Policy

Imagine you're a columnist. You decide to write something about how the National Park Service is allowing a creationist book to be sold in their Grand Canyon stores, over the protests of its own geologists, who point out that NPS has a mandate to promote sound science. Hawking a book that claims that the Grand Canyon was carved by Noah's Flood a few thousand years ago is the polar opposite of this mandate. So what do you write? Well, if you're Republican consultant Jay Bryant, and you're writing for the conservative web site Town Hall, you declare that this as a clear-cut case of Darwinist…
The Lavoisier group is an Australian astroturf operation. John Quiggin observed that:This body is devoted to the proposition that basic principles of physics, discovered by among others, the famous French scientist Antoine Lavoisier, cease to apply when they come into conflict with the interests of the Australian coal industry. Melissa Fyfe has an interesting profile in The Age on the Lavoisier group. Some extracts: At 401 Collins Street on Monday night, 50 men gathered in a room of plush green carpet, pottery and antique lights to launch a book about the science of…
As I noted yesterday, presumptive Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter has sparked a controversy that has been blown out of all proportion. The editors of the National Review appear to have lost their minds completely over what was, to any sane person, a very innocuous statement. It begins with this big lie: Senator Arlen Specter (R., Penn.), who by virtue of Senate seniority rules is in line to become the chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, fired a shot across the president's bow, warning Bush that he would block any judicial nominees that he deemed too conservative.…
Sandefur writes: Yes, I know Brayton claims not to be a Kerry supporter, but so did Andrew Sullivan. There is a real difference between the two. Sullivan was a Bush supporter who slowly swung over to being a Kerry supporter (rather reluctantly), and for many of the same reasons I've criticized the administration. He was a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq, but has been appalled by how incompetently it's been handled by the administration. I, on the other hand, was never a Bush supporter, and I've made clear several times that I am voting Libertarian this year, as I have in every election…
Ding, ding: Look, I don't know what happened to these explosives, and I'm pretty sure Ed Brayton doesn't either. But my point was not about what happened to them. My point was about whether it is fair to declare this as an example of alleged incompetence in the White House. Once again, without having the evidence at hand, with at least plausible alternative explanations for these missing weapons, Brayton leaps onto the Kerry explanation like a starving man on a steak--without pausing even to ask whether it is technically feasible for anyone to have kept track of this particular site. Well,…
Tim Blair continues to insist that the election was about Iraq. I'll look at his arguments in a moment, but first let's look at what everybody else says about this. Tom Allard and Mark Metherell in the Sydney Morning Herald:Iraq flared briefly after the Jakarta bombings---most notably in the leaders' debate---but was mostly left alone by the Opposition, even though Mr Howard refused to talk about the issue, betraying his fears the missing weapons of mass destruction and increased terrorist threat could hurt this chances. A "Labor Insider" in…
One thing that absolutely drives non-partisans insane about our political system is watching the way the parties distort what the other side says in order to make a false argument. This is something that the Bush campaign, in particular, are turning into an art form of stupidity these days. We've already seen two textbook examples of this tactic. In early August, Kerry said the following: I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American…
Once upon a time, I was an interdisciplinary social science undergrad. What does that mean? It means I spent 3 years studying political science, political philosophy, and history, then dropped out to become a stand up comic. Political scientists are a strange breed. In large part, they study voter behavior in all its aspects. What different types of voters are there? Obviously there is a range, from the highly committed partisan to the typical undecided voter. What motivates them, where they get the information that shapes their eventual choice of who to vote for, how coherent are their…
This was the first post ever on Thoughts from Kansas. On the third anniversary of the decision to limit stem cell research, Laura Bush endorsed the existing stem cell policy. Lots of bloggers, especially Chris Mooney, have been pushing this as a wedge issue that the Democrats can win on, and rightly so. Even the Bushes seem to think so. But there are just some fascinating philosophical issues in this that get glossed over too fast as this has been politicized. The debate, for those joining us recently, is to what extent stem cells obtained from human embryos ought to be accessible to…
On my recent trip to Denver to see my brother's graduation ceremony, my father and I talked a lot of politics, as we always do when we're together. My father is a lifelong Republican who has, to my knowledge, never voted for anyone but a Republican in any race above the local level. Nonetheless, he told me that he thinks the Bush administration is the single most corrupt administration in history (pretty incredible, given the last one!) and that he will be voting for anyone but Bush this fall. Probably the biggest reason why he thinks that is the Valerie Plame/Joseph Wilson affair. Joseph…
One of the things I find disturbing lately is how many Americans have lumped all Muslims together into one monolithic group labeled "terrorists". You hear a lot of tsk tsking over this from those of us who are inclined to try not to demonize an entire group based on the most extreme among them, but I think that masks an even more important point. Lumping all Muslims together as terrorists is not merely unfair to the vast majority of Muslims in the world, it also undermines what could be our most powerful tool in fighting terrorism in the Islamic world. The battle is not Islam vs The West. The…
Otis Dudley Duncan, University of California, Santa Barbara (from The Criminologist Vol 25, No 1 Jan/Feb 2000 pp 1-7) We who work hard to produce statistics for public consumption would do well to acquire a little historical perspective. Theodore Porter's wide-ranging Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life (1995) takes note of 19th-century developments illustrating the "creative power of statistics.... Every category has the potential to become a new thing." Crime did not originate in that century, but "it may be doubted whether there were crime rates"…