Later On

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Archive for November 2018

Trump Lied About His Very Legal and Very Cool Russia Deals for No Reason

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Jonathan Chait nails it. Again.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 November 2018 at 3:42 pm

Home-Alone stew, recipe, backstory, photo

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The above is the finished stew. Here’s the recipe:

2 bunches scallions as thick as your little finger, chopped (including all green part)
2 jalapeños, quartered lengthwise and chopped (with seeds and core)
2 red Fresno peppers, core removed, cut into strips lengthwise and chopped
2 Anaheim peppers, quartered lengthwise, cored, and chopped
2 Tbsp expeller-pressed canola oil
Black pepper

I used my 4-qt wide-diameter pan, All-Clad Copper Core, and it was a good size. The wide diameter helps with sautéing.

After onions have cooked for a while, add:

8 cloves Russian red garlic, minced
1″ very fresh ginger root (shiny), grated

Sauté that for a minute or so, then add:

1 Japanese eggplant halved lengthwise and sliced
2 good-size zucchini, quartered unevenly and sliced
1 cup chopped celery, chopped somewhat small
2 cups, more or less, baby arugula leaves (I just got a couple of handfuls)
12-16 oz oyster mushrooms, caps and most of the stems
8-10 San Marzano (2-chambered) grape tomatoes
juice of 1 rather juicy lemon
a few dashes Worcestershire sauce

Cover pan and simmer 15 minutes. Add:

1.5 lb sockeye salmon fillet, skin on, cut into chunks

Stir, cover, simmer 11 minutes. Total recipe is 8 points. It makes close to 4 qts—say 7 pints. I just had a one-pint serving (two cups) and it was plenty. And it was one WW point.


Backstory When The Wife travels, I do my usual practice of ensuring that I enjoy what I’m to do—thus Nordic-walkiing poles, thus the shaving book, and so on: if you’re going to do it anyway, work out a way so that you look forward to it.

For me it’s the food. I buy and prepare the foods I like a lot and she not at all—your beef liver, your kidney, your beef tendon, and the like. Now that I have encountered gout, beef liver, kidney, and sweetbreads are off the menu, as is beer (small loss), canned sardines, herring, and mackerel, and so on.

So I’ll comment on the Home-Alone aspects of this (delicious) recipe.


I’ll go through the recipe from the top:

I got a bottle of canola oil to make mayo with a friend (in case she doesn’t like the pure olive-oil version) and because I’ve been tempted by its superb omega-6 to omega-3 ratio: 2:1, plus 62% monounsaturated, 32% polyunsaturated. (More info here on cooking oils.)

I know that rapeseed is almost all GMO, but that really doesn’t matter to me. All our domesticated fruits and vegetables and meat animals are greatly genetically modified (as you can see comparing the wild and domesticated versions), but in that case the genetic modification was done over thousands of years through selective breeding (i.e., artificial selection rather than natural selection: harnessing evolution to our own purposes).

I like to use scallions rather than regular onions because scallions have so many more micronutrients—presumably the phytochemicals in the leaves. I think all the alliums are good fiber (i.e., the good kind of fiber).

The Wife cannot eat spicy, so using these fresh peppers in a recipe is very much a home-alone treat. Result was an excellent level of spice: gets your attention but is quite tolerable.

I know you probably can’t get the Red Russian garlic I enjoy here (but only in the fall: unavailable winter through summer). It’s a hard-neck garlic with enormous and rather mild cloves, easy to peel. The amount that resulted in this case was about a cup—3/4 cup at least.

I tend to overdo the freshly grated ginger, so I held back.

Japanese eggplant and eggplant in general is a home-alone treat. The Wife will eat it, but without enthusiasm.

I halved the zucchinis lengthwise, then halved each half lengthwise (giving quarters), and then sliced into chunks. I noticed that my cuts were erratic—some quarters thick, some thin. I recall the strong admonition that your cut vegetables must be all the same size so they will all reach the desired state of doneness at the same time, and I thought: Wait a minute! Vegetables in general are perfectly edible over a wide range of “done,” and with edible bands of “raw” and “burned” just either side of the “done” band.

And who wants every piece to have the same texture and doneness. Who even wants them to be all the same size? I like variety. My way is better.

Celery is purely for fiber and flavor, so far as I know: no real nutritional value.

The baby arugula I got for salad, but I like to include some leafy green. Spinach would be good. Big bunch of Italian parsley would do it, or baby kale. But I had baby arugula, so that’s what I used.

In my diet advice post I talk about the benefits of oyster mushrooms (caps, mainly). The Wife is not all that fond of mushrooms, so having them in the stew is a home-alone treat.

The San Marzano variety (2 chambered) long small tomatoes are very nice. I cut them in half across. Included partly for the liquid, but also cooking the tomato releases the lycopene (of which watermelons have a lot more than tomatoes, and you don’t have to cook it to release it).

Lemon and Worcestershire sauce for liquid and flavor. The Worcestershire sauce I buy here is made real with sugar rather than High Fructose Corn Syrup, and with malt vinegar rather than white vinegar.

Leaving the skin on the salmon is sort of home-alone: I have the fishmonger remove the skin, but I keep it and cook and eat it. The home-alone novelty here is that each little bite had its own skin.

So a very nice meal, and very nice too that its a special occasion. And returning to our usual dishes will be nice, too. I like variety, did I say?

Written by LeisureGuy

30 November 2018 at 3:26 pm

The Making of Elizabeth Warren

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Michael Kruse has an excellent profile of Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Politico:

The Harvard Law professor had just turned in what she thought was a mostly finished manuscript of her first mass-market book. But her editor had one major criticism. Elizabeth Warren, Jo Ann Miller worried, had spent more than 160 pages of text and a further 50-plus pages of endnotes delineating a litany of data-backed reasons that bankruptcies and debt were going up and the middle class was going down. She had described what was happening, and had diagnosed why, and had presented possible solutions for legislators, regulators and wonks. Nowhere, though, had Warren offered the actual people who were bearing the brunt of these crushing economic forces anything approaching practical advice. This, her editor thought, was a missing piece.

“There was no how-to in the book,” Miller told me recently. “I encouraged her to add a chapter of what to do about it.”

This suggestion led to Chapter 7 of The Two-Income Trap, which was published in 2003, and it was those 18, tacked-on pages, “The Financial Fire Drill,” that caught the eye of one Phil McGraw, better known to his millions of viewers as Dr. Phil—the daytime-television shrink who has made a big-bucks career of healing America’s middle class in front of a live studio audience. He even cribbed the language. And on March 10, 2004, on an episode titled “Going for Broke,” McGraw introduced Warren and her daughter and co-author, Amelia Warren Tyagi, and asked them to give advice to debt-troubled couples. At this point, Warren was a pre-eminent bankruptcy scholar, widely respected by her peers but possessing the sort of public profile one might expect of someone in such a field—low. That was about to change.

She told Jessica and Nate they shouldn’t have taken out a second mortgage on their house. It was like “playing roulette,” she said. “It’s the worst single move that homeowners can make.” McGraw said that’s not what lenders say. “Dr. Phil,” Warren responded, “that’s how they make money. They make money by getting families like this to get into debt. They don’t make money unless you borrow more money.” She told Amy and Jeff to stop worrying about the credit card companies. “They’re still making big, big profits.”

With a smile and a neat brown bob, merging the stature of her perch at the nation’s most elite institution of higher education with some of its most pedestrian popular culture, and marrying traditionally conservative tenets of personal fiscal responsibility with a more liberal view of rapacious corporations run amok, Warren’s appearance was sufficiently well-received that it led to two others (“A Family in Crisis,” “Money Makeover”) over the course of 2004 and 2005. All of it led to a second book, All Your Worth, also co-written with her daughter, that was even more popular and accessible than the first because it spoke directly and in full to an audience McGraw’s show had helped train her to connect with—by taking the complicated topics she had studied her entire adult life and distilling them into TV-ready bits. In All Your Worth, the first person thanked in the acknowledgments is Dr. Phil. “Without Dr. Phil,” wrote Warren and her daughter, “there would be no All Your Worth.”

One afternoon earlier this week, in her spacious office on the third floor of the Hart Senate Office Building, Warren sat across from a stately couch that used to belong to Senator Ted Kennedy. She angled her chair to stare straight at me to start our 20 minutes of scheduled talk time. I reminded her of the mention of Dr. Phil in those acknowledgements—and posited that she now perhaps could take it a step further. “Without Dr. Phil,” I proposed, “there would be no Senator Warren.”

