September 6, 2017

Big data machine learning insight: pick up trucks voted Bush/Trump, sedans voted Kerry/Hillary

Confirmed by Google Street View.

August 14, 2017

Wither cap and trade to address greenhouse effect global warming climate change ?

The Republican Party's fast journey from debating how to combat human-caused climate change to arguing that it does not exist is a story of big political money, Democratic hubris in the Obama years and a partisan chasm that grew over nine years like a crack in the Antarctic shelf, favoring extreme positions and uncompromising rhetoric over cooperation and conciliation.

Until 2010, some Republicans ran ads in House and Senate races showing their support for green energy.

Mr. Trump appointed Mr. Ebell, the Competitive Enterprise Institute fellow who had worked for years to undermine the legitimacy of established climate science, to head the transition team at E.P.A. Mr. Ebell immediately began pushing for an agenda of gutting the Obama climate regulations and withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.

When it came time to translate Mr. Trump's campaign promises to coal country into policy, Mr. Murray and others helped choose the perfect candidate: Mr. Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general.

Most public opinion polls find that voters rank the environment last or nearly last among the issues that they vote on. And views are divided based on party affiliation. In 2001, 46 percent of Democrats said they worried "a great deal" about climate change, compared with 29 percent of Republicans, according to a Gallup tracking poll on the issue. This year, concern among Democrats has reached 66 percent. Among Republicans, it has fallen, to 18 percent.

Continue reading "Wither cap and trade to address greenhouse effect global warming climate change ?" »

July 22, 2017

Republican are residual of income over education

Mr. Trump did extremely well among voters who lack formal educational credentials but work hard enough to make incomes above the national median. This column will leave it to readers to decide how much myth-busting the authors have achieved with this insight. But for those liberals who are eager to continue looking down on Mr. Trump's voters, this analysis would seem to be very helpful.

The deplorables tend to have fewer academic credentials, so the deplorers can tell themselves that Trump voters lacked the intellectual tools to appreciate the superiority of Hillary Clinton over Mr. Trump.

-- Nicholas Carnes and Noam Lupu

April 30, 2017

The alt-right label

The alt-right label had been in use for years, partly to describe a vivid, largely online subculture of trolls who reveled in their racialist ugliness, often claiming it was an antidote to the reign of political correctness, which they saw as ruining the country. Populist nationalism joined hands with white supremacism and immature 4Chan trolls, borrowing its language from the latter and a deliberate, ironically blasphemous embrace of the former.

Whether it was a belief system, a fully formed ideology, or a form of rhetoric, a way of poking at the nostrums and sacred cows of liberalism, was left deliberately murky.

If a lawmaker campaigns in poetry and governs in prose, the alt-right, whatever it is these days, is trying to pivot from campaigning in bathroom graffiti to governing in the foreign language of diplomatic tact and deliberate restraint. A movement that spent years on the attack now has to learn to defend.

Continue reading "The alt-right label" »

March 17, 2017

MAGA Mindset: Making YOU and America Great Again, Cernovich

A gorilla may be strong enough to mash you into the pavement, but that doesn't mean he knows anything.

In his conspiratorial and misogynistic pronouncements, Cernovich is a run-of-the-mill creature of the online alt-right. He nevertheless makes for an interesting subspecimen, as one of the only fixtures of the movement to parlay his politics into a self-help brand. Cernovich's blog and books are not just Trumpist propaganda. They sell a lifestyle, a package of inspirational macho clichés to help weedy, socially inept men become their ultimate selves. Cernovich takes Trump's sales pitch one step further: Make America Great Again is not just a political program. It is a whole new you.

February 11, 2017


The term "alt-right" and the people claiming its mantle had already been gaining visibility in the media before Clinton's speech. They were primarily seen as an amorphous community with an inclination for vicious online trolling, with some roots in fringe-right ideologies. But when Clinton thrust the alt-right into the national spotlight, she did no favors for the media, which has struggled to cover the ragtag coalition that has claimed the term.

In March 2016, Breitbart's Milo Yiannopoulos and Allum Bokhari posted a 5,000-word explainer/defense of the alt-right, ascribing to it intellectual roots in the neo-reactionary, human biodiversity and ethno-nationalist movements. Several other outlets like Vice, Vox, and National Review posted their own explainers.

In alt-right speak, the term "spicy boi" is meant to lampoon political correctness. It refers to a petition to rename fire ants to "spicy boys" because, as the petition helpfully explains, "It's 2016, we have 36 genders...why aren't we calling fire ants spicey boys?" As for the spelling of boi, that's just internet for boy. The petition currently has more than 60,000 signatures.

Continue reading "alt-right: " »

August 29, 2016

Harpering on Harper: Canada, 2015

Harper is a master tactician. Knowing that there is a block of rightwing voters who have nowhere else to go, he has been willing to defy them in search of wider support: adopting liberal positions on abortion and gay marriage; veering leftwards to pump public money into the economy to avoid recession in 2008; reaching out to the migrants who now fill the suburbs of traditionally Liberal cities such as Toronto. He studies the stats. He makes the numbers add up. Harper has his roots in the same ideological soil as Thatcher and Reagan: cutting tax and rolling back the state; tough on crime and even tougher on the unions; boosting families and national pride; a solid economy that rewards those who work hard.


Harper has his roots in the same ideological soil as Thatcher and Reagan: cutting tax and rolling back the state
And then there were the tactics that were to attract such notoriety. They reflected the man's character - clever and harsh - moves that turned a democratic election into a mere sequence of manoeuvres. He learned from the master, Arthur Finkelstein, who had played the electoral game for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. One of Harper's early allies from the 1990s, Gerry Nicholls, captured in his memoirs the special cynicism of Finkelstein's will to manipulate the electorate in his dictum: "We have to convince Canadians to drink pig's piss."

