Mickey Kaus argues George W. Bush destroyed a coalition that didn't have to fall apart. But Mickey, Reagan's choice of Bush Sr. as VP set up W. to win and wreck what Reagan had built. We are now in the final year of George W "Wrecking Ball" Bush.
The Reagan Coalition didn't die of natural causes: It's now steel-vault CW that the tripartite Reagan Coalition (national security conservatives, social conservatives, economic conservatives) has sundered. There's a tendency to portray this as some sort of inevitable process, a working-out of an ideological dialiectic. Hence Fred Thompson was just a fool to run on a Reaganite platform--the old coalition doesn't exist and can't exist.
There is at least one sense in which the coalition was a victim of its own success: by successfully pursuing elimination of the welfare (AFDC) entitlement, the Gingrich Republicans removed a major reason for public distrust of liberal "affirmative government." But that merely meant the R.C. was fighting an increasingly unfavorable battle against Democrats who wanted the non-welfare welfare state to expand (i.e., to provide health care). It didn't mean the Coalition had fractured.
It took President Bush to accomplish the latter, through two willful decisions: a) the decision to invade Iraq and b) the decision to pursue an ambitious immigration reform that included mass legalization. The former decision discredited Republicans and cost them the support of conservative realists. The latter split businessmen and libertarians from both social and law-and-order conservatives. Neither decision was in any way inevitable. To explain them, the internal dialectic of the Bush family (effectively described in Jacob Weisberg's new book) is more useful than any grander diagram of political or social tensions. [But the business wing of the GOP would have been mad if Bush had opposed the immigrant legalization "reform"--ed. Bush didn't have to make a big issue of immigration at all. And it wouldn't have been one if he hadn't. A few stronger border-security measures to placate the base and the whole dilemma would easily have been kicked past his term in office. The real demand for "comprehensive reform" came from intellectuals, ethnic interests and political strategists who saw a transformative potential in winning the Latino vote. Like Iraq, it was a war of choice. In the event, it turned out businesses didn't care nearly as much about it as Karl Rove, John McCain and Tamar Jacoby. Bush was reduced to urging businessmen to lobby for his plan.]
Bush is a large part of the problem. But he had a lot of help on Iraq and immigration from the neocons. At this point we need to get the neoconservatives out of power. A victory by a Republican aligned with the neocons would be a disaster.
On immigration and Iraq McCain looks like the worst choice. Hillary would probably be better on Iraq and probably won't be any worse than McCain on immigration and might even be better. Where does Romney stand vis a vis the neocons? I do not see any big neocons supporting him. But I'm not watching him closely enough to know for sure.
Update: McCain strongly supports the same positions which tore apart the Reagan Coalition when Bush supported those positions. If McCain wins the Republican nomination the lack of support for McCain from key elements of the Republican base could assure Hillary a victory in the general election. But while Romney won't alienate the Republican base on these issues his Mormon beliefs will keep many fundamenalist Christians home on election day. The Republicans might just manage to put Hillary in the White House.
Facing the most difficult political environment since they took control of Congress in 1994, Republicans begin the final two months of the midterm campaign in growing danger of losing the House while fighting to preserve at best a slim majority in the Senate, according to strategists and officials in both parties.
Over the summer, the political battlefield has expanded well beyond the roughly 20 GOP House seats originally thought to be vulnerable. Now some Republicans concede there may be almost twice as many districts from which Democrats could wrest the 15 additional seats they need to take control.
President Bush's low approval ratings, the sharp divisions over the war in Iraq, dissatisfaction with Congress, and economic anxiety caused by high gasoline prices and stagnant wages have alienated independent voters, energized the Democratic base and thrown once-safe Republican incumbents on the defensive.
Go back to when Bush first took office in 2001 and consider decisions he could have made to avoid damaging Republican popularity with the electorate.
First off, Bush could have passed on invading Iraq as colossal waste of time, money, lives, security, and US influence in the world. Iraq would have pumped more oil with Saddam Hussein firmly in control and the US could have allowed him to up production. This would have slightly reduced the run-up in oil prices.
Second, could have cracked down on illegal immigration and supported a reduction in legal immigration - especially of the less skilled. That would have reduced housing costs, improved wages for the lower classes, and even reduced domestic oil demand. Plus, the reduction in low skilled low wage immigrants would have reduced pressures on state and local governments to pay for the services and prisons to deal with the immigrants.
Lower class people hardest hit by immigration would have been far more supportive of the Republicans if the Republicans had come down on firmly on their side.
Bush also could have formulated a more aggressive energy policy designed to reduce demand for oil from Muslim oil sheikdoms. Conservation measures and greater funding for research and development into alternative energy sources would have positioned the Republican party as working to reduce our need to buy increasingly expensive oil.
Republicans, your leader's decisions have shafted the party.
Mr. Rove remains a dominant adviser to President Bush, administration officials say. But outside the White House, as Mr. Bush’s popularity has waned, and as questions have arisen among Republicans about the White House’s political acumen, the party’s candidates are going their own way in this difficult election season far more than they have in any other campaign Mr. Rove has overseen.
Some are disregarding Mr. Rove’s advice, despite his reputation as the nation’s premier strategist. They are criticizing Mr. Bush or his policies. They are avoiding public events with the president and Mr. Rove.
Influential conservative commentators have openly broken with the White House, calling into question the continued enthusiasm of evangelicals, economic conservatives and other groups that Mr. Rove has counted on to win elections. Some Republicans are ignoring Mr. Rove’s efforts to hold the party together on issues like immigration and Iraq.
Rove is spending big time on Republican get-out-the-vote campaigns. That'll help the Repubs.
Bush could spend the next 2 years under investigations by Democrat-controlled Congressional committees.
Mr. Rove has warned associates that a Democratic takeover in Congress would mean an end to Mr. Bush’s legislative hopes and invite two years of potentially crippling investigations into the administration.
Yet Bush refuses to shift position on immigration. He refuses to acknowledge the obvious on Iraq. Maybe he (and, more importantly, the nation) needs having him whacked up side the head by Congress for a couple of years.
My nightmare scenario is that Bush will make an immigration deal with a Democrat-controlled Congress and bring on a massive wave of immigration that makes the current problems small by comparison. He'd be willing to do it. I think the Democrats in Congress would too. What would stop them? Popular opinion? I figure they think they can get away with ignoring it.
One policy the Democrats would push through is a big increase in the minimum wage. That would reduce the demand for low skilled Hispanic immigrants. I think the Democrats should hike the minimum wage to $12 per hour. They could do it believing that no reduction in demand for labor would result. I'm happy to have them act on their delusions on this issue. But I'd rather they didn't act on their delusions on immigration policy.
Update: Also see Lawrence Auster's post We dodged immigration catastrophe this year—but what about next year? Larry argues that Republicans in the Congress need to run on immigration restriction if they are to have any chance of keeping control of houses of Congress. I agree.
Cheney allies were sprinkled across the bureaucracy, even in the State Department, and they helped keep Libby in the information loop. After Wolfowitz left the administration to become president of the World Bank, the number three spot at the Pentagon was given to Eric Edelman, once Libby's deputy in Cheney's office.
"His staff intervened at select but critical junctures when they thought State was going to push policy off track," said one Cheney ally who works elsewhere in the administration.
Bush's top people and their neoconservative aides and neoconservative allies in the press and think tanks are the authors of the Iraq debacle.
Here's the first praise of Condi Rice I've read that has substance behind it: She blocks Cheney.
The power of the vice president's office appears to have diminished somewhat in Bush's second term, in part because of Libby's legal troubles and also because Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has proven to be an effective counterweight, administration officials said. But Cheney remains extremely powerful, in part because of the effectiveness of Libby, who ran a small but talented staff that kept its pulse on the bureaucracy. At key moments, Libby or Cheney would weigh in, often tipping the scales in the direction they sought.
You go girl!
Will Cheney's weakening in any way change the course of events in Iraq? Does Libby's indictment make a US withdrawal from Iraq any more likely? The US death toll in October 2005 is running well above the war's average. So much for the idea that government Iraqi soldiers are shouldering more of the burden of fighting. If they are then the insurgents are growing more effective faster than the Iraqi military. What's Cheney's explanation for this? How does Bush explain it? Well, they just ignore the basic facts.
The history we celebrate today is a testament to the power of freedom to lift up a whole nation. On Independence Day, we remember the ideals of liberty that led men from 13 colonies to gather in Philadelphia and pen a declaration of self-truths. And we remember the band of patriots who risked their lives to bring freedom to a new continent.
On July 4, 1776, more than five years of the Revolutionary War still lay ahead. From the battle of New York to the winter at Valley Forge, to the victory at Yorktown, our forefathers faced terrible losses and hardships. Yet, they kept their resolve. They kept their faith in a future of liberty, and with their hard-won victory, we guaranteed a home for the Declaration's proposition that all are created equal. (Applause.)
Through the centuries, the Declaration of Independence has remained a revolutionary document. As President Kennedy said on the 4th of July, 1962, "The Declaration unleashed not merely a revolution against the British, but a revolution in human affairs."
So far so good, Nice things about the revolutionaries. But then he goes on a long tirade about the threat of terrorism. The he dishonestly ties that threat to the war in Iraq.
At this hour, our men and women in uniform are defending America against the threats of the 21st century. The war we are fighting came to our shores on September the 11th, 2001. After that day, I made a pledge to the American people, we will not wait to be attacked again. (Applause.) We will bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies. (Applause.)
Our enemies in this new war are men who celebrate murder, incite suicide and thirst for absolute power. They seek to spread their ideology of tyranny and oppression across the world. They seek to turn the Middle East into a haven for terror. They seek to drive America out of the region. These terrorists will not be stopped by negotiations, or concessions, or appeals to reason. In this war, there is only one option, and that is victory. (Applause.)
We are pursuing a comprehensive strategy to win the war on terror. We're taking the fight to the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.) We're denying our enemies sanctuary and making it clear that America will not tolerate regimes that harbor or support terrorists. And we're spreading freedom, because the terrorists know there is no room for them in a free and democratic Middle East. (Applause.)
By advancing the cause of liberty in a troubled part of the world, we will remove a source of instability and violence, and we will lay the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren. (Applause.)
Iraq is the latest battlefield in the war on terror. Our work there is difficult and dangerous because terrorists from across the region are converging on Iraq to fight the rise of democracy. The images of cruelty and suffering we see on television are real, and they are difficult for our compassionate nation to watch. Yet, the terrorist violence has not brought them any closer to achieving their strategic objectives. The terrorists tried to intimidate the Iraqi Governing Council, and they failed. They tried to delay the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq, and they failed. They tried to stop the free Iraqi elections, and they failed. They continue to kill in the hope that they will break the resolve of the American people, but they will fail. (Applause.)
The President of the United States is telling a bright shining lie. No, the war in Iraq is not a war against the terrorists who attacked the United States on 9/11.
Here once again Bush repeats the fallacy that most Iraqis care much about freedom.
The lesson of this experience is clear, the terrorists can kill the innocent, but they cannot stop the advance of freedom. This January, the world watched as the Iraqi people defied intimidation, dipped their fingers in ink and cast their votes in the country's first free and democratic election in decades. (Applause.) And last week, on June the 28th, the free nation of Iraq marked the first anniversary of the day when sovereignty was restored to its rightful owners, the Iraqi people. (Applause.)
By helping Iraqis build a free and democratic nation, we will give strength to an ally in the war on terror, and we'll make America more secure. To continue building a free and democratic Iraq, Americans and Iraqis are fighting side-by-side to stop the terrorists and insurgents. And our military is helping to train Iraqi forces so they can defend their own liberty. Our strategy can be summed up this way: As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down, and then our troops can come home to a proud and grateful nation. (Applause.)
He's trying to say Iraq is like the American colonies. But in that case American soldiers in Iraq today would be like the French who helped in the American Revolution. Picture, if you will, French soldiers fighting the British in the colonies while American colonials attacked the French soldiers. Imagine the French King proclaiming that the French soldiers would continue to do the bulk of the fighting at Bunker Hill, Lexington, Concord, Trenton, Bunker Hill, Brandywine, Cowpens, (and those are Revolutionary war battlefields for any historical illiterates) and countless other battlefields while the French patiently waited for the American revolutionaries to stand up and do the fighting.
Did the French fire the first shots at Lexington Green? I think not. Did the French fire all the shots at the British as the British soldiers retreated back to Boston? Again, NO! The analogy does not work. The Iraqi insurgents are much more eager fighters than the Iraqis who join the Iraqi government army. The Iraqi people are none too eager to stand up for the Iraqi government unlike the American revolutionaries who fought for little pay under trying conditions against the powerful British Army and Navy. The Iraqi soldiers are so untrustworthy that the US Army puts them in isolated parts of US bases because too many of them have sympathy for the insurgents.
Thanks to Greg Cochran for the tip.
President Bush’s televised address to the nation produced no noticeable bounce in his approval numbers, with his job approval rating slipping a point from a week ago, to 43%, in the latest Zogby International poll. And, in a sign of continuing polarization, more than two-in-five voters (42%) say they would favor impeachment proceedings if it is found the President misled the nation about his reasons for going to war with Iraq.
The Zogby America survey of 905 likely voters, conducted from June 27 through 29, 2005, has a margin of error of +/-3.3 percentage points.
Just one week ago, President Bush’s job approval stood at a previous low of 44%—but it has now slipped another point to 43%, despite a speech to the nation intended to build support for the Administration and the ongoing Iraq War effort. The Zogby America survey includes calls made both before and after the President’s address, and the results show no discernible “bump” in his job approval, with voter approval of his job performance at 45% in the final day of polling.
If Bush pulled out of Iraq now he might be able to bounce back enough to prevent a big Republican Congressional loss in the November 2006 elections. Otherwise will the Democrats get control of the House in the next election?
Some people want to impeach Bush. But Dick "last throes" Cheney would replace him. Still, the impeachment might serve a useful purpose.
In a sign of the continuing partisan division of the nation, more than two-in-five (42%) voters say that, if it is found that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should hold him accountable through impeachment. While half (50%) of respondents do not hold this view, supporters of impeachment outweigh opponents in some parts of the country.
Among those living in the Western states, a 52% majority favors Congress using the impeachment mechanism while just 41% are opposed; in Eastern states, 49% are in favor and 45% opposed. In the South, meanwhile, impeachment is opposed by three-in-five voters (60%) and supported by just one-in-three (34%); in the Central/Great Lakes region, 52% are opposed and 38% in favor.
Impeachment is overwhelmingly rejected in the Red States—just 36% say they agree Congress should use it if the President is found to have lied on Iraq, while 55% reject this view; in the “Blue States” that voted for Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry in 2004, meanwhile, a plurality of 48% favors such proceedings while 45% are opposed.
The audience was apparently rather small and composed largely of Bush supporters -- 50% of those who tuned in were Republicans, a much higher proportion than exists in the general population but similar to what Gallup has found in polling following other Bush speeches.
Overall, the sample of 323 speech watchers rated Bush's speech in positive terms -- with 46% describing their reaction as "very positive" and an additional 28% "somewhat positive." That is well below average when compared with other major speeches Bush has given, which have averaged a 60% very positive rating in similar flash polls. That includes a 67% very positive rating for the famous "Mission Accomplished" speech he gave aboard an aircraft carrier in May 2003, in which he declared the major fighting phase of the Iraq war to be over.
He's going to have to try a lot harder to reach more people to have any chance of turning public opinion around on the Iraq war. But I don't think he can succeed in that. Unless the Shias decide to start fighting against the Sunnis (basically join a civil war) I don't see how conditions in Iraq can improve. I do not expect the Shias to put their lives on the line in significant numbers as long as American troops will do it for them. So things are going to stay bad or get worse in Iraq.
Thanks to Greg Cochran for the link.
According to a different poll done over the weekend Bush's job performance disapproval has hit new highs.
The number of Americans disapproving of President Bush's job performance has risen to the highest level of his presidency, according to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.According to the poll, 53 percent of respondents said they disapproved of Bush's performance, compared to 45 percent who approved.
Again, I expect the Bush ratings decline to continue as long as the Iraq war goes on. Most people now think the invasion was a mistake. The death and injury rate for American troops shows no signs of declining. The Shias obviously do not want to take up arms to defend democracy. The WMD argument was a deception.
WASHINGTON — Americans disapprove of the way President Bush is handling Social Security by a ratio of more than 2-to-1, a new low for the White House on its top domestic policy issue, according to the latest USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll.
The poll, taken over the weekend, showed a steady erosion in the president's handling of Social Security since early February, when 43% approved. Now, 31% approve and 64% disapprove, the first time disapproval has risen above 60%.
If we are lucky Congress will get it together to pass a law to raise the retirement age for Social Security. But I fear Bush's privatization proposal has poisoned the atmosphere against any Social Security reform.
Deep Throat, the secret source whose insider guidance was vital to The Washington Post's groundbreaking coverage of the Watergate scandal, was a pillar of the FBI named W. Mark Felt, The Post confirmed yesterday.
As the bureau's second- and third-ranking official during a period when the FBI was battling for its independence against the administration of President Richard M. Nixon, Felt had the means and the motive to help uncover the web of internal spies, secret surveillance, dirty tricks and coverups that led to Nixon's unprecedented resignation on Aug. 9, 1974, and to prison sentences for some of Nixon's highest-ranking aides.
