Link Roundup, 7/12/2017

From Daily Dot: Teen abortion rates surge after Texas’ attack on Planned Parenthood.

From the Washington Post: The far-right’s campaign against higher-ed seems to be working.

From Wired: Scientists embed a GIF in bacteria using CRISP-R.

From the New York Times: A functioning democracy, Brazil, demonstrates how to deal with corrupt leadership.

From The Week: Trump grants an interview to his most enthusiastic audience: religious nuts.


  1. I have two kids with master’s degrees and thus have a lot invested in college degrees being considered positive.

    In the article about the far-right’s smear campaign against colleges, it’s worth noting that college educated republicans’ views on the value of a college education are near the bottom. Presumably, they are the ones with the most at stake and their opinion is still negative.

    Besides right wing media criticism, there are other factors that have impacted the perception of colleges.

    Sexual assault has been much in the news.

    Then, too, many parents have become increasingly upset when their darling children are sent off to college with not much to show for it after a few semesters spent partying except a boatload of dept.

    1. Debt without knowledge….And, who, pray tell, should parents hold responsible for this outcome?

      As for conservative criticism of college – I wonder how much of it is based upon cost vs the quality of education they feel their children are receiving? It would have been nice for my husband and I to have had a 529 plan for our children’s savings plans for college, but we had to do it the old fashioned way – one nickel at a time without the benefit of tax free gains on money saved for their educations.

      We want it all in America, don’t we?

  2. This review of Kill All Normies in nymag. Surprisingly direct about “SJW overreaching kick started alt-right” angle.

    >Tumblr liberalism, as Nagle calls it, had a number of strange outward markers, including hyperconstructionist gender politics, a fixation on pop culture, and a penchant for the public call-out. It became most famous, however, for something with the evocative name of “crybullying,” or, in Nagle’s words, a “culture of fragility and victimhood mixed with a vicious culture of group attacks, group shaming, and attempts to destroy the reputations and lives of others within their political milieu.” Nagle gives a number of examples of crybullying in action, many of which will be familiar to those who spend a lot of time reading about politics online. […]

    >Like the alt-right, this brand of leftism was primarily a creature of the Internet and social media, with its most vocal supporters and critics concentrated among the young, the college-educated, and those working in the media and the academy — a small but influential population that exerts a heavy influence on the shape of online discourse. Originally, this worked to make certain pathological tendencies seem more widespread than they actually were — sectarian fights that a generation ago would have been fought out in the offices of small magazines were now out in the open for all to see. But once the pattern of destructive behavior had been established, the alt-right, realizing the propaganda value of such left-wing hysteria, did what it could to amplify it, as seen with Milo Yiannopoulos’s “Dangerous Faggot” campus-speaking tour and the riots it provoked in Berkeley.

    >Nagle, of course, is herself on the political left, and Kill All Normies reflects her frustrations with intra-left political disputes of the last five years, which have tended to pit identitarians against a more explicitly socialist left. At one level, Nagle suggests that there was a symbiosis between the social-justice left and the alt-right: The left’s tendency to focus on racial and sexual identity while explicitly demonizing privileged groups — notably straight white men — may have pushed members of these groups into the arms of the alt-right, while the stronger the alt-right became, the more it confirmed the social-justice left in the belief that its critics, even those on the left, were either Nazis or Nazis’ useful idiots.

    But it adds:

    >But aside from such direct symbiosis, Nagle suspects — rightly in my view — that the real damage of the “Tumblrization of left-politics” may have been to spur a “brain drain from the left,” as people fled from a political brand increasingly associated with hysteria, witch-hunting, and intolerance of dissent. She writes in her conclusion that the left’s “embarrassing and toxic online politics” have made it “a laughing stock for a whole new generation” — a dynamic typified by the recent student protests at Evergreen State, which, to outsiders at least, look totally insane.

