November 23, 2012

What Stoppard copied from Waugh for "Anna Karenina"

This isn't hugely important, but it's fun to note where major writers get their ideas. From my movie review in Taki's Magazine of Anna Karenina, which features an adaptation of Tolstoy's novel by playwright Tom Stoppard:
Stoppard is often attacked for his notorious cleverness, but he tries to use his brainpower to make audience comprehension as simple as possible (but not simpler). 
Russian novels, however, are notorious for their endless characters with endless names. For example, Anna’s husband is Count Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, while her lover is Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky. In his narration, Tolstoy gets around this self-inflicted problem by calling the father of Anna’s son “Alexei Alexandrovich” and the father of her daughter “Vronsky.” To help Western audiences, Stoppard mostly skips the patronymics. 
Besides cutting away until he ends up with an efficient rendition of the grand plot, Stoppard adds a brilliant new climax to the steeplechase scene that Tolstoy had overlooked, perhaps because it didn’t occur to him how confounding having two Alexeis might be to foreigners. In Stoppard’s variation, when Vronsky falls in a horse race for cavalry officers, Anna screams “Alexei!” Her husband comes running when she calls his name, only for her to ignore him in front of tout le Moscou in her anguish over her new Alexei. 
Stoppard presumably lifted this device from the most shocking scene in Evelyn Waugh’s 1934 novel A Handful of Dust, in which the wife has a young son and a lover both named “John.” Informed only of the death of “John,” she exclaims “Oh, thank God” when she then learns that it was merely her little boy who was killed in an equestrian accident.  (Here’s a recent interview with Stoppard to promote Anna Karenina where, unprompted, he cites A Handful of Dust as a “masterpiece.”)

In other words, Stoppard has been thinking about Waugh's plot device recently. That shouldn't be surprising: Back in the 1990s, Stoppard told a reviewer that his three favorite writers were Waugh, Vladimir Nabokov, and Thomas Babington Macaulay, so there's nothing new here. (By the way, I like Waugh, Nabokov, and Macaulay, too, so it's hardly surprising I like Stoppard.) Indeed, when I type "Stoppard Waugh" into Google, I find this:
From September 1962 until April 1963, [Stoppard] worked in London as a drama critic for Scene, a new arts magazine, writing reviews and interviews, both under his name and under the pseudonym William Boot which was taken from the protagonist in Evelyn Waugh's novel Scoop. Stoppard says he was drawn to this character because he was "a journalist who brought a kind of innocent incompetence and contempt to what he was doing.... I used it, and got quite fond of Boot as a name." He liked it so much in fact, that his early tv and radio plays frequently feature characters with the name Boot.

In turn, I wonder if Waugh's original scene in A Handful of Dust was a parody of the horseback accident scene in Anna Karenina? I can't find any evidence online that Waugh ever read Tolstoy -- in general, Waugh hated 19th Century novels for their long-windedness, but he mostly excoriated Dickens in print -- but I can imagine Waugh muttering his way through Anna Karenina, "Alexei Alexandrovich? Alexei Kirillovich? Why can't this loquacious Muscovite use proper English names, such as, say, John? Wait a minute, that gives me an idea ..."

A few years ago, I bought myself for Christmas War and Peace and a new copy of Scoop to replace the one that I had reread so often it fell apart. After 100+ pages of War and Peace, I said to myself, "You know, the plot is kind of like Scoop -- rich people socialize in the city and the country, and then off to war -- but Waugh only needs about 1/3 as many words as Tolstoy to communicate." So, I reread Scoop for a 10th time instead of War and Peace for the first time.

Waugh's non-verbose style was influenced by 1920s silent films. I believe he was employed as a screenwriter at a big studio for awhile, but only the amateur 28-minute silent comedy The Scarlet Woman: An Ecclesiastical Melodrama, made by Waugh's friends in 1925, ever made it to the screen.

Religious breakdowns of 2012 vote by region

Hail to You uses Reuters' America Mosaic polling explorer to check out his theory that the reason Episcopalians voted for Obama more than other Protestants did is because they are concentrated in the Northeast. So he looks at whites' voting by religion for the Northeast and the South.

