Talk radio and Fox addressed conservatives, but there didn’t seem to be many persuadable voters who were listening and watching. Several significant Drudge stories failed to get real traction outside of Fox. Meanwhile, Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo were able to regularly push fact-based stories into CNN, MSNBC, the networks, and newspapers. Sometimes, the effect was merely to flood the zone with enough questions that the McCain campaign and RNC was in full defensive mode.Which is to say that Democrats and affiliated organizations (e.g., Media Matters) succeeded in convincing the MSM that news favorable to Republicans (or unfavorable to Democrats) is not news. There are ways to fight this, but nobody at GOPHQ knows who to ask.
The great conservative media success of 2004, the destruction of Dan Rather, was a story about the media getting something wrong. In 2008, the great liberal media success was not letting the right get a word in edgewise.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
In an interview with "60 Minutes," Obama addresses a subject college football fans have debated for many years, and says he will use his influence to create such a system.Not a lot of "serious" college football fans in Chicago, I guess. And I suppose he'll have ACORN "volunteers" picking the playoff teams . . .
"If you've got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses, there's no clear decisive winner. We should be creating a playoff system," he tells CBS' Steve Kroft in an interview to be broadcast Sunday.
According to Obama's proposed system, eight teams would play over three rounds to settle the national champion. "It would add three extra weeks to the season," he said at the conclusion of a wide-ranging interview. "You could trim back on the regular season. I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this. So, I'm going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it's the right thing to do."
"We have to be honest, and there's a lot of blame to go around, but I have to mention George Bush, and I have to mention Ted Stevens, and I'm afraid I even have to mention John McCain," he said.Not much left to say but AMEN!
DeMint offered a long list of complaints about McCain's record in the Senate and on the campaign trail.
"McCain, who is proponent of campaign finance reform that weakened party organizations and basically put George Soros in the driver's seat," DeMint said. "His proposal for amnesty for illegals. His support of global warming, cap-and-trade programs that will put another burden on our economy. And of course, his embrace of the bailout right before the election was probably the nail in our coffin this last election. And he has been an opponent of drilling in ANWR, at a time when energy is so important. It really didn't fit the label, but he was our package."
Bush and Stevens, he said, had corrupted the party brand by expanding the size of government and engaging in wasteful government spending. Had Republicans not strayed from their core beliefs in recent years, DeMint argued, the election results might have been different.
"Americans do prefer a traditional conservative government," he said. "They just did not believe Republicans were going to give it to them."
A National Protest Against Prop 8 organized by JoinTheImpact.com is scheduled for this Saturday. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which opponents say donated more than $20 million to the Yes on 8 campaign, has already become a focus of protests, with demonstrators gathered around Mormon temples not only in California but across the country. . . .Brownshirt tactics and economic terrorism in the name of "tolerance"? Evan Wolfson is nothing but a latter-day Ernst Rohm. If this is what they're like when they lose, what will they be like if they win?
African-Americans, 70% of whom voted yes on Proposition 8, according to a CNN exit poll, have become a target. According to eyewitness reports published on the Internet, racial epithets have been used against African-Americans at protests in California, directed even at blacks who are fighting to repeal Proposition 8. . . .
On AntiGayBlacklist.com, individuals who gave money toward Proposition 8 are publicized, with readers urged not to patronize their businesses or services. The list of donors was culled from data on ElectionTrack.com, which follows all contributions of over $1,000 and all contributions of over $100 given before October 17. Dentists, accountants, veterinarians and the like who gave a few thousand dollars to the cause are listed alongside major donors like the Container Supply Co., Inc. of Garden Grove, Calif., which gave $250,000. "Anyone who steps into a political fight aimed at taking away fundamental rights from fellow citizens opens themselves up to criticism," said [gay radical terrorist leader Evan] Wolfson.
For the second time this year, a professor at the University of Iowa has taken his own life after being accused of sexual harassment. . . .Note that "classroom banter" now qualifies as grounds for a federal civil-rights lawsuit, whereas soliciting oral sex from interns in the Oval Office -- hey, what kind of right-wing prude would object to that?
On Wednesday, just a week after he was accused of sexual harassment in a lawsuit, Mark Weiger killed himself. He was a professor of music known for his oboe performances and teaching. A former student and teaching assistant's lawsuit, filed in federal court against Weiger and the university, charged that he had a romantic relationship with another student, engaged in repeated classroom banter and touching of an inappropriate nature, and created a sexually hostile environment. According to the suit, the university conducted its own investigation of the situation last year, found Weiger had violated policies against sexual harassment, and then resolved the issue “informally.” He was found in his car, dead from carbon monoxide poisoning, with the garage door at his home closed. Authorities said he left a note.
In August, [66-year-old political science professor] Arthur H. Miller was arrested on bribery charges and accused of telling female students that he would give them higher grades if they let him fondle their breasts. In one case, he is alleged to have grabbed and sucked on a student’s breast and then sent her an e-mail telling her that she had earned an A+. He then shot himself in a local park.
Pontiac engineers grabbed 12 1963 Tempests--six four-door station wagons and six Le Mans two-door coupes--and spent their 1962 Christmas break preparing all 12 cars for drag race duty. . . . .
Pontiac had already made extensive changes to the Tempest for the 1963 model year. They chucked the Buick 215 and added the two-barrel 260hp 326-cu.in. Pontiac V-8 to the option sheet. . . .
To prep the Tempests for race duty, Pontiac's engineers first replaced the 326 with the notoriously underrated 405hp Super Duty version of the 421. . . . While the Catalina Super Duty 421s used cast-aluminum long-branch exhaust manifolds, the Tempest Super Duty 421s used unique stainless steel headers. . . . The downpipes then dumped out just behind the front tires, but not before a crossover pipe connected each side and provided a 1¾-inch stub to attach the stock exhaust, should a track or sanctioning body ever require a stock exhaust system. . . .
Neither seam sealer nor sound deadener made it into the 12 cars. . . . Heater delete and radio delete, of course, and they even went so far as to have Harrison stamp unique aluminum radiators. All 12 left Pontiac painted Cameo White and with 326 badges in their grilles.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Convicted Italian con man Raffaello Follieri is finding out that life behind bars is nothing like his old $37,500-a-month apartment in Trump Tower."No one should be subjected to these conditions"? Oh, I think Raffaello Scumbaggio should. And, by the way, Anne Hathaway is still hot, no matter what Dr. Melissa tries to tell you.
The food looks spoiled, the showers are filthy with excrement and the place smells really bad, a lawyer whines on his behalf in a letter to the sentencing judge.
And instead of snuggling up at night next to a Hollywood starlet, like ex-girlfriend Anne Hathaway, Follieri now bunks in a windowless dorm room with 120 other inmates, he complains. . . .
"Clearly, no one should be subjected to these conditions. However, in Mr. Follieri's case, the unsanitary environment appears to have had a detrimental effect on his health," his lawyer Flora Edwards wrote to the judge.
