Archive for the 'Red Shift' Category

Snapshots of America

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Via the NYT and CBS. Remarkable, unprecedented.

The interior boomtowns

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Michael Barone again discusses the demographic shift away from the Coastal Megalopolises (“Americans moving out and immigrants moving in, in very large numbers, with low overall population growth.”) that voted 61% for John Kerry in 2004, and towards other areas:

the Interior Boomtowns (none touches the Atlantic or Pacific coasts). Their population has grown 18% in six years. They’ve had considerable immigrant inflow, 4%, but with the exceptions of Dallas and Houston, this immigrant inflow has been dwarfed by a much larger domestic inflow–three million to 1.5 million overall.

Domestic inflow has been a whopping 19% in Las Vegas, 15% in the Inland Empire (California’s Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, where much of the outflow from Los Angeles has gone), 13% in Orlando and Charlotte, 12% in Phoenix, 10% in Tampa, 9% in Jacksonville. Domestic inflow was over 200,000 in the Inland Empire, Phoenix, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Orlando. These are economic dynamos that are driving much of America’s growth. There’s much less economic polarization here than in the Coastal Megalopolises, and a higher percentage of traditional families: Natural increase (the excess of births over deaths) in the Interior Boomtowns is 6%, well above the 4% in the Coastal Megalopolises.

The nation’s center of gravity is shifting: Dallas is now larger than San Francisco, Houston is now larger than Detroit, Atlanta is now larger than Boston, Charlotte is now larger than Milwaukee. State capitals that were just medium-sized cities dominated by government employees in the 1950s–Sacramento, Austin, Raleigh, Nashville, Richmond–are now booming centers of high-tech and other growing private-sector businesses. San Antonio has more domestic than immigrant inflow even though the border is only three hours’ drive away. The Interior Boomtowns generated 38% of the nation’s population growth in 2000-06. This is another political world from the Coastal Megalopolises: the Interior Boomtowns voted 56% for George W. Bush in 2004. Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Nevada–states dominated by Interior Boomtowns–are projected to pick up 10 House seats in the 2010 Census.

Barone again draws the conclusion that, on balance, these shifts favor the GOP, though the picture is complicated. This is a theme we have touched on from time to time, and the subject of our favorite political map, showing the intense (and, in our opinion, unhealthy) concentration of Democratic Party donors in the media centers of the United States and a few other places.

Political implications of migration within the US

Monday, January 1st, 2007

The biggest losers in population continue to be high-tax, high cost-of-living states like Ca. and NY. Meanwhile, here is the list of the top five states which have gained population:Texas (218,745), Fla. (165,757), Ariz. (129,987), Ga. (120,953), N.C. (104,133). What are the political implications? Michael Barone:

Mickey Kaus in an early morning post notes that one blogger predicts the Republicans will pick up 10 House seats and 10 electoral votes after the 2010 census…Mickey is right to suggest that not all the new districts will go Republican. Currently, Republicans seem solidly in control of the redistricting process, with the governorships and both houses of the legislatures in Texas, Florida, and Georgia. That could conceivably change by 2010. But the biggest population gains in those states are (with the exception of Austin’s Travis County) in heavily Republican areas.

Even so, the current districting plans in those states are so heavily tilted toward Republicans that even with Republicans in control, Democrats could wind up with a new seat or two in each (as they did in Arizona, where Republicans controlled the process in 2001-02 but could not do better than replacing a 5-1 Republican plan with a 6-2 Republican plan). Additional seats in Nevada and Utah would probably be Republican, but not reliably so in Nevada. An additional seat in North Carolina could go Democratic; Democrats controlled the districting process there in 2001-02 and are in a reasonably good position to do so again in 2011-12. Bottom line: The reapportionment after the 2010 census will be good news for Republicans, but not quite as good as Influence Peddler suggests.

We’ll just wait and see.

Not enthusiastic, but voting just the same

Sunday, October 15th, 2006

You have all read Fred Barnes by now:

Republicans and conservatives, brace yourselves! Strategists and consultants of both parties now believe the House is lost and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi will become speaker. At best, Republicans will cling to control of the Senate by a single seat, two at most. For many election cycles, Republicans have been the boys of October, using paid media and superior campaign skills to make up lost ground and win in November. This year, they were the boys of September, rallying strongly until that fateful day, September 29, when the Mark Foley scandal erupted. October has been a disaster…

In every election from 1994 through 2004, Republicans were more enthusiastic than Democrats. That was a decade of Republican growth. This year Democrats are more excited. And it’s measurable. In 2002, 42% of Republicans said they were more enthusiastic than usual about the election. 38% of Democrats said the same. In 2006, the numbers have flipped. Republican enthusiasm has dipped to 39% and Democratic enthusiasm has jumped to 48%. Enthusiasm affects turnout. Gloomy voters are less inclined to vote.

We note the debate between Bruce Kesler and Captain Ed on the dire predictions for next month’s election. The Powerline guys are gloomy, and Paul even casts the impending triumph of Mordor as a bit of historical inevitability. On and on it goes. Only the irrepressible Hugh Hewitt remains entirely upbeat — if they bottled his hormones, Prozac and Zoloft would go out of business.

