The Babe Theory Of Political Movements.
Mar. 21, 2005 11:50 AM
Iran's Sham Election In Houston.
June 20, 2005 5:36 AM
Yes, Kanye, Bush Does Care.
Oct. 31, 2005 12:41 AM
Health Care vs. Wealth Care.
Nov. 23, 2005 3:28 PM
Americans Voting With Their Feet.
Nov. 30, 2005 1:33 PM
Idea Majorities Matter.
May 12, 2006 6:15 PM
Twilight Zone Economics.
Oct. 17, 2006 12:30 AM
The "Shrinking" Middle Class.
Dec. 13, 2006 1:01 PM
From Ashes, GOP Opportunities.
Dec. 18, 2006 6:37 PM
Battle Between Entitlements & Pork.
Dec. 21, 2006 12:31 PM
Let Economic Freedom Reign.
Dec. 22, 2006 10:22 PM
Biggest Health Care Moment In Decades.
July 25, 2007 4:32 PM
Unions Antithetical to Liberty.
May 28, 2008 11:12 PM
Right To Work States Rock.
June 9, 2008 12:25 PM
Social Security Reform Thursday.
March 13, 2008
Caption Contest: Enter Today!
Due: July 29, 2008
The Carnival Of Classiness.
Mar. 14, 2006
Quotational Therapy: Obama.
Apr. 4, 2008
Mainstream Melee: Wolfowitz.
May 19, 2007
Pundit Roundtable: Leaks.
July 9, 2006
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July 14, 2006
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Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 432 -- Tax Freedom Day
Taxes Creeping Ever More Into Our Lives-
The Tax Foundation has released its annual report on Tax Freedom Day, the day that Americans can stop working to pay their taxes and start working to pay themselves (.pdf):
Of course, some states have exorbitant local taxes (income taxes, for example), some don't. Thus, in Oklahoma and Alabama, Tax Freedom Day is April 12. In Connecticut, it's May 20.
Regardless, the recent trend is not good. Taxes are already too burdensome as it is, yet Democrats in the House of Representatives just passed a gigantic tax hike. See yesterday's Trivia Tidbit for more on that.
Not only that, but there's no reason to raise taxes. We're on track for Federal Budget surpluses without any tax increases, sometime next year. The government has plenty of revenue. It's spending that is unsustainable. So, where is that additional spending, relative to the year 2000, coming from?
Well, some of it is due to national defense, the war on terror, and specifically the military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. A microscopic amount, in relative terms, is due to pork and other non-defense discretionary spending. The bulk of increased spending since 2000 comes from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid-- entitlements. And most of that increased Medicare spending came BEFORE the Prescription Drug Benefit ever took effect.
In other words, autopilot spending is responsible for most of the big spending increases over the past several years. Secondarily responsible: the end of the false "peace dividend" of the 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It's possible to envision a time over the next few years when the United States is not spending nearly as much on national defense. It might not produce the full-blown peace dividend of the 1990s, but spending on national defense, as we've seen this past week with the shenanigans surrounding the defense supplemental bill in Congress, is not on auto-pilot.
Way down the line on the spending ladder, meanwhile, is pork.
Pork and much of the other non-defense discretionary spending is bad for its own sake. It tends to corrupt. It distorts market behaviors. It elicits rent-seeking behaviors. It is why there are so many lobbyists in this country. There are all sorts of reasons to eliminate the entire earmarking process in Congress, but if we're ever going to get serious about big government spending, it starts and ends with entitlements.
Only Social Security reform, followed by Medicare and Medicaid reform, will set America's longterm fiscal ship back on course.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Largest Tax Increase In History.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 431 -- Democrats Are Gearing Up To Enact A Drastic Tax Increase.
Elections Have Consequences-
Is anyone surprised that, according to Gallup, the new Congress now has a 28% approval rating and a 64% disapproval rating, for a net disapproval of 36%?
Care to guess what the net disapproval of Congress was, according to Gallup, during November 2-5 of last year?
And why wouldn't Congressional approval be low, when Democrats are all over the map on how to undermine American efforts in Iraq, are as hypocritical and corrupt as Duke Cunningham ever was, and are proposing many billions in new spending, much of it pork, while trying to pass the largest tax increase in history.
That last point, the largest tax increase in history, is one that probably has yet to impact the approval/disapproval ratings, given that media attention on the subject has been so muted.
So let's look at some of the numbers.
The Heritage Foundation argues that Senate Democrats are preparing to raise taxes by 900 billion dollars over five years, and 3.3 trillion dollars over ten years.
According to the Evans-Novak Political Report (emailed to my inbox), the Senate tax increase looks something like this:
Meanwhile, again from Robert Novak, the House budget looks something like this:
Another look at the numbers, from The Club For Growth, shows that there are about five different budgets on the table, and most of them are bad:
The Progressive Caucus budget will raise taxes by $943.3 billion over five years; the Congressional Black Caucus by $711.9 billion; the Democratic leadership by $392.5 billion; and the Blue Dog Coalition by $197.8 billion.
A visual look at these various proposals:
The Blue Dog Coalition, by the way, is clearly a joke and a fraud. For years, they've been displaying charts and graphs outside their offices showing how terrible the Republican deficits are, how spending is out of control, how the sky was falling, and so on. Well, as the Blue Dogs have now voted in favor of many billions in pork and other wasteful spending, it's clear their only solution to deficits is raising taxes. In other words, everyone ought to quit pretending these Blue Dogs, many of which are Southerners, are fiscal conservatives. They are anti-trade, pro-tax economic illiterates, which is why they are Democrats.
Americans for Tax Reform notes that the average American, in every single state, will be paying quite a bit more in taxes:
Was 2006 a mandate for higher taxes? Were voters in 2006 crying out: "I WANT TO PAY THOUSANDS MORE IN TAXES!" as they narrowly elected Democrats in election after stunning election across the country?
The only decent budget is Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan's version, which would not raise taxes at all, would put a freeze on non-defense discretionary spending, and would reform entitlement programs to the tune of 279 billion dollars in savings. It would balance the budget without tax increases, all while stopping the raid on Social Security, putting the hurt on earmarkers, and fixing PAYGO rules.
While it is tempting to ask where this budget was over the past few years, the answer is that Paul Ryan and Mike Pence and others on the Republican side of the aisle did propose budgets like this one. In the end, though, to appease politically vulnerable Republicans (who mostly lost anyway in 2006), the Congressional GOP leadership relented to budgets filled with pork-- and ones that did nothing about entitlements.
Bad idea jeans.
Elections have consequences. At the same time, actions in Congress have consequences on elections. Can any supporter of Democrats please explain how passing the largest tax hike in history is going to have anything but terrible consequences at the polls for Democrats in the next election?
Is it that Democrats are expected to raise taxes, and so they are rewarded by their electoral coalition for doing so? Meanwhile, Republicans are not expected to hike spending and are punished by their electoral coalition when they do?
I just can't imagine that these guys are going to be around for long, with all of their blatant hypocrisy and corruption, their incessant scandal-mongering, their beholdeness to radical anti-war crazies, and, now, their unprecedented hiking of taxes.
Unfortunately, the GOP brand remains badly damaged, and voters may not believe Republicans running on fiscal responsibility.
A QUICK UPDATE: The Democrats' budget has passed 216-210. No Republicans voted for it, and 12 Democrats voted against it. Paul Ryan's budget substitute failed 268-160, with 40 Republicans voting against it and 1 Democrat voting for it.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Jackpot Justice.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 430 -- Jackpot Justice.
Excessive Tort Costs Harm American Competitiveness-
The Pacific Research Institute this week released a study on excessive tort costs in America. One of the interesting and relevant findings (.pdf):
The United States had a 2.2-percent ratio of tort costs to GDP, compared with Germany (1.1 percent), Japan (0.8 percent), and the United Kingdom (0.7 percent). Aside from Italy (1.7 percent), the other countries examined in the study have tort costs comparable to historic levels observed in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s.
2.2% of America's GDP is the "total" cost of our tort system. The good news is that some of those costs are perfectly legitimate. According to the study, though, 59% of those American tort costs are "excessive" (1.3 percent of the 2.2 percent).
"Excessive" tort costs account for nearly 600 billion dollars in lost American awesomeness, annually:
America wastes $589 billion each year from excessive tort litigation. This is roughly equivalent to losing the entire annual output of the state of Illinois. It is equivalent to a seven-percent tax on consumption or a 10-percent tax on wages. The annual price tag, or “excess tort tax,” for a family of four in terms of costs and forgone benefits is $7,848. The capitalized value of the waste, assuming it continues at its current level into perpetuity, is $11.32 trillion.48 Americans shoulder this burden through higher prices, lower wages, decreased returns on investments and land, and less innovation.
The Jackpot Justice study, 68 pages long (.pdf), explains what makes a tort cost "excessive" in a lot of detail. When Home Depot, for example, includes a built-in "what if someone sues us" component in its prices on saws or hammers or other items, that's an excess cost. When R&D is stifled, resulting in fewer new and innovative medicines, gadgets, other products, and services, that's an excess cost. When companies choose to relocate to other countries to avoid dealing with ambulance-chasers, taking jobs with them, that's an excess cost. When stock prices are adversely impacted by frantic news/rumors of blockbuster litigation, that's an excess cost. And so on.
Regardless of the exact number, it's pretty clear that the United States, in order to compete for capital and jobs in a global economy, is going to need to look at some serious tort reform.
The U.S. has a lot going for it (relatively competitive tax rates, a well-educated, highly-skilled workforce, etc.). America's economy is the largest in the world. In just the past few years, it has grown so much that it has added the equivalent of the entire Chinese economy. We're kind of a big deal.
But we could still do better. Our society's excessive litigiousness clearly has harmful effects, but eliminating some of those negatives could help the American economy stay on top for generations to come.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Redistribution.
Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 97
This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:
Mannequins display some of the military garments the Michael Bianco, Inc., factory produces, Thursday, March 22, 2007, in New Bedford, Mass. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement rounded up 361 workers in a March 6 raid at the waterfront factory, and arrested the company's owner and three top managers.Oh, sure. Can you give us a real caption, please?
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, April 3. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at email@example.com.
2. Rodney Dill:
3. Justin B:
Captioning is nasty, brutish and short. Enter today!
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 429 -- Our Redistributionist Tax Code.
