Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tryin' to get the feeling again

Sanford's really trying:
Sanford said Chapur is his soul mate but he's trying to fall back in love with his wife.
Gov. Sanford, this one's for you:

From tragedy to farce

The Sanford revelations continue:
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said Tuesday that he "crossed lines" with a handful of women other than his mistress — but never had sex with them.
Oh, boy, here we go. Sanford just did day hikes on the Appalachian Trail? He visited the mountains but stayed out of the valleys? He hit el triple?

Help me, people.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Disciplining the apostate

One of the things that fascinates me about party politics is the tactics party actors use to punish or threaten officeholders who disappoint them. The ultimate weapon is firing the officeholder, either through the recall (where it's available) or through funding and supporting a primary challenger. But there are a number of other options short of this, including making fundraising more challenging.

Organized labor finds itself in such a situation in Colorado right now, with Gov. Ritter having recently dissed them quite publicly twice, despite their very generous support for him in 2006 and the fact that he's vulnerable in his reelection campaign. Labor is obviously upset. But what to do? Well, one thing they've done is to just be dickish to him. This was in evidence yesterday during a commemoration of the 1914 Ludlow Massacre. Not only did organizers neglect to include Ritter on the program, but when he finally spoke, they turned their backs on him.

The more forceful thing to do, of course, would be to run someone against him in next year's Democratic primary. Arguably, the state has swung leftward enough recently that a more liberal Democrat could still prevail statewide. Hell, "Boulder liberal" Mark Udall pulled that off last year. But who could they get to run for governor?

Denver Mayor Hickenlooper has claimed that he's been approached to run for governor, but that he's not interested. Of course, he neglected to say who approached him. It's a curious article. Is Hickenlooper just keeping his name in the fray? Was he actually approached by labor? Did labor just want to float the idea of Hickenlooper as a threat to Ritter, even if they don't plan to follow through?

And if not Hickenlooper, would anyone else be willing to take on Ritter?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Garfield minus Garfield

I'm a little late to this one, but if you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend Garfield Minus Garfield. It's an online comic strip that simply takes "Garfield" and removes all evidence of the cat. What's left is an insane man named Jon.
(h/t Hans)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dig if you will a honky

There's so much that's so interesting in this story about John Roberts, Ronald Reagan, and Michael Jackson, particularly for someone who used to work in the White House Correspondence Office. The short version is that, in 1984, Correspondence wanted to write an obsequious letter to Michael Jackson from the president, recognizing the former's philanthropic activities. But then John Roberts, associate White House counsel, protested, saying the president shouldn't be involved in helping a commercial effort:
The Office of Presidential Correspondence is not yet an adjunct of Michael Jackson’s PR firm.
In hindsight, I think Roberts was absolutely right, although I would have been quite tempted to write the letter at the time. But then Roberts shows just how square he is:
In today’s Post there were already reports that some youngsters were turning away from Mr. Jackson in favor of a newcomer who goes by the name “Prince,” and is apparently planning a Washington concert. Will he receive a Presidential letter? How will we decide which performers do and which do not?
Roberts was 29 when he wrote this. Prince had released "1999" and "Little Red Corvette" two years earlier. Is it possible that Roberts had never heard this music? What was he listening to? The mind reels.

Then Roberts piles it on:
Why, for example, was no letter sent to Mr. Bruce Springsteen, whose patriotic tour recently visited the area?
Sigh. Again, someone who obviously never listened to the lyrics.

For want of Michael

Like Dave Brockington, I was a bit embarrassed to find myself almost completely without Michael Jackson music on my computer the other day. Out of the 10.3 days of music on my iTunes, I had only two songs by Michael and one by the Jackson Five. (Thank goodness for Pandora.) Of course, I once had both "Off the Wall" and "Thriller," on vinyl. But unlike most of my other important vinyl albums, I never bothered to obtain it in CD or mp3 format.

Why is this? Both of these are brilliant albums. I think I prefer "Off the Wall" at this point, just because every song on it hasn't been played to death. But even listening to songs from "Thriller" over the last few days has reminded me just what a great sound that was. Just about every song on that album is a perfect marriage of funk, rock, pop, and soul.

