Saturday, December 31, 2011

Idaho Beats Oregon, California, Washington on Charitable Giving

Idahoans average over $1,000 more per year in charitable giving than Oregonians. In terms of percent of income donated to charity West Coast states rate (average amount charitable donation is in brackets):

6. Idaho (1.58%) [$4,483]
22. Oregon (1.33%) [$3,368]
27. California (1.25%) [$3,929]
32. Washington (1.21%) [$3,896]

More Oregonians (31%) gave something to charity, with Californians at 29.6%, Washingtonians at 27.5%, and 25.9% of Idahoans contributing to charity.

Most generous states:

1. Utah (3.09%) [$7,142]
2. Georgia (1.85%) [$4,605]
3. Alabama (1.76%) [$5,349]
4. Maryland (1.67%) [$4,073]
5. South Carolina (1.66%) [$4,621]

Least generous states:

52. Maine (0.80%) [$2,702]
51. North Dakota (0.82%) [$4,584]
49. Vermont (0.86%) [$3,094]
49. New Hampshire (0.86%) [$2,727]
47. West Virginia (0.90%) [$5,053]

In terms of the percentage of the population who gave to charity, Maryland ranked first with 40.8% and West Virginia ranked last with 13.1%.

H/T Byron York

Republicans and Democrats Agree: Virginia Primary System Needs Help

United Press International reports that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is preparing emergency legislation to allow adding more candidates to Virginia's primary ballot.
"Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said he is intervening in the GOP primary process because only two candidates, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, were able to secure the 10,000 signatures -- with a minimum of 400 from each congressional district -- to gain access to the March 6 primary, Fox News reported Saturday.

"'Recent events have underscored that our system is deficient,' Cuccinelli said in a statement Saturday. 'Virginia owes her citizens a better process. We can do it in time for the March primary if we resolve to do so quickly.'"
. . .
"Two former Democratic attorneys general, a former Democratic state party chairman and a former Republican state party chairman have expressed support for Cuccinelli's action, Fox News said."
Apparently only Governor Bob McConnell is less certain.
"Tucker Martin, a spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, said: 'Virginia's laws regarding ballot access are well known and have been in place for many years. All candidates seeking to be listed on the Virginia primary ballot in a statewide race have known the requirements well in advance. ... It is unfortunate that this year, for whatever reasons, some Republican candidates did not even attempt to make the Virginia ballot, while others fell short of submitting the required number of valid signatures.'

"'That leaves Virginia voters with only two Republican choices in the March primary, and the governor certainly would have preferred a broader field. He is always open to reviewing how Virginia's primary system can be improved to provide voters with more choices.'"

Thursday, December 29, 2011

5 Heroes Who Died Fighting in Afghanistan December 21 to December 27, 2011

December 21 - Spc. Mikayla A. Bragg, 21, of Longview, Wash., died in Khowst province, Afghanistan. She was assigned to the 201st Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, Ky.

December 25 - Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Altmann, 27, of Marshfield, Wis., died in Kunar province Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

December 27 - Died in Paktia, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.
- Sgt. Noah M. Korte, 29, of Lake Elsinore, Calif.,
- Spc. Kurt W. Kern, 24, of McAllen, Texas, and
- Pfc. Justin M. Whitmire, 20, of Easley, S.C.
They were assigned to the 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Dedicated to my brother, C. G.:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011 Newspaper Job Losses 30% More Than In 2010

Alan D. Mutter reports:
"The number of jobs eliminated in the newspaper industry rose by nearly 30% in 2011 from the prior year, according to the blog that has been tracking the human toll on the industry for the last five years."
This is in line with the percentage of newspaper jobs lost since 1989.
"Nearly 1 in 3 newsroom jobs have been eliminated since the number of journalists peaked at 56,900 in 1989, according to an annual survey by the American Society of News Editors. At the end of 2010, only 41,600 scribes were left on the industry’s payrolls.

