Archive for August, 2003

Reactionaries on Labor Day

Sunday, August 31st, 2003

Bfore there was the Democratic Leadership Council trying to steer the Democratic Party to the center after twelve years of Republican presidents, it was an era dominated by Democratic Liberals like E. J. Dionne, Jr. This sort of Democrat was at once deeply patriotic and convinced the businesses were too self interested to care much about their workers. Labor unions were a key institution protecting workers. These Liberals came from an era when it was common for a hard working middle class father with a high school education to earn enough money in a union manufacturing job to raise a family.

This era traces itself back to President Franklin Roosevelt and the ordeal of the Great Depression. For Democratic polemists, the era was a comfortable one. They knew who the good guys and bad guys were. The titans of industry and the rich in general needed to be tamed by a powerful labor movement and a federal government properly populated by popular progressives. The comfort of familiar and long-held ideas sometimes is too alluring even after they have long since lost their saliency.

This week, out of respect to Labor Day, Dionne asks, “Do not jobs matter any more?” Dionne is convinced that the ascendancy of supply-side economics has reduced concern over unemployment. After all, Dionne writes sarcastically, “Productivity is growing, which means we’re more efficient.” From a political standpoint, Dionne need not worry. The unemployment rate remains a potent political statistic. Dionne can be certain that political operatives at the White House would very much like to drive that number down as far as possible.

Unfortunately, Dionne writes with a passion and poignancy best reserved for periods of economically crushing unemployment. Of course, for everyone who cannot find a job, the lack of labor demand can mean economic hardship and be acutely disheartening. However, the current rate of 6.3% is modest by historical standards. The mean unemployment rate since the statistic was first computed in 1948 is 5.6% with a standard deviation of 1.6%. This means that about 60% of the time the unemployment rate varies somewhere between 5.0% and 7.2%. The current rate is clearly well within the norm. Moreover, the rate seems to be retreating down from a high of 6.5% during the downturn we are recovering from. Typically, economic downturns find unemployment rates reaching 8% or even higher. The recession of 2000 and its aftermath, mark the shallowest downturn since the 1950s. If 6.5% is as bad as the unemployment rate gets, the economy is doing pretty well. Looking over the pass two decades, even with occasional oscillations associated with the business cycle, there has been a steady decline in unemployment. If unemployment seems to be less of a concern, perhaps it is because it is truly becoming less of a problem.

Dionne is worried about the loss of manufacturing jobs, and implies that supply-siders do not care about such losses. After all, “worrying about manufacturing is so Old Economy.” In a global economy, low skill manufacturing jobs will migrate to low wage countries. If trade barriers are erected to dam this flow, some manufacturing jobs will be saved, though jobs in other parts of the American economy will be lost. In addition, American consumers will suffer and many third-world countries will sink further into poverty. Americans simply cannot maintain their standard of living if the economy is supported primarily by low-skill manufacturing jobs any more than Americans at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution could have rapidly increased their standard of living if the economy remained agrarian.

Dionne represents an example of the new reactionaries, wistfully longing for the economic and political era that has past, much as city workers in the industrial era might have once romanticized about bucolic rural life. If we try to return to such a lost world, future Labor Days would likely find fewer people working. We would become another Europe, suffering from double-digit unemployment, yet secure in our progressive credentials. Nonetheless, it is hard to be angry with Dionne. It is hard to begrudge Dionne’s labor illusions on Labor Day. After Labor Day, he may awake from his stupor.

The Display of the Ten Commandments and the Incorporation Doctrine

Sunday, August 24th, 2003

There are times when important ideas and issues find flawed vehicles for their examination. The question about the display of the Ten Commandments in the marble rotunda at the state Supreme Court Building in Montgomery Alabama represents one such situation.

It did not begin auspiciously. Last summer Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore had a 5200 pound granite monument displaying the Ten Commandments brought in after his fellow judges had left for the evening. Displaying the monument was not the collective decision of the Alabama legislature or even the Alabama State Supreme Court. Roy Moore acted on his own authority. Moore acted arbitrarily because he knew he could not persuade his fellow jurists or the Alabama legislature to install the monument.