If you haven't watched it in the last few years, the USA for Africa single "We Are The World" is amazing. I forgot about some of those folks. For God's sake, Bob Dylan was there. And Kenny Loggins. And Kim Freakin' Carnes. It's interesting to see the star rankings, too. Only a few artists got more than a few words: Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Dylan, and of course Michael.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael is dead

...but for how long?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gov. Sanford's disappearance

Here's one scenario I have in mind. Imagine this conversation between Governor Sanford and a staffer last week.
Sanford: "See you guys later."
Staffer: "Where are you going, Governor?"
Sanford: "I'm hitting the Appalachian Trail."
At least that's what the staffer thought he heard. In a Southern drawl, spoken in a hurry, "hitting the Appalachian Trail" sounds a lot like "getting some Argentinean tail."

Update: Nailed it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Alan Gionet at Denver's CBS4 called me the other day with some questions about new media politics and Iran, topics about which I have, respectively, modest competence and no competence. So of course I did the interview. If you watch the video, you'll see that I positioned myself in front of my book. Product placement is everything.

I disgust myself sometimes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Flip-flopping on gay marriage

Elected officials worry a great deal about changing their minds, to the point that they'll stick with stupid policy positions just to avoid the epithet "flip-flopper." So it was nice to see Chris Dodd (who is facing a difficult reelection next year) do it well (via Atrios):
I was raised to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. And as many other Americans have realized as they’ve struggled to reconcile the principle of fairness with the lessons they learned early in life, that’s not an easy thing to overcome.

But the fact that I was raised a certain way just isn’t a good enough reason to stand in the way of fairness anymore. [...]

I believe that, when my daughters grow up, barriers to marriage equality for same-sex couples will seem as archaic, and as unfair, as the laws we once had against inter-racial marriage.

And I want them to know that, even if he was a little late, their dad came down on the right side of history. [...]

I understand that even those who oppose discrimination might continue to find it hard to re-think the definition of marriage they grew up with. I know it was for me.

But many of the things we must do to make our union more perfect – whether it’s fighting for decades to reform our health care system or struggling with a difficult moral question – are hard. They take time. And they require that, when you come to realize that something is right, you be unafraid to stand up and say it.

That’s the only way our history will progress along that long arc towards justice.
Okay, while this is a beautiful statement, there's probably more than a little strategic positioning involved. As Andrew Gelman notes, Connecticut is now one of the few states where a majority favors same sex marriage, and that majority, while slender, appears to be growing quickly. Dodd's position helps him blunt Democratic challenges and potentially makes him more electable, while firing up a donor base that might not have been all that enthused about him.

But man, when did you expect to see a politician coddling gays and lesbians because it was in their electoral interests to do so? This ground is shifting fast.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Family props

My wife designed the cover layout for the July issue of the scrapbooking magazine Creating Keepsakes.

My brother made this rap video as a 10th anniversary present for his wife.

Good times.

Those horrible, sexist Bradys

I've been watching the first season of "The Brady Bunch" with my kids recently. I'm actually surprised how much the kids like it. The shows seem kind of slow and silly to me. But I guess part of the appeal is that they're pretty much regular kids doing regular kid things. There isn't all that much of that in family entertainment these days.

Another thing that surprises me is how pretty much every episode, at least in the first season, is a battle of the sexes. The Brady boys have been living a bachelor's paradise, and suddenly they're forced to share things with their new sisters. It's obviously a shock for them, and they don't handle it particularly well. Everything the family plans to do -- camping, cashing in trading stamps, etc. -- sets off a struggle. "Girls don't do that!" scream the boys. "That's for boys!" There was the episode where all the kids contracted measles, and Carole called for her female pediatrician while Mike called for his male one. (Measles, house calls... you can see how dated this now seems.) Peter absolutely freaked out when a female MD (played by none other than Marion Ross) attempted to examine him. "Women are nurses!" the boys protested. The Brady girls utter their share of generalizations, as well, but none seem as barbed or bigoted as the boys'. The parents, meanwhile, attempt to keep the peace between the kids, but rarely challenge any of the crap coming out of the kids' mouths.

Now that I think about it, why am I letting my kids watch this? I guess I'm just holding out for Davy Jones and Johnny Bravo.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Let me just put in a plug for the movie "Tulpan," currently out in limited release. This film from Kazakhstan is one of the most unusual films I've ever seen. The critics are right that it defies description. Thematically, it's mainly about the tensions between tradition and modernity, and this tension is played out within a family of sheep herders living on the central Asian steppes.

