Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Has the left really taken over academia? And other news and views

Academics And Politics Paul Krugman writes: Via Noah Smith, an interesting back-and-forth about the political leanings of professors. Conservatives are outraged at what they see as a sharp leftward movement in the academy:

But what’s really happening here? Did professors move left, or did the meaning of conservatism in America change in a way that drove scholars away? You can guess what I think. But here’s some evidence. First, using the DW-nominate measure — which uses roll-call votes over time to identify a left-right spectrum, and doesn’t impose any constraint of symmetry between the parties — what we’ve seen over the past generation is a sharp rightward (up in the figure) move by Republicans, with no comparable move by Democrats, especially in the North:
Click to enlarge
So self-identifying as a Republican now means associating yourself with a party that has moved sharply to the right since 1995. If you like, being a Republican used to mean supporting a party that nominated George H.W. Bush, but now it means supporting a party where a majority of primary voters support Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Being a Democrat used to mean supporting a party that nominated Bill Clinton; it now means supporting a party likely to nominate, um, Hillary Clinton.

What's hanging in the corridors of power? - Former prime minister Tony Abbott may have said it best when he noted "you learn something about someone by the art they choose to hang". Of course, it helps if you have a multi-million-dollar collection to choose from.

The Oldest, Coldest Mammals May Be Some of the Best Prepared for Climate Change

The Eight Causes of Trumpism - However the Republican presidential primary turns out, the conditions that fostered the mogul’s rise have left their mark on the party—and America: In some ways, the most interesting political story of 2015 was not Donald Trump but the widespread pundit reaction to Trump. Throughout the year, until a different conclusion became unavoidable, the expert consensus was that Trump was a single day or one inflammatory statement away from self-destruction, that his ceiling of support was 25 percent of Republicans at most, and even that was transitory. Another theme was that once Republican primary and caucus voters saw that Trump was anything but a true conservative—given his past support for a single-payer health-care system, his insistence on taxing the rich, and his contributions to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton—he would collapse. The willful suspension of disbelief by so many political professionals and analysts had multiple roots. One part was a deep belief that history rules—since rogue and inexperienced candidates had always faltered before, it followed that it would happen again. Another was that nothing has changed in a meaningful way in American politics—there has not been real polarization, only natural “sorting,” and the establishment will rule, as it always does. A third was that there are certain characteristics expected of a president—prudence, civility, expertise—that would eventually cause Trump and the other outsiders like Carson, Cruz, and Fiorina to fall by the wayside. Those roots remain resilient in the punditocracy and political community. They were and are wrong. Both Trump and a broader phenomenon—call it Trumpism—are stronger and deeper than most veteran political analysts realized or were willing to acknowledge. They are neither immediate nor transitory phenomena. The disdain for the status quo, for authority figures of both parties and other institutions, and the anger at inexorable changes in society, are real, enduring, and especially deep on the Republican side.

The Conservative Case for Solar Subsidies

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