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GOP to weaponize Pelosi and ‘San Francisco values’ in key California House races

Rep. Nancy Pelosi has starred in roughly one in every five Republican-made House campaign ads across the country this year, usually as a device to tar a fellow Democrat running in a conservative area as beholden to her “liberal San Francisco values.”

Some who study such things, however, say there’s no proof anti-Pelosi ads persuade voters who are on the fence.

Travis Ridout.
Travis Ridout

“I have not seen any research like that,” said Travis Ridout, a professor of political science at Washington State University and co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

“I suspect that these ads are less designed to appeal to the independent voters than to get their base to turn out,” Ridout said. “A lot of these candidates have decided that they are for Trump and this is their way to win: Get their voters out and the heck with the middle.”

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San Francisco Chronicle

Analysis: Late ballots swing to Cathy McMorris Rodgers throughout district, Spokane County in race against Lisa Brown

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has gained ground in every corner of Spokane County as ballots have trickled in since election night and extended a district-wide lead that remains within striking distance for challenger Lisa Brown.

Among differences in this year’s election is the tenor of the campaign. McMorris Rodgers began airing negative ads painting Brown as a western Washington liberal early in the contest, before primary ballots had even hit mailboxes. Brown has responded with ads of her own criticizing McMorris Rodgers chiefly for her votes on health care.

It’s difficult to say what effect those ads had on Brown’s share of the late vote total, said Travis Ridout, professor of political science at Washington State University in Pullman.

“It is complicated, and it’s hard to untangle,” Ridout said. “I think there is some research that suggests that when people are exposed to negativity about a candidate, that they’re less enthusiastic about voting for that candidate.”

The McMorris Rodgers ads, attacking Brown’s record on taxes and public safety, probably didn’t sway those who had their minds made up to cast ballots for the Democrat, Ridout said. But for those who were still undecided and leaning toward Brown, the ads may have dissuaded them not to vote at all, he said, which could account for the difference in late numbers between her and McMorris Rodgers.

“People who are exposed to a lot of negative information about a candidate they already support, they’re more likely to just not vote,” he said.

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Fatherhood is the cure for patriarchy

Rethinking fatherhood is an essential step toward creating gender equality. Societies where men are more engaged fathers tend also to be more egalitarian.

Barry Hewlett.
Barry Hewlett

“For hunter-gatherers in general, fathers provide substantial amount of direct care, by comparison to fathers where you have farming,” said Barry Hewlett, an anthropologist at Washington State University who lived among the Aka tribe in central Africa. That close physical contact has biological and social consequences. Compared to other central Africans, Hewlett said, the Aka are much more egalitarian in terms of gender.

This relative egalitarianism is partly a function of the Aka’s practice of net-hunting, in which men and women work together. By contrast, if men are off tending to cattle while women are taking care of the children, boys are not exposed to men. Their childhood passes among women, so that when they grow up, they come to understand manhood as the rejection of femininity.

Exposure to fathers lessens that fissure of identity. “It means that boys, when they’re growing up, do not have to devalue those things which are feminine to increase their masculinity,” Hewlett said. “Girls, when they’re growing up, because they’re around their mothers, intimately know what it’s like to be female. For boys, it’s problematic. But not among the Aka.”

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Los Angeles Times

Levy’s ‘Conquistador’ eyed for TV series

Buddy Levy.
Buddy Levy

Two Hollywood production companies have optioned WSU English instructor Buddy Levy’s Conquistador: Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs, with plans to turn the epic tale into a TV series.

Overbrook Entertainment, a company whose partners include actor Will Smith, and MOTOR optioned the book after discussions started last fall.

Published by Bantam Books in 2008, Conquistador chronicles the demise of the Aztec Empire as Hernán Cortés imprisons its leader, Montezuma, and captures what was then the most populous city in the world in what Levy called “the costliest single battle in history.” Some 200,000 Aztecs died.

“I knew from the beginning when I wrote it that it had cinematic value,” said Levy. “Not necessarily from my writing, though I hope that’s part of it. It’s just a whopper of a tale.”

The project now faces the usual challenges: financing scripts for a pilot and other episodes, getting the interest of A-list talent for premier roles like Cortés, Montezuma and their interpreter, La Malinche, and finding a time when the principals are free. Levy himself is rushing to finish Labyrinth of Ice, a book about the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition that saw 18 of its original 25-man crew perish in the Canadian Arctic.

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WSU Insider

Ten years of painstaking archival detective work

Sue Peabody.

The seventh book by Sue Peabody, Meyer Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and History at WSU Vancouver, has been called “a meticulous work of archival detective work” and “both biography and global history at their very best.”

It took 10 years of painstaking research for Peabody to earn that high praise. The result is “Madeleine’s Children: Family, Freedom, Secrets, and Lies in France’s Indian Ocean Colonies,” published in 2017 by Oxford University Press. It is the first full-length biography tracing the lives of slaves in the Indian Ocean world, and it affirms her reputation as the world’s foremost expert on the law of slavery and race in the French Empire.

The narrative brings many dramatic moments to life as Peabody uncovers intimate relationships and legal disputes between slaves and free people in the Indian Ocean world that have been hidden for two centuries.

Peabody calls the book a “microhistory.” That is, it follows one family’s story to paint a broader picture of society in their time. The individual histories of family members illuminate the types of labor slaves performed and the varying nature of their relationships with society and plantation owners.

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WSU Insider