A Lot Of Redistribution From A Lot Of People-
Today, some 44 million Americans pay no taxes at all. Meanwhile, the upper 5% of all income earners in 2004 paid 57.13% of all taxes, up from 35.01% in 1980. In other words, the U.S. tax code is becoming more progressive, not less.
The most interesting part of all of this data is that it's not just the top 1% or 10% of Americans getting bilked to fund all of those wonderful programs Democratic politicians depend on to stay in power.
It's not just that tiny set of ultra-rich folks-- symbolized by Paris Hilton-- who probably deserve to be soaked anyway, getting soaked. It's the top dad gummed 40%. That's a lot of people.
Again, the original study, more than 100 pages long, can be found in .pdf format here.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Real Story On Government Spending.
Quotational Therapy: Part 131 -- Mike Pence, On Earmarks.
Emergency War Funding, Allegedly-
Last week, U.S. Congressman Mike Pence called out the majority for their emergency war supplemental budget:
"Here are some examples of what the Democrats consider 'urgent' needs that require 'prompt action:'
Didn't a lot of people inclined to vote for Republicans not vote for Republicans because of earmarks? And didn't Democrats make all sorts of promises to end "corruption" and change the way things were done in Washington, D.C.?
The (current) 110th Congress is quickly distinguishing itself as one of the more disingenuous and hypocritical, not to mention economically illiterate, in modern history. All without an even remotely adequate media watchdog to call them out for it.
Previous Quotational Therapy Session:
The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 428 -- Taxes & Government Benefits, Both Progressive.
Trillions In Wealth Redistribution Is More Than Plenty-
The Spring edition of the Tax Foundation's Tax Watch is out, and it has a highly illuminating graph (.pdf):
Taken together, the bottom three-fifths of income earners—containing roughly 76 million households—receive more dollars of government spending than they pay in taxes, resulting in a net fiscal redistribution of between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion in 2004.
For even more depth, check out WHO PAYS TAXES AND WHO RECEIVES GOVERNMENT SPENDING? AN ANALYSIS OF FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL TAX AND SPENDING DISTRIBUTIONS, 1991-2004, which has more than a hundred pages of data, including figures like these (.pdf):
Looking at the data since 1991, while the tax share of households in the lowest fifth has remained unchanged, their share of government spending has risen from 28.3 percent to 30.4 percent, representing an increase of $76.1 or $2,506 per household, by 2004. In contrast, the share of spending received by households in the top fifth fell from 19.59 percent in 1991 to 17.28 percent in 2004.
Not all that surprising, but it once again reinforces that "tax cuts for the rich" and "budget cuts for the poor" are nothing but a bunk left-wing talking points.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Nuclear Energy.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 427 -- Nuclear Power & Carbon Dioxide Emissions.
Why France Can Afford To Be So Smug About Global Warming-
The world has many lessons to offer the United States, some good and some bad. We can learn from Zimbabwe that property rights are kind of a big deal. We can learn from Hong Kong that SARBOX might have been overkill. We can learn from various countries (like Iceland, or Ireland, for example) that flatter, lower taxes on corporations and individuals leads to higher economic growth. We can learn from Chile and several other countries, including socialist ones, that personal accounts in Social Security are safe and secure, reduce the government's long-term fiscal liabilities, and give people a much better deal. And we can learn from France of all countries that nuclear energy can be safe, inexpensive, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
According to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) figures, France gets 78.5% of its electricity from nuclear generators. France is also one of the cleanest countries, at least in terms of air quality and greenhouse gas emissions.
A look at the nuclear power generation of several countries:
Now, a look at those same countries, and how they fare on the CO2/GDP ratio (which measures a country's share of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions, then divides that number by a country's share of worldwide economic output), noted in this post from last month:
A ratio above 1.0 means a country produces a greater share of global carbon dioxide emissions than its share of the global economy. A ratio below 1.0 means a country produces a greater share of the global economy than its share of the overall worldwide carbon dioxide emissions. This ratio is important, as CO2 and economic activity are intimately linked, and simple measures of CO2 per capita are misleading.
Now, let's overlap those graphs:
It's not the prettiest correlation, but then again, there aren't a lot of countries that even use nuclear energy, so our data set is somewhat limited. A limited data set also means outliers like Russia stand out far more than they otherwise would.
Still, while we're learning lessons from the world, we can see that France has a fantastic emissions/economy ratio (share of global CO2/share of global GDP) because of its nuclear energy program. Indeed, if France got its electricity from sources other than nuclear, even with its tiny cars and dearth of air conditioners, its carbon/GDP ratio would probably look more like ours. Indeed, The Netherlands is just as green and clean as France, with their bicycles and tiny cars and abundant public transportation, but the Dutch only get 3.9% of their electricity from nuclear power. Thus, the Dutch carbon/economy ratio is 0.75, hardly any better than the American ratio of 0.77.
Atomic power is not without its drawbacks. The remote risk of nuclear catastrophe looms over any discussion of nuclear energy today. As it is, certain parts of the environmental movement want to shut down existing nuclear plants. Then, there's Iran and all the other rogue nations around the world that want their own nuclear programs, possibly for energy but probably for weapons. Our own nuclear program, however peaceful, complicates international diplomacy on the Iran issue; after all, "why is the West allowed to have nuclear power, but not Iran?" Moreover, what happens to all of that NOT-IN-MY-BACKYARD nuclear waste? And clearly, in some nations (countries of the former USSR), producing a lot of electricity from nuclear power is not a panacea for greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, nuclear energy is not perfect (although, frankly, some of these criticisms are fairly assailable).