She sat back and laughed.

“Look,” Warren said. “All of my work has been about solving the problem of what’s happening to America’s middle class.” And then she talked about that, as she has, essentially without pause, for more than a generation, really, but in a squarely political context since at least 2011, when she started running for the Senate.

Ten minutes later, though, I asked her again.

“Without Dr. Phil, would there be a you right now?”

This time there were 11 seconds of silence.

“Yes,” she finally said. “There would be.”

“But would you be sitting here?”

“I think I still have to say yes,” she said. “Dr. Phil gave me one more way to fight for America’s families. I was looking for every tool I could lay my hands on.” Doing research. Writing books. Pestering lawmakers. Going on radio and TV. “Everything,” she said, “that I could do to try to help as many families as possible. And Dr. Phil opened up another door.”

Fair enough. Who would be so dense as to insist a woman with Warren’s manifest intellect and (ahem) persistence wouldn’t have found an alternate route to this position of prominence on Capitol Hill without the help of an avuncular talk show host?

But still, it is this odd, unexpected window, highlighted by these books and that show, in which she leveraged her decades-earned expertise in an otherwise eye-glazing subject to earn not only increased public renown but more and more attention from some of the most powerful people in Washington, turbocharging her transformation into what she is today—a viral-ready progressive crusader, a likely presidential candidate, and the person some see as potentially the most formidable challenge to Donald Trump’s stubborn populist sway. Warren is Warren because she’s an unusual amalgam of a “ragged edge” Oklahoma upbringing and a rich, East Coast Ivy League tenure. If, though, her mantra of a message carries her to the Democratic nomination in 2020, its roots will reach back, too, to the spotlit Hollywood studio of “Dr. Phil.”


Warren’s ticket to the show landed in September of 2003 with a catchy title and a counterintuitive hook. The Two-Income Trap reads now like her proto political platform.

Second paychecks from working women made effectively no difference to families’ financial bottom lines, she explained, using reams of federal statistics and more than two decades of her empirical research that included thousands of interviews with bankrupt people. Furthermore, she said, a one-income family had a built-in safety net—the mother could go to work, if need be, to make ends meet. (Hers did.) No more. The numbers in the book were shocking: The foreclosure rate was up 255 percent. Bankruptcy filings were up 430 percent. Credit card debt was up 570 percent. The middle class was shriveling, and it had been for a good while, and it wasn’t mainly because of reckless spending but rather drastic increases in prices of housing and health care and preschool and college. At base the book was a shift in blame. These economic straits, Warren argued, were not the fault of the people who were suffering, nor was it the moral failure of a growing share of spendthrifts. No—a deregulated credit industry preyed the most on the stressed and the strained. The game was rigged.

The book was not the work of some ivory-tower theorist. She wrote it because she wanted people to read it—“and deliberately went to a publisher that was not an academic house,” she told me, “that would give it a broader audience, I hoped.” Warren, a dozen former students and colleagues told me, always had been a comparatively approachable, even breezy writer in her academic work, as well as a demanding but simultaneously unstuffy presence in the classroom—a function, they thought, of her financially volatile childhood, her degrees from the University of Houston and Rutgers Law rather than pricier private schools, and her climb to Harvard through less hallowed halls. But The Two-Income Trap was easily more pop than anything she had attempted to that point.

Nor was it the work of a political naif. Warren was an independent and then a registered Republican until 1996. But the more Republicans sided with Wall Street, the less Republican she felt. She registered as a Democrat. And by the time she wrote The Two-Income Trap, she knew the policies, and she knew the players. And while whacking myths—“The Over-Consumption Myth,” “The Myth of the Immoral Debtor”—she also minced no words. She delivered sharp critiques irrespective of party. She called out Senator Orrin Hatch. She called out Senator Joe Biden. And she told for the first time a story she’s told more since—the one about her first meeting with Hillary Clinton. The book’s release party, said Miller, her editor, was hosted by Elena Kagan, at the time the dean of Harvard Law. Ted Kennedy was there.

The Two-Income Trap earned Warren a new level of attention—and a new kind of platform. The Los Angeles Times called it “important,” the Washington Post called it “eye-opening,” and the Dallas Morning Newscalled it “the best explanation to date” for why Americans felt like they were working more and making less. Newsweek proclaimed it “provocative.” In short order, Warren went on NBC, CBS, CNN and NPR. And it turned out she didn’t just know the material. She was also a really good quote.

“The family is like a race car that has just hit a huge rock in the road, and it can’t get itself stabilized,” she said on NPR. “It’s headed for a crash.”

“The time to think about finances and financial trouble is not when the house is already filled with smoke,” she said on CBS.

“Any family in trouble,” she said on CNN, “needs to think like a family at war.”

But she also made it clear that there were bigger, more systemic influences at work than simply spiking numbers of citizens with raging cases of “affluenza.” “Americans are not going broke over lattes!” she exclaimed in an interview with Salon. She said “deregulation” in the 1980s had created “a monster” that was ravaging the middle class. She all but called the country’s biggest financial institutions mobsters and loan sharks. “They’re making profits that would make Jimmy the Leg Breaker drool.”

It wasn’t long before she got a call from a scheduler at “Dr. Phil.”

For Warren, that first go-around with Dr. Phil was an epiphany. She was not being asked to talk to a reader on the other side of a printed page but to counsel actual people sitting right there in the same studio. “I had done interviews about the book,” she told me, “but never had someone turn directly to me and say, ‘Here’s a family, here’s their problem. Give them some advice, Elizabeth.’ And that’s what I did.” Perhaps more important, she realized viscerally the disproportionate but equally undeniable reach of TV—that “by spending a few minutes talking to the family on Dr. Phil’s show,” she would write in her 2014 memoir, she “might have done more good than in an entire year” on campus.

Off air, though, Dr. Phil had some advice for Warren. He told her The Two-Income Trap was good but “too technically intense.” He told her she needed to write even more “for people who can use it.”

She needed, he said, to write another book.


She would. But the first book (and the resultant buzz) was more than enough to pave the path for Warren from her life as an academic to an increasingly political existence.

“That is definitely,” Warren biographer Antonia Felix told me, “a big turning point.”

At the end of April 2004,  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 November 2018 at 2:24 pm

‘We will be in Moscow’: The story of Trump’s 30-year quest to expand his brand to Russia

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This seems to explain the great care Trump takes to please Vladimir Putin and why Trump will do anything to avoid pissing Putin off. It seems obvious that Trump and Putin’s private talk was along the lines of “If I do this for you, will you do that for me?” Trump knows he’s not going to be president forever and almost certainly not for a second term. So Trump must make hay while the sun shines and squeeze as much as he can from being president before he’s an ex-president—and one way to do that is get a rock-solid agreement that Trump Tower in Moscow will at last be a reality. So what would Putin get in return for that?

Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger report in the Washington Post:

It was a dream born in the 1980s: a gleaming Trump Tower in the heart of Soviet Moscow. For Donald Trump, that vision never died, even as he launched a presidential campaign and moved toward clinching the Republican Party nomination in 2016.

On Thursday, his former attorney Michael Cohen told a federal judge that Trump was pursuing a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow throughout the first half of 2016 — the very time the candidate was stepping out on the world stage as a political figure and breaking with the GOP by praising Russia and its president, Vladi­mir Putin.

Trump’s attempt that year to expand his brand into Moscow capped a 30-year-long effort by the celebrity mogul to do business in Russia. His refusal to give up that ambition as he was campaigning for the White House now colors his public embrace of Putin, whose help Cohen sought for the project.

Again and again Trump pursued his Russia project, traveling to Moscow and unveiling four ultimately unsuccessful plans to put his name on a building in the Russian capital before he announced he would run for president.

“Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment,” Trump said in a 2007 deposition. “We will be in Moscow at some point.”

While running for president, Trump spoke highly of Putin and criticized the Russian president’s adversaries, including international organizations such as NATO and the European Union. His rhetoric seldom wavered, even as evidence began to emerge that Russia was interfering in the 2016 campaign to boost Trump’s effort.

At the time, Trump repeatedly insisted that he did not have financial ties to Russia. “How many times do I have to say that?” he said at a news conference in July 2016, just after WikiLeaks published thousands of Democratic Party emails hacked by Russian operatives. “I have nothing to do with Russia. I have nothing to do with Russia.”

He added in a tweet: “For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia.”

But his assertions belied years of Trump’s failed efforts in Russia. The final attempt led by Cohen began in September 2015 and apparently ended on June 14, 2016, according to court documents — the same day The Washington Post broke the news that Russia was suspected to be behind a hack of the Democratic National Committee.

Repeat visits

Trump traveled to Russia for the first time in 1987, as the Soviet Union began to open to more Western investment but many Americans remained wary of the communist leadership. According to his memoir “The Art of the Deal,” he and his then-wife, Ivana Trump, scoped out possible sites for a luxury hotel that he wanted to build in a joint venture with the Kremlin’s hotel and tourism agency.

In 1996, Trump was back, this time promising to build in the heart of post-Soviet Moscow in partnership with a group of U.S. tobacco executives. The group drew up architectural plans and had meetings with city leaders. But, again, it fizzled.

By 2005, Trump had found a new partner: a company called the Bayrock Group that had opened offices in Trump Tower two floors below his executive suite and had clinched deals to build Trump-branded properties in several U.S. cities.

The company’s point person on the project was Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman with a checkered past. He had served a year in prison after a 1991 bar fight. In 1998, he pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering in a $40 million Mafia-linked stock fraud case.

But Sater had cooperated with the government in various criminal and national security matters, allowing him to keep his plea under seal and remake himself as a respectable Trump business partner.

The Trump Organization gave Bayrock a one-year exclusive deal to hunt for land in Moscow for a development, according to documents obtained by The Post.

Sater said in a 2008 deposition that he found a group of interested Russian investors, as well as a possible site for the project — a shuttered pencil factory that had been named for American radicals Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who were convicted of murder and executed during the “Red Scare” that swept the United States after World War I.

“I showed him photos, I showed him the site, showed him the view from the site. It’s pretty spectacular,” Sater said of Trump in the depositions. “It was more of verbal updates when I’d come back, pop my head into Mr. Trump’s office and tell him, you know, ‘Moving forward on the Moscow deal.’ And he would say, ‘All right.’ ”

That deal fell apart, as well, but it did not rupture Sater’s relationship with the Trump Organization. A year later, Sater testified, Trump asked him to accompany his adult children Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. on a trip to Moscow.

By 2007, Donald Trump had hired Cohen to serve as one of his top lawyers. Cohen and Sater had attended high school together and were close.

‘A different world’

The failures in Russia were a source of frustration for the Trump Organization at a time it was otherwise expanding around the world, buoyed by the success of Trump’s reality television show “The Apprentice.” He signed deals to build Trump Towers in Istanbul and Panama in 2006 and the Dominican Republic in 2007.

Speaking to a real estate conference in 2008, Trump Jr. explained that building in Russia was tricky.

“As much as we want to take our business over there, Russia is just a different world,” he said. “It is a question of who knows who, whose brother is paying off who. . . . It really is a scary place.”

But the younger Trump insisted that the company was determined to make it work. He had traveled to Russia six times in the previous 18 months, he told the investors. “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” he said, explaining that Russians found the Trump name appealing and were buying units in the company’s buildings around the world.

Donald Trump finally made it to Moscow in 2013, bringing his Miss Universe beauty pageant to the Russian capital.

Costs for the elaborate event were borne by a Russian billionaire developer, Aras Agalarov, and his pop-star son, Emin Agalarov — often called the Trumps of Russia for their tendency to put their name on projects.

Trump spent 36 hours in Moscow in November 2013, meeting with Russian business leaders and hoping for a sit-down with the Russian president. Putin declined, citing a delayed meeting with the king of Holland.

As the event concluded, Trump announced he had once again reached a preliminary deal to build in Moscow — this time with the Agalarovs as partners. “I had a great weekend with you and your family,” Trump tweeted to Aras Agalarov as he left Russia. “TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next.”

The deal did not advance beyond preliminary talks, hampered by a cooling Russian economy and then Trump’s busy campaign schedule, the Agalarovs told The Post in a joint interview in spring 2016.

