Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Democrats: A Superior Claim to Rule

"Nietzsche--a man with a superiority complex if ever there was one--believed that all of Christianity was founded on a reverse superiority claim . . . exalting the poor and pitiable in order to destroy aristocratic civilization, ultimately replacing it with modern democracy and the equality of all mankind."

--Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, The Triple Package (p. 182)

When I quoted the above passage earlier, something bothered me. How does one talk of superiority and equality in the same breath? And the answer bothers me even more: our intellectual elite has no problem linking equality and superiority. These elite preach equality--as in Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité--every day, the equality of results sought by leaders who seek power by using government to move toward equality as a distant goal, the "end of the rainbow" goal that's their communist-like nirvana (“to each, according to his needs”).  The end--never reached--justifies the means, eternal power.

The Leninist state--an autocratic elite ruling on behalf of the people--was modeled on Plato’s Republic, which also provided the structure of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy. So it’s not really surprising that liberal commentator Brent Budowsky, writing in the Hill, tells us:
Pope Francis [is] a voice for our generation and all generations who teaches, as all great faiths teach, that those who have the most should extend their hands to those who have the least and that those who have power should serve those who do not.
Pope Francis
Like the Church, like good Leninists, Budowsky believes in his heart that superior people should have the power to bring good to the less fortunate. And he’s delighted to find the head of the supposedly highly-illiberal Catholic Church thinking as a liberal Democrat.  Don't believe me?  Note that Budowsky goes on to say:
I would suggest the following: There is a Ready for Hillary movement, a Ready for Elizabeth [Warren] movement and, more profoundly, a Ready for Pope Francis movement that is American and global.
Linking Hillary, and Elizabeth--Democrats--to the Pope, a bond of superior people acting on behalf of the less fortunate.  It’s Budowsky's dream 2015 Democratic Party.

Wherever the Pope truly belongs, in America it's Democrats who control the intellectual high ground.  Here’s conservative Jonah Goldberg, in the National Review, explaining why when conservatives make mistakes it’s horrible, but not when similar mistakes come from liberals:
If you work from the dogmatic assumption that liberalism is morally infallible and that liberals are, by definition, pitted against sinister and — more importantly — powerful forces, then it’s easy to explain away what seem like double standards. Any lapse, error, or transgression by conservatives is evidence of their real nature, while similar lapses, errors, and transgressions by liberals are trivial when balanced against the fact that their hearts are in the right place.
Despite controlling the commanding heights of the culture — journalism, Hollywood, the arts, academia, and vast swaths of the corporate America they denounce — liberals have convinced themselves they are pitted against deeply entrenched powerful forces and that being a liberal is somehow brave.
And if you thought Democrats may in fact have to be brave, since they lost the midterm elections less than two months ago, you could be wrong. The president doesn’t seem to think he lost.

Conservative Byron York, in the Washington Examiner, reveals how the president plans to keep his grip on the nation’s agenda:
In his [just released] NPR interview, the president looked back on his unilateral actions of the past year and promised more. "I said at the beginning of this year that 2014 would be a breakthrough year," Obama said. "And it was. . .”
the standard for overriding a presidential veto — a two-thirds vote in House and Senate — could become the only limit Obama observes in the next couple of years. For example, Obama takes executive action X. Republican lawmakers, along with some moderate Democrats, oppose X. They pass a bill repealing X with a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Obama vetoes the bill, preserving his executive action. At that point, opponents would have to muster 67 votes to override the veto. That's a very, very tough hill to climb. As long as Obama can get 34 Democrats to support him in the Senate, his executive action will stand.
Another way of putting it is that Obama will be able to do anything at least 34 Senate Democrats will let him get away with.
In my view, Obama’s approach could be dangerous for his party. Once you set out to please the 34 most liberal Democrats, you can cost your party the next election. It happened before, in 1998-2000.

