Mason in the News

Posted: November 7, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national and international news coverage Mason recently received.

Sunday, Nov. 2, New York Times

Professors’ Liberalism Contagious? Maybe Not

Daniel Klein, an economist at George Mason whose research has shown that registered Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans among faculty in the humanities and social sciences at American colleges and universities, maintains that the focus on the liberal-conservative split is misdirected. Such terms are vague and can be used to describe everything from attitudes about religion and family to the arts and lifestyles, he said. The real issue, said Mr. Klein, who calls himself a libertarian, is that social democratic ideas dominate universities — ideas that play down the importance of the individual and promote government intervention.”

Sunday, Nov. 2, New Zealand Herald

How to Be Happy

Todd Kashdan, an influential psychologist from George Mason University in the United States, says research shows artists who suffer depression or mania do their best work in healthy periods, when they have the wherewithal to harness the insights afforded by their lows and highs. But, he agrees melancholia is necessary for rich experience. ‘I tend to disagree with many of my positive psychology colleagues,’ he says. ‘I tout the value of mixed emotions and learning to work with instead of against unwanted thoughts, feelings and body sensations.’”

Monday, Nov. 3, Forbes

Can Intrade Win After the Election?

Robin Hanson, an economics professor at George Mason University who has studied prediction markets, hopes they grow. ‘Stock markets, insurance markets, commodity markets ― they used to be prohibited by gambling laws but were thought to be useful and given an exception,’ says Hanson. ‘We want to carve out a new set of exceptions. This topic is valuable to know about. There’s a social benefit to knowing about it.’ And money to be made, too.”

Tuesday, Nov. 4, Chronicle of Higher Education

Scholars Mull Rules for Training in Research Ethics

“Should scholars who work with human subjects be required by the federal government to receive formal training in research ethics? What about people who serve on committees that oversee human-subjects research — should the government mandate training for them? Four months ago, the Office for Human Research Protections, the federal agency with authority over such matters, announced that it might issue new training requirements. ‘All of these existing training models are variations on a flavor,’ Zachary M. Schrag, an assistant professor of history at George Mason University, said in an interview last week. Typically, he said, scholars are marched through potted history lessons and then given brief summaries of the federal regulations, followed by a simple multiple-choice quiz.”

Tuesday, Nov. 4,

Four Hotly Contested States Hold Key to Winning Presidency

“The key state of Virginia has voted Republican for every president since 1964. But in this incredibly tight election, even a traditionally red state like Virginia is starting to seem a bit purple, with Obama leading slightly in a number of polls. Virginia could be the key to it all, according to Jeremy Mayer, associate professor in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University in Fairfax County. ‘If McCain loses Virginia, it’s pretty much over,’ Mayer said of the state’s crucial 13 electoral votes. Mayer said the key areas to watch are the Norfolk area, where Obama has had a lot of success in getting out the vote, and Northern Virginia counties such as Arlington and Loudoun, where a formerly solid red voting record has gone from purple to predictably blue.”

Wednesday, Nov. 5, Chronicle of Higher Education

America Gets a Professor in Chief

“The 2008 presidential election has broken so many political barriers that historians may overlook one unusual fact: When Barack Obama takes the oath of office next January alongside his running mate, Joe Biden, it will be the first time in history that the president, vice president, and both of their spouses have worked in higher education. Taken together, the Obamas and the Bidens have amassed decades of experience at colleges and universities. A. Lee Fritschler, a professor of public policy at George Mason University and a former assistant secretary of education under President Clinton, argues that the Bush administration has taken too much of a hands-on approach to higher education — for example, by arbitrarily limiting research involving human embryonic stem cells. ‘I don’t see Obama being interested in trying to manage universities,’ Mr. Fritschler says. ‘It would be a brighter day for higher education because at the top we would have people who understand it better.’”

Wednesday, Nov. 5, National Post (Canada)

Democrats Fall Short of 60 Seats in Senate

“The Democrats took at least 56 seats in the United States Senate Tuesday night, but late in the evening it appeared they would not reach 60 seats ― the magic number that would ensure that the Republicans could not use filibusters to stall Democratic legislative initiatives. ‘This is an extremely respectable showing,’ said Toni-Michelle Travis, professor of government at George Mason University in [Fairfax, Va.]. ‘They should be able to find a few moderate Republicans to help them work with [president-elect Barack Obama].’”

Wednesday, Nov. 5, USA Today

Tally High for Americans at Polls this Year

“The percentage of Americans who voted in this year’s historic presidential campaign appeared to reach the highest level in four decades. About 133.3 million people cast ballots — or about 62.5 percent of the electorate, said Michael McDonald, a leading voter-turnout expert at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. That percentage, an estimate based on results tallied across the USA and projected absentee ballots, would equal the turnout rate in 1968, when the nation was torn by the Vietnam War. It could go higher, once all the ballots are counted and officially certified, McDonald said. He said turnout could equal or surpass 1964 when Americans elected Democrat Lyndon Johnson in a landslide less than a year after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Turnout that year hit 62.8 percent. ‘People were incredibly interested,’ McDonald said of Tuesday’s election. ‘There were big issues facing the country, historic candidates and campaigns that had effective voter-mobilization efforts.’”

Wednesday, Nov. 5, USA Today

Pelosi Puts Economy as Lawmakers’ Top Priority

“Congressional Democrats vowed Wednesday to use their expanded majorities to consider legislation on stem cell research and health insurance for children but said bolstering the economy would be the first priority. Many Democrats ran on the promise of ending gridlock in Washington and several won in Republican-leaning districts. That will require Democrats to strike a balance between advancing their proposals and not alienating Republicans, said Mark Rozell, a public policy professor at George Mason University. ‘If the Democrats push hard on health care reform, social-cultural issues, they’re going to miss a unique opportunity to come out during the honeymoon period and really make a very big difference,’ Rozell said.”

Thursday, Nov. 6, Newsday

Obama Has to Touch Many Bases in Picking 15 for Cabinet

“Now that he’s won the presidency, Barack Obama faces a ‘Rubik’s Cube-type’ task in forming a cabinet that can both run the federal bureaucracy and satisfy the political, geographic and ethnic interests vying for representation on it, experts said yesterday. Clinton began designating cabinet secretaries before he assembled his White House staff, which famously led to disorganization, particularly when his first two attorney general nominees were forced to withdraw from the nominating process. ‘That really bedeviled Bill Clinton,’ said James Pfiffner, a George Mason University political science professor. ‘The key thing that he [Obama] should do very early is designate the top people in his White House staff.’”

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