-- Nick Davies

Continue reading "Harpering on Harper: Canada, 2015" »

July 12, 2016

Nature Facebook experiment boosted USA voter turnout in 2010

Social pressure:

The experiment assigned all US Facebook users who were over 18 and accessed the website on the 2 November 2010 -- the day of the elections -- to one of three groups.

Social science: Poked to vote
Computational social science: Making the links Facebook 'likes' the scientific method

About 611,000 users (1%) received an 'informational message' at the top of their news feeds, which encouraged them to vote, provided a link to information on local polling places and included a clickable 'I voted' button and a counter of Facebook users who had clicked it. About 60 million users (98%) received a 'social message', which included the same elements but also showed the profile pictures of up to six randomly selected Facebook friends who had clicked the 'I voted' button. The remaining 1% of users were assigned to a control group that received no message.

The researchers then compared the groups' online behaviours, and matched 6.3 million users with publicly available voting records to see which group was actually most likely to vote in real life.

The results showed that those who got the informational message voted at the same rate as those who saw no message at all. But those who saw the social message were 2% more likely to click the 'I voted' button and 0.3% more likely to seek information about a polling place than those who received the informational message, and 0.4% more likely to head to the polls than either other group.

The social message, the researchers estimate, directly increased turnout by about 60,000 votes. But a further 280,000 people were indirectly nudged to the polls by seeing messages in their news feeds, for example, telling them that their friends had clicked the 'I voted' button. "The online social network helps to quadruple the effect of the message," says Fowler.

Nature's Facebook experiment boosts US voter turnout.

June 27, 2016

Facebook editorializing


What most people don't realize is that not everything they like or share necessarily gets a prominent place in their friends' newsfeeds: The Facebook algorithm sends it to those it determines will find it most engaging.

For outlets like The Daily Caller, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post or The New York Times -- for whom Facebook's audience is vital to growth -- any algorithmic change can affect how many people see their journalism.

This gives Facebook enormous influence over how newsrooms, almost universally eager for Facebook exposure, make decisions and money. Alan Rusbridger, a former editor of The Guardian, called this a "profound and alarming" development in a column in The New Statesman last week.

For all that sway, Facebook declines to talk in great detail about its algorithms, noting that it does not want to make it easy to game its system. That system, don't forget, is devised to keep people on Facebook by giving them what they want, not necessarily what the politicos or news organizations may want them to see. There can be a mismatch in priorities.

But Facebook's opacity can leave big slippery-slope questions to linger. For instance, if Facebook can tweak its algorithm to reduce click bait, then, "Can they put a campaign out of business?" asked John Cook, the executive editor of Gawker Media. (Gawker owns Gizmodo, the site that broke the Trending story.)

Throughout the media, a regular guessing game takes place in which editors seek to divine how the Facebook formula may have changed, and what it might mean for them. Facebook will often give general guidance, such as announcing last month that it had adjusted its programming to favor news articles that readers engage with deeply -- rather than shallow quick hits -- or saying that it would give priority to live Facebook Live videos, which it is also paying media companies, including The New York Times, to experiment with.

Continue reading "Facebook editorializing " »

March 14, 2016

Trumpers are American

The places where Trump has done well cut across many of the usual fault lines of American politics -- North and South, liberal and conservative, rural and suburban. What they have in common is that they have largely missed the generation-long transition of the United States away from manufacturing and into a diverse, information-driven economy deeply intertwined with the rest of the world.

Source Upshot.


February 24, 2016

Bush 45 on hold

From the beginning, there was a dreamy, philosophical air to his effort. As he mulled his decision to enter the race, he focused on his interior thought processes, speaking of the need to be able to "campaign joyfully". By the end, he seemed to be observing himself from a remove. "I feel like I'm in some sort of play," Bush said in his penultimate town hall on Friday. "We're all part of a narrative."

February 21, 2016

Alex Pareene on the glory of Trump

Alex Pareene (Salon/Gawker) has it as, "Trump represents the total rejection of the tenets of movement conservatism by Republican voters, who, it turns out, have actually just been voting for nationalism and xenophobia this whole".

Continue reading "Alex Pareene on the glory of Trump" »

February 19, 2016

Delegate math vs Cruz 16 or Hillary 08

Leading proportional states but trailing in winner-take-all states does not add up to victory.

delegate allocation matrix puts Cruz's campaign at a serious disadvantage. For example, if Cruz wins the primary in his home state of Texas by one vote, he'll probably win a handful more delegates than his nearest competitor. By contrast, if Marco Rubio or Trump win Florida by one vote, either would win a whopping 99 more delegates than his nearest competitor

-- David Wasserman, U.S. House editor for the Cook Political Report, via 538.

February 18, 2016

Twitter meltdown ?

Popehat author, Ken White, has been skeptical that Twitter's censorship of certain conservative figures is actually coming from a place of malice. In response to Yiannopoulos getting de-verified, he wrote:

Big companies, even when run by ideologues, tend to make decisions like big companies, not like individuals. The decision-making looks less cinematic and more cynical. The focus tends to be on branding, but mostly on money-making, avoidance of unpleasantness, reduction of cost, and ease of use. Twitter's line employees are almost certainly disproportionately liberal, and by assigning command-and-control of individual account decisions to them, the impact is probably that evaluations of abuse complaints will have a liberal bias. Similarly, if you make a corporate decision to police harassment (or at least pretend to), and the people doing the policing have a bias, then the results will have a bias. But that's not the same as a deliberate decision to take sides; it's a cost-driven, practicality-driven decision.

See also: 1. Joi Ito: a healthy system probably involves a vibrant Open Web along with for-profit companies and that this balance was important, but how we are leaning away from the Open Web right now.