When Republicans used the 1998 Monica Lewinsky Scandal to threaten Bill Clinton with impeachment unless he resigned, Clinton instead fell back on the Constitution's requirement that in order to remove a president from office, 67 senators would have to convict him. Clinton understood he had only to keep the support of the 34 most liberal Democratic senators. So his politics played for the most liberal 34.

In the 2000 election, America was at peace, was prosperous, and the government was performing so well it recorded a surplus. The circumstances almost dictated that Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore, would be the next president. It didn’t happen because Clinton kept his scandal before voters for three whole years, which did cost Gore moderate votes. Clinton, instead of resigning in favor of Gore, relied on the support of his most liberal 34 senators to hang onto office.

I see the Democrats making a similar mistake under Obama. Conservative Robert Tracinski, writing in the “Federalist,” also believes Democrats are blinded to the dangers that lie ahead for them:
I don’t think the Democratic Party is really going to die quite yet[, for it] still enjoys so many reserves of support in the universities, in the media, and in the entertainment industry. It’s also because political parties have a tendency to eventually adapt and change the way they present themselves to voters (as Bill Clinton briefly did for Democrats in [1992-97]).
As for those reserves of support in big institutions, I suspect that the left has achieved such a high degree of saturation, particularly in Hollywood and the universities, that they have reached the point of diminishing returns. Any reversion to the mean—the current situation is by no means normal by historical standards—and the left risks losing these commanding heights of the culture.
It’s a lot harder to tack back to the center when all of your politicians represent urban, coastal districts with far-left constituents. Inside this far-left bubble, your rising political stars are rewarded for taking positions that antagonize the rest of the country while pandering to the sensibilities of the far left. . . by doubling down on contempt for the South and for traditional American values, Democrats accelerate the exodus of their old blue-collar base in the cities.
In any case, we know the left is still powerful in America today, and willing to use power to preserve its high standing.  As former liberal Walter Russell Mead reminds us in the American Interest:
liberals are struggling to come to grips with . . . the enormous gap between the dominant ideas and discourse in the liberal worlds of journalism, the foundations, and the academy on the one hand, and the wider realities of American life on the other. Within the magic circle, liberal ideas have never been more firmly entrenched and less contested. Increasingly, liberals live in a world in which certain ideas are becoming ever more axiomatic and unquestioned even if, outside the walls, those same ideas often seem outlandish.
Modern American liberalism does its best to suppress dissent and critique at the institutions and milieus that it controls. Dissent is not only misguided; it is morally wrong. Bad thoughts create bad actions, and so the heretics must be silenced or expelled. “Hurtful” speech is not allowed, and so the eccentricities of conventional liberal piety pile up into ever more improbable, ever more unsustainable forms.
To openly support “torture”, for example, is close to unthinkable in the academy or in the world of serious journalism. . . [But while t]he left silenced and banished critics; it didn’t convert or refute them.
Outside the “magic circle,” America looks more like the country that elected unprecedented numbers of Republicans in November.

“Unbroken” defies critics’ usual rejection of faith-based movies.

Jack O'Connell as "Louie" Zamperini
Hollywood doesn’t like faith-based movies, punishing them with low ratings. Christianity’s values aren’t Hollywood’s, and Christians in Hollywood’s eyes are anti-gay, anti-minority, anti-Jewish, anti-feminist bigots.

So the box office success of "Unbroken,” made from the runaway best-selling book of the same name, emerges as somewhat of a surprise, even though the Angelina Jolie-directed film itself doesn’t mention Christ.

From “HITFIX”:
Based on the epic true story of Louis Zamperini, [“Unbroken”] pulled in $15.5 million on Christmas. . . a tremendous start.  "Unbroken" features no recognizable actors and had largely mixed to negative reviews.  It earned just a 59 on Metacritic and a "rotten" 49% on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences didn't seem to care as they gave it an A- Cinemascore.  It also appears faith based audiences took to the picture.  After his experiences in WWII, Zamperini became an inspirational speaker after attending a Billy Graham crusade. This part of his life isn't discussed in "Unbroken," but there are numerous references to God granting him strength on his journey which may [have] helped Universal's faith-based marketing efforts. If the film continues to perform close to this level through the holidays it could make back its reported $65 million budget by New Year's Day. That sort of success could make a shaky Oscar nomination for best picture a much more realistic endeavor. [emphasis added]
“Unbroken’s” gross reached $46 million by December 28, so it does seem likely to make back its $65 million budget soon. 
Voight and Fonda with Oscars