The setting really stays with you. It has to be one of the least appealing environments I've ever seen depicted on film. A cold wind is blowing constantly. Dust devils the size of skyscrapers regularly move past the family's yurt. Little vegetation grows. Water must be brought via tractor. The men work all day tending to the sheep, while the women work all day preparing food. I really, really don't want to live there. And yet you can't help but sympathize with the main character, Asa, who want to marry and raise his own flock of sheep there, even after having seen the world.

I'd recommend reading some reviews, just so you know what you're getting into. (Roger Ebert's is great, as always.) But really, check this film out.

More better experts?

Most of the scholarly examination I've seen with regards to the recent Iranian elections has taken two forms:
1) Discussion of Iranian political culture and its traditions with democracy. These posts have come from area specialists.
2) Analysis of Iranian election returns. These posts have come from Americanists.

I find both approaches indispensable, but it would be really nice to find an elections specialist with deep knowledge of Iran, or an area specialist with the toolset to detect election irregularities. Has anyone seen anyone along these lines?

Incidentally, any grad student with these skills who's on the job market this fall is very well positioned.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Great moments in airport security theater

"Do you have any identification from the United States?"
-TSA agent to my sister-in-law, who had produced a New Mexico drivers license

Root for the home team

This was funny:
The town manager of Billerica announced his resignation this morning in the wake of criticism for less-than-flattering comments he made about the suburb north of Boston, town officials said.

The town manager, William F. Williams, who has held the post since September 2008, did not return calls. But he was forced to apologize after negative remarks he made about the town of 40,000 people at last week's Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce Municipal Breakfast.

"Some individuals, and I'm not one of them, are stuck in the '80s, where they look at Billerica as a place that was great and we need to retro back," Williams said, according to The Lowell Sun. "Wendy's is considered to them to be a wonderful thing."

He was also quoted as saying: "I look at [Billerica] as a town that needs a lot of work. I look harshly at Billerica as a place that seems to be in distress. When I look at it that way, I'm not demeaning you, I'm just saying that you don't photograph well. You don't have curb appeal."

When does technology matter?

There have been a wonderful series of posts at the Monkey Cage by Henry Farrell and John Sides about the alleged role of Twitter, Facebook, cellphones, etc. in the post-election protests in Iran (see here, here, and here). Sides helpfully reminds us that new technology is not always a force for good, pointing to a study of its use in promoting ethnic violence surrounding Kenya's recent presidential elections. But perhaps more importantly, it's hard to say that most of this technology matters at all. Does anyone think that there would not be massive protests in Iran today if Twitter had never been invented?

Media reports tend to be very quick to claim that some new technology has fundamentally reshaped the world. Most of what new technologies do, though, is to modestly change the way we do something that we were already doing. We talked on the phone before the invention of cell phones, but now we can do so more often in more places. We had distant friends before the invention of e-mail; we communicated via long distance telephone and hand written letters. Soldiers went on night patrols before the invention of night vision.

Some of the accounts of Obama's nomination last year focused on his mastery of the use of new media for fundraising and organization. These reports may be accurate. But if the Clinton campaign had paid sufficient attention to the caucus states, or if she hadn't voted to authorize the Iraq War, she might very well be our president today, and we'd regard Obama's campaign the same way we regard Howard Dean's from four years earlier.

My wife and I visited Budapest a few years ago and met with an older cousin of mine name Judit. She told us of how she and her family lived through the Nazi occupation (they weren't Jewish), and then how the they hunkered down in their basements while the Soviet army bombarded the city toward the end of the war. In particular, she mentioned that the remaining German soldiers retreated to the hills of the old city of Buda while the Soviets shelled them from below. Later in our visit, we went on a tour of that old city, and we saw drawings there of a military invasion that had occurred identically hundreds of years earlier. Despite all the advances of military technology, warfare had remained fundamentally the same.

So when has technology fundamentally changed something? In the military world, I'll buy that nuclear weapons, particularly those aboard submarines, have fundamentally changed the concept of deterrence. GPS now allows for dramatically more precise bombing and even air cover on cloudy days. In political campaigns, television has caused a fundamental shift in how candidates campaign, and has possibly changed which sorts of candidates we now deem acceptable for office.