Felt's role places the fact of a disgruntled FBI front and center.
Wounded that he was passed over for the top job, furious at Nixon's choice of an outsider, Assistant Attorney General L. Patrick Gray III, as acting FBI director, and determined that the White House not be allowed to steer and stall the bureau's Watergate investigation, Mark Felt slipped into the role that would forever alter his life.
If Felt had been appointed head of the FBI would Felt have still become an informant to Woodward? Or suppose J. Edgar Hoover had lived a few more years and remained in control of the FBI. Would Hoover have shielded the FBI well enough from Nixon that Felt's disgruntlement would not have risen to the point of pushing him to become an informant?
How essential was Felt's role in bringing down Nixon? Would the basic story still have developed, albeit over a longer period of time?
A section from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's famous book "All the President's Men" reminds me of the Bush Administration:
"On evenings such as these, Deep Throat had talked about how politics had infiltrated every corner of government -- a strong-arm takeover of the agencies by the Nixon White House. . . . He had once called it the 'switchblade mentality' -- and had referred to the willingness of the president's men to fight dirty and for keeps. . . .
The Iraq invasion and the corruption of the integrity of the intelligence agencies that preceded it strike me as a parallel to what happened to law enforcement agencies during the Nixon Administration.
J. Edgar's Revenge: Hoover Loyalist Brought Down Nixon Administration: For decades, vast controversy swirled around the JFK Assassination, with tens of millions believing the Kennedy Administration was ended by the FBI and/or CIA. In contrast, almost nobody cared about unraveling the mysteries of the end of the Nixon Administration, even though it was always much more plausible that Nixon, rather than Kennedy, was brought down by the FBI and/or CIA.
The liberal media hated Nixon. So they weren't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Update: Speaking of parallels between Bush and Nixon, the recently deceased David Hackworth, at the time of his death the most decorated living American soldier, said in February 2005 that Bush is trying to copy Nixon's Vietnamization as a way to get out of Iraq.
Now the increasingly flummoxed Bush team is stealing the page on Vietnamization from Nixon’s Exit Primer, coupled with the same deceitful tactics he used to get us out of the almost decade-long Vietnam quagmire: telling lies.
More recently, Pentagon hype claimed 140,000 trained and equipped Iraqi troops were set to go toe to toe against an estimated 15,000 insurgents. But when congressional pressure from both Republicans and Democrats lit fires around the feet of both SecDef Rummy’s deputy Paul Wolfowitz and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers, they were quick to admit that only 40,000 Iraqi soldiers were ready to meet the tiger. The rest, according to Myers, “were useful in less-taxing jobs ... in relatively stable southern Iraq.”
The hard truth is that it takes a good 10 years to build an army from the ground up. And the major emphasis must be placed not on numbers such as how many battalions have been fielded or how ready the recruits are, but rather on good, old-fashioned officer training. Until this happens and the corrupt Iraqi officer leadership – from gold bar to four stars – gets a good scrub, our troops are stuck in the tar.
Does the Bush Administration's Iraqization strategy have any better prospects to succeed than Vietnamization? Maybe. I see one big difference: Bush has basically sent in US advisors who used to support paramilitaries in Latin America. Perhaps this plays to Arab strengths. If the paramilitaries start killing and kidnapping relatives of insurgents then maybe sheer terror can put down the insurgency. And then again, maybe not.
A record number of students define themselves at the political extremes of "far right" and "far left," according to the results of UCLA's annual survey of the nation's students entering undergraduate classes. The fall 2004 survey, conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, finds that 3.4 percent of students consider themselves as "far left" and 2.2 percent as "far right."
"Although these percentages are small, the change between 2003 and 2004 numbers — concurrent with the presidential election year — reflects the largest one-year shift in students' political orientation in the 35 years that it has been included in the survey," said Linda J. Sax, UCLA associate professor of education and director of the survey.
Identification as either "liberal" (26.1 percent) or "conservative" (21.9 percent) is also up from last year. "Middle-of-the-road" remains the most popular category at 46.4 percent, but reaches its lowest point in more than 30 years, and marks a nearly four-percentage point drop since last year (50.3 percent in 2003). (See Figure 1.)
Now in its 39th year, the UCLA survey is the nation's longest running and most comprehensive assessment of student attitudes and plans. The survey serves as a resource for researchers, practitioners and policy makers throughout the world.
The 2004 freshman norms are based on the responses of 289,452 students at 440 of the nation's baccalaureate colleges and universities. The data have been statistically adjusted to reflect the responses of the 1.2 million first-time, full-time students entering four-year colleges and universities as freshmen in 2004.
It would be interesting to see break-downs on these trends by sex, race, ethnicity, parental income, and SAT scores. Are men more likely to be extreme than women? Probably. Also, since women are a growing percentage of college students is that shifting the results toward the political Left? Also, are political differences between men and women narrower in college and then wider as single women out in the work force raising kids alone find themselves with much different political interests?
The races are becoming more separated socially.
Recent declines in interaction patterns are also evident, with 67.8 percent of freshmen in 2004 stating that they frequently socialized with someone of a different racial/ethnic group in high school, a decline from 70 percent in 2001. Moreover, while 63.1 percent of entering freshmen report that chances are "very good" that they will socialize with someone of a different racial/ethnic background during college, the current figure is the lowest since the question's inclusion in the survey in 2000. "In an increasingly multicultural world, curricular and co‑curricular activities designed to improve students' knowledge and skills in this realm, such as diversity courses and inter-group dialogue, may be especially important," Hurtado said.
One would like to see this survey done on college seniors as well. How do their expectations match up with their eventual experiences? Which races are least likely to socialize with each other? My guess is that the greater the difference in cognitive ability (e.g. use the differences in SAT scores as a proxy) the less likely the races in a given college or university will socialize together. So a school that has smaller differences between the races in incoming classes will have lower self-segregation by race. People who are not on the same intellectual level are going to have less to talk about with each other.
Also, comparison with college seniors would be interesting in terms of how the college experience changes student attitudes. Though to be rigorous about it the same students who get interviewed as freshman should be re-interviewed as seniors. The differences in drop-out rates as a function of race, sex, and intellectual ability are going to cause average senior attitudes to differ from average freshman attitudes. Therefore given that some will drop out the original freshman answers should be saved and separately tabulated for drop-outs and non-drop-out to compare how they differed as freshmen.
I expect to see deepening differences in attitudes in the American population in the future for a number of reasons. First off, the differences in economic outcomes continue to widen. Also, the growth of large numbers of narrowly aimed media channels such as blogs and cable TV channels producing content for narrow demographic segments is reducing the amount of common experiences of the population. The more cable channels, talk radio programs (which are going to grow even more as satellite radio takes off), and internet sites the more people are going to dial in to hear and read the thoughts of like minds.
Immigration is another cause of a decrease in the feeling of common interests. Each major racial group performs at a different average level in school and achieves a different average level of success. Some ethnic and racial groups self-segregate while at the same time some groups literally flee from the presence of other groups. Increased mobility is allowing increased segregation. The term "cocooning" to refer to people who stay in their houses and in small social circles denotes another way that segregation is being put into practice.
A decline in the feeling of common interests can produce an effect similar to that of a snowball running down a hill getting bigger as it goes along. When people feel less common interests they will push for interests more narrowly their own. This will reduce the benefits they receive that they share in common with all and therefore reduce their feelings of loyalty and interest in institutions that span the entire society. Altruistic behaviors such as being willing to provide information such as eyewitness descriptions about crimes committed against others can be expected to decline in frequency.
Does anyone reading this agree or disagree with this assessment? Are there reasons why we can expect an increasing sense of sharing common interests? The only reason I can think of off the top of my head for a future growing sense of common interests is the images of disasters on TV. People can feel for earthquake and tsunami disasters better today because they can see the images from those disasters live and in color on TV.
It is not clear to me whether international trade increases or decreases the sense of shared common interests. Maybe it does both but in different directions to different segments of populations. Elites feel more in common but the lower classes feel less in common with their own elites or with the distant lower classes they compete with. Sound right or wrong to you?
Note that, tellingly, in second place as an indicator of GOP predilection, in between Years Married and Total Fertility, is
- the growth in housing prices between 1980 and 2004. The coefficient is -0.82.
The negative sign means that the more housing prices have risen, the more Democratic the state was.
Steve says immigration works against family formation of natives and thereby drives natives toward the Democrats.
Expensive housing retards family formation, which helps the Democrats. Rising housing prices transfer wealth from young people to old people.
That makes it harder for young voters to start down the road to homeownership, marriage, babies—and committed Republicanism.
Also see my previous posts Steve Sailer: Time Married Best Predictor Of Pro-Bush Voting and Steve Sailer: Immigration Restriction Will Move Hispanics Toward GOP.
Overall, Bush carried the top 25 states ranked on years married for white women. The correlation coefficient with Bush's share of the vote is 0.91, or 83 percent of the variation "explained." That's extremely high. Years married also correlates with the 2000 election results at the 0.89 level (80 percent). So it's no fluke.
The r-squared when years married and fertility are combined in a multiple regression model is improves to 88 percent. (Small-sounding change, perhaps, but actually an important (30%) reduction in the unaccounted variation - from 17 percent to 12 percent.)
Steve says low housing costs and generally low living costs are key to higher early marriage and white fertility rates. Immigration raises housing and living costs and so shifts people into patterns of living that make them more likely to vote for the Democratic Party.
Cut back on immigration.
One of the ways that immigration lowers white fertility is by creating more populations that whites want to flee from to escape crime and social pathologies. Whites end up needing to spend more money to get into more exclusive neighborhoods to escape what becomes of white working class neighborhoods when lower skilled and more crime-prone Hispanics move in. The competition becomes more intense to get into neighborhoods whose kids are less likely to be disruptive in school classrooms or to require lots of special education tutoring. Also, whites end up commuting much longer distances and this both adds another cost to households and also makes it extremely difficult for the two parents to share child-raising chores like, say, taking Johnnie to the doctor or picking up Jill after music lessons. If the husband is driving an hour or two into the big city to go to work every day then the wife is going to be less keen on procreating.
I do not think we have the slightest moral obligation to import the rest of the world's problems. It is time to shut down immigration entirely.
Update: Steve answers some of his critics. Note that the critics are just character assassins. Someone asked in a comment to this post for substantive critiques of Steve's analyses. But knee-jerk politically correct left-liberals can't be bothered to engage in rational analysis.
States, however, differ significantly in white fertility. The most fecund whites are in heavily Mormon Utah, which, not coincidentally, was the only state where Bush received over 70 percent. White women average 2.45 babies in Utah compared to merely 1.11 babies in Washington D.C., where Bush earned but 9 percent. The three New England states where Bush won less than 40 percent -- Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island -- comprise three of the four states with the lowest white birth rates, with little Rhode Island dipping below 1.5 babies per woman.
Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility (just as he did in 2000), and 25 out of the top 26, with highly unionized Michigan being the one blue exception to the rule...
In sharp contrast, Kerry won the 16 states at the bottom of the list, with the Democrats' anchor states of California (1.65) and New York (1.72) having quite infertile whites.
Among the fifty states plus Washington D.C., white total fertility correlates at a remarkably strong 0.86 level with Bush's percentage of the 2004 vote. (In 2000, the correlation was 0.85). In the social sciences, a correlation of 0.2 is considered "low," 0.4 "medium," and 0.6 "high."
You could predict 74% of the variation in Bush's shares just from knowing each state's white fertility rate. When the average fertility goes up by a tenth of a child, Bush's share normally goes up by 4.5 points.
This result can not be explained away by the effects of lower IQ people having more children than higher IQ people (even though that is really happening). In spite of left-liberal imaginings to the contrary Bush did well in many states that have higher average IQs.
Democrats, however, tend to be more inegalitarian, with higher highs and lower lows than the more middling Republicans.
This is clearly visible in the biggest blue state of them all, California.
Census Bureau figures show that California, traditionally America's trendsetter, is pioneering a new kind of class structure—ominously like that of highly unequal Latin American countries like Brazil or Mexico.
...The Golden State is now one of only three states with above average percentages both of people who never got past elementary school and of holders of graduate degrees. (The other two are New Mexico and Rhode Island). In California, 10.7 percent of grownups have no more than elementary schooling, compared to only 6.4 percent in the other 49 states. Of all the states in the Union, California now has the lowest percentage of its population with a midlevel education consisting of at least a high school diploma or some college, but not a bachelor's degree from a four-year college. California's educational inequality is driven by both foreign immigration and domestic migration. The state has attracted the top and the bottom of the schooling pyramid, while repelling the middle.
These upper-middle-class newcomers tend to be liberal, especially on cultural issues.
In contrast, Mexican immigrants supply much of California's huge number of less-educated people. According to a 2000 Census Bureau survey, 65 percent of America's Mexican immigrants never finished high school versus only 9.6 percent of natives.
Highly egalitarian yet highly Republican Utah is closer to the egalitarian ideals that the Democratic Party quite falsely claims to champion. But unegalitarian California represents the future for America as a whole. The flood of Hispanic lower class immigrants will increase the size of the lower classes and the resulting greater inequality bodes well for the Democratic Party in the voting booth.
Utah, the destination of so many disgruntled ex-Californians, is emerging as the anti-California. It leads the country with only 2.4 percent of its residents never having attended high school.
Paradoxically, this staunchly Republican state, where Bush won 71 percent in 2004, exemplifies some of the supposed egalitarian ideals of the Democratic Party. A 2000 study by the Economic Policy Institute found Utah to have the most equal income distribution of any state.
Still, Utah is more likely to be the anomaly and California the harbinger of the United States' future.
The Republicans are committing political suicide by trying to curry favor with Hispanics by offering amnesty programs, worker permit programs, and lax immigration law enforcement. The United States of America is going to become like Latin America.
Before Steve posted his explanation of total white fertility as an incredibly strong correlation with Bush's vote A gnxp.com post started an interesting list of speculations on what might yield such a strong correlation with a pro-Bush vote. Check it out.
My own thoughts: Is the fertility rate a proxy for something else? For instance, my guess is that white women who have more children tend to be married longer than white women who have fewer children. At the same time, there is a huge gap (which I'm in too much of a rush to find a link for) between voting patterns of single and married women. Married women vote Republican in much larger numbers (the difference is almost 20% - a big swing) than do single women. I would be very curious to know what the correlation is between ratio of white men to white women voting for Republicans versus total Republican vote in each state. Did the Red states swing more Republican because the male-female pro-Republican voting gap is narrower in Blue states than in Red states?
Of course, the kinds of women who have more children have different values on average from women who do not have as many children. For instance, they assign a higher relative value to having children. Either that or they find it easier to find men who they think make suitable partners.
In a related vein divorce rates are an imperfect measure of family values. One reason for this is that marriage rates are higher in Red states. So the Red states have more marriages to be at risk of breaking up in the first place.
Then there is the evolutionary biological angle to the differences in fertility rates of white women in different states: Will white fertility rates eventually start rising as the women who have the strongest genetically-caused instinct to reproduce have more children than women who have weaker instincts to reproduce? A few months ago I was watching a C-Span broadcast from a Washington DC demographics thinktank (and if anyone can find this report I'm about to describe please tell me - dummy me I forgot to write down the thinktank name and I can't find this report after many hours searching). The thinktank had just released a new study where they reported that in some African countries the fertility rate has stopped dropping and has even increased in some cases. My interpretation is that natural selection is selecting for women who will have more children in spite of the influences of modernity. This does not bode well for the optimistic view that problems will come from human population growth will eventually be solved by massive numbers of voluntary individual decisions to have progressively fewer children.
Update Read the full article here. His arguments for why the gap exists between the Red and Blue states is pretty convincing.
Here's the background: the NEP exit poll, as reported on CNN and other leading outlets, breaks out Presidential election numbers at three levels: nationally, regionally (East, Midwest, South, and West), and by states.
In each of the regions, not just the South, the sums of the individual states' number of Hispanic votes for Bush add up to less than the exit poll's total regional number of Hispanic votes.
The NEP reports the Hispanic share of the total vote in all states, but it only reports exactly whom Hispanics voted for in those states where there's a statistically significant sample size of Hispanics.
In the South, for example, only four of the fourteen states have enough Latinos for the NEP to break out Bush's and Kerry's shares: Florida, Texas, Georgia, and, last and least, Oklahoma.
By combining the exit poll data with turnout data from the United States Election Project, we can see that the Bush's Hispanic vote totals appear to be systematically inflated.
Steve goes through some calculations (click through to see the details) and then comes up with the bottom line that shows how obviously the Latino vote counts were fabricated:
So, if Hispanics made up 9% of the 38.382 million voters in all 14 states of the South, then there must be 0.474 million Latino voters in the other ten states. And if Bush really carried 64% of Hispanics overall in the South, then he must have won 0.480 million Hispanic votes in those other ten states.
That means he won 101% of these states’ Hispanic vote.
