Sunday, November 22, 2009
Stanford Study purports to demonstrate that racism is a reason why Obama policies are failing
The journal article is: "Racial Prejudice Predicts Opposition to Obama and His Health Care Reform Plan" by Eric D. Knowles, Brian S. Lowery, and Rebecca L. Schaumberg, in: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2009.
This is another "negative associations" test. Such tests are very problematical for a number of reasons -- one of which is that some actively anti-racist people score highly on them -- so claims that they measure racism are extravagant. What they most usually "measure", if anything, could well be past bad experiences with blacks.
Further notes: 1). It could be quite rational to trust in a plan authored by Clinton rather than Obama -- as Clinton was the centrist that Obama only claims to be; 2). The fact that Prof. Lowery is black may have influenced the results; 3). There seems to be no claim that the people quizzed were a random sample of any known group so the generalizability of the results is unknown. One word summary: Crap
Does racism affect voters' responses to President Barack Obama’s policies? In September, former president Jimmy Carter argued yes in an interview with Brian Williams of NBC. A Democracy Corps focus-group study published on Oct. 16 disagreed, concluding that racial issues do not affect voters' beliefs, and that it was time for those who think otherwise to "get over it."
Recent research from the Stanford Graduate School of Business finds that Carter is correct –– race does matter. People's implicit racial prejudices corresponded with a reluctance to vote for Obama and with opposition to his health care reform plan, the study finds. In fact, when a description of a health care reform proposal was attributed to former President Bill Clinton rather than Obama, reactions suggested that individuals high in non-conscious anti-black prejudice tended to oppose Obama, at least in part because they dislike him as a black person.
"Many people are influenced by race, and either will not admit it or don't know it," says Brian Lowery, an associate professor of organizational behavior. To find evidence for "implicit," or non-conscious prejudice, he and two other investigators ran a computer-based test on more than 200 subjects prior to the 2008 presidential election. Individuals were asked to quickly pair "black" names (Aisha, Jamal, and so forth) and "white" names (Brett, Jane) with good words such as "beauty" and "friendly," or bad words such as "evil" and "hate."
Non-conscious prejudice was measured according to how quickly and easily people could identify the "bad" words after seeing African-American names (Aisha, Jamal, and so forth) as opposed to Anglo names (Brett, Jane). Lowery and his coauthors found [asserted?] that fewer errors, when African-American names (as opposed to Anglo names) were paired with a negative word, indicated that individuals had internalized negative associations with black people –– and served as a measure of non-conscious prejudice.
In the month after the election, participants were asked how they had voted. Those who made few errors on the black/bad pairings were nearly 43% less likely to have voted for Obama than those with average scores. "As implicit prejudice increased, the likelihood of voting for Obama decreased," explains Lowery.
Nearly a year later, in October 2009, some of the same participants rated their attitudes about Obama's approach to health care reform. Others were randomly assigned to read a description of health care reform framed either as being President Obama’s plan or Bill Clinton's plan.
Once again, increasing implicit prejudice was associated with negative attitudes toward Obama and decreasing support for his health care policy. Prejudice scores did not correlate with favorability toward the plan when it was described as coming from Clinton, but they did result in a more negative assessment when it was described as coming from Obama.
"This study represents a powerful demonstration of the fact that racial attitudes still operate in the political arena," says Lowery, who conducted the research with Stanford doctoral student Rebecca Schaumberg and Eric Knowles, assistant professor at the University of California at Irvine. "It also suggests that Obama is likely to encounter some degree of prejudice-fueled opposition to his policies across the board."
Palinophobes Hate First, Ask Questions Later
by Jonah Goldberg
Slate magazine is just one of the countless media outlets convulsing with St. Vitus' Dance over that demonic succubus Sarah Palin. In its reader forum, The Fray, one supposed Palinophobe took dead aim at the former Alaska governor's writing chops, excerpting the following sentence from her book: "The apartment was small, with slanting floors and irregular heat and a buzzer downstairs that didn't work, so that visitors had to call ahead from a pay phone at the corner gas station, where a black Doberman the size of a wolf paced through the night in vigilant patrol, its jaws clamped around an empty beer bottle."
Other readers pounced like wolf-sized Dobermans on an intruder. One guffawed, "That sentence by Sarah Palin could be entered into the annual Bulwer-Lytton bad writing contest. It could have a chance at winning a (sic) honorable mention, at any rate." But soon, the original contributor confessed: "I probably should have mentioned that the sentence quoted above was not written by Sarah Palin. It's taken from the first paragraph of 'Dreams From My Father,' written by Barack Obama."
The ruse should have been allowed to fester longer, but the point was made nonetheless: Some people hate Palin first and ask questions later. My all-time favorite response to John McCain's selection of Palin as his running mate was from Wendy Doniger, a feminist professor of religion at the University of Chicago. Professor Doniger wrote of the exceedingly feminine "hockey mom" with five children: "Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman." The best part about that sentence: Doniger uses the pronoun "her" -- twice.
Just this week, a liberal blogger at the Atlantic who has dedicated an unhealthy amount of his life to proving a one-man birther conspiracy theory about Palin's youngest child (it's both too slanderous and too deranged to detail here) shut down his blog to cope with the epochal, existential crisis that Palin's book presents to all humankind. The un-self-consciously parodic announcement seemed more appropriate for a BBC warning that the German blitz was about to begin, God Help Us All.
Indeed, some of us will always be sympathetic to Mrs. Palin if for nothing else than her enemies. The bile she extracts from her critics is almost like a dye marker, illuminating deep pockets of asininity that heretofore were either unnoticed or underappreciated.
In fairness, just as there are people who hate Palin for the effrontery she shows in daring to draw breath at all, there are those who love her with a devotion better suited for a religious icon. I hear from both camps, often. And while I don't think both sides are equally wrong (after all, the acolytes of the Doniger school openly reject reality more than any so-called creationist), I don't think either position is laudable or sufficient.
Sarah Palin is neither savior (that job has been taken by the current president, or didn't you know?) nor is she satanic. She is a politician, a species of human like the rest of us. I'm fairly certain that if you read many of her public-policy positions but concealed her byline, many of her worst enemies would say "that sounds about right," and some of her biggest fans would say "that sounds crazy." But most people would say that her views are perfectly within the mainstream of American politics. She may be more religious than coastal elites in the lower 48, but that is something some bigots need to get over anyway.
I'm happy about the books she's selling thanks to the controversy over her, but that doesn't mean I think these controversies are justified. Palin holds no public office and, as of yet, is not running for one. But the Associated Press assigned 11 reporters to "fact-check" her book, while doing nothing like that to fact-check then-candidate Obama's or current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's no doubt riveting book.
As it stands, my sense is that Palin is good for the Republican Party but not necessarily great. She generates enthusiasm among, and donations from, the base. But she also turns off many of the people the GOP needs to persuade and attract. That could change with this book tour, and I hope it does. Whether she's ready or qualified for the presidency is another matter. But the presidency is a long way off, and besides, that's what primaries are for.
Andrea Mitchell of NBC News Tries to Ambush Sarah Palin at Book Signing
The dark shirted Security guy on the left and the white shirted Security guy have no intentions of letting Andrea Mitchell cut in line and get closer to Gov. Palin. For her part, Gov. Palin rightfully just ignores Andrea.
A picture is worth a thousand words... One lady has a smile, one does not. One is happy in her skin, one is not. One is attractive, one is not. One is a conservative, one is not. One is a positive, one is a negative. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Comment above from a reader. Pictures from Weasel Zippers
America's Best Place to Raise Your Kids
BusinessWeek has just put out its fourth annual survey of the Best Places to Raise Your Kids. Some wicked person has constructed the graph below of the winning localities -- with the challenge: "See if you can see the common denominator"
Could we have more jobs than we ever hoped for?: "The federal government has put the unemployment rate at 10.2 percent as of November 2009, but if one includes those who would like to work but have forsaken job search, and those who are underemployed, the jobless amount to about a fifth of the labor force. Thus there is political pressure for the president to appear to be doing something. A gathering to discuss the problem will be splashed in the media and create buzz. But asking how to create jobs has it backwards. The fundamental question is not how to create more jobs, but how to stop government from destroying jobs. It is like hunters who go into a field and shoot every deer in sight, and then hold a meeting on why the deer have disappeared.”
UK: Common sense isn’t common anymore: "The more a government legislates on our day to day activities, the less we take ownership of those activities ourselves. We begin to lose the ability of self-determination in our responsibilities, and as a consequence we have nothing else to fall back on apart from the rigid framework of state diktat. The disempowerment suffered by individuals under the thumb of the state leads to a stupefaction of social intercourse, and a learned helplessness that infects an ever increasing number of our daily interactions. These observations do not lead me to a negative conclusion in regards to the human condition and our potential for creating autonomous order in a stateless society. Far from it, the same human characteristics that lead to seemingly defeatist and subservient social patterns, are the very characteristics that will enable our liberation from this malaise.”
On poverty, interest rates, and payday loans: "Payday borrowers do not necessarily turn to payday lending out of ignorance; a majority of them seem to be aware that this is a very, very expensive form of financing. They just have no better options. The biggest problem with payday loans is not the one-time fee, though that is steep; it’s that people can get trapped in a cycle of rolling them over. Paying $15 to borrow a few hundred bucks in an emergency is bad, but it’s probably manageable for most people. Unfortunately, since payday borrowers are credit constrained, have little savings, and are low-to-moderate income, they often have difficulty coming up with the principal when the loan is due to pay off. The finance charges add up, making it difficult to repay the loan.”
Welfare without the state: "Although the rise of government welfare has had a similar impact on US private welfare as in the UK, the case of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church) has survived the onslaught and is insightful in considering how private welfare can function outside of the state. Members of the church fund the program; on the first Sunday of every month everyone skips two meals and donates the saving from those meals. If a member loses income, becomes unemployed, etc. they meet with their local leader and together they determine the needs of that individual or family, and assistance is given accordingly.”
Nixing of Panthers complaint starts probe: "Two senior House Republicans want the Justice Department to make public any reports or statements given to internal investigators by the career department lawyers who brought a civil complaint against the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) that later was dismissed by President Obama's political appointees. Reps. Lamar Smith of Texas, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, and Frank R. Wolf of Virginia, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, said the "American people deserve a full accounting" of what they called the "incomprehensible dismissal" of a complaint charging the NBPP and three of its members with voter intimidation at a Philadelphia polling place during the November 2008 presidential elections. The demand is contained in a Nov. 16 letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., referring to an ongoing inquiry in the matter by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which investigates accusations of misconduct involving department lawyers. Mary Patrice Brown, acting OPR counsel, confirmed in August that her office had "initiated an inquiry into the matter," although no information about the probe has been released since."
Many Jobs Gone Forever: "Many American investors may think the worst of the economic downturn is over, but they are completely wrong, writes Clinton administration economist and NYU professor Nouriel Roubini. “Conditions in the U.S. labor markets are awful and worsening,” writes Roubini in The New York Daily News. “While the official unemployment rate is already 10.2 percent and another 200,000 jobs were lost in October, when you include discouraged workers and partially employed workers the figure is a whopping 17.5 percent.” ... The long-term outlook for workers and is even worse than current job loss numbers suggest.... This is very bad news but we must face facts. Many of the lost jobs are gone forever, including construction jobs, finance jobs and manufacturing jobs.” Recent studies suggest that a quarter of U.S. jobs can be outsourced over time to other countries."
More background to the Walpin firing: "A congressional investigation of the volunteer organization AmeriCorps contains charges that D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee handled "damage control" after allegations of sexual misconduct against her now fiance, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star and a prominent ally of President Obama. The investigation began after the AmeriCorps inspector general, Gerald Walpin, received reports that Johnson had misused some of the $800,000 in federal AmeriCorps money provided to St. Hope, a non-profit school that Johnson headed for several years. Walpin was looking into charges that AmeriCorps-paid volunteers ran personal errands for him, washed his car, and took part in political activities. In the course of investigating those allegations, the congressional report says, Walpin's investigators were told that Johnson had made inappropriate advances toward three young women involved in the St. Hope program -- and that Johnson offered at least one of those young women money to keep quiet.... Johnson offered her $1,000 a month for the duration of her time with St. Hope. Once investigators learned about that, the report says, they had "reasonable suspicions about potential hush money payments and witness tampering at a federally funded entity." Walpin included the allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct, along with evidence of misuse of federal money, in a criminal referral to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento. The acting U.S. Attorney, Lawrence Brown, reached a settlement with Johnson under which St. Hope was obligated to pay back some of the money, but took no action on the other matters. The White House fired Walpin on June 10. The sexual misconduct allegations he was investigating have been secret until now."
US to drop shooting case against Blackwater guard: "The Justice Department intends to drop manslaughter and weapons charges against one of the Blackwater Worldwide security guards involved in a deadly 2007 Baghdad shooting, prosecutors said in court documents Friday. The shooting in busy Nisoor Square left 17 Iraqis dead and inflamed anti-American sentiment abroad. It touched off a string of investigations that ultimately led the State Department to cancel the company's lucrative contract to guard diplomats in Iraq. Five guards, all military veterans, face charges in the shooting that left 17 Iraqis dead. Prosecutors say the shooting was unprovoked but Blackwater says its convoy was ambushed. A sixth pleaded guilty, turned on his former colleagues, and pleaded guilty to killing one Iraqi and wounding another. The case against the remaining four guards is set for trial in February. The trial likely will hinge on whether the Blackwater guards were provoked. Iraqi witnesses say Blackwater fired the only shots. Some members of the Blackwater convoy said they saw gunfire. Others said they didn't. Radio logs of the shooting indicate the guards were fired on."
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 1:39 AM