Saturday, November 21, 2015
Donald Trump is the current front-runner among Republican presidential candidates. Some take this to be a very scary sign about the tastes of the republic.
It is helpful to remember, therefore, that all that really means is that a quarter of Republicans favor him now, at this early stage. And Republicans make up only a quarter of the electorate. A quarter of a quarter is about six percent of the whole.
Moreover, unlike most of the other Republican (or Democratic) candidates, Trump has very high negatives. Almost twice as many people have an unfavorable view of him as have a favorable view.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
The Pew Research Center has an interesting study of just how involved in church the members in different denominations are.
In general, evangelicals are twice as involved in their churches as mainliners - 41% "highly involved" for evangelicals on average, versus only 20% for the average mainline denomination.
Among mainline Protestant denominations, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) members show the highest level of involvement, with 31% highly involved.
Interestingly, that is about the same proportion highly involved in the evangelical Presbyterian Church of America.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
One of the best stories of the last couple of weeks is that Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won an overwhelming victory in elections to parliament, taking over 80% of the open seats.
The military junta still controls the government, will take months to actually relinquish the seats the NLD just won, and re-wrote the constitution to specifically bar "the Lady" from becoming president.
Moreover, the last time Suu Kyi's party won an election, the junta simply invalidated it and continued the dictatorship. They put the leader of the opposition under years of house arrest. The world noticed her continued civilized resistance, and gave her the Nobel Peace Prize.
I am very hopeful that this time we will see the junta finally start to let go. Full democracy will come to Burma/Myanmar.
Monday, November 16, 2015
The whole point of terrorism is to terrify reactive leaders into a brutal response. This helps terrorists recruit more fighters. Every time we invade a country, we make more enemies.
This is why a measured, coordinated response, using diplomatic, economic, cultural, and (only at the end) military tools is the most effective thing to do, as well as the most ethical.
Reactive leaders will not be held back by a thoughtful consideration of what will really work.
Reactive leaders will only be held back if their domestic supporters would reject a brutal response.
Therefore, the most effective thing that ordinary people can do in the face of terror is not be terrified. Keeping calm and carrying on is the best resistance.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
A hypothesis for my new research on taste and class.
People who move to the bohemian or bobo (bourgeois bohemian) parts of the city when they first get out of college really like those places. They are not afraid of the city. These areas are among the most liberal places in the country. For themselves they are happy and enjoy the life and diversity of the city.
Kids, though, tend to make them more cautious. They will only stay is they are confident they can find a safe way to raise their kids. The educational level of the schooling matters, too, but is secondary. The ethnic diversity of city schools is usually a plus for these families. They are proud when they can find safe diverse schools.
Safety is what the suburbs sell - even, for these families, at the cost of a terrible blandness and unreality.