"If only a fifth of the cuts identified by Smith in 2011 were in newsrooms, then barely 41,000 journalists will be left at America’s newspapers at year’s end. With the ASNE reporting that 52,600 journalists were on the job in 2007, then the projected newsroom headcount at the end of this year would be 22% lower than it was in 2007.

"In other words, the decline in newsroom employment has been twice as great since 2007 as the 11% drop in over-all industry employment. "
Mutter gets his 2011 numbers from the which is running this newspaper job loss map (information on Oregonian clicked).

Monday, December 19, 2011

5 Heroes Who Died Fighting in Afghanistan December 10 to December 14, 2011

December 10 - Lance Cpl. Christopher P. J. Levy, 21, of Ramseur, N.C., died Dec. 10 of wounds sustained Dec. 7 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

December 11 - They died in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.
- Sgt. Christopher L. Muniz, 24, of New Cuyama, Calif., and
- Spc. Ronald H. Wildrick Jr., 30, of Blairstown, N.J.

December 13 - Pvt. Jalfred D. Vaquerano, 20, of Apopka, Fla., died in Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries suffered from enemy small-arms fire while deployed in Logar province, Afghanistan.

December 14 - Maj. Samuel M. Griffith, 36, of Virginia Beach, Va., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Mark Steyn's Death Blossom

Mark Steyn is a brilliant writer and analyst, but when he reaches his limits he can become a Death Blossom.

I get that he doesn't like Newt Gingrich and thinks Newt sums up the problems of the other candidates.
"Unlike the niche candidates, he offers all the faults of his predecessors rolled into one: Like Michele Bachmann, his staffers quit; like Herman Cain, he spent the latter decades of the last century making anonymous women uncomfortable, mainly through being married to them; like Mitt Romney, he was a flip-flopper, being in favor of government mandates on health care before he was against them, and in favor of big-government climate-change “solutions” before he was against them . . . ."
There are many passages of Steynian brilliant insight in this article. He got me yelling "uncle" a number of times. And there are some great asides.
"A year ago, we were still talking about Palin and Daniels and Christie and Jindal and Ryan, an embarrassment of riches."
Yes! He even starts the list with my favorite person who brings "riches" to Republicans: Sarah Palin.

But too often Death Blossom has its way in this piece.

1. On presidential ex-wives:
"On the eve of Iowa it seems the Republican base’s dream candidate is a Clinton-era retread who proclaims himself a third Roosevelt, with Taft’s waistline and twice as many ex-wives as the first 44 presidents combined; a lead zeppelin with more baggage than the Hindenburg; a self-help guru crossed with a K Street lobbyist, which means he’s helped himself on a scale few of us could dream of. For this the Tea Party spent three years organizing and agitating?"
Mark, remembering that Ronald Reagan was the first (and so far only) president with an ex-wife, frames the line "twice as many ex-wives". All the other presidents, except Reagan, had zero ex-wives. So, is having one (or two) ex-wives an impediment to being a good president?

Death Blossom hits Reagan.

2. On voters vs. consultants, money and endorsements.
"'Teacher of the rules of civilization.' I’m not sure I’m quite ready to acknowledge Newt as the 'definer of civilization,' but he is certainly the teacher of the new rules of primary season. Consultants, money, endorsements are for schlubs."
With campaign consultants like Steve "my 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate voted for Obama in 2008" Schmidt, Nicolle "we talked about replacing Sarah Palin as vice-president if she was elected" Wallace and Ed "I trash my candidates" Rollins, Republican consultants may not be what they are cracked up to be.

Money is helpful, but not necessary (e.g., Huckabee win in Iowa in 2008). I think many conservatives are leery of mega money whether it comes from big unions or big business. That's why cronyism is an issue in this campaign. Can you say Solyndra?

Endorsements at the presidential level are mostly worthless. Sarah Palin (about the 2:10 mark) is right about this. Endorsements mainly put the endorser in the list of possible political appointees or receivers of presidential largesse.

Death Blossom hits the good sense that real political power comes (or should come) from the voters.