2. Dave Winer: there's the other problem with ceding a whole content type to a single company. Since you're counting on them not just to store your writing, but also build flow for it, the inclination is to praise them, to withhold criticism. To try to guess what they like, and parrot it. If Medium becomes much stronger, this will be what SEO becomes. We saw that happen before on Twitter, when they gave huge flow to people they liked, and not to people they don't. Now they're being more open about it. Why not? It didn't appear to cost them anything the last time around.

May 26, 2015

-Shire vs -ton

The Tories are the party of shires and fords, and to a slightly lesser extent of woodland clearings (-ley, -leigh) and woods. Labour meanwhile are the party of -hams (as in, a farm or homestead), of -tons (or towns), and of fields.


Via KH.

September 4, 2014

Douthat abortion counter +1

A pervasive sense that Catholic identity was entirely up for grabs -- that having dispensed with Latin Mass and meatless Fridays, the church might be poised for further revolutions, a major schism, or both. When Walker Percy's novel "Love in the Ruins" imagined Catholicism in the United States splitting in three -- a progressive church modeled on liberal Protestantism, a right-wing "American Catholic Church" that plays the "Star-Spangled Banner" during Mass, and a tiny remnant loyal to Rome -- it seemed more like prophecy than fiction.

It was the work of Ratzinger's subsequent career, first as John Paul II's doctrinal policeman and then as his successor, to re-establish where Catholicism actually stood. This was mostly a project of reassertion: yes, the church still believes in the Resurrection, the Trinity and the Virgin birth. Yes, the church still opposes abortion, divorce, sex outside of marriage. Yes, the church still considers itself the one true faith. And yes -- this above all, for a man whose chief gifts were intellectual -- the church believes that its doctrines are compatible with reason, scholarship and science.

It was understandable that this project made Ratzinger many enemies. It turned him into a traitor to his class, since it involved disciplining theologians who had been colleagues, peers and rivals. It disappointed or wounded the many Catholics who couldn't reconcile the church's teachings with their post-sexual-revolution lives. And it obviously did not solve the broad cultural challenges facing institutional Christianity in the West.

February 17, 2014

activist journalism grows

Breitbart News Network, a group of activist, conservative news sites -- including Big Government, Big Hollywood and Big Journalism -- said on Sunday evening that it was adding at least a dozen staff members as it opens operations based in Texas and London. Stephen K. Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, said that those offices were the beginning of an expansion that would add a new regional site roughly every 90 days. California, Florida, Cairo and Jerusalem have already been chosen as expansion sites, he said.

Mr. Bannon said he was taking his cue from The Huffington Post, the liberal news and commentary site that has been growing rapidly overseas. He said there was an audience hungry for his brand of activist journalism. "There is a growing global anti-establishment revolt against the permanent political class at home, and the global elites that influence them, which impacts everyone from Lubbock, Tex., to London, England," he said.

Continue reading "activist journalism grows" »

January 27, 2014

Douthat abortion counter

to acknowledge the ways in which liberalism itself has undercut the two-parent family -- through the liberal-dominated culture industry's permissive, reductive attitudes toward sex, and through the 1970s-era revolution in divorce and abortion law.

In the first case, liberals tend to feign agnosticism about pop culture's impact on morals (even though a link is common-sensical and well supported), or to blame corporate capitalism for the entertainment industry's exploitative tendencies (as though the overwhelmingly liberal people making programming decisions had no agency of their own).

In the case of abortion and divorce, liberals expected their revolution to, if anything, stabilize the family -- by reducing unwanted births and dissolving only marriages that had failed in all but name.

But these expectations were naïve. As Janet Yellen and George Akerlof pointed out in a 1996 paper on the social impact of abortion and contraception, the power Roe v. Wade gave women over reproduction sometimes came at the expense of power in relationships. "By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother," they noted, the sexual revolution "made marriage and child support a social choice of the father."

Continue reading "Douthat abortion counter" »

January 3, 2014

While we've been having a huge debate about the size of government, the real problem, he writes, is that the growing complexity of government has made it incoherent.

Steven M. Teles' essay in National Affairs called "Kludgeocracy in America." While we've been having a huge debate about the size of government, the real problem, he writes, is that the growing complexity of government has made it incoherent. The Social Security system was simple. But now we have a maze of saving mechanisms -- 401(k)'s, I.R.A.'s, 529 plans and on and on. Health insurance is now so complicated that only 14 percent of beneficiaries could answer basic questions about deductibles and co-pays.

Continue reading "While we've been having a huge debate about the size of government, the real problem, he writes, is that the growing complexity of government has made it incoherent. " »

December 15, 2013

Politics as a business

John Boehner had reached his limit. In a meeting with his House colleagues to discuss Wednesday's budget agreement, the House speaker finally let loose on the conservative groups that have been roiling Republican politics.

Organizations like the Club for Growth and Heritage Action had opposed the plan without even knowing its details, said Boehner, because their true goal was to raise money and expand their organizations, not fight for any particular principle or policy. "No one controls your voting card but you," Boehner said. This wasn't just a message for closed-doors. The speaker took on the groups in public:

"They're using our members, and they're using the American people for their own goals," Boehner said in a press conference Wednesday. "This is ridiculous."

Boehner was not simply voicing an alternative policy position about the merits of the plan's spending reductions. He was making a claim about the low motives and trickery of the organizations that claim to represent the interests of grassroots conservatives.

