least being that the military has no skills or plans for \emph{ending} a war.},
category = {war, politics}

Author={Barro, Josh},
Title={A ‘Rich’ Person Is Someone Who Makes 50 Percent More Than You},
journal={New York Times},
comment = {An article about how ``rich’’ is relative, (or at least not supported by data) and politicians have a skewed sense of it based on who they hang out with.},
category = {}

title={Essence of decisi{'o}n: explaining the Cuban missile crisis},
author={Allison, G.T.},
publisher={Little, Brown},
comment={A total Rashoman treatment of the Cuban Missle Crisis. Not just historical, but also about organizational theory and decision making. Argues that the “rational actor” (as in economics - the idea that humans make rational choices) is only one way to understand how the Cuban Missle Crisis played out - or indeed how government functions at all. Allison proposes the rational actor as one model for understanding how the crisis played out, and then suggests two others: the organizational process model and the governmental politics model. He argues that the rational actor model is dangerous.},
category = {war, politics}
% One of the (many) brilliant thing about this book is he does a chapter for general public reading alternated with a chapter of technical explanation for political science experts.
% See also this story about soviet submarine B-59 that almost launched a nuclear torpedo during the crisis:

Author={Dewan, Shaila},
Title={States Are Blocking Local Regulations, Often at Industry’s Behest},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {reviews some pre-emption laws where states are overriding local regulations against things like fracking. This put Republicans in a hypocritical situation.},
category = {politics, fracking}

title={The allocation of talent and us economic growth},
author={Hsieh, Chang-Tai and Hurst, Erik and Jones, Charles I and Klenow, Peter J},
institution={National Bureau of Economic Research},
url = {},
comment = {More diversity in highly-skilled occupations might be the reason for increased US economic output over the last 50 years.},
category = {race, economics}

title={The debate on rehabilitating criminals: Is it true that nothing works},
author={Miller, Jerome G},
journal={Washington Post},
url = {},
comment = {The amazing history of rehabilitation in prison studies. Robert Martinson was part of a study in the 1970s that famously claimed ``nothing works’’. He came late to the study, but his name gets associated with it because of his charisma and public persona. Public policy is formulated based on his argument, and reform takes the form of strict sentencing. Which was \emph{endorsed} by liberals because of abuses of indeterminate sentencing. Martinson himself thought that saying nothing works would lead to \emph{closing} of most prisons. Martinson eventually comes full circle and retracts all of his earlier findings before the ’80s even start. He ends up committing suicide. The best part of this recent NY Times article is a short (and not totally accurate) section about Martinson: \url{}},
category = {prisons, norway}

Author={Greenwald, Glenn and Ball, James},
Title={The top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant},
journal={The Guardian},
comment = {Reveals documents detailing how the process of NSA spying. Of particular note is the technique for determining the citizenship of someone they are spying on. According to something I read elsewhere — the documents reveal that the NSA has an algorithm that tracks your browsing patterns and determines whether you are 50% or more likely to be a US citizen (and thus they have to stop spying on you.)},
category = {government spying}