Listened to Tribalism, Anger and the State of Our Politics from On the Media | WNYC Studios

An extended conversation with Lilliana Mason about tribalism, anger and the state of our politics.

If solidarity and the recognition of mutual self-interest are the keys to moving past our fractious moment, it can be hard to see how we'll get there. Anger and tribalism appear to be at an all-time high, creating political and societal rifts that seem unbridgeable. Indeed, it is hard to believe that only 70 years ago, the country was deemed by political scientists to be not polarized enough. In 1950, the American Political Science Association put out a report that suggested that the parties were not distinct enough and that it was making people's political decision making too difficult.

Over the next few decades, they became distinct alright. Lilliana Mason is a political psychologist at the University of Maryland. When we spoke to her last fall, she told us that most people think they know exactly what each party stands for — leaving us with two camps that both seek to destroy the other. 

Listened to Curiouser and Curiouser from On the Media | WNYC Studios

A close-up on John Solomon's role in the impeachment saga, and the black nationalist origins of Justice Clarence Thomas.

President Trump’s concerns about corruption in Ukraine began, in part, with a series of articles in a publication called The Hill. On this week’s On the Media, a close-up on the columnist whose dubious tales may lead to an impeachment. Plus, the black nationalist origins of Justice Clarence Thomas’s legal thinking.

1. Paul Farhi [@farhip], Washington Post media reporter, and Mike Spies [@mikespiesnyc], ProPublica reporter, on John Solomon's role in the impeachment saga. Listen

2. Corey Robin [@CoreyRobin], writer and political scientist at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, on all that we've missed (or ignored) about Justice Clarence Thomas. Listen

This is a fascinating thesis about Justice Clarence Thomas and who he really is. I totally want to read The Enigma of Clarence Thomas now.
Listened to The Daily: How Impeachment Consumed a Governor’s Race from New York Times
Kentucky’s unpopular Republican governor was facing a losing battle. So he turned to President Trump, and a polarized political landscape, for help.

Watched Supreme Revenge from FRONTLINE | PBS
Inside the no-holds-barred war for control of the Supreme Court. From Brett Kavanaugh to Robert Bork, an investigation of how a 30-year-old grievance transformed the court and turned confirmations into bitter, partisan conflicts.
Oh, if only politicians played with the perspective of a veil of ignorance just a bit more…

🎧 The Daily: Trump Wanted to Scrap Obamacare. His Party Didn’t. | New York Times

Listened to The Daily: Trump Wanted to Scrap Obamacare. His Party Didn’t. from New York Times

The latest scuffle over health care shows a sea change in the Republican stance heading into the 2020 elections.

👓 Republicans Are Trashing the Law to Keep Trump’s Taxes Secret | Intelligencer | NYMag

Read Republicans Are Trashing the Law to Keep Trump’s Taxes Secret by Jonathan Chait (Intelligencer)
Congress has a clear legal right to examine Trump’s taxes. Republicans could not care less what the law says.
When a bad Democrat comes to power, the Republican party will have lost any moral authority for calling for ousters… We can’t have two sets of rules for our politicians. Either they follow the rules and mores or they don’t and Trump is wreaking a horrible precedent.

👓 Governor Admits He Was in Racist Yearbook Photo | New York Times

Read Governor Admits He Was in Racist Yearbook Photo (New York Times)
Ralph Northam, the governor of Virginia, said he was “deeply sorry” for the decision to appear in the photo but resisted calls for his resignation.
I’ll bet that the Republicans who have let Trump’s racism slide will crow the loudest for his ouster.

🎧 The Daily: What a Border Sheriff Thinks About the Wall | New York Times

Listened to The Daily: What a Border Sheriff Thinks About the Wall from New York Times

A sheriff in Arizona tells us how President Trump’s immigration policies have played out in his county, and why his interpretation of the president’s message has changed.

👓 The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine critical of Trump, to shutter after 23 years | CNN

Read The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine critical of Trump, to shutter after 23 years (CNN)
The Weekly Standard, the magazine that espouses traditional conservatism and which has remained deeply critical of President Donald Trump, will shutter after 23 years, its owner Clarity Media Group announced Friday morning. The magazine will publish its final issue on December 17.
Alas there goes the last bit of logic to the center of the old party. Trump’s transformation of the Republican Party is almost complete.

🎧 ‘The Daily’: Watering Down Democrats’ Power in Wisconsin | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Watering Down Democrats’ Power in Wisconsin from New York Times

Across the country, Democratic candidates for governor and attorney general have won seats that had long been held by Republicans. But Republican-controlled legislatures in some states are resisting that transfer of power.

This kind of crap really drives me crazy and is very non-democratic.

🎧 ‘The Daily’: A 30-Year Plan to Transform the Courts | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: A 30-Year Plan to Transform the Courts from New York Times

Republicans have created a pipeline of conservative lawyers to help carry out a sweeping reconfiguration of the federal judiciary.

🎧 ‘The Daily’: Why Peter Strzok Wanted to Testify | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Why Peter Strzok Wanted to Testify from New York Times

We look at what happened when the embattled F.B.I. agent appeared before lawmakers to explain his controversial text messages.

🎧 ‘The Daily’: Trump’s Supreme Court Finalists | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Trump’s Supreme Court Finalists from New York Times

With the president expected to announce his choice to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, we look at the top candidates.

👓 Peaceful Transfer of Power Update | Kevin Drum

Read Peaceful Transfer of Power Update by Kevin Drum

This morning I mentioned how excited Republican legislatures have become about stripping state officials of power just before those state officials happen to become Democrats. But I missed one. It turns out that many years ago Florida handed authority over concealed-carry permits to the state’s agriculture commissioner. Why? Because sometimes law enforcement playfully tries to actually enforce the law, and the NRA would prefer that not happen. Instead, they want concealed-carry permits rubber stamped by an elected official. But then this happened:

The agriculture commissioner’s office attracted unwanted attention in early 2018 after it was found that for 13 months, the department’s Division of Licensing stopped using results from an FBI crime database that ensures those who apply do not have a disqualifying history in other states.

This was fine with the NRA, of course, but even in Florida it turns out that voters were unamused. As a result, they elected a Democrat as agriculture commissioner. A Democrat! This is the NRA’s worst nightmare, no now they’ve proposed that concealed-carry permits be transferred to…

…the state’s CFO.

The what?

Yeah, Florida has a CFO. It’s an odd office that was created just a few years ago, and the CFO doesn’t really seem to do all that much. But he is a Republican, so he’ll do. Democrats have counterproposed that concealed-carry permits be handled by law enforcement, which actually makes sense, but so far Republicans are having none of it. They’re dedicated to stripping the ag commissioner of authority and giving it once again to a Republican.

There’s no telling how hard they’ll kowtow to the NRA on this, but for now it looks like we have four GOP states that are desperately trying to strip elected officials of power in lame duck sessions before Democrats take over. Naturally, I have an updated map: