Archive for the ‘politicas’ Category

Constitution and Pardons

July 25th, 2017 Comments off

The President…shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 2, Clause 1

Also, from the Heritage Constitution Guide:

The possibility of a President pardoning himself for a crime is not precluded by the explicit language of the Constitution, and, during the summer of 1974, some of President Richard M. Nixon’s lawyers argued that it was constitutionally permissible. But a broader reading of the Constitution and the general principles of the traditions of United States law might lead to the conclusion that a self-pardon is constitutionally impermissible. It would seem to violate the principles that a man should not be a judge in his own case; that the rule of law is supreme and the United States is a nation of laws, not men; and that the President is not above the law.

James Pfiffner
Professor of Public Policy
George Mason University
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Power vs Empathy

June 23rd, 2017 Comments off

Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at McMaster University, in Ontario, recently described something similar. Unlike Keltner, who studies behaviors, Obhi studies brains. And when he put the heads of the powerful and the not-so-powerful under a transcranial-magnetic-stimulation machine, he found that power, in fact, impairs a specific neural process, “mirroring,” that may be a cornerstone of empathy. Which gives a neurological basis to what Keltner has termed the “power paradox”: Once we have power, we lose some of the capacities we needed to gain it in the first place.

— Atlantic, August 2017

Categories: Mind, politicas Tags:

Ranked-Choice Voting

December 13th, 2016 Comments off

Ranked-choice voting (RCV) means the voter votes for candidates in order of preference.  If there is no clear majority winner, the lowest-ranked nominee is eliminated, and their votes assigned to those voters’ next-highest=ranked candidate, until there is a clear majority winner.

This may not be great for general elections; it is easily used to oust a sitting party for momentary purposes.

But it would be great for primaries!  It would not throw the baby out with the bathwater, if poles were taken more often, giving voters a chance to express their preference without committing to a sudden change in government.

Single-issue candidates, though they may not be eventual winners, would be promoted as champions of their cause, and the other candidates would see the swell of support for that cause.

Categories: Economics, politicas Tags:

Voter Fraud and Fairies

March 18th, 2016 Comments off

“Voter fraud is rampant” — it’s the hoariest claim of proponents of voter-ID laws, and the most untrue. As the evidence has shown over and over and over and over and over, there is no voter-impersonation fraud — the only type of fraud that such laws purport to combat.

In 2014, Justin Levitt, an election-law scholar at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, catalogued every instance of voter-impersonation fraud he could find in any election since 2000 — not just prosecutions, but even vaguely credible allegations. He found 31 — over a period in which Americans cast about 1 billion votes in federal, state and local elections.


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SCOTUS Nominations Confirmed in Last Year In Office

March 17th, 2016 Comments off

Supreme Court Nominees Confirmed in Last Year of Term, 20th Century

date of vacancy        date of nomination        Nominee/        Confirmed            President
October 14, 1911    March 13, 1912            Mahlon Pitney        March 18, 1912      Taft

January 2, 1916         January 28, 1916        Louis Brandeis        June 1, 1916       Wilson

June 10, 1916        July 14, 1916             John Clarke        July 24, 1916                    Wilson

January 12, 1932    February 15, 1932        Benjamin Cardozo    February 24, 1932   Hoover

November 16, 1939    January 4, 1940            Frank Murphy         January 16, 1940  Roosevelt

(ret. Nov. 1987)        November 30, 1987         Anthony Kennedy    February 3, 1988   Reagan


Categories: politicas, Uncategorized Tags:

Financial Strip-Mining

March 7th, 2016 Comments off

The “pro-business” model of capitalism is broken — and getting worse, author and activist Les Leopold tells Salon

Categories: Economics, politicas, Uncategorized Tags:


March 7th, 2016 Comments off

An excellent article on the authoritarian impulse, in Vox:

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Haidt et al. On Today’s Parties

February 6th, 2016 Comments off

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Fracking and Baysean Calculator

August 11th, 2015 Comments off

Well, we can use the Bayes Probability Theorem to figure out how likely is is that fracking will pollute our water supply.

Suppose the probability of fracking polluting the water supply in any one spot–say, within 500 yards of the fracking site–is originally estimated, before any evidence of pollution has been found, to be only 0.5%.

Now an event happens, such as the real event: water coming from a tap in a house, which draws its water from a well, starts to ignite when an open flame is brought near it.

What are the chances that the fracking caused the pollution?  We can estimate that there is about a 40% chance that fracking is the cause.  We can also posit that, without the fracking, natural causes might cause the water to become polluted; but it’s very rarely that a water supply spontaneously becomes flammable, so let’s put that possibility at 0.05%.

Plugging these values in to the Bayesean Theorem; x=.5, y=50%, z=0.05%

Bayesean Theorem:  P = xy / xy + z(1-x)

Solving for P :  There is a 83% chance that fracking will pollute the water supply.

That is not a trivial possibility.

You can play with these figures, using my Bayesean Calculator.  In any case, you will not find the possibility of pollution from fracking to be anything but frightening.

Hey, nothing wrong with that, right?

Categories: Economics, politicas, Uncategorized Tags:

Magical Mystery Tour

June 11th, 2014 Comments off

Remember the VW Bus?  Sometimes it was a camper; mostly it was just campy.  In the 70’s they were ubiquitous.  Chugging up I-95, loping along the straightaway across Kansas, struggling up through the Eisenhower Tunnel over the Rockies…the Bus was always there.  In its original drab tan, or painted in reds, purples, yellow, greens, blues, the bus became a totem of its generation, the hippie generation, which was, not quite accidentally, also the Baby Boom generation.

Yes, those were boomers in all that hair and sleeveless tees, trailing the sweet sweet odor of euphoria.  Almost more than the weed, the VW Bus (and its baby brother, the Beetle) represented Freedom, Escape from Normality, and a whole new way of thinking: Out With the Old, Up With the Young!  It was all about breaking with the past and, more than that, with Leaving Home….Let’s get outta here!  Gotta go now, sayonara, there’s new lands to see, new experiences to conquer.

The reason for all this enthusiasm, this wanderlust, comes down to one great contributing factor, which can be described briefly:  the Great Tit.

In his book, Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us, Avi Tuschman describes studies done of dispersal distribution of the British bird, the Great Tit.  A wider dispersal area, it seems, encourages outbreeding–mating with a wider genetic pool, while a narrow dispersal area encourages inbreeding, leading to “inbreeding depression,” or a lowering of evolutionary fitness.  Similarly, other animals’ breeding patterns encourage outgroup breeding: younger male wolf-cubs are encouraged to leave their homes and find new hunting areas, while firstborns generally stay within their home country.

**other examples to follow**

With overpopulation, the supernumeric members of the tribe–generally the younger, who are not at that time contributing as much to the group–are forced, or asked nicely, to leave.  And what did the Baby Boom generation face, but overpopulation?  They faced a superabundance of competitors, of people just like them, and found it advantageous to leave the home area and look for opportunities among other groups and with new cadres of available mates.  Didn’t the VW Bus make for a convenient way to make this happen?

In other studies, it’s been found that first-borns tend to stay at home, while their younger syblings are more likely to leave, having gotten less attention from the parents and in search of opportunity.  The stay-at-homes also tend to be more conservative (well yes, staying put is a really conservative trait), whole those that leave are more liberal (read ‘adventurous’) and open to new experiences.


Categories: Humanism, politicas, Uncategorized Tags: