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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in chicken_soda's LiveJournal:

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Friday, December 1st, 2006
6:24 pm
Struggle and Progress: North Carolina's Labor Movement in Action
My piece in the UNC campus magazine Boiling Point on the movement for public sector collective bargaining in North Carolina is here, on page 12. I have no idea why the editor chose the title listed.
Sunday, November 5th, 2006
3:05 pm
Midterms picks
Based on my reading of data from Political Arithmetik, Pollster dot com, the Cook Political Report, Real Clear Politics, Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, and the Iowa Electronic Markets and Intrade dot com, I am calling the election:

The House: Democrats win it fairly easily, gaining around 24 seats, for a small but clear majority.

The Senate: The Democrats will gain 4-6 seats. If forced to give a specific figure, I'd somewhat uncomfortably say that the Democrats will gain 5 seats, falling just short of re-taking the Senate. I'd put the probabilities as follows:

Democrats gain 5 seats: 31% probable
Democrats gain 6 seats: 30% probable
Democrats gain 4 seats: 29% probable
Democrats gain 3 seats: 8% probable
Democrats gain 7+ seats: 2% probable
Democrats gain <3 seats: 1% probable

Specifically, I'll call these close races:
Maryland and New Jersey will stay Democratic - Maryland just by a hair
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island will go Democratic

And these very close ones:
Tennessee will go Republican
Montana, Missouri and Virginia are the hardest to call. But I'll predict each of them to go Democratic, because the Dems are a hair ahead in each of them in polling numbers. It's hard to see the Dems winning all of them, though!

All the other races are non-races - the outcomes are clear.

This focus yields a prediction for the Dems to gain 6 seats, which is different than my overall prediction. I still think the overall prediction of 5 is the best. I just can't see nothing going wrong for them. For the seat by seat predictions to be right, they have to win all 3 of the closest races.

The Governors Races: I have barely paid attention to these, but it looks like the Democrats will take a several-seat majority here.
Saturday, August 5th, 2006
11:20 pm
Bush's War on Labor
Here's a good article on how Bush has used the "war on terrorism" to wage war on labor.

(I guess I'm supposed to call it the "war on terror," but that's such a collossally stupid name that I get ill when I think about it. Obviously, the centerpiece strategy of the so-called "war on terror" is to increase Americans' terror so much that they will let the administration do whatever it wants.)
Sunday, July 23rd, 2006
12:02 am
Americans More Rooted than Ever Before
I've been meaning to look this up for a while now, and found it tonight. Though no one in the general public believes it, it is well-documented that US residential stability has actually increased over the last century and a half or so. People are less likely to move that they were back in the 1800s.

The first 3 pages give the basic idea - the abstract says ...

"Many scholars attribute contemporary ills to greater “rootlessness” among Americans. Residential mobility may be of some concern because local
communities are disordered and vulnerable individuals are at risk when turnover is especially rapid. However, rates of residential mobility actually declined between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and continued to decline between 1950 and 1999. Analysis of Current Population Surveys shows that: in the population overall, the decline in mobility rates occurred for local moves – rates of cross-county moves stayed almost constant; Americans of different ages, household types, races, genders, and classes all experienced the decline; but certain specific groups experienced either no drop or a slight increase in mobility. The latter seem distinctive in being the most economically marginal members of the population."
Thursday, June 8th, 2006
1:07 pm
US deliberately avoided killing al-Zarqawi 3 times in 2002
This piece from MSNBC in 2004 explains that the Bushies had 3 chances to kill al-Zarqawi in 2002, but didn't act because they feared undercutting their "case" that Saddam Hussein had to be overthrown. Damn.

Unfortunately, the chances that this info will make it out to the public at large are like 2%, and Bushie will probably get the same kind of popularity boost from Zarqawi's death today as he did when Iraq was attacked and whn Saddam was caught.


Avoiding attacking suspected terrorist mastermind
Abu Musab Zarqawi blamed for more than 700 killings in Iraq

By Jim Miklaszewski
Pentagon Correspondent
NBC News
Updated: 6:14 p.m. MT March 2, 2004

With Tuesday’s attacks, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, is now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq.

But NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger.

In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq,
producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S.
government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.

‘People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of pre-emption against terrorists.’

“Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn’t do
it,” said Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.

Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.

The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.

“People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of preemption against terrorists,” according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.

In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.

The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in
Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

The United States did attack the camp at Kirma at the beginning of the war, but it was too late — Zarqawi and many of his followers were gone. “Here’s a case where they waited, they waited too long and now we’re suffering as a result inside Iraq,” Cressey added.

And despite the Bush administration’s tough talk about hitting the terrorists before they strike, Zarqawi’s killing streak continues today.
Tuesday, June 6th, 2006
8:45 pm
Time is right for minimum wage hike
North Carolina's state house voted last week to increase the state minimum wage to $6.15 an hour. The bill's sponsors should be commended. Raising the minimum wage to $6.15 an hour is not a comprehensive solution to the problem of working poverty in North Carolina, but it is certainly a long-overdue step in the right direction.

Thus far, the debate over raising the minimum wage has been framed in terms that make little sense. The minimum wage, when adjusted for inflation, has actually fallen off dramatically over the last several decades. The value of the minimum wage in the late 1960's was $8.00 an hour in today's terms. But the federal-level minimum wage has not changed in nearly a decade, while inflation has continued to increase. Today's minimum wage, according to The Economic Policy Institute, is about a quarter lower in real terms than it was 25 years ago. The issue being debated in North Carolina today, then, is not whether the minimum wage will be increased, but whether it will be allowed to sink further.

Another way of looking at this question to consider what the minimum wage can get you. A full-time worker employed 40 hours a week at $5.15 an hour, for 50 weeks a year, will make about $10,300 a year prior to taxes. Less than $1,000 a month might cover basic expenses like rent and food for one person, but it's surely not enough for maintaining a car, buying health insurance, or raising a child. According to the North Carolina Justice Center, a family of two adults and one infant living in Orange County would need both adults to work full-time at double the minimum wage in order to obtain a reasonable standard of living. Even in rural Avery County, where the cost of living is low, two adults with an infant would each need to make about 150% of minimum wage to meet the same living standard.

In a country as wealthy as the Unites States, it should be an outrage that two parents can work full-time and still have their family experience deprivation. But some business owners' groups in North Carolina are still hoping that the minimum wage increase will fail in its final steps to enactment, breaking out the well-worn argument that minimum wage laws cost jobs. However, Princeton economists David Card and Alan Krueger's study of increases in the minimum wage by California and New Jersey and at the federal level in the 1990s found little to no evidence of job loss. Businesses profit so much from the labor of most low-wage workers that the demand for such workers is nearly inelastic: moderate increases in the minimum wage have little to no negative effect on employment.

The increase in the state's minimum wage that may be enacted this legislative session doesn't go far enough. North Carolina should move towards tying the minimum wage to inflation, as some other states have done, and should increase the minimum wage further, to a level that ensures those who work make enough to live on. Meanwhile, the federal government could look to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, a program that supplements impoverished Americans' incomes at slowly decreasing levels as their income rises: someone making $10,000 a year might receive an EITC of $3,000, while someone
making $14,000 a year might receive an EITC of $1,500. The EITC doesn't just relieve poverty; it does so while encouraging work.

But while the minimum wage increase heading toward Governor Easley's desk is not, in itself, enough to solve the problem of working poverty in North Carolina, it is assuredly a step in the right direction.
12:21 am
Medical marijuana inches forward
The results of the largest study ever conducted of the link between smoking marijuana and incidence of lung cancer have just been released. The results suggest that there is, in fact, no discernable link between marijuana and cancer. This finding should only add momentum to the growing movement taking place in states across the country to allow doctors to recommend marijuana for medical purposes.

The study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse--hardly a proponent of marijuana--and supervised by Dr. Donald Tashkin of UCLA--who has previously warned of the risks of marijuana use--involved over 2,000 subjects who were compared on their histories of cigarettes and marijuana use, their health outcomes, and other relevant factors. The finding that marijuana was not linked to cancer surprised researchers, given that no one disputes that marijuana smoke contains carcinogens. But if that's the case, why wouldn't smoking marijuana increase the risk of cancer?

It turns out that the likely reason is that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, appears to have anti-tumor properties. According to Tashkin, THC may be helping destroy damaged cells that would otherwise become cancerous, and might also help restrict the supply of blood to tumors that would otherwise develop due to the carcinogens in marijuana smoke.

This study is only one of several recent developments that may further spur along the growing movement for medical marijuana. Another recent study, published in April in The Journal of Pharmaceutical Science, found that vaporizer technology can be fully effective in delivering THC and other cannabinoids for medical purposes without exposing patients to tar and other chemicals in smoke. Further, the April 20th, 2006 statement by the Food and Drug Administration against medical marijuana--which flatly contradicted a prior report by the government's own Institute of Medicine--has been met with widespread derision as containing outright falsehoods and signaling the unprecedented politicization of the FDA. Despite the federal government's resistance, then, advocates' efforts to allow doctors to recommend marijuana to seriously ill patients have resulted in medical marijuana laws in a dozen U.S. states.

Why is medical marijuana needed? The medical community has known for decades that the active ingredient in marijuana is effective in combating nausea, appetite loss, and severe pain found in all sorts of medical patients, including those undergoing chemotherapy, suffering from glaucoma, and afflicted with AIDS. The pharmaceutical industry has responded with Marinol, a prescription pill that contains THC, but it has been widely criticized on various grounds--including that it's hard to take a pill when you can't keep food down, that users can't regulate the level at which they consume it so it produces an overwhelming, disorienting high, and that Marinol takes over an hour to kick in. For these reasons, seriously ill patients and their doctors should have a better option available.

Some people fear that allowing medical marijuana would open the door to full-scale marijuana legalization. However, this kind of argument should have little weight in deciding what course of action doctors should be allowed to recommend to their patients. After all, methodone, morphine, and all sorts of other controlled substances are considered routine for medical use, and nobody worries that this has opened the door to widespread public use. In this case, the course based on science and the course based on compassion are one and the same: medical marijuana's time has come. And if you're in doubt, consider this: Which do you think is worse for seriously ill patients who smoke marijuana to relieve their suffering--medical marijuana, or prison?
Saturday, June 3rd, 2006
1:11 pm
STDs and Killer Bunny Rabbits
"... the U.S. still has the highest rates of STDs in the industrialized world, with rates that are 50-100 times higher than other industrialized nations. "

-CDC report from 1996


Killer bunnies re-enact SCREAM in 30 seconds!
Thursday, June 1st, 2006
4:38 pm
12:00 am
The Latest on Midterm Elections
The Cook Political Report has a recent post on midterm elections predictions ... but curiously, the text doesn't seem consistent with the chart it presents at the bottom of the page - even accounting for the 3 week time gap between the chart and the article. The article suggests the Dems will take the House. The chart suggests the exact opposite.

Monday, May 8th, 2006
2:03 pm
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
(1) William Saletan posts this item on Slate:

"Teens who take virginity pledges can't be trusted, according to an analysis of follow-up surveys. Findings: 1) 52 percent of pledgers denied a year later that they'd pledged. 2) Among pledgers who later admitted to having sex the year after the pledge, 73 percent denied they'd pledged. 3) Among pledgers who conceded in the first survey that they'd had sex, nearly one in three claimed a year later that they'd never had sex. 4) Pledgers were four times as likely as non-pledgers to recant previous admissions that they'd had sex. Researchers' conclusions: 1) Teens lie. 2) Pledgers lie more. 3) Born-again pledgers (those who pledge after having sex) lie the most. 4) Pledges fail. 5) We have no idea what works or what the truth is, because all this revisionism makes the data worthless. Conservative objection: Stop dishonoring pledgers by questioning whether they honor their pledges. (For the risks of French kissing, click here. For the superiority of intercourse over masturbation, click here. For Human Nature's take on anal sex, click here. For sex with teachers, click here.)"

