Lazy Saturday Reads: New Hampshire Primary Weekend

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Good Afternoon!!

So now it’s New Hampshire’s turn–a state that is even whiter than Iowa. Iowa is 92% white and New Hampshire is 94% white. Some interesting facts about New Hampshire from The Connecticut Post:

New Hampshire is even whiter than Iowa. Its largest “city” has 110,000 people in it.

Its population is slightly more educated and well off than the rest of the country.

Together, Iowa and New Hampshire tell us something about the voting behavior of white people who don’t live in or near large cities.

Blacks, Asians and Hispanics are basically excluded from the first two elections in the presidential nomination process.

This distorts results for both parties, but it especially affects Democrats because minorities vote in Republican primaries far less.

Hillary Clinton, for example, does far better than Bernie Sanders with minority voters in all the polling so far, so Sanders is lucky that Iowa and New Hampshire come first.

The big contest after the first two is South Carolina, which has a large minority population.

If Clinton wins big there, the Democratic race will suddenly look very different than it does today.

The U.S. is growing more diverse very quickly. For example, in 2012 there were 23.3 million Hispanic eligible voters; there are 27.3 million this year, making Hispanics the largest block of minority voters.

In 2014, there were four states where minorities make up the majority; by 2044, the U.S. will be majority-minority.

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Some primary envy from The Detroit News:

The campaigns spent $40 million to sway Iowa caucusers; at the end, the spending hit a $6 million-a-week pace. Over the the past year, Iowa and New Hampshire residents had to be in hiding to avoid bumping into a candidate.

It would be one thing if these two states were microcosms of the nation. But neither represents the industrial or demographic diversity of America.

Fewer people live in Iowa than in Metro Detroit. Ninety-two percent of the population is white; fewer than 1 percent of businesses are owned by African-Americans. New Hampshire is even smaller and, at 94 percent, whiter.

Appealing to Iowa and New Hampshire voters requires different messages than would resonate nationwide. But if candidates fail to move the homogenous voters of these states, they’re at risk of seeing their funding dry up and their ambitions busted.

Presidential hopefuls should have to prove their appeal to a broader audience early on. The primary season should be revamped to force them to spend those early months demonstrating the resources to mount a national campaign.

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The lack of diversity in the two earliest states has handed a big advantage to Bernie Sanders. We’ll have to wait for Nevada and South Carolina to see how much impact his “enthusiastic” support in Iowa and New Hampshire has had on voters in states that are more representative of the U.S. population.

And let’s not let voters forget that Sanders clearly stated in a debate that he considers white people to be the “general population” and African Americans and Latinos to be somehow outside the “general population.”

From Time:

Sanders was asked about this exact problem at the debate Sunday night in Charleston. His answer:

“When the African American community becomes familiar with my Congressional record and with our agenda, and with our views on the economy, and criminal justice — just as the general population has become more supportive, so will the African American community, so will the Latino community. We have the momentum, we’re on a path to a victory.”

A little bit condescending, no? So we can only wait and see what happens on Tuesday and go from there. I don’t think it’s time for the Clinton campaign to panic just yet.

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For a little deep background on the New Hampshire primary, here’s a great article from 1988 by the Washington Post’s Henry Allen: New Hampshire is a fraud.

New Hampshire is a fraud.

Which is to say that behind that idyll of white-steepled, sleigh-belled, town-meeting, republican-with-a-small-R America lurks a much realer and hidden New Hampshire — the souvenir hustlers, backwoods cranks, motorcycle racing fans who sometimes face trouble after a motorcycle crash so they can find legal help from accident lawyers in Dallas, out-of-state writers, dour French Canadians and tax-dodging Massachusetts suburbanites who have conspired as New Hampshire has conspired for two centuries to create an illusion of noble, upright, granite-charactered sentinels of liberty out of little more than a self-conscious collection of bad (if beautiful) land, summer people, second-growth woods full of junked cars and decaying aristocracy, lakes howling with speedboats, state liquor stores that are open on Sundays and the most vicious state newspaper in America — the Manchester Union Leader, which recently greeted the birthday of Martin Luther King by describing him as a Communist dupe.

They sell the rest of the country maple syrup, lottery tickets and Yankee sagacity the way Indians on reservations sell moccasins, bingo and environmental wisdom. They never shut up about how closemouthed they are. They beat you rich and they beat you poor. They do this by taking a Calvinist pride in the riches from the high-tech boom in the southern part of the state, and then asssuming the smugness of Thoreau in defending the poverty of the swamp Yankees and shack people living back in the woods with yards full of mean dogs and broken snowmobiles. They exhibit the ethics of Switzerland and the shrugging shabbiness of New Jersey.