The Midwestern numbers bring to mind the old Chicago political machine saying "vote early, vote often". It would have taken multiple voting per Hispanic Bush supporter in the Midwest to get this result:
Similarly, the exit poll claims that in the West region, Bush took 39% of the Hispanic vote. But in the eight broken-out states, which account for something like 97% of all Hispanic voters in the West, Bush only garnered 34%. So for the unspecified states (Alaska, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and Utah) to raise Bush's regional share from 34% to 39%, their Hispanics would have had to cast about 167% of their votes for Bush. In the Midwest, the exit poll purports that Bush won 0.489 million votes from 1.527 million Hispanics (32%). But in the four broken-out states, he won only 0.216 million out of 0.735 million (29%). So Bush would have had to capture 0.273 million in the unspecified states. The exit poll reports that there were just 0.222 million Hispanic voters in those other states. So Bush must have won a 123% share of them.
So obviously the reported high Bush Hispanic exit poll vote reports are very wrong. Bush and Rove have not made a great breakthough with the growing Hispanic population. The Republican Party is still headed for demographic oblivion and of course the nation as a whole is still headed for demographic disaster.
Long time ParaPundit visitor John S. Bolton provided Steve with the crucial clue that got Steve thinking in the right direction. See this post Steve Sailer: Exit Poll Estimates For Hispanic Vote Not Credible and read John's observations in the comment section.
So how to explain these results? Are staffers of the major news organizations whoe produced these bogus numbers morally corrupt or mathematically illiterate? I tend to favor incompetency as the explanation but it was probably incompetency of a sort that does not reflect well on the character of those who made the mistakes.
Ashcroft, 62, has been one of the most controversial and influential figures of Bush's first term. Ashcroft provided reliable fodder for Democrats on the campaign trail and served as a visible representative of the evangelical Christians who played a crucial role in reelecting the president.
A longtime friend of Ashcroft's expressed bitterness that the White House had originally welcomed him as a lightning rod who drew criticism away from Bush, then decided not to stand by him. "He was something to offer to evangelicals," said the friend, who declined to be identified. "They used him, and now they're done with him and he's being tossed aside."
In addition, he never developed a close relationship with Mr. Bush and annoyed some members of the White House staff who thought he was at times a grandstander who was overtly politicizing the Justice Department. One Republican close to the White House said on Tuesday night that Mr. Ashcroft had gotten a "strong signal" from the administration that his resignation would be accepted.
Sources said Ashcroft submitted his handwritten, five-page resignation letter before Election Day but was "energized" after Bush's victory and told the White House through his aides he was willing to stay on indefinitely as the nation's top cop.The White House said no. Ashcroft will remain in office only until his successor is chosen.
White House counsel and George W. Bush Texas chum Alberto Gonzales has been chosen to replace Ashcroft at DOJ. Gonzales was the person who rewrote and gutted DOJ Solicitor General Theodore Olson's briefs opposing racial preferences in the Supreme Court University of Michigan cases Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz and Hamacher v. Bollinger. Theodore Olson almost resigned over Bush's abandonment of the conservative base's firm opposition to racial preferences. Now Gonzales is going to be Olson's boss - unless Olson resigns.
The appointment of Gonzales as Attorney General comes at an unfortunate time for the recent victory of Arizona Proposition 200 aimed at preventing non-citizens from voting and at preventing illegal aliens from getting various forms of welfare and other state services. Gonzales may well decide to use the power given to DOJ by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to disapprove Prop. 200.
Even though passed by a clear majority of Arizona voters, there is a possibility that the Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act will never become law.
Any law that affects voter's rights must be approved by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure it conforms to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Conservatives can expect bad decisions from the Bush Administration when issues involve immigration or racial preferences. My guess is that Gonzales will be worse than Ashcroft on both issues. But on the bright side at least Gonzales' appointment as AG reduces the chances he will be put on the Supreme Court.
Check out this CNN chart comparing Bush's takes on various groupings of the population in 2004 versus 2000. Keep in mind that these figures are preliminary. As we learned early election day from preliminary exit polling that showed Kerry ahead 2 percentage points initial statistical sampling and analysis can get things pretty wrong.
I am still digesting this. But a few things leap out.
First, there has been talk in the last couple of years about the idea of "security moms". Well this election shows evidence for this. While Bush gained 2% among males to rise to 55% he gained 5% among females to rise to 49%. So the gender gap shrank 3%.
Second, by age bracket Bush's biggest gains were among oldsters. CNN doesn't have data on 18-29 year olds. Bush gained 4% with 30-44 year olds and only 2% with 30-44 year olds. But Bush gained 7% with age 60 and older. So Rove made the best decision for Bush by supporting the Medicare drug benefit. Of course all the rest of us will have to pay for that for decades to come.
Another point: He gained most among those who had less than a high school education (a full 10% to capture 49% total!) and gained 3% from those with high school degrees and with college education short of bachelors degrees. He made a 1% gain with college grads to tie Kerry at 49% each and made no gains with people who pursued post-grad education.
Also, Bush made gains in all racial groups. His biggest gain was a 9% swing with Hispanics. I find this hard to believe and am looking forward to more detailed analyses by Steve Sailer. But the gain among those with lower education might explain a big part of the Hispanic gain. Or was Bush's worker permit proposal a factor?
There appears to be a mistake in their chart about voting and church attendance. They show huge swings in favor of Bush with those who attend church regularly. How could Bush have gained 25 points to get to 58% among those who attend church weekly? That'd mean that Bush got less than half the regular church attenders in 2000. That is absurd.
The three biggest hot button issues for voters were Moral Values (22%), Economy/Jobs (20%), and Terrorism (19%). For those who thought Moral Values were most important Bush got 80% of the vote. For those who thought Economy/Jobs were most important Kerry got 80%. For those who thought Terrorism was most important Bush got 86%. The terrorist threat definitely worked in Bush's favor. Note that Iraq was in fourth place in ranking at 15% and of those who thought that issue most important Kerry got 73%. That issue was less important and also caused less of a shift than the top 3 issues.
My guess is that absent 9/11 John Kerry would have won. Kerry needed to address the terrorist threat offer a more effective critique of what was deficient about Bush's response to terrorism. But as a very liberal Democrat Kerry wasn't about to stump for better border control and immigration policies or more capabilities for federal agencies to track down terrorists with computers and databases. So Bush wins.
Imagine the Democrats had chosen a popular politician from Ohio as their Vice Presidential nominee. That might have swung enough votes for the Democrats in Ohio to cost Bush a defeat in the Electoral College.
Are any of Ohio's Democrats in Congress popular and at all charismatic?
Of course, the Democrats had a more fundamental problem: John Kerry at the top of the ticket. The Democrats nominated a liberal from Massachusetts who has a lifetime American Conservative Union voting score of 5 out of a possible 100. Great for energizing the Democratic base (though hatred of Bush was the real energizer of the Demos). But not great for winning swing voters in Middle America.
If you are bummed at Bush's apparent victory (and I'm more bummed that either Bush or Kerry had to win than that Bush in particular seems to have won) then perhaps Noah Millman's fairly subdued endorsement of Bush might provide some silver lining to your cloud of gloom. Noah says he understands that Bush doesn't deserve reelection (which is an important point to understand) but Noah still thinks Bush is a better choice than Kerry.
I'm not convinced by Noah's reasoning though. Even if one posits that Bush will be better than Kerry would have been that does not strike me as a decisive reason to vote for Bush. The reason is simple: punishment of Bush by defeat would have been an important lesson to future Republican Presidential wannabes. Bush betrayed his base on spending, racial preferences, immigration, and enough other topics that punishment was needed. But it now looks like he got away with it. Bush reminds me of Clinton. They are both baby boomer politicians who got away with too much.
On the bright side a President in his second term doesn't have the incentive to spend money to pay off voting groups to get himself reelected. So Bush might be more fiscally responsible in his second term. Though part of the fiscal damage Bush did was through entitlement program expansion that will be politically impossible to roll back. Since initial reports are that Bush gained more of 60+ years old crowd he and Rove made a good decision for Bush (though not for America) in locking in a new entitlement that will become increasingly more expensive.
Update: I just came across a pre-election endorsement of George W. Bush over John Kerry written by Jane Galt of Asymmetrical Information. She covers a great deal of ground (go read the whole thing) on Bush and Kerry on a large number of issues and along the way makes an important point on health care that I think I agree with: a candidate who is going to support more government take-over of health care is essentially supporting policies that will cause large numbers of deaths.
Ultimately, I've decided to take the advice of a friend's grandmother, who told me, on her wedding day, that I should never, ever marry a man thinking he'd change. "If you can't live with him exactly the way he is," she told me, "then don't marry him, because he'll say he's going to change, and he might even try to change, but it's one in a million that he actually will."
Kerry's record for the first fifteen years in the senate, before he knew what he needed to say in order to get elected, is not the record of anyone I want within spitting distance of the White House war room. Combine that with his deficits on domestic policy -- Kerry's health care plan would, in my opinon, kill far more people, and cost more, than the Iraq war ever will -- and it's finally clear. For all the administration's screw -ups -- and there have been many -- I'm sticking with the devil I know. George Bush in 2004.
Is Kerry worse than Bush from a rational and well-informed right-wing perspective? Probably. But the value of a Bush defeat would not have been its effect on the next 4 years of governance. The value would have come from a message that the Republican base will punish poor performance by a Republican elected official. Unfortunately that message has not been delivered and this bodes poorly for the Republican base in the longer run.
Bryanna Bevens makes the argument that women care greatly about security and would have been attracted by proposals for better border security.
The strategic blunder: Homeland Security.
Not the "Homeland Security" policy that launches a 500 billion dollar war in Iraq that in no way secures our homeland or locates any terrorists.
In short, the Homeland Security that has yet to happen.
Eric Lustbader, quoted in my epigraph above, is right: Women want stability.
Shutting America’s borders until we can reform our immigration policy to include effective security measures is the simplest, non-violent approach to terrorism.
Well, to date Bush has been unwilling to pay a high price in terms of abandoning his Hispandering to pursue proper border security. Kerry shows little sign of a willingness to do much better. Neither candidate has come up with an aggressive set of proposals to defend Americans on the edges and entry points of America. Bush has been willing to spend hundreds of billions in Iraq (though clearly he underestimated what he was getting us into there) which was not a major source of terrorists motivated to attack the United States. But Bush did not try to spend even a tenth that amount on border control and tracking of foreigners here.
What amazes me about this state of affairs is that even though two New York City skyscrapers were knocked down by terrorists the liberal elite is truly so clueless that it hasn't come around to supporting really effective close-in defense as an alternative to Bush's reckless foreign policy.
This election is a sign to me that the United States needs a new political party. The two main parties seem like they are hopeless. Maybe some future debacle in the Middle East or on the domestic front will shake one of the parties out of their intellectual rut. But so far 9/11 was clearly not enough to break many loose from their ideological moorings.
Steve Sailer looked at their military aptitude test results and says Bush may well be smarter than Kerry.
The two tests aren't perfectly comparable. But they provide no evidence that Kerry is smarter. If anything, Bush is smarter than Kerry.
What is amazing about Steve's article is that it attracted the attention of the New York Times. Our liberal elites try to claim that IQ doesn't matter and profess to believe a sort of Lysenkoist view where intelligence is caused almost entirely by the environment. They entirely ignore the role of natural selection in order to make a place for all environment all the time (and this from people who like to look down on fundamentalist Christians for denying Darwinism - human minds can sustain amazing internal contradictions).
Yet deep down the liberals all know that most of the differences between people in intellectual ability are inherited and they know that intelligence matters a great deal. So many more liberals are reading Steve's article than are writing about it. Still, the Grey Lady stepped up to the plate, unable to resist. John Tierney of the New York Times distills out the basic conclusions of Steve's analysis of the intelligence of George W. Bush and John Kerry.
Mr. Bush's score on the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test at age 22 again suggests that his I.Q was the mid-120's, putting Mr. Bush in about the 95th percentile of the population, according to Mr. Sailer. Mr. Kerry's I.Q. was about 120, in the 91st percentile, according to Mr. Sailer's extrapolation of his score at age 22 on the Navy Officer Qualification Test.
Linda Gottfredson, an I.Q. expert at the University of Delaware, called it a creditable analysis said she was not surprised at the results or that so many people had assumed that Mr. Kerry was smarter. "People will often be misled into thinking someone is brighter if he says something complicated they can't understand," Professor Gottfredson said.
On her web site Linda Gottfredson has many of her research papers on psychometrics available to be read if you want ot learn more about psychometric research on intelligence and IQ.
One problem with a comparison of tests of cognitive ability taken a few decades ago is that Bush has probably done more damage to his mind than Kerry has in the decades since. Bush too much alcohol for too long and alcohol certainly does kill brain cells. Plus, there are the rumors about Bush's cocaine abuse and coke also definitely kills brain cells. (any doubters should see here and here and here and here)
Bush has two other problems on top of likely brain damage. He also lacks curiosity and misunderstands the world as a result. Plus, there is something obviously morally deficient about him.
Of course Kerry has his own set of deficiencies. Some of those deficiencies are obvious enough to voters that Bush is probably going to win the election. Whichever one wins America will lose. About this election I'm increasingly of the attitude of Que Sera Sera.
Steve has some reader emails making interesting comments about the Kerry-Bush comparison. Check out the comments.
BTW, Tierney's career at the Grey Lady might be at risk if anyone noticed, but he's more reality-oriented than the average Times reporter. See my previous post John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq.
The full detailed breakdown of this ABC News "Primetime Lives" poll will not be available until released on a TV news broadcast on Oct. 21, 2004. So one obvious question is arises: given that more males than females are Republicans does this gap represent a greater level of sexual satisfaction among males than females? Or are Democrats just plain less happy with sex and even less happy with life in general? (or do Democrats manage to be happier with life by avoiding sex?)
Of those involved in a committed relationship, who is very satisfied with their relationship?
Republicans — 87 percent; Democrats — 76 percent
Who is very satisfied with their sex life?
Republicans — 56 percent; Democrats — 47 percent
It would be interesting to see these results placed in a larger context. Are Republicans or Democrats more satisfied in general? It is worth noting that Republicans and Democrats have different patterns of reproduction.
No matter what happens this November, in the very long run, the fate of the two parties will depend on the "battle of the cradle" and on immigration policy. In 2000, Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white birthrates, so the Republican Party will remain heavily white.
The fertility of white Democrats is low: of the 10 states with the lowest white birth rate, all except Florida voted for Gore. The Mexican-American birthrate, however, is quite high, so the Democratic Party, which already received 31 percent of its votes from minorities in 2002, is likely to become nonwhite dominated if immigration continues full speed ahead.
When the Democrats become the Hispanic and Black party will their average level of sexual satisfaction improve? How does sexual satisfaction in America break down by race and sex? Anyone found any polling data on this question?
For instance, Alaska has $2 million in homeland security funds it apparently doesn't know what to do with. The state recently proposed buying a jet with the money; the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said no, but was "happy to entertain" other options.
Further, the money that went to Alaska is three times the amount per resident than went to New York - clearly a problem, unless the general consensus is that Alaska poses a greater terror risk than New York.
James Jay Carafano of the Heritage Foundation reports that even within states money is allocated toward rural areas.
Within states, rural, less populated areas often receive a disproportionate amount of money as well. For instance, in Iowa, the capital city of Des Moines, population 199,000, will be receiving $250,000. Sioux County, Iowa, with a population of 31,600, will be receiving $299,000.
Other spending is curious, too. Reportedly, California distributes its federal grants in base-amounts of $5,000 to each county, an amount so small that it is difficult to imagine how it could be used productively.
Even the Urban Area Security Initiative grants, monies targeted at major population areas that are also considered potential targets, produce some strange results. The three criteria used are population density (50 percent of the weight), presence of critical infrastructure (one-third), and finally, credible threats (about one-sixth). Using this formula, San Francisco, with a population of 800,000 and Los Angeles, with a population of 4 million, get about the same amount of money. As Rep Anthony Weiner (D-NY) correctly pointed out in recent Congressional hearings, this formula seriously undervalues actual intelligence and known targets.
It is not hard to figure out where terrorists are most likely to strike. They want to hit places where there are high concentrations of people. They want to hit high profile targets and national symbols. New York City and Washington DC stick out as by far the most likely targets.
Veronique de Rugy reports that there is considerable resistance in Congress to channelling homeland security money to where it will do the most good.
And right at the beginning of the third debate Kerry even insinuated that the current administration had cut homeland security funding. That may seem surprising to some, since proposed funding for homeland security for FY2005 is $47 billion, a staggering 180 percent increase since 2001. But Kerry's instinct to spend more is hardly unusual. Too many politicians focus on the level of spending and too few consider the quality of that spending.
While most lawmakers seem content with the status quo, even hoping to increase the cash flows allocated in this manner, Republicans are moving toward a consensus that the allocation of homeland-security spending needs to be based on more rational, cost-benefit analysis. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Chris Cox (R., Calif.) has been fighting to change the criteria used to allocate these funds so that they are based exclusively on the risk of terrorist attacks and the magnitude of potential damages. Democrats are vehemently opposed to this idea. Senator Leahy, for instance (D., Vt.), a member of the powerful Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, argues that dropping the all-state minimum formula would "shortchange rural states." For some, apparently, homeland security is becoming another entitlement program.
We have far too many big buildings, tunnels, subways, airports, and the like to harden and defend them all. The bigger focus ought to be on keeping terrorists away from the homeland in the first place. The homeland security spending ought to be channelled away from aid to states and more toward border control, visa screening, and tracking of higher risk foreigners within the US. Given the massive upcoming fiscal crisis that will hit when the baby boomers start to retire we can not afford to treat the threat of terrorist attacks on US territory as an excuse to waste billions of dollars per year on pork barrel spending.