Continue reading "Politics as a business" »

June 1, 2013

Conservatives hate Citi bike: NY Mag venn diagram

Dorothy Rabinowitz of The Wall Street Journal called the Bloomberg administration "totalitarian" for ... encouraging the riding of bikes.
In perhaps the best unhinged rant of any kind ever, Daniel Greenfield at the always enjoyable FrontPage Magazine refers to Janette Sadik-Khan, the city's pro-bike transportation chief, as a "Muslim Nazi collaborator's granddaughter" who in "partial revenge ... made many New York streets nearly as impassable as those of her grandfather's wartime Dresden."

NY Mag's intelligencer CitiBike NYC venn-diagram: why-conservatives-hate-citi-bike.


Sharing: So central to the concept of bike shares, they put it right in the name. But conservatives hate sharing -- tax dollars, calamari, doesn't matter. True story: Louie Gohmert never shared a toy for the duration of his childhood.
It is a very slippery slope from sharing bikes to sharing everything. You blink and all of a sudden we're a socialist dystopia, and everyone's eating Bloomberg Vitamin Mush for every meal.

Environmental: Bike are also good for the environment. This will please you if you think the environment actually needs help. But if you think carbon emissions and climate change are conspiracies (like 58 percent of Republicans) perpetrated by Al Gore and a handful of scientists at the University of East Anglia, then bikes are just lies on wheels.
Vaguely French: French people ride bikes, right? Like, more than other people? There's something vaguely French about this whole thing. Doesn't sit well.

Continue reading "Conservatives hate Citi bike: NY Mag venn diagram " »

April 9, 2013

Big data to win elections

"The trickiest problem, the one that will take the longest time to solve, is the creation of a culture of data and analytics, including training operatives to understand what data is," Lundry said. And the collaborative nature of "data ecosystems," he suggested, do not play to Republican strengths.

The Priebus report surveyed 227 Republican campaign managers, field staff, consultants, vendors and other political professionals, asking them to rank the Democrat and Republican advantages on 24 different measures using a scale ranging from plus 5 (decisive Republican edge) to minus 5 (solid Democratic advantage). "Democrats," the report noted, "were seen as having the advantage on all but one." As the graph on Page 28 of the report illustrates, most of the largest Democratic advantages relate directly to the integration of technology with "ground war" campaign activities like person-to-person voter contact, election-day turnout and demographic analysis:

The premier pro-Democratic quantitatively oriented organizations -- both for-profit and nonprofit -- have become crucial sources of data, voter contact and nanotargeting innovation for Democrats and liberal organizations. These include:

• Catalist, which maintains a "comprehensive database of voting-age Americans" for progressive organizations;

• The Analyst Institute, "a clearinghouse for evidence-based best practices in progressive voter contact," which conducts experimental, randomized testing of voter persuasion and voter mobilization programs;

• TargetSmart Communications, which develops political and technology strategies;

• American Bridge 21st Century, which conducts year-round opposition research on Republicans and conservative groups;

• The Atlas Project, which provides clients with online access to detailed political history from national to local races, including media buys and campaign finance data and a host of other politically relevant data;

• Blue State Digital, a commercial firm founded by operatives in Howard Dean's 2004 campaign that now provides digital services to clients ranging from the Obama campaign to Ford Motor Company to Google.

Continue reading "Big data to win elections" »

January 25, 2013

Douthat abortion counter

Ross Douthat abortion counter:

    2013 January


    But a tentative and ambiguous pro-choice trend in public opinion after a long period of pro-life gains does not mean that liberals have won the abortion wars, especially given that the main policy shift of the Obama era has been an uptick in state-level abortion restriction.


    Stereotypes link the anti-abortion cause to traditionalist ideas about gender roles -- to the belief that a woman's place is in the home, or at least that her primary identity should be maternal rather than professional. Writing in the Reagan era, the sociologist Kristin Luker argued that this dimension of the debate trumped the question of whether unborn human life has rights: "While on the surface it is the embryo's fate that seems to be at stake, the abortion debate is actually about the meaning of women's lives."

October 10, 2012

Trust the government in Washington to do what's right ?

The American National Election Study has long included a question about how much people "trust the government in Washington to do what's right," with the possible answers being "just about always," "most of the time," or "only some of the time." In the third graph we plot the responses to this question from 1964 on, when the A.N.E.S. first started to ask the question regularly. The graph shows three major features.


The graph shows that Republicans don't trust government less than Democrats do, historically. The real difference is that Republicans are more sensitive to who controls the White House. When their man is in, they trust government more than Democrats do. When their man is out, they trust it less. Democrats hold steadier; they seem to identify "government" less with the presidency than Republicans do.

Jonathan Haidt is a professor of business ethics at the NYU-Stern School of Business and the author of "The Righteous Mind." Marc J. Hetherington is a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University and the author of "Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics." They both write for Civil

Continue reading "Trust the government in Washington to do what's right ?" »

October 8, 2012

Democrats and Republicans speak up to their donorbase

For rich Republicans, the stereotype is all about the money: They have it, other Americans don't, and those resentful, entitled others might just have enough votes to wage class warfare and redistribute the donors' hard-earned millions to the indolent and irresponsible.

For rich Democrats, the stereotype is all about the culture wars: They think they've built an enlightened society, liberated from archaic beliefs and antique hang-ups, and yet these Jesus freaks in flyover country are mobilizing to restore the patriarchy.

Both groups of donors seem to be haunted by dystopian scenarios in which the masses rise up and tear down everything the upper class has built. For Republicans, the dystopia is (inevitably) "Atlas Shrugged." For liberals, it's one part "Turner Diaries," one part "Handmaid's Tale."

Both the right and left have provocative intellectual takes on how this new world came to be: Charles Murray's "Coming Apart" and Chris Hayes's "Twilight of the Elites," respectively, are this year's prime examples. But both takes are longer on description than prescription, and neither has much purchase on our politics.

--- Ross Douthat, the NY Times' abortion columnist tag teams Lord Saletan.