Nevertheless, if reducing carbon dioxide output is such a pressing imperative, building nuclear plants is the cheapest, quickest way to do so.
We should make every common sense effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, not because bureaucrats in Brussels or Kyoto say so, not because Al Gore says so, and not because we need to "reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil." We should do it because reducing emissions, at the local level, is good for our health. Nuclear power enables us to reduce our emissions without harming our economy. Indeed, it may boost our economy, as inexpensive, reliable energy reduces the cost of doing business and ultimately raises productivity and profitability. Atomic energy enables us to make strides toward cheaper, cleaner, more sustainable energy based on more than feel-good, pie-in-the-sky ethanol/solar/wind schemes. Moreover, we can pursue nuclear energy without harming our domestic energy industry.
All of this is somewhat hypothetical, however, as building a nuclear power plant is a sure recipe for frustrating red tape, unfair media scrutiny, and endless litigation, all without the kinds of profits that might make such hassle worthwhile.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Taxing & Spending Is Immoral.
Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 96
This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:
Ryan Christopher Colwill of the U.S. takes part in the semi-final round of the 1-metre springboard diving competition at the World Aquatics Championships in Melbourne March 21, 2007.I can't believe this caption for one minute. Can you give us a better one, please?
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, March 27. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I caption, therefore I am. Enter today!
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 426 -- Lower Taxes & Lower Spending = Greater Poverty Reduction.
High Taxes & High Spending Correlates With More Poverty-
There is a common media motif regarding the religious right today. Members of the religious right are typically portrayed in the establishment media as well-intentioned but ultimately out of touch with the mainstream of society, counterproductive to their own aims, and-- this is the big one-- corrupt/hypocritical.
Well, what about the religious left? And the not-so-religious left?
... the ones who cared most about economics preferred Kerry, a sign of how the Democrats could win over more of them. Finally, there are the liberal evangelicals, who make up about 3 percent of the electorate and tend to vote Democratic. They're especially concerned with poverty and the environment.So, religious left folks care deeply about things like "economics" and "poverty." Surely, you've known people like this. They are often some of the more preachy and overly involved people you'll encounter at your friendly neighborhood church. They often ooze smugness and moral superiority, making claims like, "Bush is not very Christ-like," and proudly declaring to anyone who will listen that they are liberals, because Christ was a liberal. They complain incessantly about "budget cuts" and "inequality."
More than Pat Robertson or any other major figure on the religious right, these folks want to compel everyone in America (not to mention, the world), via the United States government, to fall in line with their left-wing philosophy. Not satisfied with their own tithing, volunteerism, or mission work (if they even do any of these), they want to force everyone to pay higher taxes to fund government programs intended to reduce poverty. This left-wing evangelism is far more imperious and dogmatic than the kinds of causes typically associated with the religious right.
As Grover Norquist often points out, most of the folks on the religious right are not trying to impose anything on anyone, they just want to be left alone.
When members of the religious left, inspired by their faith in Christ, join forces with members of the not-so-religious left, inspired by their faith in Marx et al., the result is as profound as any old fashioned spiritual revival. Federal programs! Social justice! Fairer taxes! Peace and harmony! The environment! Gay marriage! Government housing! Welfare! Moral superiority!
While faith in government programs may be well-intentioned, it is also woefully misguided. Lucky for us, we happen to have 50 laboratories where we can judge the effectiveness of policies.
Byron Schlomach of the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Matthew Ladner of the Goldwater Institute recently published what ought to be considered a very important study on taxes, spending, and poverty. Indeed, every legislator in the country ought to read the results (.pdf):
...big spending governments did a terrible job of reducing poverty during the 1990-2000 period. The figure compares average poverty rates in the 10 states spending the most money per capita (Alaska, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wyoming) to the 10 states spending the least per capita (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas).
So, government spending does not necessarily mean poverty reduction. In fact, it may have led to increased poverty in the 1990s, while lower spending led to fantastic poverty reductions.
Meanwhile, high tax states versus low tax states showed the same trends (.pdf):
Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia spent the least per capita (taxes per 1000 of income). Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and Wisconsin spent the most.
Also, and more specifically, child poverty showed similar trends. Low tax, low spending states saw poverty rates decline far more rapidly than high tax, high spending states.
Finally, this somewhat anecdotal graphic was particularly illuminating, given that Colorado lived under the allegedly draconian TABOR spending restrictions in the 1990s (.pdf):
TABOR was supposed to have gutted government services and left people vulnerable to the unforgiving whims of a global economy, driving businesses and people out of the state, while California's progressive and enlightened programs were going to reduce inequality and serve as policy examples for the rest of the slow-to-adapt country.
Wrong. High taxes and high spending just meant lower corporate revenue growth, lower personal income growth, and fewer businesses/families relocating to California from other states.
There are sweeping implications for the Federal Government in this study. We can and should draw lessons for public policy at the national level from the state policy laboratories.
There is also a clear moral case, here. If poverty reduction is the goal, why not try out results-oriented policy, rather than feel-good policy? If one of the ultimate conclusions of higher taxes and higher government spending is greater poverty, don't we have a moral obligation to keep taxes and spending low? If other results of high taxes and high spending include a weaker overall economy, slower job growth, fewer medical, technological, and scientific breakthroughs, and a lower standard of living for future generations, aren't those policies inherently immoral?
For more great facts and figures, and some historical context, read the entire study (.pdf), "Government Growth or Poverty Reduction? Lessons From The States." Again, this ought to be required reading for any legislator.
Moreover, whether it is religious faith, ideological faith, or both, behind the slow-but-sure drive toward socialism (on the road to serfdom), it is America's moral and economic imperative to oppose higher taxes and larger government. There is absolutely no incompatibility between Christian faith and support for free enterprise; indeed, in terms of both aims and results, the two are perfectly complementary, which is probably why such an overwhelming majority of Christian voters consider themselves to be part of the center-right "Leave Us Alone Coalition."
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Reapportionment Will Benefit Republicans.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 425 -- Future Reapportionment Favors Republicans.
Looking Into The Crystal Ball, GOP Benefits From Demographic Trends-
The University of Virginia's David Wasserman (on Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball website) has predicted the future of Congressional reapportionment, out to 2030.
Some interesting trends at play, here. Averaging the percentages for Bush in the 2000 and 2004 elections, using data from Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, we can see that strongly Republican states are projected to gain seats at the expense of states that voted for Kerry and/or Gore in the past two Presidential elections.
Incidentally, notice how Bush's percentages went up just about everywhere in the entire country from 2000 to 2004, often in states that are gaining additional Representatives in future reapportionment processes.
Note that in this scenario Washington, D.C. is given a voting member of the House, balanced out by an additional member in Utah. This may or may not happen in reality.
These early predictions from the Crystal Ball also differ quite a bit from other reapportionment projections, including ones I've personally made, as well as the Polidata projections (.pdf). I've come up with numbers closer to what Polidata has when I have tried to plot Census numbers. For example, Polidata and I both have Michigan losing a seat in 2010 (rather than nothing), Texas gaining one more seat (4 instead of 3), California not gaining or losing (instead of gaining 1), and New York losing two seats (instead of just 1). Indeed, the Crystal Ball may be underestimating the pro- "red state" demographic trends at play, or perhaps underestimating the sheer magnitude of fleeing citizens from places like Michigan and the Northeast to the South and West.
Red state women having more children than blue state women, red states receiving more foreign immigrants than blue states, and floods of blue state citizens packing up and moving to red states all contributes to the future reapportionment trends. These trends don't necessarily mean that Republicans will benefit politically, but let's hope that successful policies are recognized and protected in red states-- and emulated in blue states.
Generally, though, despite the myth of rebellious teens rejecting their parents' views, most of the time, partisanship and ideology are transmitted intergenerationally.
Also, while it could be possible that blue state folks moving to red states are bringing along their blue state political values, many of these people have families (a GOP indicator), and many of them are moving to red states because of attractive economic policies (no state income tax, easier to start a business, etc.). We also know that these trends have been happening for many years already, now; and, for the most part, the internal migration of Americans from blue to red states has not made these states more liberal/Democratic. Indeed, some of the fastest growing, most attractive states are also some of the more conservative/Republican states.
Finally, while tens of millions of legal and illegal immigrants often find themselves to be more comfortable in Democratic political circles, and although in places like Arizona and Colorado, Latino voters are already shifting the political landscape, the battle for hearts and minds of Hispanics is not yet over. Indeed, many Latinos have far more respect for God, Country, and Family than the rank-and-file of the modern Democratic Party, and Latinos are typically far more uncomfortable with the notion of being permanent wards of the welfare state than other segments of the Democrats' electoral coalition. Meanwhile, as elderly conservative yellow dog Democrats in the South pass away, we may see even further consolidation of Southern House seats for the GOP.
Regardless of these uncertain political factors, it's almost certain that over the next three reapportionment cycles, some of the more liberal states in the country will lose several of their members of the House of Representatives to some of the more conservative states. It's really not a question of "if" anymore. Rather, it's a question of "how many."
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Firing U.S. Attorneys Is Not Unusual Or Evil.
Media Bias? What Media Bias?
How would we know anything without polls?
Among 1,757 likely voters nationwide, a recent Zogby poll found that -
Nearly two-thirds of those online respondents who detected bias in the media (64%) said the media leans left, while slightly more than a quarter of respondents (28%) said they see a conservative bias on their TV sets and in their column inches . . . While 97% of Republicans surveyed said the media are liberal, two-thirds of political independents feel the same, but fewer than one in four independents (23%) said they saw a conservative bias. Democrats, while much more likely to perceive a conservative bias than other groups, were not nearly as sure the media was against them as were the Republicans. While Republicans were unified in their perception of a left-wing media, just two-thirds of Democrats were certain the media skewed right and 17% said the bias favored the left.
Even many Democrats were forced by this poll to admit the glaringly obvious: that the mainstream media is overwhelmingly liberal in its bent. What surprised me in the Zogby poll is just how many Dems actually think there is a conservative bias in the media. Odd, considering how absolutely saturated the media is with journalists who self-describe themselves as anything but conservative, according to a 2004 Pew Research Center media poll.