3. On Gingrich/Churchill comparisons:
"Warned against his tendency to self-glorification, Gingrich reacted to his amazing revival by modestly comparing himself to Reagan, Thatcher, and the founders of Walmart and McDonald’s. He left it to Joe McQuaid, publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader, to produce a comparison more appropriate to a statesman-historian of his stature: Winston Churchill."
Unfortunately, Mark didn't read the recent piece comparing Newt to Churchill by Steven F. Hayward a National Review contributor and expert on Reagan and Churchill.

Death Blossom hits Steven Hayward.

4. On conservatives serving as consultants to governmental entities.
"At Freddie Mac, Newt was peddling influence to a quasi-governmental entity. At Bain Capital, Mitt Romney was risking private equity in private business enterprise. What sort of 'conservative' would conflate the two?"
I thought the conservative position included farming out to private enterprise all governmental tasks possible. I thought we liked private enterprise bidding on projects rather than instituting an ongoing bureaucracy to care for them. And if consultants are to be hired, no conservatives should ever be consulted? Kind of rules out non-elected conservative influence in government, doesn't it?

Death Blossom hits conservative participation as contractors or consultants for government and quasi-government entities. Not a great idea to leave all the consulting and government contracts to the left end of the spectrum.

5. On zany, sci-fi type ideas.

Mark uses Mitt Romney's comment to mock Gingrich (though, to be fair, Mark bludgeons both Gingrich and Romney in this section).
"Asked where his policies differed from Gingrich’s, Romney cut to the chase: 'We could start with his idea to have a lunar colony that would mine minerals from the moon.'”
This reminds me of all the criticism directed at Reagan for proposing his "crazy" Star Wars defense scheme. That non-functional Star Wars program ended up being a key element in ending the Cold War peacefully.

Death Blossom scores another hit on Reagan.

6. On writing political books, serving in government and staying in political power even when out of office.
"Perhaps the single most repellent feature of the political class that has served America so disastrously in recent decades is its shameless venality in parlaying 'public service' into a guarantee of an eternal snout at the trough. Newt writes bestselling books about government, produces DVDs about government, sets up websites about government, but he is as foreign to genuine private-sector wealth creation as any life politician. Indeed, his endurance in Washington represents one of the worst aspects of contemporary 'public service' — that a life in politics no longer depends on anything so whimsical as the votes of the people."
Someone else writes bestselling books about government, politics and political campaigns, has been the subject of a DVD about government in Alaska, and has been in politics (either elective office or working for quasi-governmental agencies) since 1992 and "no longer depends on anything so whimsical as the votes of the people."

Death Blossom hits Sarah Palin.

There is much important in this article. Newt Gingrich does have real problems. All the candidates do. That's why people express disgust with the choices at every presidential election--or at least have for all the elections in my political life time.

I love you, Mark! But, take a deep breath next time before firing the rockets. Death Blossom is not the way to underline the dilemmas.

Though one does have to admit that in being directed at everyone and everything, Death Blossom is more honest than those who criticize other candidates but shield their own preferred candidate(s). And miles above those who were cheerleading the wonders of Obama not so long ago (David Brooks, George Will, Peggy Noonan) and small ballers (like Kathleen Parker) who still are.

National Review's Self-Defeating Poll

National Review ran this poll on Saturday.

If Paul supporters are spamming National Review Online polls, they aren't particularly effective.

It puts in doubt the good judgment of NRO as well as those who voted "yes".

For the record, I voted "no". :-)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Daffy National Review: We Don't Like the Candidates 52% of Republicans Like

