Posts by Chris Lawrence

Chris Lawrence
About Chris Lawrence
Chris teaches political science at Middle Georgia State College in Macon, Georgia. He has a Ph.D. in political science (with concentrations in American politics and political methodology) from the University of Mississippi.

United Breaks Passengers’ Sanity

The background of the United incident, from an aviation law and policy perspective.

Why Debating Districts Misses The Larger Point

There are plenty of other factors that help our two major parties retain power.

Scottish Independence Referendum A Nailbiter

Scottish independence may be more likely than many think.

Parties Play to Win the Game

Parties are in politics primarily to win the vote of the median voter, not to join together and sing Kumbaya.

TSA’s Security Through Bureaucracy

Security theater and the bureaucratic mentality.

Where Huntsman Went Wrong

Huntsman’s tactics reinforced his fellow Republicans’ natural skepticism of his candidacy.

Explaining Obama’s Medical Marijuana Crackdown

Obama’s Justice Department continues its crackdown on medical marijuana, despite campaign promises to the contrary.

Gary Johnson Invited to Florida Debate

Two-term New Mexico governor finally gets to share the stage with Herman Cain.

One of these guys is outsmarting the other one One of these guys is outsmarting the other one

Parliamentary Procedure and the Debt Ceiling Debate

How the reelection incentive and parliamentary procedure are affecting the debt ceiling debate in Congress.

University of Texas clocktower University of Texas clocktower

University of Texas Professors: Already Teaching

Texas A&M professor finds serious flaws in college faculty productivity study.

TSA Workers Gain Right to Join Most Pointless Union Ever

TSA screeners will now have the right to join a union. Or at least a union that can’t actually negotiate much of anything.

Compromise, 2011 Style

Compromise in politics involves more than compromising one’s principles.

The NFL Stadium Shakedown

The NFL’s “especially mercenary” push to extract new stadia from cities–even where the stadium’s practically brand-new.

OTB’s Guide to Today’s British Election

Today, voters in Great Britain and Northern Ireland go to the polls to elect a new Parliament and–most likely–indirectly choose an new government as well. In this post, I’ll try to give a high-level overview of the context of the election and perhaps break out the crystal ball to make some tentative predictions as well. […]

Schumer and Graham: The Men With a (Immigration) Plan

Washington Post writer Spencer Hsu reports that senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have had ghostwritten for them written an op-ed in the Washington Post that provides an outline of the immigration reform bill they plan to introduce in the coming weeks; the plan’s “four pillars” are: requiring biometric Social Security cards to […]

Dueling Analogies For 2010

Many pundits have suggested that the 2010 elections may see a repeat of the pattern of the 1994 midterms: a first-term Democratic president, wounded by intraparty squabbling over a controversial health care proposal, loses big in Congress in what is seen as a “referendum” on liberal overreach. Mike Munger, on the other hand, suggests that […]

Health Care: All Over But The Secrecy

David Lightman and William Douglas of the McClatchy Newspapers syndicate point out that the real action on the health care bill will take place in the murky world of conference committees, which–like many other things on the Hill–don’t really work the way your father’s (or, for that matter, your) American government textbook says they do: […]

On Excessive Moderation

As Steven Taylor notes, the third-party candidacy by Doug Hoffman in New York’s 23rd congressional district seems to have backfired, delivering a solid Republican seat for generations to Democratic candidate Bill Owens. While some conservatives like my Twitter pal (and OG blogger) Jayvie Canono have suggested that Republican nominee Dede “Scozzafava would’ve been a vote […]

Iranian Politics 101

As background for some our posts on the Iranian election, it is probably helpful to have some information about Iran’s political system. Helpfully, The Red Pill at Cadillac Tight has a lengthy primer on the design and workings of the Islamic Republic’s various directly-elected and appointed political bodies. As Dave Schuler points out below, the […]

Thoughts on the Voting Rights Act Case

One of the Supreme Court’s most anticipated decisions this term is likely to deal with the constitutionality of part of one of the landmark laws of the 20th century, the Voting Rights Act of 1965; this may be the most important of a series of cases the court will tackle this term considering civil rights. […]

Alabama’s Constitution: A Result of Vote Fraud?

