The Senate would still need 60 votes on the first motion to end debate, (the cloture vote). But the next motion would require just 57 votes, the third motion 54 votes, and the fourth and final effort would need just 51 votes -- a simple majority. In all, roughly 25 days would elapse between the first and fourth vote.As Ezra Klein explains, this would have still allowed the filibuster to do the things that Greg Koger likes, such as giving voice to minority sentiments, but it would have destroyed its ability to obstruct the will of the majority.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Lieberman's intriguing idea
CA Dems love them some Jerry
This, of course, is how many, perhaps most, nominations are made. The party -- in the form of Democratic donors and elected officials -- has picked a candidate. Democratic voters will get to weigh in in next year's primary, but the decision has effectively been made for them.
Although Newsom had been effectively running for more than a year, his campaign never gained much traction. Even in his hometown, which Newsom touted as a model of cutting-edge policies, his candidacy was widely derided among civic insiders.
Perhaps most telling was the absence of support from the major San Francisco donors who helped underwrite Newsom’s successful campaigns in the city. He also drew relatively few endorsements from the ranks of his fellow elected officials.
Final proof that the white working class remains deeply Democratic
Well, it only actually proves that if we believe that Springsteen fans are the same people he sings about. More research needed.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Rule of law in "Gangs of New York"
One other feature I wanted to mention was the film's examination of the rule of law. A recurrent theme in the film is the utter lack of a central agreed-upon authority. Decisions are made by gangs and party organizations. If you're not a member of the gang or party that made the decision, you regard the decision as illegitimate, and the main recourse you have is killing the people in charge and making your own decisions.
A great example is an early scene when a fire breaks out in an apartment building. A fire brigade rushes to the scene, but they are not the fire brigade. Another fire brigade, sponsored by another gang, soon shows up, and rather than fight the fire, the two brigades fight each other. It's funny, but also quite telling about the costs of not having any sort of central acknowledged government. (It was also kind of ballsy for Scorsese to portray firefighters as thugs a year after 9/11.)
The lawlessness theme in the film is best exemplified in a conversation that Bill "the Butcher" Cutting (the local gang leader portrayed by Daniel Day Lewis) has with the area's top police officer, Happy Jack (John C. Reilly). Bill is instructing Jack to go hunt down and kill Bill's young rival, Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio), but Jack appears reticent. As Jack says, "My allegiance is to the law. I'm paid to uphold the law." Bill thinks for a bit, and finally says, "What in Heaven's name are you talking about? You may have misgivings, but don't go believing that, Jack. That way lies damnation."
The line comes off somewhat humorous, but there's a real point to it. Bill has literally no idea what Jack is talking about. The notion that there is some legal principle of impartiality to which a government official is bound is completely alien to him.
The film's finale brings an end to this form of lawlessness. The old code of rival gangs ruling through force and some ancient code of honor ultimately gives way to the rule of the federal government. Of course, it does so through force: the U.S. Navy bombards lower Manhattan during the 1863 draft riots, vanquishing the gangs and clearing the way for Army soldiers. It's an open question whether rule of gangs has been replaced by rule of law, or whether the federal government was just the biggest gang in town.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Our political discourse suffers from a dearth of Rush songs
Not getting it
Oct. 28, 2009 12:43 PM. This just in from Speaker of the House Pelosi. In an interview with MSNBC's Keith Olberman last night, Nancy Pelosi announced that she would move to bring a vote to the floor of The House of Representatives as early as next week to ban Fox from covering Congress. "That Fox regularly grants access to Republican Congressman to spread their lies and propaganda on their airwaves is a violation of the public trust, and their continued desire to challenge such well documented facts as Global Warming, and the efficacy of single payer health insurance, proves that they are simply doing the work of the special interests. They should thus be stripped of their journalistic access in the halls of Congress," argued Pelosi.He had a few other news items in there, all with future datelines.
This got picked up as truth, however, by Recliner Commentaries, which editorialized:
This is an unbelievably shocking abuse of power! In the Orwellian world of the Democrats, apparently Freedom of the Press only applies to news organizations that promote the Democrats' Leftist, socialist agendas.But that wasn't nearly as good as some of the comments, including:
She should be hanged.A few noted that it wasn't real, but that, of course, just confirmed its truth:
While Hugh's futurist post was amusing, the fact that it could seem so plausible is a chilling indicator of how close we are to losing our country and our freedoms.And, of course, demonstrating a patent inability to understand satire:
I emailed the Hugh Hewitt site to ask for a correction on the date. It could just be an error. Why would Hugh Hewitt just make something like this up? I think it would be in poor taste.I respect conservatives for trying new tactics. Last spring, they were marching on Washington. Now they're trying satire. Good for them! They'll work out the kinks eventually.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Why they hate us
Friday, October 23, 2009
The numbers show the ideological distance from the party median, as measured by standard deviations of NOMINATE scores. Each observation is a term in office, culminating with the session right before they are elected speaker. Note how Wright and Foley moved toward the ideological extremes prior to becoming speaker, while Hastert, Gingrich, and O'Neill basically stayed where they were. Only Pelosi had to moderate to become speaker.
It's also kind of interesting that there seems to be an ideological sweet spot for becoming speaker, somewhere between .2 and .6 standard deviations more extreme than the party median.
This is an empirically testable claim
If this is so, we need more data. What kind of vampire? Scary demon? Cute teen? We need an NSF grant.
Newsflash: Senator actually reads academic paper
"The best possible outcome from repealing McCarran is continuation of the status quo," he said. "However, it is also likely that repealing McCarran would have negative consequences for consumers, by decreasing competition and accuracy in insurance pricing."
Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse pointed out that the professor was relying on outdated information.
"You cite for the proposition that insurance markets are highly competitive an article by Paul Joskow. Do I have the date of that article correct, it's 1973?" he asked Powell. "I believe so," came the answer.
Agenda control and state legislative polarization
The graph below is a density plot of the percent of the chamber voting yes on all the bills that came before it in the 1999-2000 legislative session. It charts this distribution for both the California and Florida assemblies. (The data come from the Representation in America's Legislatures project.)What do we see here? In Florida, the distribution is bimodal. Most pieces of legislation either get around 40% of the vote or around 80% of the vote. Why would so many bills get 40% of the chamber voting yes? They are minority party bills. The minority party usually loses, but they can still get their bills to a floor vote.
Contrast that with the distribution for California. Again, the distribution is bimodal, but the peaks are around 60% of the chamber (a narrow win) and around 90% (near unanimity). Almost no bills get below 50% of the chamber voting yes. In other words, the minority party's bills almost never make it to the chamber floor. The majority party makes sure that they die in committee.
This can have a substantial effect on the appearance of party polarization. In California, bills that might otherwise give the chamber more of an appearance of bipartisanship are being killed by the majority party before they can reach a floor vote. This may account for California having the most divergent parties in the Shor/McCarty graph. Or maybe it really is due to the legislators being so ideologically dissimilar. It's hard to tell, and I don't know of any multi-year measures of state-level agenda control that would allow us to factor this effect out.
One other issue. As some of the commenters at 538 noted, it's kind of weird to see California's GOP further to the right than any of the southern states' Republican parties. Now this is certainly possible. The Shor/McCarty data compresses everything onto one dimension. I'm guessing that the southern Republicans would look more conservative on cultural measures than the CA GOP, although the Californians are probably more conservative on economic measures. But I'm not sure.
Update: Boris Shor responds.
Later update: Boris is probably right that agenda control isn't biasing these results all that much. As he notes, the U.S. House and Senate have very different agenda control rules, yet members show remarkably consistency in their ideal points when they move from one chamber to the other. However, I don't know whether the differences between the House and the Senate are on par with the differences across state legislatures. The differences between Florida and California strike me as pretty huge.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Jenny McCarthy is slowly killing us
- The folks who are angry at immunologists for getting rich by injecting kids while content to have hucksters take their money in exchange for advice like, literally, “No vaccines + more vitamin d = no autism."
- The fact that children's diseases long thought eradicated in the U.S. are now on the rise due to various populations refusing to immunize their children.
- Jenny McCarthy claiming that her child has been cured of autism through dietary changes.
- Jenny McCarthy being accepted as an authority on anything.