UPDATE: Can Andrew McCarthy save National Review's brand? As an admirer of Bill Buckley, I hope so. McCarthy's conclusion:
"There is no avoiding the fact that we live in a practical, tactical world. Personality has its place and electability matters. But National Review has endured as a beacon of our movement for over a half-century because the power of conservative ideas can trump personality and dramatically alter voters’ notions about who is electable. If we lose that conviction — if we convince ourselves that conservative candidates, effectively arguing conservative ideas, cannot persuade a center-right country to reject the most radical Leftist ever to occupy the Oval Office — we are nowhere."
Read the whole column. He's on target with every single argument.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

for original NR cover see below
National Review only likes three presidential candidates, and one of them is NOT Newt Gingrich. Publishing at National Review Online, the editors assert:
"We fear that to nominate former Speaker Newt Gingrich, the frontrunner in the polls, would be to blow this opportunity [to win the White House and a majority in both houses of Congress]. We say that mindful of his opponents’ imperfections — and of his own virtues, which have been on display during his amazing comeback. Very few people with a personal history like his — two divorces, two marriages to former mistresses — have ever tried running for president."
Even worse, as their cover proclaims (see below), Newt is, well, somewhat looney. My take (expressed in the Photoshopped cover to the left) is that National Review editors are the ones with reality problems. Actually, National Review editors are not even up to the Marvin the Martian bar. At least Marvin knew whose side he was fighting on.

National Review editors seem to think that arguing against four top tier Republican candidates, all of whom have garnered good numbers in the polls at one time or another, none of whose main positions are not conservative (except Ron Paul on foreign policy), is a winning strategy. Maybe. Sure goes against Reagan's 11th commandment.

Not to worry, it's only a horrible strategy if one of the bashed gets the nomination. Additionally, in one fell swoop National Review has alienated the supporters of Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann and Paul (adding up to 52% of Republican or Republican-leaning voters in the latest Gallup Poll). Even worse, the candidates they choose win a meager 28%.

It's one thing to boost a preferred candidate. It's quite another to tear down other candidates--especially those who garner over half the voting preference and buy in to the "conservative consensus". Would you take advice on any important issue from people who think it smart to alienate 52% of their base while appealing to only 28%? Especially since, as they argue, there isn't much difference in the candidates' conservative bona fides.
"A hard-fought presidential primary campaign is obscuring the uncharacteristic degree of unity within the Republican party. It has reached a conservative consensus on most of the pressing issues of the day. All of the leading candidates, and almost all of the lagging ones, support the right to life. All of them favor the repeal of Obamacare. Most of them support reforms to restrain the growth of entitlement spending. All of them favor reducing the corporate tax rate to levels that will make the U.S. a competitive location for investment. Almost all of them seem to understand the dangers of a precipitate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and of a defense policy driven by the need to protect social spending rather than the national interest. Conservatives may disagree among themselves about which candidate most deserves support, but all of us should take heart in this development — and none of us should exaggerate the programmatic differences within the field.
National Review even takes mild swipes at the three they like. Huntsman and Romney have trouble with voters, and Santorum has no executive experience.
"Three other candidates deserve serious consideration. Governor Huntsman has a solid record, notwithstanding his sometimes glib foreign-policy pronouncements; his main weakness is his apparent inability, so far, to forge a connection with conservative voters outside Utah. Governor Romney won our endorsement last time, in part because some of the other leading candidates were openly hostile to important elements of conservatism. He is highly intelligent and disciplined, and he takes conservative positions on all the key issues. We still think he would make a fine president, but time and ceaseless effort have not yet overcome conservative voters’ skepticism about the liberal aspects of his record and his managerial disposition. Senator Santorum was an effective legislator. He deserves credit for highlighting, more than any other candidate, the need for public policies that topple barriers to middle-class aspirations. Weighing against him is a lack of executive experience."
There's nothing to like about this editorial no matter who you are for. No man-the-barricades call to action. No bold colors. Only pastels and sniping. Looney Tunes? Well, maybe Daffy rather than Marvin.

original cover

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Are Rep. Paul and Bachmann the Pot Calling the Kettle Black?

Both Rep. Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann are criticizing Newt Gingrich for accepting a paid position with Freddie Mac.
“'Freddie Mac [was] bailed out by the taxpayers,' Paul continued. 'So in a way, Newt, I think you probably got some of our taxpayers’ money.'

