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To My Regret



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I had to cancel on YAF. I have an eye infection that has appalled friends, colleagues, and my doctor, and makes me look like Rocky after about 9 rounds (“Cut me Mick!”). YAF provides the best of all audiences for a conservative speech, with the possible exception of any group based in Texas. In my experience, Texas audiences–even if it’s the Ladies’ Home and Garden Club– always eat up rip-roarin’ right-wing talks…

More Judicial Nominations



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It’s official. The President today nominated Brett Kavanaugh of the White House Counsel’s office and Justice Janice Rogers Brown of the California Supreme Court to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

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Gillespie On Bush and The Dems



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AP reporter Ron Fournier details
Ed Gillespie’s speech to the RNC.  Gillespie is, I think, right to point out
that the Dems are flailing, trying to attach any scandal or charge that they
find to Bush.  That doesn’t mean that they won’t find something to stick in the
next year or so.  He’s got a job cut out for himself, especially if he tries to
keep up with Terry MacAuliffe.

It’s also odd that Gillespie borrows almost verbatim from the Convention Speech
in 2000: “The once-proud party of Franklin Roosevelt, who famously told us we
have nothing to fear but fear itself, now seems to have nothing to offer but
fear itself.”

The article makes Gillespie sound as though he did nothing but go negative,
which leads to Fournier’s conclusion that “Gillespie clearly has been cast as
Bush’s attack dog, the quick-with-a-quote operative who can heatedly denounce
Democrats while the president tries to appear above the fray.”  I wonder what
the full text will show . . .
[Link via Drudge]

Web Briefing: September 18, 2014

Promises, Promises



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If you think The Corner is slow today, check in tomorrow. Seriously–you can check The Corner from your home computer–it works, it really does. It will be hopping and happening. And, for all you Amtrak bashers, I just got into D.C. with a minute to spare. John Miller’s office, by the way, is frighteningly neat. I think I am moving in.

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Not So Comical?



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Comical Ali being investigated for involvement in a 1980s murder in Sweden.

Recall Revulsion



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Who wrote this on Darrell Issa? ”Davis may have found the perfect demon in Issa, whom he can portray as anti-abortion, anti-immigration, and a fringe right-wing opportunist on a power grab.”
Get the latest summation of the early recall bias here.
 

California Vs. Colorado



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Peter: I’d be curious to see those California figures when you have them. In the meantime, consider that Colorado has a constitutional provision limiting the growth of government to inflation + population growth. It was passed in 1992. Almost the entire political establishment, including Republicans, howled in opposition. One of the few to support it (as a state rep) was Bill Owens, Colorado’s current governor. So it can be done–and those who do it can experience great political success. It was a year ago that NR put Owens on its cover and called him “America’s Best Governor.”

Debating Howard Dean



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I’m Off...



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To go speak to the Young Americans Foundation fest.

One More



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From a reader:

Jonah,

I’m a graduate student studying social cognition at a major research university. I’m a Howard Dean liberal, and probably to the left of the Berkeley people who published that study of conservatism. And, I agree with you that the Berkeley study is shameless BS. I recognize that reasonable people can disagree about any political issue, and I would never try to subvert debate by *defining* those who disagree with me as unreasonable.

In the hands of an honest person, meta-analysis can be a tool to iron out the biases inherent to specific studies. One good example is self-esteem. Despite a general bias in our field toward thinking that self-esteem is important, meta-analysis has suggested that self-esteem is not so important (there’s a small correlation between happiness and self-esteem, and little else).

The reason that self-esteem is a good candidate for meta-analysis, and conservatism is a bad candidate, is that self-esteem is well-defined and conservatism is (as you discussed in your article) poorly defined *especially when studying ‘conservatism’ across nations*. In the minds of Jost, Glasser, etc., a conservative is a conservative is a conservative. This fallacy is natural enough. Social psychology speaks of an outgroup homogeneity effect, whereby people think that the members of their own group (the ‘ingroup’) are different from each other but that people in an outgroup are similar. E.g., ‘there is variability among us gentiles, but jews are all the same.’ Or, (to salvage some of my liberal pride) Ann Coulter thinking liberals are all the same. The Berekeley researchers certainly understand outgroup homogeneity, but they obviously couldn’t transcend it.