I just got off a phone conversation where in the process of discussing the candidates for the US Presidential election I was told "I distrust people who do not have enough vanity to lose weight".
Context? An ex-girlfriend complaining that the reason she doesn't like Senator John Edwards' wife is because the woman couldn't be bothered to lose a lot of weight for her husband's VP campaign run. She thinks there is something wrong with a pretty boy guy running for VP with a lardo butt wife. Really, I am not making this up. It wouldn't even have occurred to me to make it up. Besides, I didn't know that Mrs. Edwards even had a weight problem since I rarely watch TV political coverage. But thinking about this it dawned on me that her reaction to Mrs. Edwards is surely not an isolated case.
The Kerry-Edwards campaign ought to get Kerry's wife to take a rush trip to Beverly Hills to be treated by Dr. 90210 and get that episode aired before the election. They have little time to film and broadcast Mrs. Edwards' liposuction if they do not want to lose the vote of people whose judgment is no more than skin deep. Best done, it would include Sally Struthers on the good doctor Robert Rey's schedule for the same day. Get the celebrity angle in there to pique viewer interest.
The large voting block of voters making adipose-deep decisions (and that is at least in the millions) are being ignored by the Democrats. This is amazing when you think about it, especially in light of reports that John Kerry gets botox injections. Is Kerry's botox just by chance and unrelated to his run for high office? Also, and more importantly, do the high-paid sharp Democratic Party campaign strategies never watch reality TV shows and hospital documentary shows? Are they too busy cussing at the O'Reilly Factor to notice what is really important to the American people? When hardly a week goes by without the broadcast of at least one liposuction procedure how can these political operatives be so blind to what is clearly of the utmost importance?
Or have these Democratic Party campaign operatives approached Mrs. Edwards about liposuction (or stomach stapling) and been rebuffed? If so, then there was an absolutely huge mistake made by Democratic Party strategists back when Edwards was being vetted for the VP slot or even earlier when he was running in the primaries. Any candidate and spouse of a candidate needs vetting for their willingness to undergo plastic surgery, preferably on live television. Any reticence clearly demonstrates a lack of willingness to go the distance. Plastic surgery is going to become just so de rigeur that by 2016 anyone who hasn't had work done won't even be able to recruit a campaign staff let alone make a run for the Presidency. Young aspiring candidates who are getting work done now ought to film their procedures for future release in the 2016 and 2020 New Hampshire primaries.
Here's my weird conclusion before I present the argument for it: The Iraq War debacle is benefitting Bush. Why? Because Kerry looks weak on foreign policy and national security. Democrats generally look weak on foreign policy and the military to most American voters and Kerry is no exception. The mess in Iraq is accurately recognized by the American people as being a serious problem. Here is where the Iraq mess works to George W. Bush's benefit: The American people know the United States is in a serious military and political mess in Iraq and therefore want a strong aggressive masculine figure in the White House. A clear majority see Bush as possessing more of the masculine and aggressive qualities than Kerry. You don't win a US Presidential election based on perceived higher intelligence.
An Associated Press/Ipsos poll asked registered voters to assess the character of each nominee. Nearly 75 percent said Bush was "strong"; only 54 percent said that of Kerry. Three-quarters called Bush "decisive"; a measly 37 percent applied that term to Kerry. Bush was seen as more likeable. The only character face-off in which Kerry led Bush was intelligence. Eighty-four percent considered Kerry smart; 63 percent reported they believe Bush is "intelligent."
Kerry is hobbled by all sorts of things. First of all, he has a voting record in the Senate that is not pro-military spending or even pro-military action in conflicts such as the first Gulf War that the American people supported. He has his record of early 1970s anti-Vietnam War and anti-US soldier (supposed war criminals) rhetoric weighing against him. Plus, and this is a subtle point that most commentators miss, Kerry is wealthy because he married wealthy. That is just not a masculine real man way to riches in America. Whereas Bush made his money in baseball (never mind that he did it through politics and a bond issue for a sports stadium). Baseball is for real men.
Fifty per cent had "a lot" of confidence Bush could protect the United States from terrorism, up from 43 per cent last month. Just 26 per cent expressed such confidence in Kerry, down from 32 per cent in August.
Never mind that Bush is not pursuing many different border control and visa policies that would reduce the ability of terrorists to get to the United States in the first place. Never mind that the second Iraq war has increased Muslim anger toward the United States and probably made Al Qaeda recruitment easier even while it drew US forces away from the Afghan-Pakistan border where there are plenty of Al Qaeda members. Most people are not thinking thoughts that complex.
In CNN/USA Today/Gallup Polls conducted this month, Bush moved ahead in Ohio and several other key swing states, though voters favored Kerry by major margins on the economy, health care and Iraq. But on the issue of terrorism, Bush was ahead by stunning margins, including by 87 percent to 9 percent among registered Ohio voters who cited that issue as key.
Kerry might be able to do a better job of explaining Bush's Iraq mistakes. But he is not going to offer a convincing and honest case of what he'd do instead (not that Bush is being honest about his own intentions in Iraq at this point - Bush might be getting ready for a US withdrawal from Iraq next year). Also, Kerry is not going to come out and advocate more effective policies against terrorism on the home front because ethnic immigration lobbies would object and privacy rights advocates would oppose more effective use of information systems against terrorists.
If Bush wins reelection it will be because the American people are more focused on foreign poilicy than on domestic policy. They will vote for Bush in spite of his big foreign policy and domestic security mistakes. Personally, I think Bush has a 65:35 chance of winning reelection. He will manage to win reelection in spite of a failure of his immigration policies to pull any more Hispanics to the Republican ticket and in spite of the degree to which he has angered his base on immigration.
There are two sorts of people in the information-age elite, spreadsheet people and paragraph people. Spreadsheet people work with numbers, wear loafers and support Republicans. Paragraph people work with prose, don't shine their shoes as often as they should and back Democrats.
Brooks used data from the Center for Responsive Politics (probably from their opensecrets.org web site) to look at which occupations and industries give to Republicans and Democrats. Brooks provides a buch of examples of occupations which are heavily oriented toward the written word that lean heavily toward the Democrats.
Professors, on the other hand, are classic paragraph people and lean Democratic. Eleven academics gave to the Kerry campaign for every 1 who gave to Bush's. Actors like paragraphs, too, albeit short ones. Almost 18 actors gave to Kerry for every 1 who gave to Bush. For self-described authors, the ratio was about 36 to 1. Among journalists, there were 93 Kerry donors for every Bush donor. For librarians, who must like Faulknerian, sprawling paragraphs, the ratio of Kerry to Bush donations was a whopping 223 to 1.
Brooks doesn't provide as many data points for his "spreadsheet Republican" side of the argument. Though he notes that accountants lean heavily Republican and of course analytical numbers-oriented engineers lean Republican as well. But do academic physicists donate to Republicans or Democrats?
Brooks argues that humanities majors in college start to develop resentment toward majors in economics, accounting, engineering, and other "hard subject" majors. This resentment then causes the resenters to join a political party that is opposed to whatever these "hard subject" types favor. Perhaps resentment plays some role in this split. But a more likely explanation is that people who can apply mathematical techniques to what they learn process data about the world differently than those who are limited to verbal reasoning. Hence mathematically skilled people tend to come to conclusions that the verbally oriented people are not even going to understand, let alone agree with.
The opensecrets.org web site has per industry giving to Republicans and Democrats over a period of years. Accountants gave 52% of their donations to Democrats in 1990 but now in 2004 give 66% to Republicans. Why is that? Pharmaeceuticals shifted from 54% Republican in 1990 to 65% Republican in 2004. Part of that shift can be accounted for by the fact that the Democrats controlled the US Senate and House of Representatives in 1990 whereas the Republicans control both houses today. To have influence donors organized by industry tend to donate to incumbents who almost always win reelection. One has to be donating more out of ideological fervor (e.g. college profs or even most of the entertainment industry actors) rather than out desire to bolster an industry lobby in order for one's donations to reflect one's true beliefs. To what extend are donations in each industry made due to firm convictions versus a naked attempt to buy influence?
Check out some of the other industries. Note that computers/internet donations have shifted from a Republican dominance to about a tie. I suspect this is in part due to a heavy media industry presence on the internet. The electrical engineers and computer programmers are probably a shrinking portion of that industry sector.
Update: Mathematical ability is just one component of a larger set of cognitive differences that are likely to be the cause of diffferent political affiliations. People are attracted to political parties because they are attracted to people who share their sensibilities and emotional reactions. (PDF format)
But a recent study by Paul Goren at Arizona State found that voters typically formed their party affiliations before developing specific political values. They become Democrats first and then decide that they, say, oppose capital punishment and support trade unions. But how do they make that initial decision to be a Democrat?
Those M.R.I. scans suggest an explanation. Perhaps we form political affiliations by semiconsciously detecting commonalities with other people, commonalities that ultimately reflect a shared pattern of brain function. In the mid-1960's, the social psychologist Donn Byrne conducted a series of experiments in which the participants were given a description of several hypothetical strangers' attitudes and beliefs. They were then asked which stranger they would most enjoy having as a co-worker. The subjects consistently preferred the company of strangers with attitudes similar to their own. Opposites repel.
Occupations that experience a shift in the average personality types in them will show a change in political affiliations as a result. It is not just the ability of a person to do the tasks in an occupation or their economic interests as a result of being in an occupation that determines their political affiliations. Very instinctive innate tendencies are going to steer them toward the donkeys or the elephants.
Update II: Part of the split between the people who are more mathematical and those who are more verbal is a split between the masculine and the feminine. Women, on average lean further left and men further right. Verbally able men are probably more feminine in their processes and hence do not lean as rightward as men with more mathematical and spatial abilities. But of course a politically correct New York Times columnist is unlikely to bring up average biological differences between groups to explain inter-group differences in political views.
Also, another factor at work with university faculty is that so many of them have tenure and insulation from market forces that they can afford to look down on capitalism and hold more left-wing views. Plus, as Peter Drucker observed many years ago the very ability to become tenured and be secure for life is going to attract more left-leaning people to academic positions in the first place.
On the Gene Expression blog Godless Capitalist argues that a defeat of Bush will lay the groundwork for a big shift in the Republican Party's position on immigration, more fiscal responsibility, and other needed reforms.
We must move to a revenue-positive or merit-based scheme as soon as possible to prevent the tripling of the underclass (it has already doubled) - and this will only be possible if Bushism is thoroughly repudiated. The party must look within to find out why it lost this election, and the answer must come back from the base loud and clear: Bush's proposed amnesty for 20 million illegal aliens cost him the election.A Republican civil war is the only hope for a fiscally rightist party that stops illegal immigration, faces the diversity cult down in favor of individualism, and defenestrates the neocons.
PS: If only Arnold was an immigration reformer, he'd be perfect....
Aside: I don't know what exactly Arnie was trying to say at the Republican Convention but I just loved his line "Don't be economic girlie men".
Godless follows up in the comments of that post by arguing that Republicans are not going to change their policies as long as they think they have to be good soldiers lining up to follow commands of a Republican President.
a) if Bush is not defeated the immigration amnesty will become a permanent part of the party platform. It will be seen as something that did not cost Bush the election, even though Bush knows it's highly unpopular with his base. Failing a Mexican 9/11, at that point it will only be a matter of time before some kind of open-borders legislation.
b) a rightist Congress will gridlock Kerry for four years. The big problem now is that Republicans are good soldiers and are toeing the party line...which has been drawn FAR to the left by Bush on the aforementioned issues (esp. immigration & spending). With Kerry in office, partisan feeling *and* ideology will be free to reassert themselves.
In other words, the rightist Republicans are now being pulled to the left by Bush. But under Kerry, the leftist Republicans would be pushed to the right. THAT is the big difference, and it's really big.
Yes, think back to 1993 and 1994 and Newt Gingrich's aggressive leadership of opposition to Clinton. The Republicans will accept policies from Bush that would make them all up in arms if the same policies were proposed by a Democrat sitting in the Oval Office.
In that same comment thread Razib, while doing an annoying e.e. cummings impression, makes the excellent point that not only is Bush not a Burkean conservative but Bush has made such serious mistakes that the electorate needs to hold him accountable.
on paper kerry is really, really, bad. in real life, he is really, really, bad. i don't agree with most of his pap and i am repulsed by his personality. the problem is that bush is really bad (at least), but the republicans don't seem to want to ancknowledge it. they will acknowledge that kerry is really, really bad.
i think bush has the superficial aspects of right-wing presidency down pat, explaining the leftish rage and fury at him. but, i fear that he'll never really internalize the long view. as burke would say, " it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born. . . ."
of course, if you think kerry would endanger the safety of the united states, and that bush is the only alternative on foreign policy, i can see why people would have to stand by him. i just happen to think he's made too many mistakes, and accountability is something that is important.
My problem with Bush is that not only has he made big mistakes but he shows every sign of not believing that any of his mistakes really are mistakes.
Over on the Marginal Revolution blog Alex Tabarrok and Tyler Cowen have made a number of posts on the question of whether fiscal and economic policies will be worse under Bush or Kerry. The question can't be answered simply by looking at each candidate's spending proposals. While Kerry has made proposals that would cause huge spending increases there are, as Tyler points out, a number of reasons why Kerry might not be as bad as Bush on spending.
2. The Republicans become more fiscally conservative in opposition.
4. Kerry would be under constant pressure to show that he is "tough" on foreign policy. This will limit his ability to make domestic spending commitments. And if he does well on foreign policy, and appears suitably in charge, he could get reelected without much using spending to buy domestic support. If he is weak on foreign policy, will lots of spending really help him?
Also, the next presidential term is not the only thing at stake. Just as I've argued that the Republican leaders need to learn that there is a price to be paid for defying their base on immigration Tyler argues that voters, by their choice of whether to vote for or against Bush after Bush has greatly increased spending, will teach the Republicans a lesson about whether they can get away with fiscal irresponsibility.
5. If Bush is re-elected, it affirms that a Republican can get away with jacking up domestic spending. Such a precedent is worrying for the longer run, not just for Bush's second term.
I am of the school of thought that politicians need to be punished. A vote should not be made based simply on a decision on which candidate is worse but also on what message will be sent about past behavior and about what sorts of behavior the electorate will punish or allow in the future. Also, one needs to consider the argument that divided government produces the best conditions for preventing policy makers from implementing bad policies.
As for the argument that Bush will be better at doing what is necessary to fight the war on terror: Bush falls short in a number of areas on the terror front. Bush will not allow serious religious and ethnic profiling of airline passengers. Bush Administration visa policy toward Saudi Arabia is still too lax. Bush refuses to close the Mexican border to prevent Al Qaeda infiltration that way. Bush shifted special forces and intelligence agents away from Pakistan and Afghanistan to do the Iraq invasion. Just where is the biggest concentration of Al Qaeda? The answer to that question is either Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, certainly not Iraq. I could go on. The point is that Bush is no great shakes when it comes to fighting Al Qaeda. He obviously treats a number of other issues (e.g. pandering to Hispanics, pandering to Muslims, following neocon goals for Israel) as higher priorities.
Kerry is such a lame candidate that Bush still might lose after all that Bush has messed up and failed to do. But if Bush loses it will be just as important what his loss is blamed upon as the fact that he will have lost. The mainstream press is going to ignore the extent to which Bush's immigration policy has angered his base. I expect Iraq will get the biggest share of the blame in the big media. Though when Kerry is unable to fulfill his own spending promises expect to hear a lot of spin about how Bush left the country in such a terrible fiscal state that Kerry has to wait before implementing his own social programs.
If Kerry wins one reason he might not be so bad from the Right's perspective is that he's not as talented as Bill Clinton. His ability to sell his programs is probably going to be much less. Though Kerry's knowledge of the Senate might make his Congressional relations much better than Clinton's. So that is a hard one to call.
Schwarzenegger and his staff have said nearly 800 bills are pending his signature. Margita Thompson, the governor’s spokeswoman, said last week that as the governor goes through the process he will look closely at the economic impacts. "The prism under which legislation is going to be looked at is going to be on job-creating and the economy," she said.
This say something extremely damming about California's legislators. How can a Governor be expected in a relatively short period of time to evaluate the merits of 800 different pieces of legislation? The same holds for the those elected threats to the commonwealth who voted for all these pieces of legislation. How could each of the state legislators of the state of California have possibly read, understood, and considered the implications of the almost 800 bills that the majority of both houses of the legislature sent to the Governor?
Plus, it must be even worse in terms of what the legislators had to read and understand because they were also voting on bills that didn't pass in their house or that didn't pass in the other house of the legislature. These people are committing legislative malpractice.
California is one of only four states that have a full-time legislature, and Schwarzenegger contends that its members are too likely to create legislative mischief when they spend too much time in Sacramento.
Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would scuttle the bill because it did not require a notation on the license identifying the holder as an illegal immigrant. "This legislation does not address his security concerns," said spokeswoman Margita Thompson.
Why not just deport all the illegal aliens so that there are no illegals here to try to get drivers licenses in the first place?