Mostly, it looks to me like whites in the Northeast went about 15-25 points less for Romney than did whites in the South and that holds for religious subsets. For example, Romney won 29% of the Jews in the Northeast and 46% of the Jews in the South. Romney got 45% of the Episcopalians in the Northeast and 66% of the Episcopalians in the South; 52% of the white Catholics in the Northeast and 72% of the white Catholics in the South. 

In general, the Reuters-Ipsos results are so beautiful in terms of how perfectly they would fit into a multiple regression model of how people vote that I sometimes fear that Reuters-Ipsos is pulling my leg. Maybe they didn't really survey 41,667 voters online. Maybe they just started with a multiple regression model with reasonable weights for race, gender, marriage, religion, region, state, homeownership, education, and so forth, and then just made up the data to fit the model?

I'm just being paranoid. I have zero evidence that this is a hoax. Indeed, a few times I've seen anomalous results from Reuters that represent small sample sizes that wouldn't appear in mocked-up data. For example, there is a reverse gender gap among white working class non-college voters in those Slippery Six upper Midwestern states that Romney lost fairly narrowly.

By the way, for polling wonks only, I figured out a way to get a reading on groups too small to get a readout on the Reuters polls. Reuters’ American Mosaic Polling Explorer is set up to not let you see the results for groups with a sample size of less than 100 respondents, such as Southern Mormons. But, you can figure out the numbers by combining groups below the cutoff with groups a little above the cutoff. For example, in Hail's 12 Southern states, there were 180 Jewish voters (excluding 3rd party voters), who went 45% for Romney. If I select Jewish _and_ Mormon, now I get a sample size of 266 that went 63% for Romney. This suggests 266 Mormons+Jews – 180 Jews = 86 Mormons in the South. Romney carried 63% of the Southern Jewish+Mormon group, so that would suggest he got 78 of the 86 Southern Mormons, or around 90%. (I’m doing the arithmetic in my head, so I might be off by a little.)

Tiger Mothers in their natural habitat

From the NYT:
A Chinese Education, for a Price

The demands for bribes can start before a child enters kindergarten. 
BEIJING — For Chinese children and their devoted parents, education has long been seen as the key to getting ahead in a highly competitive society. But just as money and power grease business deals and civil servant promotions, the academic race here is increasingly rigged in favor of the wealthy and well connected, who pay large sums and use connections to give their children an edge at government-run schools. 
Nearly everything has a price, parents and educators say, from school admissions and placement in top classes to leadership positions in Communist youth groups. Even front-row seats near the blackboard or a post as class monitor are up for sale. 
Zhao Hua, a migrant from Hebei Province who owns a small electronics business here, said she was forced to deposit $4,800 into a bank account to enroll her daughter in a Beijing elementary school. At the bank, she said, she was stunned to encounter officials from the district education committee armed with a list of students and how much each family had to pay. Later, school officials made her sign a document saying the fee was a voluntary “donation.”

But, how different are things here?

Jeb Bush's Mexican oligarch cronies

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is being talked up as the frontrunner for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2016 because of his close ties to Mexico. A dozen years ago, however, a small bilingual magazine called El Andar courageously investigated the Mexican friends of the Bush Dynasty.

