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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mistaking the Musical Hamilton for the Real One

Many posts have discussed bogus or misattributed quotations.

At The Gothamist, David Colon reports on a radio debate between Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and primary challenger Oliver Rosenberg:
How quickly did things turn weird? After Nadler gives a summation of the size of his district and what he considers his accomplishments in his latest term, Rosenberg thanks Lehrer for giving New Yorkers a chance to hear about "the issues" and follows that with a Sarah Palin-esque steam-of-consciousness:...
What's next to go, Fairway? Barney Greengrass? The politicians don't care. They care about the money they get from their friends in the banks. They don't care about our city. I do. That's why I'm running. The subways are third world. The rents are too damn high. This is the year millions of people are standing up. All the problems have gotten worse in Congress. We don't take this, we're New Yorkers. We're not afraid to speak up. We need new answers, a new plan, new energy. As Alexander Hamilton says, 'This is not a moment this is the movement. Foes oppose us we take an honest stand. We roll like Moses claiming our promised land.' Rise up, rise up and vote."
Yes, beyond fact that Rosenberg doesn't seem to understand what the federal government can do locally, that's an actual candidate for federal office ascribing a lyric from the character Alexander Hamilton to the actual Alexander Hamilton.
On Tuesday, Rosenberg lost.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Donald Trump and Executive Orders

Michael C. Bender writes at Bloomberg:
Donald Trump may be one of Barack Obama's toughest critics, but when it comes to the president's use of executive orders to circumvent Congress, the Republican sees him as a role model.

Trump has already promised to be as aggressive as Obama on executive orders on a wide range of issues. Early in his campaign, for instance, he vowed to use the power of the pen to give all cop killers the death penalty. More recently, in his response to the shooting death of 49 people inside an Orlando gay club this month, he pledged to use executive power to implement one of his signature proposals: A temporary ban on Muslim immigration (even though the shooter was born in New York).
In addition to the Muslim ban, here are other policies Trump has proposed that he could accomplish without help from Congress:

• Tighten regulations on money-transfer companies: The cornerstone of Trump's candidacy has been a promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. While Congress approves spending for construction projects, Trump says he can force Mexico to pay for it by taking control of an estimated $26 billion that is wired to Mexico from the U.S. every year.
Trump has said he would halt these remittances “on day one” by rewriting banking rules to expand the federal regulations on companies like Western Union and PayPal. He'd then add a new rule to block undocumented immigrants from wiring money outside the borders.
Trump’s administration would have the authority to write these rules, said Peter Wallison, former White House counsel in the Reagan administration. But Wallison and others—including Republicans and Democrats—questioned the practicality of implementing such a plan. “The notion that we’re going to track every Western Union bit of money that’s being sent to Mexico, you know, good luck with that,” Obama said after Trump unveiled his proposal in April.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Liberals, Conservative, Psychoticism ... and a Retraction

Retraction Watch reports:
Researchers have fixed a number of papers after mistakenly reporting that people who hold conservative political beliefs are more likely to exhibit traits associated with psychoticism, such as authoritarianism and tough-mindedness.
As one of the notices specifies, now it appears that liberal political beliefs are linked with psychoticism. That paper also swapped ideologies when reporting on people higher in neuroticism and social desirability (falsely claiming that you have socially desirable qualities); the original paper said those traits are linked with liberal beliefs, but they are more common among people with conservative values.
We’re not clear how much the corrections should inform our thinking about politics and personality traits, however, because it’s not clear from the paper how strongly those two are linked. The authors claim that the strength of the links are not important, as they do not affect the main conclusions of the papers — although some personality traits appear to correlate with political beliefs, one doesn’t cause the other, nor vice versa.
In total, three papers have been corrected by authors, and a correction has been submitted on one more.
We’ll start with an erratum that explains the backstory of the error in detail. It appears on “Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies,” published by the American Journal of Political Science:
The interpretation of the coding of the political attitude items in the descriptive and preliminary analyses portion of the manuscript was exactly reversed. Thus, where we indicated that higher scores in Table 1 (page 40) reflect a more conservative response, they actually reflect a more liberal response. Specifically, in the original manuscript, the descriptive analyses report that those higher in Eysenck’s psychoticism are more conservative, but they are actually more liberal; and where the original manuscript reports those higher in neuroticism and social desirability are more liberal, they are, in fact, more conservative.
The Weekly Standard observes:
Why did it take so long for such an extraordinary screw-up to be discovered? Why is it that hundreds of other social scientists cited the original research without questioning it?