One proposal made for visitors here in the United States in visas is that their drivers licenses should expire on the same day their visas expire. Then any foreigners with drivers licenses that are marked as tied to a visa who overstay their visa could be caught by police any time they have to show their license for a traffic violation or other purpose. Police could be empowered to take them into custody and hold them for deportation. Had that practice been implemented then 2 of the 9/11 attackers who had overstayed their visas and who were pulled over by the police for speeding could have been deported before they could hijack airplanes. Some lives might have been saved.
Time has an interesting article on signs of increased popularity of conservatism and libertarianism on campus.
But while professors may lean left, many students are tilting right - especially toward that brand of conservatism known as libertarianism. According to a well-regarded annual survey sponsored for the past 38 years by the American Council on Education, only 17% of last year's college freshmen thought it was important to be involved in an environmental program, half the percentage of 1992. A majority of 2003 freshmen--53%--wanted affirmative action abolished, compared with only 43% of all adults. Two-thirds of frosh favored abortion rights in 1992; only 55% did so in last year's survey. Support for gun control has slipped in recent years among the young, and last year 53% of students believed that "wealthy people should pay a larger share of taxes than they do now," compared with 72% 11 years earlier.
Time reports that these young conservatives are great admirers of Ronald Reagan but are highly critical of George W. Bush. Well, if these kids really are conservatives or libertarians their views about Bush and Reagan make perfect sense. Yes, expansion of Medicare and the Department of Education are unconservative and unlibertarian policies. Yes, the failure to enforce immigration law is unconservative (and ultimately increases the fraction of the populace that favors higher taxes and more social spending but the more ideological libertarians refuse to see that).
National Review editor Rich Lowry returned from a conservative Young America's Foundation (YAF) event and found that right wing college students found little difference between Bush and Kerry.
It's always a kick to speak at a YAF events. Any eye-batting aside, what was most notable about this year was just how many smart young conservatives out there seem to think that there are no important differences between Bush and Kerry--whether this election really matters was a question that came up repeatedly. I find it hard to fathom how someone can think that, but there you are...
It says a lot about the National Review that Lowry sees a bigger difference between Bush and Kerry on issues that matter to the Right than college student conservatives see. I think the students, less wedded to being partisan supporters of Republicans in power, have a clearer view of the politicians in Washington DC than do NR staffers. If you want to read conservatives who haven't lost their conservatism then I would suggest you read The American Conservative instead.
“A struggle is underway for the soul of the Republican Party between a minority of protectionist xenophobes and those who are pro-trade and pro-immigration.”Thus does Jack Kemp begin a column in which he jettisons the black conservative running for Congress in North Carolina whom he earlier endorsed. Kemp accuses Vernon Robinson of “running a very negative and aggressive anti-immigration campaign ... contrary to the core values of the party of Lincoln.” Jack is right about that struggle for the soul of the party. But why is it necessary to demonize disagreement? Webster’s defines xenophobia as “fear and hatred of strangers and foreigners.” What evidence is there that Vernon Robinson is not a man of good heart?
The Open Borders crowd in the Republican Party thinks nothing of demonizing immigration restrictionists. For another example see Tamar Jacoby's demonization of immigration restrictionists as descendants of the Know Nothing Party and the KKK. Though perhaps is Jacoby a Democrat? It is hard to tell party neoconservatives think they are in.
My take on this phenomenon is that if the Open Borders Republicans want to demonize immigration restrictionist Republicans while the Open Borders Republicans hold top leadership spots in Congress and the Bush Administration then the Republican Party should no be able to count on the votes of immigration restrictionists. If the Open Borders crowd want to take the position that we are somehow beyond the pale then I take the hint: I won't vote for them.
You think I'm overreacting? George W. Bush says non-neocon critics of his democracy strategy are racists. This prompted angry retorts from liberal Josh Marshall, conservative George Will, and the Derb. Bush basically says his critics in his own party are morally defective.
Pat Buchanan has a new book coming out: Where the Right Went Wrong : How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency. Drudge has a bunch of snippets from the book.
“There is no conservative party left in Washington. Conservative thinkers and writers who were to be the watchdogs of orthodoxy have been as vigilant in policing party deviations from principle as was Cardinal Law in collaring the predator-priests of the Boston archdiocese.” (Page 9)
“The Beltway Right has entered into a civil union with Big Brother.” (Page 176)
“Under the rubric of conservatism, the Republican party of Bush I and II has been reinventing itself into what conservatives would have once recognized as a Rockefeller party reciting Reaganite rhetoric.” (234)
“[A] civil war is going to break out inside the Republican Party along the old trench lines of the Goldwater-Rockefeller wars of the 1960s, a war for the heart and soul and future of the party for the new century.” (234)
In spite of Buchanan's obvious displeasure with Bush's foreign policy, trade policy, and immigration policy he still sees a silver lining in Bush's second term with judicial appointments. I wish I shared Pat's optimism on that score. If Bush appoints Alberto Gonzales to the US Supreme Court then we will get more racial quotas and other rather unconservative legal edicts from on high.
The Bushes are doing enormous harm to the Republican Party. It is time for Republicans to wake up and take notice.
The Medicare prescription drug benefit President Bush signed into law in December has not provided the political boost among seniors that the White House and independent analysts expected, according to a comprehensive survey released yesterday.
The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health have released a new poll done on old folks which shows the old folks are not happy about the new prescription drug entitlement.
WASHINGTON, DC-(August 10, 2004)- Many more people on Medicare have an unfavorable than a favorable impression of the new law that adds a drug benefit to the program, but most want Congress to fix rather than repeal it, according to a new survey of the opinions of people on Medicare released today. The survey found that, as of July 2004, nearly twice as many people on Medicare have an unfavorable view of the law (47%) as have a favorable view (26%), and one in four (25%) say that they don't know enough to offer an opinion.
Overall, two out of three people on Medicare (66%) say that lawmakers in Washington should work to fix problems in the law. Much smaller numbers favor repealing the law (10%) or leaving the law as is (13%), according to a national survey of 1,223 seniors and people with disabilities who receive Medicare conducted from June 16 to July 21. The survey, Views of the New Medicare Drug Law: A Survey of People On Medicare, was conducted jointly by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health to provide insight into the opinions of the 41 million Americans on Medicare, including the 6 million people on Medicare under age 65 who have permanent disabilities.
"Fifteen months from implementation, seniors are mostly negative and very confused, but there is little evidence of a large scale backlash," said Drew Altman, President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. "This survey suggests that there will be big debates in the future about the prescription drug law, but they will be about improving it, not repealing it."
What will a debate about "improving it" entail? I'm sure I do not have to spell it out for you but I will anyway: "improving it" means spending more money to provide more benefits to old folks at the expense of the rest of us. George W. Bush, in one of his bigger follies, has managed to commit the taxpayers to a large increase in entitlements that sets the stage for an even larger increase in entitlments and Bush managed to engineer this large increase in government spending without improving his own electoral prospects. Look, if you are going to buy votes (suppoisedly to maintain his ability to push other policies that right-wing partisans favor - but really only for his own self) then at least get something in return for the spending. Otherwise, what is the point in inflicting this spending splurge and eventual tax burden on the populace?
John Kerry is even worse than Bush on drug policy. Kerry favors importation of price-controlled drugs from Canada and "negotiation" of lower drug prices.
You know what's happening. Your premiums, your co-payments, your deductibles have all gone through the roof.
Our health care plan for a stronger America cracks down on the waste, greed, and abuse in our health care system and will save families up to $1,000 a year on their premiums. You'll get to pick your own doctor — and patients and doctors, not insurance company bureaucrats, will make medical decisions.
Under our plan, Medicare will negotiate lower drug prices for seniors. And all Americans will be able to buy less expensive prescription drugs from countries like Canada.
The story of people struggling for health care is the story of so many Americans. But you know what, it's not the story of senators and members of Congress. Because we give ourselves great health care and you get the bill.
Well, I'm here to say, your family's health care is just as important as any politician's in Washington, D.C.
And when I'm President, America will stop being the only advanced nation in the world which fails to understand that health care is not a privilege for the wealthy, the connected, and the elected — it is a right for all Americans.
Medicare already gets the lowest prices that pharmaceutical makers provide to their other domestic customers.
An extension of price controls into the United States will lower the rate of return for investment in new drugs development and therefore will inevitably lead to a reduction in research and development budgets by pharmaceutical companies as well as a reduction of venture capital funding for biotech start-ups. As a result we will have fewer new treatments and lower life expectancies than would otherwise have been the case..
As bad as Bush is on drug policy a President Kerry would be even worse. Is it worth putting up with Bush's foreign policy folly in order to maintain the incentives of pharma and biotech companies to develop new treatments? That's a hard call.
For more on the drug benefit debacle see my previous post Republican Medicare Drug Benefit Backfires Politically.
A man who has availed himself of the benefits of family connections to powerful institutions comes out against the practice of allowing people born into wealthy families of buying preferences for their kids.
President Bush said yesterday that U.S. colleges and universities should abandon a long-standing, if disputed, practice of giving preference in admissions to students with family connections.
"I think colleges ought to use merit in order for people to get in," Bush said. His remarks, before 7,000 minority journalists, were the first time the White House has addressed the issue of "legacy" admissions, the practice of giving an edge to the children of alumni.
Hypocrite. This very same George W. Bush decided to tear the guts out of Inspector General Theodore Olson's strong anti-affirmative action briefs in the University of Michigan Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz and Hamacher v. Bollinger cases in order to give the Supreme Court room in which to write an opinion supporting "diversity" as a proxy for racial preferences.
Ted Olson (a real conservative as distinct from George W. Bush) was so troubled by Bush's decision that Olson almost resigned over Michigan cases.
Much of the confusion the Bush Administration has (intentionally) engendered stems from the briefs suffering multiple personality disorder. The attacks on the Michigan system were clearly written by Ted Olson's anti-racial preference warriors, but their centerpiece -- the endorsement of phony "race-neutral" techniques that are defended on the grounds that they can reproduce the precise quotas currently in place -- was obviously dreamed up by Bush's political team. (Newsweek reported that Olson considered resigning rather than signing the briefs.)
An argument can be made that private institutions should be able to discriminate for or against any group they choose to treat differently based on a private right to free association. By contrast, government institutions should not be free to discriminate using unjustifiable prejudices because governments should treat all as legally equal in rights. But do not expect to hear either argument from Bush.
Update: Bush's opposition to legacies amounts to an attempt to undermine a valuable technique used by colleges and universities fund-raising among alumni. Well, this brings to mind another recent George W. Bush announcement.
He was in superb form yesterday, offering what may have been his best Bushism ever in a speech at a White House signing ceremony for a $417 billion defense bill.
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," he said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
No argument here Mr. President. Does this mean you are going to admit that your immigration proposals are a bad bundle of ideas? Or are you going to change your mind and admit that the term the "diversity" that you trumpet is actually the label for a set of left-wing ideas that are incompatible with the basic principles of a free socieity? Unfortunately, that would be too much to hope for.
Update: PrestoPundit Greg Ransom draws attention to John Lehman's complaint (which is hardly original) that the lack of willingness to do ethnic and religious profiling on potential terrorists is causing huge amounts of effort to be wasted checking out people who are extremely unlikely to be terrorists. Greg makes the excellent point that George W. Bush has put far more effort into catering to Democrats, illegal aliens, and Arabs than he has to his own base.
In four years George Bush has sought to court and please Ted Kennedy, steel workers, Mexican foreign nationals, The NY Times, Tom Daschle, Vicente Fox, Saudi Arabia, Dan Rather, and American Islamic fundamentalists, among others. I can't think of one thing George Bush has done to seek my vote as a limited government / secure the borders Republican.
If he wants my vote, I say he has to do at least as much for me as he's been willing to do for Ted Kennedy, steel workers and illegal aliens. So here it is: fire Norm Mineta. Do it and you've got my vote. It's as easy as that.
Greg, the first paragraph strikes a strong chord and makes an excellent point. But I have a problem with your follow-on there. No offense intended but I think you are willing to sell your vote too cheaply. Granted, when the choice is between John Kerry and George W. Bush your vote is not able to buy all that much. Still, I think the Republican base gains a long term advantage in dealing with the politicians who purport to believe in our values if we make it clear to them that we will not sell our votes to them cheaply. Better that we expect them to really perform or go down to defeat. Bush has been too big a disaster at this point. The Republican Party's unprincipled pols need to learn a harsh lesson.
So far, the data not only show that Republicans have reaped no political benefit from the Medicare expansion, but they are losing support because of it. Ironically, those who will benefit directly from the new drug subsidies, the elderly, are the most hostile. In the process, Republicans have thrown away whatever credibility they had for fiscal responsibility, and are now actively opposed by many conservatives disgusted by their budgetary profligacy.
The reason the drug benefit actually turned old folks away from the Republicans is simple: those desiring the drug subsidies wanted total subsidies and the Democrats are promising a higher level of hand-outs.
A December Gallup poll shows why support is falling. Among the elderly, 73 percent thought the new program wouldn’t go far enough in helping them pay for prescription drugs. In other words, the elderly were guaranteed to be disappointed by the drug program no matter how much it cost.
When the Republicans decide to support some transfer payment or other benefit for some group they almost always are going to be outbid by Democrats eager to one-up them with even bigger taxpayer-provided largesse. As I have recently reported, Bush tried to do the same thing with Hispanics and failed on that score as well: Bush Pandering To Hispanics On Immigration Backfires.
The biggest financial problem facing the country is Medicare. By passing a huge extension of Medicare through the prescription drug benefit The Republicans have only made the problem worse and they have done so in a way that has decreased support for the party. Plus, they even told a really big lie about its costs in order to get it passed.
The other big problem facing the country is immigration and the Bush Administration along with a substantial portion of the Republicans in Congress are also contributing to a worsening of that problem. The solid pro-Democrat voting pattern of the Hispanics and their higher-than-whites rates of various social pathologies (e.g. illegitimate births, crime, high school drop-outs, etc) are going to eventually turn them into such a large left-leaning pro-entitlements voting block that the Republicans will become the permanent minority party. The Republicans could move to delay that day but Bush and Karl Rove are instead pursuing a futile attempt to help Bush with Hispanic voters in the short term at the expense of the Republican Party in the long term.
When you founded National Review in 1955, being a high-IQ conservative was a lonely job in America. But now that you are finally leaving the magazine, neoconservatives are running the country. What do you make of them?
I think those I know, which is most of them, are bright, informed and idealistic, but that they simply overrate the reach of U.S. power and influence.
Yes, their ambitions in Iraq seem to be leading to their self-destruction.
Neocons would suffer a great blow, conceivably mortal, if Bush were defeated because of Iraq.
I agree with Buckley about the overrating of US power. Our military can win classic set piece battles. But our ability to reshape the world politically is heavily constrained by the nature of other societies. Each human has their own desires, motivations, and mixture of beliefs. Changing minds is far harder than blowing up tanks or fortifications.
For more than a year after the major fighting ended in Iraq, most Americans thought that the United States had done the right thing in sending troops. As recently as early June, according to Gallup, 58 percent of those surveyed rejected the view that the war was a mistake. Now the same thing seems to be happening with Iraq that happened with Vietnam in 1968. It was in 1968, after the Tet offensive, that a majority of Americans began to endorse the view that the Vietnam War was a mistake. The end of last month marked the first time that most Americans--by 54 percent to 44 percent--said that the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq.
What's driving the disillusionment? Two things.
First, the public is beginning to separate Iraq from the war on terrorism, despite the Bush administration's efforts to link the two. "The killers know that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror," Bush said on June 1. In April 2003, most Americans agreed with that view. Back then, 58 percent thought the war in Iraq made the United States safer from terrorism, according to Gallup. Now most Americans (55 percent) think the war in Iraq has not made us safer.
Second, last month the 9/11 commission reported having found "no credible evidence that Iraq and Al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States." The late-June Gallup Poll found that, for the first time, most Americans reject the view that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks (51 percent to 44 percent). Many Americans who initially supported the war feel misled.
What is so bothersome about these numbers is that they are a measure of just how little attention most people dedicate to understanding events beyond their own immediate lives. Large numbers of people can easily be misled on major points of fact.
While some neoconservatives continue to point to fairly rare meetings between members of Al Qaeda and members of the Iraqi government they ignore far more numerous examples of connections between people in Saudi Arabia and members of Al Qaeda. While the top government officials in Saudi Arabia may not have been funding Al Qaeda (though there are rumours of payoffs of protection money to keep Al Qaeda from attacking Saudi Arabia) the sheer number of connections between people in Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda figures around the world was orders of magnitude larger than the number of connections that can be made between Al Qaeda figures and people in Iraq.
The other reason why a focus on connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda figures seems, at best, misguided is that the internal structure of Saudi Arabia as an alliance between the ruling princes and Wahhabi clerics makes the recruitment of members of an organization such as Al Qaeda possible. The intellectual journey from Wahhabism to Al Qaeda style Islamic terrorist theology is a much shorter distance to travel that the distance from belief in Iraqi Baathist ideology to a willingness to pilot an aircraft into the side of a skyscraper. The intellectual center of fundamentalist Islam is Saudi Arabia and it is the embrace of fundamentalist Islam that does more than anything to turn some young guy into an Islamic terrorist.
The American public fears terrorist attacks. Looked at rationally for most people there are probably more important dangers to fear (e.g. drunken drivers, cancer, or the physical process of aging) which people ought to be far more keen to see their governments do something about. But given that the fear of terrorism is so powerful and given that the American public is increasingly separating Iraq into a separate category from the "War On Terror" this does not bode well for George W. Bush's reelection chances. Ironically however, another terrorist attack in the United States close to the date of the election will probably work in Bush's favor as people rally around the President as they so often do in a crisis.
