Liberal blogosphere chart of the day

Well, if Ezra Klein says this is what you need to know before the Republican convention, and Kevin Drum agrees, and John F. links to it on FB, I would be remiss in not having it myself:


Plus Ezra Klein reminded me of this today. Click the link if you want more detail, but I think the chart pretty much speaks for itself. Nearly every single thing driving the current increase in public debt — tax cuts, wars, the recession, and measures to fight the recession — was a result of Bush-era policies that were enthusiastically supported by nearly every single Republican currently hanging out in Tampa. They only got religion after a Democrat won the White House and had to clean up the mess they left behind.

Their success at convincing half the country that Barack Obama is responsible for our soaring debt is surely one of the greatest political propaganda victories of all time.

Yeah, but they’ve got lots of them.  Among others, the stimulus made things worse, and now we’ve got the $700 billion Obama is stealing from Medicare.


I just found the way to keep David off pot

I don’t think David is necessarily inclined to become a teen drug user.  In fact, I think his highly risk averse personality (somewhat like mine) makes it fairly unlikely.  That said, I’ve heard many an anecdote about marijuana being “self-medicating” for kids with ADHD.  One thing about, David, though, boy does he put faith in medical studies.  Ever since I told him that for kids who are chronically sleep-deprived they underperform by an average of two grade levels (yes, it’s true), he has been absolutely zealous about getting enough sleep.  I never have to tell him he’s staying up too late.  So, I’m looking forward to telling him the results of this latest study on marijuana and adolescents:

As the Associated Press explains, participants were tested for IQ twice in the study: once at age 13, and once at age 38. Based on a series of interviews conducted with the participants over time, researchers found that those who used marijuana regularly before the age of 18 showed a drop in IQ score. The same drop in IQ wasn’t found for those who began to smoke up regularly after 18.

Essentially, the more participants smoked before age 18, the heavier the IQ loss recorded by the researchers. The study made a demarcation between those who lit up persistently and those who smoked only occasionally. Among participants who used the substance more than 4 times a week under the age of 18, and carried on with the habit for years, the average drop was eight IQ points. The study accounted for abuse of other substances and education disparity. A reduction in use didn’t restore the IQ point loss.

Something tells me my junior scientist is very much going to internalize this and be even more inclined to stay away from marijuana.  As for Evan– my little rebel– now that’s where I’ve got to worry.

Photo of the day

Alan Taylor brings a great set of Neil Armstrong photos in honor of his recent passing:

Neil Armstrong, photographer, appears reflected in the visor of Buzz Aldrin, near the leg of the Lunar Module during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA), on July 20, 1969. (NASA)

And, yet, not a single photo of his commencement address to the Virginia Tech class of 1986 (my sister’s graduation).

Race and the 2012 election

Romney is not running a racist campaign.  Let’s just be clear on that for starters.  He is, however, running a campaign that seeks to take advantage of the racial resentment of many white people.  The evidence on that is quite clear.  There’s a reason that Romney is talking about welfare all the time, and it’s not because anybody is actually debating what to do about the policy right now.  Ezra:

Beyond being flatly false, Romney’s ads are puzzlingly anachronistic. Welfare is a shrunken program. Where it helped 68 of every 100 families in poverty in 1996, it only helped 27 of every 100 families in poverty in 2010. Meanwhile, few think the problem in this country is that the poor don’t want to work. Rather, it’s that millions of Americans — the poor and undereducated most of all — can’t find work no matter how hard they try. It’s as if a political strategy from 1992 slipped through a wormhole and began playing out in 2012.

In modern politics, however, when a campaign begins doubling and tripling down on an unusual line of attack, it’s because it has reams of data showing the attack is working. What’s worrying is why this ad might be working.

Political scientist Michael Tesler partnered with the YouGov online polling service to test the question on 1,000 respondents. All the participants answered a standard set of questions that researchers use to identify levels of racial resentment. Half were then shown Romney’s ad. The others weren’t. Then both groups were asked whether Obama and Romney’s policies would help or hurt the poor, the middle class, the wealthy, African Americans and white Americans.

“Among those who saw it,” reports Tesler, “racial resentment affected whether people thought Romney will help the poor, the middle class and African Americans. Moreover, seeing the ad did not activate other attitudes, such as party or ideological self-identification. It only primed racial resentment.”

This is where things get tricky. Romney’s welfare ads are not racist. But the evidence suggests that they work particularly well if the viewer is racist, or at least racially resentful. [emphasis mine] And these are the ads that are working so unexpectedly well that welfare is now the spine of Romney’s 2012 on-air message in the battleground states.

We may have a black president, and we may be moving beyond blatant racism, but racial resentment remains a powerful thing among many whites.  If you haven’t read Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ fabulous essay on race and the Obama presidency, you owe it to yourself.


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