Because McCain opted into the public financing system during the general election, he faced an $84 million limit on what he could spend, putting him at a huge disadvantage compared to Obama, who raised $66 million more than that in September alone.
Just in case you're wondering, the Republican National Committee's expenditures could not have possibly made up the gap between McCain's $84 million and Obama's fundraising, which was about $150 million in September alone. The RNC raised only $336 million in the entire 2-year cycle.
If you think about it, the Obama campaign was the biggest growth industry in America over the past two years. Not all of the campaign's expenditures have been fully itemized, but they spent more than $160 million on TV ads.
In discussions of "what went wrong" for the GOP this year, the Democrats' massive financial advantage in the 2008 cycle has to be taken into account.(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)
A teenager accused of stabbing a 14-year-old boy to death in a gang-motivated attack had been given sanctuary from deportation under San Francisco's previous practice of shielding young illegal immigrant felons from federal authorities, records show.It's very important that rich Democrats in San Francisco have illegal aliens to do their housework, and if the housekeeper's kids are out gang-banging in the streets while Maria is dusting the antiques, well ... that's just the price you pay for social justice, eh?
Rony Aguilera, 17, known as "Guerrillero," has been charged as an adult in the July 31 sword attack in the Excelsior neighborhood that killed Ivan Miranda, who police say was an innocent victim caught up in an act of gang vengeance. Authorities believe Aguilera is an illegal immigrant from Honduras, but he was never referred to federal officials after being arrested last year in an assault case, according to records reviewed by The Chronicle.
Aguilera is the second person this year to be charged with murder in San Francisco after having been protected from possible deportation under city officials' now-discarded interpretation of a sanctuary ordinance that barred agencies from cooperating with federal efforts to round up illegal immigrants.
In June, Edwin Ramos, now 22, an alleged illegal immigrant from El Salvador who compiled a record of gang-related crimes as a juvenile, was accused of fatally shooting Anthony Bologna, 48, and his sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16, in their car in the Excelsior.
Police believe that, like Ramos, Aguilera is a member of the MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha) gang. . . .
San Francisco juvenile authorities had long ordered their probation officers not to consider defendants' immigration status, under the Juvenile Probation Department's interpretation that such a move would violate the sanctuary city law.
As a result, Aguilera was not referred to federal immigration officials.
Instead, a juvenile court judge decided that he would live with his parents in Houston while being informally monitored from San Francisco, according to authorities with knowledge of the case.
These immigrant gangbangers are killing people American gangbangers won't kill.
A senior aide to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) was fired from his post last week after he was charged with distributing and receiving child pornography.The aide had previously worked for Sen. Bob Torricelli (D-N.J.). It's nice that the FBI does sting operations to protect America's kids from progressive Democrats. An aide to Sen. Maria Cantwell pleaded guilty on similar charges in February. Ace is inspired to a rant about why there is no media "trend" story about this.
Jeffrey P. Rosato, an aide to Boxer and a senior policy adviser on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, was arrested last Friday, the same day he was fired from Boxer's office, and charged with one count each of receipt and distribution of child pornography. He appeared in U.S. District Court in Alexandria on Wednesday and was released on his own recognizance, but he is forbidden to have access to children or computers.
According to an FBI affidavit, an unnamed person "distributed more than 600 files containing graphic images and movies of child pornography to an undercover detective that [the person] believed was a 13-year-old boy" over the course of more than 15 online chats during a three-week period in January. In that person's computer, the FBI found information suggesting the person had exchanged pornography with Rosato.
Investigators also found pornographic photos and movies of children on Rosato's laptop computer during a Nov. 4 search of his Alexandria home, according to the affidavit. "Many of the images and videos depict prepubescent boys engaged in sexual acts," it said.
Years after being advised by a state agency to stop, the Dallas Independent School District continued to provide foreign citizens with fake Social Security numbers to get them on the payroll quickly.Ed Morrissey says this means teaching is "another job Americans won't do." Michelle Malkin says "I is for illegal." Mexican teachers with Mexican students breaking American laws in American schools at the expense of American taxpayers, and some people still wonder why John McCain lost the election . . .
Some of the numbers were real Social Security numbers already assigned to people elsewhere. And in some cases, the state’s educator certification office unknowingly used the bogus numbers to run criminal background checks on the new hires, most of whom were brought in to teach bilingual classes.
"Compassionate conservatism" was nothing but "national greatness" in evangelical drag -- baptizing the Nanny State, as it were. I liked conservatism back when it was mean-spirited much better than I like it now that it's incompetent.Sometimes my wife will walk past me at the computer and say, "Why are you smiling? You're amusing yourself again, aren't you?" Guilty as charged.
Otter to Boone in Animal House: "No, no, no. Don't think of it as work. The whole point is just to enjoy yourself."
Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damned glad to meet you!
But why be coy about it, David? Why not just advocate for the positions you favor, rather than vaguely alluding to the idea that change is needed? What change?Ace has put his finger on the essential rhetorical trick of Brooksism:
You want the party to be more liberal. We get that. How about writing columns about the actual issues and actual positions you favor rather than forever nattering on about the hazy idea of "change" you can never quite rouse the courage -- or effort -- to detail?
There's a dishonest aspect to this, too. Brooks -- and Sager, and etc. -- often avoid advocating substantively, on policy grounds, for their positions, instead preferring to argue in the neutral-sounding way that "We must do this to win." And yet the polling data often does not even seem to support that position (nor do they offer much except naked assertion that adopting liberal policies will lead to electoral success). . . .
They're really not arguing for a change in Republican strategy or policy. They're arguing for a change in the Republican voting population itself -- they want Republicans to change their opinions in favor of the minority, liberal-leaning Northeastern establishment opinion. Fine -- that is their right. So start honestly and openly attempting to change Republican minds, rather than pushing nonsense like "pro-gay marriage policy is a net electoral winner."
Republicans are losing because they're too conservative. Therefore, conservatives must support liberal policies, because otherwise Republicans will lose.If the only proper political ambition for conservatives is to elect more Republicans, no matter what policies Republicans propose or implement, what's the point of voting Republican? America already has one liberal party, why does it need two?
As Ace notes, Brooks insinuates and implies all this, seizing upon every turn of events to suggest that conservative domestic policy is a net political disadvantage, rather than coming flat-out and arguing (on policy merits) for gay marriage, abortion, etc. And you gotta love Ace's walkoff:
I realize he's a hack on a deadline and has to produce two columns a week. I realize that writing about nothing is a necessary skill for anyone expected to write consistently. . . .Maybe National Review could ask Ace to moderate next week's panel instead of Brooks.
But an excessively large fraction of Brooks' columns seem to belong to the category of "I Got Nothin' But a Deadline So Here Comes Some Bullshit."
Total compensation per hour for the big-three carmakers is $73.20. That’s a 52 percent differential from Toyota’s (Detroit South) $48 compensation (wages + health and retirement benefits). In fact, the oversized UAW-driven pay package for Detroit is 132 percent higher than that of the entire manufacturing sector of the U.S., which comes in at $31.59.(Via Charlie Martin.) If the Democrats in Congress really want to save the U.S. auto industry, that's not really complicated, either: A nation right-to-work law.
Haggard appeared Nov. 2 at the Open Bible Fellowship in Morrison, Ill. . . .Uh, I'm 49, so I guess next year I'll have to hire a bodybuilder to bring some meth and meet me in a motel room, right? And that will be all right, so long as I can tell some scary story from my childhood to justify it.
Haggard spoke about how his "struggle with sin," involving a male prostitute and drug purchases, grew out of a sexual incident with a man employed by his father when Haggard was 7 years old. . . .
Haggard said in the sermons that although he was living a wonderful life with his wife, Gail, five children and his New Life family, he suddenly found himself caught in sin's trap.
"When I became 50 years old, I don't know if it was pressure, or if it was midlife crisis, or if it was just psychological determinism (as) Freud would say, or whatever — I don't know what it was — but for some reason what happened to me as a child started to produce fruit," he said.
It's probably cruel and wrong to mock Haggard, and I don't mean to ridicule the idea of penitence and redemption. But what he's really saying is, "Hey, it's not my fault. I'm OK now. Can I please go back to my influential multimillion-dollar megachurch ministry?"
Well, no you can't, Pastor Ted. You've brought shame to the church, and your career as a minister/evangelist is over. Permanently. Finito. Ended. Eighty-sixed. Finished. Did I already say "over"?
Go to work at Wal-Mart and get over it.
American International Group plans to pay out $503 million in deferred compensation to some of its top employees, saying it must tap the funds to keep valuable workers from exiting the troubled insurance giant.Look, if they don't mind screwing over their stockholders, why should they mind screwing over taxpayers? By the way -- because I'm a patriotic American entrepreneur and not some phony-baloney corporate stooge -- Anne Hathaway is hot.
News of the payments to top AIG talent comes as the federal government has just put more money into saving the company from bankruptcy, beefing up the total public commitment to $152 billion. Meanwhile, members of Congress are questioning the company's expenditures -- including lavish business trips to resorts -- during a time when taxpayers are on the hook for the bailout.
UPDATE: Hank Paulson "doesn't know what the hell he's doing." And also, Anne Hathaway is still hot.
UPDATE: Dr. Melissa disses our darling. It's the blonde/brunette thing again. My brunette wife hates her some blondes (and don't even mention redheads). More generally: What's up with chicks refusing to admit the hotness of other chicks? I mean, there are some male stars whose supposedly irresistible appeal to the fair sex has always eluded me (Tom Cruise? The dude's practically a midget! What part of "diminuitive" don't you understand?) but in general, you'll never hear guys say, "That Brad Pitt is so overrated." We just don't care. They're freaking movie stars, OK? It's not like Brad Pitt's going to swoop into town and run off with our womenfolk or anything.
Related thoughts from Jules Crittenden, who is (a) an employee of the Boston Herald, and (b) distantly related to David Frum, and therefore (c) a card-carrying member of the neocon media machine.
BC: Why does mass schooling equate with a decline in fertility? Wasn't it put into place before the baby boom of the fifties and the Second World War?There have been several changes in American education and social policy that are relevant to this issue, including child labor laws, mandatory attendance policies and credentialization. Federal law effectively prohibits those under age 16 from most paid employment. Since the 1970s, a certain mania to reduce high-school dropout rates has led to ever more strict school attendance policies. As the high-school diploma became practically universal (as it had not been prior to the 1970s), young people came under increasing pressure to obtain additional credentials to demonstrate their ability.
Dr. Allan Carlson: The assertion in the book comes from the work of demographer John C. Caldwell. By examining evidence in Australia he came to the strong conclusion that mass schooling is one of the major forces behind a decline in societal
fertility rates. The public schools separate children from their families, and they transfer moral authority from the family to the state. The state then becomes the architect of a child's future. The Caldwell thesis also shows a close correlation in the United States between public schooling and declining fertility. With the baby boom, yes there was a brief surge in the birthrate but that was a product both of good social policy and the unique psychology of those people who came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War. It was a unique phenomenon in American life and was a fascinating era but did not last. After the 1960s, our society resumed its previous course.
During the late 1980s, I worked for a newspaper in Calhoun, Ga., in the heart of the "carpet capital of the world" around Dalton. A boy could go to work for decent wages at the carpet mill at 16 and, if he was reasonably thrifty, by age 19 or 20, he could buy a small plot of rural acreage, get himself a double-wide, marry his sweetheart and start raising children. This common good-old-boy lifestyle annoyed local school officials and various do-gooders to no end, however, so there began a tremendous push to reduce the high-school dropout rate and send more local kids to college. The result? About 15 years later, when I was working in Washington, I picked up the Wall Street Journal and read an article about how the carpet industry was increasingly employing illegal aliens to do the jobs the good old boys used to do. The good old boys? Well, they went off to college -- and a lot of them never came back.
Most of the problems in society today are in one way or another the result of some previous generation's "reform." Go to any high school, and you'll find that at least 25% of the students are only there by compulsion. They're learning nothing. It's mandatory daycare for teenagers or, as Newt Gingrich liked to joke, "subsidized dating." A sane society would allow those kids to start working at 14 -- what, a 14-year-old can't mop floors, wash dishes, do an oil change, or carry lumber at a construction site? -- and everyone would be better off in the long run. But the "reformers" aren't sane, and they've enacted policies that impose their insanity on the rest of us.
Allan Carlson's The Family in America is one of most useful newsletters about marriage, fertility, demographics and social policy you'll ever find. It includes a monthly summary of recent research, as well as essays and articles by Carlson and others. I recommend it highly.
After turning out the youth vote in 2008, [Democrats] may find that 18-25-year-olds will discover their inner libertarians and vote out the Democrats who sold them into indentured servitude against their will.BTW, I'm told that "get in touch with your inner libertarian" is the best pickup line at College Republican events.
In an interview with CNN, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour shrugged off that suggestion.Don't let his downhome demeanor deceive you, folks. Barbour is super-smart -- too smart to badmouth Palin, who is the darling of the GOP base. Is Haley pro-Palin? Who knows? But Haley is definitely pro-Haley, and if Palinmania grows into a tsunami, he's going to be riding that wave.
"That's just somebody running down a rabbit trail. There's plenty of oxygen here,” he said.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
This panic-struck reaction to the debacle of 11/4 is what I sought to forestall in my columns of Nov. 5 and Nov. 12. First, there is the normal tendency of partisans to take political defeat as a personal rejection: "We are unworthy!" Second, there is a tendency of intellectuals to believe that political defeat is the result of one set of ideas defeating another, requiring that the losers must come up with "new ideas." So Rubin looks at the results, exit polls and an Electoral College map that looks very much like the 1996 map and comes to conclusions very similar to those that Brooks and [Christopher] Caldwell drew from Bob Dole's defeat.Please read the whole thing. It has been my belief for some time that the Republican Party learned the wrong lessons from the 1996 election, and that many of the mistakes of the Bush administration resulted from those wrong lessons. Many people have spent the past 10 days shouting from the rooftops that the GOP and conservatism are doomed, and Obama hasn't even been inaugurated yet.