As for us, we care what happens, of course, but we question whether there has been any fundamental shift in the electorate since 2004, when John Kerry won by 6.5 million votes in the 100 largest, mostly declining counties, but lost by 10 million votes everywhere else. We question whether the exurbs — where George Bush won 97 of the 100 fastest growing counties — have suddenly turned blue.

We’re not enthusiastic, but we sure are going to vote, early and often. The election depends entirely on who actually turns out, and we shall see about that. No amount of MSM spin or blogosphere gloom could ever keep us from voting. If there is one thing that disturbs us about Fred Barnes’ conclusion that enthusiasm carries the day, it is this: the fate of the nation’s two great legislative bodies paradoxically depends on the least engaged, least motivated among us. Now that is pretty disturbing.

56% of Democrats think Israel’s actions unjustified or too harsh

Saturday, August 5th, 2006

56% of Democrats and 59% of liberals believe that Israel’s actions in this current conflict have been unjustified or were excessively harsh. Michael Barone wrote about this. Here are the numbers in a poll by the LA Times:

unjustified.gif

As Barone said, “These numbers would have been astonishing 50 years ago and surprising 20 years ago….Left-wing anti-Israel sentiment is not confined to a few odd corners of the academic world; it has become a mass constituency in the Democratic Party.”

We also recall Bill Kristol’s statement: “the Democratic party doesn’t really want to fight jihadism. It’s just too difficult.” Unfortunately, Mr. Kristol, it appears to be worse than that. Those Americans who are pro-Israel and pro-the-fight-against-jihadism may increasingly find, like Joe Lieberman, that they do not have a natural home in the Democratic Party.

The strange polls of summer, and the question of turnout

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006

From Mystery Pollster, via the Corner, on the results of the NPR swing voter survey. The survey says that there is less support for the GOP than in the two prior election cycles in certain competitive Congressional districts, and that this provides an opportunity for Democrats. The chart is hard to read, but contains a lot of data, so we include it:

npr_districts.jpg

The results are said to bode ill “for the party in power.” We’ll check back periodically and see if they seem to say the same thing as the election draws closer. For now, we note this: everything in the election of 2006 depends upon turnout, and therefore, no one knows anything whatsoever at this point. Mystery Pollster said:

[K]eep in mind that the turnout in these districts in 2004 was considerably greater (roughly 14 million) than in 2002 (roughly 9 million). This year’s turnout will likely be much closer to 2002 than 2004.

He may well be correct, but no one really knows at this point, do they? 9 million? 14 million? What number is correct? Republicans won 58% of the 9 million votes, and 55% of the 14 million votes in the swing districts. Now the hope for Democrats is that raw figures from those districts show less support for Republicans. But it all comes down to which party can turn out its voters, and here is where you see some loss of Democrat bravado regarding 2006.

The WaPo says that “[t]op Democrats are increasingly concerned that they lack an effective plan to turn out voters this fall.” (HT: Powerline) One big problem from Democrats this year is that their highly vaunted 2004 GOTV program was funded to the tune of $100 million by George Soros, and that money is missing in this election cycle. The Democrats’ GOTV effort in Ohio was one of their hoped-for secrets to victory in 2004, as we have previously discussed in praising that effort. It wasn’t that Democrats fell short in 2004; it was just that the Republicans did better.

Turnout is key to the election of 2006, and nobody knows how that will play out. The GOP has drooped in the polls, but the Democratic Party may come up short in GOTV efforts. Time will tell the tale. Our belief, for what’s it worth, is that the malaise with the Republican Party is kind of a low-intensity affair (except for the wingnut brigades), and that issues like Iraq are not likely to especially motivate mainstream Democratic voters in the general election. But we know nothing more than you do.

The Wal-Mart factor

Monday, June 26th, 2006

Ryan Sager:

85 percent of frequent Wal-Mart shoppers voted for President Bush’s reelection in 2004 (and 88 percent of people who never shop there voted for Sen. John Kerry)

He makes much in the piece of the fact that now these voters are far less favorable to President Bush, but that seems far less important to us than the dramatic statistics of actual reported voting patterns.

GOP “Voter Vault” is spying on your toothpaste

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

How those wascally wepublicans have been winning since 1994, courtesy of Peter Wallsten and Tom Hamburger, who reveal the secret of Voter Vault:

Some of the GOP advantages are recent developments, such as the database called Voter Vault, which was used to precision in the San Diego County special election. The program allows ground-level party activists to track voters by personal hobbies, professional interests, geography — even by their favorite brands of toothpaste

Republicans have moved well ahead of Democrats nationally in their ability to find previously unaffiliated voters or even wavering Democrats and to target them with specially tailored messages. Voter Vault, although it is a closely guarded GOP trade secret, is nevertheless easily accessible to on-the-ground campaign workers and operatives should they need to mobilize votes in a hurry.

One suburban African American woman in Ohio, for example, told us that though she tends to vote Democratic, she was deluged in 2004 with calls, e-mail messages and other forms of communication by Republicans who somehow knew that she was a mother with children in private schools, an active church attendee, an abortion opponent and a golfer.

But what about her toothpaste? We must find out about her toothpaste. The secret must be in the toothpaste.