But the billionaire and his son remained in contact with Trump, and in June 2016, they helped arrange for Trump Jr. to take a meeting with a Russian lawyer as his father pursued the presidency.

The candidate’s son was told the lawyer would bring dirt about Democrat Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help Trump. “If it’s what you say, I love it,” Trump Jr. responded.

Pursuing the big deal

By then, Cohen had been working with Sater for months to once again get a Trump development in Moscow off the ground. A person close to Cohen said he knew how badly Trump wanted a Moscow project and believed he would score a major coup with his boss if he could get it done. . .

Continue reading.

There’s more.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 November 2018 at 11:47 am

How Donald Trump appeals to men secretly insecure about their manhood

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I thought the Washington Post report, by Eric Knowles and Sarah DiMuccio, was worth blogging as well. It begins:

From boasting about the size of his penis on national television to releasing records of his high testosterone levels, President Trump’s rhetoric and behavior exude machismo. His behavior also seems to have struck a chord with some male voters. See, for example, the “Donald Trump: Finally Someone With Balls” T-shirts common at Trump rallies.

But our research suggests that Trump is not necessarily attracting male supporters who are as confidently masculine as the president presents himself to be. Instead, Trump appears to appeal more to men who are secretly insecure about their manhood. We call this the “fragile masculinity hypothesis.” Here is some of our evidence.

What is ‘fragile masculinity’?

Research shows that many men feel pressure to look and behave in stereotypically masculine ways — or risk losing their status as “real men.” Masculine expectations are socialized from early childhood and can motivate men to embrace traditional male behaviors while avoiding even the hint of femininity. This unforgiving standard of maleness makes some men worry that they’re falling short. These men are said to experience “fragile masculinity.”

The political process provides a way that fragile men can reaffirm their masculinity. By supporting tough politicians and policies, men can reassure others (and themselves) of their own manliness. For example, sociologist Robb Willer has shown that men whose sense of masculinity was threatened increased their support for aggressive foreign policy.

We wanted to see whether fragile masculinity was associated with how Americans vote — and specifically whether it was associated with greater support for Trump in the 2016 general election and for Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections.

How we measured fragile masculinity

Measuring fragile masculinity poses a challenge. We could not simply do a poll of men, who might not honestly answer questions about their deepest insecurities. Instead we relied on Google Trends, which measures the popularity of Google search terms. As Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has argued, people are often at their least guarded when they seek answers from the Internet. Researchers have already used Google search patterns to estimate levels of racial prejudice in different parts of the country. We sought to do the same with fragile masculinity.

We began by selecting a set of search topics that we believed might be especially common among men concerned about living up to the ideals of manhood: “erectile dysfunction,” “hair loss,” “how to get girls,” “penis enlargement,” “penis size,” “steroids,” “testosterone” and “Viagra.” (With the exception of “how to get girls,” these are Google “topics” rather than individual search terms. For instance, the topic “erectile dysfunction” includes searches for “erectile dysfunction,” “ED” and “impotence.”)

To validate this list of topics, we asked a sample of 300 men on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform whether they ever had or ever would search for them online. We found that scoring high on a questionnaire measuring “masculine gender-role discrepancy stress” — concern that they aren’t as manly as their male friends — was strongly associated with interest in these search topics. Although these men were not a representative sample of American men, their responses suggest that these search terms are a valid way to capture fragile masculinity.

How fragile masculinity was related to voting behavior

We measured the popularity of these search topics in every media market in the country during the years preceding the past three presidential elections. In the map [shown in the previous post – LG], darker colors show where these searches were most prevalent in 2016.

We found that support for Trump in the 2016 election was higher in areas that had more searches for topics such as “erectile dysfunction.” Moreover, this relationship persisted after accounting for demographic attributes in media markets, such as education levels and racial composition, as well as searches for topics unrelated to fragile masculinity, such as “breast augmentation” and “menopause.”

In contrast, fragile masculinity was not associated with support for Mitt Romney in 2012 or support for John McCain in 2008 — suggesting that the correlation of fragile masculinity and voting in presidential elections was distinctively stronger in 2016.

The same finding emerged in 2018. We estimated levels of fragile masculinity in every U.S. congressional district based on levels in the media markets with which districts overlap. Before the election, we preregisteredour expectations, including the other factors that we would account for.