The only way I can explain this strange phenomenon is that the stranglehold that the liberal media has had on opinion formation in this country has finally, thankfully, been loosened somewhat, and now Democrats are occasionally and inadvertantly exposed to views from outside the echo chamber. That a liberal should ever have an opinion cross their radar screen that doesn't reinforce and confirm their worldview must be due to conservative bias. And losing the gatekeeper monopoly on information and opinion is causing many of them to lash out in irrational and self-destructive ways, such as cancelling debates on FOX.
Oh, perish the thought that the media might deliver a message you disagree with. That is just so . . . uncomfortable.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 424 -- Firing U.S. Attorneys.
Yet Another Perfect Example of Left-Wing Media Bias-
So, yesterday, the trivia tidbit of the day dealt with the enormous power of the left-wing establishment media. The breathless panting on the evening news last night reinforced that point.
Indeed, the alleged controversy over replacing eight U.S. Attorneys dominated the news, with references to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigning over the "scandal."
It was the news equivalent of the Howard Dean scream in Iowa. Just out of control reporting. They've simply lost it and gone off their collective "mainstream" media rocker.
Some context and perspective on the recent evil political purge, apparently not noteworthy:
Indeed, 8 is a lot higher number than (all) 93, apparently.
Or maybe the media coverage this week has simply been proportional to the coverage the purge received more than a dozen years ago.
Back in 1993, the networks weren't so interested in Clinton's maneuver. The April 1993 edition of the MRC's MediaWatch newsletter recounted:
Really, though, a President ought to be able to determine his own executive branch personnel. The Attorney General ought to be able to determine his own Justice Department staff. The position of U.S. Attorney should not be some sort of guaranteed lifetime position. More generally, the federal bureaucracy should not be some sort of protected class of untouchable saints allowed to undermine the elected will of the people.
In a Republican (republican) form of government, administrations elected by the people ought to be able to halt the auto-pilot inertia of the executive branch when appropriate. Otherwise, what is the point of elections?
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Mainstream Establishment Media Still Own The Marketplace Of News.
Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 95
This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:
Dressed as St. Patrick, Pat Minehane, left, leads 105-year-old Jack A. Weil, the founder of Rockmount Ranchwear, to the corner of a street in lower downtown Denver to perform the annual sign changing ceremony and rename the street after former Denver district attorney Dale Tooley on Thursday, March 8, 2007. The annual ceremony is held to kick off the week leading up to the St. Patrick's Day parade in Denver, which is one of the largest held in the country.Come on, there must be a better caption than that!
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, March 20. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at email@example.com.
Captioning is all it's cracked up to be. Enter today!
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 423 -- The "Mainstream" Media Still Dominates.
Liberal Media Still Dominate, Despite Recent Trends-
There's no doubting that blogs and the internet, talk radio, and even Fox News have changed the media landscape in recent years. Unfortunately, however, the establishment media still dominate.
Indeed, despite this trend:
... 26.1 million nightly viewers still swamps the 1.376 million nightly viewers on Fox News.
If you want to simplify it down to "Fox is conservative, everyone else is liberal" (which is not really accurate), MSNBC and CNN alone essentially cancel out Fox within cable news, leaving a net of ~26 million Americans receiving their news from the old guard network media. Then you add in the tens of millions of people getting their news from old guard print media (newspapers and magazines). Then, you have to add in the many millions who listen to NPR and other liberal-leaning radio. And so on.
The point is that you can add the top conservative talk radio hosts (10-20 million listeners), conservative blogs, conservative magazines, plus the allegedly conservative Fox News, and the impact is still small compared to the overwhelming multimedia juggernaut that is the "mainstream media."
A good rule of thumb: anyone jabbering about the "conservative media" is probably probably either woefully misjudging the limited power and scope of Fox and Rush Limbaugh; or, more likely, they do understand the limited power and scope of "right wing media," but it still bothers them that there is a dissenting voice in the public square.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: No Tax Hikes, Yet Tax Revenue Still Flourishes.
Quotational Therapy: Part 130 -- Claire McCaskill, On Funding For Veterans.
Senator *shudder* McCaskill Is A Filthy Liar-
Missourians, what on earth were you thinking last November? When it comes to the Senate race between Jim Talent and Claire McCaskill (and the results in Virginia, and Minnesota, and Michigan...), I still feel like I am in some strange nightmarish dream world. I am still trying to comprehend how so many terrible, terrible candidates could have won. Socialists, anti-trade populists, absurd feminists, anti-war retreads-- just a slew of unremarkable, underwhelming individuals.
Seriously, this was the gist of McCaskill's campaign last year:
Big oil is evil. Elect me.
At any rate, returning from Africa last week, it was strange to see the mostly-partisan hubbub over the allegedly dilapidated Walter Reed, a place I visited early last summer. From my admittedly superficial and brief experience (relative to the full investigation that apparently just concluded), it was well-appointed, clean, quiet, and the only thing that seemed to bother the soldiers was the weekly anti-war protest outside the entrance.
So, to return to the United States and see all of these comparisons between Walter Reed and Hurricane Katrina in the media was another strange, dreamlike moment. Just how long had I been gone, anyway.
Enter Claire McCaskill, Senator *shudder* from Missouri. She recently made some comments on CBS' Face The Nation that just don't hold up to scrutiny (.pdf):
First, the slow lob from Bob Schieffer...