Static versus dynamic scoring on illegal immigration

Monday, June 19th, 2006

We’ve read many statements like this one of George Will over the last months:

Republicans very much want to pass an immigration bill as proof their party can govern. For that reason, there is no reason to expect Senate Democrats to compromise by passing something like the House bill. Nothing very different from it has any chance of being accepted by the House. So, safely assuming that the House-Senate conference fails to produce a compromise acceptable to both houses, when Congress returns to Washington after the Labor Day recess, the House may again pass essentially what it passed in December, just to enable Republicans to campaign on the basis of a clear and recent stance against exactly what Santorum’s ad stands against.

The cost of this, paid in the coin of lost support among Latinos, the nation’s largest and fastest-growing minority, may be reckoned later, for years. Remember this: Out West, feelings of all sorts about immigration policy are particularly intense, and if John Kerry had won a total of 127,014 more votes in New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado, states with burgeoning Latino populations, he would have carried those states and won the election. But for now, the minds of Republican candidates are concentrated on a shorter time horizon — the next 4 1/2 months.

Will’s logic may be correct. Illegal immigration might be a one-way-street issue. If you take the Krauthammer position (border control now, other issues humanely adjudicated next year), maybe the GOP loses Latino votes and Democrats win over the long term. But is it really that simple?

We’ve argued the point of view previously that the illegal immigration issue should be scored dynamically, not statically. There are perhaps significant numbers of votes to be gained from Democrats by taking a “border control first” position. Maybe that is an incorrect assumption; maybe it is not. But why do we never hear this argument mentioned by pundits who frame the issue as short-term GOP gain versus long-term GOP loss?

UPDATE

A pretty distinguished group says, “Trust, but verify” first.

The President should never have lied to conservatives

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

The immigration debate has been a critical moment in President Bush’s loss of the conservative base, but the reason is greater than the issue itself. We agree with Richard Viguerie up to a point:

Sixty-five months into Bush’s presidency, conservatives feel betrayed. After the “Bridge to Nowhere” transportation bill, the Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination and the Dubai Ports World deal, the immigration crisis was the tipping point for us. Indeed, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found last week that Republican disapproval of Bush’s presidency had increased from 16 percent to 30 percent in one month. It is largely the defection of conservatives that is driving the president’s poll numbers to new lows….

For all of conservatives’ patience, we’ve been rewarded with the botched Hurricane Katrina response, headed by an unqualified director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which proved that the government isn’t ready for the next disaster. We’ve been rewarded with an amnesty plan for illegal immigrants. We’ve been rewarded with a war in Iraq that drags on because of the failure to provide adequate resources at the beginning, and with exactly the sort of “nation-building” that Candidate Bush said he opposed.

But the dissatisfaction of conservatives goes well beyond particular policy prescriptions. Jed Babbin said it well:

Whatever Clinton said – and he said a lot, almost none of it making any sense or speaking any truth – we reflexively tore into him and his feckless policies. The Clinton era taught us that the faster and more accurate the reaction, the greater the chance of turning the political momentum in our direction. We trained our noses to detect the faintest odor of baloney and reduced our reaction time to the tenths of a second it takes to hit the speed dial on our cell phones.

George W. Bush was never a small government conservative, but we were willing to put up with the bad because it was outweighed by the good he was doing against terrorists. Our habit of cutting Mr. Bush a lot of slack was eroding under the burdens of hundreds of billions in pork and the lack of productive congressional action. It ended abruptly with his announcement of the Harriett Miers nomination to the Supreme Court. It took us less time to figure out why Miers was awful than it did the bloggers to determine that Dan Rather’s Texas Air National Guard documents were forgeries. By the time we were reading the White House’s advance excerpts of the Monday night speech -less than an hour before it was delivered – we’d already concluded that it was another Miers Moment. The reflexive conservative opposition to Clinton is now resurrecting itself and turning against President Bush.

Much of what the president said Monday made good sense. We need to control the border and – given the fact we’ve made too little progress in the past five years – it won’t be done over night. And we can’t throw ten or twelve million people out of our country, so we need to make sure that those who stay become Americans in the traditional sense, or are given some non-citizen status that serves our mutual purposes. If Mr. Bush had said that this year we’ll control our borders and next year deal with guest worker and citizenship issues, he’d have conservatives rallying around him. But he didn’t.

This is exactly correct. Bush’s five-point plan began (via Lou Dobbs): “First, the United States must secure its borders.” Then he proceeded to not do it — indeed he did precisely the opposite. Instead of taking effective steps to secure the border, he served up some warmed over mush about a few National Guardsmen and a bit of fencing. His insincerity was bold, incandescent, and sad.

Trust was the coin of the realm for Bush with the conservative base. They were willing to put up with a lot because they had faith in him as a person, often attributing his mistakes to bad advice or grand strategy or knowledge (particularly on war matters) that was confidential. Lose trust and those excuses get blown away like leaves in a fall storm. He has lost it.

Now the question is whether the GOP senators and congressmen themselves will get blown away like those leaves in the fall.

UPDATE

This immigration issue is of great consequence, and demands honest debate above all other considerations. Mark Helprin in the WaPo:”To what extent is economic advantage sufficient to justify the consequences of the evolving common-law marriage with the countries and cultures of Latin America?…it is a great question, to which the answer must be given by the whole people.” Mark Steyn in the Sun-Times: “In Europe, the political class sowed the seeds of massive social upheaval for the most short-sighted of reasons. If America’s political class wants to do the same, it could at least have the integrity to discuss the issue in honest terms.” That the President dissembled in such an important matter is a mistake of the first order.