    So it is more that reasonable people unplugged from the politics entirely than people moving to alt-right. Thus leaving it to mostly unbalanced people on both sides to duke it out.

  3. Its worth noting that the Daily Dot article was based on one paper written by an assistant professor at Miami University.

    She notes:

    “Before 2011 teen birth rates in Texas average nearly 69 births per 1,000 teens, compared to 45 births per 1,000 teens outside of Texas. For both groups, teen birth rates fell after 2011. As such, the analysis below can be viewed as estimating to what extent teen births rates could have declined further in the absence of family planning funding cuts.”

    Teen births and abortions have fallen precipitously in Texas as they have in the rest of the country. The researcher is speculating that they should have fallen even more in Texas. Her reasoning is complex and quite convoluted, and honestly, I don’t think she makes her point.

    In any case, The Daily Dot is incorrect. Teen abortion rates have NOT increased in Texas – they have decreased except for a brief spike in 2013. In 2014 abortion rates continued their rapid decline.

    Articles like the one in the Daily Dot make me want to tear my hair out in frustration because they sensationalize research, mangle and misrepresent conclusions, and present conjecture as fact.

    1. Objv-

      I took a look at the paper and you’re right. Teen births and abortions have declined nationwide. Texas is higher than the national average but also experienced declines. This paper estimates how much further Texas’s rate would have declined if they continued their family planning funding.

      Don’t know if you ever saw John Oliver’s show about how scientific studies get misreported in the mainstream press, but it’s pretty relevant to this case.

      Now that said, the article *did* conclude that teen pregnancy and abortion rates would have declined further if the family planning clinics remained funded at the 2011 rates. So, IMHO, the general point that Democrats make, that funding contraception and other family planning techniques that work, actually reduces abortion and pregnancy rates, still stands.

      1. WX Wall, It’s also fun for me to stomp my feet and yell “FAKE NEWS!!!!” after reading articles like these. 🙂 Hit pieces based on research with questionable conclusions make it easy for conservatives to dismiss the “fake news media” as completely biased.

        I completely agree that women and teens need access to family planning and contraception.

        However, are clinics like Planned Parenthood which also provide abortions the only options available?

        After typing in my old Texas zip code, I found 442 clinics within 20 miles of where I used to live that would provide low income women with free or low cost family planning services. Obviously, the researcher was not taking these options into account when wring her paper.

        What am I missing here?

      2. There are lots of services available – at this time – but wonder if one looked back to that period prior to closure of over 40 TX Planned Parenthood clinics if resources would have been as high. Or, if they were, why so many women sought services from PP as a first choice for the myriad of care not including abortion. More significant to current services is eligibility as income and other critieria apply. I have not personally used Planned Parenthood, although I support the organization with donations; however, women who do/have are loyal, recurring participants who feel they receive quality services and great value. These clinics (where state law permits) also provide long lasting contraception devices which have contributed positively to pregnancy management. It is interesting that conservatives do not apply free market principles in regard to the operation/existence of these clinics. Surely, in a conservative state like TX, most women would choose family planning centers other than PP…….

    1. As one who was born in the 40s, I understand the thrust of this article all too well. “Progress” has become a politicized term. As Elizabeth Warren stated years ago to capitalists and bankers and entrepreneurs of every stripe – be proud of what you have accomplished but never forget that you didn’t build it by yourself. Those roads, schools, air transport, and so much more – they helped. Now, have the humility and awareness to acknowledge the contributions of so many before you. And, give back.

    2. I absolutely concur with both the article and Mary’s comments. I somehow missed it. I am a late WWII baby and remember the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s well. I remember the two lane highways and the time when Congress actually worked. I owe my education and career to the Vietnam GI Bill. Congress began deteriorating with Newt Gingrich in 1994, but actually the stage was set with the Powell Memorandum of 1971, when the Chamber of Commerce decided to counter attack. Elizabeth Warren discusses that in her latest book, This Fight is Our Fight.

