Tecate-San Diego border wall, installation of Kikito, a smiling Mexican toddler, by JR. (As seen on the US side.)


I hope she never shuts up. #nastywoman


betterbooktitles: “Hillary Rodham Clinton: What Happened ”


Losing is hard for everyone, but losing a race you thought you would win is devastating.  I remember when Bill lost his re-election as Governor of Arkansas in 1980. He was so distraught at the outcome that I had to go to the hotel where the election night party was held to speak to his supporters on his behalf. For a good while afterward, he was so depressed that he practically couldn’t get off the floor. That’s not me. I keep going. I also stew and ruminate. I run through the tape over and over, identifying every mistake – especially those made by me. When I feel wronged, I get mad, and then I think about how to fight back.

Coverage from her book tour:

The most overwhelming sentiment about Clinton and her book is that she just needs to go away. One poll this week had 61% of respondents saying Clinton needs “to retire”, but given that she pretty much has done, what they really mean is she needs to shut up. Meanwhile, Amazon is having to weed out vicious reviews from people it reckons have yet to even read the book and are engaged in a coordinated campaign to rubbish it.
Obviously some of this anger has come from the right, because there are a lot of people who see no contradiction in defending statues commemorating racism while condemning memoirs by presidential candidates. But it has also come at least as much from the left.
Last Sunday the New York Times asked “What’s to be done about Hillary Clinton, the woman who won’t go away?”. When Clinton appeared at an event back in May, one writer from New York’s liberal tabloid, the Daily News, implored, “Hey Hillary Clinton, shut the fuck up and go away.” The following month, Vanity Fair, a decidedly anti-Republican publication, ran an article headlined, “Can Hillary Clinton Please Go Quietly Into the Night?” It surely doesn’t need spelling out that no other failed presidential candidate – including the many who have written books about their disappointed hopes – has been on the receiving end of this kind of vitriol, this determined attempt to silence.


For the past eight months people have talked obsessively about the factors that gave Trump the election – RussiaJames Comeyvoter suppressionsexismracism. But the one person who apparently shouldn’t contribute to the discussion is the one who was in the eye of the storm.

People have been telling Clinton to shut up for as long as she’s been in the public eye, then blaming her for their bad choices. When she said in 1992 that she chose to work instead of staying home to bake cookies, voters were incensed. “If I ever entertained the idea of voting for Bill Clinton, the smug bitchiness of his wife’s comment nipped that in the bud,” one reader wrote to Time magazine. When Clinton was made chair, by her husband, of the task force overseeing the 1993 plan to provide universal healthcare, she was derided as a meddling little woman and multiple news organisations insisted there wasn’t an healthcare crisis in the US anyway. When she was elected to the Senate, Trent Lott, the then Republican leader, said he hoped she’d be struck by lightning before arriving. She has made concessions to people’s fear of a smart woman: she submitted a cookie recipe to a women’s magazine in 1992 in penance for her earlier comment. In the Senate, she poured coffee with a smile for men who had openly said they loathed her.

A long-running justification for this loathing of Clinton, one that has been trotted out often since her election loss, and now again as an excuse to bash her book, is that she is uniquely unlikable. “She was a terrible candidate!” go the cries, ignoring the fact she was the most qualified candidate in a generation, who got more votes than any candidate ever, with the exception of Barack Obama in 2008.

What these people are really saying is: “Only white voters matter.” It is an inconvenient truth (to borrow a phrase from another losing candidate who won the popular vote, and yet was never told to clear off when he spoke afterwards), but the only voters who deemed Clinton insufficient were white ones, women included. On the other hand, 95% of black women and 70% of Hispanic women voted for her. Clinton, we have been told repeatedly by writers such as Mark Lilla, failed because she indulged in “identity politics”, which never wins elections, as if white people don’t have an “identity” and Trump didn’t win by explicitly playing to it, such as by taunting a Muslim Gold Star family and characterising Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug-dealers.



Today’s links, odds, and ends

  1. A free CORE economics textbook, written by researchers on both sides of the Atlantic, that responds to some of the critiques of how standard economics is taught, talks more about the real world rather than classical economics…and is freely available online. Apparently it also focuses a lot on economic history (by the way, that is totally the reason I started majoring in Economics in college – because of an amazing history of economic thought class!) More about it in the New Yorker.
  2. Part of my Spanish learning-by-reading-and-translating this week – factoids, sobre “la mamá mayor” en El Pais.
  3. Amazing recipe for a dry Tamilian chutney that I got from a SEWA colleague. I added garlic to her recipe and it turned out amazing. Can use it with idli, dosa, or even things like puda/cheela or handvo! And so simple: lightly roasted urad daal, lightly roasted chana daal, lightly roasted sesame seeds, hing, salt, red pepper, and garlic. drr in a mixer and voila!
  4. Excerpts from the all-girl remake of Lord of the FliesHA.


