Patterico's Pontifications

9/11/2007

LAT: Study Shows Liberals Smarter

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 10:25 pm

The L.A. Times gloats reports:

Exploring the neurobiology of politics, scientists have found that liberals tolerate ambiguity and conflict better than conservatives because of how their brains work.

In a simple experiment reported today in the journal Nature Neuroscience, scientists at New York University and UCLA show that political orientation is related to differences in how the brain processes information.

Who’d have thunk it? Academics found that the liberal brain works better!

Participants were college students whose politics ranged from “very liberal” to “very conservative.” They were instructed to tap a keyboard when an M appeared on a computer monitor and to refrain from tapping when they saw a W.

M appeared four times more frequently than W, conditioning participants to press a key in knee-jerk fashion whenever they saw a letter.

Each participant was wired to an electroencephalograph that recorded activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that detects conflicts between a habitual tendency (pressing a key) and a more appropriate response (not pressing the key). Liberals had more brain activity and made fewer mistakes than conservatives when they saw a W, researchers said. Liberals and conservatives were equally accurate in recognizing M.

And now comes the triumphalism:

Sulloway said the results could explain why President Bush demonstrated a single-minded commitment to the Iraq war and why some people perceived Sen. John F. Kerry, the liberal Massachusetts Democrat who opposed Bush in the 2004 presidential race, as a “flip-flopper” for changing his mind about the conflict.

Based on the results, he said, liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.

“There is ample data from the history of science showing that social and political liberals indeed do tend to support major revolutions in science,” said Sulloway, who has written about the history of science and has studied behavioral differences between conservatives and liberals.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever known anyone who started out life as a liberal, but changed into a conservative (or, God help us, the reverse).

Congratulations! You were witness to a change in someone’s brain!

My definition of a liberal: someone who falls for a B.S. study like this.

Senate Bans Mexican Trucks [Updated]

Filed under: Immigration,Politics — DRJ @ 5:22 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Just when I was getting used to the idea of Mexican trucks on US roads, the Senate voted to ban them:

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Union Files Suit to Stop Immigration Raids

Filed under: Immigration — DRJ @ 3:17 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

From the “News Before It Happens” department comes this press conference about a lawsuit that hasn’t been filed yet:

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With all Due Respect, General Betray Us [Updated]

Filed under: Politics,War — DRJ @ 10:31 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

A round-up of Democratic comments “supporting” General Petraeus as he reports on the surge:

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L.A. Daily News Story on Kristina Ripatti

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:49 am

In June, Jack Dunphy wrote here about the paralyzed Kristina Ripatti using a walker to cross the finish line at the LAPD’s annual Police Memorial Run. Jack said:

At this year’s event, Ripatti covered most of the running course in her wheelchair, but then, in one of the most remarkable displays of strength and determination I’ve ever witnessed, used a walker to cross the last fifty feet to the finish line.

At a time when the local media remain focused to the point of obsession on the MacArthur Park melee, it’s important to remember the risks cops willingly face every day they put on the uniform. One hears a lot of talk about the “LAPD culture” and its supposed role in what happened at MacArthur Park, but the department’s true culture was on display Saturday morning at Dockweiler Beach, most notably in the person of Kristina Ripatti. There just weren’t any reporters there to tell you about it.

As it turns out, there was at least one: Brent Hopkins of the L.A. Daily News. It’s just that his paper took three months to tell the story.

It’s worth the wait:

The finish line was 40 long yards away as Ripatti channeled her upper-body strength to push her legs forward.

With each flex of her shoulders, the brace redirected the movement down through her unfeeling thighs and calves. Her legs jerked along as she grimaced in pain.

She’d done this before in the privacy of the gym, but never for this distance and with this many spectators. She wasn’t back on her feet for good, but with the right conditions and supreme effort, maybe she could make it all the way.

The cops of Southwest moved along behind her, clapping in unison. And a crowd began to form, first a few, then more, then more.