UPDATE II

Kate O’Beirne:

A large number of House Republicans could support a well-regulated guest worker program, with a more secure border and a workable workplace enforcement program, but they have no confidence the president’s recent commitment to serious enforcement measures matches their own.

The list of the people who simply do not believe the President get longer and more serious when it includes “a large number of House Republicans.” Don’t blame us, folks, for merely noticing what is going on.

UPDATE III

We’ll take an opportunity to be ecumenical in our criticisms, though we perhaps too pick too easy a target when we name Harry Reid. His characteriztion of English as the national language being “racist” takes it place in his long line of intellectually and morally challenged statements, from Bush being a “loser” to the inability of Clarence Thomas to write and reason. Roger Simon covers the points we’d make very well. What an icky fellow Reid must be.

Bluest of blue areas experiencing a massive loss of population

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

The bluest areas of blue states are showing massive losses of population, if the following chart from this Census Bureau report is to be believed. The numbers are mind-boggling. New York State has experienced an out-migration of 2.7 million people since 1990; California has experienced an out-migration of 2.6 million people since 1990. The New York metro area, as defined by the Census Bureau, is losing more than 200,000 people per year, LA 120,000 (down from 180,000!) and Chicago over 60,000 per year. The magnitude of these numbers is staggering to us.

out.gif

Here’s what the experts are saying, via AP:

“It’s a case of middle class flight, a flight for housing affordability,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. “But it’s not just white middle class flight, it’s Hispanics and blacks, too.”…

Richard Florida, a professor of public policy at George Mason University, said smaller, wealthier households are replacing larger families in many big metropolitan areas. That drives up housing prices even as the population shrinks, chasing away even more members of the middle class. “Because they are bidding up prices, they are forcing some people out to the exurbs and the fringe,” Florida said. “Other people are forced to make moves in response to that. I don’t have any sense of this abating.”

We have previously cited Mr. Frey’s work which showed that the Sun Belt states are moving from a 4 vote edge in the electoral college in 1972 to a projected 146 vote edge by 2030. This latest report, and the comments by Professor Florida, seem to suggest that it is the younger, larger families that are leaving the big cities in droves, which is certainly consistent with George Bush’s winning 97 of the 100 fastest growing counties in the nation in 2004. Do these migration trends mean that the bluest areas will get even bluer, and the red areas redder?

UPDATE

Jayson at Polipundit supplied the following interesting information:

Here are the current partisan breakdowns of the latter three states’ respective U.S. House delegations:

California: Dems, 33-19.
New York: Dems, 19-10.
Illinois: Dems, 10-9.

On the other hand, here are the U.S. House delegations for the states to which people with jobs or job prospects and families have been moving in droves:

Florida: GOP, 18-7.
Arizona: GOP, 6-2.
Nevada: GOP, 2-1.

These data tend to confirm that red getting redder and blue getting bluer hypothesis, at least at first glance.

On President’s Day, Jimmy Carter leads the way on Hamas

Monday, February 20th, 2006

Jimmy Carter has an op-ed in the WaPo advocating giving money to Hamas — for the children, or some such nonsense — and giving elected Hamas officials less-than-normal security checks as crossings. As it has been since 1979 at least, the correct thing to do with Carter’s advice is to understand it completely (he is a smart man) and then do precisely the opposite. It is fitting that we discuss him on President’s Day, since may have been the single worst president in American history — certainly in the top three. We have discussed horrific 1979 here, and Carter/Hamas here.

As for aid to Hamas, once they renounce, get rid of, and remove from children’s textbooks, this map, then maybe it would be appropriate to discuss aid (the pathetic gymnastics of EU diplomats notwithstanding).

How not to count to 51

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

Julian Bond, via WND:

“The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side”

We don’t care much one way or the other about Julian Bond, who has previously compared the GOP to the Taliban. But we wonder about the political calculation of his remarks. The GOP has come to control the House, the Senate, the Presidency, and the majority of governorships since 1994, meaning that a majority of Americans vote Republican. Bond’s comments may please his audience, but what is the point of insulting the majority of Americans? In what possible way can this be smart politics?

A down-home campaign speech for a third term

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

One trouble with polls is what you bring to them when you read them. We can understand why the Democrats and the MSM salivated about Bush’s low numbers late last year. But they make a big mistake in reading those numbers, and it is a mistake that is natural enough. They have a lot invested in the hope that a majority of the country can be persuaded to see Bush the same way that they do. So when they see the numbers decline, they naturally think that their opinion of the man is spreading.

These critics often cite low figures on the Iraq war and the “right direction / wrong direction” question to buttress their views. In doing so, their become willful participants in their own self-delusion. Regarding the Iraq War, the critics fail to note that a substantial number of those dissatisfied with the War want America to use its full military might to lay waste the enemy and come home. According to a Rasmussen poll, 82% of Republicans and 52% of Democrats have wanted the US to use the same or greater force in fighting in Iraq. The critics should be even more careful in drawing any conclusions from the question about the country’s diection. As we reported in November 2004, the last CBS / NY Times poll prior to that election showed a full 55% of Americans who believed the country was on the wrong track, and they elected Bush at the very same moment.