"Paul isn’t simply spreading that meme in debates. He’s also pushing the message in two attack videos his campaign has released online — both of which have scored links on the Drudge Report. The two versions of the first video — one is ad-length, the other longer — have together been viewed over 1 million times. On an appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday, Paul commented that he wouldn’t 'have taken their money just for the fact that I think it’s an immoral thing.'

"Bachmann, too, has harshly criticized Gingrich for 'shilling' for Freddie Mac. 'Whether former speaker Gingrich made $300,000 or whether he made $2 million, the point is that he took money to influence senior Republicans to be favorable toward Fannie and Freddie,' Bachmann said in November."
The interesting thing is that both Paul and Bachmann are currently on the public payroll, and are campaigning for president rather than doing what one assumes is a fairly full-time job of being a congressional representative.

The point was brought home to me when I was looking up Congressional votes. Here's a link to a roll call vote today. Scroll to the bottom and see whose names are listed as among the 6 (of 433) not voting. Both Rep. Paul and Bachmann are in the 1% of U. S. Representatives who didn't vote on a bill "To provide incentives for the creation of jobs, and for other purposes". Perhaps that's a 1% we can all be against.

Apparently, it's okay with Paul and Bachmann to take public funds for their quite well paid jobs though they aren't even showing up to vote let alone conduct the other public business a U.S. Representative is asked to do like oversight of government operations via committee assignments.

Not that this is unusual political behavior, but for Paul and Bachmann to call out Gingrich for receiving a publicly funded salary from a mismanaged federal entity all the while not showing up at their own publicly funded work place is at the least like the pot calling the kettle black. Maybe worse, if Gingrich actually did his job well.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Another "Not the Sharpest Knife" Anonymous Source Against Gringrich

Human Events is running a lame anti-Gingrich story based on information of an anonymous "former House GOP leadership staffer".

1. Apparently because Gingrich didn't ask the Senate to stay in session in October 1998 while the House still had to vote on the 1999 budget, five Republican candidates (four of them were at the time serving in the House) lost Senate races.
“'When the House finally voted on the budget October 20, it was too late for any of them,' [the anonymous staffer] said.

"When the November 3 election votes were tallied, the GOP lost five seats in the House and gained no new seats in the Senate, he said."
Remember the brouhaha over the supposed cost of the House taking an hour and a half to read the Constitution?
“'When one chamber of Congress is in session but not working, we the people still have to pay for members’ salaries and expenses, and for their police protection, and for keeping their lights and phones and coffee machines on.'"
Apparently this anonymous staffer believes it is a good use of taxpayer funds to keep the Senate in session three weeks or so without any work to do (how would that have played in the headlines?) to keep five Democrats from campaigning as effectively as when not in session. Maybe the anonymous staffer does not know that even when Congress is in session individuals can be out campaigning. Most of the last six months while Congress was in session, Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep Ron Paul have been out campaigning. This anonymous staffer gives us a twofer. No political or monetary sense.

2. Apparently Gingrich convinced this staffer that Republicans would gain 30 seats in 1998 instead of losing 5.
“'What was even more galling to the members was the way Gingrich and Linder had everyone convinced we were headed for a 30-seat gain,' said the former staffer, who is not affiliated with a presidential campaign."
Political leaders are supposed to be overly optimistic. They're supposed to say they will win even though it looks like they will lose. But, staffers are supposed to be hard-headed and doing real research. But somehow the anonymous staffer was credulous enough to believe that though there were no (none, zero) seat gains in the 1996 elections, there would be a blow out of a 30 seat gain in 1998 as a delayed follow up to the 63 seat gain in 1994.

3. The 1999 budget was a "disaster".
“'It also didn’t help that the budget that passed was a disaster. It had no tax cut and Clinton got everything he wanted,' the former staffer said. 'Limbaugh was killing us and calling the budget a sellout, so conservatives stayed home.'”
One of only four balanced federal budgets in modern history (1998-2001) was a disaster? If a balanced budget is a disaster, what does that make all the budgets passed before and since? Cataclysms? Utter ruinations? Armageddons?

