Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Millennials evidently want a GOP run Congress.

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Well...I wish I could say that I had planned this but sometimes "it's better to be lucky, than good." Last night I offered up Sean Trende's perspective on the so-called 'Emerging Democratic Majority' (EDM) in which  Latino/Hispanic populations and Millennials, both key players in the "foreordained" Liberal rise to permanency and primacy. Two polls which, just released today, lend themselves towards Trende's observation that the EDM theory is a figmental  supposition that is impossible to predict.

The first poll was provided by Harvard and shows that the 18-29'ers, aka Millennials, are apparently breaking for the GOP in the mid-terms.

A new and massive poll of 2,029 18- to 29-year-olds from Harvard’s Institute of Politics just released found that of those who say they will “definitely be voting,” 51 percent want the GOP in charge, 47 percent favoring Democratic control. The unexpected anti-Democratic swing prompted a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter quizzing poll experts on a media conference call to IOP blurted out, "How did the Democrats and Obama screw this up?"
The second poll was produced by Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project.

From: Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project

As you can see the Democratic share of the Latino/Hispanic vote still weighs heavy in favor of Democrats. However, the GOP share of the vote has increased to a level which matched support when President Bush, who was popular with the Hispanic community, was in office. Resulting in a 7% increase in three years without much to little effort by the Republicans in voter outreach to the Hispanic and Latino communities respectively.


Putting all of this into perspective, this does not equate some monumental shift in paradigm by these two demographics. This phenomena appears to be more related to both groups' disgust with the continual incompetency of both the Administration and Democrats on the Hill. Additionally, it has absolutely nothing to do with the GOP being some sort of idea factory that has won them over ideologically. The latter would be asking entirely too much from Republican leadership.

Addendum: There is an interesting point in the above mentioned Pew Research poll which I found on Real Clear Politics.

Only 36 percent of Latino voters would not support a candidate who disagrees with them about immigration policy (even if they agree on most other issues). Fifty-four percent would consider voting for the candidate they disagree with, and 6 percent said it “depends.”
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The 'Emerging Democratic Majority'

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Around here...we talk politics offline, as hard as that might be to believe. Nevertheless, one of the recurring themes that we drift to is the inevitably or the uncertainty of the so-called "Emerging Democratic Majority Theory."

The theory in essence states that due to demographic shifts taking place in the United States the face of the electorate in coming decades will dramatically tilt, considerably favoring the Progressive/Democratic agendas. Thus relegating the GOP to the same fate as the Whigs...obscurity then oblivion. 

Why wouldn't you believe this on face value when you see the influx of immigrant populations  growing through illegal and legal immigration? Also there is the assimilation factor; first generation immigrants are not necessarily adapting to proto-American culture and are demonstrating a considerable proclivity towards the Democratic camp. Also, there is a vast plethora of evidence to support this theory beyond what is presented here. 

However, Sean Trende-a political analyst for Real Clear Politics--offers a refutation to this particular rationale

Most skeptics, on the other hand, start from a belief that realignment theory does not accurately describe how American elections work.  Following David Mayhew’s seminal “Electoral Realignments,” many political scientists and EDM skeptics came to conclude during the 2000s that realignment theory is fatally flawed.  I’ve explored this numerous times on this site, as well as in my book, “The Lost Majority” (now available for a bright, shiny penny at Amazon marketplace). Among the reasons for being skeptical of the concept of realignments:
  • Many elections that are not listed as critical elections nevertheless show many of the features of critical elections (1874, 1912, 1952), which disrupts periodicity and argues against the idea of extended party rule.
  • One-party control of government is actually rare, and has only occurred after 13 of the past 34 elections.
  • The periodicity of electoral cycles, to the extent it ever existed, breaks down in 1932, as Republicans only briefly took unified control of government during their supposed majority period.
  • Realignment theory can be deconstructed as revealing a preference for an economic narrative; if our preference were for, say, a foreign policy narrative, we could write a coherent realignment narrative focusing on 1900, 1920, 1952, 1980 and 2008.  A civil rights narrative might see critical elections in 1860, 1892, 1936, 1964 and 2008.
  • Elections are well-predicted by a few fundamental factors, such as the economy, wars, scandal, and incumbency.
That last factor is, I think, the kicker. Even the most ardent realignment theorist will concede that the occasional war, recession and so forth will allow the out-party to win. To me, that is exactly backwards: Wars, recessions, expansions and so forth are the rule in elections, and our elections follow those much more closely than they do demographic trends. So a skeptic’s baseline belief is substantially lower -- maybe 10 percent. 

This is not to deny the EMD theory just to say that planning out 'emerging majorities' may be a false premise based on a vast amount of circumstantial evidence. These coalitions are not immutable nor are they abatable. Realistically we have no idea what the world of tomorrow will be or even look like. Of course you can say you are running a fool's gambit by denying its inevitability in the face of the tsunami of data.
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Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Liberal Faces Reality

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There's notihng really to say. Any addition on my part would be superfluous. So I'll let a liberal, writing at a liberal rag, express his realization told through his self-loathing. 

Thomas Frank: "We are such losers"


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Rand Paul's Case for Realism

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You can read Senator Paul's remarks on the case for "conservative" realism, here
After the tragedies of Iraq and Libya, Americans are right to expect more from their country when we go to war. 
America shouldn't fight wars where the best outcome is stalemate.  America shouldn't fight wars when there is no plan for victory. 
America shouldn't fight wars that aren’t authorized by the American people, by Congress.
America should and will fight wars when the consequences….intended and unintended….are worth the sacrifice. 
The war on terror is not over, and America cannot disengage from the world.
However, I take exception to the coinage conservatism, without disagreeing with Paul's premise. 

Realism (with a capital R) is neither conservative nor liberal. It is a thing of its own, a theory not motivated by ideology. Rather it is rooted in human nature and behavior. 

For example Hans Morgenthau lists the six governing principles of Realism. 

I've included the points with my own narrative and understanding of Realism. 

1) Politics functions according to objective laws rooted in human nature.
 Realism adopts the position in order to understand which law governs society and nations. The presupposition is that politics is rooted in human nature. These laws (unchanging human nature) are settled, and any deviation from them will lead to error. Since societies and nations are made up of people and leaders govern them, there is human nature to consider. Since human nature can be observed, then certain objective laws can be established through observation. Judgments, therefore, can be made through reason, experience, and observation.

 2) Interest is defined in terms of power
 Political decisions and actions are directed toward power. Interests, then, is defined in terms of self-interests which can only be interpreted as political and not moral. The reasoning behind these actions is to be measured only from the capacity and will of the group to carry out its goals.

 3) Interest defined as power is universally true.
Though there may be differences from one group to the next based on capacity or culture, all states have a stake in power, only the degree to which varies. Power can be achieved through balancing from weaker powers, or from a hegemonic power that control its weaker neighbors. In other words, power-relationships exist everywhere to some degree or another, whereas morality varies.

4) There is a natural tension between politics and morality.
Since self-interests and survival are paramount, political power supersedes morality. There will come a time when a state must behave in ways that may be repugnant to individual morality. However, if the state does not act in such away when power is at stake, there would be no individuals with freedom in existence to disagree.

5) Morality is not universal.
There is no time and place where moral agreement exists universally. Cultures and norms vary from place to place, so there is no particular idea of morality. The only option left is the social-reality, which is based on human nature, or political-reality. 

6) Politics is autonomous.
When it comes to political behavior among nations, amoral decisions are made. Since all states are accumulating or pursuing power motivated by self-interests, the social reality defines the political reality. That latter point does not rule out standards and norms altogether but neither does it suggest the two stand alone. They only are factors of political reality that the states create.
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Global Elitism and Tales of Stupidity

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I am a member of several worthless political science groups on Facebook and other Internet locations. I come across thoughtful and encouraging literature from time to time. The rest I see a dangerous ideology of collectivism and growing favor toward technocratic governance. These global elites think up, write, and publish theories on ways to remove people from the equation of government and governed. Such was the case this morning. A thoughtful scholar or grad student thought it would be interesting to share Daniel Esty (2006) [1] essay from the Yale Law Journal, “Good Governance at the Supranational Scale, Globalizing Administrative Law.”


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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

They’ll Call You ‘Raciss’ Anyway

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Years from now, perhaps even sooner, the brain trust at Oxford English Dictionary (OED) will have to reconsider exactly what the word racism means and how its historical meaning has changed in contemporary times. OED’s is the respected authority on English language “as an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words— past and present—from across the English-speaking world.” 

Since they meet four times a year to revise, update, and replace older versions of words that have newer meaning, I can’t think of a better word with which to start. 
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Monday, October 20, 2014

G.K. Chesterton, T.S. Eliot: Frenemies

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In a recent tongue and cheek conversation between Jason and myself concerning G.K. Chesterton and T.S. Eliot's relationship, I remarked to him that I could not remember if the men were friends or not or even if they had ever interacted.  

While perusing the Imaginative Conservative on a late night read I came across this interesting piece which answered my question. They were basically frenemies.
In 1929, following his much-publicized conversion to Christianity, Eliot wrote to Chesterton in a spirit of reconciliation: “I should like extremely to come to see you one day…May I mention that I have much sympathy with your political and social views, as well as (with obvious reservations) your religious views?”[7] The “obvious reservations” were a reference to the fact that Chesterton had converted to Roman Catholicism whereas Eliot had become an anglo-Catholic, i.e. a member of the “higher” regions of the Church of England. In the same letter, Eliot had added that Chesterton’s study of Charles Dickens “was always a delight to me.”



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Is the Political Left becoming anti-science?

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A good question... Suffice to say that when it comes to science--in the generalist of terms--each side of the political aisle has sub-groups that undoubtedly go off the rails when it comes to their perceptions of information and data. Their views tend to be cynical, conspiratorial, and one-dimensional. Nevertheless on a wide variety of issues the Left has felt and portrayed that "science" is unconditionally on its side.