Another problem with “Unbroken” from Hollywood’s perspective: it’s patriotic, a positive story about an American military hero, a throwback to a much earlier era, long before the anti-war “Coming Home” (1978), starring Jane Fonda and Angelina Jolie’s dad, Jon Voight.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Meaningless Poll for 2016 GOP Nomination

According to the latest CNN poll, Christie is #2, but Rubio trails in 6th place, in single digits at 5%. Still, throw out Carson, Huckabee, and Ryan, and Rubio’s alone at #4 behind Bush, Christie, and Paul (with Paul ahead of Rubio by just 1%). Several others follow at 4%.

Bush, Christie, Rubio, and Jindal boosted their numbers from November; the rest didn’t.

Bush                              23
Christie                         13
Carson                            7
Paul                                6
Huckabee                       6
Ryan                               5
Rubio                             5

Meaningful Statistics

From Robert Samuelson, who comments on the economy at the Washington Post:

-- In 2013, more than 40% of American births were to unmarried mothers for the sixth consecutive year. (In 1997, the share was 32%.)

-- First-year enrollment in law schools has dropped 30% in four years, falling from 52,488 to 37,924;  the lowest level since 1973.

-- On average, children run a mile 90 seconds slower than their counterparts 30 years ago.

-- The median amount of student borrowing to pay for college -- adjusted for inflation -- has doubled in the past two decades to about $27,000.

-- The suicide rate for Americans 45 to 64 rose 40 percent from 1999 to 2011, making this group more suicide-prone than the young or old.

-- U.S. health spending remained at 17.4% of the economy (GDP) for five years, from 2009 to 2013. (Since 1960, there's been one comparable period. From 1993 to 2000, spending stabilized at 13.4% of GDP.)

Comment: The real impact of Obamacare is just now beginning to be felt--we can't tell much from looking at 2013.   Still, the fact that health spending was holding steady is a positive development.  All the other listed stats encourage negative conclusions, except we probably should welcome less lawyers entering the workforce.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Another Day, Another Wall St. Record

The Dow industrials hit a new record high of 18,054 today as the S&P 500 notched up its 52nd record close of the year--an average of one a week.  Today's S&P 500 finished at 2,089, while the NASDAQ reached 4,807--only 193 below 5,000 and near its crazy bubble high of 5,047, hit in 2000. The three indexes total 24,950, their new combined all-time high.

The New Fox Index captures movement into stock market “outer space” first achieved in May 2013, the escape velocity attained by soaring past old-time market theoretical limits of a Dow of 15,000, an S&P 500 of 1,600, and a NASDAQ of 3,500, for a total of 20,100. We keep pushing further into deep space, now touching +4,850 (see inset).

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Faith and Work

Amy Chua (Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother) and author-husband Jed Rubenfeld in their book The Triple Package wrote this, to me, significant passage:
Nietzsche--a man with a superiority complex if ever there was one--believed that all of Christianity was founded on a reverse superiority claim . . . exalting the poor and pitiable in order to destroy aristocratic civilization, ultimately replacing it with modern democracy and the equality of all mankind. (p. 182)
If Nietzsche was right, Christianity--especially Protestantism in the 16th through 19th centuries--helped separate the aristocracy from their subjects, aiding the bourgeoise and launching democratic revolutions. Faith in various forms underpins a value system of hard work, discipline, and postponement of gratification that any healthy democracy would seem to want.

In life, New York Timesman David Brooks writes, we experience “out of body” moments of such sheer beauty they help us realize we are but one small piece of something far grander; moments that draw us toward faith, love, a positive natural order. These moments are extremely important.