4. Then there are the small ball gripes. Newt wanted to "be driven in [an] American-made car".
“'Even when he campaigned for candidates it was a crazy production,' he said. 'He had a 13-page rider with requirements like: Must be driven in American-made car, must have steak for lunch and must have a treadmill in hotel room.'”
Talk about crazy. Why would any candidate want to boost American-made products? Or someone trying to keep in shape ask for a treadmill in his hotel room? Or, having to eat the junk food that is part of campaigning, ask for certain food to be provided at least at lunch?

No wonder the staffer wants to remain anonymous. Who would want to be identified as the professional pol who said this stuff? It doesn't say much for Human Events that they are publishing such drivel.

H/T Byron York

4 Heroes Who Died Fighting in Afghanistan November 21 to December 3, 2011

December 3 - Sgt. Ryan D. Sharp, 28, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, died at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered Nov. 21 at Kandahar province, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Died in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.
- Sgt. 1st Class Clark A. Corley Jr., 35, of Oxnard, Calif.,
- Spc. Ryan M. Lumley, 21, of Lakeland, Fla., and
- Spc. Thomas J. Mayberry, 21, of Springville, Calif.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Pearl Harbor and FDR

photo from Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library
December 7, 1941, is a day that will live in infamy, and a large part of its living on in the American memory is due to the spectacular war time leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Though my parents changed early on from Democrat to conservative Republican, they still revere Franklin Roosevelt. Not for his domestic policies but for his ability to galvanize and lead the country in time of war.

My dad served in the Pacific theater in World War II. America lost over 400,000 men with another 600,000 wounded in World War II. My mom, on the home front, suffered not only the anxiety of her young husband going off to war but a stiff rationing program endured by the entire nation for more than four years.

Yet from December 7, 1941, to his death on April 12, 1945, President Roosevelt rallied the country to overcome economic and military obstacles in pursuit not only of military victory, but an "unconditional surrender" victory in a two front war in which military service was not for a fixed time period but for the duration plus six months.

The nation also peacefully accepted the "relocation" of nearly 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese to internment camps by executive order--with no civil or political rebellion. Though this proved an unnecessary precaution, it is a token of Roosevelt's ability to unite the nation to all out war at whatever cost.

The national unity and resolve that Roosevelt inspired is breathtaking in light of the civil and political opposition against every significant U.S. war since World War II, especially the war in Vietnam. This despite the fact that none of the succeeding wars have incurred anywhere near the losses in terms of military casualties and home front sacrifices of World War II.

Franklin Roosevelt, like Winston Churchill, was an extraordinary war time leader. Churchill gave the British spine to resist and fight when their homeland was daily under attack. Roosevelt gave Americans a resolve to fight, sacrifice and die in the hundreds of thousands even when their homeland was not under attack after Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor, a surprise attack American loss matched only by 9/11, stands as a monument to the greatness of the American people to turn an unprovoked attack into a complete military victory in African, European and Pacific theaters of war and as a monument to the outstanding war time leadership of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Monday, December 05, 2011

2 Heroes Who Died Fighting in Afghanistan November 21 to November 30, 2011

November 21 - Sgt. 1st Class Dennis R. Murray, 38, of Red Broiling Springs, Tenn., died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

November 30 - Staff Sgt. Vincent J. Bell, 28, of Detroit, Mich., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Yuval Levin on Constitutional/Conservative vs. Progressive Liberalism

Yuval Levin at National Review:
"As the framers saw it, both populist and technocratic politics were expressions of a modern hubris about the capacity of human beings--be it of the experts or of the people as a whole--to make just the right governing decisions. The Constitution is built upon a profound skepticism about the ability of any political arrangement to overcome the limitations of human reason and human nature, and so establishes a system of checks to prevent sudden large mistakes while enabling gradual changes supported by a broad and longstanding consensus."
. . .
"In the view of the framers, there is no omniscience; there is only imperfect humanity. We therefore need checks on all of our various excesses, and a system that forces us to think through important decisions as best we can. This may well be the essential insight of our constitutional system: Since there is no perfection in human affairs, any system of government has to account for the permanent imperfections of the people who are both governing and governed, and this is best achieved through constitutional forms that compel self-restraint and enable self-correction.