This is a further problem with the polls. These popularity polls misrepresent reality in that there is not a contest of alternatives. Maybe the country is weary of George Bush, but weary enough to prefer Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Howard Dean or a MoveOn anti-war Democrat? We ask the question because Bush appears to be in campaign mode, if this speech at Kansas State is any indication. Bush’s position about the NSA reflects the majority and common sense view of the issue in America, but more than that, his plain speaking highlights the strange ways his opponents talk about the issue.

Let me talk about one other program — and then I promise to answer questions — something that you’ve been reading about in the news lately. It’s what I would call a terrorist surveillance program. After the enemy attacked us, and after I realized that we were not protected by oceans, I asked people that work for you — work for me, how best can we use information to protect the American people? You might remember there was hijackers here that had made calls outside the country to somebody else, prior to the September the 11th attacks. And I said, is there anything more we can do within the law, within the Constitution, to protect the American people. And they came back with a program, designed a program that I want to describe to you. And I want people here to clearly understand why I made the decision I made.

First, I made the decision to do the following things because there’s an enemy that still wants to harm the American people. What I’m talking about is the intercept of certain communications emanating between somebody inside the United States and outside the United States; and one of the numbers would be reasonably suspected to be an al Qaeda link or affiliate. In other words, we have ways to determine whether or not someone can be an al Qaeda affiliate or al Qaeda. And if they’re making a phone call in the United States, it seems like to me we want to know why.

This is a — I repeat to you, even though you hear words, “domestic spying,” these are not phone calls within the United States. It’s a phone call of an al Qaeda, known al Qaeda suspect, making a phone call into the United States. I’m mindful of your civil liberties, and so I had all kinds of lawyers review the process. We briefed members of the United States Congress, one of whom was Senator Pat Roberts, about this program. You know, it’s amazing, when people say to me, well, he was just breaking the law — if I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress? (Laughter and applause.)

Federal courts have consistently ruled that a President has authority under the Constitution to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance against our enemies. Predecessors of mine have used that same constitutional authority. Recently there was a Supreme Court case called the Hamdi case. It ruled the authorization for the use of military force passed by the Congress in 2001 — in other words, Congress passed this piece of legislation. And the Court ruled, the Supreme Court ruled that it gave the President additional authority to use what it called “the fundamental incidents of waging war” against al Qaeda.

I’m not a lawyer, but I can tell you what it means. It means Congress gave me the authority to use necessary force to protect the American people, but it didn’t prescribe the tactics. It’s an — you’ve got the power to protect us, but we’re not going to tell you how. And one of the ways to protect the American people is to understand the intentions of the enemy. I told you it’s a different kind of war with a different kind of enemy. If they’re making phone calls into the United States, we need to know why…

We do, in fact, understand the George Bush isn’t running in 2008, and that speeches such as the one at Kansas State are, among other things, part of the continuing Bush/Rove strategy to nationalize midterm elections (Rove’s speech here). However, potential Republican candidates in 2008 would do well to remember that running away from core Bush positions is not necessarily a good strategy.

UPDATE

John McIntyre of RCP has some related thoughts. We’ll add one more point. It seems to us incredibly stupid for Democratic lawmakers to complain about the President doing “illegal” things with the NSA when the majority of people would choose to change the law (and the complaining lawmakers?) rather than the President’s actions.

Leftward Ho! — huh?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

Dick Morris takes a view almost the exact opposite of ours below. He thinks the country is moving left, in spite of clear and convincing evidence of the opposite over the last decade. Maybe he is right, though we get the feeling with Morris that sometimes his analysis lately seems to be about increasing his value as provocative pundit for TV, books and the lecture circuit.

We think, for example, that Morris’s riff about Americans’ being isolationist — based on ten year old polling data in a pre-9/11 world — is more provocative than correct. We have written that the more correct explanation of the Iraq polling data is that a good chunk of Americans would just as soon see us lay waste the country to destroy the enemy and provide a clear warning to the rest of the world, then come home. You can call that a kind of isolationism if you like.

Midterm elections are often and usually about local candidates and local issues, and fatigue with the status quo. 1994 and 2002 were notable exceptions where national issues were paramount. We don’t know what will be the case in 2006, because none of the real-world events of 2006 have happened yet. However, we continue to believe that a main feature of 2006 and 2008 will be the War of the New Media and MSM, now that the battle has been fully and openly joined by both sides.

The New Media has seen its power increase mightily over the last decade, but part of that is because the MSM have not taken the New Media particularly seriously. This has now changed. The MSM still write the elevator music for American society, and it has been a non-stop funeral dirge (see Thomas Lifson) for the last two years, on everything from the war to the economy to, well, everything. We do not think the Gang of 500 underestimate the New Media today in the same way that they did back in 1994, to their surprise and dismay back then. The MSM view everything in America as bad as long as Democrats are not in power, and provide a 24/7 bombardment of this propaganda as the background music of our daily lives; we are going to find out to what extent this relentless negativity can still influence the votes of the American people.