Now it is very possible to make the case that from an historical and cultural perspective the Ten Commandments are an important root of our legal system and as such their display at a court house is appropriate. Judge Moore, however, has made clear that his intention in bringing in the monument was to create a religious symbol not an historical one. Indeed, Moore implied that the removal of the monument would somehow be a denial of God. Moore would not yield to court orders to remove the monument, saying, “I will never deny the God upon whom our laws and country depend.” Moore is destroying the claim that this particular display of the Ten Commandments is religiously neutral. He is really trying to give the imprimatur of the state to a particular religious belief.

Judge Moore is trying to enhance his political fortunes, by attracting enemies who are justifiably unpopular in Alabama, like the American Civil Liberties Union and the People for the American Way. Moore’s placement of the Ten Commandments monument in the State Supreme Court Building is just of way of pulling the predictable chains of groups who get the vapors when a temporary Christmas tree or creche finds it way on to a publicly owned lawn. He wants to embarrass the government by forcing the removal of the monument. The church across the street from the State Supreme Court Building has offered to provide a public place for the monument. Moore has not taken up the church’s offer, since it might attenuate the political conflict Moore is cultivating.

Moore’s political use of the Ten Commandments would be roughly analogous to a pagan Earth-worshiping Supreme Court Justice planting a tree on the lawn of the Supreme Court. There are plenty of aesthetic reasons for planting trees. However, if the planter tried to make deliberate use of the tree as a religious symbol to make a religious statement, it would violate the Constitutional proscription against establishing a religion. Nonetheless, removing a tree would tend to enflame those who would hate the see the removable of any tree.

What is most disappointing are people like Alan Keyes, people who should know better, suggesting that the First Amendment applies only to federal action. Keyes is arguing against the concept of incorporation; the notion that the Bill of Rights also limits state action. Indeed, Keyes has averred that “There might be states in which they have established churches where subventions are given to schools and so forth to teach the Bible.”

In Barron v. Baltimore in 1833, the US Supreme Court ruled against businessman John Barron who was suing the city of Baltimore. Barron accused Baltimore of taking land for public use without just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The Court ruled that the Bill of Rights only applied to actions of the federal government. That jurisprudence survived until the early part of the last century.

In the wake of the Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution provided that, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

In 1925 in Gitlow v. New York, Socialist Benjamin Gitlow sought relief from New York’s Criminal Anarchy Law under which he was convicted of penning revolutionary pamphlets. The US Supreme Court, using the 14th Amendment, extended the protections of the Bill of Rights to state actions, under the doctrine of incorporation. Subsequent decisions applied this doctrine to other protections of the Bill of Rights.

The doctrine of incorporation may, in retrospect, been an extension of the Constitution and its Amendments beyond original understanding and as such subtly undermines the long term authority of the document. Nonetheless, it has on balance had a salutary effect. Surely Keyes himself and other Conservatives have embraced the incorporation doctrine when used to keep the state from taking property without appropriate compensation.

Some state governments that are dominated by Liberals have been too willing to impose restrictions on property owners that come very close to expropriating property for public use without just compensation. Unless protected by a state constitution and a reasonable State Supreme Court, it is possible that state action could also make more difficult the “free exercise” of religion or honor the rights of free association. Throw away the incorporation doctrine and you allow states far too much discretion to institute intrusive government.

The Ten Commandments are important, but Judge Roy Moore is acting like a buffoon. Thoughtful Conservatives should not allow their reverence, respect, and honor for the Ten Commandments and their distaste for anti-religious zealots to blind them to important protections of individual liberties.

Zakaria on the Possibility of Too Much Democracy

Sunday, August 17th, 2003

In the movie The Patriot, Mel Gibson plays a veteran of the French and Indian Wars, Benjamin Martin. The movie begins in the first years of the American Revolution. The South Carolina assembly is debating whether to join the war for independence. Wearied by his war experiences, Martin pleads with the assembly to attempt reconciliation with England yet again. When reminded of King George’s transgressions, Martin snaps back, “Why should I agree to swap one tyrant three thousand miles away for three thousand tyrants one mile away?” Actually, a similar remark has been attributed to Byles Mather, an 18th century Loyalist from Boston, but Gibson probably delivered the line better. What is interesting is how strange to a modern American’s ears the phrase rings. How can one enjoy a democracy and suffer a tyranny at the same time?

