Posted in Pics, Politics

Earth Day and the March for Science: WPC

I admit I didn’t march in the Women’s March. I had a lot of homework and I’m not particularly fond of crowds or being up at 7 am on a freezing winter weekend. But I couldn’t resist heading to the March for Science. Not only was it being held at a more civilized hour and in my neighborhood, I’m a scientist (alright a political scientist–but my field employs the scientific method and depends on government grants too!)


I’m so glad I went. Continue reading “Earth Day and the March for Science: WPC”

Posted in Politics

Make the SAT Great Again (Or: Politicians Need to Learn what an Appropriate Analogy Sounds Like)

It’s time we bring back analogies on the SAT. Okay, okay, we probably shouldn’t. They were racist/classist and not remotely reflective of actual college preparedness skills.

On the other hand, being able to make comparisons is a useful life skill. I always  thought coming up with a passable comparison was as easy as falling off a log (but I was also rather perturbed that I was among the first batch of students who didn’t have analogies on their SATs, so what can I tell you?) As we’ve seen recently, however, I was mistaken.

Sean Spicer said Assad is worse than Hitler because Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons on his own people. How dumb do you have to be to say that? I mean even if you don’t remember 10th grade world history, you should know that making a comparison where Hitler comes off favorably is a bad idea. Continue reading “Make the SAT Great Again (Or: Politicians Need to Learn what an Appropriate Analogy Sounds Like)”

Posted in Politics

Thoughts on Immigration

The border control agent handed me a slip of paper instead of my passport. She had checked the box next to, “you are being detained.” It would have been farcical if it hadn’t been so terrifying.

I knew the worst case scenario was that I would be sent back to the U.S. where I have family, friends, and a life. It would also mean a struggle to get my student visa and I had only applied to schools in the U.K.—but I hadn’t even accepted a spot yet, so I wouldn’t really be losing more than a year and a few application fees.

I also knew that the law was in my favor. I hadn’t overstayed any visa, I showed ample resources, and the accusation that I was trying to establish residency was absurd (and showed the border agent’s complete and utter lack of understanding of immigration law). I had done nothing wrong and immigration law was on my side.

But in the moment, sitting on a plastic chair while the arrivals hall emptied out, the worst case scenario seemed much worse and I didn’t feel like I had anything, let alone the force of law, on my side.  I can’t imagine how terrifying that process would be when the worst case scenario as bad as I felt it was—or even worse. I can’t imagine what it must feel like when you cannot cite the law in your favor (especially when you should be able to). Continue reading “Thoughts on Immigration”

Stronger Together?

I wrote this blog post for my elections and campaigns class. The assignment was to discuss the readings in an accessible way. I’d been doing this most weeks and succeeding. But the week after the election (it was due on Monday, November 14th) I was still processing. The readings were actually quite relevant to the election outcome and I’d had every intention of writing something insightful about them. That’s not what happened.

It’s been a month since I wrote this. I’ve been debating whether to post it. It’s still very much how I’m feeling, so I’m going for it. Continue reading “Stronger Together?”

Posted in Politics

The trials and tribulations of getting a PhD during a presidential election

I have a confession: I’m studying for a PhD in American politics and I don’t want to talk about the election. More than 500 days ago, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy, I was excited at the prospect of going back to school. It would be fun, I thought, to study the electoral process while watching this crazy election take shape. I was wrong.

Studying political science requires a certain objectivity, which provided some comfort during this contested election. Conversely, there was something extremely dissatisfying about the coldness of theory during a heated campaign season. Worse than that, being dispassionate can blind us to reality—because reality is all about passion. But all I saw was the instant gratification of analyzing an election while studying elections! Continue reading “The trials and tribulations of getting a PhD during a presidential election”

Posted in Politics

Voter Turnout Predictions

Nate Silver and Cass Sunstein predict that there will be low voter turnout this year. Sunstein estimates that only a bit over half the voting-age population will cast a ballot this year. There are certainly some compelling arguments for Sunstein and Silver’s theory. Trump’s ground game deficit, the decreasing competitiveness of the race, and the lack of enthusiasm among voters are all factors that point to a low-turnout election.

But they are wrong. Continue reading “Voter Turnout Predictions”

Posted in Politics

Have You Registered To Vote?

I know this isn’t quite right, but they don’t give out “I registered to Vote Today” stickers.

I just logged in, planning to post some lovely photos I took recently. Those will have to wait because wordpress distracted me. They asked me if I’d like to put an app on my blog that will remind US visitors to register to vote. I’ve done it.

I’ve always thought that voting is important. This year it is so much more important. Continue reading “Have You Registered To Vote?”

Posted in Politics

Don’t Panic: Clinton is Going to Win

“Donald Trump’s presidency could be a real possibility,” lamented Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager in a fundraising email send out after Clinton’s poll numbers started sliding. News outlets are incessantly reporting that the latest polls reflect a tightening in the race between Trump and Clinton and that one recent CNN/ORC poll showed Trump had taken the lead. Nate Silver, who became famous for applying sabermetrics to politics, today announced that he considers the presidential race “highly competitive.”

In contrast, we hear some in the media reassuring us that now is not the time to panic. Statisticians add their calm, steady voices to the small chorus of writers—such as Jeet Heer at the New Republic and Greg Sargent at the Washington Post—who are trying to soothe us. The scholars behind the Princeton Election Consortium still have the odds at better than 4:1 in favor of Clinton.

Are these writers and scholars who try to pacify the nervous public right? Should we instead listen to the over-simplified headlines, the self-interested campaign operatives, and the morning show pundits?

Did my naming-calling give away my answer?

We should listen to the measured, reasoned arguments of those listed in the former group. Not because they claim some authority with their sophisticated equations—though that is a fine reason. Not even because they average polls together in order to give a big picture view of the race—this is a good reason, too. The best reason to listen to them is that history proves they are right. Continue reading “Don’t Panic: Clinton is Going to Win”

Social Media, Terrorism, Guns, and Trump

This short rant was going to go on Facebook, but I thought my blog was a better forum than my cousin’s Facebook feed.

I’m sick and tired of people downplaying legitimate concern over terrorist attacks because gun crimes are more common or because Donald Trump is a racist. Both those things are true, but the fact that many people fear terrorism isn’t as stupid and racist as memes make it out to be. Continue reading “Social Media, Terrorism, Guns, and Trump”