Pawlenty’s tax plan in one simple chart

I really ought to wait to see if Pawlenty can actually prove himself a genuine threat before wasting too much blog space on him, but, I nonetheless think its telling in that he essentially represents the reducio ad absurdum of Tea Party economics.  Here’s the chart:

The truth about homophobes

Just got to love it when a bit of folk wisdom gets confirmed.  Via Chait:

One study asked heterosexal men how comfortable and anxious they are around gay men. Based on these scores, they then divided these men into two groups: men that are homophobic, and men who are not. These men were then shown three, four-minute videos. One video depicted straight sex, one depicted lesbian sex and one depicted gay male sex. While this was happening, a device was attached to each participant’s penis. This device has been found to be triggered by sexual arousal, but not other types of arousal (such as nervousness, or fear – arousal often has a very different meaning in psychology than in popular usage).

When viewing lesbian sex and straight sex, both the homophobic and the non-homophobic men showed increased penis circumference. For gay male sex, however, only the homophobic men showed heightened penis arousal.

Heterosexual men with the most anti-gay attitudes, when asked, reported not being sexually aroused by gay male sex videos. But, their penises reported otherwise.

Homophobic men were the most sexually aroused by gay male sex acts.

I’m almost wanting to hear somebody make a homophobic remark now.

Most offensive political ad ever?

I usually try and stick to one video a day, but since this jaw-dropping political ad seems to be starting to blow-up in the blogosphere, it’s time to get it out there.  You truly have to watch it to believe it.  Via Dave Weigel:

Serious question: Does anybody produce ads that support Democrats that are ever even half this offensive?

Video of the day

This is just cool:

Details here.

Electoral law hubris

Another day, another story about Republicans in the NC legislature that is just jaw dropping in the A) naked partisanship and B) objectively stupid impact on public policy.

Just days from the end of session, House Republican leaders have unveiled a massive rewrite of the state’s election laws.

Senate Bill 47, introduced with little notice in House Elections this afternoon, would repeal same-day registration in North Carolina, ban straight-ticket voting, shorten the early-voting period by a week, and ban early voting on Sundays (popular with churches for “Souls to the Polls” voting drives).

It would also repeal publicly-financed elections for the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Insurance Commissioner and Treasurer.

Suffice it to say that if you value A) good government; and B) more participation of citizens, these are all horrible ideas.  Of course, if your goal is anything that you think will disproporitionately disenfranchise Democratic voters and increase big money influence in politics, you’re onto something.  I’ll leave it to my good government muse, Damon Circosta, to hit back:

After some debate, the committee amended the bill to remove the section that would repeal same-day voter registration. They made a couple other minor changes, too.

But Damon Circosta with the non-partisan Center for Voter Education says it’s still a bad bill all the way around.

“S47 would make it easier for big money to flow into politics,” Circosta said. “It includes all sorts of ways to make it harder for people to vote, while at the same time making it easier for moneyed interests to play the game.”

The measure lost its first committee vote Tuesday afternoon because some Republican committee members were not present. But Lewis says he’ll use a parliamentary maneuver to bring it back tonight or tomorrow when more Republicans are in the room.

“It’s ironic that they’re going to get to vote twice to restrict citizens’ ability to vote once,” Circosta responded.


Preschool and long term vs. short term benefits

Some really interest research lately on the life-long impact of high-quality pre-school for at-risk youth.  Kevin Drum has a really nice summary and brings the cool graphs:

A team of researchers has reported in Science on a long-term study of intensive preschool intervention in Chicago, and the results are pretty impressive. The study group is a cohort of mostly African-American children born in 1979-80, and the followup study was done when they were 28 years old. Here’s the headline set of charts:

Almost makes you wonder if, given limited resources, programs like this should be targeted towards kids with the least educated mothers.  Anyway, programs like this are amazingly cost-effective.  Planet Money did a great podcast on the topic last week and extensively interviewed economist James Heckman who estimates that for every dollar spent on pre-school programs like this, you get almost $10 in benefit.  First, there’s less money spent on prisons, the ancillary costs of crime, other public benefits, etc., but then there’s also the fact that these kids are more likely to grow up to have good jobs, pay taxes and be a net benefit, rather than drain to the treasury.  As public policy goes, it’s hard to imagine many programs with much more bang for the buck.  It’s painfully obvious we should invest more in programs like this.

So, why don’t we do more?  Short version: all the costs are up-front and the benefits are backloaded.  The politicians in Chicago who made this pre-school program happen back in 1980 are not the ones to benefit from the improved Chicago budget 20-30 years later.  Of course, are politics always punish short-term cost and under-reward long-term benefit– that’s why it’s sadly so hard to do a lot of obviously worthwhile things.

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