Or as Emerson wrote: “The God who made New Hampshire taunted the lofty land with little men.”

The question is not who they think they are, to be holding us hostage every four years with their presidential primary. Instead, who do we think they are, to let them get away with it, this white, tight and right smidgen of a place, this myth-mongering bastion of no-tax/no-spend conservatives with no minorities to speak of and a total of .43 percent of the American people? As Thomas Jefferson said, after New Hampshire town meetings had attacked his Embargo Act, “The organization of this little selfish minority enabled it to overrule the union.”

Read more at the link. It’s a long read, but a fun one.

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The media is finally beginning to vet Bernie Sanders with some serious research. Some examples:

Michael Grunwald at Politico: Bernie’s Radical Dilemma: If we need a revolution, how does he explain that things are already getting better?

Now that Bernie Sanders is looking less like a quixotic left-wing protest candidate and more like a serious contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, a contradiction at the heart of his campaign is becoming more glaring. You can call it the Radical’s Dilemma, or the Revolutionary’s Quandary, or maybe just Bernie’s Obama Problem. Whatever you call it, it was on stark display at last night’s debate in New Hampshire, even though Sanders tried to gloss over it.

The conundrum boils down to a schizophrenic view of a nation where progressive change is impossible and where progressive change is simultaneously happening. On one hand, Sanders argues that the political system is hopelessly corrupt, that the economy is outrageously rigged, that nothing good can happen as long as Wall Street, drug companies and fossil-fuel interests own Washington. On the other hand, Sanders says President Barack Obama has done a “fantastic job,” that America is in “much better shape than we were seven years ago,” that there has been significant progress on financial reform, health reform and climate action.

This is not just a political problem, as Sanders tries to carve out space to Obama’s left without denouncing a president with a 90 percent approval rating among Democrats. And Sanders can’t wave away the problem by saying the progress under Obama has been impressive, considering the Republican opposition, but insufficient; Obama says the same thing. This is a philosophical problem for a radical candidate, a question he hasn’t figured out how to answer: If things are never going to get better without a political revolution to take power back from special interests, how is it that things are getting better?

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Tim Mak at The Daily Beast: The Veterans Scandal on Bernie Sanders’ Watch.

Bernie Sanders’s tenure as chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee was characterized by glaring neglect of his oversight responsibilities, allowing the 2014 VA scandal to unfold under his watch, veterans’ rights advocates argue.

Sanders has touted his work on veterans’ issues, most recently citing his involvement in “the most comprehensive VA health care bill in this country,” in a debate Thursday.

Left unsaid however, is that he was the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, responsible for overseeing the Department of Veterans Affairs, as the scandal erupted.

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Why don’t Science and Reason prevail over Superstitions and Ideological Wishful Thinking?

Paul Krugman asks one more time why over 80 years of economic study, data, and theory have been thrown to the wind for failed ideological hypotheses. He asks why conventional wisdom denies everything that thousands of economists have studied, researched, and debated that now has become accepted theory?  Our current experience shows that what we’ve learned over the years is correct. Why are failed hypotheses based on ideological wishful thinking running policy these days?  I ask this about my own discipline, but we could just as well ask about why we have to fight to keep iron age myths out of biology classes and fight to keep basic scientific theory like evolution and climate science in?  Why do people keep relying on disproved hypotheses, conspiracy theories, and absolutely outdated religious stories?

Here’s the narrative that applies to my discipline from Krugman.

Unfortunately, in late 2010 and early 2011, politicians and policy makers in much of the Western world believed that they knew better, that we should focus on deficits, not jobs, even though our economies had barely begun to recover from the slump that followed the financial crisis. And by acting on that anti-Keynesian belief, they ended up proving Keynes right all over again.

In declaring Keynesian economics vindicated I am, of course, at odds with conventional wisdom. In Washington, in particular, the failure of the Obama stimulus package to produce an employment boom is generally seen as having proved that government spending can’t create jobs. But those of us who did the math realized, right from the beginning, that the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (more than a third of which, by the way, took the relatively ineffective form of tax cuts) was much too small given the depth of the slump. And we also predicted the resulting political backlash.

So the real test of Keynesian economics hasn’t come from the half-hearted efforts of the U.S. federal government to boost the economy, which were largely offset by cuts at the state and local levels. It has, instead, come from European nations like Greece and Ireland that had to impose savage fiscal austerity as a condition for receiving emergency loans — and have suffered Depression-level economic slumps, with real G.D.P. in both countries down by double digits.