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John Keats (1795 - 1821)

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John Keats wrote in a 1820 letter before he died of tuberculosis in Rome: “I have left no immortal work behind me, but I have lov’d the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had the time I would have made myself remember’d.”


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All Is Not Well: America “Completely Out of Control”

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What could one possibly mean by saying one’s country is “out of control?”
An overwhelming majority of voters in the most competitive 2014 elections say it feels as if events in the United States are “out of control” and expressed mounting alarm about terrorism, anxiety about Ebola and harsh skepticism of both political parties only three weeks before the Nov. 4 midterms.
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River (circa 1944)

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"The Mississippi River will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise..."

 ~Mark Twain in Eruption


From Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River, by W. O. Dement for Harold Fisk (1944)

This cartographic beauty wasn't pulled from the mind of some orphic minded Art-Informal devotee trying to focus on the "uneasy co-existence of mind and body." It is the result of some 16,000 soil samples combined with aerial topography of the lower-Mississippi and shows Big Muddy's past routes which it travelled.

The yeoman's work, which was started in 1941 by geologist Harold Fisk and his accompanying team, was performed for a 1944's report titled "Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River."

Truly an awesome and humbling reminder that within all of the apparent chaos in nature there exists a working order of the highest level.
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The Berlin Wall: A Symbol of Misery and Oppression, Also Served As An Extensive Laboratory For Human Nature

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‘Ohne Butter, ohne Sahne, auf dem Mond die rote Fahne ’ (‘There’s no cream, there’s no butter, but on the moon the red flag flutters’). A popular slogan in the German Democratic Republic. 

Only days before the barbed wire went up around West Berlin on the night of 12–13 August 1961, Walter Ulbricht, leader of the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED) in East Germany, vigorously complained to Khruschev about the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that the porous sectoral boundaries around West Berlin posed to the entire socialist project in East Germany:
The entire situation, influenced by the open border, hindered us from implementing adequate measures to eliminate the disproportions in the wage structure and to create a proper relationship between wages and performance. . . . Simply put, the open border forced us to raise the living standard faster than our economic capabilities allowed. . . . Of course we had similar difficulties with the transition to agricultural co-operatives as in other People’s Democracies. But one should not overlook the fact that some things are much more complicated here. . . . In all the other People’s Democracies, in the context of their closed borders, such political–economic issues could be tackled differently than was possible under our political circumstances.
This was merely one in a series of urgent letters during 1960–61. As Ulbricht had been warning the Kremlin, the mass population drain to the West was costing the German Democratic Republic (GDR) billions: production losses alone were estimated at around 2.5 to 3 billion DM. As a result, not only was
the much-vaunted goal of surpassing West Germany’s economic performance completely unachievable, but the aim had essentially become one of damage limitation, not least in order to curb the further population flow westwards.

By summer 1961, Ulbricht was warning Moscow that the GDR was on the brink of collapse and could not survive the vicious circle of emigration and production loss for much longer.

However, what was intended as a barrier against the freedom of human movement (or put better a peoples escaping despair and oppression to the prospects opportunity and freedom) turned out to provide a study in sociology, culture, politics and economic. 

The Boston Globe covers the human experiment in a wonderful essay.
Imagine this: If you were a researcher trying to determine how a political system affects people’s values, beliefs, and behavior, you would ideally want to take two identical populations, separate them for a generation or two, and subject them each to two totally different kinds of government. Then you’d want to measure the results, the same way a medical researcher might give two sets of patients two different pills and then track their progress.
Ethically, such a study would be unthinkable even to propose. But when the Berlin Wall went up in 1961, it created what London School of Economics associate professor Daniel Sturm calls a “perfect experiment.” While people in West Germany voted in free elections, read independent newspapers, and protested if they felt dissatisfied with their government, their Eastern counterparts lived inside a surveillance state ruled by a zealously doctrinaire communist party. Where “Ossis”—an unofficial term for those who lived in East Germany—drove famously shoddy Trabant cars, wore drab clothing, and drank off-brand soda, their “Wessi” counterparts enjoyed Pepsi and regularly saw BMWs in the street. The two halves of the country were like a pair of identical twins separated at birth and raised by two very different sets of parents. 
Over the past decade, the Berlin Wall has emerged as a uniquely powerful tool for answering questions about politics, economics, and human nature. How well does state propaganda actually work? What role do friendships play in stimulating business and trade? How does living under a repressive regime affect people’s inclination to trust strangers and government institutions?
The results have proved exciting for researchers, but their value goes beyond the ivory tower: They’re also likely to be important in preparing for real-world situations we may see in the future, like the opening of North Korea and Iran. “Understanding how, say, propaganda created by such regimes affects people’s preferences is very important, particularly when these regimes sooner or later collapse,” said Alberto Alesina, an economist at Harvard University. 
The insights that have piled up since the fall of the wall make it clear how long a single political event can continue to have social and economic effects on the people who lived through it. The marks it left are still being uncovered and measured, more than half a century after the architects of the wall unwittingly made it possible.

Read the rest at the link
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