As she took each agonizing step forward, the crowd swelled until, pretty soon, 1,200 police officers surrounded the finish line.

They roared with approval, pumping their fists and cheering. Bratton and his No. 2, Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell, stood at the heart, encouraging Ripatti onward. She kept pushing forward, arms straining and teeth gritted.

She crossed the line.

The energy cascaded forward as the crowd erupted with wild yells. [Husband Tim] Pearce, heart pounding and eyes misting, embraced her in a mad hug and she grinned.

This was the first time in a year he’d hugged her standing up, the first time he’d looked into her eyes, an intimate moment, surrounded by a thousand roaring cops.

“I forgot how tall you are,” he told her, softly.

Read it all the way to the end. Trust me on this.

P.S. Did I mention that there is video of the moment at the link? Believe it or not, it is more moving even than the description above.

Ted Olson a Front-Runner for A.G.

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:02 am

Jan Crawford Greenburg has a post about the top picks to replace Alberto Gonzales:

The White House could announce as early as Wednesday its nominee to replace Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson has emerged as a leading candidate—despite initial concerns in the administration that he could face a tough confirmation hearing, according to sources close to the process.

Olson would be an excellent, excellent choice. Kate O’Beirne lists some of his positive attributes:

Olson left DOJ in 2004 with his formidable reputation further enhanced. He skillfully served as solicitor general with unquestionable integrity and without a whiff of partisanship. He is widely admired by his peers in the legal community and Senate Democrats would search in vain for a credible legal critic. He is also well known well beyond Washington and conservatives would cheer his nomination.

Absolutely.

The main reason Democrats would oppose him is sourpuss resentment over his involvement in helping Bush fight the legal battle in the 2000 election. Also raised in the bitterly partisan hearings over his nomination to be Solicitor General was his involvement in the “Arkansas Project,” which pro-Hillary forces — relying heavily on the word of admitted liar David Brock — saw as the very nerve center of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” so famously alluded to by Hillary back in the day. More on that here and here at Salon.

But these objections were nonsense then, and remain so now. In any event, they weren’t enough to derail his nomination. Since then, he has performed admirably as Solicitor General — even after his wife Barbara died in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Granted, the Democrats now control the Senate — but they would have a tough time convincing the American public that Olson has some deep dark secret that didn’t emerge in the 2001 hearings . . . and that didn’t prevent him from shining as the nation’s advocate before the Supreme Court.

True to form, the White House is considering wimping out and going with a safer candidate:

On the administration’s short list since Gonzales first disclosed he would be resigning, Olson has all the right credentials. But some officials, including White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, had been concerned that he would face stiff opposition from Senate Democrats. Olson was confirmed solicitor general by a razor-thin 51-47 vote in 2001, when Republicans ran the Senate.

. . . .

Bolten contacted Olson the weekend before Gonzales’ resignation to see if he would be considered for the post, sources said. Bolten also spoke with George Terwilliger, a former federal prosecutor who was deputy attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration . . . .

. . . .

In deciding between Olson and Terwilliger, White House officials are weighing several factors. Olson is considered the stronger and more experienced candidate, but concerns that his confirmation hearing could turn into a partisan brawl have not gone away, sources said.

That’s the strike against Olson: He’s a bigger fight.

Olson’s supporters have argued to Bolten and others that he would actually be less controversial now than at his 2001 hearings, having been well regarded during his stint as solicitor general. Terwilliger’s supporters counter that he’s equally capable–and more easily confirmable in a contentious Senate.

President Bush’s choice could send a signal: How much fight does he have left—or feel like expending—in the remaining 15 months of his administration? Stay tuned.

If George Bush should have learned one thing from the Roberts and Alito nominations — widely considered to be among the few unalloyed successes of his presidency — it is this: it is not that hard to win a confirmation battle with a nominee of true quality. [Void where prohibited; must be 18 years or older to play; pronouncement may not apply to Robert Bork or similar candidates.]

That’s the lesson that Bush should have learned. We’ll know shortly whether he really did.


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