Yet Brooks emphasizes that
the main business of faith [is] living attentively every day. The faithful are trying to live in ways their creator loves. They are trying to turn moments of spontaneous consciousness into an ethos of strict conscience. They are using effervescent sensations of holiness to inspire concrete habits, moral practices and practical ways of living well.
Brooks quotes Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik to argue that living faith is an arduous task:
The pangs of searching and groping, the tortures of spiritual crises and exhausting treks of the soul purify and sanctify man, cleanse his thoughts, and purge them of the husks of superficiality and the dross of vulgarity. Out of these torments there emerges a new understanding of the world, a powerful spiritual enthusiasm that shakes the very foundations of man’s existence.
The discipline associated with faith is certainly a part of life for many who successfully reach the top, whether they believe in some god or an environmental consciousness that demands lifestyle rigor.

And faith or lack of it, as conservatives such as Charles Murray argue, helps explain the current gap between professional and lower class households. Another conservative, New York Timesman Ross Douthat, in fact tells us that
We may have a culture in which the working class is encouraged to imitate what are sold as key upper-class values — sexual permissiveness and self-fashioning, spirituality and emotivism — when really the upper class is also held together by a kind of secret traditionalism, without whose binding power family life ends up coming apart even faster.
The split between the values our national elite seems to advocate--a permissive “do what feels good”--and the hard work elite parents ask of their children is mirrored in the contrasting sell-buy perspectives that underpin free enterprise. Entrepreneurs rely on the most base forms of marketing to meet popular desires for instant gratification, but the “sell” side of those transactions calls for planning and hard work.

The same goes for the dichotomy between serious politicians on one hand, and the crude messaging to which they expect voters will respond on the other.  It's as if the elite truly believe “A sucker is born every minute.”

American democracy would be better off if we instead shared the upper class’s actual high valuation of work, discipline, and postponement of gratification--characteristics faith once underpinned.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Beautiful Stock-market Christmas Rally, Murkier Reality Below

The Dow industrials closed above 18,000 for the first time ever and the S&P 500 notched up its 51st record close of the year.  Today's surge to record highs comes after the government's strong report on GDP, up in the 3rd Quarter to an annualized 5% rate.   The result: a Dow at 18,024, an S&P 500 at 2,082, along with a NASDAQ (down 16) still at 4,765--only 235 below 5,000, near its insane high reached during the bubble of 2000. The three indexes total 24,871, and only because of today’s NASDAQ drop, are still 10 points below the combined all-time high for the three of 2,881.

The New Fox Index captures movement into stock market “outer space” first reached in May 2013, the escape velocity attained by soaring past old-time market theoretical limits of a Dow of 15,000, an S&P 500 of 1,600, and a NASDAQ of 3,500, for a total of 20,100. We are now shooting farther into deep space, way out at +4,771 (see inset).

According to “MarketWatch’s” David Weidner,
it’s been a good year. . .the S&P 500 Index has risen 12%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average could finish up close to 8% for the same period, and the Nasdaq should end the year with roughly a 14% return. Considering the past two years of gains, 2014’s run is even more remarkable. In the past five years, the S&P 500 is up 87%, the Dow, 73%, the Nasdaq, 115%.
Weidner, however, reminds us that
median household net worth [is] $81,200, a level that’s actually fallen 2% since 2010. This year household debt has risen between 2.3% and 3.4% each quarter, the most since 2007. . . The current average debt load for the U.S. household is $203,067, including credit cards (up 2.2% in the past 12 months), mortgages and student loans[, pointing] to a stagnation for most Americans. . . [T]he labor-participation rate remains 62.8%, the lowest since 1978. And among the working-age population, it’s just 59.2%. Wages, meanwhile, have risen 2.1% during the past 12 months, but that's just slightly above the 1.7% inflation rate during the same period.
Weren’t the “Roaring ‘20s” about an economy marked by technological progress, rampant inequality, a bubble stock market, and some basic economic weakness at home (then in agriculture, today in manufacturing), against a backdrop of unfixed trade issues and rising unrest abroad?

“Everyone's Looking Up, but Should Be Looking Down”

Friday, December 19, 2014

Who will be president in 2016?

Democrats will nominate a woman, either Hillary or Elizabeth Warren. Republicans are supposed to nominate Jeb Bush. But after losing with establishment candidates McCain and Romney--both favorites to win the nomination in advance of 2008 and 2012--the party will reject conventional wisdom in 2016 in favor of a possible winner.

I suspect Marco Rubio will sense Bush’s weakness and run, even though it may cost Rubio his senate seat, which is also up in 2016 (he must file by May 6, after most presidential primaries are over). Rand Paul will be the conservative threat, ahead of Ted Cruz. Paul Ryan won’t run. So Rubio and Rand Paul will be the Washington candidates, with both handicapped by coming from Washington.

I think that Chris Christie and Scott Walker will be the leading governor candidates. I can’t measure any Rick Perry recovery from the Texas governor’s disastrous 2012 campaign.

Christie, 52, benefits from being charismatic, a Catholic, and potentially our first ethnic president (he’s 1/2 Italian). Christie’s problem is New Jersey’s not doing so well--6.4% unemployment against a national rate of 5.8%, 4.9% for Texas (Perry) and 5.2% for Wisconsin (Walker). Job growth since 2010--New Jersey, 4.6%; U.S., 6.3%; Wisconsin, 6.8%; Texas, 17.3%.

On the other hand, New Jersey is the third richest state with a median household income of $67,500 as against Wisconsin’s $50,400 and Texas’ $49,400. If Christie can make progress in New Jersey in 2015, he could win the nomination in 2016. Democrats have identified Christie as a leading threat, and constant media attacks on Christie help him with the GOP base.

Walker, 47, is the son of a Baptist preacher. Being an evangelical Protestant limits his appeal beyond the GOP base. Of course, the unions hate Walker and his union-busting Wisconsin record. That wins big points with Republicans and will fuel his drive for the nomination.

How much is Walker handicapped by his being a college drop-out? He left Marquette University in May 1990, 34 units short of graduation. At the time, he had a full-time job with the American Red Cross, Greater Milwaukee Chapter. He then ran for a Milwaukee State Assembly seat in 1990 and lost, then won a State Assembly (suburban Wauwatosa) special election in 1993, age 25. I think Walker gets past his drop-out record if he doesn’t let it bother him (which it has in the past). He moved on to politics the way college dropouts Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg moved on to computer triumphs.

Watch Christie and Rubio. We’ve been watching them for years.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stocks Skyrocket, Most Left Behind, Especially Men

The Dow is up 709 points in two days to 17,778, its biggest two-day jump in over 6 years. The S&P 500--at 2,061--is near its record high, after leaping over 2% for two days in a row, something that last happened in 2002. A NASDAQ of 4,748 is close to the 5,000 level last seen in 2000. It all adds up to a total of 24,587, approaching the 2014 combined highs for the three indexes of 24,881.

The New Fox Index captures movement into stock market “outer space” first reached in May 2013, the escape velocity attained by soaring past old-time market theoretical limits of a Dow of 15,000, an S&P 500 of 1,600, and a NASDAQ of 3,500, for a total of 20,100. We are in deep space now, at +4,487 (see inset).