SCHIEFFER: Now, one of the things we've found out over the past couple of weeks, that these problems go beyond Walter Reed. They go to some of the other military hospitals, and they also extend into the Veterans Administration, where we've seen the secretary of the Veterans Administration in at least two television appearances that I--I have seen him where he seemed unfamiliar with the services that were being offered by his own agency. How serious is the problem there?
And the swing, from McCaskill:
Sen. McCASKILL: Well, the Walter Reed syndrome spreads to other military hospitals around our country and also into the VA. And frankly, the VA is really a problem. The president has cut the budget in Veterans Administration for the past five years. In the budget that he just submitted to Congress, he went in the veterans' pockets for another $5 billion for the health care they were promised for free. And with all due respect to the head of the Veterans Administration, this is a man that was chairman of the Republican National Committee. The appearance isn't right. You know, this--this--this looks like a brownie situation. Let's put somebody...
Okay, let's try to ignore the "brownie" absurdity and isolate the (not-so-) factual claim made by McCaskill, that Bush has cut the VA over the past five years. This claim was not challenged by Bob Schieffer.
It should have been, if he was a real journalist, with any integrity whatsoever.
The truth is that funding for the VA is up substantially over the past five years. A graphic, courtesy of the Senate Republican Conference:
Comparatively, under the eight years of the Clinton administration, VA funding went up a total of 31.7%.
Indeed, these numbers are published in numerous places. They aren't secret. They aren't distorted or twisted. This is just what it is. A big increase in VA funding.
Which is apparently the same as a cut, in the worldview of Claire McCaskill. While Walter Reed and other VA facilities may provide care that is "substandard," it's not for a sudden lack of funding under the Bush administration. Indeed, if anything, the "substandard" label only strengthens the case against government-run health care for the general public.
Previous Quotational Therapy Session:
The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 422 -- Government Revenue Growth STILL Outpacing Outlay Growth.
Deficit Elimination Drawing Nearer, Without Tax Hikes-
Fiscal Year 2007 is now 5 months old, and the latest Monthly Treasury Statement is now out (.pdf). From October 2006 through February 2007, federal tax receipts were up 9.3% and expenditures were up 2.4%, relative to October 2005 through February 2006.
At this point last year, outlays exceeded revenues by 24.9%. This year so far, outlays exceed revenues by 17.0%. This is the same story we've seen, time and time again, since the Bush tax relief of 2003. Federal tax revenues keep rising faster than federal spending, month after month, year after year. All with no tax hikes.
If government spending had been frozen at (population growth + inflation), we'd almost certainly have surpluses today.
So, what are the top spending problem areas?
Big entitlement programs that are on auto-pilot, of course. The number one spending program, more than national defense: that's right-- Social Security.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Trade Is Good.
'Idiot Liberals' In Complete Denial
A simply amazing exchange here between Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) and a pair of anti-war activists (via Hot Air):
The peaceniks think they are operating on a very simple formula - everyone in the U.S. including Barney the dog hates the war in Iraq and wants it to end, and the Democrats won the election last November, so, voilà, the war will now end! The anti-war left have seriously misread sentiments about the war and have misread their own mandate. The peace activists in this video are clearly living in denial, either not hearing or not believing Obey as he repeatedly tells them that they don't have the votes to cut off the war.
Obey later apologized,
saying Im sorry that the frustration happened to erupt in that hall,
he said. I wish it hadnt. If these groups would inform people before
they hit the Hill
we might have a better chance to have the votes to end
How often we have heard the talking heads lecturing us that the Republicans are 'cracking up'. This, folks, is the real thing, and it is happening to the Democrats.
Update: Tigerhawk is appalled at the horsetrading Democrats are going through to ensure defeat in Iraq -
Are you convinced yet that the single-subject rule is a good idea?
Uhuru Means Freedom.
The world's tallest free-standing mountain, the highest point in Africa, Uhuru peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania:
Also, I can report that, although the rainy season has yet to begin, and although it's still summertime, there is plenty of ice and snow up there. PLENTY. More than ever, according to some of the locals. More than anytime in the past 20 years, according to others. Very much more than any of the pictures on the internet. There is so much ice and snow up there, in fact, that it made the trek around the crater rim from Gilman's Point to Uhuru Peak quite a bit more dangerous and time-consuming than it's been in recent years. And the actual glaciers (some as tall as skyscrapers), rather than disappearing by 2010, 2015, or 2020, will still be there for my children, their children, their children, and so on. I would bet a lot of money on that.
I'll try to post some more pictures and stories later, as well as some advice for those thinking about attempting the climb.
Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 94
This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:
Democratic presidential candidate, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, gestures while answering a question during a candidates forum held by AFSCME in Carson City, Nev., Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007.Really now, you call that a caption? Tell us what's really going on.
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, March 13. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Zsa Zsa:
Captioning - what could possibly go wrong? Enter today!
This Just In: The Taliban Are Still LOSERS
By defeating the Taliban in a period of weeks, not years, President Bush achieved a military feat on par with crossing the Alps with elephants. After all, Afghanistan is one of the world's great burial grounds for armies, by virtue of its topography, crossroads geography and the tremendous elan of its fighters. Britain never did completely subdue Afghanistan either before nor after the Anglo-Afghan Wars, and the Soviets lost about half a million killed, injured, ill or missing during their ill-fated foray there. The relative peace and stability Afghanistan now enjoys is near-miraculous, something unseen there since the 1970's.