(2) I'm feeling pretty good about the Dems retaking at least one house. Now I just need to find someone who will take the other side of the bet:

"WASHINGTON (AP) - Angry conservatives are driving the approval ratings of President Bush and the GOP-led Congress to dismal new lows, according to an AP-Ipsos poll that underscores why Republicans fear an Election Day massacre. Six months out, the intensity of opposition to Bush and Congress has risen sharply, along with the percentage of Americans who believe the nation is on the wrong track. The AP-Ipsos poll also suggests that Democratic voters are far more motivated than Republicans. Elections in the middle of a president's term traditionally favor the party whose core supporters are the most energized.

This week's survey of 1,000 adults, including 865 registered voters, found:

- Just 33 percent of the public approves of Bush's job performance, the lowest of his presidency. That compares with 36 percent approval in early April. Forty-five percent of self-described conservatives now disapprove of the president.

- Just one-fourth of the public approves of the job Congress is doing, a new low in AP-Ipsos polling and down 5 percentage points since last month. A whopping 65 percent of conservatives disapprove of Congress.

- A majority of Americans say they want Democrats rather than Republicans to control Congress (51 percent to 34 percent). That's the largest gap recorded by AP-Ipsos since Bush took office. Even 31 percent of conservatives want Republicans out of power.

- The souring of the nation's mood has accelerated the past three months, with the percentage of people describing the nation on the wrong track rising 12 points to a new high of 73 percent. Six of 10 conservatives say America is headed in the wrong direction.

Republican strategists said the party stands to lose control of Congress unless the environment changes unexpectedly. "It's going to take some events of significance to turn this around," GOP pollster Whit Ayres said. "I don't think at this point you can talk your way back from those sorts of ratings." He said the party needs concrete progress in Iraq and action in Congress on immigration, lobbying reform and tax cuts. "Those things would give the country a sense that Washington has heard the people and is responding in a way that will give conservatives a sense that their concerns are being addressed," Ayres said.

Conservative voters blame the White House and Congress for runaway government spending, illegal immigration and lack of action on social issues such as a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage. Those concerns come on top of public worries about Iraq, the economy and gasoline prices. Hardline conservatives are not likely to vote Democratic in the fall, but it would be just as devastating to the Republicans if conservatives lose their enthusiasm and stay home on Election Day.

AP-Ipsos polling suggests that Democrats may be winning the motivation game. Fewer voters today than in 2004 call themselves Republicans or Republican-leaning. In addition, 27 percent of registered voters were strong Republicans just before the 2004 election, while only 15 percent fit that description today. Democratic numbers are the same or better since 2004.

It gets worse. Only 23 percent of the public approve of the way the president is handling gasoline prices, the lowest in AP-Ipsos polling. Those who strongly disapprove outnumber those who strongly approve by an extraordinary 55 percent to 8 percent. As for his overall job performance, history suggests that Bush's paltry 33 percent spells trouble for Republicans in the fall. In the past six decades, only one president had a lower job approval rating six months before a midterm election - Richard Nixon in May 1974, the year in which Watergate-scarred Republicans lost 48 seats in the House and four in the Senate. By November, Nixon was out of a job too, having resigned the presidency in August.

Nearly half of the public strongly disapproves of Bush, a huge jump from his 5 percent strong disapproval rating in 2002. The poll has a margin of error of 3 percentage points. Of all Republicans, nearly 30 percent disapprove of the job Bush is doing, including 13 percent who feel strongly about it.

Democrats need to gain 15 seats in the House and six in the Senate for control of Congress, no easy task in an era that favors incumbents. The Democratic strategy is to nationalize the elections around a throw-the-bums-out theme. Republicans counter that they will do better than polls suggest when voters are forced on Election Day to choose between candidates in their particular House and Senate races. "But," Ayres said, "we better get in gear.""

(3) On the down side, Slate calls out Nancy Pelosi as dumb for openly hinting at impeachment. And Senator Feinstein seems ready to roll over in re: Bush's new pick to head the CIA.