[Name withheld]

Incredible Waste of Time



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If you just can’t work today but you can’t leave the office either. Maybe I am this site is for you.

Me Right: Study Bad



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From a reader:

Dear Jonah,

I just read your piece on NRO about the Stanford-Berkeley study on conservatism, downloaded the document and read the crucial sections quickly. About myself: I am a social-cognition psychologist (academic) doing research on the situational conditions that increase or decrease stereotyping. I should be analyzing some data right now, but instead I’m writing to you.

The Berkeley authors have started from the work of Adorno in the 1950s on authoritarianism. This work has been heavily criticized, as the authors admit on the first page, as being heavily value-laden. Validity is the chief difficulty with value-laden research and it is not an incidental side issue in research. It is the very foundation.

The authors then go on (page 339) to derogate the traditional personality approach to studying this area and suggest that their approach is that of social-cognition. If this were true, it would be noteworthy. Social cognition is a rigorous, experimental area focusing on the link between thought (schemas, memory, emotion, etc.) and behavior. However, the authors do not in fact use these methods! Instead, they have done a meta-analysis (a correlational study) of a whole bunch of data obtained through the use of scales, each of which is of questionable validity. In short, they have used the same weak methods of the personality approach. That they have used weak methods in a highly sophisticated manner only obscures the fundamental issue of validity. A casual inspection of the actual scale items used will quickly reveal the bias that is obvious to conservatives, but is unquestionable truth to liberals…

Carole L. Bandy, Ph.D.
Assoc. Prof. of Psychology
Norwich University

False Choices



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E.J. Dionne is a marvelous guy who writes excellent books, but his newspaper columns often fall short. His column on school vouchers is a case in point. In the Washington Post he writes:

The debate over school vouchers usually brings out the worst in both of our political parties.

This is a long-running theme of Dionne’s. In “Why Americans Hate Politics” Dionne argued, often convincingly, that both major parties offered mostly “false choices” to voters. A pox on both their houses.

But in his column, Dionne offers his own false choices.

Republicans refuse to face the core problem these children confront. The quality of teachers and curriculums is much higher in wealthy suburban public schools than it is in poor, inner-city public schools. In a country where the overwhelming majority of children attend public schools, vouchers do nothing to rectify this injustice…

We need to spend money to upgrade the quality of teaching in our poorest schools and to demand accountability from teachers to make sure the money produces results. If conservatives were willing to invest seriously in our inner-city public schools in exchange for a comprehensive test of vouchers, I’d take the deal. I’m not holding my breath.

This is a false choice. As the Wall Street Journal’s Bill McGurn has demonstrated in his superb columns on choice, the correlation between dollars and educational quality simply doesn’t exist. It’s not to say money can’t be important. Of course it can be. But money is only one part of what matters to a child’s education. Either way, most conservatives would gladly advocate a spike – even a significant spike — in state funding for education provided the funds were immediately turned over to parents to decide what they want to do with it.

Kristol & Communists



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It is important to remember the context of Irving Kristol’s remarks. At the time, Commentary was still a liberal magazine, and Kristol still saw himself as a man of the left. Kristol’s primary aim was to critique American liberalism from inside the liberal tent. He was concerned that it was insufficiently anti-communist — and with cause. These concerns would lead Kristol to join up with the anti-communist Congress of Cultural Freedom and launch the journal Encounter, with Stephen Spender, as a forum for intellectuals on the anti-communist left. Neoconservatism — as an identifiable political or intellectual movement — had yet to be born. Indeed, Michael Harrington would not label Kristol and others “neoconservatives” until the late 1960s.

Epa Held in Contempt



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It seems a federal judge did not take too kindly to the convenient destruction of records relating to the EPA’s regulatory activities. Here’s the story, and the opinion.