The rout of the Taliban continues, meanwhile, and the Talibs have never come close to staging anything like a successful comback in Afghanistan. Operaton Mountain Thrust, NATO's counterpunch to the Taliban's vaunted southern Afghanistan offensive last year, cost the Taliban 1,134 fighters compared to NATO's 24. Last year's Canadian-led Operation Medusa yielded a similar woeful slaughter for the Taliban - 517 Talibs killed compared to 20 for the coalition. Moreover, Afghanistan is set to receive its own Surge this year, as veteran British troops leaving Iraq redeploy to Afghanistan.
The Taliban are a bigger threat to Pakistan unfortunately, who sadly have lost about 3,000 troops fighting the Taliban in Waziristan since 2004 - roughly the same number the US has lost in Iraq.
This Spring, the Taliban promised the largest annual offensive ever in Afghanistan, and the February 27th attack on Bagram airfield with Cheney in the vicinity was perhaps part of this offensive. The failed assassination attempt that so disappointed scores of patriotic HuffPo readers was perhaps more an indication of the futility of Taliban attacks than a demonstration of their effectiveness, and the Taliban have few successes to point to. True, the Taliban may have taken parts of southern Afghanistan (as breathlessly reported by The Globe and Mail), but don't expect it to last. The Talibs were easily run out of Kandahar last fall as part of Operation Medusa, and will be run off again quite soon. Count on it.
Besides, our ever-dependable ally France is in full retreat. This is often a sign that complete allied victory is just around the corner.
We Might Have To Reconsider The 'No Women In Combat' Rule
. . . if they can fight this well.
(h/t Dean Esmay).
Jewish Conspiracy Destroyed Gaza SynagoguesProof that you can blame the Jews for absolutely anything:
"[Abu] Abir [spokesman for a 'Palestinian militant group'] blamed the Jewish state for the desecration of the Gaza synagogues by Palestinian Arabs, claiming the decision to leave the structures intact was part of an Israeli conspiracy. Israel 'left the synagogues behind so the world would see the Palestinians destroying them,' Mr. Abir said."
Yes, Land For Peace is just working out so well, isn't it.
(via Opinion Journal)
The Pain That Is McCain
As a Republican, it is so easy to be deeply conflicted about John McCain, and Republican reluctance has lately diminshed his poll numbers. He is by far the most presidential of all the candidates on either side of the aisle, and if the presidency were decided on biography alone he should be moving into the White House. He is like a supremely talented fullback who drops the ball too often, however. The McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law was long ago a deal breaker for me, as it is apparently for many other people as well. McCain-Feingold works on so many faulty assumptions - and violates the First Amendment (the Supreme Court was simply supremely wrong in upholding it) - that it puts into question everything about John McCain. It makes one ponder where McCain thinks the problem of corruption lays: with the tempters, or the tempted? In imperious fashion, M-F holds that free speech must be squelched because politicans shouldn't be held to account. Such damage to the Constitution should not go unpunished.
One has to question the judgment of a man who thought it was a good idea, at the very least.
There is also the Gang of 14 problem, and McCain's penchant for throwing his party and President under the bus if he can earn a few coos from a liberal media that only likes him because of his turncoat tendencies.
McCain has positives on the other hand, including something the press preaches to us about McCain that we aren't supposed to like, namely, his penchant for blowing up at people. Why Bill Clinton's morning purple rages were never highlighted this way demonstrates a certain divergent method of handling such issues by the press. It is supposed to be a bad thing, but . . . I like a President who can show a certain amount of elevated anger when required. He is POTUS, people are supposed to jump for him. I liked that Clinton had the capacity to get really angry, I just didn't like the press pretending that he is nothing but sweetness and light. As for McCain . . . you try dangling from a busted shoulder for five years in a POW camp and see if you don't snap at a waiter once in a while.
There are of course a great many other things to really like about McCain. He has tremendous honor and courage, and survived the direst consequences of serving under arms for this nation. Man, that does count for a helluva lot, and almost makes the McCain-Feingold thing a wash. He is incredibly serious about the war, and came out foursquare for The Surge. He is gravitas. He seems genuniely likable, with an equanimity that belies his background. He can certainly work the press.
Repudiating McCain-Feingold would work wonders for him, giving him his own surge in the polls.
Left Quickly Using Up All Known Reserves Of Profanity
According to Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit, there is now scientific proof that the left blogosphere uses foul language far more frequently than the right. Hoft found that there is about an 18-to-1 use of profanity among lefties compared to righties. It would have been more like 180-to-1, but Ace has been single-handedly making sure the right does not get shut out of this game (thanks Ace!). If it weren't for Ace, and normally civil blogs quoting Amanda Marcotte, there may have been virtually no profanity use among the top righty blogs at all. Actually some of the commenters have taken Jim to task for his methodology, such as a need to factor in word counts and other such factors. I am pretty sure this is one experiment that is going to show similar results regardless of the methodologies used.
The left is leaving a huge profanity footprint - they should be buying offsets from the rest of us.
P.S. Perhaps the right is just so much more efficient in their use of profanity. They make it really count. Like Dick Cheney, for example - he throws one little f-bomb, and no one ever seems to forget it.
P.P.S. Plus the guy shoots only one lawyer and no one ever seems to forget that, either.