Candidates win or lose elections. Other factors being equal, good candidates win, and bad candidates lose. This is a political truism that ideologues and partisans ignore at their peril. Elections are decided by independent "swing" voters who are neither
ideologues nor partisans. Independents tend to be disconnected from and ill-informed about the political process. The political scientist Samuel Popkin coined the term "low-information rationality" in an effort to explain how such people make political choices, but it is clear that these voters act on general perceptions of candidates and parties -- perceptions that are sometimes at odds with political reality.
A lot of this stuff reminds me of a previous widespread belief among Republicans. After the Union defeat at Ball's Bluff in October 1861, some radical Republicans came to believe that disaster had befallen the boys in blue because certain officers were disloyal, or at least not sufficiently dedicated to the abolitionist cause. This belief led to a series of senseless blunders by the War Department, including the elevation of Gen. John Pope and the court-martial of Gen. Fitzjohn Porter, who was unjustly made the scapegoat for Pope's defeat at Second Manassas. As a matter of fact, one reason that the arguably incompetent Gen. Ambrose Burnside was given command -- only to suffer a bloody defeat at Fredericksburg -- was the knowledge that he was a true-blue abolitionist.
In fact, the Union defeats of 1861-62 had little or nothing to do with whose "heart was with the cause," and had a lot to do with the more important military facts that (a) Union commanders were attempting offensive operations with untrained troops, (b) Confederate cavalry in Virginia was far superior to its opponents at this stage of the war, (c) Union intelligence was extremely faulty, and (d) Abraham Lincoln and his Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, were almost completely ignorant of military science.
While Union forces in Virginia were being whipped at Ball's Bluff and Second Manassas, the two generals who ultimately did the most to organize Union victory -- U.S. Grant and W.T. Sherman -- were out West, obscure and in disrepute. Sherman suffered a nervous breakdown in late 1861, and Grant was accused of having nearly lost the battle of Shiloh because of drunkenness. And neither man was an abolitionist.
This comes to mind as I ponder the cacophonous quarreling among Republicans now. The woes of the GOP are being subjected to every possible "big picture" interpretation: The party is either too dominated by the "far right," or else it's overrun by RINOs. The party must either woo Latinos or else demand the immediate deportation of all Latinos. We must purge the neocons, purge the moderates, purge the libertarians, and/or purge the Religious Right. Et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
Folks, I'm a 49-year-old ex-Democrat who's seen too many elections, too many trends, too many glorious victories and too many inglorious defeats to pay much heed to these voices of panic who are now telling the GOP to move left, move right or do side-straddle hops. The only thing that really worries me is that the voices of panic seem to be dominating the debate, while the voices of calm, reason and determination are being drowned out.
Ignore those intellectuals who seem to be recycling DNC talking points. And ignore those various fanatics who insist that the key to Republican revival is to act immediately on their particular idee fixe. Chill out, stick by the basic conservative message, and wait for the Democrats to fuck up. They will. They always do. And the American people are not so stupid that they'll tolerate complete fuckups for too long, as the Bush family has once again reminded us. Let's hope the GOP has at last learned that particular lesson.
Catherine Vogt, 14, is an Illinois 8th grader, the daughter of a liberal mom and a conservative dad. She wanted to conduct an experiment in political tolerance and diversity of opinion at her school in the liberal suburb of Oak Park.Want to guess the result? One classmate suggested "she be 'burned with her shirt on' for 'being a filthy-rich Republican.' " Irony? Median household income in Oak Park is nearly $60,000 and the median home value is more than $230,000, according to the Census Bureau.
She noticed that fellow students at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama for president. His campaign kept preaching "inclusion," and she decided to see how included she could be.
So just before the election, Catherine consulted with her history teacher, then bravely wore a unique T-shirt to school and recorded the comments of teachers and students in her journal. The T-shirt bore the simple yet quite subversive words drawn with a red marker:
Another excellent argument for home-schooling.
"The Republican Party right now is like a midsize college team trying to play in the Superbowl. . . . It is pretty hard to say our losses were because of John McCain’s campaign. McCain performed way above plausibility compared to where the Republican president was in the polls. We have to look honestly at what went wrong."
Gingrich . . . said his main concern was the rise of what he called the "modern left," which just a few years ago was thought to be moribund in this country but now looks alive and kicking.Gingrich said the fundraising capacity of the left in the last election proved astonishing and far outstripped what Republicans were able to gather. "The modern left has gotten that large," Gingrich said.
I think Newt is conflating separate phenomena. The Left is currently more organized, more energized and more active than the Right, but this is the fruit of eight years of Bushism. The conservative base is still out there, but Democrats have fed on the profound public loathing of Bush -- the worst U.S. president since Nixon -- to leverage an anti-GOP trend.
The average first marriage now involves a 25-year-old bride and a 27-year-old groom. As an old natural-childbirth instructor, I’m intrigued by how patently unnatural that is. God designed our bodies to desire to mate much earlier, and through most of history, cultures have accommodated that desire by enabling people to wed by their late teens or early twenties.Middle-classness effectively requires that marriage be delayed past the prime childbearing years. Demographers will tell you that, worldwide, peak fertility for women is 16 to 24. And during the Baby Boom, this was true for American women. Using the Census Bureau's International Database to find age-specific fertility, we see that in 1960 -- just past the 1957 peak of the Baby Boom -- the numbers (expressed as births per 1,000 women in each age group) looked like this:
U.S. FERTILITY 1960TFR is the average number of lifetime births per woman at the current rate. In 1960, the typical American woman would bear 47% of her children before reaching age 25. Now, compare this to the numbers for 1980 and 2000:
Age 15-19: 89.1
Age 20-24: 258.1
Age 25-29: 197.4
Age 30-34: 112.7
Age 35-39: 56.2
Age 40-44: 15.5
Age 45-49: 0.9
Total fertility rate (TFR): 3.6495
U.S. FERTILITY 1980So, we see that in 20 years after 1960, TFR declined 49.5%. Over the next 20 year, it increased by 11.9% (mainly due to the addition of Hispanic immigrants, who have much higher fertility rates than non-Hispanics).
Age 15-19: 54.1
Age 20-24: 115.1
Age 25-29: 112.9
Age 30-34: 61.9
Age 35-39: 19.8
Age 40-44: 3.9
Age 45-49: 0.2
Total fertility rate (TFR): 1.8395
U.S. FERTILITY 2000
Age 15-19: 57.3
Age 20-24: 112.1
Age 25-29: 112.6
Age 30-34: 85.2
Age 35-39: 35.9
Age 40-44: 7.1
Age 45-49: 0.3
Total fertility rate (TFR): 2.0583
If we compare 1960 and 2000, what really stands out is the dramatic decrease in childbearing by women under 25. Birth rates for those 15-19 declined by 36%, while births for those 20-24 declined by 57%.