Of course, as the Washington Post’s Jim Tankersley has written,
the stock market is soaring, the unemployment rate is finally retreating after the Great Recession and the economy added 321,000 jobs last month. But all that growth has done nothing to boost pay for the typical American worker. Average wages haven’t risen over the last year, after adjusting for inflation. Real household median income is still lower than it was when the recession ended. Make no mistake: The American middle class is in trouble. . . over the past 25 years, the economy has grown 83%, after adjusting for inflation — and the typical family’s income hasn’t budged.
With the election over, the mainstream media is beginning to look hard at what’s going wrong with today’s American economy. In the New York Times, Binyamin Appelbaum has provided his paper’s detailed examination of the 10 million unemployed American men aged 25 to 54. Appelbaum finds:
  •  it has become harder for men to find higher-paying jobs. Foreign competition and technological advances have eliminated many of the jobs in which high school graduates . . . once could earn $40 an hour, or more. . .85% of prime-age men without jobs do not have bachelor’s degrees. And 34% said they had criminal records, making it hard to find any work. 
  • there are only 4.8 million job openings for men and women of all ages.
  • Almost half of those who did not seek work in the last year said they wanted to work. [Yet m]any men. . . have decided that low-wage work will not improve their lives, in part because [of] the availability of federal disability benefits; the decline of marriage, which means fewer men provide for children; and the rise of the Internet, which has reduced the isolation of unemployment. 
  • For most unemployed men, life without work is not easy. . . 30% had used food stamps, while 33% said they had taken food from a nonprofit or religious group. They are unhappy to be out of work and eager to find new jobs. They are struggling both with the loss of income and a loss of dignity. Their mental and physical health is suffering. Yet 44% . . . said there were jobs in their area they could get but were not willing to take. 
  • Men today may feel less pressure to find jobs because they are less likely than previous generations to be providing for others. Only 28% of men without jobs — compared with 58% of women — said a child under 18 lived with them. . . 37% of the decline in male employment since 1979 could be explained by this retreat from marriage and fatherhood. 
  • men who worked in manufacturing or construction, and now can find only service work, [believe] the obstacle is not just the difference in pay; it is also the humiliation of being on public display.  
 Comment: As liberals argue, the loss of manufacturing jobs has hit hard males who don’t make it through college. But other factors, including those of most concern to conservatives, also account for prime-working-years unemployment: federal benefits that match low-wage job income, males free of family responsibilities, and poor government schools that graduate men unprepared for today’s economy. Also, it’s clear many unemployed would prefer to be working--as Franklin Roosevelt knew in 1935--thereby enjoying the sense of self-worth that goes with holding a job.

Republican Resurgence: is It Real?

 Click on chart to enlarge.

Noah Rothman, at the conservative website “Hot Air,” yesterday reported that:
With [Republican Martha] McSally’s victory [in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional district], the 2014 midterm elections have officially concluded. At the start of the 114th Congress, Republicans will enjoy their largest majority in the House of Representatives since prior to the Great Depression and the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt with 247 members. The last time the GOP enjoyed that large of a majority was the 71st Congress in 1929 and 1930.
In the Senate, the GOP will be in an almost equally unparalleled position of power. “Republicans will control 54 out of 100 seats,” the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake noted. “That’s tied for their fourth-highest number of seats since that same 1929-30 Congress, but the larger three were majorities of 55 seats — i.e. only one more seat.”
Combined with the GOP’s dominance at the state legislative level (Republicans control 56% of seats in the legislatures, the highest number since 1920), and the party’s control of 31 of 50 [62% of] gubernatorial mansions, the Republican Party will be in the strongest position it has seen since prior to the popularization of Democratic progressivism.
“The last time the GOP clearly had more [top elected official] power than today was in the early 1920s, when it controlled more than 70% of governorships, 69% of the House and more than 60% of Senate seats,” Blake observed.
Rothman further noted that “either through retirements or lost elections, half of the U.S. senators who voted for Obamacare, all of whom were Democrats, will be gone in 2015.”

In the immediate aftermath of Barack Obama’s 2012 election triumph, we shared a concern that the Obama political machine might "annihilate" the GOP in 2014 by winning the 17 seats Democrats then needed to control the U.S. House. Whoops. Shows the danger of making next-election predictions based upon what just happened. Political parties can and do perform like “persons,” regularly making mistakes and, conversely, learning from them.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Race in America Today

Look at this graph (above). By 2044, whites will be a minority of the U.S. population. This demographic fact drives Democratic thinking; Democrats, the party of minorities, are destined to rule the nation, with a combination of white liberals, white unmarried women, and white youth plus minorities, and will do so starting now, not in 2044.