Continue reading "Democrats and Republicans speak up to their donorbase" »

September 17, 2012

Romney on fairness

I have a very different vision for America, and of our future. It is an America driven by freedom, where free people, pursuing happiness in their own unique ways, create free enterprises that employ more and more Americans. ...

This America is fundamentally fair. We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice; we will stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends' businesses; we will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.

In the America I see, character and choices matter. And education, hard work, and living within our means are valued and rewarded. And poverty will be defeated, not with a government check, but with respect and achievement that is taught by parents, learned in school, and practiced in the workplace.

-- romneys-radical-theory-of-fairness.

Continue reading "Romney on fairness" »

September 16, 2012

Clash of the fairness doctrines: Romney over Obama

Now it's clear that Mr. Romney is not about to cede fairness to his rival.

In a new argument that he first offered in a primary victory speech on Tuesday, Mr. Romney is laying claim to his own version of the fairness issue. He argues that the policies pursued by Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies are fundamentally unfair to Americans.

"I see an America with a growing middle class, with rising standards of living," he said, speaking in New Hampshire. "This America is fundamentally fair."

"And as I look around at the millions of Americans without work, the graduates who can't get a job, the soldiers who return home to an unemployment line, it breaks my heart," Mr. Romney added. "This does not have to be. It's the result of failed leadership and a faulty vision."

Call it the clash of the fairness doctrines.

August 16, 2012

A brief "golden age" of Mormonism's positive image

The brief "golden age" of Mormonism's positive image -- roughly 1935 to 1965, according to Jan Shipps, perhaps the leading non-Mormon scholar of the Latter-day Saints -- coincided with a period of conservative Protestant retreat. Embarrassed after their fight with modernists in the mid-1920s, evangelical Protestants withdrew from public engagement, built their own impressive church and educational networks, and re-emerged in the 1970s as a formidable force on the political right. The subsequent "countercult" movement within evangelicalism targeted Mormonism with gusto.

Anti-Mormon attacks by evangelicals have betrayed anxiety over the divisions in their movement and their slipping cultural authority as arbiters of religious authenticity. Some big-hearted evangelicals have recently reached out to Mormons with genuine understanding, but they must now fend off charges of getting too cozy with Satan's minions. Because evangelicals are hard pressed for unity to begin with, and because they have defined themselves less and less in terms of historic Christian creeds, their objections to Mormonism might carry less and less cultural weight.

J. Spencer Fluhman, assistant professor of history at Brigham Young University and author of t" 'A Peculiar People': Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in 19th-Century America."

Continue reading "A brief "golden age" of Mormonism's positive image" »

June 28, 2012

More right than left: UK newspapers

Looking at the three left of centre dailies: The Guardian sold 367,000 copies a day five years ago, it now stands at 214,128; The Independent 249,536 versus 98,636 today; the Daily Mirror 1,537,243 versus 1,084,355.

Collectively that is a sales decline of 35 per cent.

Looking at the main right of centre dailies, the Daily Mail was selling 2,300,420 copies a day five years ago versus 1,991,275 today; the Daily Express 760,086 versus 568,628; the Daily Telegraph 898,817 versus 576,790; The Times 629,157 versus 393, 187 and The Sun 3,047,527 versus 2,624,008.

Conclusion: tech-savy young lefties don't buy print.

June 24, 2012

Age of malaise, diminished expectations

To understand the broader trends at work, a useful place to turn is Jay Cost's essay on "The Politics of Loss" in the latest issue of National Affairs. For most of the post-World War II era, Cost argues, our debates over taxing and spending have taken place in an atmosphere of surplus. The operative question has been how best to divide a growing pie, which has enabled politicians in both parties to practice a kind of ideologically flexible profligacy. Republicans from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush have increased spending, Democrats from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton have found ways to cut taxes, and the great American growth machine has largely kept the toughest choices off the table.

But not anymore. Between our slowing growth and our unsustainable spending commitments, "the days when lawmakers could give to some Americans without shortchanging others are over; the politics of deciding who loses what, and when and how, is upon us." In this era, debates will be increasingly zero-sum, bipartisan compromise will be increasingly difficult, and "the rules and norms of our politics that several generations have taken for granted" will fade away into irrelevance.

-- Douthat

Continue reading "Age of malaise, diminished expectations" »

April 22, 2012

Top ten shows by party affiliation

The top-ten Republican-tilted shows are "The Office," "Rules of Engagement," "The Mentalist," "New Yankee Workshop," "The Big Bang Theory," "Castle," "Desperate Housewives," "Dancing With The Stars," "The Biggest Loser," and "Grey's Anatomy."

The top ten most Democratic-leaning shows are "Washington Week," "Tavis Smiley," "Late Show with David Letterman," "The View," "PBS NewsHour," "NOW" on PBS, "House of Payne," "ABC World News Now," "60 Minutes" and "Insider Weekend."

These patterns are demonstrated in a fascinating paper, "Separation by Television Program: Understanding the Targeting of Political Advertising in Presidential Elections," by Travis N. Ridout, Michael Franz, Kenneth M. Goldstein and Feltus, which was published earlier this year in the journal Political Communication.

-- Thomas B. Edsall, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, author of "The Age of Austerity: How Scarcity Will Remake American Politics".

Continue reading "Top ten shows by party affiliation" »

April 8, 2012

Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney

The basic concepts behind this model are:

Complementarity. In much the same way that light is both a particle and a wave, Mitt Romney is both a moderate and a conservative, depending on the situation (Fig. 1). It is not that he is one or the other; it is not that he is one and then the other. He is both at the same time.

Probability. Mitt Romney's political viewpoints can be expressed only in terms of likelihood, not certainty. While some views are obviously far less likely than others, no view can be thought of as absolutely impossible. Thus, for instance, there is at any given moment a nonzero chance that Mitt Romney supports child slavery.