The United States and most Western democracies have managed to sustain liberal democracies, democracies that not only permit the populace to control the government, but also restrain democratic governments from limiting personal freedoms. It is sometimes hard to imagine that it is also possible to have illiberal democracies where the people are sovereign, but the people choose to use that sovereignty to limit personal freedoms. The idea that personal liberty and democracy can be in tension with one another is the theme of Fareed Zakaria’s new book, The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad. Americans rightly seek to promote democracies and as a John Kennedy promised “will bear any burden … to assure the survival and success of liberty.” It is incumbent upon us, especially now that we are reluctantly engaged in nation building in Iraq, to consider the consequences of the balance between democracy and freedom.

Zakaria begins by citing a question posed by American Diplomat Richard Holbrooke, “Suppose elections are free and fair and those elected are racists, fascists, separatists… That is the dilemma.” The question is not just theoretical. It is very likely that in some parts of the Middle East, if given a free choice, the people might very well elect to form a theocratic regime, not only hostile to American interests but eager to ignore freedoms of religion, speech, and association to enforce compliance with a certain vision of an Islamic society.

Zakaria traces the history of the notion of individual freedom to Constantine deciding in 324 to move the capital of his empire from Rome to Constantinople, so the empire would be centered nearer the growing centers of trade and wealth. The pope, however, remained in Rome. The move underscored separation of religious and political authority. The Renaissance, the Reformation, and the rise of capitalism all helped expand the personal zone of privacy and autonomy at the root of personal liberty.

Zakaria makes the important observation that though democracy and liberty may be compatible and ultimately necessary compliments to one another, democracy may not always prove to be the optimum route to a liberal democracy. A number of democracies that emerged after at the end of colonization, particularly in Africa have regressed into tyrannies that respect neither the sovereignty of the people nor individual liberties. On the other hand a number of formally autocratic regimes Greece, Spain, Portugal, South Korea and have evolved to more democratic and free countries. The question is why.

Zakaria argues, as have others, that wealth is a key component to successful liberal democracies. Adam Przeworski and Fernando Limongi followed the history of every country from 1950 to 1990. They found that per capita income is highly correlated to the longevity of democracies. In countries with a per capita income of $1500 (in current dollars) or less, a democratic government lasts only eight years. Longevity increases with per capita income. The values between $3000 and $6000 appear to define a transition range. The chances of democracy in such a country devolving to tyranny at higher levels of income are small.

The reason that some, though certainly not all, authoritarian countries have succeeded in becoming liberal democracies is that their leadership has allowed the creation of an economic infrastructure of individual autonomy, contracts and independent courts important to wealth creation and free societies. These, in turn, helped to create a middle class, jealous of their personal liberty. A virtuous cycle is created. The wealthier a country is, the less able authoritarian regimes are able to make arbitrary decisions without negative political, and perhaps more importantly, economic impact.

The one important exception to the correlation between wealth and the creation of liberal democracies occurs when the source of the wealth is dominantly a single resource commodity like oil. A country rich in oil can achieve high levels of wealthy without the necessity of creating those institutions that create a middle class and encourage liberty. “Easy money means little economic or political modernization. The unearned income relieves the government of the need to tax its people — and in return provide something to them in the form of accountability, transparency, and even representation.” Saudi Arabia is an important example of this exception.

Zakaria, however, neglects to apply his thesis to Iraq. How wealthy is Iraq? Is there a sufficiently large and educated middle class? What fraction of Iraqi income is tied to oil? A quick check with the CIA World Factbook shows a per capita income of $2400. This is at the low end for successful democracies, but is reflective of the effect of economic sanctions that have since been lifted. Surprisingly, 81% of Iraq’s GDP comes from services. This suggests the presence of a significant middle class. It is disappointing that Zakaria did not investigate the prospects for a successful Iraqi democracy more thoroughly.

Zakaria ends with some important self criticism of the United States that has become prophetic. Arguing that there is such a thing a too much democracy, he points out as an important example the proliferation of referenda and ballot initiatives in California. These initiatives have effectively hamstrung the legislature by both limiting taxes and mandating services making California less governable. The “paradox” is that initiatives and referenda were implemented to reduce the influence of big money over government. However, to pass or defeat a referendum requires money for advertising returning power and influence to those institutions that can afford to economically support initiatives and referenda. Direct democracy increases rather than decreases the influence of money in politics. Zakaria concludes that to maintain both manageable government and insure freedom, what “we need in politics today is not more democracy but less.”