Oppositionism — one hallmark of a minority party

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

First, let’s state for the record that we may be simply practicing Mickey Kaus’s first law of journalism: generalize wildly from personal experience. We feel there is something in the air. We have read and heard and watched on TV the MSM, Democrat-Left playbook for years, and we have spent the last three years writing about it — and we’re tired, so very tired, of it. The tedious business with Alito is only the latest example. So we are extrapolating that fatigue and projecting it onto all of you.

But don’t you feel it too — the exhaustion, the now mindless oppositionism? Dots unconnected; that’s a breach. Connect the dots and you’re impeached. There was Enron and al Qa Qaa, Cindy Sheehan and Joe Wilson, MoveOn warnings and global warming, NSA and CIA, phone call scanning and no war planning, museums flattened and oil profits fattened, Club Ghraib and Abu Gitmo, Roe v. Wade versus Roadside Bomb, planted military questions and Jordan’s targeting suggestions, 2000 of us and 100K of them, black churches burning and old people starving, Gore votes stolen and Ohio machines hidden, Swift Boats lying and Rather memos trying, anti-Hispanic and minorities must panic, no end to torture and no beginning to cloture, Katrina marauders and dike-blowing orders, Abramoff and DeLay ripoff, Murtha and Pelosi and Dean and Defeat, Durbin and Shumer and Ted and Retreat, MTV and WMD, vote or die and lie, lie, lie. There were Ashcroft and Bolton, Cheney molten, Rummy verboten. Today it’s Alito, the civil rights bandito. Tomorrow it’ll be something else.

Not only was everything the work of the stupidest, evilest genius ever, but every act of his — every thought, word, and deed — was worse than the last, was the end of the Republic, and would hunt down and kill every woman and minority, even worse than they were killed by the last evil plot of Chimpy. And when it didn’t happen, the wash-rinse-spin cycle was repeated for the next event or decision.

Here’s the crux of the matter: the relentless and mindless attack strategy serves to obscure real weak points of the GOP in the cloud of constant criticism, and it has prevented the Democrats from responding to the real “crime” of the GOP. The Republican crime is this, and it is specifically a crime of Karl Rove and George Bush: they have been plotting and executing the extermination of the Democratic Party. The GOP strategy has been clear and on display: keep the base, including the religious and the tax-cutters, fully committed; try to forge a broad majority on defense issues; attempt to use wedge issues to good effect, like the 2002 Iraq vote or remaking the judiciary in line with the large conservative plurality in the country; steal or inoculate against Democrat issues like Social Security, Medicare and Education; and collect just enough votes from minorities and the elderly to render impotent the New Deal / Great Society coalition. The Bush strategy is not some stealth deal to rip off the polity for temporary gain; it is rather the first majoritarian strategy that the GOP has had since McKinley.

The best Democrat strategy would be to appear: strong on defense, pro-religion, pro-growth, and always be for the little guy, each a 60% issue, not the 40% issues they have chosen. (Many issues could be framed costlessly in easy symbols: it would cost Democrats almost nothing to be pro-creche and pro-Commandments; Bill Clinton understood the uses of symbolism, to the dismay of Ricky Ray Rector.) But, tragically, that appears no longer possible for the Democratic Party, which is now the party of the intelligentsia and the super-rich. When your only winning educational demographics are high school dropouts and PhD’s, that should tell you something. When you have become the Party in which 5 people give $78 million and can thereby define a major portion of your message and media strategy, you risk being all spokes and no hub. The spokes have come to define the Democrat Party, not by a positive program, but by opposition to Republican policies, whether in defense, taxes, military affairs, religion, abortion, etc.

Oppositionism has come to define the Democratic Party. Whatever Republicans and Bush are for, they are against. And the saddest truth for Democrats, no matter what elections they manage to win, is this: oppositionism is one hallmark of a minority party.

UPDATE

No matter how low you sink, you can still go lower in the modern Left. Here’s a university professor proving it, be comparing Tookie Williams to Martin Luther King. (HT: Powerline)

UPDATE II

One open and important question is how powerful the MSM remain today in red-trending America. The New Media have been on the rise for well over a decade now, and have helped fuel the shift to the GOP. What are the limits to their market penetration, particularly now, since the MSM have shed their veneer of neutrality in favor of a more overt partisan stance on behalf of the Democratic Party? We just don’t know yet, though this is one of the serious issues in play for 2006 and 2008. Thomas Lifson at The American Thinker has some interesting reflections on matters related to these questions.

If young, urban, single, non-churchgoing Democrats who are broke were the electorate, the Republicans would be in trouble

Saturday, January 7th, 2006

Bulldogpundit has a hilarious deconstruction of an AP/Ipsos poll. It’s just so very much fun. However, our serious point is this: such misleading polls do the Democrats not one bit of good. They feed false hopes — sweet, sweet hope, the stuff of life — instead of delivering the far less pleasant but much more useful message of how they must change to win elections. (Perhaps such polls scare Republican senators — that at least would be a utilitarian explantion for this nonsense.) We have discussed how a rational Democrat strategy has to first contend with the fact that conservatives vastly outnumber liberals, a much more rational approach to winning than ginning up phony polls. Barry Casselman in RCP has a somewhat related story today. (HT: The Anchoress)

“The Right Nation” and the New Media

Wednesday, January 4th, 2006

We liked The Right Nation quite a lot, and why not? It is entertaining and readable, chock-full of facts, clever quotes and useful historical analogies, and pays us the honor of confirming our prejudices. Who can argue with that? To see what we think in general, read George Will and John Derbyshire together; both of them liked the book as well.