President Bush's job-approval rating has fallen to the lowest level of his presidency, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll. It found Americans stiffening their opposition to the Iraq war, worried that the invasion could invite domestic terrorist attacks and skeptical whether the White House has been fully truthful about the war or about prison abuses at Abu Ghraib.
A majority of people in the poll, conducted before Monday's hand-over of power to an interim Iraqi government, said the war was not worth its cost in American lives and that the Bush administration did not have a clear plan to restore order to Iraq.
Participants in the poll were asked, "Despite everything that has happened, do you think the United States has done a good thing or a bad thing by sending our military to occupy Iraq?" Forty-six percent said commitment of troops was a good thing, 43 percent said it was a bad thing and 11 percent were undecided or gave other responses such as "it's too soon to tell" or "something had to be done, but it's been handled the wrong way."
Fifty-two percent said commitment of troops was "a good thing" in February's survey.
A very notable conservative figure has joined the ranks of those who now regret the decision to invade Iraq. William F. Buckley, just now retiring and giving up control of the National Review, says knowing what we know now the overthrow of Saddam Hussein does not seem worth it.
"With the benefit of minute hindsight, Saddam Hussein wasn't the kind of extra-territorial menace that was assumed by the administration one year ago," Mr. Buckley said. "If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war."
In order to be reelected Bush needs for the economy to grow and for the death toll in Iraq to go down. Though I can see one other way he could still pull off a victory: An Al Qaeda attack near the election may shift the national mood in such a hawkish direction that Bush may gain from his more hawkish stance. Plus, the public tends to rally around the President at a time of national crisis. So events could still shift the election Bush's way.
Kerry's problem seems to be that whenever attention shifts to Kerry his popularity suffers. So Kerry is probably better off if events keep the focus shifted on Bush, especially if the events are from the Middle East and bad news.
A successful terrorist attack against Saudi oil facilities that damaged actual equipment (rather than killing Westerners) would work in Kerry's favor. Higher oil prices would hurt the economy and the high gasoline prices would be a daily reminder for everyone driving around in a car that their own economic situation is getting worse. Also, the knowledge that heavy US involvement in Iraq didn't prevent an oil supply disruption would weigh against Bush.
Because of the huge role that events can play between now and election day this election is hard to call.
Some doctors are refusing medical treatment to lawyers, their families and their employees except in emergencies, and the doctors are urging the American Medical Association to endorse that view. Professional medical societies are trying to silence their peers by discouraging doctors from testifying as expert witnesses on behalf of plaintiffs. And a New Jersey doctor who supported malpractice legislation that his colleagues opposed was ousted from his hospital post.
The lawyers do not exactly score points for honesty when they blame the insurance companies for the high malpractice insurance costs.
Malpractice lawyers, led by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, counter that rising premiums have more to do with the insurance industry than jury awards. They say tighter regulation of the industry is needed.
I'm with the doctors on this one. The lawyers dominate the legislatures both as legislators and as lobbyists. They get the rules written for their benefit, not for the best interests of the public.
I recognize that the medical profession needs better oversight and better mechanisms for driving truly incompetent doctors out of the profession. But the lawyers are going after doctors for too many cases where it is hard to argue that doctors are at fault. The malpractice suits are not effectively targetting the bad doctors and the ability of quacks to testify as experts in lawsuits calls into question the ability of courts to ferret out the truth in medical cases. Plus, the average jury is in no way competent enough to pass judgement on the evidence.
If the lawyers were eager to advocate for better mechanisms for judging professional conduct (both medical and legal) then I'd be more sympathetic to their viewpoint. But they are effectively levelling a big tax on us all for a likely net negative return in terms of improved health and safety.
Update: A correspondent comments:
Notice that the lawyers interviewed in the article said, "I'm not a personal injury lawyer, why bother me?" The lawyers feel no responsibility to reform their own profession. It's like a general saying, "I didn't hit any Iraqi prisoners."
Update II: To emphasize: I think there is a serious problem with incompetent and unscrupulous doctors managing to get away with practicing medicine for years. The medical profession does not do a good enough job policing itself. But the fact that these incompetent doctors manage to continue to practice demonstrates that the malpractice suits do not effectively target the incompetents. Yet the malpractice suits are driving up costs (both via insurance premiums and tests ordered as defensive medicine) and driving doctors out of obstetrics and other specialties.
More than 30 percent of all claims filed in 2002 were closed without any payment being made, and of those that went to a jury, patients filing the suit lost more than 82 percent of the time, according to Jury Verdict Research, which tracks personal injury claims nationwide.
Doctors who win cases filed against them still have to pay for their legal defense, which averaged almost $92,000 in cases that went to trial, and more than $16,000 in cases that were dropped, the AMA says.
Overall, medical liability costs have risen almost 12 percent a year since 1975, the AMA says.
The dollar amounts don't even count the time and worry involved in defending against a lawsuit.
Tyler Cowen points out a new comparison of Bush's spending decisions as compared to previous presidents.
The following table lists how many of the major agencies or departments had their budgets cut in a given Presidential term:President and Term, Number of Budget Cuts [see the last link in this post for further explanation of the data. I've done minor editing and added the boldface]
Johnson, 4 out 15
Nixon, 3 out 15
Carter, 5 out 15
Reagan 1, 8 out 15
Reagan 2, 10 out 15
Bush, George H., 2 out 15
Clinton 1, 9 out 15
Clinton 2, 0 out 15
Bush, George W., 0 out 15
Obviously Reagan II made real efforts in this direction. George W. comes in tied for last with Clinton II. This is a highly imperfect proxy, but when you are 0 for 15 it is hard to blame measurement error alone.
This may all sit well with "National Greatness" neocons. But real conservatives find this record infuriating.
This comes the American Enterprise Institute's Veronique de Rugy in an article entitled. Bush Spending--a Comparison: What Should President Bush Learn from President Reagan?
- President Reagan is the only president to have cut the budget of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in one of his terms (a total of 40.1 percent during his second term).
- President Reagan is the only president to have cut the budget of the Department of Transportation (by 10.5 percent during his first term and by 7.5 percent during his second term).
- President George W. Bush has increased funding for the Department of Transportation by 11.3 percent. It is likely to go up drastically if he does not veto the transportation bill currently before Congress.
- During his first term in office, President Reagan cut the real budget of the Department of Education by 18.6 percent.
- President George W. Bush has increased the real budget of the Department of Education by 67.9 percent.
- Reagan managed to cut the budget of the Department of Commerce by 29 percent during his first term and by 3 percent during his second.
- President Clinton by contrast increased the Department of Commerce's budget by 24 percent in his first term and then by 96.7 percent in his second.
- President Reagan cut the real budget of the Department of Agriculture by 24 percent during his second term in office.
Well, Bush isn't going to learn anything from Reagan. Reagan was a real conservative. But Bush is a faux conservative and like George H. W. Bush and Clinton he obviously likes growing the government. It is far from clear that John Kerry will be any worse than Dubya. Kerry at least shows some signs of curiosity about the world.
The tragedy of this spending splurge is that there are a few targetted areas for research spending such as in energy research where the public good could be served by more spending. But Bush intends to squeeze research spending in order to pay for his many other programs.
The passage of the Republican Party's Medicare/Prescription drug bill -- and its support by the AARP -- is by far the most convincing evidence to date that the political center of gravity in Washington is shifting definitively to the GOP for the first time since the pre-FDR era. While the mood of the country as a whole has shifted back and forth between Republican and Democratic over the decades, the effective exercise of power (particularly domestic policy power) in Washington has been tenaciously held on to by the Democrats since they acquired it in the early 1930s.
It is a strange sort of victory when the Republican Party, supposedly the party of limited government, ushers in the largest increase in entitlements program growth in decades. Blankley seems to think that implementation of entitlements expansions in ways architected by Republican legislators are victories Republican voters should celebrate. But why do most Republicans vote for the Republican Party in the first place? To get a welfare state that expands less rapidly than it would if the Democrats were in control? Perhaps that is the best we can realistically hope for. But if that is the best we can hope for then it strikes me as a reason to feel truly defeated rather than a reason to celebrate.
Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute points out that the Medicare bill increases the unfunded liability of Medicare by trillions.
The measure being pushed by the White House and congressional leadership expands the sense of entitlement among the elderly, further mortgages the future of young workers, and, if approved, will cost far, far more than the $395 billion estimated by the Congressional Budget Office.
Any legislator who takes fiscal responsibility seriously should be particularly concerned about the latter. Pegged at a ten-year cost of $395 billion, the real increase in the government's presently unfunded liability will be several trillion dollars: Estimates ranged from $6 trillion for the House bill to $12 trillion for the Senate measure, with the compromise likely falling somewhere in between. The latter number is 40 percent of Medicare's current projected future red ink.
The history of cost estimates for new entitlements programs has consistently been one where the real costs end up being multiples of the estimates.
David Gratzer of the Manhattan Institute says the Medicare drug benefit may lead to government drug price controls.
The costs associated with Medicare will grow dramatically over the coming decades as our population ages. The White House Office of Management and Budget estimates the unfunded liability of the program at $13 trillion over the next 75 years. Far from helping this unsustainable situation, a prescription drug benefit will increase this liability by more than 50 percent.
Second, this bill makes the federal government the largest funder of prescription drug purchases in the world. Medicare already has price controls for physician fees and hospital reimbursements; will it be long before Washington wants a better deal on pharmaceuticals?
Drug price controls would be more damaging for health in the long run than just about anything else that the government might do to the medical and healthcare sector of the economy. A Reduction in the profitability of new drug development will inevitably cause the drug companies to respond by developing fewer drugs.
Just what exactly is a victory depends on how one defines victory. Triumphalism by Panglossian partisans has become unhealthily common on the Right when many policies pursued by the Bush Administration are defended or when discussing larger trends in the media and culture. Providing some needed balance to this triumphalism Jonah Goldberg challenges the assertion that the Right is winning the Culture Wars in America.
But, in all of this euphoria some folks seem to be losing sight of something fairly obvious. Conservatives are still astoundingly outgunned and out manned. It's bully for us that the Right is having so much success with the tools at our disposal — cable TV, AM radio, websites, blogs, mime — but the tools at our disposal are still far, far less potent than the tools in the Left's utility belt.
Think about it: If we'd really won a culture war — with all of the aggrandizement of territory implied by such a term — wouldn't our troops be raising our flags in a few more enemy forts? Sure, we've mounted a few heads on a few pikes. But Phil Donahue did most of his damage 20 years ago. By the time he suited up for MSNBC, he was less a formidable culture warrior and more like one of those WWI veterans who sits outside the VFW talking about putting the kibosh on the Kaiser. And, sure, David Brooks now writes for the New York Times, and hooray for that. But he's still the "house goy" over there, ideologically speaking. Meanwhile, I don't see Harvard, Yale, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Hollywood, the Episcopal Church, or the Courts, getting demonstrably more conservative.
There are splits on the right between, for instance, cultural conservatives and libertarians. But on many issues where some factions on the Right agree those factions are losing. The government looks set to grow larger as the population ages and entitlements spending skyrockets. Also, on the culture front there are no clear victories. It is obvious, to take just one obvious example, that the standards for what can be put on TV get looser each year.
The economic libertarians have few victories to point to. A favorite policy of the economic libertarians and some "compassionate" conservatives and economic conservatives is educational vouchers. But the privatization of education is pretty much stalled as upper middle class people in higher income neighborhoods with schools that have high scholastic rankings (said rankings being due in no small part to the fact that the kids of upper class people are smarter on average) want no part of any kind of voucher system that would bring in kids from other school districts who would worsen the learning environment of their schools.
Goldberg's essay is in response to Brian C. Anderson's City Journal article We’re Not Losing the Culture Wars Anymore which I've previously posted on: Brian C. Anderson On The End Of The Liberal Media Monopoly. I certainly think more channels of information are becoming available and that these additional channels are allowing a larger variety of opinions to be heard. Yet Goldberg is correct in arguing that the Left still dominates in the media formats that most people still use to get their news and opinion. The most prestigious educational and media institutions are still firmly dominated by the Left.
This domination by the Left of key institutions is not the only reason the Right's prospects are not rosy. As I've previously argued in Will Republicans Follow Tories Into Marginal Status? the biggest factor running against the Republicans in the future is that demographic trends promise to make the Republicans the permanent minority party. The evidence from voting trends is extremely discouraging for the Republicans.
Although the White House's campaign guru Karl Rove had been talking up the GOP's outreach efforts to minorities, his party's share of the non-white vote dropped from 25 percent in 2000 to 23 percent. That mattered little, however, because its share of the white-vote segment grew from 55 percent to 59 percent. Further benefiting the Republicans, the white portion of the electorate increased from 81 percent to 82 percent, even though the total population is becoming less white each year.
Asians continued to move to the left, with the Republican share falling from 40 percent to 34 percent.
So there is not even a non-white immigrant group that is going to support the Republican Party at the polls. Immigration is eventually going to be the death of the Republican Party.
As the white percentage of the population of the United States falls and the population ages and a larger portion of the population becomes eligible for entitlements programs the Republican Party will have to become the Rino (Republican In Name Only) Party in order to keep winning elections. This really will defeat the purpose of having the Republican Party in the first place.
Here are the latter four parts of Steve Sailer's five part UPI analysis of voting patterns in the 2002 election are part 2 entitled Analysis: GOP's Protestant appeal, part 3 entitled Analysis: The voting gender gap narrows, part 4 entitled Analysis: Young voters less conservative, and part 5 entitled Analysis: Demographic trends against GOP.
The Republican Party triumphed in the 2002 midterm elections in part because the GOP's kind of voters -- married, middle-aged, affluent, and white -- showed up at the polls in relatively large numbers. In contrast, in the 2004 elections, the normal demographic cycle is likely to be running in the Democrats' direction
The gay marriage debate has reached a pretty high intensity as a result of a recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling striking down the existing definition of marriage as being only available to create legal unions between people of opposite sexes.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled Tuesday that same-sex couples are legally entitled to wed under the state constitution thereby striking down a state ban on same-sex marriages. The court said the state was violating its own state constitution by denying the "legal, financial and social benefits of marriage" to people of the same sex who wish to marry.
The whole gay marriage debate is not something I want to get into on the ParaPundit blog. I have views about the subject. But so many commentators cover the topic and I try to cover topics that do not get the attention that they deserve. However, there is one thought about this subject that I haven't heard anywhere else that I thought I'd toss it out. A recent discussion The Corner blog on National Review Online was kicking around David Brooks' recent NY Times column in favor of gay marriage. See comments by Tim Graham, Tim Robinson, and Jonah Goldberg for examples. Ramesh Ponnuru examines the debate on the right about the Federal Marriage Amendment proposal to amend the US Constitution to limit the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
The constitutional amendment debate so far has been about whether and to what extent to change the constitution with an amendment to regulate marriage and other forms of unions between people. The fear on the Right among opponents of gay marriage is that if one state holds that gay marriage is legal then all other states could be compelled by a federal court ruling to respect that state's gay marriages because of a constitutional clause requiring that states respect each other's laws. An attempt to prevent this was made by Congress in 1996 and signed into law: The federal Defense of Marriage Act, passed to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, could be ruled unconstitutional based on a clause related to federalism and the relation between the states.
"One could argue the law is unconstitutional," said Les Babich, a family lawyer in Des Moines. "It's highly improbable that would be successful."
Under the U.S. Constitution, states must give "full faith and credit" to other states" laws, unless it violates public policy.
Effectively, such an outcome could allow a single state's Supreme Court and the federal Supreme Court to make gay marriage legal in all states and that would be rather undemocratic. By contrast, it has been argued that a constitutional amendment to restrict marriage to a union between a man and a woman would be more democratic due to the requirement of approval of a constitutional amendment by so many state legislatures and Congress. But there is another way the gay marriage debate could be handled that might have greater appeal for people who are committed federalists and who are not keen to see the courts decide such an important issue: Have a constitutional amendment that explicitly authorizes each state legislature to define the eligibility for civil unions and marriages in each state. Effectively take the "full faith and credit" justification away from the federal courts on the question and truly make marriage a state-level issue so that no single state's court combined with a federal court can determine the law of all the states.
A criticism often heard on the Right is that courts are arrogating to themselves authority to decide issues that ought to be the province of legislatures. In my view there is considerable merit to this criticism of the courts. But an amendment to the constitution that effectively bans gay marriage looks like it makes the opposite mistake: such an amendment looks too much like legislation written into the constitution. So then why not simply amend the constitution to tell the courts that they do not, by any stretch of the imagination, have the authority to play legislators on the question of who is eligible to be married? Such an amendment would not be for or against gay marriage. It would just force the issue to be resolved in a democratic fashion.
One obvious question about this proposal is whether it makes sense to empower the individual state legislatures to settle this issue in different ways. Settlement of property law issues could become quite complicated if, say, a couple could be married and joint owners of property in one state, they split up, and one of them moves to another state before a legal divorce is granted. If this is really serious problem (I know little about property law and have no idea) then another variation on an amendment would be to either authorize Congress to decide the gay marriage issue for all the states or for some sort of division of powers between the state and the federal legislatures on this issue to be made as part of the amendment.