In the more than 390 House elections pitting a Republican candidate against a Democratic candidate, support for the Republican candidate was higher in districts that, based on Google search data, had higher levels of fragile masculinity. However, there was no significant relationship between fragile masculinity and voting in the 2014 or 2016 congressional elections. This suggests that fragile masculinity has now become a stronger predictor of voting behavior.

Notably, fragile masculinity was unrelated to support for female candidates in the 2018 elections, once we accounted for the fact that female candidates are more likely to be Democrats than Republicans. It therefore appears that fragile masculinity doesn’t reduce support for female candidates but rather increases support for Republican candidates of any gender.

Here’s the takeaway

Our data suggests that fragile masculinity is a critical feature of our current politics. Nonetheless, points of caution are in order.

First, the research reported here is correlational. We can’t be entirely sure that fragile masculinity is causing people to vote in a certain way. However, given that experimental work has identified a causal connection between masculinity concerns and political beliefs, we think the correlations we’ve identified are important.

Second, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 November 2018 at 10:19 am

Insecure Men Were a Big Trump Demographic in 2016

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This post by Kevin Drum is just fascinating (and illuminating—I think it explains a lot):

This map from the Washington Post made the gleeful rounds of liberal Twitter yesterday:

What’s not to like? It shows that all those supposedly manly Southern men aren’t so manly after all. In fact, they’re desperately searching Google for ways to make themselves more manly, and it’s hard for us lefties not to get a chuckle out of that. To make it even better, the accompanying study also showed that all these insecure men voted for Donald Trump in large numbers.

But it seemed sort of dumb to me and I had no plans to write about it: the fact that Southern men voted for Trump in large numbers is hardly news, after all. But then, thanks to the Evil Dex, I had lots of time on my hand and I read the whole piece. It’s written by Eric Knowles and Sarah DiMuccio, who conducted the research:

We found that support for Trump in the 2016 election was higher in areas that had more searches for topics such as “erectile dysfunction.” Moreover, this relationship persisted after accounting for demographic attributes in media markets, such as education levels and racial composition, as well as searches for topics unrelated to fragile masculinity, such as “breast augmentation” and “menopause.”

OK. Not surprising so far. Tell me more.

In contrast, fragile masculinity was not associated with support for Mitt Romney in 2012 or support for John McCain in 2008 — suggesting that the correlation of fragile masculinity and voting in presidential elections was distinctively stronger in 2016.

The same finding emerged in 2018….In the more than 390 House elections pitting a Republican candidate against a Democratic candidate, support for the Republican candidate was higher in districts that, based on Google search data, had higher levels of fragile masculinity. However, there was no significant relationship between fragile masculinity and voting in the 2014 or 2016 congressional elections. This suggests that fragile masculinity has now become a stronger predictor of voting behavior.

Huh. I was uninterested at first because I figured the Trump effect was really just a Republican effect. But no. Insecure men voted in unusually large numbers for the Republican candidate only when that candidate was Trump. And two years later, the effect was still there in a midterm election that was heavily dominated by Trump’s presence.

If this holds up, it suggests that Trump really did appeal to a kind of toxic masculinity in a way that other Republicans haven’t. I suppose that’s not entirely surprising either, but it was just something we all assumed. We’ve not had real evidence of it before.

And it’s interesting in a non-snarky way, too. There’s something about it that’s sort of a mirror image of this whole “deaths of despair” theory, which is mostly driven by rural whites.¹ If it’s true, it’s quite possible that it’s galvanized mostly by factors that affect the self-image of men who have grown up thinking that stereotypical manliness was a core part of who they had to be. Inability to be a good breadwinner would certainly be part of that. Being the “losers” of the feminist movement would be part of it. Being forced to give up their traditional control of family and sex—no more demands, no more casual harassment—would be part of it. A candidate who explicitly appealed to this frustration and promised to fix it—which neither Romney nor McCain did—would attract their votes. Especially if he were running against that shrill harpy Hillary Clinton.

