Cognitive complexity and ideology

Chait brings the political science today in discussing the differences between liberals and conservatives.  Though I’ve never followed it particularly closely, I’ve always enjoyed the cognitive(/integrative) complexity literature as a way for understanding political thinking.  Here’s Chait:

Liberalism is forever in search of a philosophy that can fit on a bumper sticker. It’s always failing, because a philosophy of leaving the free market to work except in cases of market failure, and then attempting to determine which intervention best passes the cost-benefit test is never going to be simple…

Tetlock’s quote shows that the problem is endemic to center-left politicians in the contemporary American political spectrum, not necessarily Obama as a personality. Liberalism is a more complex ideology. That certainly dovetails with my sense. There’s a psychological equivalence between the certainty of left and right, but the midpoint of the mirror image does not happen to run right between the split between two parties. American politics today is a kind of one-and-a-half ideology system, with a Republican Party acting as the arm of a coherent conservative movement staunchly opposed to government, and a Democratic Party acting as a kind of catch-all for everybody who doesn’t accept the conservative agenda. It’s no coincidence that one party keeps producing leaders who think in simple ways, while the other keeps producing leaders who think in complicated ways.

Actually, there’s also a big excerpt from Dana Milbank I skipped, who once again shows he can actually be a really good journalist when he’s serious.

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Republicans still working to save me from Sharia

Looks like the efforts by Republicans in the NC House to take the all-important steps of protecting me and other North Carolinians from Sharia law are proceeding.   Really nice story on the matter in the N&O.  Rather than just giving a bunch of he said, she said quotes from interested political parties, the reporter did some actual research on how this law would be preposterously stupid:

Mark Weisburd, a professor at the UNC School of Law who teaches international law, agreed that the law as drafted would offer little additional legal protections to U.S. citizens while potentially causing big headaches for businesses.

“Say a North Carolina firm wanted to do business with a British firm and for whatever reason they agreed that any litigation should occur in the United Kingdom,” Weisburd explained. “The North Carolina firm could later seek to void the contract by saying they wouldn’t get a jury trial in a civil case in the U.K. That would make the British firm, if they had any sense, reluctant to contract with the North Carolina firm in the first place.”…

There are also routinely instances in family court where state judges weigh foreign laws when making decisions, such as when a marriage, divorce or adoption might have occurred in a foreign country. Religious codes also sometimes find their way into the courtroom, such as domestic cases involving marriage and divorce with Orthodox Jews, Weisburd said.

“I can see all sorts of ways this might have unexpected consequences,” he said…

Muslims make up less than 1 percent of North Carolina’s population, according to a recent government survey.

UNC law professor Gene Nichol succinctly sums this up:

Gene Nichol, a UNC professor who teaches constitutional law, called the bill “an embarrassment.” “It’s remarkable to me that any sentient being could think that the imposition of Shariah law is the largest issue facing the people of North Carolina.”

This is simply not what the citizens of NC voted for when they put Republicans in charge of the legislature.  If Republicans keep this up, it will be a very short-lived majority.

Something you didn’t know about me

I love Cave Art.

I cannot wait to see this movie:

(Here’s a very positive review in Slate.  I actually learned of the film via Fresh Air).

And, as long as I’m mentioning Werner Herzog films, Grizzly Man is one of my favorite documentaries ever.

It is not easy to change minds

From SurveyUSA:

Of those who have seen the newly public birth certificate:

57% say they knew all along that the President was born in the USA.

14% say they had doubts, but now are satisfied that the President was born in the USA.
18% say they still have doubts about where the President was born (including 40% of Tea Party, 33% of Republicans, 27% of Conservatives.)
10% say they are sure the document released 04/27/11 is a forgery (including 17% of Tea Party , 18% of Republicans, 16% of Conservatives).

Not at all surprised that only 14% admit to having their minds changed.  As for why this story has so much play, half the damn Republican party continues to embarrass themselves on this issue.  And if you think this would still be an issue of Obama was white, you are deluding yourself.

National anthems

So, I was listening to a BBC World Service story (cannot find the link at their website) on how new countries come up with national anthems.  They started talking about what makes a great anthem, and I started humming the Soviet/Russian anthem to myself.  A moment later, the expert in the segment suggested that this anthem was the finest example and had inspired him to become an expert on the subject.  It is damn good:

I’m also a sucker for O Canada.  Star Spangled Banner– eh, it’s okay.

The pointlessness of Public Opinion polls, part MDCVII

It wouldn’t be so bad to have so many pointless public opinion polls if the mainstream media didn’t take them so seriously.  Take the latest example from Gallup:

Preferred Long-Term Deficit Reduction Plan, by Age, April 2011

Seriously?  86% of respondents game an opinion.  I’d say at least 80% of respondents were essentially lying.  Seriously, how many Americans do you think could actually tell you anything meaningful about the Ryan budget plan.  Much less Obama’s plan.   A better question: “do you generally support Democrats or Republicans on economic issues?”  Which might as well be: “are you a Democrat or a Republican?”  Of course, that doesn’t actually get you a news story.

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