But what else? Can we point to anything in modern politics that simply would not have happened were it not for new technologies?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Put a little effort into your fraud

Since a) I'm really not an expert on Iranian politics and b) I really didn't know how to pick a side in the recent elections, I've refrained from weighing in on the allegations of voter fraud there. But Andrew Sullivan's graph (via LGM) is a dead giveaway:

In other words, as the results of the election came in, they steadily reported the exact same vote share for the two candidates. This, of course, means that the state has zero credibility on the matter of elections.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

In the dark

The final talk at the networks conference was from Albert-László Barabási of Northeastern University. I was sitting with Jen Victor during the talk, and while we loved it, it made realize just how poor a grasp most of us in political science have of the network tools we're playing with.

If I can convey Barabási's points correctly, there are huge differences between random networks (which would exist if every individual just randomly connected to others) and the way most networks actually occur in nature. In random networks, just about all actors would have about the same number of connections as everybody else. An example would be the U.S. highway system. Most major cities have two or three highways going through them; very few have just one or more than four. This is a very democratic, egalitarian network.

It's also a very rare network. What we more often see are what are called scale-free networks, in which a few hubs are highly connected and everyone else just has one or two connections. The airline system looks like this, with a few major cities providing the connections for hundreds of other cities. Take out a bunch of minor actors, and the network stays intact. Take out a few hubs, and the network collapses. We tend to see scale-free networks all over the place, from the structure of cells to the links of the Internet.

This kind of terminology and framework seems really important, and I didn't have a great concept of this stuff until today's talk. In fact, I don't think I really understood the distribution of the data I've been working with. That's bad! Jen and I were perturbed that we're kind of working in the dark on this stuff, and we're allegedly leading scholars in this area. What's more, there are mathematicians who do understand this stuff who are no doubt laughing at us right now like we're chimps trying to operate a Blackberry.

I suppose this happens any time a social science imports a method from another field, but it's nonetheless disturbing.

Networks and political science

The Berardo project I referenced earlier found some interesting things about social networks research in political science. If I remember correctly, centrality in the network was inversely correlated with age and time in the discipline. Translated into English, this means that the leading scholars using networks research in political science tend to be graduate students and junior faculty members. It’s a tool of the young. I suppose this is to be expected with any innovation, but it’s still kind of interesting. It's also kind of disorienting, as I'm increasingly turning to people more junior than myself for advice.

There’s a bit of a disconnect between networks tools and the expectations of the discipline. What networks research is really good at is description, but the discipline generally frowns on description and encourages hypothesis testing. A lot of the papers I’ve seen here (including one of my own) are hamstrung by this problem.

If you’ve watched “The Wire,” you understand the value of description of a network. Season Three was a particularly good example. The Barksdale/Bell drug cartel had a very complex structure, with a bunch of pretty poorly-educated guys at the bottom selling heroin on the streets, a group of savvy lieutenants coordinating them, and then the two principals at the top. The cartel did a lot to make it appear like there was no coordination between these levels, mainly by communicating over disposable cell phones and then dumping the phones or switching SIM cards frequently. Meanwhile, the police are trying to map out the whole network out, using increasingly sophisticated tools to overcome the cartel’s efforts to hide the links.

In this kind of case, description of the network is enough. It’s enough to arrest the key players, and presumably enough to convince a jury. Description also works nicely for teasing out the structures of terrorist organizations, figuring out who the key players are and who you need to eliminate to cripple a network.

Some of my research has attempted this same sort of approach with parties. And, in all seriousness, there are important similarities between parties and criminal networks. Party leaders are often attempting certain levels of coordination to do things like advantage a candidate in a primary or convince other candidates to drop out of contests. The things they do along these lines are either illegal or would appear unsavory if run in the newspaper, so they try to keep them hidden. But we still know this coordination occurs.

Greg Koger, Hans Noel, and I have an article coming out soon with BJPS that uses the buying and selling of names and addresses for direct mailings to trace out the party networks. Below is one of the pictures we produced which shows the structure of the Republican Party network. It’s kinda cool, and it’s an image you wouldn’t get by following more formal descriptions of what a party is. But again, there’s not much hypothesis testing here.
I’m not sure what the best path is for networks research in the social science. Should the journals become more accepting of networks descriptions? Or should network researchers be going that next step to test important hypotheses?

Aboard the C&J bus

I'm on a C&J bus heading from Boston's South Station to Portsmouth, NH, making use of the complementary power and WiFi. It's been a while since I've taken an intercity bus. Maybe these amenities are standard now. At any rate, it's much appreciated.

