Friday, October 31, 2008
As a newly minted supporter of Obama, who reminds me, I forgot to mention before, of Jesus, I can really feel the pain of some of our leading literary lights, such as Erica Jong, who wrote that book about sex back in the, when was it, 1960's? 70's? According to this post, Fonda has had to resort to Valium and massages, she is so anxious that Obama might lose. Terrible back pain. You know, I think John McCain has some chronic pain issues; maybe he would have some tips for her on how to cope?
This has been one of the hardest decisions that I have had to make about how to vote. As readers may remember, I initially leaned towards voting none of the above or writing in a candidate rather than voting for McCain. (I don't find the third party candidates palatable.) While I thought McCain would be superior to Obama in the short term, the long term situation was different. After four years of Obama, there was a decent chance that the country would have seen the results of his policies and might have rejected them big time as they did Clinton in 1994 and Carter in 1980. In any event, being out of power, the Republicans would have had an incentive to reform. In 2012, the Republicans might be in a position to take back the presidency or the Congress.
By contrast, if McCain won, the Republicans would pursue big government policies that involve compromises with the Democrats. The Republicans would be blamed for the resulting ills and the party would still be clinging to power without having reformed. In 2012, the Republicans might even be more unpopular than they are today. While a McCain presidency would have the benefits of divided government, McCain is a compromiser who might sign on to lots of bad stuff from the Democrats. It is not clear that a Republican filibuster would be that much worse than a McCain veto pen (although the Republicans may do so badly that they may have a very weak filibuster).
I wish I had the luxury to vote this way. It was always a close case, but I would have been comfortable doing it. Unfortunately, something happened in October to change all that: The financial collapse. There are two main aspects of the collapse that really change things. First, the financial collapse means that lots of new legislation will be passed and the Democrats are likely to pass pretty bad stuff in this area. Second, and more importantly, even if the Democrats do a bad job and the economy does badly, the voters might not blame them now. Things might get so bad that voters might just cling to their government, especially if it is good at speaking to them and reassuring them. Moreover, voters might place the blame on the prior administration, saying that the Obama administration had merely inherited the problems.
Thus, I have reluctantly concluded that I should vote for McCain. It is an awful pill to swallow. I don't particularly like the man, and really dislike his policies. But that is how bad things have gotten. So, on Tuesday, I will "pull the lever" for McCain.
Tom makes the case well for multiple choice exams. I write separately to add how bad the arguments are against multiple choice exams. I clicked through the link to see the argument against multiple choice and I couldn't bear to read it. For example:
That really is ridiculous. As Tom points out, if one has a relatively large number of questions, and one curves the exam, it gets one a spread which most definitely reflects knowledge.
There are also other silly arguments. For example, one of the commenters over at Marginal Revolution writes "My problem with multiple choice exams is that they are generally very easy to game." People say this all of the time, but it is not true, if your exam is at all competent. When I give multiple choice exams, the highest score is usually in the 75 percent range. So much for gaming the answers.
Interestingly, the author of the original post has in part seen the error of his ways. At the comments over at Marginal Revolution, he writes:
Having written the piece referenced by Tyler Cowen over a year ago - I have had plenty of time to reflect on whether I still believe multiple choice is a poor means of testing.
This is a good point. Bad multiple choice questions are, unsurprisingly, a bad way to test.
But that is not exactly a strong argument against multiple choice. After all, bad essay questions -- and all the more so, bad grading of essay questions (bad grading is not implicated with multiple choice) -- are also a problem. The criticism of multiple choice smacks of the Nirvana Fallacy. People just assume the essay questions have been graded correctly. But, let me tell you, this is hardly a reasonable assumption. One can grade the essays with a checklist, but that just turns it into an objective exam, which is inferior to multiple choice. Or one can grade the essays with by a gestalt judgment, but there is no particular reason beyond faith to believe that that accurately distinguishes between exams that are relatively close in quality.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
After some thought which I concede has not been all that deep, I have decided to announce that I support Senator Obama for President. I have been inspired to take this step, which I know some of my readers will find shocking and disappointing, by the several other famous conservatives and/or libertarians who have thrown their backing to the Senator from the Land of Lincoln. Allow me to explain.
David puts it very well.