(4) But on the plus side again, President D-Bag has made yet another huge error in picking a CIA chief. This should drive his ratings down further. The only problem with this, of course, is that an executive-leguislative confrontation over this will shake the image of the GOP Congress as being Bush's stoolies, which might help their chances in the midterms.
Friday, May 5th, 2006
2:55 pm
Some damn good journalism
William Saletan of Slate has some great lines today:

"Americans have long been driven by two deep longings. The first is to be left alone. The second is to tell other people what to do. On most moral issues—abortion, porn, video games, alcohol, tobacco, guns—the easiest way out is to inflict our piety on minors. All the righteous satisfaction, none of the libertarian backlash. Great taste, less filling."

And this one probably isn't very original, but it's still pretty nice: "Nothing's more important to Clinton than the importance of Clinton, so the deal's announcement put him front and center."

In other news, The Emory Hub did a good piece on debate. It takes way too long to load, because it's a pretty PDF file with lots of pictures. But here it is.

And finally, former Marijuana Policy Project staffer Ryan Grim has a neat little piece on the worst and best ways to take medical marijuana here.
Thursday, May 4th, 2006
2:31 pm
Who is Richard Morin?
He's got some really interesting colums here.

Also, will have to check out Tim Harford's new book The Undercover Economist.

And how did I manage to miss the Stephen Colbert national press corps dinner speech until today? Absolutely fantastic stuff.
Saturday, April 29th, 2006
1:24 am
More on the framing article
I re-read the "Hillary Clinton" versus "Hillary Rodham Clinton" article a couple times, and am increasingly convinced that it features a pretty irresponsible use of statistics. The confidence intervals are already 4.5 percent - the sample is 1,000 people split into a 500-person "HC" group and a 500-person "HRC" group. But then each of these groups is divided even further, into roughly 165 Republicans, 165 Democrats, and 170 Independents. This drastically widens the intervals and makes points estimates for comparison really shaky.

The only ARGUABLY substantively meaningful finding from the poll is that non-Southerners prefer "HRC" to "HC" by quite a bit. The difference in approval ratings is 10 points - which is probably still inside the confidence intervals (for non-Southerners, they would probably be about 5.5 percent in either a positive or negative direction, times two, meaning a 10 percent difference might or might not reflect some real difference in the population at large). But absent some good theoretical explanation of why non-Southerners would vastly prefer "HRC," chances are that this poll doesn't mean anything.

And this sort of statistical tomfoolery doesn't inspire confidence in CNN's newly independent polling division. Keating Holland, it doesn't seem like you know your job very well.
Thursday, April 27th, 2006
11:36 pm
Framing Effects Gone Mad
I'm no stranger to framing effects. I know that surveys that ask 2 questions with identical substantive meaning can yield wildly different results, based on question wording alone. The classic example is that if we assume that, say, ten thousand people have a particular fatal disease, far more people will support spending $10 million to develop a cure that will save 20% of them than a cure that will fail 80% of the time. But even so, this is pretty shocking.

Admittedly, the article doesn't discuss confidence intervals - and given that there is a split-sample design (1000 people were surveyed, but half got asked about "HC" and half about "HRC"), the confidence intervals are probably 4.5% in either direction rather than 3% in either direction. So the differences in approval for "Hillary Clinton" and "Hillary Rodham Clinton" could be within the margin of error.

The interesting question, though, is why Republicans prefer "HRC" over "HC" while Southerners prefer "HC" over "HRC." (Note, of course, that the confidence intervals are getting massive at this point, due to further splintering of the initial two 500-person groups.) Could it just be that Southerners don't like the whole feminist-sounding multi-name thing, whereas Republicans are especially turned off by "HC" because it reminds them more of Bill Clinton than "HRC" does?

I wonder how much of this is meaningful, and how much is due to chance sampling error and/or to non-sampling sources of error ...
Saturday, April 22nd, 2006
3:35 pm
The World is Turning Upside Down when ...
A majority of Republicans support universal health insurance!?!?

And farewell, outgoing White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. Sure, you're a d-bag, but I always kind of liked you. Maybe because the first time I saw you speak at length was when you were getting creamed by the press corps in spring/summer 2005 about the Plame leak ... it was hard not to feel bad for you.
Friday, April 14th, 2006
2:08 pm
Yesterday ...
It was an interesting day.