There is a common myth that goes something like this: "Well, OK, so we're putting off parenthood a few years. So what? We'll make up for it later." In terms of overall fertility, however, the numbers answer: "Oh, no you won't."
As demographers say, "Fertility delayed is fertility denied," and you see that, comparing 1960 and 2000, fertility declines in every age bracket -- down 24% among women 30-34 and down 36% among women 35-39, for example. Even a woman's chance of giving birth to a "miracle baby" past age 40 was higher in 1960 than it is now, despite all the scientific advances in fertility treatments. And despite the sharp decline in birth rates for those under age 25, births to women ages 15-24 still account for 41% of total fertility.
This is the cruel arithmetic of the culture of death -- otherwise known as middle-classness.
In sixth grade, the school counselor called Michelle to tell her that the other kids were teasing M.J. and that it was only getting worse. "They were concerned because she was being open about who she was. The way she acted, the way she dressed," Michelle explains. That's when she knew that it wasn't a phase, and it wasn't a "problem." This was who M.J. was.
In Loveland, Colorado -- population 61,000, 92 percent white and heavily evangelical Christian -- Michelle didn't know what to expect when she began to work with the school to facilitate her daughter's transition from a boy to a girl. At first, it was difficult. The school "freaked out when I told them," Michelle says. "When we started with M.J.'s transition, I was envisioning riots." And so Michelle became an advocate for transgender people -- those who identify as a gender different from the one assigned at birth. Michelle organized trainings for the faculty and staff and prepared "cheat sheets" in case any of their students asked prying questions.
But on the first day of school, nothing happened. No flood of calls, no angry protests, and no bullying. Michelle was "happy and shocked" that M.J.'s classmates seemed to get it.
Conservative leaders and thinkers such as Newt Gingrich, Jed Babbin, Governor Jindal of Louisiana, Thomas Sowell, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Governor Sarah Palin and others need to turn up the heat and bring this less government, more individual freedom and strong national defense revolution to a boil. It is time.Pssst, Ted: Ever hear of a guy named David Brooks?
My specialty is making Fedzilla punks squirm and turn into a puddle of sweat and drool. Therefore, in the spirit of famous butt kickers Generals Chesty Puller and George Patton, I say we launch an attack on all fronts. Uncle Ted hereby declares it is open season on RINOs. No bag limits or permits required. Conservative ideas, arguments and votes are the weapons we will use. Hunt them down and shine a blazing light on these RINO turncoat cockroaches. Zero in the "we the people" crosshairs of your voting assault weapon and aim for the RINO pumpstation. Double tap center mass. Whack em and stack em, track em and hack em, pack em and give em no slack. Let's do to the RINO beasts what we did to the passenger pigeon.
(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)
Looking back at the debate that arose from America Alone, [Mark] Steyn presents two ideas in his book. The first is that western civilization is collapsing from a plummeting birth rate. The second is that radical Islam has moved in fill the void.(Read the whole thing.) Again, here is the interesting use of "we." As a father of six, I can hardly be implicated in the collapse of the birth rate. Pete is a Canadian Catholic layman and, as he is surely aware, Catholic teaching about the family is widely ignored by nominal Catholics, so that there is today relatively little difference between the Catholic and Protestant birth rates. Catholic teaching forbids divorce, and young Catholics are avoiding divorce . . . by avoiding marriage. They are not, however, avoiding sex, and pre-marital fornication is commonplace.
The ensuing debate has focused on Steyn's second point, to the detriment of the first. Everyone is talking about the danger to western civilization posed by radical Islam. Yet we've forgotten about the danger we pose to ourselves. The plummeting birth rate - and the near extinction of the natural family unit - is by far the greater threat. What's the use of fending off the terrorists of today, when we're allowing ourselves to degenerate into the barbarians of tomorrow. Will there still be a western civilization to defend tomorrow? . . .
Of course, we Protestants have nothing to boast about in this regard. Even among "conservative" evangelicals, pre-marital fornication seems to be winked at nowadays. The fiery young evangelist Joshua Harris has talked about how the "dating" mentality often turns church youth groups into sort of teenage singles meetups, so that you need a scorecard to keep track of who's cheating on whom, who's broken up, etc.
Many factors contribute to this phenomenon, but one especially deserves condemnation: "Christian" parents who discourage their children from marrying. I Timothy 4:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;The appearance of this shameful and sinful -- indeed, one might say, satanic -- prejudice against marriage in "Christian" culture has gone almost unnoticed. There are many Christian parents who, if their daughter came home from college and announced she was a lesbian, would be "understanding." But if their daughter came and announced she was going to drop out of college and get married . . . oh, the horror! The disgrace!
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
Forbidding to marry . . .
Too many Christian parents have succumbed to the prejudice of middle-classness: The belief that the object of life is to be middle class, and that the life that is not middle class is not worth living. Middle-class people have college degrees, they have careers, they work in offices, they raise their children in single-family homes on suburban cul-de-sacs, where everyone over age 16 has his or her own late-model automobile.
This kind of middle-classness is economically incompatible with marrying young and having lots of babies, and so middle-class parents discourage their children from even thinking about marriage before they've graduated college and established careers with 401(k)s and full health benefits, etc. Such is the zealousness with which this attitude is inculcated that, if you talk to college kids today, it is hard to avoid the impression that they believe it is illegal to get married before receiving a bachelor's degree.
I used to participate in a Christian courtship discussion board where there would frequently be questions from kids who would begin by saying, "I'm a sophomore in college and I'm wondering what to do about this problem with a girl I'm interested in . . . ." And my response would often be to say, "Well, why don't you get married?" To which the reply was always, "We aren't ready" or "We can't afford to get married."
We can't afford to get married. Think about that sentence. What does it cost to get married? My wife and I got married at the county courthouse. The blood test and the license were the only costs. But once people are infected with the prejudice of middle-classness, they believe they can't get married unless they have a wedding that would make Princess Di envious.
I've got a 19-year-old daughter, and if she flew off to Vegas next week for a wedding at the Elvis Chapel, I'd be a happy father. If she and Romeo then set up housekeeping in a tiny basement apartment somewhere, struggling to pay the bills while they finished school, OK -- what's wrong with a little hardship? And if she then got pregnant, and Romeo had to quit school and join the Marines -- well, just call me "Grandpa"!
This trend of delaying marriage and childbearing helps undermine the bond between generations. Which grandmother can be more involved with her grandkids, the 45-year-old or the 65-year-old? But if motherhood is delayed until age 32, grannies will more generally be feeble than vigorous.
While I very much encourage ambitions of upward mobility, these ambitions ought not become temptations to sin, which is what happens when middle-class prejudice causes people to imagine that the only life worth living involves that big house on the suburban cul-de-sac with 1.7 children. Must everyone live like that?
Studies show that the average American kid today becomes sexually active at age 17, while the median age at first marriage is now 26. This is what I call the "fornication gap." And if Christians wish to close the gap, abstinence education can't be the only answer. If you're going to tell teenagers to save sex for marriage, don't you think that marriage should at least seem like a possibility? To a 15-year-old, age 26 seems like a million years in the future -- one of those science-fiction years, like when we were kids and watched space shows set in some impossibly far-off date: "Space, 2012!"