A group of voters in Alabama is suing to strike down Alabama’s 1901 constitution based on their claim that it was ratified fraudulently: The voters this month sued several state officials in Jefferson County Circuit Court’s Bessemer division, claiming they violated voter rights by failing to ensure that Alabama’s 108-year-old constitution is valid. State historians […]

Pelosi Goes Through The Motions

The opening of the 111th Congress is, as always, accompanied by the typical minutiae of opening a new session of Congress. Most of these events aren’t too terribly interesting to the public, although the events surrounding the Minnesota and Illinois seats have raised the profile of the opening of the Senate. By contrast the opening […]

From The Department of Dubious Complaints

I’ll concede that those who are upset about Rick Warren giving the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration have a point when it comes to his views about homosexuality, but this complaint seems a bit beyond sanity: I’ll grant that appointing a creationist to give the invocation is not exactly the same as appointing him science […]

Jonesing For An Apology

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports today that Bob Jones University’s current president has “apologized” for his institution’s racist policies, which persisted until the Civil Rights Movement finally made it to their little corner of Greenville, South Carolina in 2000. Per the university’s website: For almost two centuries American Christianity, including BJU in its early […]

Clinton Supporters Want To Lose Again For Catharsis

Marc Ambinder dutifully reports that the ordinary kabuki theater of the Democratic convention will now include an extra layer of double-secret kabuki theater so Clinton supporters will feel better about themselves. Jeff Jarvis is right: journalists and their employers must end the farce now. The conventions now only exist to feed the fantasies of political […]

Blogger Balko Bags Dodgy Doctor

Congratulations to Radley Balko, whose dogged reporting on miscarriages of justice in Mississippi has led to the dismissal of the state’s most prolific medical examiner, Dr. Steven Hayne. Hayne’s bogus medical reports led to a capital murder conviction for Cory Maye, a man wrongly subjected to a no-knock drug raid by police, and quite possibly […]

Deracialization and Barack Obama

While I’ve been busy moving my stuff to Texas, Barack Obama has been inadvertently injecting race into the presidential contest with his statement that he “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.” While the historically-inclined might have criticized his remark for lumping Alexander Hamilton in with the motley crew of ex-presidents […]

Labour, Brown Lose Big in Glasgow

The Scottish Nationalist Party took one of Labour’s safest seats in a rather dramatic and unexpected upset that marks yet another setback for British prime minister Gordon Brown: Unfortunately for Labour, Glasgow is only the latest in a string of woeful electoral performances for the party under Mr Brown’s leadership. His party lost the London […]

Making Friends and Influencing People

Biologist PZ Myers has followed through on his threat to acquire a consecrated communion wafer and deface it–for good measure, he also decided to desecrate an English translation of the Koran (which, according to my understanding of Islam, doesn’t actually count as a copy of the Koran) and a copy of Richard Dawkins’ The God […]

Obama Proposes New Cuba Policy Before Exiles

Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama further elaborated on his “accidental foreign policy” agenda Friday in a speech before the Cuban American National Foundation, the Cuban exile group that historically has been a bastion of hard-line anti-Castro sentiment. In his remarks, Obama called for a “new strategy” towards Cuba and other Latin American nations and contrasted his […]

Preparing For The Digital TV Transition

On February 17, 2009, most analog television broadcasting in the United States will cease, with the exception of some “low-power” television stations and stations physically located in Canada and Mexico that broadcast to U.S. audiences. After that date, most televisions bought before 2005 will not be able to tune into most over-the-air TV channels without […]

Deep South Blues for the GOP

The Democrats have picked up their second Deep South congressional seat in as many weeks, with Travis Childers defeating Republican candidate Greg Davis by a substantial margin in the special election contest to replace Roger Wicker, now serving as the interim junior senator from Mississippi, in the House of Representatives: The seat had been in […]

Barr: McCain Bane or Obama Obstacle?

As Alex reports below, former Republican congressman Bob Barr has thrown his hat into the Libertarian Party nomination contest. Assuming Barr does secure the Libertarian nomination–a big assumption, given that the LP isn’t exactly known for picking the most electable presidential candidates–how much of an impact will Barr really have in November, and if so, […]

State Dept. Contractors Caught Snooping Obama Records

Via Marc Ambinder and reporter Bill Gertz of the Moonie Washington Times, three State Department contract employees were recently caught sneaking peeks at Barack Obama’s passport records. The relevant particulars from Gertz’s piece: The officials, all contract workers, used their authorized computer network access to look up files within the department’s consular affairs section, which […]

Obama, McCain Prevail in Mississippi

To the surprise of virtually no one, Barack Obama has won the Mississippi Democratic primary, the last contest before Pennsylvania’s primaries in late April. To even less surprise, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain also prevailed in his party’s contest. Perhaps more interesting than the primary victory are the exit poll numbers, which may suggest some […]

Flat Tax? No, Fat Ban

Radley Balko finds lard of a different nature than pork spending on the menu of the Mississippi legislature: a state legislative bill sponsored by two Republicans and one Democrat that would effectively ban all restaurants in the state from serving the “obese.” Lest you think the sponsors are kidding, blogger Sandy Szwarc contacted the main […]