When trying to make sense of reflexive criticism of the party in power by the party out of power keep in mind an old quote by the Duke of Wellington from the era of the Napoleonic Wars:
I am very certain that his wishes & efforts for his party very frequently prevent him from doing that which is best for the Country; & induce him to take up the cause of foreign powers against Britain, because the cause of Britain is managed by his opponents.
- Duke of Wellington
Critics who offer constructive alternatives for a policy are too rare. Critics who reflexively oppose, misrepresent, and argue positions that would make conditions even worse are in much greater supply. One big reason for this is the desire for power for their faction.
With only one exception since the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, no one has been elected president who took more than 14 years to climb from his first major elective office to election as either president or vice president.
George W. Bush took six years. Bill Clinton, 14. George H.W. Bush, 14 (to the vice presidency). Ronald Reagan, 14. Jimmy Carter, six. Richard Nixon, six (to vice president). John Kennedy, 14. Dwight Eisenhower, zero. Harry Truman, 10 (to vice president). Franklin Roosevelt, four. Herbert Hoover, zero. Calvin Coolidge, four. Warren Harding, six. Woodrow Wilson, two. William Howard Taft, zero. Theodore Roosevelt, two (to vice president). The one exception: Lyndon Johnson's 23 years from his first House victory to the vice presidency.
People don't want to vote for stale familiar faces for President. Rauch says that of the Democratic Party contenders for 2004 only Wesley Clark, John Edwards, and Howard Dean have a chance since the rest of them are too stale.
Reuel Marc Gerecht demystifies the nature of CIA cover when agents work abroad and discusses the significance of Valerie Plame's outing by Robert Novak in an article about her husband Dennis Wilson's trip to Niger to investigate a possible attempt by Saddam Hussein's Iraq to acquire uranium. The value of cover is overstated and often blown on purpose.
CIA officers also often eschew their cover work because it can be quite time-consuming, offers little professional reward inside the Agency, and is frequently more mentally demanding than "operations" (foreign service officers actually have to think more in their cable-writing, note-taking, and demarching than case officers do in arranging clandestine meetings and regurgitating headquarters debriefing notes). Official cover, even when good, often simply doesn't allow a case officer access to a sufficient number of possible targets (believe it or not, most foreign officials and Islamic holy warriors can't be convinced, seduced, or blackmailed into betraying "their" side). Most chiefs of CIA stations would gladly have their officers demolish their cover if by so doing the operatives could have some chance of meeting a target that could conceivably be recruited. Indeed, depending on the foreign target and sensitivity and prowess of the local counterespionage services, case officers regularly jettison their cover entirely, hoping that gossip and the allure of American power and money will work to their advantage.
The Bush administration's critics in the Wilson affair should be commended for worrying about the possible "blowback" on foreign contacts when operatives like Valerie Plame are exposed. The odds that any of her contacts are suffering, however, are small: Casual, even constant, open association with CIA officers isn't necessarily damning even in countries that look dimly upon unauthorized CIA operational activity within their borders. The CIA is an intelligence arm of the United States, not the Soviet Union. The French, the Indians, the Turks, and the Pakistanis--at times troublesome foreigners with first-rate, often adversarial internal-security services--know the difference.
Gerecht says that it was a mistake by someone in the CIA to put Wilson on a mission that would attract public attention and that the spouses of agents should try to maintain a low profile. Gerecht also has some pretty pointed questions about what sorts of efforts the CIA made to run agents in Iraq after 1991 and also against Al Qaeda.
It is worth noting that Gerecht himself used to be a CIA case officer doing work that was in some fashion clandestine. So did he blow his own cover by becoming a public figure?
James Q. Wilson and Karlyn Bowman have a very interesting article in the fall 2003 issue of The Public Interest about public attitudes toward the war in Iraq and larger trends in attitudes in the US populace.
Those who were strongly opposed to our invasion of Iraq were indifferent to the role of the United Nations. About one-fifth opposed our military activity regardless of whether the United States had U.N. support or Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. A Gallup poll taken in early April 2003 showed that 15 percent of the respondents opposed the war "even if the U.S. finds conclusive evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction." One-tenth of all voters said that we should "never" have attacked Iraq. In another poll, about one-tenth of all Americans said that they are "antiwar in general." And in yet another public-opinion survey conducted in March 2003, almost one-fifth said that war is "never morally justified."
The peace party's composition may depend in part on which political party is in power. When we fought in Korea and Vietnam, two wars begun under Democratic presidents, political scientist John Mueller found that Democrats supported the war more than Republicans did. Democratic opponents of the war in Vietnam began to equal or outnumber Republican critics only after Richard Nixon became president in 1969. We have no way of knowing whether Nixon's presence caused this shift (after all, the war had made critics among both Republicans and Democrats by that time), but it is striking that Democratic opposition shot up around the middle of 1969 while Republican opposition remained relatively constant.
People are more likely to be opposed to the same policy if the policy is being implemented by members of the opposing party. Republicans opposed US interventions in the Balkans while most Democrats defended Bill Clinton. The same pattern can be seen with the 1997 Operation Desert Fox airstrikes in Iraq.
Wilson and Bowman argue that a larger pattern is at work as the nation as a whole becomes more partisan.
For one, votes in Congress have become markedly more partisan over the years. In 1970, about one-third of all House and Senate votes pitted the majority of one party against the majority of the other, but by 1998 more than half of the votes were of this sort. In 1970, about 70 percent of each party's congressional members voted on partisan lines when a majority of one party was opposed by a majority of the other. In 1998, that number had risen to 90 percent. When President Clinton was impeached, 98 percent of House Republicans voted for at least one of the four impeachment articles, while 98 percent of House Democrats voted against all four. Even in House districts where most voters opposed impeachment, almost all Republican members voted in favor of it.
Anyone who thinks that the era of mass communications and lowered cost of transportation would reduce the size of differences in belief needs to reconcile that belief with the empirical evidence found all around us to the contrary.
Both Gary Jacobson and fellow political scientist Larry Bartels have produced data suggesting that, in comparison to 20 or 30 years ago, voters today are more comfortable with ideological labels and more ready to identify with a particular party on the basis of its ideology. This is especially true of more educated voters. Anyone who doubts these findings need only listen to radio talk shows or compare Fox News with public-broadcasting news to encounter daily evidence of a profound market segmentation in the media-a segmentation that could only exist if there were large numbers of ideological voters to whom different programs could appeal.
The argument has been made (I think by Virginia Postrel among others) that people are moving around the country in ways that make each region politically more distinctive. If I am recalling a Postrel column (which I haven't managed to find googling but I think was in the NY Times a few years back) correctly she quoted some political scientists to the effect that the average person moving out of the Old South region has political attitudes less like the majority of the Old South than the average person who is moving into that region. So migration is not erasing regional differences, it is accentuating them. People move to be around other people more like themselves. We also see evidence for heavy regional differences even within states. Vinod's post on the Gray Davis recall election leads to links to county level results. While San Francisco went 63.5% for Cruz Bustamante versus 18.9% for Schwarzenegger Kern County went 61.7% for Arnie versus 18.8% for Cruz, and Yuba County went 62.3% Arnie, 16.7% Cruz. There are enormous political differences within the state of California.
There is a larger lesson here: different people want different things from government. The kind of people who move to or from a country or state affects who wins elections, what policies are enacted, how high taxes are, and what governments do. Lower costs of transportation and communications may not bring all people together. A larger variety of choices in types of news programs that are available on radio and TV may simply allow people to tune in to sources of information that match more closely their own preconceptions and prejudices. Just as people migrate in order to be around people who want to live in more similar ways people will also virtually migrate to choose media sources that fit more closely with their predilections. If you don't agree with me I figure you haven't even read this far and have instead clicked to some place where you can read more agreeable arguments. So to all of those who have gotten this far: you have excellent judgement, great taste, and style.
Update: Jim Miller offers some comments on the California Governor Gray Davis recall election results and includes a link to an excellent map of California recall votes by county. The counties most heavily for the recall were Sutter 78%, Kern 76%, Glenn 76%, Lassen Colusa 75%, 75%, Modoc 74%, Orange 73%, and Tehama 73%. At the other extreme against the recall we have San Francisco 80%, Alameda 70%, and Marin 68%. The state average was 54.6% for the recall. That is a huge range and demonstrates large regional divisions.
In each of these elections, according to exit polls, the GOP candidate failed to win a majority of the white vote. On Tuesday, however, the two main Republican candidates combined to win a crushing 65 percent of the non-Hispanic white vote. That's the kind of enthusiasm for Republicans normally seen among whites in the South, not in California.
In Davis' landslide first victory in 1998, whites who voted Republican made up 28 percent of the electorate. In Davis' narrower re-election last year, GOP-voting whites comprised 35 percent. This year, they comprised 45 percent of the voting public.
The Republicans did better among Hispanics than they do on average. But McClintock and Schwarzenegger combined still got only 39% of the Hispanic vote. So the gap in GOP performance between whites and Hispanics was 26 points. That gap is the thing to watch in my view. If the popularity of the GOP has to be so high that 65% of whites vote for them in order for 39% of Hispanics to vote for them then it is clear that the GOP is making no specific gains among Hispanics. Though expect Karl Rove to fantasize otherwise.
Update II: There is one other point to make about the Wilson/Bowman article: for the most implacable opponents of the war in Iraq the debate was not about the size of Saddam's WMD development program or whether the United States and its allies had UN approval. The size of the WMD program could have been bigger or the UN could have approved the war and they still would have disapproved.
In a transparent attempt to show how much he has in common with Bill Clinton Arnold Schwarzenegger has made a naked appeal to the female voters who have low expectations for male behavior.
"And so what I want to say to you is that, yes, I have behaved badly sometimes", he continued. "Yes, it is true, that I was on rowdy movie sets and I have done things that were not right which I thought then was playful, but now I recognise that I have offended people.
"And those people that I have offended, I want to say to them, 'I am deeply sorry about that and I apologise, because this is not what I'm trying to do'."
As Gwen Stefani of No Doubt has famously asked in a song "Why do the good girls always want the bad boys?" The answer lies somewhere in the realm of human evolutionary biology no doubt. But whatever the explanation for this aspect of female human nature Arnold Schwarzenegger has demonstrated enormous foresight in preparing for his political ascent by spending years going around fondling good girls and probably quite a few not-so-good girls as well. With this latest announcement is there any doubt at all that Arnie has the California governorship sewn up? Arnie already has the steroid users vote and now has moved on toward capturing that portion of the female vote that stayed loyal to Bill Clinton even as Clinton's own bad boy persona became more strongly established.
The only thing odd about Arnie's statement is that it is rather too personal. There is none of the "mistakes were made" or "it depends on what you mean by grope" that you might expect if he was really trying to reach out to fully embrace Clinton supporters. Still, he has put in a first class performance and should be applauded for it.
The beauty of the California governor's race from the media's perspective is that it effectively glamorizes otherwise boring state politics. Purely on the basis of policy issue positions or general ideological attitudes most liberal reporters surely prefer that Bustamante would win the election. But look at the big picture. Sacramento is, politically speaking, not terribly sexy. There's a huge deficit whose development was pretty much engineered by the Democrats who dominate the legislature and by that dull Democratic governor Gray Davis (his first name evokes images of a dull gray winter sky) now in his second term. Sacramento is not near Hollywood or anywhere else especially interesting. But Arnie as governor will change that. Many more revelations about his past are waiting to be dug up. He's good at photo-ops. He physically built back up again to make T3. Plus, other action hero actors will be able to stop by to visit him and pose with him at photo-ops while tossing out some glib lines suitable for use on local news and national network news talkshows. The Terminator is going to terminate the boredom of California state politics and provide material that is good for boosting ratings. Plus, he'll even be able to make otherwise dull meetings of state governors into sources of useful news footage. Arnie knows how to bring people to the theater and we can rest assured that he will continue to bring lots of theater to politics.
Update: Does the above read as too sarcastic and cynical? Too flippant for your tastes? Seriously, California is the biggest state by population in the United States and has very serious problems. Yet state-level politics in California rarely gets the attention it deserves. It is very difficult for a political figure to run for governor because the state is so big and the news organizations in the major cities tend to give more attention to local and national matters than to state matters. Arnie's candidacy has allowed the media to glamorize of the race for the governorship. That has brought more state and national attention to California state finances, the harmful financial and social effects of lots of third world immigration, and other problems that rarely get the attention they merit. I see this as a good thing on balance. That it takes a past (present?) heavy user of testosterone and other steroids to create a media environment that brings attention to serious problems doesn't speak well of the populace and the media but that is the way it is.
Schwarzenegger's assault on Davis makes sense. With the other recall committees out of money and off the air, the governor has gone unchallenged in making the case against the first question on the ballot--his ouster. Indeed, Davis has made the most of that situation by running anti-recall ads day and night. Not surprisingly, Davis's numbers have improved over the past month, though not as dramatically as he'd like (recall still leads, 53 percent to 42 percent, in the latest survey by the Progressive Policy Institute of California; a month ago it was 58 percent to 36 percent). Arnold, by tapping into his Total Recall Committee to underwrite the cost of the anti-Davis ad, changes that dynamic by putting the governor back on the defensive.
The irony here is that while Arnold may assure that Davis is recalled the Democrats stand a good chance of keeping control of the governorship. The split of the vote on the Right between Arnold and Tom McClintock may end up giving the governorship to Cruz Bustamante. Then the white majority (and, for that matter, the blacks and people of other ethnicities as well) will be ruled by a guy who won't disassociate himself from MeCHA and the ethnic separatists who want to split the American southwest from the United States.
I have no idea how this election turns out. But I'm guessing that regardless of whether Schwarzenegger or Bustamante is elected the tax burden in California will remain at least as high as it is now. Under Bustamante it will be worse than under Schwarzenegger but the two thirds control of the state legislature by the Democrats combined with the continued influx of low skill illegal and legal immigrants assures California will remain a high tax state. Even the unlikely outcome of a McClintock victory wouldn't result in a substantial reduction in the size of the state government.
The New York Times has a not very confidence inspiring profile of retired 4 star General Wesley Clark.
On Thursday, the day after he announced his candidacy, he said, "I probably would have voted for" the resolution. On Friday, he backtracked, saying, "I never would have voted for war." But last October, according to The Associated Press, he said he supported a Congressional resolution to give President Bush authority to use military force against Iraq. He then spent months as a television commentator criticizing the president's action.
His real preference has got to be his first answer when he said he was for the war resolution. But then someone reminded him that he has to win in the Democratic Party primary before he can move to the right for the general election.
He sounds like he's for war except when being against it will help in self-promotion either as a TV commentator or when running in a Democratic Party primary trying to appeal to the left-leaning base of the party. He comes across as one of those self-promoters that lower level officers with more conviction love to hate. He'd be better suited for the US Senate where the disconnect between power and responsibility would work well with his personal style.
Update: I think Mark Steyn's takedown on Clark sums up the problem with Clark's candidacy:
The only rationale for his candidacy is that he is the soldier for the party that doesn't like soldiering. He supposedly neutralises the Democrats' national security problem: they can say, hey, sure, we're anti-war, but that's because our guy is a four-star general who knows a thing or two about it . . . That's all they need him for: cover.
It is not going to work. All General Jello does is remind voters of what they dislike about the Dems on this war: their weaselly evasive oppositionism. All his military background does is keep military matters at the forefront of the campaign.
Could Clark swing any marginal southern states if he was Dean's VP pick? If he's the VP candidate then he doesn't have to have so many issue positions of his own but might sway a few people into believing that the Democratic Party isn't as wobbly as it otherwise appears to be.
George F. Will doesn't explicitly call Bush an enemy of conservatiism. But he certainly argues that in many ways Bush's decisions are undermining many conservative causes. Will explores how it is that George W. Bush, a man who seems to have basic strongly held conservative beliefs, is pursuing policies that are contrary to the beliefs of most conservatives.
Today a conservative administration is close to asserting that whatever the facts turn out to be regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the enforcement of U.N. resolutions was a sufficient reason for war. If so, war was waged to strengthen the United Nations as author and enforcer of international norms of behavior.
Bush isn't just doing this in foreign policy. He's doing it on domestic issues as well.
The conservative faction that focuses on constitutionalism and democratic due process winced when the president seemed to approve of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's opinion affirming the constitutionality of racial preferences for diversity in higher education -- and perhaps in many other spheres of life. The concept of group rights -- of government complicity in allocating wealth and opportunity on the basis of skin pigmentation -- now has a conservative president's imprimatur.
Bush's desire to woo the Hispanic vote has led him to effectively abandon opposition to racial preferences while still giving minimal lip service to the idea that they are a bad thing. He had a chance to come out strongly against racial preferences in the University of Michigan case but overruled US Solicitor General Theodore Olson and had White House aides write a brief to the Supreme Court that gave Sandra Day O'Connor the space in which to write a ruling that allows racial preferences for blacks and Hispanics to remain in place.
Will speculates that the Bush Administration has placed a high priority on avoiding fights on cultural questions. I think Bush places a very high priority on getting elected and thinks that is far more important than the long term future of the Republican Party.