Long story short, this is interesting to the extent that it shows who Trump specifically appealed to above and beyond normal Republican candidates. It’s also something for Democrats to give some serious thought to, even if, like Trump, they currently have few real solutions to offer. I’m not sure what a “real” solution might be, but it’s worth noting that one thing it’s not is an insistence on nominating a man in 2020. Although the authors found that insecure men might like Trump, they held no grudge against women running for office: “Notably, fragile masculinity was unrelated to support for female candidates in the 2018 elections.” That means we can feel free to nominate anyone we want. It just needs to be someone who knows how to talk to insecure men.

¹I’m not entirely sold on the deaths-of-depair theory, but there’s certainly some evidence for it

Written by LeisureGuy

30 November 2018 at 10:11 am

When Fox News staffers break ethics rules, discipline follows — or does it?

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Margaret Sullivan wonders just exactly what ethics rules Fox News enforces—and how. She writes in the Washington Post:

There are ethical standards at Fox News, we’re told.

But just what they are, or how they’re enforced, is an enduring mystery.

When Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro appeared onstage with President Trump at a Missouri campaign rally, the network publicly acknowledged that this ran counter to its practices.

“Fox News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events,” the network said in a statement. “This was an unfortunate distraction and has been addressed.”

Or take what happened this week.

When the staff of “Fox & Friends” was found to have provided a pre-interview script for Scott Pruitt, then the Environmental Protection Agency head, the network frowned: “This is not standard practice whatsoever and the matter is being addressed internally with those involved.”

“Not standard practice” is putting it mildly, as the Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani — who broke the story — noted, quoting David Hawkins, formerly of CBS News and CNN, who teaches journalism at Fordham University:

“Every American journalist knows that to provide scripts or articles to the government for review before publication or broadcast is a cardinal sin. It’s Journalism 101. This is worse than that. It would and should get you fired from any news organization with integrity.”

Some news organizations publish their standards and ethics guidelines for all to see.
In 2015, for example, BuzzFeed News published its policy with a note from a top editor, Shani O. Hilton, that said the purpose was “to provide context and support for BuzzFeed News staffers in making smart, responsible, and ethical choices” — and to keep staff accountable to readers.

The Washington Post and the New York Times make their policies readily available to the public, as does NPR. The idea — the right one — is that transparency and clarity are crucially important when it comes to enforcing ethics.

That concept is not universally accepted at media companies: As my colleague Erik Wemple wrote last spring, CNN not only doesn’t publish its guidelines but also has fought in court to keep them private. (And like every media organization, CNN has had its share of standards problems, most recently letting guests and commentators lie about climate scientists without disclosing their financial ties to the fossil-fuel industry, as Media Matters reported.)

The broadcast TV networks mostly have standards editors and written policies but don’t make them public.

As for Fox News, it’s hard to know what network standards have been breached, whether written rules exist, or who — if anyone — is in charge of that fraught subject.

On Wednesday, I asked two high-ranking Fox News executives about this: John Stack, senior vice president for news coverage, whom I had met at a recent gathering of standards editors and media ombudsmen, past and present; and Irena Briganti, executive vice president of corporate communications for Fox News and Fox Business.

Does Fox News have a written ethics policy, I asked.

If so, is it published anywhere?

Is there a Fox News standards editor, even if he or she doesn’t have that specific title?

What Fox News standard or practice, exactly, was breached in the way the Pruitt appearance was handled, and what is the nature of the disciplinary measures being taken?

Neither Stack nor Briganti responded at all.

That’s no surprise, really.

The network can’t seem to figure out whether it’s an arm of the Trump administration or a news network — or somehow, impossibly, both.

It boasts of its traditional journalists such as Shepard Smith, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier but never seems to come down hard on its blatant propagandists and bad actors. After Fox personality Laura Ingraham mocked 17-year-old David Hogg last spring, following the massacre at his high school in Parkland, Fla., the network backed her up, despite the public outcry and an advertiser boycott.

Alisyn Camerota, a former Fox News anchor now at CNN, said on air recently that members of Fox brass ‘‘know vaguely’’ that their high-profile employees aren’t supposed to be actively campaigning or helping the Trump administration with its agenda.

‘‘They’re having a schizophrenic moment over there trying to figure out what their role is going to be with the Trump presidency,’’ quoted Camerota.

The Trump administration and Fox News are so deeply intertwined that it’s hard to know where one ends and the other begins. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 November 2018 at 9:43 am

Posted in Media

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