Evangelical Christians often talk about "stepping out on faith," but when it comes to their children's lives, many of them want everything planned as a can't-miss secular proposition. The end result is that parents end up being the worst enemies of the marriage culture.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
It's amazing to learn, via SiteMeter, what people search for. I just got a visit from someone in Saudi Arabia who was Googling "samba dancers carnival no panties."
Hey, traffic is traffic . . .
Palin's best bet is to stick it out as governor, pushing hard on the fiscal conservative issues, cutting budgets, hiring freezes, etc. She probably shouldn't run for re-election in 2010, because to seek re-election, she might be required to pledge that she had no White House ambition in 2012. (Bush faced this in 1998 in Texas, and though he seemingly paid no price for breaking the pledge, Palin might not be so lucky.)
Palin doesn't need a Senate seat to command national attention from conservatives. She will get scores and hundreds of speaking invitations from GOP groups. If she did 50 of those in the next year, giving a standard speech emphasizing fiscal conservatism and energy policy, she'd do herself more good than she could by getting herself tied down in every issue that comes through the Senate. Then she can use 2010 to make campaign appearances on behalf of conservative Republican candidates.
Serving out her current term as governor in Alaska, she can spend the next two years picking her shots for disagreement with the Obama administration. She can speak out against "card check" and against tax increases, while continuing to urge the opening of ANWR to drilling. And if Obama actually does something that a conservative could praise, she can flaunt her non-partisanship by praising that specific policy. Once she's out of office in 2011, Palin can start spending time in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, while doing lots of talk radio, raising money, and collecting endorsements.
A seat in the Senate would actually put Palin in a worse position for 2012. There were those who urged Reagan to seek a Senate seat in the '70s, and he wisely decided against it. The "independent conservative outsider" candidate -- that's the ticket, and you can't get that ticket in the U.S. Senate.
"The electorate is malleable because there's a lot of ignorance there."
--- Mary, commenting at AmSpecBlog
Exactly, which is why I argue against overthinking the election. Good example of overthinking: John McCain lost Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, three southwestern states with burgeoning Hispanic populations. The overthinkers will tell you that this was because of conservative opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants, and that therefore Republicans must endorse amnesty to "reach out" to Hispanic voters. Facts and logic, however, are on the other side of the argument:
- John McCain was the leading Republican advocate of amnesty, and there is no evidence that this produced any net electoral advantage for him.
- Ronald Reagan signed the 1986 amnesty, but once the amnestied illegals became citizens and began voting, they went 2-to-1 for Democrats.
- If you look at the exit polls (for example, in Nevada) you find that not only did Hispanics vote 3-to-1 against amnesty-supporter McCain, but that he got only an 8-point majority (53%-45%) among whites.
- McCain almost certainly lost more white votes because he supported amnesty than he gained among Hispanics.
- Because white voters are still a majority of the electorate (e.g., 69% in Nevada), it would make more sense for Republicans to seek increased support among white voters than to try to gain Hispanic votes by pandering on amnesty.
Illegals are not citizens and can't vote. Hispanics who are legal citizens may or may not support amnesty for illegals, but it is likely that Hispanics disproportionately support Democrats for reasons that have nothing to do with immigration enforcement.
Karl Rove will always tell you that Bush, in his elections as governor of Texas, succeeded because of his support among Hispanics. What Rove never explains (and may not even realize) is that:
- Hispanic Republicans in Texas are mostly old-settlement Tex-Mex -- people whose ancestors have lived in the U.S. for generations, in some cases even before Texas statehood. You're talking about "Bubba Rodriguez" and "Heather Lopez" types, OK? They are thoroughly assimilated, middle class, fluent in English and, notwithstanding their Hispanic surnames, are as American as apple pie. To use the Republican votes of these Tex-Mex as an argument for amnesty is absurd.
- Bush won election and re-election in Texas at a time (1994-98) when the tone-deaf liberalism of the Clinton administration was driving millions of white middle- and working-class voters away from the Democratic Party. The real secret of Bush's success in Texas was that he increased the Republican share of the white vote. In his 2004 presidential re-election, for example, Bush got 74% of the white vote in Texas. If McCain had got 74% of the white vote in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, he would would carried those states.
- Whatever the success of Bush in Texas, at a national level, he never got a majority of the Hispanic vote -- getting just 44% in 2004. Keep in mind that many of those Hispanic Republican voters are Puerto Ricans (born with U.S. citizenship) and Cuban-Americans (welcomed as refugees from communism since 1959) who either aren't interested in the amnesty issue or else actually oppose amnesty for the same reasons other Americans oppose amnesty.
The trends in Hispanic voting patterns since the 1986 amnesty show no net political benefit for the Republican Party as a result of that amnesty. Instead, by amnestying about 2 million illegals in 1986, policy-makers signaled a lack of seriousness about border enforcement, which encouraged more illegals to come.
It is clear that our current immigration policy is a failure, which shouldn't be a surprise, because it was authored by Ted Kennedy in 1965. But rather than advocate sound policy, the Republican overthinkers echo liberal demands for amnesty and accuse their conservative opponents of bigotry. To argue that John McCain lost the election because Republicans didn't pander enough to Hispanics -- well, as George Orwell said, "One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool."
. . . The self-interest of intellectuals demands that they portray every election as fraught with existential significance, an honest-to-goodness Hegelian shift in the zeitgeist. Divining the zeitgeist and integrating the latest paradigm shift into our weltanschauung is the stock-in-trade of intellectuals, and if all that elevated cogitation could produce an extra 207,000 Republican votes in Ohio, maybe I would give a damn. But it can't and I don't.Please read the whole thing. It's a mocking attack on David Brooks, but more than that, it's an argument against the entire genre of over-intellectualized analysis which Brooks has made a specialty. To pretend that political trends are so complex -- nuanced! -- that only an intellectual can explain them is a sort of scam that serves mainly to justify the intellectual's function in politics.
The economy sucks, the war in Iraq is costing us about $5 billion a week, the deficit's out of control, and every time you turn on the TV, another giant corporation is either declaring bankruptcy or getting a bailout from the taxpayers. You don't need an
intellectual to tell you why this was a tough year to be a Republican, but that's not going to stop the pointy-heads from explaining What It Really Means. . . .
Liberalism for decades has suffered from the influence of "big picture" thinkers (John Kenneth Galbraith comes to mind) whose business was/is to make the intellectual case for unpopular policies. No matter how often the American people reject higher taxes at the ballot box, you can always find some liberal intellectual to write a newspaper op-ed column arguing for higher taxes, so that Democrats feel comforted in continuing to pursue policies that lead directly to lost elections. If Obama and the Democrats in Congress pass a tax increase, you can be sure that they will do so to a chorus of cheering Washington Post columns. You can also be sure that the tax increase will hurt the economy and cost Democrats votes at the next election. But some politicians would rather be praised in the newspapers than to win elections.