"This emphasis on moderating forms--that is, the focus on arrangements that impose structure and restraint on political life--is crucial, and it has always been controversial. Indeed, it is what troubled the progressives most of all about our system, and what troubled many other technocrats and populists before them. But as Alexis de Tocqueville noted a century before the New Deal, “this objection which the men of democracies make to forms is the very thing which renders forms so useful to freedom; for their chief merit is to serve as a barrier between the strong and the weak.” And he added, with his usual prescience, “Forms become more necessary in proportion as the government becomes more active and more powerful.” In other words, we need them now more than ever."
[emphasis added]
. . .
"The difference between these two kinds of liberalism--constitutionalism grounded in humility about human nature and progressivism grounded in utopian expectations--is a crucial fault line of our politics, and has divided the friends of liberty since at least the French Revolution. It speaks to two kinds of views about just what liberal politics is.

"One view, which has always been the less common one, holds that liberal institutions were the product of countless generations of political and cultural evolution in the West, which by the time of the Enlightenment, and especially in Britain, had begun to arrive at political forms that pointed toward some timeless principles in which our common life must be grounded, that accounted for the complexities of society, and that allowed for a workable balance between freedom and effective government given the constraints of human nature. Liberalism, in this view, involves the preservation and gradual improvement of those forms because they allow us both to grasp the proper principles of politics and to govern ourselves well.

"The other, and more common, view argues that liberal institutions were the result of a discovery of new political principles in the Enlightenment--principles that pointed toward new ideals and institutions, and toward an ideal society. Liberalism, in this view, is the pursuit of that ideal society. Thus one view understands liberalism as an accomplishment to be preserved and enhanced, while another sees it as a discovery that points beyond the existing arrangements of society. One holds that the prudent forms of liberal institutions are what matter most, while the other holds that the utopian goals of liberal politics are paramount. One is conservative while the other is progressive."
H/T Andrew C. McCarthy

Friday, December 02, 2011

PEW: Americans the Mirror Image of Europeans on Freedom/Nanny State

From the PEW Research Center:
"American opinions about the role of the state also vary considerably across age groups. About half (47%) of those younger than 30 prioritize the freedom to pursue life’s goals without interference from the state and a similar percentage (46%) say it is more important for the state to ensure that nobody is in need; among older Americans, however, about six-in-ten consider being free a higher priority, with just about three-in-ten saying the state should play an active role so that nobody is in need. No such age difference is evident in the four Western European countries surveyed.

"Asked if they agree that “success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control,” Americans again offer more individualistic views than those expressed by Western Europeans. Only 36% of Americans believe they have little control over their fate, compared with 50% in Spain, 57% in France and 72% in Germany; Britain is the only Western European country surveyed where fewer than half (41%) share this view."
There's a lot interesting in this PEW study not only on state matters but on cultural superiority, religion and morality. The chart on Morality and Belief in God reminds me of Mark Steyn's discussion of Nietzsche in After America:

“We know [Nietzsche] called the twentieth century right ["as an age of ‘wars such as have never happened on earth.’"]. So what did he have to say about the twenty-first? He foresaw a time even worse than the ‘wars such as have never happened,’ wars that were after all still fought according to the remnants, the ‘mere pittance’ of the late God’s moral codes. But after that, what? The next century–-our century–-would see ‘the total eclipse of all values.’ Man would attempt a ‘re-evalutaion,’ as the West surely did through multiculturalisms, sexual liberation, eco-fetishization, and various other fancies. But you cannot have an effective moral code, Nietsche pointed out, without a God who says ‘Thou shalt not.’” (pp. 321-322)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

PEW: 38% of Americans Think Global Warming Is Human Caused

A November, 2011, PEW Research Center poll finds that only 38% of Americans think that global warming is human caused. That's the exact same percentage who think global warming is a "very serious" problem.