Going Off the Deep End

Saturday, August 16th, 2003

“You are not superior just because you see the world in an odious light.” — Vicomte de Chateaubriand. “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.” — Hermann Hesse.

Jonathan Chait is now a senior editor for the New Republic, a left-of-center political magazine, but it’s not that far left. The magazine is on the 40-yard line of the left side of the political gridiron. Though Chait comes from background likely to breed political Liberals (He graduated from the University of Michigan and was an editor at the American Prospect magazine.), he is not known as being particularly rabid. It is, therefore, surprising that he writes in a New Republic article entitled “Mad About You:”

“I hate President George Bush…I hate the inequitable way he has come to his economic and political achievements and his utter lack of humility (disguised behind transparently false modesty) at having done so. I hate the way he walks — shoulders flexed, elbows splayed out from his sides like a teenage boy feigning machismo….I hate the way he talks — blustery self-assurance masked by a pseudo-populist twang… [W]hile most people who meet Bush claim to like him, I suspect that, if I got to know him personally, I would hate him even more.”

I may be easy to please, but I sort of like Jonathan Chait. I like his direct and colorful writing and his use of imagery. I like his lucidity of thought and his usual equanimity. Despite the fact that I disagree with much of what he says and that he writes columns inordinately preoccupied with personal rather than political critiques of President George Bush, if I got to know him personally, I would probably like him even more. It is possible to separate political from personal disagreements.

Now, no one suspects that Chait really hates Bush in the sense that he hopes some personal calamity befalls Bush, though he may wish for Bush’s political prospects to dim. However, Bush’s political fortunes are linked to the nation’s fortunes. If the economy does well and if by election time there is a consensus that the situation in Iraq is radically improving, Bush’s fortunes are enhanced. It must contribute to Chait’s frustration that for Bush to fail, other Americans must suffer. Chait’s political desires are tied to expectations (and we pray not hopes) of economic disaster and increased danger for American troops abroad.

Chait chronicles in his article a list of policy disagreements and reveals an abiding aggravation that Bush is perceived as a moderate conservative, while Chait and his friends at the New Republic and the American Prospect view Bush’s tax cuts as “radical.” However, these remain just policy disagreements. Why is there a growing visceral animosity on the Left for Bush? It is not matched by anything felt for Reagan, though by most reasonable measures, Reagan pulled the country to the Right far more than Bush.

Chait represents the conspicuous and visible tip of the Left-wing iceberg of anti-Bush enmity. They are beginning to appear like the anti-Clinton zealots who could not settle for his obvious and provable failings, but had to believe that he was responsible for murder and other nefarious deeds. Websites have emerged decrying the “Bush Family Evil Empire” or the “Bush-Cheney Drug Empire.” The Internet and the general lubrication of communications have made it possible for extremists on all sides of the political spectrum to advertise their perspectives. However, there is something more here than the usual rantings of extremists. Under normal circumstances, the New Republic would not feel comfortable advertising hatred, but anti-Bush animosity has become too much part of the mainstream Left. Under normal circumstances, you would not have Howard Dean in a recent Democratic debate refer to Bush as the “enemy” not simply as a political “opponent.” For the Democratic faithful, Bush is indeed viewed as the enemy.

Part of this intractable animosity may be linked to the 2000 presidential election where Bush eked out a victory over Al Gore. Despite the fact that subsequent recounts have indicated that using reasonable counting rules, Bush would have won Florida and then the election even without the Supreme Court intervention, the mythology of the Left continues to hold dogmatically that they were cheated out of the election. The Left has largely ignored the advice in Al Gore’s concession speech that “what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside.”

More than that, however, the problem may be cultural. Chait hints at it in his piece when he writes “I hate the inequitable way he has come to his economic and political achievements.” Chait goes on to complain that Bush reminds him of, “of a certain type I knew in high school — the kid who was given a fancy sports car for his sixteenth birthday and believed that he had somehow earned it.” To some on the Left, Bush represents the party frat brother who makes it big and gets the girl while all the smart serious students remain in the dorms, unacknowledged and dateless.