Uncertainty. Frustrating as it may be, the rules of quantum campaigning dictate that no human being can ever simultaneously know both what Mitt Romney's current position is and where that position will be at some future date. This is known as the "principle uncertainty principle."

Entanglement. It doesn't matter whether it's a proton, neutron or Mormon: the act of observing cannot be separated from the outcome of the observation. By asking Mitt Romney how he feels about an issue, you unavoidably affect how he feels about it. More precisely, Mitt Romney will feel every possible way about an issue until the moment he is asked about it, at which point the many feelings decohere into the single answer most likely to please the asker.

Noncausality. The Romney campaign often violates, and even reverses, the law of cause and effect. For example, ordinarily the cause of getting the most votes leads to the effect of being considered the most electable candidate. But in the case of Mitt Romney, the cause of being considered the most electable candidate actually produces the effect of getting the most votes.

Duality. Many conservatives believe the existence of Mitt Romney allows for the possibility of the spontaneous creation of an "anti-Romney" (Fig. 2) that leaps into existence and annihilates Mitt Romney. (However, the science behind this is somewhat suspect, as it is financed by Rick Santorum, for whom science itself is suspect.)

What does all this bode for the general election? By this point it won't surprise you to learn the answer is, "We don't know." Because according to the latest theories, the "Mitt Romney" who seems poised to be the Republican nominee is but one of countless Mitt Romneys, each occupying his own cosmos, each supporting a different platform, each being compared to a different beloved children's toy but all of them equally real, all of them equally valid and all of them running for president at the same time, in their own alternative Romnealities, somewhere in the vast Romniverse.

And all of them losing to Barack Obama.

David Javerbaum is the author of "The Last Testament: A Memoir by God."

Continue reading "Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney" »

April 1, 2012

Pro business or pro-economy ?

"We need the Ex-Im Bank, period."

Like so much else in Congress these days, it is not that simple.

With its charter set to expire in May, the bank is the target of conservative groups. They are making the case to Republicans that the bank, created in 1934 to finance sales to the Soviet Union, has no place in a free-market system. Club for Growth is holding it up as the next Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, crowding out private lending and offering dangerous loans that ultimately could be left in the laps of the taxpayer.

"Those groups are just wrong, period," said Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers and a generous personal contributor to Republican candidates.

Continue reading "Pro business or pro-economy ?" »

February 27, 2012

Election undecided

If we mention Santorum or Romney for President, will they buy ads here ?
The 2012 election race is close

When is Supertuesday ? Super Tuesday is soon -- March 6.

January 19, 2012

Republican delegate count: Romney Gingrich Paul Santorum ?

Will be following the 2012 election season, and tracking the Republican delegate count.

Santorum ?

And do not forget Huntsman, stand-in for Vice President.

See also the Obama is Stupid meme deconstructed, and Obama Will Win the Long Game.

December 18, 2011

The real Newt Gingrich, Conservative ?

Furthermore, he has an unconservative faith in his own innocence. The crossroads where government meets enterprise can be an exciting crossroads. It can also be a corrupt crossroads. It requires moral rectitude to separate public service from private gain. Gingrich was perfectly content to belly up to the Freddie Mac trough and then invent a Hamiltonian rationale to justify his own greed.

Then there is his rhetorical style. He seems to have understood that a moderate Republican like himself can win so long as he adopts a bombastic style when taking on the liberal elites. Most people just want somebody who can articulate their hatreds, and Gingrich is demagogically happy to play the role.

Most important, there is temperament and character. As Yuval Levin noted in a post for National Review, the two Republican front-runners, Gingrich and Mitt Romney are both "very wonky Rockefeller Republicans who moved to the right over time as their party moved right."

But they have very different temperaments. Romney, Levin observes, has an executive temperament -- organization, discipline, calm and restraint. Gingrich has a revolutionary temperament -- intensity, energy, disorganization and a tendency to see everything as a cataclysmic clash requiring a radical response.

I'd make a slightly similar point more rudely. In the two main Republican contenders, we have one man, Romney, who seems to have walked straight out of the 1950s, and another, Gingrich, who seems to have walked straight out of the 1960s. He has every negative character trait that conservatives associate with '60s excess: narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance. He just has those traits in Republican form.

Continue reading "The real Newt Gingrich, Conservative ?" »

December 17, 2011

The real Romney ?

How ably Romney the nominee will defend himself, given the kid-gloves treatment by his current competition and the campaign's avoidance of large segments of his own life story, is difficult to say just yet. In early November I watched Romney return to Iowa for only the fourth time. He stopped in Dubuque and Davenport and, before decent-size crowds, essentially regurgitated his address on the economy from the week before. In both cases he spoke for less than 20 minutes and did not take questions from the audience. Far more of his ground time was devoted to filming promotional material in a Dubuque sheet-metal factory, where the footage would capture the candidate seeming engaged in the kind of heart-to-heart dialogues with working-class Americans that the campaign had otherwise left off his schedule that day.

Continue reading "The real Romney ?" »

July 6, 2011

Gingrich lead

Once again America faced a crossroads, though the word itself wasn't used. "There is virtually no middle ground," Gingrich wrote. He later concluded: "To renew or to decay. At no time in the history of our great nation has the choice been clearer." To avert disaster, Gingrich had no choice but to present many numbered lists. In addition to the Six Challenges Facing America -- similar to the challenges we faced 11 years before -- and the "five basic principles that I believe form the heart of our civilization," there were the five forces moving us toward worldwide medicine, a seven-step program to reduce drug use, the nine steps we can take immediately to advance the three revolutions in health care and more. The futurism was still there, too: "Honeymoons in space will be the vogue by 2020."

