The Conversation

Politics: Policy issues, legislation and political topics of all sorts.

Does Universal Pre-K Involve a Moral Hazard?

Feb 14, 2013 11:59 AM PT

Kevin Drum was for universal pre-k long before it made it into the President's State of the Union speech this week. Today he has a post at Mother Jones titled "The Biggest Value of Pre-K Can't Be Found in Test Scores." Drum concedes, based on his reading of the data, that pre-k's "long-term effect on reading and math test scores is fairly weak." But he believes there are other compelling reasons to recommend it:

pre-K does seem to increase high school completion rates; reduce rates of substance abuse; reduce felony rates; increase lifetime income; and improve non-IQ cognitive traits like the ability to delay gratification, the ability to hold a job, and the ability to control your temper.

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Re: The Tech Deficit: What Really Works?

Feb 14, 2013 11:57 AM PT

In response to MUST READ: Can the Republicans be Saved from Obsolescence?:

I totally agree with Ben Domenech's assertion in the Times' article that Republican elders generally aren't as supportive of new outreach ideas.  However, I think this recent blog post also resonates:

I was at a conference recently, where a clever consultant showed off a massive integrated awareness/fundraising campaign they'd done for a client.

It was good-looking and comprehensive. In addition to direct mail and email, there was print, outdoor advertising, transit ads, and a Facebook strategy.

Slide after slide of the slick, attractive creative went by.

Someone behind me gasped. It was a sound of admiration and envy. No doubt they were feeling sadly inadequate at the dull one-dimensionality of their own fundraising.

Funny thing was, I happened to have some inside knowledge about the campaign. Guess what: It didn't work. The Facebook part of the campaign brought in five small donations. The print ads did a little better: A few dozen gifts, most of them from current donors. There was no measureable response from the billboards or transit advertising. The only part of the campaign that you could call successful, the direct mail, did worse than it does most years.

The campaign was a dismal, crushing failure.

It was killed by a combination of abstract messaging, an unclear call to action, and (most of all) high spending in unproven media.

But it sure looked good on Powerpoint.

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What Team Romney Got Wrong in 2012

Feb 14, 2013 11:23 AM PT

In response to What the NYT got wrong on Republican tech:

While there's something to be said for better use of technology and messaging on the Republican side, I don't want to see us copying the Democrats' cynical tactics. I want our messaging to be based on the truth - not what consultants say is popular. Sometimes poll results are based on misconceptions. A good politician goes about changing people's minds - not putting their fingers to the wind.

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Technology vs. organization

Feb 14, 2013 10:30 AM PT

In response to What the NYT got wrong on Republican tech:

It occurs to me that technology is a force multiplier for organization, not a replacement for it.  The Romney team wasn't the first organization I've seen that made such a mistake.  If the tech had actually performed up to specifications under Election Day stress, they'd have done better, but they were still running very short on the kind of shoe-leather go-get-the-voters operations they needed, and which Democrats excel at, particularly in big-city machine areas.  Let no one forget Election Night 2012, when after weeks of observable ennui about an incumbent with a weak record, those big cities erupted like blue mushroom clouds over the electoral landscape.  

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A question about Obama's manufacturing hubs

Feb 14, 2013 8:07 AM PT

You know those "manufacturing hubs" Obama said he wants to blow another huge stack of taxpayer cash building?  Does anyone know if they'll be manufacturing job-killing ATMs or corporate jets?

It seems like only yesterday that a core tenet of Obamanomics is that industrial advances wipe out jobs.  I thought at the time he really should be agitating against farm machinery, which has resulted in an absolutely stunning productivity increase, eliminating countless jobs in an agriculture sector that used to be extremely labor-intensive.  The mandatory imposition of Amish farming techniques would create a huge number of jobs, and also address the problem of obesity, because it's very physical work once Big Technology is out of the picture.

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Do You Agree With Rand Paul Position About Targeting Americans on US Soil?

Feb 14, 2013 8:07 AM PT

While I have questioned some of Senator Rand Paul's positions in the past, I believe he is 'dead' on correct in stating that the killing of Americans on US soil, simply because they are suspected of being a threat to the country, is illegal. Now, if there is no other choice put to kill an iminent threat, have at it, take their heads off. But if they is a chance that these threats can be captured,  regardless of whether they are American citizens or not,then they should be put through the legal system. Who all agrees?

 Can the president claim the power to unilaterally kill an American in America without a trial? – Senator Rand Paul

Rumor-Jeb Bush to Challenge Rick Scott in Republican Primary

Feb 14, 2013 7:37 AM PT

Yeah, it's rumor originating from the boogie-down known as Miami. 

What they are saying is, either Rubio or Jeb will run for Governor against Rick Scott in a Republican primary race, and the other will run for Presidente of the Unted States. (Presidente is President in Espanol for all of you non-Espanol speaking citizens) Either of these to guys would win, because of their high statewide approval ratings, and Scott's dismal ones, but c'mon! 

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Aarrgh! Sky gods angry!

Feb 14, 2013 7:24 AM PT

In response to Blaming Sandy on Climate Change, Obama Contradicts Himself in SOTU:

I was almost a bit surprised that Obama tried skimming that little "global warming causes hurricanes" stone, because the climate-change cult has grown a bit sensitive about (accurate) criticism that their movement is descending into outright shamanism.  But I was probably underestimating Obama's contempt for his own base.  They really do eat that stuff up.  The beating heart of the Church of Global Warming remains anti-capitalism (in the public-relations department) and the hunger for government power and its attendant riches (in the inner sanctum.)  A chance to wave fingers of blame at evil corporations and selfish citizens - "your greed is killing the Earth!" - cannot be passed up.

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