Could it be that the original results fit so neatly with the prejudices of the academic left that they couldn't imagine they were wrong? One thing is for sure: Had Verhulst, Eaves, and Hatemi found, from the get-go, that liberalism was associated with undesirable traits, their research wouldn't just have been challenged, it would have been put through the wringer. You call that methodology? Let's see your data! Let's recrunch those numbers!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Democrats as the Wealthy Party

At Vox, Lee Drutman writes:
In 2012, something unusual happened. The wealthiest 4 percent of voting-age Americans, by a narrow plurality, supported a Democrat for president.
This hadn't happened since 1964. Before that, it hadn't happened since possibly the 1880s (scientific survey data for back then is, sadly, nonexistent).
There are a few things we know have become very strong predictors of voting Democratic. One is that nonwhite people tend to support Democrats at higher rates than white people do. Another is that the highly educated have become much more liberal over time, making educational attainment a better predictor of voting for a Democrat.
And over time, the top 4 percent has become much more diverse and much more highly educated.
Let's look at the diversity first, because the story here is pretty straightforward. In 1952, the top 4 percent of wealthiest Americans were entirely white. By 2012, 75 percent of the top 4 percent self-identified as white. So the wealthiest Americans have become more diverse over time.
The top 4 percent have also become much more highly educated over time, as have Americans overall. Again, given that there is a strong relationship between educational attainment and liberal values, especially in recent years, it might not be surprising that wealthy elites have become more Democratic-leaning as they've become more highly educated.
As Bonica and Rosenthal write, "Changes in partisanship could well reflect changes from a manufacturing and extraction economy to a technology and information economy — Silicon Valley and Hollywood are generous to Democrats." Even before Trump locked up the GOP nomination, these trends were continuing in the 2016 election.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Newspapers: Shrinkage

From The State of the News Media 2016:
For newspapers, 2015 might as well have been a recession year. Weekday circulation fell 7% and Sunday circulation fell 4%, both showing their greatest declines since 2010. At the same time, advertising revenue experienced its greatest drop since 2009, falling nearly 8% from 2014 to 2015. Fully one-fourth of advertising revenue now comes from digital advertising, but not because of growth in that area: Digital advertising revenue fell 2% in 2015. It’s just that non-digital advertising revenue fell more, dropping 10% in 2015. In 2014, the latest year for which data were available, newsroom employment also declined 10%, more than in any other year since 2009. The newspaper workforce has shrunk by about 20,000 positions, or 39%, in the last 20 years. And three newspaper companies – E.W. Scripps, Journal Communications, and Gannett – are now one, reflecting a trend toward consolidation in the industry. Nevertheless, most of the newspaper websites studied here experienced growth in traffic, and mobile traffic in particular. Overall, however, the industry continues to shrink, with Editor & Publisher’s DataBook listing 126 fewer daily papers in 2014 than in 2004.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

No to OTA

Lawmakervoted on Friday against an amendment that would have revived the Office of Technology Assessment, a tech advisory body created by an Act of Congress in 1972 that provided lawmakers with detailed and unbiased research on science and tech issues to help inform their decisions until it was killed in 1995 by lawmakers. 
Rep. Mark Takano (D—California) introduced an amendment last Monday to the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act 2017 that would have allocated $2.5 million to revive the OTA. The amendment was rejected, however, on Friday by a vote of 223 to 179.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Rich Pay a Lot of Tax

Many people think that the rich do not pay much tax, but the data say otherwise.

Scott Greenberg, John Olson write at The Tax Foundation:
Last week, the Congressional Budget Office released an annual publication, titled “The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, 2013.” This excellent report details the amount that different households pay in federal taxes, as well as the income and government transfers.
One of the main takeaways from this year’s report is that the richest Americans pay a lotin taxes. In 2013, the top 1 percent of households paid an average of 34.0 percent of their income in federal taxes. To compare, the middle 20 percent of households paid only 12.8 percent of their income in taxes.
Moreover, taxes on the rich are much higher than they’ve been in recent years. Between 2008 and 2012, the top 1 percent of households paid an average tax rate of 28.8 percent. However, in 2013, this figure spiked to 34.0 percent, as a result of tax increases in the“fiscal cliff” deal and the Affordable Care Act.