Moreover, Bush takes his Christianity seriously and personally and comes from the supposedly unsophisticated Midwest. To some on the Left, Bush is the embodiment of the “family values” that might constrain the gay rights or pro-abortion agenda. Bush remains the “enemy” because he represents the traditional values side of the “culture wars.”

Ironically, Conservatives are in a similar position as Liberals. Those on the Left are torn between wishing for the best for the country and realizing that if the best happens, Bush’s political star will rise. Those on the Right might be content to complacently stand aside as those on the Left forgo their chance to win next year’s presidential election, consumed in their hatred of a president whom many genuinely like and admire. Even those who are sympathetic to the Left are repulsed by mean-spirited whining. There may not be much that the Right can do about it, but serious people on the Right should not desire such a self-destructive outcome. Bush hatred will undoubtedly polarize the electorate unnecessarily raising the political temperature at a time when we should soberly consider difference approaches to dealing with our real enemies: those who are willing to use violence to reject modernity and spread illiberal theocracy around the world.

Chait, I am sure, knows this. He has a legitimate claim to the excuse of temporary insanity.

Conservatives Fall for the Allure of the Davis Recall

Sunday, August 10th, 2003

Conservatives are supposed to maintain steady hands on the tiller of the ship of state, maintaining a constant bearing despite the rapidly shifting winds of public sentiment. However, they too sometimes find it easy and temporarily rewarding to float easily along on popular breezes. Rather than being so unseemly excited by the opportunity offered by the potential recall of the unpopular California Governor Gray Davis, they should be soberly assessing the long term damage such recalls can inflict.

The whole idea under girding representative democracy is the assertion that the best governance arises from the deliberation of elected representatives. Proper governance often requires the acquisition of information and the weighing of choices that require more time and effort than most people can devote. People are rightly concerned with their own occupations and caring for the needs of their families. Assent of the governed comes in periodic elections allowing the polity to pass judgment on the effectiveness of their legislators and executives.

Progressives at the beginning of the last century found their agenda stymied by the political machines that often served mostly to enrich those in power. They believed if only there was more direct democracy, their agenda could be implemented. Progressives were responsible for the amending of many state constitutions allowing for referenda so that the people could, in effect, vote for legislation directly. The referendum movement really did not have much of an impact as the political machines began to atrophy.

After 1978, much of this changed. Up until then, referenda in California were not particularly successful. At the end of the 1970s, property values in California were rapidly increasing resulting in a windfall of state revenues. Rather than decreasing rates to offset this infusion of funds, California politicians preferred to increase spending. This increased tax burden walloped homeowners whose incomes did not increase as rapidly as the value of their homes. Elderly homeowners on fixed incomes were particularly hard hit. In this environment the public was angry and, to the surprise of conventional politicians Proposition 13 to limit taxes easily passed.

Despite the salutary effect of that proposition, there was one important unintended consequence: the embrace of ballot initiatives and referenda across the country and particularly in California. Californians have now been asked to legislate on hundreds of issues. The result is the implementation of so many mandates, that the California legislature is hamstrung. According to Fareed Sakaria, 85% of the California spending has been mandated and cannot be controlled by the legislative process. The occasional referendum or ballot initiatives may serve to instill healthy constraints on political leaders, but their routine use undermines the effectiveness of representative government. In what engineers call a “positive feedback loop,” the less effective government is the more appealing simple solutions in the form of referenda appear. The ugly irony is that it would take a referendum to undue the constraints previous referenda have imposed.

Both Conservatives and Liberals have been loath to constrain the use of referenda and initiatives in California. Besides that fact that is easy to caricaturize such a position as anti-democratic, the process allows both Conservatives and Liberals to win occasional victories that would be difficult to achieve within the checks and balances of the legislative process.

Now California promises to give another such gift to the country: recall elections. There seems to be a strong consensus that Governor Davis is doing a dreadful job. Davis can only manage a miserable approval rating of 24%, according to the California Field Poll. In 2006, they will be able to select a new governor that they can hope will be more successful. They should wait until then.

There have been charges that Davis essentially sells state political positions in exchange for campaign contributions. If that can be proved, then he should be impeached. Aside from impeachable activities or some clear severe medical or emotional incapacity, waiting for the normal election cycle remains an important public discipline. The length of a normal campaign allows for a fuller vetting of potential candidates. In California, the recall system is structured such that a candidate that garners only a small plurality can become governor. Can it really be said to serve democracy for a new governor to win with possibly a vote percentage even smaller than Governor Davis’s pathetically low approval rating?

Despite the prospect of a political victory over Davis, Conservatives and Republicans ought to be less than sanguine about disrupting the normal political process and yielding to populist impulses.

Yet Another Week

Sunday, August 3rd, 2003

This week we have a couple of issues to consider: First, we find another example of Reuters News Service treating the news as an opportunity to editorialize. Second, we learn how poorly and embarrassingly incompetent a peer-reviewed journal paper can be written and yet still be published.

It must have been exciting for Deanna Wrenn. Wren is a statehouse reporter for the Charleston Daily Mail. The Charleston Daily Mail is important in Charleston, West Virginia, but it does not enjoy the prestige of the New York Times or the Washington Post . Wrenn was reporting on the return of former POW Jessica Lynch to her home town in West Virginia after her release from Iraqi captivity and recovery in a military hospital. Wrenn was undoubtedly pleased when her story was picked up by the Reuters News Service and spread quickly around the Reuters global news network.

Wrenn originally wrote: “In this small county seat with just 995 residents, the girl everyone calls Jessi is a true heroine — even if reports vary about Pfc. Jessica Lynch and her ordeal in Iraq.” Certainly, this represents a positive view of the Jessica Lynch story, but probably accurately reports the sentiment of Lynch’s friends and neighbors in her home town.

After Reuters edited the story the words and the tone radically changed. According to Reuters: “Jessica Lynch, the wounded Army private whose ordeal in Iraq was hyped into a media fiction of US heroism, was set for an emotional homecoming on Tuesday … Media critics say the TV cameras will not show the return of an injured soldier so much as a reality-TV drama co-produced by US government propaganda and credulous reporters.” This represents such a negative spin on the story that Reuters should have run this statement as an editorial rather than as straight news.

News services edit stories all the time. For good or for ill, that is their right. What Reuters did that was particularly egregious was to keep Wrenn’s byline on the story. Wrenn’s story did not bear any significant resemblance to the story Reuters published. Wrenn was so embarrassed by the tone of the story that she asked “Reuters to remove my byline. They didn’t.”

A year ago, Reuters made it a formal policy to refrain from referring to any person as a “terrorist,” using the specious reasoning that one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter, as if there is no meaningful difference between a George Washington and an Osama Bin Laden. Presumably, Reuters did not believe its judgment is sufficiently discriminating to discern whether people are deliberately targeting civilians in actions that have no significant military value. If we extrapolate from Reuters actions with respect to the Wrenn story on Jessica Lynch, perhaps Reuters was correct in not trusting its own judgment

While Reuters was busy creatively editing news stories from West Virginia, researchers from the University of California at Berkeley decided to spread a little confusion as well. A study conducted by Professors Jack Glaser and Frank Sulloway of Berkeley, John Jost of Stanford University, and Arie Kruglanski of the University of Maryland at College Park concluded that political conservative generally shared some common character traits. These traits include “aggression,” “intolerance,” “uncertainty avoidance,” and the “need for cognitive closure.”

To reach these conclusions, the learned professors studied conservatives from Mussolini, Hitler, to Stalin, Khruschev and Castro. There is a reasoned case made by Frederick Hayek that Nazism and Fascism fall closer in the political spectrum to statist philosophies as opposed to those in favor of more limited government. However, classifying Mussolini and Hitler as conservatives conforms to conventional, if inaccurate usage. Inexplicably, the authors also include Castro and Nikita Kruschev as conservatives. This inclusion should certainly come as a surprise to a century of Leftists who have made careers as apologists for these Communist dictators. It does certainly seem that the authors were trying to contrive their assumptions to drive their conclusions in a certain direction.

However, even allowing for all these improbable assumptions, the authors are only able to demonstrate an incredibly low correlation between persons who are political conservatives and the traits they cite. Almost none of the natural human variability in personalities can be accounted for by the conservatism of the person. For most scientists, models with such low correlation would not be considered explanatory and would be categorically dismissed. But what do they know? These professors unlike conservatives and most scientists are “tolerant of ambiguity” and not unduly constrained by the week-minded need for “cognitive closure.”