Meanwhile, his polemics had hardened. "For some psychological reason, liberals are antigun but not anti-violent criminal," was a typically dubious example. As a former professor (an unpublished one, at West Georgia College), Gingrich wrote about university leftism with all the bitterness of an ex-academic: "Most successful [alumni] get an annual letter saying, in effect, 'Please give us money so we can hire someone who despises your occupation and will teach your children to have contempt for you.' What is amazing is the overwhelming meekness of the alumni in accepting this hijacking of their alma mater."

This is sharp and funny and nearly true, but it's not a formulation designed to coax the undecided into agreement. "To Renew America" marks the moment that persuasion faded as a primary purpose of political talk and preaching to the choir took over. Having won at last, and confident that the future was safely in his pocket, Gingrich by 1995 no longer saw a reason to persuade anyone and didn't try. It's the victor's prerogative, but it doesn't give you practice in constructing arguments. And it's catching. Hence talk radio, and in a few years the blogs; hence Fox News and MSNBC.

Liberals may not have liked this new aggressive tone from conservatives, but they had it coming. At least since the Red Scare of the 1950s, mainstream institutions had viewed ideological conservatism with condescension or contempt, as either a joke or a personality disorder -- a series of "irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas," in Lionel Trilling's excellent summary. Gingrich's rhetoric had the ferocity of a backlash. The liberal revulsion toward him obscured how unorthodox -- occasionally, how liberal -- his conservatism was. The books then and now are full of heresy. He showed a willingness to criticize other Republicans, even Reagan at the height of his popularity. He advocated a health tax on alcohol to discourage drinking -- social engineering, it's called -- and imagined government-issued credit cards that would allow citizens to order goods and services directly from the feds. He thought the government should run nutritional programs at grocery stores and give away some foodstuffs free. He was pushing cuts in the defense budget in 1984 and a prototype of President Obama's cash-for-clunkers program in 1995.

Continue reading "Gingrich lead " »

September 16, 2010

How to debate: tea party synopsis

This doesn't mean that the Tea Party influence will be positive for Republicans over the long haul. The movement carries viruses that may infect the G.O.P. in the years ahead. Its members seek traditional, conservative ends, but they use radical means. Along the way, the movement has picked up some of the worst excesses of modern American culture: a narcissistic sense of victimization, an egomaniacal belief in one's own rightness and purity, a willingness to distort the truth so that every conflict becomes a contest of pure good versus pure evil.

-- David Brooks

An inability to pay one's college tuition bills or a struggle with taxes is a rare sign of moral turpitude:

One thing that Christine O'Donnell is going to have answer is her own checkered background . . . . These serious questions: how does she make her living? Why did she mislead voters about her college education? How come it took nearly two decades to pay her college tuition? How does she make a living? Why did she sue a well-known conservative think tank? . . . . questions about why she had a problem for five years paying her federal income taxes, why her house was foreclosed and put up for a sheriff's sale, why it took 16 years for her to settle her college debt and get her diploma after she went around for years claiming she was a college graduate. . . . when it turns out she just got her degree because she had unpaid college bills that they had to sue her over.

Continue reading "How to debate: tea party synopsis" »

March 30, 2010

Conservatives should blame the state for sprawl

We all hate suburban sprawl, right? "Wrong." So says libertarian John Stossel as he attempts to debunk the sprawl-is-bad argument in his Myths, Lies and Nasty Behavior series on ABC.

If Stossel wants to to expand Americans' lifestyle choices, he should attack the very thing he was defending," says Austin Bramwell: "For the 101st time: sprawl--an umbrella term for the pattern of development seen virtually everywhere in the United States--is not caused by the free market." Instead, government regulations, zoning laws, building codes, and street design regulations actually "mandate" it. Bramwell is perplexed: "You would think that libertarians would instinctively grasp the deeply statist nature of suburban development."

- Austin Bramwell of the American Conservative

Continue reading "Conservatives should blame the state for sprawl" »

October 11, 2009

Buycott ?

One set are free-enterprise champions who argue that politicizing consumption distorts prices and spurs overproduction while imposing arbitrary conditions on producers -- like insisting that developing-world farmers enroll their children in school -- that might sound good to Westerners but ignore complex local realities.

Insisting on the noblest production methods conflicts, these critics say, with the very function of markets: to bring the most goods to the most people as cheaply as possible.

Another group of critics doesn't deny political consumption's power. Rather, they bemoan that citizenship has come to this.

Citizenship, for them, is about voting, marching, writing -- about being involved. In the modern age, they say, we have begun to turn inward, bowl alone, shirk our public duties. And now comes this cheap (in the moral, if not economic, sense) way to participate just a little, assuage guilt just a little, involve ourselves just a little in AIDS and trade, feel just a little of activism's thrill.

In an article last year in The Lancet, the British medical journal, the scholars Colleen O'Manique and Ronald Labonte strongly condemned RED, the marketing campaign for iPods and other products whose purchase helps to finance the battle against H.I.V./AIDS in Africa.

"Be wary of the 21st century's new noblesse oblige that replaces the efficiency of tax-funded programs and transfers in improving health equity with a consumption-driven 'charitainment' model," they wrote.

August 14, 2009

Falling home prices, to continue falling ?

Republican neighborhoods are going to fall next. Why? Because they're broke. Ever listen to the ads on conservative talk radio? Talk about targeting a demographic.

Continue reading "Falling home prices, to continue falling ?" »

May 26, 2009

Obama vs Limbaugh in the MSM

Steele was right: his power is not based on politics, it's based on entertainment. Great entertainers like Winchell and Limbaugh manage to simplify politics, to find ways of making it "us against them," to find ways to dramatize, to demonize, to villainize, to narrativize.