But it’s 2014, not 2044. And now enough whites are alienated from the party of Barack Obama that demographic realities are worrying Democrats as well as Republicans. The national scene may resemble California politics in the 1980s to mid-90s, when whites, fearful of that state’s rising Hispanic tide, elected Republican governors for 16 consecutive years.

Of course, both parties know that as its minority population became the majority, California then turned sharply against Republicans, where it remains today.

Obama and black Attorney General Eric Holder’s determined effort to rally blacks against Republicans, using such issues as the security guard and police killings of Trayvon Martin (2012), Michael Brown, and Eric Garner even though no evidence emerged that any of the three deaths were race-based, is generating a measurable backlash among whites.

The latest Fox News poll found that when asked:
"Do you agree or disagree with the decision of the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, not to seek criminal charges against a white police officer in the August shooting death of a black teenager [Brown]?"
55% agreed, only 33% disagreed, and 12% had no opinion. Among whites 65% agreed, while just 12% of blacks think the Ferguson grand jury did the right thing. Yet when asked,
"Do you agree or disagree with the decision of a grand jury in New York not to seek criminal charges against a white police officer in the July choke hold death of a black man [Garner]?"
Just 27% of Americans agreed while 57% disagreed, and 17% didn’t know. So non-blacks readily distinguish between the deaths of Brown, who reached for a policeman’s gun, and Garner, who yelled for mercy. People able to make such distinctions don’t like being called “racist.”

So it’s no surprise that when asked:
"Since Barack Obama became president, do you think relations between the races in the USA have gotten better or worse?"
only 19% said “better,” while 62% said “worse.”

Why is Obama, in seeking to draw blacks behind him, now alienating most whites with false racist charges? To me, it’s because black leaders and liberals cannot accept the failure of their 50-year-old effort to engineer some form of economic equality. They cannot accept that government programs have left a black underclass in place. And they really can’t handle how well other minorities are doing. So they focus relentlessly on white man sins, fighting to retain a broad coalition of minorities fixed on white wrongs.

Obama’s Hawaii background contributes to the current reality. He knows different cultures have different rates of success, with Asians out-performing whites, and whites out-performing blacks. From early in life, he has appreciated the value of blurring nonwhite racial differences based on culture into a cartoonish minority v. white, Third World v. First World battle with the prize awarded being preferences for minorities, whether or not groups and individuals need the help.

Blacks finish last, this blog believes, because of family breakdown, not lack of government assistance. Blacks trail because of culture. Too many single women struggling to raise children fathered by different unemployed men, none present. We have absent fathers, failure to postpone gratification, moral breakdown, lack of real education, male crime the most promising path to economic advancement. Can’t solve the problem? Blame whitey. Demonstrate. Break store windows. Fix on the narrative, not the truth.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Democrats in a Dark Place

Jonathan Gruber
"Politicians always think they have to reach people's hearts. They have to reach their minds."

--Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal

There’s been a noticeable shift in the American political landscape. Did you see how candidates from big-name families--a Democratic tradition from Roosevelt, Stevenson, Harriman, Kennedy, Jay Rockefeller and Jerry Brown to Nancy D'Alesandro Pelosi and Kathleen Gilligan Sebelius--went down last month? Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn in Georgia, Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Mark Begich in Alaska, Mark Udall in Colorado (“mark” him too), and last but not least, Mary Landrieu in Louisiana. Nothing worked in 2014 for Democrats who say, “I’m not Obama, I’m______.”

As political sage Stu Rothenberg wrote in Roll Call recently,
we have entered a period of parliamentary elections, where the parties stand for starkly different ideological agendas and where ticket-splitting, which follows from individual evaluations apart from party, is relatively rare.
The division in America is sharp, nearly complete, and even. So you thought Obama won big in 2012, a year in which Romney carried a majority of Congressional districts and Republicans held onto the House? Obama won by 4 million votes, 4% to be sure, but by 62 electoral votes. If 4 states--Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and New Hampshire--had gone for Romney instead, Obama would have lost.  And just a well-placed shift of 95,000 votes in those 4 states would have delivered the election to Romney.