The stupidity is killing our economy.  The stupidity is also forcing medical research back to the dark ages too.  Taliban-like forces in the US have made up research that says that fetuses with no developed central nervous systems ‘feel pain’.  They have invented bogus ‘partial birth abortion’ procedures out of thin air.  They’ve even based laws on these falsehoods.  We have crazies defining zygotes as fully functional human beings with some narrative that a fertilized egg is just some little microscopic person encased in a membrane.

We have tons of Taliban-like idiots trying to convince every one that the data on global warming is just some made up agenda.  Yet, tons of biologists have studied and published research articles on the radical changes in habitat and migration patterns.  Meteorologists have reams of data showing the extremes in weather and temperatures that have shifted significantly in statistical terms.  It is so pervasive and significant  that no scientist that’s not associated with some whacky religion denies global warming. Geologists have documented the changes in water levels and ice formations.  Yet, I can still read some one that notes one cold day in summer and on the basis of that anecdote declares global warming to be a hoax.  They obviously don’t understand that extreme cold in one area of the globe means extreme heat someplace else. However, some one without one college science course can get on TV and proclaim an entire discipline to be deluded.

One possible  answer to my question is there is an evil partnership of corporations and the rich who profit from ignorance and those who follow strict religious ideology who thrive on ignorance period.  These folks have overwhelming political power and access to media.  The media these days refuses to call out lies and fact check  blowhards.  They bring on a politician or a media pundit but NEVER an actual scientist with years of learning and research in the area.  The media even goes along by repeating the change in word meanings that have plagued us recently.  Radical ideas are being put forth as “conservative”.  Conspiracy theories are being held up as just another point of view.  Ever since media has been driven by profits, we have media more interested in ratings and not getting boycotted than actually putting out some useful information.  It is no wonder that we are seeing a systematic destruction of public schools and universities.  The only way this march of ignorance can continue is with a systematic destruction of institutions that actually teach science to people.  There has never been a time when this quote by Jonathan Swift is more relevant since the Dark Ages which were brought on by the same group of religious nuts that tanked scientific thought hundreds of years ago.

“When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

The same thing can be said about true and genius theories.  The confederacy of dunces will thump their books full of myths and conspiracies and deny people access to science, reason, and truth.

Here’s a pretty good list of how insane the Republican Party has become in terms of irrational, unscientific, and unreasonable positions per the UK’s The Economist.  Notice the use of the term “fatwahs” which implies they’re waging a religious war. Also please remember that this magazine is not exactly a bastion of socialist thought.

Nowadays, a candidate must believe not just some but all of the following things: that abortion should be illegal in all cases; that gay marriage must be banned even in states that want it; that the 12m illegal immigrants, even those who have lived in America for decades, must all be sent home; that the 46m people who lack health insurance have only themselves to blame; that global warming is a conspiracy; that any form of gun control is unconstitutional; that any form of tax increase must be vetoed, even if the increase is only the cancelling of an expensive and market-distorting perk; that Israel can do no wrong and the “so-called Palestinians”, to use Mr Gingrich’s term, can do no right; that the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education and others whose names you do not have to remember should be abolished.

These fatwas explain the rum list of candidates: you either have to be an unelectable extremist who genuinely believes all this, or a dissembler prepared to tie yourself in ever more elaborate knots (the flexible Mr Romney). Several promisingly pragmatic governors, including Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, never even sought the nomination. Jon Huntsman, the closest thing to a moderate in the race (who supports gay marriage and action to combat climate change), is polling in low single figures.

More depressingly, the fatwas have stifled ideas, making the Republican Party the enemy of creative positions it once pioneered. The idea of requiring every American to carry health insurance (thus broadening the insurance pool and reducing costs) originated in the conservative Heritage Foundation as a response to Clinton-care, and was put into practice by then-Governor Romney in Massachusetts. All this Mr Romney has had to disavow, just as Mr Gingrich has had to recant his ideas on climate change, while Rick Perry is still explaining his appalling laxity as governor of Texas in allowing the children of illegal immigrants to receive subsidised college education.

WTF is wrong with our country?  Our religious freedom was enshrined in the first amendment.  Our scientific advances led to men on the moon, the elimination of some of the world’s worst plagues, and the lap top computer.  Our melting pot of people fleeing class systems and oppression all over the place evolved into a great democracy that provided public education for all and opportunity for any one that wanted it.  Why has it  come down to this?