Archive | July 2016

Let’s Accept Trump’s Premises

ACADEME BLOG

Let’s not beat around the bush. For the sake of argument, let’s accept that all politicians are full of shit. Why is a guy who is so patently full of shit—who repeatedly says things on camera and then very shortly afterwards denies that he said them (just today, he said that John McCain is, after all, a war hero)—any sort of an improvement over those politicians? Why is he not simply perceived as a bullshitter on steroids?

Let’s accept that the system is rigged and that no one is speaking for the average Joe, the blue-collar worker, whose job opportunities have become more limited and whose wages and working conditions have stagnated, if not declined. Why is a self-declared billionaire (though the bullshitting almost certainly includes considerable exaggeration on his actual worth) able to declare himself the “voice” of the average American without being laughed off the stage? Because he…

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Profiling the Delegates by What They Did Outside the Convention Halls

ACADEME BLOG

Yelp Chart DNC-RNC

Yelp Chart RNC-DNC

I have not been able to find the original YELP-produced results, but the results have been reported by Ana Swanson in an article for the Washington Post [https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/07/27/the-strange-and-wonderful-things-people-search-for-during-the-republican-and-democratic-conventions/] and by Brittany Kriegstein in an article for Business Insider [http://www.businessinsider.com/difference-between-rnc-and-dnc-on-yelp-2016-7?utm].

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An Either/Or Choice Isn’t Usually an Arbitrary Choice

ACADEME BLOG

The media has become overly fond, I think, of describing this presidential election as a choice between two unappealing candidates.

To be clear, I don’t think that the media is incorrect in making this assessment, but I do think that it is incorrect in suggesting that this election stands as a historical exception, rather than continuing a historical norm.

That is, I think that you could describe just about every presidential election in that way.

For instance, if I go back to when I started voting, I could describe the presidential candidates of the two major parties in broadly comparable uncomplimentary terms:

1972: Nixon as malignant and McGovern as impossible;

1976: Ford as completely uninspiring and Jimmy Carter as a self-caricature;

1980: Carter as ineffectual and Reagan as a somewhat shallow ideologue;

1984: Reagan as grossly over-estimated and Mondale as a leftover;

1988: Bush and Dukakis as equally uninspiring;

1992:…

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Is Chachi Responsible for Garry Marshall’s Death?

ACADEME BLOG

In Trump world, there are no coincidences. To cite just one of the more recent egregious examples of this phenomenon, Trump suggested that if Ted Cruz’s father bore a close resemblance to someone in the background of a photo of Lee Harvey Oswald, then Ted Cruz’s father may have been involved in a conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy.

Now, to be fair to Mr. Trump, he did not say that he was absolutely certain that Cruz’s father was involved in such a conspiracy, only that there was enough there to warrant further investigation—at least that was what a lot of people were saying.

So I would like to note that although he had recently suffered a debilitating stroke and had been treated for cancer in the not too distant past, Garry Marshall passed away on the day immediately after Scott Baio spoke at the Republican national convention.

I have…

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Some Observations about the RNC, Days 1-2

ACADEME BLOG

Even before the convention began, more than 100 women posed nude for an “art installation” called “Everything She Says Means Everything.” Here is how an Esquire story on this protest opened: “As the sun rises Sunday morning over the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland, 100 women stand completely nude, holding large, round mirrors facing the arena. They’re on an empty lot in between a fire station and a shipping warehouse, right on the Cuyahoga River. It’s the day before the Republican National Convention kicks off, but on this side of the river, it’s nearly silent, except for the snaps and pops of a camera. Artist Spencer Tunick stands on a ladder holding the camera focused on the women, wiping sweat off his brow. He shouts, ‘We love you all! This is beautiful.’” as he takes photos for his “art installation.” [http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a46763/republican-national-convention-nude-women/?mag=esq&list=nl_enl_news&src=nl&date=071816]

A second “art installation” has involved…

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“Guns Make Us Safer” (with Certain Exceptions)

ACADEME BLOG

The following is an excerpt from CNN’s Politics Nightcap daily newsletter:

“RNC kick-off: Police union asks for ‘open carry’ suspension

“The head of Cleveland’s largest police union is calling on Ohio Gov. John Kasich to temporarily restrict the state’s open carry gun laws during this week’s Republican National Convention after Sunday’s shooting in Louisiana that killed three officers and wounded at least three others.

“Kasich’s response: No can do. ‘Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested,’ said Kasich press secretary Emmalee Kalmbach.

“The big picture: A city on edge. Months of planning and reassurances from top city officials have done little to quiet concerns here over the potential for violent clashes between law enforcement and protest groups descending on the city ahead of this week’s RNC.”

In any case, Stephen Loomis, the president of Cleveland police union, said about…

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Learning from Flint, Rick Snyder Style

ACADEME BLOG

The editors at the Detroit Free Press have published an editorial titled “Like a Sick Joke.” Here are the opening paragraphs:

“In the wake of the Flint water crisis, amid profound concerns over an aging oil pipeline under the Great Lakes, with an ongoing, urgent need to decrease pollution and improve air quality and public health in southwest Detroit, Gov. Rick Snyder has appointed … wait for it . . .  a former oil-industry lobbyist, Heidi Grether, to head the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.

“It’s a stunning look into the way the governor views the state’s responsibility to protect Michigan’s environment, and Michiganders’ health.

“And in the aftermath of the Flint water crisis, it’s like Snyder is rubbing the noses of his constituents in his own mess. The move is astoundingly tone-deaf to Michiganders, who rely on the state’s environmental regulatory agency to keep us safe. It’s also a tacit announcement that Snyder no longer finds rebuilding…

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Tech Leaders’ Open Letter on Trump Candidacy

ACADEME BLOG

We are inventors, entrepreneurs, engineers, investors, researchers, and business leaders working in the technology sector. We are proud that American innovation is the envy of the world, a source of widely-shared prosperity, and a hallmark of our global leadership.

We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not. He campaigns on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline. We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation. His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy — and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth.

Let’s start with the human talent that drives innovation forward. We believe that America’s…

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From Former QB to Former Convention Speaker

ACADEME BLOG

It is very easy to exaggerate the importance of small things. No matter how obsessive one is about details, something can always slip through the proverbial cracks.

That said, the following oversight does seem indicative to me of a broader issue.

Writing for Esquire, Matt Miller has reported:

“Former reality TV star Tim Tebow returned from the Philippines this week to find out that he’d be speaking at . . . [the] Republican National Convention next week. A number of news outlets reported that Tebow, who is currently self-employed, was speaking alongside Peter Thiel, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, UFC president Dana White, and various Trump spawn.

“In a video on Facebook last night, Tebow explained that he was never planning on speaking at the RNC: ‘I wake up this morning to find out I’m speaking at the Republican National Convention . . .  It’s amazing how fast rumors fly,”…

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Open Letter from Wharton Faculty, Students, and Alumni to Trump

ACADEME BLOG

Here is a background note written by Michael Barbaro and published on the progressive blog Crooks and Liars:

“All the way back in June of 2015, this news was reported, although at the time many of us dismissed it because clearly we had no idea how insane this election would be, or how little control the GOP would have over their candidates. So no one really cared what Trump was bragging about.

“Not kidding. Trump just said this: ‘I went to the Wharton School of Business. I’m, like, a really smart person.’

“Now to be clear, he did not graduate from Wharton, he merely attended classes there. The Washington Post reports that he ‘took undergraduate classes at Penn’s famed Wharton School of Business, though he was not enrolled in Wharton’s prestigious MBA program.’

“But, Salon reports that Trump embellished (lied) about his attendance and even went so far…

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