My biggest (but far from only) problem with Bush on foreign policy is that I seriously doubt he will make the moves that will prevent Iran and North Korea from building large numbers of nuclear bombs. Also, he is not pursuing a long term energy policy that will eliminate the world's reliance on Middle Eastern oil. As long as that reliance exists the Middle East is going to be a continuing threat to US national security.
It is typically said that the two major American political parties are heavily influenced by the many lobbyist groups in Washington DC. Well, if Nicholas Confessore's article "Welcome to the Machine" in the Washington Monthly is to be believed Republican take-over of the many industry trade associations in Washington DC has been unfolding.
The Republicans are able to do this because they control both houses of Congress and the White House and because most business interests are more sympathetic to Republican views on a variety of policy issues. But one consequence of this staffing of the trade associations by Republican loyalists is a greater ability of the Republican Party to move a large proposal thru Congress without getting opposed by a lot of narrow interests of specific industries.
But beginning with the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, and accelerating in 2001, when George W. Bush became president, the GOP has made a determined effort to undermine the bipartisan complexion of K Street. And Santorum's Tuesday meetings are a crucial part of that effort. Every week, the lobbyists present pass around a list of the jobs available and discuss whom to support. Santorum's responsibility is to make sure each one is filled by a loyal Republican--a senator's chief of staff, for instance, or a top White House aide, or another lobbyist whose reliability has been demonstrated. After Santorum settles on a candidate, the lobbyists present make sure it is known whom the Republican leadership favors. "The underlying theme was [to] place Republicans in key positions on K Street. Everybody taking part was a Republican and understood that that was the purpose of what we were doing," says Rod Chandler, a retired congressman and lobbyist who has participated in the Santorum meetings. "It's been a very successful effort."
If today's GOP leaders put as much energy into shaping K Street as their predecessors did into selecting judges and executive-branch nominees, it's because lobbying jobs have become the foundation of a powerful new force in Washington politics: a Republican political machine.
Confessore betrays an obvious left-leaning bias when he says:
"The large entitlement programs in particular command too much public support to be cut, let alone abolished. But by co-opting K Street, conservatives can do the next best thing--convert public programs like Medicare into a form of private political spoils."
This is clearly ridiculous. The drive to privatize the provision of services is motivated by a desire to increase efficiency, to provide more service per dollar spent, and to increase the number of choices available.
Confessore's obvious biases aside, the article is worth reading in full if you want to get a better understanding of the evolving relationship between the trade association lobbyists and the Congress.
White House budget director Joshua B. Bolten assigns the causes for the large US government deficit as follows:
Just what caused that erosion is the subject of fierce partisan debate. The White House pinned the blame on three years of sluggish economic growth and the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. During Bush's first months in office, the White House projected a $334 billion surplus for 2003. Of the $789 billion swing to a $455 billion deficit, Bolten attributed 53 percent to the economic downturn, 24 percent to war, homeland security and other new programs, and 23 percent to the three successive tax cuts enacted since 2001.
Some economists think the federal deficit will grow even larger in 2004. That depends heavily on how well the economy does and whether the US has to go to war against North Korea or Iran to prevent their development of nuclear weapons. Another war could easily add $100 or $200 billion of additional costs or perhaps even more.
Of course, Congress and the President, out of respect for the wishes of fiscally prudent senior citizens (fiscally prudent about their own bank accounts - not about those of the rest of us), are determned to expand Medicare further with a drug benefit and other new benefits. Never mind that the current trajectory of US old age retirement benefits looks set to send the total size of government much higher in the coming decades. Most of the currently retired folks will be pushing up the daisies and won't have to deal with the long-term consequences of their desires and of the desires of the politicians to cater to the wishes of their highly motivated voting bloc.
Libertarians want less government. They trot out various arguments about why it is morally illegitimate for governments to take so much of the earnings of workers and to intervene to grant preferences to particular groups. While I personally agree with many of those arguments the libertarians have been notably unsuccessful in getting seniors, farmers, poor people, and assorted ethnic and other special interest groups to agree to less government when they are benefitting from larger government. There is a lesson there in my view: Groups that have reasons to be highy motivated to get a government hand-out are hard to deny. The best we can hope to do is to try to avoid the kinds of conditions that cause people to want governments to help them.
In my view there is not much that can be done about the political strength of the senior voters in the short to medium term. They are one growing source of demand upon the public purse whose demands will inevitably be satisfied come what may. However, there are other sources of demand for government spending that, with wise policy changes made now, could be reduced in future years. For instance, one way to decrease the demand for greater government spending for health care for uninsured is to take measures that will reduce the number of such people. If we changed tax law to favor people having portable medical insurance polices that can travel with them between jobs and combined them with tax-free medical savings accounts that could pay for the premiums between jobs then people would be less likely to find themselves uninsured.
Basically, I'm arguing for interventions in markets that cause people to be less likely to feel desperately in need of government help. Yes, those interventions are, strictly speaking, not pure libertarian laissez faire policies. But most humans are not dedicated to libertarian principles on issues where their own health and welfare are at stake. Our real choice is not between government intervention and no government intervention. Our real choice is between whatever government interventions that groups will naturally demand and government interventions that have some costs but which reduce the demand for even bigger interventions.
Given this view about the inevitability of government intervention I see a number of policy areas where libertarian policy positions lead to more government in the long run. A notable example is immigration policy. People with low skills and low educational levels who are allowed to immigrate will, on average, become far more supportive of expansion of government spending than those who are more skilled at occupations that garner high pay in the job market. For instance, Hispanics lack medical insurance at two and a half times the rate at which whites are uninsured. This inevitably leads to more government spending. A forward-looking immigration policy that stopped letting in lower skill and less educated workers would reduce future increases in taxes and in racial and ethnic preferences systems.
Another area where wiser public policies could reduce future demands for larger government is in areas of public policy that relate to marriage. Maggie Gallagher, editor of the forthcoming MarriageDebate.com site, in arguing against gay marriage (and, no, I'm not going to get into that debate in this post) makes an important point about marriage in general: the decline of marriage inevitably leads to an expansion of the state.
The consequences of our current retreat from marriage is not a flourishing libertarian social order, but a gigantic expansion of state power and a vast increase in social disorder and human suffering. The results of the marriage retreat are not merely personal or religious. When men and women fail to form stable marriages, the first result is a vast expansion of government attempts to cope with the terrible social needs that result. There is scarcely a dollar that state and federal government spends on social programs that is not driven in large part by family fragmentation: crime, poverty, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, school failure, mental and physical health problems. Even Medicare spending is inflated, as elderly singles spend more of their years in nursing homes.
Want to be an enlightened tolerant libertarian who thinks that single parenthood is just a personal choice that governments should not have any influence over? The problem with that view is that if there are more single parents there will inevitably be more government spending. The single parents will demand it. Libertarian arguments to persuade them not to ask for medical spending subsidies, housing subsidies, and other subsidies will fall on deaf ears (if you think otherwise then explain why the libertarians haven't managed to convince the old folks that old age entitlements are wrong). Also, those single parents will earn less and pay less in taxes because they are busy taking care of their kids. So they will put less into the government purse and take more out. Also, the children of single parents will be more prone to drop out of school, become criminals, and in other ways create problems for the rest of us that will result in more government spending and more taxes on the rest of us. Large scale single parenthood is a recipe for a big social welfare state and lots of social pathology.
In foreign policy the best way I can see to reduce the future demand for US government spending for national defense, rule of foreign lands, and homeland defense would be to spend money on a crash program to develop technologies that can obsolesce fossil fuels. An elimination of the demand for fossil fuels would reduce the money available to spread Wahhabi Islam, reduce the money available for terrorists, reduce the cost of fighting those problems, and eliminate the need for the US to protect oil shipment lanes and oil fields.
The United States is heading toward more and more socialized medicine. Lots of additional extensions of old age medical benefits are being added to the Medicare drug bill.
Congress's $400 billion Medicare prescription drug bill, advertised as a way to help elderly Americans pay for their medicine, has become a magnet for dozens of unrelated provisions benefiting hospitals, doctors, medical equipment companies and an array of other health care interests.
Never mind that Medicare, like Social Security, is headed for bankruptcy. Retired people want their benefits now and to hell with the future. The Medicare drug benefit will usher in other extensions in Medicare benefits as well. Plus, it will lay the groundwork for future extensions of the drug benefit to pay even more of drug costs. Once seniors get partial benefits according to complex formulas they will complain about how the formulas are unfair to them under various circumstances. The benefits will gradually be extended in lots of amendments to future appropriations bills.
One thing that bothers me even more than the amount of additional money that will be spent is that as the US federal and state governments become larger purchasers of drugs it is inevitable that they will seek to levy more price controls on drugs. Price controls will inevitably lead to cutbacks in research and development budgets in big pharma companies. That, in turn, will reduce the rate at which new medical treatments are developed and of course that will delay the introduction of life-extending treatments.
Since much of the rest of the world already has price controls on drugs any decrease in US prices for drugs will have a huge impact on drug development. This is very worrisome.
What the United States needs are more market-oriented reforms of how medical care is paid for. Having employers as the main providers of medical insurance of those not yet retired leads people to either go without insurance between jobs or to not have insurance because their employers do not provide it. Plus, because people switch jobs and switch medical plans those who develop chronic illnesses can find themselves uninsurable when they lose coverage from their previous employer's plan. There ought to be medical spending accounts that do not have to be spent by the end of each year which people can accumulate money in tax-free throughout life. People who are not employees ought to pay medical insurance premiums and out-of-pocket treatment costs in pre-tax dollars. This would at least decrease the number who have no medical insurance.
Since Hispanics are medically uninsured at two and a half times the rate of whites a wall on the US-Mexico border would prevent future rises in the percentage of the population that are uninsured. Also, since those immigrants drive down the cost of manual labor if they stopped coming the wages and benefits of less skilled workers would rise and more would be able to afford medical insurance.
The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) has done a poll that shows Jews are still overwhelmingly loyal to the Democratic Party.
The NJDC findings show that "American Jews remain strongly Democratic -- 64 percent describing themselves as Democrats, and 26 percent as Republicans," compared with the electorate as a whole, which is evenly split. About 64 percent of Jews would like to see Democrats retake control of Congress, while 24 percent want to see the GOP retain control, compared with the electorate which, again, is split almost evenly, according to the NJDC analysis.
Washington, DC: In response to a statement today by the Republican Jewish Coalition, in which the RJC got it flat wrong in describing the sample size of a national, independent poll released on Tuesday showing that Jews remain strongly Democratic, National Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director Ira N. Forman today made the following statement:
“We do not expect our Republican counterparts to be happy about the results of the new, independent polling data released yesterday, as the data show that American Jews are remaining strongly Democratic. But we are disappointed that the Republicans could not even get the facts right when it comes to the specifics of this poll. “The RJC today wrote that this poll’s Jewish sample size was 99, supposedly resulting in a large margin of error. In point of fact, this national poll aggregated data across five quarters, obtaining a weighted sample size of 450. This resulted, as we wrote yesterday, in a margin of error of 4.7 percent for this poll.
While among Jews as compared to the country as a whole Bush lags in approval rating on foreign policy by only 10 points he lags in other categories among Jews by much larger percentages.
The Ipsos/Cook Political Report Poll additionally shows that American Jews over the survey period have been dramatically less approving of President Bush’s job performance than other Americans. While 57 percent of all Americans approved of the President’s handling of the economy, only 35 percent of Jews approved; and while 54 percent of all Americans approved of the President’s handling of domestic issues, only 33 percent of Jews approved. Regarding overall job approval, Americans throughout the survey have approved of the way President Bush has performed on the job by a margin of more than two to one, while Jews have been evenly split. The polling results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percent.
“Aggregating polling sub-samples for small populations – such as American Jews – is a standard practice in examining public opinion for populations that are hard to sample. For example, it is clearly good enough for The Gallup Organization. In September of 2002, Gallup released an aggregation of Jewish sub-samples from 21 separate Gallup surveys conducted over a year and a half. In their analysis, the aggregated sample size was 408. The Gallup Organization found that ‘the Jewish tilt toward Democratic orientation is the most pronounced shift from the national average of any of the major religious groups in the country.’”
But to categorize Jews as a religious group seems somehow incomplete. They are also quite effectively an ethnic group. Well, Jews are not the most heavily Democratic ethnic group in America. Blacks are. Jews are more heavily Democratic than Hispanics but Hispanics are also pretty far from the national average.
Due to large scale immigration of other ethnic groups Jews and non-Jewish whites are diminishing as a percentage of the electorate. Since the biggest ethnic group that is inceasing as a percentage of the electorate is Hispanics the country is still going to shift leftward even as the influence of Jews diminishes.
The leaders of the Republican Party continue to be in denial that demographic trends are running heavily against the GOP (for foreign readers: GOP is Grand Old Party which is another term for Republicans). Eventually the Republicans will have to shift leftward if they want to continue to win elections and they will become the Rino Party: Republicans In Name Only. Or, Pataki Republicans. This is already happening. For instance, Congress is voting in Medicare drug entitlements even as Medicare heads for bankruptcy. I really wish the demographic trends were not running toward support for larger government and the entitlements state. But that is the way it looks to me and I call 'em as I see 'em whether I like it or not.
One interesting consequence of the demographic trends is that the US will eventually pull back from much of its global polceman role. The US already is not spending enough to field a military force large enough to do everything that assorted bleeding hearts want to write moral checks for. The cry for intervention in Liberia is a recent case in point as are the inadequate US forces for maintaining order in Afghanistan and Iraq. Meanwhile, Iran and North Korea are working away at developing nuclear weapons and we do not have enough resources to properly handle those threats.
But I digress. The bottom line here: Jews are not going to shift en masse to the Grand Old Party, all Republican neocon dreams notwithstanding. Neither are the Hispanics or the blacks.
Update: The Forward reports on efforts to recruit Jews to the Republican Party.
But such figures don't stop the Republicans from trying to woo the Jews — and they expect that their efforts, like the direct-mail fundraising in which they began investing in the late 1970s, eventually will pay off handsomely. As part of its grassroots outreach, for example, the Republican National Committee has a program to encourage Jews, Hispanics and blacks to sign on as "team leaders" — activists who receive information and then send it out to their own e-mail lists, magnifying the effect. According to Timothy Teepell, the RNC's director of grassroots development, there are 2,000 Jewish "team leaders" — as compared to 3,000 Hispanic and a similar number of black ones. Given the relative size of those populations — there are estimated to be between 5.5 million and 6 million Jews, 35.3 million Hispanics and 34.6 million blacks in the United States — Jews appear overrepresented in the effort, an indication of the importance GOP leaders attach to Jewish outreach.
Hope springs eternal.
The New York Times Magazine has an interesting article entitled The Young Hipublicans about the growth of conservative activism on American college campuses.
Young Americans for Freedom; Young America's Foundation; the Leadership Institute; the Collegiate Network; the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. These groups spend money in various ways to push a right-wing agenda on campuses: some make direct cash ''grants'' to student groups to start and run conservative campus newspapers; others provide free training in ''conservative leadership,'' often providing heavily subsidized travel to their ''publishing programs''; others provide help with the hefty speaking fees for celebrity right-wing speakers. Through these coordinated activities, these groups have embarked in the last three years on a concerted campus recruitment drive to turn temperamentally conservative youngsters into organized right-wing activists. From Maine to California, students have taken up the offer -- even at such lefty bastions as Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Students at Howard University, a black institution in Washington, have started a group that has been referred to as the ''hip-hop Republicans.'' The Campus Leadership Program has by their own count helped set up 256 conservative campus groups in less than three years. The College Republican National Committee, a group that mobilizes students to campaign, has tripled its membership since 1999 to an all-time high of 1,148 chapters.
There is one point that I think is a key element to understanding conservative campus resurgence:
Having spread beyond traditionally conservative hotbeds like Dartmouth, it's a movement that operates in an atmosphere that did not even exist when Buckley and D'Souza were undergraduates: campuses governed by speech and behavior codes introduced more than a decade ago. A result is a new breed of college conservative, one poised to inherit the responsibility of shaping the Republican Party in the years to come.
The point here is obvious: the Left on campus has become so illiberal (in the classical sense of liberalism favoring free speech and all that) and so into enforcing their ideology by controlling speech and behavior that it has sparked a backlash which is supported chiefly by the Right. Leftist ideologues have done such a thorough job of taking over the humanities departments and social sciences departments (probably less so in economics or other more heavily empirical social sciences) that students are getting fed a heavy dose of propaganda both in and outside of their courses. Anyone who can see thru the propaganda finds a variety of right wing viewpoints refreshing and hence a lot more appealing. The irony of the situation is that students can most effectively rebel against the status quo powers on campus by attacking those powers from the Right.
If you do not read the full article make sure you read the last two paragraphs. Academics are quoted complaining that the conservative activists are making the students more skeptical toward the ideas that the academics are trying to impart (how dare those activists raise doubts about the true faith!). An absurd social psychology professor complains that her students didn't take her seriously when she argued that the war in Iraq would increase the murder rate in the United States. She's just making things up and expects students to accept whatever nutty ideas she dreams up because she's older and (at least in her mind) wiser. After all, she's the professor. She must know what she's talking about since she's in a position of authority. She even referred to her murder rate idea as a "theory". She ought to realize that her idea is at best a hypothesis and not a theory. But in the mind of an ideologue politically correct hypotheses are seen as having more merit because belief in them will cause politically correct actions.