Lunch in Cambridge

Next time you're near Harvard, try Darwin's for lunch. Top notch.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The richness of on-line political debate

Yet another cool networks paper: Sandra Gonzales-Bailon of the Oxford Internet Institute analyzed the structure of discussion networks on Slashdot, broken down by category. She looked at the width (number of different comments) and the depth (how many different levels of discussion each comment produced) of postings. A truly deliberative discussion, she reasoned, should be both deep and wide, producing a wide range of comments, each of which involves an intense series of arguments and ripostes.

As it turns out, the topic “politics” produces the deepest and widest conversation threads. The only topics similar to politics in these measures are “interviews,” “Apple,” and “yro” (your rights online). I would describe the last two items in that series as basically political in nature. At the other end of both spectra (both shallow and narrow) was “games,” suggesting that people treat politics more as an area for deliberation and less as a game.

Look, Ma, I'm central!

Another fun networks research project: Ramiro Berardo at the University of Arizona did a study of people who attended last year’s Harvard networks conference. He sent out a survey asking us with whom we regularly consulted about writing papers and doing networks research. He presented some of his findings yesterday in a presentation called “Networking Networkers.” I’m really sorry I missed the presentation, because he used my name in one of his graphs. As you can see, I’m one of the more central nodes in networks research!
Here’s how Berardo explains the graph:
The picture portraits the networks of advice exchange, with blue nodes being political scientists and yellow nodes being scholars from other disciplines. Further, squares are nodes that function as cutpoints (if you remove them, parts of the network become disconnected). Finally, the red nodes are the most embedded individuals in the network according to the "cohesive blocks" algorithm devised by Moody and White (2003). All of them are political scientists.
I’m only a red circle. We’re highly central but expendable. Maybe someday, if I work hard, I’ll be a square.

Lethal vs. Non-lethal Terrorists

I’m attending the Harvard Political Networks Conference right now and listening to an interesting presentation by Karl Rethemeyer called “Lethal Connections.” (It’s co-authored with Asal, Lee, and Park.) The paper uses social network analysis to study the links between terrorist attacks and the lethality of terror groups. The authors find, among other things, that connectedness is related to lethality. That is, the more connected a terror group is to other terror groups, the more likely they are to kill people and to target U.S. interests. They also find that Islamist groups tend to be better connected.

Non-lethal terror groups, conversely, tend to be relative loners, linked to very few organizations. Leftist organizations (defined here as environmental and anarchist terror groups) also tend to be non-lethal.

Some of these claims beg a few questions. If anarchists and environmental terrorists are leftists, does that make religious terror groups right wing? Not all of these things map well onto American ideological space. Also, why would more religious organizations tend to be lethal? They are more likely to employ suicide bombers, which is consistent with the idea of an afterlife and divine reward, but I’m not sure why such a belief would justify killing others.

Also, more generally, didn’t leftist organizations tend to be more lethal in the past? As I recall, anarchists set off a bomb in the L.A. Times building early in the 20th century, and one of them killed President McKinley. And leftist groups blew up ROTC buildings and other government offices in the 60s, accepting a certain level of collateral damage. We don’t see much of this stuff today from the left. What changed?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bad blogger

Sorry -- light blogging lately due to conference-related travel activities. More soon.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The latest Ritter veto

Gov. Bill Ritter infuriated labor unions again this week by vetoing a bill that would have allowed collective bargaining rights for firefighters. Firefighters. Whether you think this was a good or a bad bill, the nub of the problem is best summed up by commenter Ralphie at Coloradopols:
A governor with a majority in both houses shouldn't have to veto a bill.
If he vetoes a bill, it's either because he didn't communicate his wishes to the legislature, or he did and nobody listened.
Either way, that demonstrates a lack of leadership.
Let's just stipulate that overall, organized labor in Colorado is a lot better off with Ritter in the governor's mansion than it was with Owens there or it would be with Penry there. Still, this is two slaps in labor's face in the last month, and they didn't need to happen. I don't get the impression that Ritter is consciously trying to insult labor. It seems more like he has no political strategy at all. He seems to wait until a bill gets to his desk, and then very honestly and sincerely decides what's best for the state. That's a good decision to be making, but it's the wrong time to be making it.

It's a lot like the Bennet appointment. Again, not a bad choice at all. But he managed to offend a lot of Democratic allies in the process. It didn't need to happen.

Me on TV

I should be on Denver's 9News some time this morning shortly after 7:20AM. I'll post video when it becomes available.

