The Atlantic Daily: Political Science

What We’re Following

Transition News: President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Rick Perry to head up the Department of Energy, a choice that’s raised eyebrows given that the former Texas governor previously said he’d eliminate the department—and, memorably, he forgot its name. He also lacks a science background, which critics say is crucial for the leader of the agency that, among other things, manages America’s national laboratories and nuclear weapons arsenal. The question of experience is murkier for another recent Cabinet pick, Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson: His role as Exxon CEO has taught him a kind of corporate diplomacy, but at least one controversial deal he’s made overseas could come back to haunt him. For his part, Trump himself is under fire for failing to distance himself from his businesses—though most of his voters don’t seem to care.

Politics and Morals: Trump isn’t the only one struggling to deal ethically in business. In talks with nearly 50 convicted white-collar criminals, one researcher found that most could hardly explain why they’d made their unethical decisions, any more than they’d thought of the negative consequences at the time. The findings suggest that in certain circumstances, it doesn’t take much to lead an ordinary person into committing serious moral fraud—even though other studies show most people tend to think their own sense of morality is stronger than others’. That sense of moral superiority is difficult to shake, and it makes divisions especially sharp when politics come to overlap with morality. Meanwhile, in light of America’s divisions, Disney’s CEO has insisted that the good-and-evil tale of Rogue One, Star Wars’ latest installment, has nothing to do with politics—but a political reading is nearly inevitable, and denying that is a political statement in itself.

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