Looking back over human history, rationality has been the anomaly. Being rational takes work, education, and a sober determination to avoid making hasty inferences, even when they appear to make perfect sense. Much like infectious diseases themselves — beaten back by decades of effort to vaccinate the populace — the irrational lingers just below the surface, waiting for us to let down our guard.
Polarization among state politicians
This graph is very cool for me, in particular, because, well, look how darned polarized California looks! It's got the most divergent parties in the nation. This interests me because some roll call studies (particularly Jerry Wright's data) suggest that California has one of the most polarized legislatures, but not the most. It's occassionally surpassed by Wisconsin, Iowa, and a few others.
What Shor's data show, if I understand them correctly**, is that the ideologies of California's elected officials are the most polarized -- not as manifested in roll call votes, but as simple expressions of issues stances. This gets around the issue of agenda control, by which the majority party can pick votes that make the parties look more divergent than they really are. California's parties have been the most effective in the nation at screening out the moderates. There really is No Middle Ground. (Sorry for the shameless plug.)
*NPATs have a fairly high non-response rate, as I understand it. One presumes, however, that the non-response rate is uncorrelated with ideology or region.
**Late correction: I apparently did not understand them correctly. As Boris explains in comments, the ideal points are, in fact, derived from roll call data. Apparently 15 years of roll call votes from each state legislature. (I really need to know how they pulled that off.) They used the NPAT scores to create a common space across legislatures. So agenda control is still potentially an issue, but probably not a huge one.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
What do political scientists do?
Rogers Smith, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania who has been active in the “Perestroika” movement, said that the question should determine the method. If you want to test cause and effect, “quantitative methods are the preferred way to go,” he said, but they can’t tell “how political phenomena should be understood and interpreted” — whether a protest, for instance, is the result of a genuine social movement or an interest group, whether it is religious or secular.
Wrong question, weird answer
What are some areas where you think Republicans can successfully work with Democrats in the future?
In the far future, I imagine that there will be bipartisan cooperation on space colonisation and efforts to terraform Mars.Oh, great.
Monday, October 19, 2009
I have also sat in countless churches, conferences, and living rooms and watched white Christians and their counterparts of color dig deep into their faith and deeper into their consciences to find a way to reach across the gulf that racism and resultant segregation has created in American Christian communities. It's often awkward, it's never perfect, and it sometimes involves faith-based rituals like footwashing that make outsiders squeamish. But it's real, it's emotionally genuine, and it's one of the few paths to social change in matters of race in socially conservative communities that is, in fact, ideologically coherent, if you actually believe the Bible. Compared to the "diversity forums" and "difference" encounters I've participated in through academic and political settings, which, after all these years, still often manage to degenerate into the Oppression Olympics, evangelical racial change efforts are refreshingly vulnerable.... I'd love to see my secular lefty allies exert that kind of effort in facing their own ghouls.She adds that university faculties, newsrooms, etc. -- citadels of the left -- aren't exactly models of diversity today.
A moment of sanity in federal drug policies
People who use marijuana for medical purposes and those who distribute it should not face federal prosecution, provided they act according to state law, the Justice Department said on Monday in a directive with far-reaching political and legal implications.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I stand for a woman’s right to choose. I stand for the elimination of the death penalty. I stand for a strong and growing armed forces because we must stomp out genocide on this planet and I believe that is a cause worth dying for. I stand for seeing every gun taken out of every home, period. I stand for making the selling of cigarettes to our youth a federal offense. I stand for term limits and campaign reform.
And, Mr. Chairman, I stand for the separation of Church and State, and the reason that I stand for that is the same reason that I believe our forefathers did. It is not there to protect religion from the grasp of government but to protect our government from the grasp of religious fanaticism. Now, I may be an atheist, but that does not mean I do not go to church. I do go to church. The church I go to is the one that emancipated the slaves, that gave women the right to vote, that gave us every freedom that we hold dear. My church is this very Chapel of Democracy that we sit in together, and I do not need God to tell me what are my moral absolutes. I need my heart, my brain, and this church.
The new Jimmy Carter?
Friday, October 16, 2009
House Speakers before they became Speaker. Most recent Speakers have
started out as relative moderates relative to their party but moved
toward the ideological extremes around the time they became Speaker.