Now we're seeing how this tendency toward intellectualism has infested conservatism. For a decade or more, David Brooks has pushed his "national greatness" idiocy on the GOP, denouncing Republican advocates of limited government, and warning of the baleful influence of "populism." But that pointy-head son of a bitch can't deliver a single vote in Ohio or Florida, and following his advice has brought nothing but disaster to the Republican Party.
Airdrop him on Jalalabad, I say.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Just enjoy your sack dance in the gloat zone, guys, and hope that the assclowns you just put in charge of Washington don't screw up as bad as the assclowns they replaced. As for me, I expect Democrats to screw things up far worse even than the Bush administration did, in fact screwing up so badly that some of today's most fervent acolytes of Hope will question, then abandon, their commitment to "progressivism."
You think it can't happen, but it will.
[New York Times Co.] must deliver $400 million to lenders in May of 2009, six months from now. The company has only $46 million of cash on hand, and its operations will likely begin consuming this meager balance this quarter or next. The company has been shut out of the commercial paper market, but has a $366 million short-term credit line remaining that it entered into several years ago, when the industry was strong.Maybe Murdoch will make an offer.
The reformers tend to believe that American voters will not support a party whose main idea is slashing government. The Reformers propose new policies to address inequality and middle-class economic anxiety. They tend to take global warming seriously. They tend to be intrigued by the way David Cameron has modernized the British Conservative Party.Would it "insult the sensibilities of the educated class" to shove David Brooks out the cargo door of a C-130 flying about 50,000 feet above Jalalabad? Because that's the kind of Change I can believe in . . .
Moreover, the Reformers say, conservatives need to pay attention to the way the country has changed. . . . They cannot continue to insult the sensibilities of the educated class and the entire East and West Coasts.
UPDATE: John Hawkins:
David Brooks . . . can pretty much be counted on to love any idea that loses elections for Republicans.Airdrop his pointy head on the Taliban, I say, and let the healing begin.
If you think she’s going to jettison her position on amnesty now that she’s free of Team Maverick’s clutches, I think you’re kidding yourself.We shall see. I am betting that Governor Palin hasn't spent much time chitchatting with Mark Krikorian about the blunt reality of immigration politics. Let's face it, Anchorage isn't being overrun by Mexicans wading across the Bering Straits. And it is thus easily possible that Palin hasn't really sat down to ponder the net-gain/net-loss electoral calculus that exposes the Tamar Jacoby/Wall Street Journal open-borders stance as political suicide for Republicans.
Sarah Palin could get plenty of Hispanic votes in 2012 without having to engage in amnesty pandering. And if she wants to engage in amnesty pandering, she might as well stay in Wasilla, because there is no shortage of Republicans like Mike Huckabee who'll compete for the open-borders sellout vote in the GOP primaries. Remember that Juan McAmnesty finished the primary campaign with just 47% of the vote. He "lost" the Republican primaries before he lost general election.
Thanks to a state government long run by moonbats, the economy of Michigan is on life support. The vicious cycle of liberal policies suppressing the economy, making more people dependent on the government so that they will elect fools and villains to inflict more liberal policies, has produced a permanent recession that worsens with every passing year.Watching the U.S. economy go up in flames like an abandoned house in Detroit on Devil's Night should be amusing.
So naturally the Obama team has signed up these fools and villains to provide advice on how to impose the same condition on the rest of the country . . .
Bonior is described as "long an ally of organized labor" -- the main cause of the decline of our auto industry, which is taking Detroit and the rest of Michigan down with it. Granholm is a Berkeley-educated Canadian socialist who has responded to economic ruin by raising taxes while the state hands out free iPods.
It all makes perfect sense, if you don't object to our standard of living crashing through the floor. Why wouldn't the most liberal Senator want the country to look like its most liberal city?
My late Aunt Barbara was a high-school biology teacher, frequently honored for her excellence. A couple of years before her retirement, she found herself under pressure to change grades for some of her students who had scored poorly on a big test. The students were among the valedictorian candidates at LaGrange (Ga.) High and the poor test grades in an advanced honors course threatened to affect the final selection of valedictorians. (Like many other schools, LaGrange now recognizes multiple valedictorians, reflecting the "prizes for all" trend.)
Aunt Barbara refused to budge on the grades, but as she explained the pressure parents applied to the system (this incident was just one example), it reinforced my perception of what a sea change had occurred in public schools since my own youth. Bright students are nowadays herded into "gifted" programs in elementary school and into the AP/honors track in high school. The 4.0 all-A average that used to be the acme of academic excellence is no longer sufficient for the aspiring young meritocrats. Honors classes award extra credit so that a 5.0 is now possible.
Since making all A's and a high SAT score no longer suffice to guarantee admission to the top colleges and universities -- plenty of ultra-smart grinds have tasted the Bitter Thin Envelope of Rejection from Harvard or Yale, to which their hopeful parents had insisted they must apply -- these young grinds also cram their teenage lives full of extra-curricular activities designed to highlight their "leadership" or illustrate that they possess that "something extra" which will make their application stand out amid the pile of applications from the brainiac herd.
By the time a kid gains admission to a top school, then, he hasn't had an unscheduled moment since eighth grade, and nearly all of his overscheduled adolescence has been spent in the company of his brainiac peers. And, with rare exceptions, these peers are all offspring of affluent, ambitious, college-educated parents like his own, so that for all the rhetorical emphasis on "diversity," there is a stultifying sameness to the millieu in which these teenage strivers are reared.
Even if there were more diversity in their backgrounds, however, the brainiac's actual teenage experience has become homogenized. Think of Anthony Michael Hall's character in The Breakfast Club. Now clone him several times over, and you will have a useful portrait of the AP/honors classroom at the typical large "comprehensive" high school in the leafy upper-middle-class suburban cul-de-sac enclaves where most of these nerds are raised. (Except that, two decades after The Breakfast Club, more of the nerds are Asian.)
Peers and perceptions
While it continues to be my firm belief that David Brooks ought to be dumped from a C-130 onto a Taliban position east of Jalalabad, Brooks is nevertheless a keen-eyed sociological observer. In 2002, he wrote an interesting article in the Weekly Standard about the "almost crystalline meritocracy" that produces the students who inhabit our nation's elite campuses:
They grew up from birth being shepherded from one skill-enhancing activity to another. When you read their résumés, you learn that they got straight A's in high school and stratospheric board scores. They've usually started a few companies, cured at least three formerly fatal diseases, mastered a half dozen or so languages, and marched for breast cancer awareness through Tibet while tutoring the locals on conflict resolution skills and environmental awareness.Brooks can be forgiven the hyperbole, for he exaggerates only slightly. One important influence of this pressure-cooker process -- the factor that relates most directly to the defects of our conservative intellectual class today -- is that it isolates the young meritocrat within a peer group of his fellow nerds. Since ninth grade (if not before), the National Merit Scholar finalist has associated with and measured himself against other brainiac nerds like himself. These are the only true peers he has, against whom he competes for academic honors, and with whom he can recall shared experiences.