Ah, here it is.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A long way from home

Let me recommend this essay by Marc Herman, who grew up with me in Southern California. The essay is qualified praise for Marc's adopted home of Catalunya, Spain, mostly in contrast to California, which... well, Marc says it best:
This same week, my home state, California, declared it was so bankrupt (literally) that it was considering closing access to state parks, and so bankrupt (metaphorically) that it would deny consenting adults the right to marry whomever they wished.
I've been experiencing some of these same feelings lately when I compare California to my adopted state of Colorado. No, same sex couples can't marry here, either, but things may be moving in that direction. On the budgetary front, Colorado just did something very smart, repealing a measure dating from 1991 that limited the growth of the state government's operating budget. That measure was one of several that had kept the legislature in knots.

Colorado's and California's legislatures face similar constraints, required by various initiatives to spend a certain amount on education and other areas of the budget but limited in how much revenue they can raise. These problems get worse during recessions, when revenues fall off but the mandated spending stays the same. California's problems remain worse thanks to the two-thirds budget passage requirement. Colorado still has its problems, but it's actually moving in the right direction, which is something I haven't seen out of the Golden State in a while.

DC Summer Interns

I interned in the U.S. Capitol during the summer of 1990. I was one of the hundreds (thousands?) of young, wide-eyed, arrogant college students who descend upon the District of Columbia every summer to learn firsthand about government and to brag about our work at Georgetown bars at night in unsuccessful attempts to get laid. Mercifully, I did this intern work before the invention of the blog.

Current interns be warned: DC Summer Interns is watching.

(Thanks to Gordon and Kelsey for the link.)

And when I die...

...I'd like it if my obituary didn't begin like this:
Police: Carradine Found Naked, Hanged in Closet
Actor David Carradine was found dead, hanged in closet of Bangkok hotel room

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Imaging the court

Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn have put together an awesome visualization of the shifting ideologies of Supreme Court justices. I'll buy the directional shifts of individual justices, but Gelman is right that the overall chamber scores just don't make much sense. No way is the current court more liberal than the one that ruled on Roe v. Wade.

Correction: The data above come from Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn. The visualization was assembled by Carl Roose and Alex Lundry. Apologies for the error.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Quote of the day

Marilyn Musgrave, explaining her loss to Betsy Markey:
The radical homosexual lobby, abortionists, gun-grabbers and all the rest of the extremists finally spent enough money, spread enough lies and fooled enough voters to defeat me.

Nice words for the mainstream media

This is a blog, so I'm obligated to bag on the MSM once in a while. And I do. But let me just express a bit of kudos for two items.

First, I linked yesterday to a Scotusblog analysis of Sotomayor's rulings on race cases. I thought that was a useful analysis, but figured it would be ignored by much of the media. Wrong! I now learn that Paul Krugman went on "This Week" on Sunday armed with the Scotusblog study, only to find that host George Stephanopoulos already knew about it. So, nice work there.

Also, cheers to Newsweek for this devastating article about Oprah Winfrey and her elevation of the pseudo-scientific claims of her guests. You really should read it. It's infuriating. Did you know, for example, that Oprah privileges such medical experts as Suzanne Somers (who injects hormones into her vagina to keep herself youthful) and Jenny McCarthy (who believes the MMR vaccine gave her son autism), confronting them with nothing more critical than the occasional "You go girl"?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Evidence of "reverse racism"?

Is Sonia Sotomayor a "reverse racist"? A member of the Latino KKK? Does she stand apart from other judges in her efforts to right past injustices? Well, we could look at one speech she gave in Berkeley a few years ago, or we could examine 96 court cases in which she actually ruled on race. Scotusblog chose the latter approach (thanks to Chris Federico for the link):
In sum, in an eleven-year career on the Second Circuit, Judge Sotomayor has participated in roughly 100 panel decisions involving questions of race and has disagreed with her colleagues in those cases (a fair measure of whether she is an outlier) a total of 4 times. Only one case (Gant) in that entire eleven years actually involved the question whether race discrimination may have occurred. (In another case (Pappas) she dissented to favor a white bigot.) She participated in two other panels rejecting district court rulings agreeing with race-based jury-selection claims. Given that record, it seems absurd to say that Judge Sotomayor allows race to infect her decisionmaking.
Hmm. She sounds pretty mainstream. Or maybe Newt is right that she's this week's Threat to American Civilization (TM).