Monthly Archives: April 2012

Investments, Savings and False Economies

On my way to the Saturday sessions of the New England Political Science Association meeting, I listened to the Governor’s weekly radio address and Senator Phil Bartlett’s response from the Democratic party. First, let me say that it is possibly … Continue reading

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Listen to me!

No, I mean literally…I’ll be talking about the Maine legislature and Maine politics in general on MPBN’s Maine Calling today at 12:15. Listen live or stream on-demand at

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The Privatization of Trust: Trust fortified with Recommendation!

What does it mean to trust? One of my favorite, counter-intuitive definitions of the term comes from Margaret Levi and Laura Stoker’s 2000 Annual Review of Political Science article which identifies “trust” as an individual “making herself vulnerable to another … Continue reading

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The Organizing Structure for Income Equality

Reading yesterday’s New York Times story on Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty (as well as general coverage of the failure of the Buffett Rule) made me think about the problem of women’s effort to obtain the vote in the US. I … Continue reading

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Feeling and Thinking

So, we live just outside of Waterville, a town in possession of a mid-size Marden’s — a store famous both for purveying racks and racks of extraordinarily cheap, smoke-scented (and sometimes water-stained) salvage goods and for being our governor’s former employer. I am an enthusiastic customer. Recently, Marden’s was selling acres of paperbacks for $1.00 a book, bringing me back to my days of living near the Strand bookstore in New York and going book-shopping on the weekends with several strong shoulder bags in tow.

In addition to a dollar copy of the Pelopennesian War and a collection of Kafka, I grabbed some more contemporary denizens of the dollar bin including AJ Jacobs’ My Life as An Experiment. Among Jacobs’ experiments is a brief effort to live his life entirely rationally, in response to the last decade’s wave of pop cognitive science that points out all of the ways that we behave irrationally. It was cute.

However, Jacobs’ experiment reminded me that in our political discourse we continue to attempt this experiment despite the fact that it’s pretty clear that rationality is not what drives a lot of political action. Unless I get distracted, which is not unlikely, I’m going to try to review the current state of scholarship about the role of emotion in political decision-making periodically over the next few weeks on this site.

We’ll start with George Lakoff, who’s made it his mission to encourage us to give up on the dream of rational politics. An excellent start.

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Philosophy in Action

I took some students to hear the Maine Supreme Judicial Court oral arguments yesterday. We caught some of Jackson v. North East Insurance and then stayed for the real target of our visit, Nolan v. Labree et al., a case where … Continue reading

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The Effort to Destroy Trust in Public Institutions

James O’Keefe is apparently continuing to work hard to convince Americans that their voting systems are insecure. His newest effort follows hot on the heels of his “success” in New Hampshire and his well-publicized efforts to discredit the DHHS system … Continue reading

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War is Over, If You Want It

The demonstration of bipartisan support for LD1422, a bill to create standards-based graduation requirements for Maine schools, strongly suggests how Republican legislators can achieve policy goals without creating unnecessary animus. The key is building on the familiar rather than going … Continue reading

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Kurvini Sinovi

Just reminded that the siege of Sarajevo began 20 years ago. This song was written well before the war, but has some of the best images of it nonetheless, I think.

“Sons of Bitches”

Behind the window, restless sleep,
I sense their shadows
I watch how they dance through the walls
sons of bitches…

Dolls made of blood without a single idea
killers on the road
it’s a bad night, I’m getting out of town
They’re coming.

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The Difference of Thirty Years: Three Quotes

“A state trooper pulled over Florence’s BMW in 2005 as he and his family were on the way to his mother-in-law’s to celebrate the purchase of their new home. He was handcuffed and arrested in front of his distraught, pregnant … Continue reading

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