Chelsea Manning and Michelle Jones

“In the course of a week, we’ve had news of Harvard – including the Kennedy School – rejecting two women, to the detriment of academic discourse AND suggesting that serving your time for a crime is not sufficient, you must also be told you are not good enough for Harvard.
As a graduate of the Kennedy School, I am ashamed.”

– Well-said in the Harvard Kennedy School Women’s Network

N.B. – Other HKS visiting fellows include Sean Spicer, and Trump’s former presidential campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was charged with assaulting a reporter during the 2016 race.

Cool things I’ve come across recently

People (mostly researchers, this time…)

  1. Prerna Singh – Assistant poli sci professor at Brown. I saw her talk about her book, How Solidarity Works for Welfare: Subnationalism and Social Development in India at the Jaipur Literature Festival earlier this year. “The book is a comparative historical analysis of the very different evolution of social policy and welfare systems across states in India, and the critical role that a sense of social solidarity and political community has played therein.  She traces the striking divergences in education and health policy and outcomes across Indian states to differences in the strength of their subnational identification. The book was awarded the Woodrow Wilson prize by the American Political Science Association for the best book published in politics and international relations in the last year, and the Barrington Moore prize for the best book published in comparative historical sociology in the last year by the American Sociological Association. ” I found her presentation at JLF to be articulate and impressive, was inspired to see the depth and methodologies used in her work.
  2. Mekhala Krishnamurthy – A really cool academic that I met at the Gates Foundation. She is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Shiv Nandar University. Her background is in Social Studies and Anthropology, and her undergraduate thesis at Harvard was about nari adalts – “women’s courts creatively conducted by and for rural women in the state of Gujarat”. She and Devesh Kapur are currently working on a multi-year project that (finally) delves into understanding how agricultural markets (mandis) in India really work. She will be leading the deep ethnography part – the part that is often missing from studies that try to collect data to understand how agricultural markets work.
  3. Cindy Huang – I think it’s kind of awesome that she has a policy, politics, economics, and philosophy background and a PhD in cultural anthropology. What a great mix, and especially for the types of topics she works on.
  4. Rob Reich – Stanford poli sci professor who was a 6th grade teacher before he went to grad school. Listen to his EconTalk interview this month about the power and effectiveness of foundations.
  5. Tariq Thachil – An Associate Prof at Vanderbilt University, his research is really interesting as he “seeks to understand phenomena that contradict or are neglected by conventional views of developing democracies as patronage-ridden rural polities structured along ethnic lines.” His approach is intriguing for me, as are his questions – which I think are often questions that are largely missing in the way that policies are currently made because of conventional assumptions.
  6. Emmanuel Teitelbaum – An Assistant Prof at GW, concentrating on political economy, social and economic inequality, he’s done a lot on India and deepening democracy. I’ve found this paper by him and Thachil to be particularly interesting – making the distinction (both conceptually and empirically) between “narrow” and “encompassing” ethnic parties and their effect on public spending.
  7. Milan Vaishnav – Director and senior fellow in the South Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, he’s made some waves with his recent books – When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics (see interview here) – which comprehensively studies “the nexus between crime and democracy in India”, and Rethinking Public Institutions – an anthology he co-edited with Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Devesh Kapur.
  8. Bina Agarwal – she’s a Professor of Dev Econ and Environment at the University of Manchester, and her work has focused on land, livelihoods, property rights, the political economy of gender, poverty and inequality, and legal change among other things. Basically, everything I find most interesting. Here’s an interview with her in Caravan Magazine, on how owning property empowers women.

Articles and papers

  1. My answer to the title of this article is: YES! (it’s about measuring women’s empowerment in surveys. Thank you for mentioning the importance of context and qualitative work.)
  2. Measuring a complete breakdown of things like profits is not always the more accurate way to collect good data!
  3. The end of typing: the internet’s next billion users will use video and voice
  4. How to fix a toilet (and other things around the house) – dataviz of searches



  1. Learn how to do dataviz for social science in R
  2. Global active archive of large flood events + dataviz
  3. GiveWell review of water quality interventions
  4. Billion dollar weather and climate disasters + dataviz


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