Pelosi is the exception. She started as deeply ideologically extreme,
and is the only recent Speaker who moderated prior to getting the
The post-partisan presidency
Obama campaign was the day during the Republican convention when Rudy
Giuliani and Sarah Palin attacked community organizers in their
speeches. Obama fundraisers promptly sent out an e-mail addressing
this issue. They raised $12 million in the next 24 hours.
made me ashamed to be both a Coloradan and a CNN viewer. I had to
shower twice afterwards.
Allmann, Ron Rapoport, and Daniel Maliniak. I wasn't sure why this
was an organization worth studying, but the authors pointed out that
this was essentially the first political party that had organized
entirely on the Internet. It had no discernable leaders to rally
around, it had no formal meetings – just a web presence. So that's
kind of interesting. Just because Unity08 failed, I think, doesn't
mean that you can't organize a party on-line. The party failed
because it was completely incoherent. It purported to be a radical
party devoted to the cause of… bipartisanship. What's more, it rested
on the idea that you could organize a party of passionate moderates,
people who barely exist. It was basically a David Broder fantasy
camp. The fact that they managed to claim roughly 200,000 members is
Thursday, October 15, 2009
getting primaried. It gets a lot of attention but actually doesn't
happen that much, although ideological challenges to incumbents are on
the increase over the 2000s, particularly within the GOP. Still, the
numbers are nowhere near historic highs. But then they really don't
have to be. The threat from a group like the Club for Growth is
effective, Boatright says, until the group actually follows through.
Then the legislative campaign committee will invariably kick in and
help the incumbent, who usually prevails.
Here I disagree. I would guess that Joe Lieberman would rather have
avoided the Ned Lamont challenge if he could have. It weakened his
national profile, it destroyed his chances of becoming the Democratic
nominee for president, he ended up owing people like Barack Obama
favors, etc. Even if they're likely to win, incumbents would rather
avoid the challenge if possible. Challenges require too much work and
put you in the debt of others.
The stability of party ID
identification, drawing on these wonderful CCAP panel studies. The
greatest stability in party ID is found among strong partisans and
independents. There's an interesting campaign effect, too: People who
exposed to heavy campaigning and zero campaigning have the most stable
PID. Shifts are found among those with only partial campaign exposure.
I am not a crackpot
stockbroker and current bum who keeps asking decidedly non-academic
questions during the panels. He asked if campaigns are designed to
jerk people's emotions around. Then he asked if presidents are of
lower quality than they used to be. The fun part is the non-verbal
exchanges among panelists as they decide who gets to answer these
State of the Parties, day 1
that has intermittent access to wi-fi, so I'm trying to blog from
there. It's a tad annoying – I like being able to stay wired while at
conferences so I can pull down data or blog or Facebook chat with
others in the room without disrupting others. Grumble.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I saw this billboard in Elizabeth, NJ. Pretty obvious who has the higher favorability ratings there.
Spotted in SoHo
ZZ Top is being used to sell high end clothes on Spring Street. To whom, I have no idea.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Partying in Newark
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
And when they came for the political scientists, I said nothing, for I was not a political scientist...
Monday, October 5, 2009
My Monkey Baby
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Ethics or systems?
In the three decades between 1950 and 1980, personal consumption was remarkably stable, amounting to about 62 percent of G.D.P. In the next three decades, it shot upward, reaching 70 percent of G.D.P. in 2008.
During this period, debt exploded. In 1960, Americans’ personal debt amounted to about 55 percent of national income. By 2007, Americans’ personal debt had surged to 133 percent of national income.
These numbers are the outward sign of a values shift. If there is to be a correction, it will require a moral and cultural movement.
The puzzle of liberal Jews
1. The economy. Economic growth (which Podhoretz associates with conservative, business-friendly economic policies) is good in itself and also leads to a culture of affluence in which economically-successful minorities such as Jews are respected rather than resented.
2. Social issues. Socially conservative attitudes are more consistent with the Old Testament values of Judaism.
3. Israel. In recent decades, Podhoretz argues, the Republican Party and its allies in the conservative Christian evangelical movement have been more supportive of Israel than have the Democratic Party and its allies on the left.