I've been doing participant-observation of an on-campus group that deals with workers' rights issues, both locally and internationally. One of the main issues this year has been pushing UNC forward on developing a labor code for factories that make UNC apparel. UNC is the biggest collegiate logo apparrel licenser in the US, and it contracts with different companies that contract with various factories to make UNC logo apparel. The problem is that historically the workers in these factories have been getting the shaft - bad treatment, bad hours, low pay, no unions allowed, etc. The national group USAS, United Students Against Sweatshops, has been working on getting universities to pressure for better conditions for the factory workers. The latest stage of this is that USAS has been pushing a proposal under which universities will commit to a 4-year plan to steadily increase the percentage of contracting they do with companies that use factories that meet certain labor conditions (and to decrease the percentage of contracting they do with companies that use factories that are mean to their workers).

This proposal has been under discussion at UNC all year, and yesterday the labor licensing committee (helped along by 8 sign-holding activists who crashed their meeting) made serious progress toward endorsing the goals of the proposal. It could still get delayed by the 2 committee members who weren't there, or held up by the chancellor of the university. And endorsing the goals is not as full a commitment as signing on. But at the least, if UNC signs on to the goals, it will be a big signal to other schools and will increase the odds of building a critical mass of universities who sign on in time to prevent some of the labor-certified factories from shutting down due to lack of business.

And then I went to an information session on building Wikis. I am working on building a Wiki that organizes information to help people study for the long and unpleasant ritual of comprehensive exams. I learned a lot yesterday. I think this SOCIOWIKI project will fly (though it might take a little while). Here is what I pulled together yesterday to test what can be done. It ain't impressive yet, but it has potential.

And then last night I got into a civil but yelling argument with a friend of a friend - a Russian immigrant who doesn't like that people from "real countries" can't immigrate to the US as easily (in her opinion) as people from "shit countries," and hates Mexicans and Blacks. I did well in this argument/shouting match/whatever, but she was also stubborn, and there's only so much you can say to people who openly declare that they are racist and won't change.

It did get me thinking some more about immigration policy. As in, what kind of immigration policy makes sense? There's certainly a strong moral argument to be made for totally open borders, but there are some problems with that - primarily that it would really hurt a lot of low-wage and mid-wage workers in the US, and would probably have net negative consequences. It would also seem to vastly strengthen the hand of MNCs and wealthy firms who would be much freer to pursue race-to-the-bottom strategies. Without national borders, nation-states would have even less leverage to provide social safety nets and rights than they do now.

But I also find the "illegal immigrants broke the law and should be punished" argument extremely weak.

And from a political-economic point of view, I find it somewhat surprising that the US never really adopted Cornell professor Vernon Briggs' proposal for immigration policy to be driven by assessments of what kind of workers the US economy needs. I suppose that nativism (in the "American jobs should go to American workers" sense) is an interesting brake on corporate power ("our company should be able to bring any worker we want, from anywhere, to come work for us").
Tuesday, April 11th, 2006
10:03 pm
More hot polling data!
I was reading over a draft of an article about political partisanship, and decided to check out the author's contention that party identification has declined over the last 30-40 years in the US. From my previous understanding, this thesis was all the rage for a while, but as of 2002, researchers had agreed that the "decline of parties" had stopped in the late 1970s. Actually, that seems to be wrong - everything I could find supports or mostly supports the idea that party has continued to decline in importance. For example, Harris Polls every year asking about party ID show more people with no party and fewer Democrats and Republicans.

Actually, though, the decline is almost entirely in Democrats - they've gone from half the electorate in 1969 to a third in 2006, steadily declining almost every year. Republicans make up about 30% of the electorate, down very slightly from 36 years ago. And the percent of "Independents" is actually almost unchanged. It just seems to be a rise in people not selecting either of those 3 options.