Political Scientists Say Obama Might Be More Liberal Than Hillary

As James and Alex discuss below, the National Journal just released its 2007 rankings of Senators and found that Barack Obama had the most liberal voting record based on 107 “key votes” in the Senate in 2007. As legislative politics scholar Sarah Binder notes, this does not comport with Poole and Rosenthal’s NOMINATE scores, nor […]

Obama Thumps Clinton in S.C.; Edwards Takes 3rd

Barack Obama has bracketed his Iowa win in one of the whitest states of the Union with a victory in South Carolina, one of the nation’s blackest, in what appears to be a 2-to-1 rout over Hillary Rodham Clinton. Despite an apparent late surge by John Edwards in polls in the his home turf, it […]

Paul Beats Romney in Louisiana, Trails Dropout Thompson

The first part of the headline is what the Ronulans want you to take away from the results of last night’s Louisiana Republican Caucuses, where in actuality the rump of Fred Thompson’s state organization was able to secure backing for a “pro-life uncommitted” slate of delegates; delegates pledged to John McCain (who had no active […]

Giuliani in Florida Freefall

Rudy Giuliani, despite putting all his eggs in his Florida basket, has dropped to third place in two recent polls (one conducted before Fred Thompson’s withdrawal, one after) even after considering the former poll’s whopping 5.1-point 95% confidence margin, suggesting that Rudy’s strategy of saturating the state with ads before any elections elsewhere had taken […]

The Good People, Then and Now

As we commemorate Martin Luther King’s life today, here is what I think may be the most important passage from his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, written to the clergy of Birmingham who counseled against the SCLC’s protests in that city in 1963: I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish […]

Unelectable “Electable” 2004 Candidate to Endorse “Unelectable” 2008 Candidate

That would seem to be the gist of the news that John Kerry, whose sole apparent qualification for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination was his “electability,” will endorse Barack Obama today, the latter of whom currently faces the “electable” Hillary Clinton as his major opponent. Presumably the Kerry message is that Obama is the more […]

Ron Paul: Harbinger or Next Year’s Has-Been?

GWU political scientist John Sides is the latest individual to dispute the thesis that Ron Paul is a revolutionary figure in American politics. My working guess (given the givens about social scientists generally, but not knowing him personally) is that Sides is less sympathetic to Paul’s agenda than a libertarian (on the big L/little l […]

New Orleans to Demolish 1940s-Era Projects

The New Orleans city council today defied protestors and voted unanimously to tear down the first of four remaining major housing projects in the city to make way for mixed-income housing that will accommodate some, but not all, of the pre-Katrina public housing population. Needless to say, the self-appointed community activists were displeased: The scene […]

Election Prediction: Clinton Defeats Romney

First, a caveat: like Steve, I wonder if this prediction process is something of a fool’s errand. Political scientists have some pretty good theories for predicting individual and aggregate voting behavior in general elections, particularly for the presidency, but we have nothing that does much with the primary process, as it’s very sui generis and […]

Illegal Immigrants Create Community College Controversy

North Carolinians are up in arms over a statewide community college policy that allows illegal immigrants to attend community colleges at out-of-state tuition rates: A recent legal memo from the North Carolina Community College System office broadening the definition of “open door” admissions sparked a firestorm across the state. Citing a 1997 state attorney general […]

Chávez Narrowly Loses Referenda Votes

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez will have to make do with the powers he currently has after voters narrowly rejected two packages of constitutional amendments proposed by Chávez and the Chavista-dominated national legislature: Venezuelan voters narrowly rejected a constitutional referendum that would have bolstered President Hugo Chavez’s embrace of socialism and granted an indefinite extension of […]

Public Opinion and the Carbon Tax

Ryan Avent and Megan McArdle debate why the public, who want to Do Something™ about global warming, balk at having a carbon tax as part of the solution. To Avent, it comes down to a lack of marketing and the lack of substitutes for driving in much of the country: Personally, I think opposition can […]

Video Expert: Osama is Memorex

CNET News’ Robert Vamosi reports on analysis of the latest missive from Osama bin Laden digital image forensics expert Neal Krawetz, which Krawetz’s analysis suggests is a mashup of old audio and video with new audio, quite possibly supplied by someone other than Osama himself. My findings? I strongly believe that Bin Laden is dead. […]

Karl Rove Resigns, Effective August 31st

White House political adviser Karl Rove has announced his resignation, effective August 31st: “I just think it’s time,” Rove told the Wall Street Journal. “There’s always something that can keep you here, and as much as I’d like to be here, I’ve got to do this for the sake of my family.” He told the […]

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