Book of the Month

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"What Can We Do to Stop Massacres?"

UPDATE: This April 2010 report by the US DOJ states, "Moreover, nearly half of all public schools have assigned police officers."  Obviously, this statement does not make clear whether or how they are armed. [Read more]

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Black Rifle Blues

Everyone is sick right now.  There's only one thing it seems we can all agree on, which is that we can abide the massacre of children neither in conscience nor gut.  It's an unfortunate truth that what transpired on Friday in Newtown was different in degree rather than in kind, but the degree seems to matter this time.

Even more unfortunate is that this heightened arousal doesn't really seem to be leading to many cogent answers to the question, "How do we prevent this from happening again?" [Read more]

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Don't Vote - It's Completely Irrational

One of the interesting things about voting is that there isn't a good reason for it, especially from the perspective of modeling human behavior that's common in fields like economics.  In order to illustrate why this is true, I've put today's Presidential election into a simple game theory framework:

 [Read more]

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What's the Big Idea This Election? Reality

Many voices, from the hallowed blogs of Dag to the exalted table around which Mighty Joe Scarborough and his colleagues convene, have decried the lack of substance in this election (though I'm pretty sure I hear that complaint every time anyone is running for office - "This should be about the issues!").  Mika Brzezinski has called it the Seinfeld election - a race about nothing - though I'll leave up to the reader whether this reflects more accurately the election or her observational skills. [Read more]

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David Brooks Is The Worst Parent In America, Or At Least That's What I'm Going To Assume

In yesterday's David Brooks column, he offered a tepid endorsement of Mitt "Thurston Howell" Romney for President.  Brooks games out what the next two years will probably look like under Romney or Obama.  There's really nothing insightful or interesting there, so here's his conclusion: [Read more]

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I'm Here Today To Save The Romney Campaign From Itself

Against my better judgment and my general belief that the cake of this unrelenting election cycle has long been baked, I'm going to give Willard Mitt "I'd Shut Down FEMA" Romney a bit of advice, 100% gratis.  Mitt Romney should spend the next week using his leadership, connections, management skills and even his own personal fortune to demonstrate exactly why he should be President by organizing a private relief effort for victims of Hurricane Sandy. [Read more]

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Mourdock's Crime is Theism

Republicans can't seem to keep from diving into the nexus between rape and abortion during this "jobs, jobs, jobs" election.  Aside from the obvious - that this is probably a bad political play for a party that has a big gap with women voters nationally - it's been quite common during this cycle.  The latest such comment from a running GOPer comes from Richard Mourdock, the Tea Partier who primaried Indiana's Dick Lugar.  Mourdock recently made comments that have people comparing him with Missouri's Todd Akin. [Read more]

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Embrace the War on Women for the Win

About a year ago, I wrote about a model of US Presidential elections by UCLA's Lynn Vavreck.  Vavreck's model, like almost every poli-sci model of this type with any predictive power, is mostly based on what's happening in the economy.  But Vavreck claims her model is still more accurate by taking a careful accounting of the campaign messages.

Here's how I described Vavreck's model last year: [Read more]

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Debate The Controversy!

As we all know, there are two - and only two - sides to every story.  It's an article of faith in contemporary American political life.  He said one thing, she said another.  We must, of course, exhibit both sides in order to get a fair and balanced view of any issue.  After all, the truth will invariably be found somewhere in the middle. [Read more]

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Wonk Like A Man

Paul Ryan is wonky.  You can tell this is so because he is frequently described this way by Very Important People.  Like in this ABC news video.  Or this Daily Beast column.  Or in this NYT column.  Wonkiness is supposedly one of Paul Ryan's great strengths.  He is something like the GOP "budget guru" in the House of Representatives. [Read more]

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Fun Times in the Magic Kingdom

My dear Daggers, I know it's summer and there's a lot of fun stuff going on.  Why, there's the Olympics and Mitt Romney making an ass of himself overseas and bigots slingin' chicken and what not, but I thought it might be pertinent to highlight how some of the citizens of Anaheim have been enjoying their summer:


  [Read more]

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SOPA, SoCal, So What?

I stumbled across a site called SOPAOpera that's keeping track of who is and isn't supporting the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and the PROTECT-IP Act, SOPA's counterpart in the Senate.  The site also tracks how much money congresscritters have received from the entertainment and tech industries respectively.  SOPAOpera lists the data source as OpenSecrets, which indexes FEC data. [Read more]

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The Ground Beneath Our Feet

Note to the reader: I had originally planned to divide what follows as a series of posts in order to better present the ideas herein.  However, I've decided to simply cram it all into one post in the interest of getting the ideas out there and hopefully sparking a discussion.  I know that this isn't in the interest of good writing, but I think the prospect of getting these ideas out, here and now, is a more pressing matter. [Read more]

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Crass Warfare

One interesting thing about the current American political climate is that you only ever seem to hear the phrase "class war" coming out of the mouths of those on the political right.  Predictably, talk of raising taxes on millionaires, which I regard as a political slam dunk that probably should have been a center-piece of Democratic politicking for some time now, has also raised cries of class warfare from the right of the political spectrum.

President Obama addressed that claim today, but he did so by attempting to frame the debate as one of hard choices.  It's not class war, said he, it's simply math.  You can't keep the social programs Americans love and simultaneously reduce debt and deficits without new revenues. [Read more]

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It's the Economy AND the Message, Stupid

Our own Genghis recently wrote a post that posed the rhetorical question, "Why should you vote for Obama?"  The purpose of his post seemed to be to spark thought and discussion about what Obama's potential campaign paths might be in the face of expectedly dreary economic conditions during the 2012 cycle, which reminded of a new model of presidential elections by UCLA's Lynn Vavreck. [Read more]

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RIP Maxine Udall, Girl Economist

Via Mark Thoma, I have learned that Maxine Udall, Girl Economist, (born Alison Snow Jones) has passed away.

She was one of my favorite people in the econ blogosphere because she combined very sharp economic accumen with deep thinking about the moral implications of economic policy.  Really, the best kind of economist.

She was a contributor to TPM Cafe and was linked to by Paul Krugman on a number of occasions.

I am sure she was many more things, but this was how I knew her.

She will be missed.

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The Inimitable Sanity of David Frum

I think that it's fair to say we would all be in better shape if the current manifestion of conservatism in America looked less like Sarah Palin and more like David Frum.  I really disliked his views of 9/11 and the Iraq War.  He's also credited with coining the phrase "axis of evil."  And he was not a crossover conservative in 2008, voting for McCain despite his opinion that Sarah Palin was unqualified.

But since then, he sounds increasingly sane to me.  He was so vocal in his criticisms of GOP obstruction on healthcare reform that it led to a parting of the ways with the AEI.  And on today's edition of Marketplace, he had this to say: [Read more]

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Apocalypse When?

Punditry notwithstanding, this remains true: The sky is not falling.  Aside from some specific details vis a vis Tea Partiers and ongoing demographic changes, there is pretty much nothing really surprising about what happened last night from an historical perspective.

First, "It's the economy, stupid!"  The Democrats could not reasonably have been expected to hold the Whitehouse, House and Senate during relatively high levels of sustained unemployment.  Not only that, but the things that Democrats did do to help the average American during a down economy, like the ARRA and lowering taxes, were not on the radar for many people. [Read more]

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