Anyway, while looking this up, I stumbled across the webiste of a Wisconsin political scientist, Charles Franklin. Hot stuff, I tell you:



and see pages 8 and 10 of http://www.polisci.wisc.edu/users/franklin/Content/perspective.pdf for some nice printable graphs.
Wednesday, April 5th, 2006
6:17 pm
Counter Intuitive
Dr. Phil (Cohen - not the Dr. Phil of TV fame) reported this morning on the gender, earnings, and housework debate. He just got back from the Population Association meetings in Los Angeles and says that Sanjay Gupta gave a devestating paper there. The debate that he engaged has been about the effect of earnings on housework. The standard view holds that if a male partner makes all the money, the woman will do (almost) all the housework, but for women who make a greater share of income in the household, an increased percentage of housework will be done by men:

If (male earnings/couple earnings) = 1.0, then (female housework/total housework)= 1.0
If (male earnings/couple earnings) = .80, then (female housework/total housework)= .90
If (male earnings/couple earnings) = .60, then (female housework/total housework)= .75
If (male earnings/couple earnings) = .50, then (female housework/total housework)= .60

and so on. (The second number doesn't drop exactly in correspondence with the first because even in 50/50 income split couples, women do more housework. But the key idea is that there is a linear negative relationship between women's share of income and women's share of housework.)

Julie Brines came along in the '90s and challenged this, claiming that there was not just a simple drop-off in percentage of housework done by women as their share of income increased. Instead, she said, it was a u-shaped relationship: The conventional wisdom was right up to a certain point, but then in couples where men made a SMALL share of income, the percentage of housework done by women INCREASED. Thus:

If (male earnings/couple earnings) = 1.0, then (female housework/total housework)= 1.0
If (male earnings/couple earnings) = .80, then (female housework/total housework)= .90
If (male earnings/couple earnings) = .60, then (female housework/total housework)= .75
If (male earnings/couple earnings) = .50, then (female housework/total housework)= .60
If (male earnings/couple earnings) = .40, then (female housework/total housework)= .55
If (male earnings/couple earnings) = .30, then (female housework/total housework)= .60
If (male earnings/couple earnings) = .20, then (female housework/total housework)= .65
If (male earnings/couple earnings) = 0.0, then (female housework/total housework)= .75

Why would this be? Brines says it is about gender display. Men who are unable to make a lot of money, the argument goes, display their masculinity in an alternative way - by not doing any housework. They can't conform to their social gender script in one way, so they do it in another.

Sanjay Gupta (reportedly) pointed out, though, that the right end of Brines' u-shaped curve - full of couples where the woman made most of the income and did more housework - was full of poor couples. His point? The u-curve breaks down when you realize that it is NOT the ratio of female income to couple income that is driving the housework pattern. It is simply the level of female income. The couples on the right end of the supposed u-curve are poor couples where the woman is not making very much at all. And it is simpler and more accurate to simply use women's earnings as a predictor of the share of housework they will do.

Others have also pointed out that the u-curve model is suspect because there are very few data points in the right end of it.

Interesting stuff. Here is a link to the article his presentation is allegedly based on. I haven't read it and it seems to engage this question indirectly. And the link might only work from college campuses.

Also, did you think that rape was about violence and "not about sex?" Here's why you are wrong.
Friday, March 31st, 2006
3:25 pm
More Politics Craziness
Bushie is possibly on the verge of taking another big political hit for, strangely, a good policy - offering "amnesty" (a misnomer) for illegal immigrants/guest workers. Yeah, his motives are probably slimy, but it's still the right policy. (The New York Times, incidentally, had a good piece yesterday or the day before, I think, about why the amnesty program is far from a free pass into the US.)

I hope that the Dems will at least be thoughtful enough about the possibility of losing the Latino vote for a generation to avoid catering to the right on this one. It's hard to say in advance how this will play out politically, really. People don't much like illegal immigration or illegal immigrants, and even usually slightly-liberal crowds like CNN.com online poll-takers overwhelmingly (and self-deceivingly, duh) claim that they "wouldn't illegally cross a border if it was the only way to make a better life for themselves and their families." Bullshit! Anyway, people are still a sucker for stories, and there are lots of ways to personalize the issues of illegal immigrants. This could be an issue where a debate on the topic would shift public opinion a bit to the left.
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