We do not want to write a review, but make only a couple of observations. First, the 400 page book devotes less than a dozen pages to the issues and election of 1994 (discussed here by us), in which power shifted dramatically, with 52 Democrat incumbents losing, and 73 Republican freshmen winning seats in the House of Representatives. We believe that understanding the New Media is important to understanding that election, and in this the book fails entirely. (Jacksonians and Walter Russell Mead do not make it into the book as well, but we don’t want to go off in that direction.)

Instead, let’s refer to the analysis of that election provided back then by Mother Jones(!):

[T]alk to the 73 Republican freshmen. They attribute their stunning victory to Rush Limbaugh, citing polls that show people who listen to talk radio 10 hours or more per week voted Republican 3-to-1.

Limbaugh is the national precinct captain for the Republican Party. And he works the precinct hard, five days a week, three hours a day. Like an electronic ward boss, Limbaugh explains the issues, offers the conservative GOP spin, rallies the faithful, and turns out the voters. It is a virtuoso performance, his harangue leavened by bursts of rock ‘n’ roll, bad-boy jokes, and moments of self-deprecating humor. It was no mistake that the Republican freshmen anointed Rush the “majority-maker” and inducted him as an honorary member of the 104th Congress at their orientation last December.

Another guy who started out in radio, Ronald Reagan, recognized Limbaugh’s importance back in 1992, when he declared Rush “the number one voice for conservatism in our country.” But the Democrats have been in denial. Before the Republican landslide last November, Democratic strategists shrugged off Limbaugh’s clout. “People who listen to the radio in the morning are normal people,” declared Clinton political adviser Paul Begala. “People who listen to Limbaugh in the afternoon are has-been, shut-in malcontents. I don’t pay much attention to right-wing, foam-at-the-mouth radio because they just talk to each other. It’s 20 million people telling each other how they hate Hillary.” It’s also 20 million voters, energized and mobilized by Mr. Limbaugh, as a chastened Begala discovered….. When it comes to defining their enemy, Democrats are stuck in a time warp.

For all their discussion of the grassroots nature of American conservatism, the authors of The Right Nation, Micklethwait and Wooldridge, also seem to be stuck in a time warp of sorts. They give no coverage to the vastly important 1987 repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, and give no mention whatsoever to talk radio other than a few mentions of Limbaugh. They commit the classic mistake of defining “dittohead” incorrectly (p. 112), and lump “Rush Limbaugh and the blondes at Fox News” together (p. 215). As for the blogosphere, it doesn’t exist. Andrew Sullivan gets a mention, but the Instapundit suffers the indignity of having his named misspelled (p. 164). It appears evident that the authors never bothered to listen to talk radio or use the blogosphere — hardly a good approach to getting a comprehensive understanding of the Right Nation. The final indignity is getting Scott Ott’s Axis of Weasels wrong (p. 216).

Perhaps we are being picky in expecting gentlemen who spend time discussing “the illusion of prelapsarian innocence” (p. 389) to venture into the lower precincts of the New Media. On the other hand, doing so may just have made Micklethwait and Wooldridge more than excellent observers of the American conservative scene — perhaps they would have become converts.

Unasked questions for the Democrat leadership from the MSM

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

If Zarqawi is calling or emailing people in the United States from Iraq, should the US be surveilling these people ASAP, with or without FISA authorization or notification? Should the NSA intercept program be scuttled? Should the US cease using geiger counters in any locations in the US to detect rogue nuclear material?

We await the responses to these unasked questions, and the comments of the Democratic leadership on just what they would do. Or are these matters just like Iraq — ones where there is no unified Democratic Party position. In the words of Nancy Pelosi, “There is no one Democratic voice . . . and there is no one Democratic position.” These geiger counters are outrageous! This listening to Zarqawi’s phone calls is outrageous! What would we Democrats do? Um, er, Bush lied!, and he controls all the branches of government; it’s not up to us to have a plan. (HT: Powerline)

UPDATE

On second thought, the Democratic Party does have a unified official position, as we have previously said: Nag, nag, nag.

UPDATE II

A letter to the NY Post from a reader, via Hugh Hewitt:

I offer a proposal: The U.S. military will withdraw from Iraq, the Patriot Act will not be renewed and the United States will stop monitoring phone calls by potential terrorists. In return, if there is another terrorist attack on the United States, the Democratic Party will disband and contribute all of its assets to the families of victims, all Democratic senators and congressmen will resign and The New York Times will contribute $1 trillion to the fund for the families. Fair deal?

Richard Slawsky, Milford, Conn.

UPDATE III

Mickey Kaus: I wouldn’t be all that upset if the Feds ran every damn phone call through the Echelon-style NSA computers. Do you have a problem with that?

Hardly the times that try men’s souls; but patience is another matter

Friday, December 9th, 2005

We read Norman Podhoretz’s fine essay on Iraq this morning (HT: Powerline) and note with approval its contention that the current Iraq! panic in the halls of government is a sign of how well things are going, not how poorly:

To put it in the simplest and starkest terms: in that early stage of the Revolutionary War, there was sound reason to fear that the British would succeed in routing Washington’s forces. In Iraq today, however, and in the Middle East as a whole, a successful outcome is staring us in the face. Clearly, then, the panic over Iraq—which expresses itself in increasingly frenzied calls for the withdrawal of our forces—cannot have been caused by the prospect of defeat. On the contrary, my twofold guess is that the real fear behind it is not that we are losing but that we are winning, and that what has catalyzed this fear into a genuine panic is the realization that the chances of pulling off the proverbial feat of snatching an American defeat from the jaws of victory are rapidly running out.

Whether Podhoretz is correct or not remains to be seen, though we suspect he is correct. His essay performed an additional service for us, because he quoted the famous and stirring words of Thomas Paine. In all our years on this earth, we have never once bothered to read anything by this fellow (shame on us), who seems to have lived his life like a fly-in-the-ointment, pebble-in-the-shoe kind of guy. Sometimes having a perspective like that is useful to seeing things clearly, and he seemed particularly acute to us discussing the panic that he saw in America a mere five months after the Declaration of Independence:

[P]anics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. In fact, they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world. Many a disguised Tory has lately shown his head…

“Their duration is always short.” That might be an interesting thing to test. And wouldn’t you know it, a test case has presented itself: the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate. Here’s what John Kerry said in December 2003, via Rick Richman:

I fear that in the run-up to the 2004 election, the administration is considering what is tantamount to a cut-and-run strategy. Their sudden embrace of accelerated Iraqification and American troop withdrawal dates, without adequate stability, is an invitation to failure. The hard work of rebuilding Iraq must not be dictated by the schedule of the next American election. I have called for the administration to transfer sovereignty, and they must transfer it to the Iraqi people as quickly as circumstances permit. But it would be a disaster and a disgraceful betrayal of principle to speed up the process simply to lay the groundwork for a politically expedient withdrawal of American troops.

Here is an AP account of what the man said yesterday at the CFR:

The United States needs to reduce its forces in Iraq by “at least 100,000″ by the end of 2006, sending a message to the Middle East that Americans are not interested in maintaining a permanent military presence in that country, Sen. John Kerry said Thursday. In a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations, the former Democratic presidential contender said the goal should be to have a force of 30,000 to 40,000 in Iraq by the end of next year….Thursday’s comments appear to be the first in which he has set a specific target for the end of 2006. “I believe you could get at least 100,000 out over that period of time,” he said during a question and answer session following his speech.

So if Paine is correct that the duration of panics is always short, we should see a reversal of Kerry’s position in the next year. On second thought, Kerry is a bad test case, since he might well change his position as early as today. Indeed, we will watch whether he walks away from that 100,000 figure he mentioned yesterday; we note that that number never appears in the written text of his speech.

UPDATE

The problem with Kerry is that we’ll never know what the reason for a flip-flop might be. Howard Dean is much the better test case. December 5 had the idea of victory “just plain wrong.” By yesterday that had morphed to the (hopefully) stonger-sounding “strategic redeployment.” Within a few days, we expect some focus-grouped new phrase that sounds even stronger, so that imperiled Democrats in close House races are comforted.

Dean’s reason for panic is genuine enough, at least. The Democratic Party is riven, with its anti-war and fund-raising heart in irreconcilable conflict with the needs of its House members from red-leaning districts. As Dean himself admitted: “The press wants to focus on the differences. The differences are pretty small, perhaps Senator Lieberman excepted.” But they are the differences that dare not speak their name.

To remind you of the seriousness of this problem in the Democratic Party, we return to a post we wrote in April. As Michael Barone noted, there are many House Democrats from strong Bush districts, while only a few Republicans from strong Kerry districts (this new GOP ad seems to underscore this point):

As for the House, we now know which presidential candidate carried each of the 435 congressional districts…..Bush carried 255 districts and John Kerry only 180. In all, 41 Democrats represent Bush districts and 18 Republicans represent Kerry districts. Eliminating the districts where the House member’s presidential candidate won 47 percent or more, we find only five Republicans in strong Kerry districts but 30 Democrats in strong Bush districts.

Which panic do you prefer? Dean’s panic over losing his job by not pandering to the big money, anti-war base? Or the panic of House Democrats from conservative red districts? No need to choose: you can have both.

UPDATE II

As predicted, Dean’s handlers and the focus groups at DNC central have patched the old boy up. Now the line is that we can win the war on terror, but Bush has screwed up Iraq. Yeah, that’ll work. That’ll fool the rubes! Yeah, great thinking! (via AP)

“We can and we must win the war on terror,” Dean told attendees at the Florida Democratic Party convention. “A smarter, more honest strategy that respects our troops and our military leaders is possible. And I believe our course is far more likely to defeat terror than the Bush administration’s failed policy in Iraq.”

Dean called for bringing home all 50,000 National Guard troops stationed in Iraq within six months, redeploying 20,000 troops from Iraq to Afghanistan and assigning several thousand anti-terror troops in countries around Iraq.

“Strategic redeployment addresses a broader battle against global terrorist networks. We need to re-engage our allies and a military realignment of our troops will make our forces stronger and save American lives,” Dean said.

Expect further nuances and adjustments from the “reality based” Dean and DNC.