Washington’s Debt Dash Diet Kryptonite; Cain Watches Good Wife; Cooking Up Research

Washington’s Debt Dash Diet Kryptonite; Cain Watches Good Wife; Cooking Up Research

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Super Committee creates their own Kryptonite

When the Congressional debt “Super Committee” was created months ago as a stalling tactic in the budget battles I knew it would be a failure.

Why?

Because neither side, Democrats nor Republicans, were willing to face the tough consequences of not making a decision, not when an election was right around the corner that might bail everyone out.

Now we see the writing on the wall plain as day as the deadline for the “League of Extraordinary Congressmen”   to agree to 1.2 trillion dollars in cuts over the next 10 years  looms, everyone is trying to wiggle out of the automatic spending cuts that will occur without an answer. Democrats have always wanted to have a mixture of tax increases and closing of loopholes on the wealthiest Americans, while Republicans have all pledged that no tax increases will ever cross their rubicon of fiscal discipline. Now, there is a real possibility that huge across-the-board defense cuts could be looming and GOP committee members are whining jobs will be lost. Really? Funny they weren’t saying that when cutting public education and research budgets earlier this year. Is there any wonder why the 2011 Congress has lower approval ratings than Hitler?

Gloria, Gloria (Cain) You Don’t have to Answer!

 Gloria, your husband’s on the run now

Running after Rom-ney, you gotta help him somehow

I think you’ve got to slow down before you start to blow it

I think you’re headed for a breakdown, so be careful not to show it

Ah, Laura Branigan’s dulcet pop tones from the 1980’s gives us the perfect musical set up for the foolish presentation that is being organized by the Cain campaign as we speak. There have been rumors bubbling all week that the Cain campaign was going to send out Herman Cain’s wife, Gloria, to an interview this week to tamp down the ruckus over his sexual harassment scandal. An “Interview with Gloria Cain” on Fox News or some other major outlet would be just the thing to get the evil press (or is it the Perry campaign, or maybe even the Romney campaign?) off Herman’s back.

I don’t know why anybody does this anymore. Trotting out “The Good Wife” to shield her man from allegations of sexual misconduct seldom results in the scandal going away – it just adds another element to the story and lengthens the news cycle. Liberals who don’t like Cain to begin with aren’t going to be moved by his wife showing up and answering a few softballs with FOX New’s Greta Van Sustren; conservatives who love him don’t need the interview; and Independents had to cut off their cable months ago after they lost their job so they won’t see it.

In the end, the Cain campaign has just shown us once again that they are not ready for primetime with this ‘scandal’ by being utterly unable to quash a story that happened over 20 years ago and has so many gag orders attached to it that nobody can get out their story except for Cain anyways. However, adding his wife into the mix would just make the problem worse. Gloria, Gloria I know FOX News has your number, but you don’t have to answer!

White Folks Still Love You When You’re Messy

In the world of academia you have what we call “peer reviewed” work, which is research that you do and is analyzed by other academics in your discipline to make sure that it’s valid. Usually this process is enough to find the frauds, charlatans and fakers that inevitably show up in academia trying to create a piece of social science work so outlandish in its conclusions that it’ll get picked up by Popular Science, Time Magazine or CNN. I mean if you write an academic article that concludes:

“White people are more prone to discriminate against black people when they encounter them in a messy environment, such as one containing litter, abandoned bicycles and broken sidewalks”

Everybody from other scientists to cops, mayors and sociologists are going to be looking to interview you, buy your data and otherwise promote your work.

Of course, if that article then turns out to be crap, based on fake data you never collected and with conclusions shrouded in shady logic then you might have some ‘splainin’ to do.

Apparently this is what has happened with Tilburg Prof. Diederik Stapel from the Netherlands. His seemingly groundbreaking psychology research on race and society has been debunked after all these years once several of his graduate students became suspicious about his research methods. Now he’s been fired by his university, is facing charges, and a whole grip of graduate students are after his hide since their PhD’s may not be invalidated by basing their work on his data.

As an academic (full disclosure, I’m a College professor with a PhD in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) there is always a temptation to make outlandish claims in your research to get attention from the popular press. Face it: most college professors are nerds or former nerds and the idea that any of their nerd work might land them on MSNBC with Tamron Hall is enough to make you think about pushing a decimal point here or there to make your results more sexy.

For example, in addition to his work on messy rooms and racism, Stapel apparently produced an article proving that meat eaters were more selfish, less secure and more aggressive than vegetarians. That story made him famous on European television.  To be honest, the mainstream press has always loved covering any “academic” story that is controversial no matter how ridiculous or scientifically vapid the experiments may have been.  Perhaps, in the future colleges or press outlets will do a better job of checking out someone’s work before hailing them as the hottest new public intellectual. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish my conference paper on why hot women are more likely to be Republicans.

Dr. Jason Johnson is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College in Ohio and author of the book Political Consultants and Campaigns: One Day to Sell. You can read more at www.drjasonjohnson.com or follow him on Twitter @Drjasonjohnson

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