• Racial Resentment Is Down Since 2016

    Recent polling on race relations is pretty grim reading. Ever since Ferguson, both blacks and whites have agreed that race relations in America are getting worse. No matter how you ask the question, you get the same result.

    But this tells us nothing about actual racial attitudes, which are notoriously tricky to measure. However, there’s a question on the biannual General Social Survey that I’ve long thought was one of the best indicators of racist attitudes: “Are racial differences due to lack of will?” This, I think, is a fairly nonthreatening way to ask about the widespread belief among some whites that blacks (and other minority groups) should quit complaining and just work harder. The responses jump around from year to year, so I’ve chosen just a few key dates in the chart below to make the trend clearer:

    Among white Republicans in the pre-Obama years, the number who felt that the biggest problem among blacks was lack of willpower (LOW) was pretty steady at around 50 percent. But when Obama was elected president, LOW suddenly shot up by ten points. The mere fact of having a black man in the White House was enough to trigger feelings of racial resentment.

    This faded out a bit over the next six years, but in 2016 LOW was still five points higher than it had been before Obama was elected. This is one of the things that helped Donald Trump get elected.

    But look what’s happened since. With Obama gone, LOW plummeted 11 points. It’s now precisely where it would be if it had followed the pre-Obama trendline for another ten years.

    This suggests that racial resentment among white Republicans has been on a steady downward trend for more than 20 years, interrupted only by the election of Barack Obama. But with Obama now out of the picture, racial resentment is way down from 2016, which means that Donald Trump has far less raw racial material to work with than he did four years ago. This doesn’t mean that Democrats can go hog-wild in the wokeness sweepstakes, but it does mean that Trump’s increasingly vitriolic racism is probably having less of an effect than we fear.

    The most likely outcome of all this is that Trump will feel like he needs to go further and further to get the same response he did in 2016, and that will eventually force him to go too far. Maybe it already has. Even his fellow Republicans seem to understand the danger here, which is why they asked him to back down on the “Send her back!” chants. Trump’s base may love it, but there are a whole lot more people who are repulsed by it.

  • Friday Cat Blogging – 19 July 2019

    Here is Hopper soaking up the midday sun and waiting for me to finish up the catblogging pictures so I can rub her tummy. It’s always a good day for a tummy rub.

  • Hillary Clinton Wins Fight for $12 Minimum Wage

    See, I told you.Victoria Jones/PA Wire via ZUMA

    I don’t want to be a killjoy—

    Oh hell, I love being a killjoy. In this case, I’d like to point out that the House bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 is a victory for . . .  Hillary Clinton. You see, the bill raises the minimum wage to $15 only in 2025. If you figure annual inflation of about 2.5 percent, this is equivalent to $12 in 2016. That’s the number Clinton was pushing for.

    Congratulations, Hillary! It turns out you were pretty successful at fighting Bernie’s effort to push the party to the left. See also: healthcare, national.

  • LA Sheriff Really Hates It When Bad Folks Get Fired

    Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images via ZUMA

    Last year Alex Villanueva was a surprise winner against the incumbent in the race to become the new sheriff of Los Angeles County. I don’t live in LA so I’ve followed this only from afar, but as near as I can tell Villanueva’s main goal in office is to rehire deputies who have been fired for a variety of offenses, including unreasonable force, domestic violence, lying, and so forth. He started off with a couple of rehires, then announced six more, and apparently the total is now up to a couple of dozen or so.

    Today, however, another bomb hit:

    A top official in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said she left the agency after 34 years rather than carry out what she said was a “highly unethical” and “unheard of” directive from Sheriff Alex Villanueva to reinstate a fired deputy and alter his disciplinary record, court papers reviewed by The Times show.

    Alicia Ault, who served as chief of the department’s professional standards and training division before her resignation last year, said she was told by the incoming sheriff’s chief of staff that it was Villanueva’s “No. 1 priority” to reinstate Caren Carl Mandoyan before Villanueva took office so it would appear to have been done by the administration of former Sheriff Jim McDonnell, according to a deposition she gave in the county’s lawsuit over the reinstatement, which was filed in court Wednesday.

    ….The legal filings Wednesday also include a deposition from Villanueva’s former second-in-command, Ray Leyva, who was abruptly fired in March. Leyva said under oath that he reviewed video evidence in Mandoyan’s case that showed the deputy tried to pry open a woman’s door and had indeed lied about it, as investigators initially found.

    Villanueva seems to have won the election primarily by promising to toss ICE agents out of county jails, which earned him a lot of support from the Hispanic community. So far he’s kind of done that and kind of hasn’t, but in any case his top priority by far has been a so-called “truth and reconciliation” committee whose job is to reinstate fired deputies and make it clear that everyone knows the good old days are back. There will be no more harassment of deputies for picayune offenses like beating people up or filing false reports. I guess the good times are really rolling up in LA these days.

  • Four Economic Myths—Plus One

    Congressional Research Service

    Jared Bernstein writes today about four ideas that economists have gotten wrong for decades. You can read the whole thing here, but the details are less interesting than his entirely correct conclusion:

    Pegging the “natural rate” too high, ignoring the harm from exposure to international competition, austere budget policy, low and stagnant minimum wages — all of these misunderstood economic relationships have one thing in common.

    In every case, the costs fall on the vulnerable: people who depend on full employment to get ahead; blue-collar production workers and communities built around factories; families who suffer from austerity-induced weak recoveries and under-funded safety nets, and who depend on a living wage to make ends meet. These groups are the casualties of faulty economics.

    In contrast, the benefits in every case accrue to the wealthy: highly educated workers largely insulated from slack labor markets, executives of outsourcing corporations, the beneficiaries of revenue-losing tax cuts that allegedly require austere budgets, and employers of low-wage workers.

    It’s funny how mistakes like this always seem to point in the same direction, isn’t it? And I’d add at least one more: that lower taxes on the rich are good for the economy. There is, at best, some thin evidence that this is true if top marginal rates are very high, but that’s about it. In the America that we actually live in today, there’s simply no reason to think that cutting taxes on the rich will have any effect other than the rich paying lower taxes and the budget deficit going up.

    But don’t expect to stop hearing this anyway—or any of Bernstein’s other four examples. They’re just too convenient for the rich and powerful.

  • Racetrack Deaths at Santa Anita Were . . . Not Bad Last Year

    This has nothing to do with anything at the moment, but I happened to run across the data for horse racing deaths in California this morning. Here are the numbers for Santa Anita racetrack:

    Over the past few months I must have read at least a dozen stories about the enormous death toll at Santa Anita this season and the desperate search to figure out what was happening. Not once did I see this chart or anything like it. As near as I can tell, what was happening was: nothing. There were a total of 30 racing and training deaths, which was down from 37 the year before, which was down from 54 the year before that, which was down from 57 the year before that. Fatalities have also been declining relative to the number of starts, as the chart above shows.

    So why was there suddenly such a huge fuss this year? And why did virtually no reporting about it include context like this?

    More here, including this longer-term chart: