Voting Decision Models

James Lileks writes great angry.  Here is an example.  James used to have a section of his website, we think it was called screeds, for his collection of angry, nasty humor.  We loved them.  Kevin D. Williamson is also a master of the genre.  David French is not.  We are not either.  That’s why it has taken us time to respond to David’s “Dump [The Donald], But Don’t Burn Down The GOP” at The Dispatch.  David’s Dump doesn’t have the style of James or Kevin but who does?  The problem is that it doesn’t make much sense either.

Our disagreement is interesting because we suspect that if asked to pick who should be president now we would both have the same response: Mitt’s second term.  We are not saying David is not a conservative.  We just think he is wrong about voting models.

One issue we are ignoring is the conjunction of dumping The Donald AND burning down the GOP.  Near the beginning David says:

In other words, in the furious argument over the future of the Republican party and political conservatism, consider me squarely in the camp that seeks to dump [The Donald] but not to seek vengeance on the rest of the GOP.  [Emphasis added]

It must be a Twitter thing since we are not in that milieu.  We see that there are still some Never The Donald folks out there and there are some folks that want to burn the GOP because it doesn’t support The Donald enough but we didn’t know anyone was for both.  We weren’t aware of an argument of any kind never made a furious one.  We are not interested in that part of David’s Dump.  We are interested in the Dump The Donald part.  David quotes himself on how Christians should vote:

First, they must possess a personal character that is worthy of the office they seek. Second, they must broadly share my political values. If a candidate fails either prong of that test, he or she doesn’t receive my vote.

Then he goes on about The Donald’s incompetence.  He needs to reread The Weed Agency to remind himself of the difficulties of governing.  Yes, we know it is a work of fiction but it is instructive.  He goes on to say that competence is a character trait.  He is surely wrong about that.  Expertise relates to specific limited areas.  Everyone (do we need an almost before everyone?) has limited areas of competencies.

Sidebar One: The winner of a recent bridge tournament with thousands of entries including MWG is also (self reported) a crossword puzzle champ.  We are amazed by that combination of extraordinary skills.  End Sidebar One.

Our major complaint is that David’s voting model has people staying home on election day or only making a couple of votes.  How many people have you voted for enthusiastically in your life?  If your two main criteria are character and political values while competency fits in too do you want to help The Frontrunner win?  VDH isn’t always right (is he?) but you might consider this in your voting decision.

When we get down to the general election we think you need to compare the two candidates.  It is a binary choice: either The Donald or The Frontrunner will win in November.  Even if you live in Wisconsin only rarely do you get to vote for a Ron Johnson.  Pick the best candidate by your model and vote.  If your model has you staying home often reconsider it.

Sidebar Two: One rational model for staying home is that the value of your vote is not worth the cost of making it.  It is not an unreasonable conclusion.  The problem is that this model means that rational people vote less.  We don’t think that having rational people voting less is a good idea.  End Sidebar Two.

Don’t stay home or leave the presidential choice blank on David’s orders.

Rays Of Sunshine

In our cultural wars there are an enormous amount of battle lines that have been drawn.  According to the partisans, the last two presidents could either do nothing right or are playing six-dimensional chess.  There are all kind of trenches for various religious groups and races and ethnicities.  We see it as the bigotry of bigotry.  If those folks on the other side are against us then we can’t admit that they could  be right about anything.

The rays of sunshine come from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar via Jay Nordlinger at NRO.  Kareem’s “Where Is The Outrage At Anti-Semitism In Sports And Hollywood?” makes us see sunshine, rainbows and more for two reasons.  First, it is well done.  Of course you should read it it all but here is a great story about the wonderful Billie Holliday from Kareem:

One of the most powerful songs in the struggle against racism is Billie Holiday’s melancholic “Strange Fruit,” which was first recorded in 1939. The song met strong resistance from radio stations afraid of its graphic lyrics about lynching:

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

Despite those who wanted to suppress the song, it went on to sell a million copies that year and became Holiday’s best-selling record ever. The song was written by a white, Jewish high school teacher, Abel Meeropol, who performed it with his wife around New York before it was given to Holiday.

One small quibble: We expect that Abel got his royalties.  He didn’t give the song to Billie.  He gave her the right to sing it.

What makes us joyful about Kareem’s op-ed is that he black Muslim.  He began using his Muslim name many years ago at the age of 24.

Sidebar: Kareem’s Wikipedia entry might need some explaining.  He did win three consecutive NCAA championships.  Back in those days you couldn’t leave college early for the NBA and you couldn’t, how quaint, play varsity as a freshman.  End Sidebar.

Before that he was Lew Alcindor.  Kareem’s history makes his op-ed infinitely more powerful.  When Kareem takes Louis Farrakhan to task folks might listen.  He ends with this:

The lesson never changes, so why is it so hard for some people to learn: No one is free until everyone is free. As Martin Luther King Jr. explained: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.” So, let’s act like it. If we’re going to be outraged by injustice, let’s be outraged by injustice against anyone.

We can still disagree about when X’s freedom impairs Y’s freedom but we need to first look at ourselves.  We are glad that Kareem found his voice.  We hope he will be a role model for others in every group.

 

 

Post-Peak COVID-19 Universities

Universities will have big changes in the post-peak COVID-19 (PPC-19) era.  We are not sure they are convinced of it yet as our former school is emphasizing increasing its diversity police.  Universities are not fully a free market but the market will have a big impact on them at the margin because tuition is a large portion of university revenue.  There are some great ideas.  Charles Lipton at Real Clear Politicsis worth reading several times.  Will anyone listen to him?

Steven Hayward has a terrific statement that a fellow conservative is going to use as a preface to his introductory history course.  We an interested and excited to see the outcome of such a statement.  The big question is what will the administration (department chair, dean, and CEO) do when the students protest?

Mark Hemingway at Real Clear Investigations tells us of an alternative that is not market based.  Mark says:

Currently, the conservative National Association of Scholars is working with four states – Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Arizona – to go further: pass laws to increase “intellectual diversity” at public universities.

It is clear that the right can succumb to the siren call of fascism.  We are not in favor of people with guns enforcing intellectual diversity.  It shows that groups respond ro the problem that the university has created.

TaxProf Blog reprints an op-ed from Arlene S. Kanter that asks if professors can be forced back on campus in PPC-19.  She convinces us that the answer is no.  At the very least there will be professors that litigate such coercion.  Faculty and student demands related to protecting them from COVID-19 adds another element to the chaos that PPC-19 will produce.

Our background is in a public university so we will consider them only.  Here is the situation as the 2020-21 school year approaches.  They are largely controlled by folks accepting of the far left mob although there are pockets of conservatism as in Steven’s report.  State universities have severe budget problems because of tuition shortfalls and state budget shortfalls.  On average, state representatives are closer to the center than the university.  So are the parents of students. Thus, we see potential solutions like forced intellectual diversity that Mark discusses.  We will also see reduced attendance in the fall.  Nobody knows how much.

Charles has a much better idea but it is much more difficult.  Of course, the main problem is getting the university to reject the demands of the mob.  Do read all of what Charles says.  We would suggest that you give a copy to any administrator you work with or know.  He says:

Universities must publicly reassert the first principle of academic inquiry: free and open debate is essential to research and learning. Bad arguments should be rebutted with better ones, bad data and methods with better ones. How do we know which arguments, data, and methods are bad? Only through vigorous debate.

The statement that Steven reports says that and more. He goes on to say there must be a safe harbor for faculty members.  Again, this would require administration to stand up to the mob.  He suggests that state legislators can help by insisting that universities adhere to the First Amendment.  Charles doesn’t mention it but FIRE can help too. We like his ideas but we don’t know if the administrators are up to them.

We think that the budget problems will be exacerbated by the mob because most administrators will not, at least initially, stand up to them.  Students will stay away so they don’t run afoul of the mob.  As universities approach the brink of failure what will happen?  Will the state close several campuses to save the rest?  Will some administrators with backbones lead the way?  Will the state insist on leadership?

We expect there will be different outcomes in different places.  We are sure that there will be big changes.

Document The Obvious

Congratulations and good luck to Boris in implementing Brexit.  In discussing the British election yesterday we noted the extreme reaction of Labor supporters to their loss.  We said that the left tends to lash out at electoral losses.  Today, John Hinderaker at PowerLine reports on a UK poll from YouGov to convince all of us on the applicability of our observations.

Labour voters (41%) and Remain voters (40%) are much more likely to judge someone else negatively for voting differently to them than Conservative voters (19%) and Leave voters (13%)https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2019/12/09/brexit-has-caused-more-arguments-general-election?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=website_article&utm_campaign=sarah_election_arguments 

We have the evidence from our observations and now more generalized data from a poll in a single country.  It should be confirmed in the US.  Then the next question would be why are folks on the left intolerant and judgmental about political issues?

A Good Day For Freedom

Today, yesterday over there, citizens in the United Kingdom voted for a new parliament.  We love their efficiency.  The election was set in the fall and the voting was December 12.  In the US we have had a number of debates for the primary season that starts in February.  Our general election isn’t for 11 months.  And, in the US, you can start voting several months before the election.  We like our Constitution more than their parliamentary system but we have room for improvement.

We would like to talk about the UK results and the losers reaction to those results.  The election was largely about Brexit.  Jim Geraghty at the Morning Jolt set the stage this morning before the results:

The stakes for the Conservatives and pro-Brexit forces may be win big or go home. There are 650 seats in the U.K. Parliament, meaning to win a majority and control of the government, a party needs 326. The YouGov poll estimates that Conservatives could win anywhere from 367 seats to 311. {Emphasis added]

As the UK has ten parties that have won seats it is hard to get a majority with a single party.  As the Conservatives and UKIP (zero seats to date) are the only pro-Brexit parties, the stakes in the election are high.  Early in our evening the exit polls had projected the Conservatives at 368 seats.  That is one more than the maximum in the quote above.  More recent projections have the Conservatives down a few at 362 and they have just hit a majority, 331 with 49 seats left.  The results should give Boris and the Conservatives control they need to get Brexit done.  Equally important, it would deny Jeremy.  Freedom will be advanced by Brexit.  Then there will be the issue of Scotland and if it should be set free.  The Scottish National Party has tightened its grip on Scotland by gaining 12 seats so far.

Everyone hates to lose.  Especially handball players.  The good thing about most handball players is the only question is usually, “Whose serve or when do we play next?”  The left cannot bear to lose elections and they seem to take the worst possible route in blaming the electorate.  We have seen it in person, “It was the worst day of my life when [some Republican] won.”  We see it in the media and on the media.  Watch next November’s election returns with the sound off and only look at the reporters.  You will know who won.  Here are some comments collected by the Spectator with a few [of our comments] set off:

I cannot imagine how so many people in England can have been quite so stupid. [and how do you feel about Wales, Scotland and the other parts of the United Kingdom?  Then again, the conservatives did really well in England.]

and

BBC exit poll predicts Tories to take 70+ seats. If so – a victory of the old over the young, racists over people of colour, selfishness over the planet. Scotland will leave UK. However it does not feel right compared to on-the-ground.  [Calling folks racists and selfish is a strange way to try and attract voters.  Perhaps you need to widen your ground to fix the last sentence.]

And

This country is utterly, quadrilaterally f**ked.  [Emphasis and ** added.  We don’t understand the adjective in bold.  What four sides are we talking about?]

And

This looks abysmal. The result will be devastating for communities like mine all around the country who are now facing five years of Boris Johnson with unchecked power. I am more fearful for our country than at any point in my lifetime. [How come the right (Conservatives or Republicans) gets unchecked power when they win and the left does not?]

And here is one from PowerLine (they also have most of the ones above):

The country is going to be staggeringly and bitterly divided now.  Worse than under Thatcher.  [It is the biggest conservative majority since Maggie.  How can big majorities lead to bitter division?  So when the right wins, and especially if it wins big, then the country is divided.  When Labor (the big party on the left in the UK) wins the country is …. what?  We wonder how these folks would describe the USA under the 44th president?]

It is amazing how folks that want your vote can insult you and yet they seem to think that this will help them win in the future.  And yet Labor (and the Democrats) will win before too long.  We hope they are neither bitter nor vindictive when they take office.

Men, Women: Reality and Fantasy

It has been building for years but the current hot item in TV shows and movies is for women to beat up men.  Sometimes, like in Stargate SG1, Samantha (Sam) gets to beat up an alien man.  It is a bit of silly fun.  We have recently been watching Whiskey Cavalier (WC) and Blood and Treasure (B&T) where this behavior is happening all the time.  The former is the better of the two although currently, the latter is the only one to be renewed.  Or perhaps not.  Why do we like WC better?  The characters are interesting in WC.  Lauren Cohan in WC looks intimidating but her pictures suggest otherwise.  It may take awhile when looking a Lauren’s pictures but eventually you can bring your focus to her biceps.  Her bulges are elsewhere.  B&T has some interesting flashbacks but the main characters are not very interesting.  In one particularly silly B&T sequence Gwen (Katia Winter check her arms too) beats up Bruno and then Bruno escapes from his cell  by beating up two beefy policemen.

It is great fun having pretty women beat up big guys.  Is it the cause of some of our current confusion?  Men, on average, are stronger and faster than women.  We see amazing women all the time but the strongest and fastest men are much stronger and faster than the strongest and fastest women.  Military .com tells us about some amazing women.  The US Army Ranger school has graduated twelve of them to date.  They also tell us that 40 percent of the men pass but they don’t give a pass rate for women although it seems to be two or three out of nineteen.  Elsewhere, there are assertions that there was an Army thumb on the scale for women:

But whereas men consistently were held to the strict standards outlined in the Ranger School’s Standing Operating Procedures handbook sources say, the women were allowed lighter duties and exceptions to policy.

We take no opinion on these assertions of the Army playing favorites other than to say hats off to the women and men that graduated and that any woman is highly unlikely to be the top scorer in Ranger school.

Sidebar: In running there might be some extremely long distances, like 100 miles where the top women can compete with the top men.  In addition, boys and girls can compete equally at very young ages too.  These exceptions are more proof of the general rule.  End Sidebar

Here is some evidence from sports.  Over the weekend the men (PGA) and and women (LPGA) both had a golf tournament on a par 71 golf course.  The men’s course was 7,353 yards and the women’s course was 6,427 yards for a difference of over 900 yards or 50 yard a hole.  There is a reason for separate tours.  Of course, as Madeline Kearns reports at NRO, the transgender movement has led to unsurprising results.  Connecticut allows men who identify as women to compete with women:

Since enacted in 2017, the Connecticut state [high school] conference policy has enabled two young men to win 15 women’s championships, titles that were held by 10 young women the year before. State athletic conferences in 18 other states have similar policies.

We don’t know if the fantasy of TV and movies has confused folks that women athletes can compete with men.  It is not that a female can never beat a male.  We have seen the women at the handball tournaments and many could hold us to three or less but they can’t compete with the men in the open class.  It is just that the best woman has little chance against a pretty good man.

Let’s bring back Whiskey Cavalier.  It is not a great show but it is interesting enough to renew.  But we shouldn’t be confused that women can compete in athletics with men on the high school, college, or professional level.  We shouldn’t let any group convince us that it is a good idea.

Agreeing Despite The Insults

One almost got us to the keyboard but two in two days was too much.  Accountants seem to be becoming the conservative version of “old white men” for the left.  See Jay Nordlinger for a discussion of old white men.  Since we are both, we would at least like to stop the friendly fire.

Recently at NRO John O’Sullivan took aim at the Tories and their leader, Theresa May, for their failure over Brexit.  John was worried that Theresa would hang on for a long time but fortunately she has resigned.  We agree with John but we didn’t like his comment about accountants:

That emerged yesterday when she got her new! improved! withdrawal bill accepted by her cabinet colleagues and then revealed it in a speech (and in a mistaken symbolic piece of presentation) to the headquarters of an international accounting company.

It seems he mentions accountants and a major accounting firm as a gratuitous insult.  We are not sure how it is an insult but we took it as one.  Even with the insult we agree with John.  The Tories have damaged their brand greatly by this cock-up on the Brexit front.  Even with Theresa gone we need to ask will they survive?  Should they survive?

Joshua R. Hendrickson is an eco prof who got published at NRO taking Marco Rubio to task for his recent misguided investment report.  We can’t find our earlier comment but we were disagreed with Marco Wants A National Innovation Strategy.  Perhaps we only commented mentally but Josh is right that Marco is confused.  Josh concludes that we might ask:

[A]bout the appropriate policy prescription for declining investment. Yet the report does not take a stand. Instead, it argues for “a renewed emphasis on the business firm as the primary and necessary allocator of capital in the American economy” and “an institutional arrangement order to this end.” The reader is left to imagine what any of that means in practice.  [Emphasis added]

We are worried about the institutional arrangements that we have bolded.  Along with the confusing and leftist stuff that Josh identifies our imagination leads us to believe that the report is looking for methods for the government to become involved in stopping the trend.  The fact that Marco wants a national innovation strategy, cited above, leads us to feel confident in our imagination.

What we don’t like is when Josh says:

None of these questions are asked because the entire analysis is not an exercise in economics, but merely an exercise in accounting. [Emphasis added]

Now we have read Deirdre’s book and understand the rough and tumble nature of economics prose.  We are even guilty of thinking it might be OK if Josh said, “merely an exercise in bookkeeping.”  Still it was a distraction.

We guess the solution is to own the insults.  Josh and John are on target with their analysis.  The confusion that they show about accounting and accountants should not distract us from that.

 

 

Signs

It seems that all the good titles have been taken for odds and ends so we are calling this Signs.  We only have two items.  We are serious about exactly one so you need to pick it so we don’t get nasty comments.

We were shopping with the Lady de Gloves when we came upon a hand bag that was marked “Vegan Leather.”  We dismissed it as an oxymoron but lately we have been wondering if somebody is making handbags out of vegans.

We had a wonderful horoscope today.  It said, “Double-check numbers.  Review financial records and budgets.”  We have little faith in horoscopes but we have already done the Sudoku

Sidebar: We always double-check the Sudoku with 27 check marks.  There are nine vertical checks, nine horizontal checks, and nine checks for squares.   If the center number is blank we do that last and check the center square last.  There will be four tens plus a five.  End Sidebar.

and hope, amongst other things, the Internet delivers our bank statement so we can reconcile and visit the budget.  Fun times!

Porn At The University

There is a big controversy at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWL) involving freedom of expression.  The facts are, as we understand them, that UWL invited noted sex educator and free expression advocate Nina Hartley to visit and speak at the campus.  Of importance to the tempest is that Nina is, or at least was, a porn star.  Here is the Wikipedia entry on Nina.  After Nina spoke to 70 students there was controversy and Chancellor Joe Gow took to the local newspaper to defend the decision.  As the answer to why did he invite a porn star to campus Joe said:

My primary motive in inviting Hartley was to help promote the UW System’s “Commitment to Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression,” implemented last fall by our Board of Regents.

You can find the Regents document here.  The Regents saw the policy as a restatement of what they said over a century ago:

“Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”

Joe’s response did not quiet the concern and he has taken action:

He agreed to personally compensate the university for Hartley’s $5,000 appearance fee, which was initially covered by student fees and interest.  He is also booking a speaker from Fight the New Drug, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit dedicated to “raising awareness (of porn’s) harmful effects using only science, facts and personal accounts.”

One of the strange things about Nina’s presentation came out in the story about Joe’s actions.  They said:

The event [Nina’s talk]did not appear on the university’s online events calendar and, unlike many events, was not made known to the press.

It does seem odd to hide away your freedom of expression speaker.

So what do we have to say about this sad story?  First, we think Joe fails freedom of expression 101.  We could have agreed that refunding the money to the students was a grand but silly gesture.  Agreeing to bring in the alternative speaker was absolutely a failure to back free expression.  The Regents say:

Each institution in the University of Wisconsin System has a solemn responsibility not only to promote lively and fearless exploration, deliberation, and debate of ideas, but also to protect those freedoms when others attempt to restrict them. [Emphasis added]

Joe failed to protect Nina.

Second, how did the initial situation happen?   We have suppositions but only those from knowing how universities work.  We do not have any inside details about what really happened.  We think that the administration was looking at the first part of the Regent quote above and realized they were at risk because they had failed to promote the debate.  The administration is heavily progressive so nobody wants to bring in a conservative and the available conservatives often like to stir up controversy and that can lead to violence.  What are the other choices?

Sex.  We can see the meeting.  The students like sex and having a sexy speaker.  The administration thinks we have met the Regents’ requirement without a big controversy of bringing an Ann Coulter type to campus.  Everyone is happy but it still turns out to be a disaster.  Now they have failed to meet the Regents’ expectation.

The answer is that we need to support Nina and Joe.  Freedom of expression is freedom of expression.  The statement says fearless exploration and deliberation as well as debate.  Debate is only part of freedom of expression.

Yet, at the same time, somebody needs to be responsible for some balance over time.  Let us use a real example.  As chair of the accounting department we had a speaker at the banquet each year.  We kept track of each speaker’s affiliation so that there would be a variety types of organizations (Big Four, other public, corporate, governmental/NFP) and actual organizations.  Some organizations would volunteer every year and we told them no.

It is easy to see why administrators fail at free expression.  It is a tough job.  It is also part of their job description.

Research Basics

After we commented on Cass Sunstein’s article about The Problem Of All Those Liberal Professors we recognized that we failed one of the standards of archival research.  You should aways check the original document(s).  The original document that Cass referred to is: Homogenous: The Political Affiliation of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty by Mitchell Langbert.  It was posted on the National Association of Scholars (NAS) website.  NAS is:

[A] network of scholars and citizens united by our commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education. Membership in NAS is open to all who share our commitment to these broad principles. We publish a journal and have state and regional affiliates.

Yup, that basically makes them conservatives. It is not a surprise that Mitchell’s article showed up at NAS.  Other outlets might not be interested.

We were concerned that Cass understated the impact of the lack of conservatives on faculty because the faculty run the place.  They set the curriculum and the related courses.  They determine the research standards.  They hire (sometimes with a little help) administrators.  Most administrators were former faculty.  These administrators set accreditation standards.  In short, faculty run the place although not all faculty are equally involved in such activities.

So let’s see what Mitchell said about the impact of the lack of ideological balance in colleges and universities:

So pervasive is the lack of balance in academia that more than 1,000 professors and graduate students have started Heterodox Academy, an organization committed to increasing “viewpoint diversity” in higher education.4The end result is that objective science becomes problematic, and where research is problematic, teaching is more so. [Site added]

To an academic it is reasonable to include curriculum development in teaching but we don’t think that the general public does.  We think it is important to understand that faculty have somewhere between an extensive to exclusive say about what classes are taught and how, what research is acceptable, what outside speakers come to campus, and almost everything else that happens on campus.

Mitchell notes that West Point and Annapolis are two outliers in that they are more balanced that almost all the other schools.  We took a look at the history curriculum for Annapolis (US Naval Academy) and a local school that we have access to.  It should give you a feel for the differences between a school with balance (Annapolis) and one without balance.

Examples of history themes from the US Naval Academy:

Examples of topics include piracy, the development of national identities and the growth of capitalism.

Sidebar: We really, really want to take the course on the history of pirates.  Especially on International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  End Sidebar

Here are some selected history course titles from a regional state school (yes we are aware that Mitchell was surveying Liberal Arts schools):

Women in the Modern United States: 1890-Present

History of Motherhood in the United States

U.S. Reform Movements

You can check the sites and see if you agree with us that the curriculums are very different.  Even when the titles are similar, Peace and War versus History of The Technology of Peace And War, we are willing to wager that the courses are very different.  Mitchell recognizes the connection of balance to research.  Without approved research a faculty member is highly unlikely to earn tenure.  If Military History is not part of the curriculum then military historians need not apply.  Too bad Victor Davis Hanson.  But the impact of the lack of balance is even more.  It is what happens in the classroom.  But it is also the classes that get taught, the speakers that come to campus, and the other services offered by the university.

Cass and Mitchell are right to identify the problem.  It is just bigger than they think.  It has an impact on every student in every major in every way.