Think how narrow is the path to high achievement that results in a 17-year-old receiving the Sweet Thick Envelope of Acceptance from his first-choice college. That path may seem wider in a posh suburban school district where the AP/honors track is crowded with the sons and daugthers of hyperachievers, but that is a cruel illusion.
There might be 35 kids at Sodded Lawn High who could succeed at Harvard, but it's unlikely that more than two or three of them will actually gain admission there. There will be dozens of those super-bright grinds who are cursed to attend those schools whose campuses are populated almost entirely by Ivy League rejects -- Tulane, Swarthmore, Duke, Haverford, Wesleyan, Emory, Colgate -- students whose failure will stand as burning reminders to future waves of ambitious nerds how easy it is to fall short even by the second-rate standards of Penn, Brown and Cornell.
Because this elite path is so narrow, because any minor slipup might mean the kind of admissions-process embarrassment that compels a kid with a 1,440 SAT to accept a scholarship offer from State University, those in the "almost crystalline meritocracy" seldom have any non-meritocratic friends. They don't spend their weekends helping a buddy install a custom cam in his third-hand Ford, nor will you find them working a part-time job at Old Navy. They've never worked the summer toting boards on a construction crew or gotten wasted at a farm party or engaged in any other activity that would have put them into the familiar company of those slackers and losers and hell-raisers who constitute the non-elite extracurricular club known as Future Republican Voters of America.
I arrived in Washington from North Georgia 11 years ago seeking an answer to a question I'd heard over and over from conservatives down home: "What the hell is wrong with those Republicans in Washington? We elect 'em and send 'em up there and then it's like they forget why they're there and who put 'em there."
A big part of the answer to that question involves this socio-cultural gap that the "crystalline meritocracy" creates between conservative intellectuals and the typical Republican voter. The editors and writers at major conservative publications, the wonks at the think tanks, the analysts and "senior fellows" and other functionaries of the rightward infrastructure in Washington -- these people are drawn from the ranks of top university graduates who are the end product of that meritocracy. They reflect, in greater or lesser degree, the distinctive prejudices of their class, and these prejudices tend to alienate them from the Republican rank-and-file.
Just one illustrative anecdote: About a year ago, a bright young operative in Washington (who is certainly not a snobby elitist Ivy League type) told me in all seriousness that virtually all college-educated women under 30 are pro-choice. Now, I don't doubt that hard-core, single-issue pro-lifers are a minority in the college-educated female 18-29 demo, but I do doubt that hard-core, single-issue pro-choicers are a majority in that demo.
The available exit-poll data don't allow such a detailed demographic analysis, but if 44% of 18-29 white voters punched the button for McCain-Palin, I think it safe to say that some signficant plurality of college-educated young women are pro-life. And I further believe that, ceteris parabus, the pro-life position is not a sufficient deal-breaker for enough college-educated under-3o women that the Republican Party dooms itself to defeat by being pro-life. In other words, there are a lot of "soft" pro-choice women who are either somewhat persuadable to a pro-life stance, or else aren't strongly interested in the politics of abortion, caring more about economic issues, etc.
Having not been isolated within the intellectual class, however, I know that the absolute solid bedrock of the 21st-century GOP coalition are the pro-life activists. Those are the folks who put butts in the voting booth -- they deliver on Election Day. The Republican Party can easily afford to lose 100% of the Harvard vote, but if the GOP loses the pro-lifers, you can kiss it good-bye, people. That isn't to say the pro-lifers should be endlessly pandered to, but you can't piss 'em off, either.
As with abortion, so on down the line on various other issues. To have a political movement that is active, energetic and confident enough to secure that magical 50-percent-plus-one of majority power, conservatives have to hunt where the ducks are and dance with the ones that brung 'em. The hard-core "base" alone may constitute only 30% of the electorate, but without the enthusiastic support of the base, you cannot then reach out successfully to the undecided, independent "swing" voters. And you can't get the enthusiastic support of the base when the most prominent spokesmen for the movement are taking to the pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post to urinate on the party's grassroots, or to engage in cowardly hand-wringing about the Hispanic vote. (Question: Why is pandering to Hispanics acceptable, while pandering to blue-collar evangelicals is not?)
Real trouble vs. imaginary crisis
Economic issues and the Bush administration's blunder-plagued foreign policy are the sine qua non of the Republican Party's electoral woes in 2006 and '08. "Brand damage" and "Bush fatigue" are undeniable realities. The GOP lacks popular conservative leaders with strong crossover appeal to independents.
Yet what do we hear from so many of our Beltway conservative intellectuals? They conjure up a complex existential crisis of conservative ideology, and make important-sounding noises along the lines of, "The party of Ronald Reagan today stands at a crossroads ..."
From these pompous beginnings, they proceed to cherry-pick the vote totals and exit polls, make ostentatious allusions to Russell Kirk or Barry Goldwater, throw in a bit of anecdotal example, all preparatory to pointing fingers at the usual suspects: Those damned Republican voters! Those ignorant xenophobic hicks in Flyover Country who foolishly insist that the conservative movement ought to try to actually conserve something! How dare those backwoods holy-rollers attempt to influence the party of David Brooks, Christopher Buckley, Francis Fukuyama and George Freaking Will!
Is it really so? Are the problems of the GOP really the fault of Republican voters, rather than the fault of the intellectuals? Go scan their output from 2001-04 and try to see if you can find where any of these eminent pundits warned of the political and policy errors by which the Bush administration rendered the Republican Party label increasingly toxic to independent voters. When you find that David Brooks column from 2003 warning about the baleful effects of the Community Reinvestment Act and the dangers of pumping liquidity into an already overheated housing market where traditional standards of creditworthiness had been abandoned, please let me know.
Damn. Once again, I've gone off on a mad tangent and haven't fully explicated what I meant to tackle. I need to cool off a bit and try again. I want to talk about how summer internships have replaced summer jobs, and how the meritocratic conservative elites tend to flock to Washington at age 22 or 23, and how this exempts them from the kind of exposure to non-elite folkways that would inspire confidence in the common sense of common people. I realize that it may be unpopular for a conservative to defend the common sense of the electorate immediately after Barack Obama was elected with a 53% majority, but let's face it: Voting against John McCain is a very easy thing to do -- 53% of Republican primary voters voted against him, too.
To be continued . . .
A behind-the-scenes battle to take the reins of the Republican National Committee is taking off between former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.I was among those who felt that Steele should have gotten the RNC job after the 2006 election, when instead the Bush White House insisted on Florida Sen. Mel Martinez.
Neither man will acknowledge his interest in the post, but Republicans close to each are burning up the phone lines and firing off e-mails to fellow party members in an effort to oust RNC Chairman Mike Duncan in the wake of the second consecutive drubbing of Republican candidates at the polls.
(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)
And if that wasn't what Obama was talking about, well, what was he talking about? Maybe somebody in the press corps should have asked him about that during the campaign. But I guess it's hard to ask questions while performing fellatio.