      We need to remember that all our accomplishments rest on those that came before, and we have an obligation to give back by contributing as much as each of us are able, i.e. give back. We are all passengers on one boat, the great planet earth. Let us make it better for all.

  4. The health care issue is never far from my radar. Senator Cruz’ alternative plan is one of the finalists and is being favored for “giving cover” to reluctant (and spineless) Republican Senators. It has now been formally vetted by a prestigious organization, The American Academy of Actuaries, and exposed for all its shortcomings. I have no clue as to what will happen regarding repeal and replace, but I confess that I have enjoyed watching the GOP struggle. Healthcare is hard. Throwing “stuff” against the wall to see if it will stick – that’s easy. Senator Cruz – you’ve been exposed.

  5. So I have turned my view on this whole junior/son-law/campaign manger collusion debacle.

    Gergen at CNN calls it the most incompetent cover-up.
    I disagree. Now one can be that incompetent. I think these clowns just had no idea of the rules, or figured, more accurately, that the rules would not be applied to them. So they had no plans to cover this up.
    In fact, if I am right, the son-in-law already disclosed this meeting weeks ago to security officials.

    I don’t think there is any doubt the puppet tyrant knew about the meeting, but it won’t matter.

  6. Here’s an article on the book that (arguably) predicted Trump:

    >Labor unions and unskilled workers will sooner or later realize that “their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported,” he posited. And they will further realize that “suburban white-collar workers, themselves desperately afraid of being downsized, are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.” At that point, “something will crack,” he warned. “The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots.”

  7. If you’re a member of the pro-life crowd, and you are sincere in your stated wish to “save babies” you will not hesitate to cultivate that common ground with the pro-choice side called “preventing unwanted pregnancies”. If you are not willing to do that, I call bullshit on your stated motive. You can flip the whole effing SCOTUS, you can pass bills in every red state that restrict access via bogus medical concern trolling, but you will only make the problem worse.

    1. Fly – I’m with you all the way. It gets worse. The agencies who have been working to help reduce teen pregnancy just received notice from the Trump administration that their 5-year grant is being cut by 2 years….Reason? Shifting priorities. “Abstinence Only” doesn’t require studies…but we do know that this hasn’t worked in past efforts….thus, why waste money studying what does work? Our entire world – everything that makes sense – is being turned on its head.

  8. In special election news, Democrats look to have swept two elections in otherwise blood red Oklahoma, both seats having been vacated by Republicans.

    In House District 75, Democrat Karen Gaddis has won over Republican Tressa Nunley. Gaddis previously vied for the seat and lost to incumbent Dan Kirby by nearly twenty points.

    In Senate District 44, Democrat Michel Brooks has won over Republican Joe Griffin. Again, Brooks vied for the seat last election and lost by ten points.

    Notably, both Republican vacancies come in the midst of scandal. Kirby, who previously held the House seat, resigned after former legislative assistants accused him of sexual harassment. Former Sen. Rep Ralph Shortey is facing three felony counts that allege he solicited a 17-year old boy for sex.

    1. Off topic, but this article made my head explode and could only think to share it here. Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, yeah that Russian lawyer was representing Russian companies indicted for money laundering and fraud ($230,000,000) and using the cash for Manhattan real estate.
      The case built and brought by Preet Bharara was going to expose the exact process and accounting for the schema used by Russian companies and nationals in dumping cash without trace. Jeff Sessions settled the case for $6million without an admission of wrong doing and let the Russians walk.

      I hope Mueller gets the case files. It would be instructive at the least. No response from DOJ or Sessions about why the case was settled.

      1. Good Lord! At best, those are some horrible optics. Damn straight Jeffy has some ‘splainin’ to do!

        Donnie 2scoops is trying to spin 39-year old Jr as just an innocent kid who didn’t know better when it comes to meeting with shady Russian lawyers. No sale. Corrupt and/or stupid I could believe.

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