Cute, Maybe Too Cute



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Kusnet V. Kristol Ii



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But what I find simply galling is Kusnet’s assertion that Irving Kristol’s comments about liberals being too soft on communism was “farfetched.” Although, not to sound too Clintonian, but since Kusnet says Bill’s comments about Gephardt are “just as far farfetched” as his father’s comments about 1950s liberals maybe this all depends on the meaning of “farfetched.” If Kusnet merely means “fair and reasonable” then maybe this isn’t a big deal. But, I assume he’s saying that Irving Kristol was wrong to suggest liberals were insufficiently anti-Communist. And if that’s the case, Kusnet’s higher than a moonbat. Of course, there were good and patriotic liberal anti-Communists in the 1950s (contrary to what some on the Right are saying today), but to suggest Kristol wasn’t on to something is simply historical revisionism for the sake of a few cheap partisan points and a few cheap shots about nepotism.

Kristol V. Kusnet I



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As I mentioned yesterday , Bill Kristol’s column in the Washington Post contained an allusion to his father’s most famous quote. In response, David Kusnet offers a particularly snide attack on Kristol at the American Prospect’s site. He criticizes Kristol for attacking Gephardt and for using his “daddy’s” formulation. He writes:

…[T]he younger Kristol’s hint that Gephardt is soft on terrorists and rogue states is as farfetched as his father’s claim that earlier generations of liberals were soft on communism. After all, Gephardt helped draft the bipartisan congressional resolution authorizing military action in Iraq; he also supported the administration’s actions against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Gephardt has paid dearly for this, losing many potential supporters who might have been drawn to his progressive policies on economics, trade and health care but see him as too bound to George W. Bush, not too soft on Saddam Hussein.

I don’t mind Kusnet defending Gephardt. Kusnet’s a labor guy and what else would you expect from him in the American Prospect? But then again, I do remember that Harold Meyerson — the Prospect’s Editor-at-Large — offered a slightly different take on Gephardt’s allegedly heroic and principled support of the war. Meyerson wrote in the Washington Post just this week that Gephardt’s reasons for supporting the war had less to do with principle than Kusnet would have us believe. Meyerson wrote :

If anyone has personified the failure of the Democratic establishment to provide the party with a distinct profile during the Bush presidency, it’s Gephardt. As House Democratic leader, Gephardt clung to Bush’s Iraq policy until it all but unraveled over the past month. Gephardt’s endorsement last fall of the administration’s war resolution effectively derailed a bipartisan effort in the Senate to require the White House to win more international backing.

There was supposedly a method in this madness: By taking the war issue off the table, Gephardt argued, the Democrats could turn the midterm election campaign to questions of domestic policy, presumably their strong suit. We’ll never know if this could have worked, because Gephardt and his fellow congressional leaders never developed a domestic message.

To millions of die-hard Democrats, it looked as if their party had sacrificed its principles on the altar of pragmatism and then had nothing pragmatic to offer. Neither conscience nor opportunism was given its due, and the rank-and-file was mightily indignant.

Hmmmm. It seems to me that Kusnet’s Golden Boy — according to Meyerson, not me — was at least in part willing to send American boys and girls into harm’s way in order to advance a narrow political agenda. Perhaps Gephardt is indeed a bit more fickle on issues of war and security than Kusnet would have us believe.

Cuban Ingenuity



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You gotta love the heart of those Cubans trying to flee Castro’s thug regime. From the Miami Herald:

Over the past four decades, Cubans desperate to reach the United States have crossed the perilous Florida Straits in just about anything that floats: Surfboards. Inner tubes. Homemade rafts.

But it’s hard to top the latest entrant in the maritime scramble: a 1951 Chevy flatbed truck.

The green truck, tires still on, was mounted on a pontoon made of 55-gallon drums. The makeshift vessel even sported a propeller, attached to the truck’s drive shaft.

What’s a little less lovely is the U.S. government’s response.

Ingenuity, however, didn’t translate to success. The U.S. Coast Guard took the dozen Cubans aboard the truck back to the island last weekend.

Alas



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not that NOW.

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