Want to be more politically conservative? Get drunk

Via Chris Mooney, this is quite interesting:

Whoa boy. I’ve been waiting for this study to come out (in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin). I discuss it in detail in my book, because I interviewed the lead author during my research.

It seems to me that this is the sort of paper that is virtually guaranteed to be misunderstood. So I’m going to do a longer piece, probably at Huffington Post, explaining what it *actually* means. For now, the abstract:

  1. Abstract
The authors test the hypothesis that low-effort thought promotes political conservatism. In Study 1, alcohol intoxication was measured among bar patrons; as blood alcohol level increased, so did political conservatism (controlling for sex, education, and political identification). In Study 2, participants under cognitive load reported more conservative attitudes than their no-load counterparts. In Study 3, time pressure increased participants’ endorsement of conservative terms. In Study 4, participants considering political terms in a cursory manner endorsed conservative terms more than those asked to cogitate; an indicator of effortful thought (recognition memory) partially mediated the relationship between processing effort and conservatism. Together these data suggest that political conservatism may be a process consequence of low-effort thought; when effortful, deliberate thought is disengaged, endorsement of conservative ideology increases.  [emphasis mine]
Mooney is confident these results will be misunderstood.  He’s probably right, but seems pretty straightforward to me.  He also promises a longer analysis which I’ll link to when he does so.

Milbank on Ryan budget

Also really liked Milbank’s take on the Paul Ryan budget:

 Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee, is on record as saying, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” And Ryan has just written a budget that supports Romney’s boast.

Ryan would cut $770 billion over 10 years from Medicaid and other health programs for the poor, compared with President Obama’s budget. He takes an additional $205 billion from Medicare, $1.6 trillion from the Obama health-care legislation and $1.9 trillion from a category simply labeled “other mandatory.” Pressed to explain this magic asterisk, Ryan allowed that the bulk of those “other mandatory” cuts come from food stamps, welfare, federal employee pensions and support for farmers.

Taken together, Ryan would cut spending on such programs by $5.3 trillion, much of which currently goes to the have-nots. He would then give that money to America’s haves: some $4.3 trillion in tax cuts, compared with current policies, according toCitizens for Tax Justice.

Ryan’s justification was straight out of Dickens. He wants to improve the moral fiber of the poor…

Ryan warned that a generous safety net “lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency, which drains them of their very will and incentive to make the most of their lives. It’s demeaning.”

How very kind: To protect poor Americans from being demeaned, Ryan is cutting their anti-poverty programs and using the proceeds to give the wealthiest Americans a six-figure tax cut…

Such a coupling — tax cuts that disproportionately help the rich and spending cuts that overwhelmingly hurt the poor — makes Ryan’s budget a political loser. His patronizing justification — that he is cutting support for the poor and the old in order to help them — adds insult. “If we have a debt crisis, then the people who get hurt the first and the worst are the poor and the elderly,” he reasoned.

And Ryan thinks the eventual Republican presidential nominee will campaign on this plan? “I’ve spoken to all these guys,” Ryan assured reporters, “and they believe that we are heading in the right direction.”

This explains a lot about the Republicans’ difficulty.




Mitt is a lame dad who needs a tougher stomach

As someone, who as the parent of four kids, has dealt with a lot of human feces in my day (including this one), I was particularly intrigued by this snippet from Tim Noah today (otherwise talking about low-flow toilets):

This problem [low flow toilets] doesn’t get discussed much, even by conservatives, because the details are disgusting. Romney is resistant to discussing it because (according to the recent Romney biography by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman) he has such a severe gag reflex to the variety of human waste most resistant to flushing that he was unable (or at least unwilling) to change his (five!) children’s diapers unless it could be ascertained that the substance designated for removal was only pee.

I realize Mitt is from a different generation, but still: lame.

Photo of the day

From a Big Picture set celebrating World Water Day (who knew?) I got a real kick out of this one:

Italy’s Maurizio Felugo (right) tries to score a goal as Spain’s Marc Minguell defends during a match for the men’s water polo competition at the FINA Swimming World Championships in Shanghai on July 26, 2011. (Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press)

The beginning of the end for Santorum?

Mitt Romney finally went just kicked Santorum’s butt in a state might have been competetive.  I don’t see Santorum giving up and there’s plenty of reason to believe this may still be a long hard slog or that there may be yet unexpected results.  Nonetheless, I would not be at all surprised, if when looking back when this whole thing is over, if Illinois is seen as a turning point.  When I scanned through the exit polls, here’s the one thing that caught me this time: Romney won a strong plurality among Tea party supporters.

Also liked John Dickerson’s take:

The Republican race will continue, but the conversation may change. Can Romney turn the victory into the last piece of data necessary to get the party to finally rally around him as the eventual nominee? Romney will argue that he is “bringing the party together,” a claim that rests on whether enough people believe that he is acceptable to conservatives. He got some evidence in Illinois to help him make his case. Romney won his usual constituencies—moderates, the wealthy, and the well-educated. But he also improved his performance among the 64 percent who identify themselves as “conservatives.” Romney won 47 percent of that group to Santorum’s 39 percent. He also won 47 percent of the vote from those who support the Tea Party to Santorum’s 36 percent.

Romney improved his standing in other areas, too. When voters were asked who best understands the concerns of regular Americans, he won that group with 36 percent. He dominated in the areas he does best in, scoring high among voters who are most concerned about beating Barack Obama and who say the economy is their primary concern…

If Romney was able to expand his pool of voters in Illinois, Santorum was not. He won among those who consider themselves “very conservative” and those who “strongly support” the Tea Party. He owns the far-right wing of the party but showed no ability to grow out from that base.

If this year’s race has taught me anything, it is to be very  tentative in predictions.  That said, hard to see how last night was anything but a very good night for Romney that bodes well for his future.

The Ryan Budget

Paul Ryan has put forward a new Republican budget.  What’s most disturbing is how many in the journalist/pundit class are so convinced of Ryan’s reasonableness and seriousness.  Kevin Drum knows better.  Two great posts cut to the core of how laughably unserious and unrealistic Ryan’s budget is.  First:

So if we cut spending to 19%, it means that the entire budget outside of Social Security, Medicare, and Defense (which Ryan also doesn’t want to cut much) has to be cut by half or more. Ryan will do his best to cover this up, but there’s no way around the numbers. The country is aging. We’re going to spend more on the elderly. If we cut spending levels at the same time, everything non-elderly gets whacked hard. That’s the basic story. It’s not a path to prosperity, it’s a path to penury.

And a nice follow-up post with more details:

Well, it turns out that the Congressional Budget Office has put a concrete number to “whacked hard” here. Medicaid and CHIP (children’s healthcare) would decline from 2% of GDP today to 1% of GDP in 2050, and everything else — that is, everything other than Social Security and Medicare — would decline from 12.5% of GDP today to about 4% of GDP in 2050.

This is, to put it mildly, nuts. Defense spending alone amounts to 4% of GDP, and it’s vanishingly unlikely that this will ever fall much below 2-3% of GDP. This means that all domestic spending will decline from about 8% of GDP to 1-2% of GDP by 2050. That’s prisons, border control, education, the FBI, courts, embassies, the IRS, FEMA, housing, student loans, roads, unemployment insurance, etc. etc. It’s everything. Whacked by about 80% or so.

This is not a serious plan. I don’t care how serious Paul Ryan sounds, or how many numbers he spouts, or how many charts he buries us under. It’s not serious.

Not that the norms of journalism don’t keep most reports from pretending otherwise.

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