Of course had that happened, half the country would have gone insane.  Romney losing by 3.8 million votes yet headed for the White House? Still, such an outcome remains possible because Democratic votes are so concentrated in minority-populated urban areas that the party cannot be comfortable about its chances either in the House or in the Electoral College. Win massively in California, New York, and Illinois and still lose? It happened before.

Is the current sharp partisan division good for America? Roman Lopez, in the conservative Federalist, wrote about how Jon Stewart successfully demonizes and degrades Republicans, making it difficult for his liberal audience to treat the opposing party seriously. Lopez argues that
in a political society we must come together to adjudicate public matters. We must talk, to figure out how we are to govern ourselves. That we live among one another forces us to engage with people and perspectives that we might not have known existed.
New York Times house conservative Ross Douthat (that other guy, David Brooks, isn’t) blames both parties for an unnecessary level of rancor in current politics. But Douthat seems more concerned about Democrats who deal with a bad economy by instead focusing on divisive identity politics in order to hold their minorities-unmarried female coalition together. In a warning to Democrats, Douthat posits that while
identity is . . . the most primal, reliable form of political division . . .history suggests that a “multicultural party” may always be at risk of being redefined as a grievance-based “party of minorities” that many minorities would prefer to leave behind. (And leadership matters, too: A protean figure like Barack Obama can put together a genuine rainbow coalition, but it’s not clear how many other politicians can do the same.)
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has sensed that Democrats have moved down a wrong path by focusing (2009 to present) on Obamacare rather than economic improvement. Compounding the Obamacare problem, since the election Jonathan (“people are stupid”) Gruber, an MIT professor who helped shape both Massachusetts’ Romneycare and Obamacare, has been as helpful to opponents of Obamacare as he has hurt Democrats.

David Nather, writing in the liberal Washington-insider publication “Politico,” honed in on Gruber’s single most damaging error--and one we spotted last August--he gave in a video the exact same explanation that conservatives plan to make in front of the Supreme Court next year of why only state exchanges (of which there are a mere 14) can subsidize Obamacare:
from January 2012, [Gruber said]: “If you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits [i.e., their money].” Naturally, the quote from that video is right there in the petition to the Supreme Court—which calls Gruber “one of the Act’s architects”—and it’s a good bet that it will come up in the oral arguments. Michael Carvin, the lead attorney in the case, sums it up: “Gruber is Exhibit A that any English-speaking person knows what the subsidies language says.”
Ed Rogers, a conservative permitted to blog in the Washington Post, views Gruber, “made famous by his offensively blatant [video] revelations of the deceit behind the construction and passage of the Obamacare law,” as symbolic of the bad place Democrats find themselves in today:
the Gruber videos . . . perfectly crystallize the entire Democratic 2014 campaign.  That is, don’t admit what you really believe or what you will really do in government.  Say things that purposely deceive or at least misdirect the voters from your true intentions.  Anyway, Gruber isn’t just a bad episode.  He is a living example of what the Democratic Party has become.  In its simplest form, Democrats want to talk to the right and then govern to the left.
Yesterday, Rogers moved his denunciation of Democrats even further down the field, writing:
the Democratic Party is never accused of having a branding problem; is never exposed or criticized as a party for running deceitful campaigns or telling outright lies.  For whatever reason, the media refuses to see a common thread in how modern-day Democrats behave in the political arena, just like they refuse to see any connection between [Ferguson “racist” lies, Rolling Stone “rape” lies, and Lena Dunham “rape” lies] and the decay that exists within the left-wing of the Party’s base.  The media is quick to declare that Republicans and conservatives have systemic problems, but they ignore how morally bankrupt the Democrats and their core constituency have become.
Yes, we don’t like Democrats and their media pals just as much as Jon Stewart doesn’t like us. As for Obama’s presidency as a whole, we think in the words of Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness ): “Your strength is just an accident owed to the weakness of others.”