May 24, 2009

Sam Kazman Debates Obama's Car Mileage Regulations

Sam Kazman on the 'benefits' on mandated change:

Continue reading "Sam Kazman Debates Obama's Car Mileage Regulations" »

November 12, 2008

Bush in 1978: before playing country cowboy

"Kent Hance was a down-home boy, real homey, and George W. wasn't homey like Kent," recalled Johnnye Davis, a Republican leader in Odessa. "He didn't come across to the voters as well as Kent did, with the little jokes that Kent told."

While Mr. Bush now is sometimes mocked for an ignorance of policy details, back then people thought he had the opposite problem: a tendency to drop references in his speeches that baffled audiences, like a discussion of anti-inflationary economic policy.

"He was quick, a bit too quick, so that people didn't always get it," Mrs. Davis said. "He was so darn intelligent that a lot of what he said went over people's heads. He's learned to explain things a little better since then."

Another problem was that while Mr. Bush never really had a clear campaign strategy, Mr. Hance did: he focused his campaign on emphasizing local ties and on casting Mr. Bush as a carpet-bagger from the East. One of Mr. Hance's most effective radio spots was this one, read by an announcer:

"In 1961, when Kent Hance graduated from Dimmitt High School in the 19th congressional district, his opponent George W. Bush was attending Andover Academy in Massachusetts. In 1965, when Kent Hance graduated from Texas Tech, his opponent was at Yale University. And while Kent Hance graduated from University of Texas Law School, his opponent" -- the announcer's voice plunged -- "get this, folks, was attending Harvard. We don't need someone from the Northeast telling us what our problems are."

Continue reading "Bush in 1978: before playing country cowboy" »

April 12, 2007

Representing American Greatness

We must how the planet that you're tiny and we're not.

-- Newt Gingrich

America is strong so long as its culture is strong and manly;
in order to keep America strong, neocons and religious
conservative attack internal movements or forces which
seem to threaten to weaken America's manly, violent resolve.

Americans who dissent or who "abuse" personal freedom
threaten the nation's unity. Those who criticize the war are
helping America's enemies by attacking America's willingness
to use violence to humiliate others.

-- Patriotboy

March 18, 2007

Julian Sanchez

Reasonable JulianSanchez notes the prophecy of Max Headroom,

Continue reading "Julian Sanchez" »

January 27, 2007

Crunchy Con

Crunch-Con humble conservatives ? Example: Pelos movie on evangelical culture.

"Culture war" is the right's version of the left's "class war."

Continue reading "Crunchy Con" »

January 25, 2007

Division of Labour / group econ blog

Division of Labour econ blog finds Milton Friedman week,
with market conservative leanings.

January 13, 2007

Freeper homosexualagenda

Freeper's homosexualagenda is a (inadvertently) great source for queer news.

July 26, 2006

Stein Report on immigration law

Stein Report covers immigration law, visa rules and
enforcement in Drudge Report style.
See also house immigration caucus.

Continue reading "Stein Report on immigration law" »

May 2, 2006

Torture, VodkaPundit

Stylish Coloradoan VodkaPundit's serious thinking or linking.
Bonus points for recommending I’m An Adult Now by
The Pursuit of Happiness.
If you like TPOH, you'd like Jerry Jerry & Sons Of Rhythm Orchestra's
Battle Hymn of the Apartment.

April 12, 2006

Club for Growth

Club for Growth is pro growth and proud of it.

December 31, 2005


Debbie Schlussel, Ann Coulter lite.
Often supports Israel against Islamic Jihad.

December 24, 2005

Patrick Crozier

Patrick Crozier, more linker than thinker, points
to many good quotes.

In a comparison of a 1973 algebra textbook and a 1998
“contemporary mathematics” textbook, Williamson Evers
and Paul Clopton found a dramatic change in topics.

In the 1973 book, for example, the index for the letter “F”
included “factors, factoring, fallacies, finite decimal,
finite set, formulas, fractions, and functions.”

In the 1998 book, the index listed “families (in poverty data),
fast food nutrition data, fat in fast food, feasibility study,
feeding tours, ferris wheel, fish, fishing, flags, flight, floor plan,
flower beds, food, football, Ford Mustang, franchises, and
fund-raising carnival."

December 20, 2005

Ronald Reagan, inauguration speech

It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are
proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives
that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government.

-- Ronald Reagan, inauguration speech 2001.

Reagan was stupid, Reagan did what he was told, Reagan was
a tool of capital, Reagan was such a wuss that some unemployed
filthy termagants on Greenham Common scared him into
changing the foreign policy of the most powerful nation on earth.

-- Bilious Young Fogey

August 3, 2005

Republican Theme Park

This Republican Theme Park from America is My Girlfriend by Jasik.

November 22, 2004

Tim Blair / Spleenville

Tim Blair / Spleenville, lively and colourfull blogger from Australia has a new blog.

Continue reading "Tim Blair / Spleenville" »

November 21, 2004

Tim Lee / binarybits

Tim Lee / binarybits, free marketer sometimes politial blog.

November 7, 2004


samizdata, libertarian leaning.

What makes dictators dictators is not that they
don't believe in the power of the majority but
that they don't believe in the rights of the individual.

November 6, 2004

Belgravia Dispatch

Belgravia Dispatch, longer articles, internationally minded.

November 5, 2004

Daniel Drezner

Daniel Drezner, political theory and longer posts, and the
restful life of an academic.

October 24, 2004

Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan, Daily Dish.
Literate non-hating conservative writer.

October 14, 2004

Chicago Boyz

Chicago Boyz examine the data on Iraqi war losses.

October 2, 2004

Belmont Club / Richard Fernandez

Belmont Club. History and history in the making. (archives).