Video of the day

Jon Stewart on the shutdown.  Awesome– calls out not just the Republicans, but the pathetic “both sides” media narrative as well.

Delusional self confidence

Yesterday in class we discussed the fact that there are so many fewer female politicians in large part because women are much less likely to run for office.  Even when women and men are similarly situated, men are much more likely to run for office and to have the confidence that they should and they can win.  As I put it to my class, men seem to be more likely to have the somewhat delusional self confidence it may take to think they can/should run for office.  Inspired one of my finer students to write a nice blog post about it:

When I wake up in the morning, I feel like I’m ready for any problem that might come my way. And if we’re being honest, I’m delusional, unrealistic, and obsessive about success.

Why am I like this?

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that as a young boy, I was told that I could do anything that I wanted to do. That statement was made without reservation by my parents, and they sincerely wanted to see me succeed.

As a young man, I’ve realized that not everyone has had the opportunities that I’ve had. Let’s face the facts, I’ve been playing with a loaded deck since I was child. I’m a middle-class white male with great parents and older siblings. I’ve always loved school, and I was old for my grade. I’m relatively athletic, and I was fortunate enough to receive a full ride to a great university. Has my life been any easier because I was born a male?

Yes, without a doubt…

I am the end result of incredible generosity, love, and support.What do we, as men, expect of our female friends, sisters, and daughters? Sure, we might tell them that they can do anything they put their mind to, but are women encouraged to do things like run for public office?

The answer: not like men are.

Notes: Data are based on responses from 1,020 men and 1,097 women. Bars represent the percentage of men and women who
reported parental encouragement to run for office later in life, and that their parents would prefer them to pursue a non-political
career in the future. All gender differences are statistically significant at p < .05. Source (for graph and quote):American University

“Women received less parental support to pursue a career in politics — from both mothers and fathers — than did men.”

There’s quite good evidence that a political body is better with more women involved, especially when they reach a critical mass (around 35% or so is commonly estimated).   It’s also clear we’re not going to hit these levels until/unless women have this same level of encouragement as men from the very start.

And more shutdown

Charles Pierce just goes off.  Good stuff:

We have elected an ungovernable collection of snake-handlers, Bible-bangers, ignorami, bagmen and outright frauds, a collection so ungovernable that it insists the nation be ungovernable, too. We have elected people to govern us who do not believe in government.

We have elected a national legislature in which Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann have more power than does the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who has been made a piteous spectacle in the eyes of the country and doesn’t seem to mind that at all. We have elected a national legislature in which the true power resides in a cabal of vandals, a nihilistic brigade that believes that its opposition to a bill directing millions of new customers to the nation’s insurance companies is the equivalent of standing up the the Nazis in 1938, to the bravery of the passengers on Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, and to Mel Gibson’s account of the Scottish Wars of Independence in the 13th Century. We have elected a national legislature that looks into the mirror and sees itself already cast in marble.

We did this. We looked at our great legacy of self-government and we handed ourselves over to the reign of morons.

This is what they came to Washington to do — to break the government of the United States. It doesn’t matter any more whether they’re doing it out of pure crackpot ideology, or at the behest of the various sugar daddies that back their campaigns, or at the instigation of their party’s mouthbreathing base. It may be any one of those reasons. It may be all of them. The government of the United States, in the first three words of its founding charter, belongs to all of us, and these people have broken it deliberately. The true hell of it, though, is that you could see this coming down through the years, all the way from Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural Address in which government “was” the problem, through Bill Clinton’s ameliorative nonsense about the era of big government being “over,” through the attempts to make a charlatan like Newt Gingrich into a scholar and an ambitious hack like Paul Ryan into a budget genius, and through all the endless attempts to find “common ground” and a “Third Way.” Ultimately, as we all wrapped ourselves in good intentions, a prion disease was eating away at the country’s higher functions. One of the ways you can acquire a prion disease is to eat right out of its skull the brains of an infected monkey. We are now seeing the country reeling and jabbering from the effects of the prion disease, but it was during the time of Reagan that the country ate the monkey brains.

What is there to be done? The first and most important thing is to recognize how we came to this pass. Both sides did not do this. Both sides are not to blame. There is no compromise to be had here that will leave the current structure of the government intact. There can be no reward for this behavior…

I do not see profound political consequences for enough of them to change the character of a Congress gone delusional. The only real consequences will be felt by the millions of people affected by what this Congress has forced upon the nation, which was the whole point all along.

Among other things, the Library Of Congress is closed as a result of what the vandals have done. Padlock study and intellect. Wander aimlessly down the mall among the shuttered monuments to self-government. Find yourself a food truck that serves monkey brains. Eat your fking fill.


Photo of the day

One of the nice features of the new IOS 7 is an HDR feature for the Iphone camera.   One of the cool features of an hour before sunset at a lake is that the lighting is awesome.  I gotta say, I’m pretty happy with the combination of the two here (featuring my “bookend” children, David and Sarah):



The Republican hostage taking under the guise of “compromise” can’t help remind me of the Princess Bride:


Republicans repeatedly refer to these options as compromises, just like their past offers. “On Sunday,” reports the Post, “Republicans tended to argue that they were trying to compromise with Obama and the Democrats to avoid a shutdown while pursuing conservative principles.”

So I need to ask again: what exactly do they think is the compromise here? Obviously they’re trying to get something they want, but what exactly are Democrats getting in return? I don’t get it. If my neighbor threatens to steal my car, and then comes back and says he’ll settle for just stealing my TV set, what kind of compromise is that? What am I getting out of the deal?

And just as a reminder, keep in mind that all of this compromising is for a CR that lasts only six weeks. Six weeks! Then we get to play this game all over again with fresh newdemands compromises.

Now that’s an analogy, damn it.


Concessions, bargaining, and negotiation are very important to politics, and that’s especially so in Madisonian systems with strong separation of powers. But the way that concessions, bargaining, and negotiation work are that Obama asks for something Republicans don’t favor—a universal preschool program, say—and then Republicans counter with something they favor but Obama doesn’t. Like if universal preschool is so great, Obama, why don’t we pay for it by making Obamacare less generous and reducing federal spending on K-12 education and cutting other social safety-net programs for low-income people? Obama would probably say no to that, and then we’d have a standoff. Or maybe we’d have a back-and-forth of some kind. But either way, the point of the negotiation would be that Obama is asking Republicans to make a concession, so if he wants to get something done, he needs to make concessions in return.

But the debt ceiling isn’t some pet Obama administration priority. There is a gap between the spending that Congress has instructed Treasury to undertake and the taxes that Congress has authorized Treasury to collect. Authority to borrow the money to fill the gap is necessary to legally dot the I’s and cross the T‘s.

Granting it does not authorize any new spending, and failing to grant it does not cut spending. Obama is not asking Republicans for a favor, so he feels that they are not entitled to ask him for a favor in return.

Oh, and just for good measure, Yglesias carefully explains how not increasing the debt ceiling does not one iota to cut government spending.  

%d bloggers like this: