I picked up a recent New Yorker and was astonished to find a lengthy review article on the social science work measuring the polarization of American politics.
The piece features work by Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, who (along with co-author Nolan McCarty) have created a cottage industry by using roll-call votes to map politician preferences (see the very cool VoteView page for many of the gory details).
File this one under truth is stranger than, well, it’s pretty strange. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency responsible for regulating cigarettes — yes, you read that correctly — has proposed some innovative mandates on cigarette packaging, intended to reduce tobacco consumption.
There is a whole tortured history of how the agency responsible for approving new drugs is also the agency responsible for regulating the “safety” of cigarettes, but that’s probably for another day. For today commentary, the wise guys over at The Awl sum it up pretty nicely.
They’re all here: hole-in-the-throat guy, child at risk, toe-tag dude, skeletal cancer man, preemie, zipper-chest fella, weepy lady… it’s like a United Nations of tobacco victims.
Rational ignorance is a common theme of economists thinking about voting and the electorate, but what about willing ignorance? That’s the gist of this Schumpeter quotation:
“[T]he typical citizen drops down to a lower level of mental performance as soon as he enters the political field. He argues and analyzes in a way which he would readily recognize as infantile within the sphere of his real interests…”
Here is some more background on that quote. It is certainly consistent with the overarching theme of Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy that capitalism might die out due to lack of enthusiasm from its principal beneficiaries.
The accompanying illustration is from the legendary political cartoonist, Herblock. I snagged both the quote and the picture from the Spirit of Moderation blog.
That’s the title of Monday’s panel in the Hurvis Room of the Warch Campus Center at 6:30, and it should be a corker. Ever since the Supreme Court decided Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission this past January, all you-know-what has broken loose about money in U.S. politics. The president famously called out the court in his State of the Union address, with Justice Alito brazenly mouthing the words, “not true.” And it hasn’t gotten any friendlier from there. Now, that’s entertainment!
The event will cover a lot of ground, including these Common Cause talking points:
Disclosure of interest-group ads and other outside spending
Public Financing of Wisconsin Supreme Court and other state elections
Campaign Finance Reform in Wisconsin after the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Citizens United vs F.E.C.
We will welcome panalists from both sides of the aisle, including State Representatives Penny Bernard Schaber (D-Appleton) and Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah), Andrea Kaminski from the League of Women Voters, and Jay Heck of Common Cause in Wisconsin.
Given the number of co-sponsors, I’m guessing there is ample interest. The co-sponsors are: the Lawrence Government Department, the College Republicans, the League of Women Voters of Appleton, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, the Education Fund, the American Association of University Women – Appleton Branch, and the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans.
I am moderating the event, so I hope to see you there.