From my article for UPI in 2001:
Although a Feb. 13 Washington Post story claimed that President Bush's links to Mexico have been largely "ceremonial," El Andar has documented ties between the Bush family and a colorful cast of Mexican power-brokers going back four decades to an oil business partnership between George Bush and Jorge Diaz Serrano. 
The Bushes are of course a famously friendly family, with a huge circle of acquaintances. Several of their Mexican connections, however, have later caused them some embarrassment. For example, Diaz Serrano would go on to spend much of the 1980s in a Mexican prison for embezzling $58 million while he headed Mexico's Pemex oil monopoly. 
El Andar also reported that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother, occasionally vacationed at the Puebla ranch of Raul Salinas, the brother of former Mexican president Carlos Salinas (1988-1994). Raul can no longer host anyone, though. He is currently serving a 27-year prison sentence for the murder of his ex-brother-in-law. Raul's wife was arrested in Switzerland when she attempted to remove close to $100 million from their Swiss bank account. 
The Florida governor, whose wife Columba was born in Mexico, told Andres Oppenheimer of the Miami Herald, "I've seen [Raul Salinas] 10 times, at the most. I found him to be a very nice person, with very nice children . . . It's kind of shocking [to learn of] all these allegations.'' Jeb Bush said that he and Raul "never did any business.'' 
... Indeed, one target of [El Andar], the family of Carlos Hank Gonzales, a powerful politician in Mexico's former ruling party (the PRI), has threatened to sue the tiny magazine for $10 million over Reynolds' article "The NAFTA Gang." 
According to Forbes Magazine, Carlos Hank Gonzales, a lifelong public servant, is a self-made billionaire. He justifies his good fortune with this elegant saying: "A politician who is poor is a poor politician." 
His son, Carlos Hank Rohn, is the primary shareholder in the $2 billion dollar Laredo National Bank of Texas. The controversial bank's CEO Gary G. Jacobs contributed a total of $85,000 to George W. Bush's two campaigns for governor, according to the campaign contribution database maintained by Texans for Public Justice. Jacobs has also contributed to numerous Democrats in recent years. 
A draft report leaked from the federal National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) alleged, "Several years of investigative information strongly support the conclusion that the Hank family has laundered money on a massive scale, assisted drug trafficking organizations in transporting drug shipments and engaged in large-scale public corruption." ...
Jacobs has attributed federal criticism of his chief stockholder to ethnic bias: "They don't want Latinos to own or control banks in the U.S." 
Journalists in Mexico who write too bluntly about the rich and powerful have more to worry about than lawsuits. For example, a Tijuana gossip columnist named Héctor Félix Miranda was gunned down in 1988. Two Hank family bodyguards were eventually convicted. 

And here's Julia Reynolds' story in El Andar on "Los Amigos de Bush" on the narco ties of some of the Bush family's chief Mexican-American supporters in Texas.

Back in 1995, Jorge G. Castaneda, who was Mexican Foreign Minister in the early 2000s, wrote in the Los Angeles Times:
There has also been a great deal of speculation in Mexico about the exact nature of Raul Salinas' close friendship with former President George Bush's son, Jeb. It is well known here that for many years the two families spent vacations together--the Salinases at Jeb Bush's home in Miami, the Bushes at Raul's ranch, Las Mendocinas, under the volcano in Puebla. There are many in Mexico who believe that the relationship became a back channel for delicate and crucial negotiations between the two governments, leading up to President Bush's sponsorship of NAFTA.

In 2004, another Salinas brother, Enrique, was found murdered in his car, gangland-style.

The difference in this regard between George W. and Jeb was twofold: Jeb really does speak Spanish and really isn't a screw-up, so he was much more plugged into what was going on at the top in Mexico in the early 1990s, which was pretty Borgia-like.

GOP announces foolproof plan for winning elections

House Republicans still smarting from their poor showing among Hispanics in the presidential election are planning a vote next week on immigration legislation that would both expand visas for foreign science and technology students

That will appeal to Hispanics voters. What Mexican-American family doesn't have a cousin with a physics Ph.D.?
and make it easier for those with green cards to bring their immediate families to the U.S. 

Who will vote Republican in gratitude, no doubt.
Republican leaders made it clear after the election that the party was ready to get serious about overhauling the nation’s dysfunctional immigration system, a top priority for Hispanic communities. Taking up what is called the STEM Jobs Act during the lame-duck session could be seen as a first step in that direction. 
The House voted on a STEM bill — standing for science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in September, but under a procedure requiring a two-thirds majority. It was defeated, with more than 80 percent of Democrats voting against it, because it offset the increase in visas for high-tech graduates by eliminating another visa program that is available for less-educated foreigners, many from Africa.

Punishing American computer programmers and engineers by letting in more Asians, who vote heavily Democratic, seems like a brilliant strategy for whipping up enthusiasm for the GOP brand among American computer programmers and engineers.

Strange new respect for the Bush Dynasty

Generally speaking, being married to a failed jewel smuggler won't make you Presidential Timber, but in the case of Jeb Bush, being married to a Mexican failed jewel smuggler has vaulted him to the top of media consideration for the 2016 GOP Presidential nomination. From the NYT:
Jeb Bush in 2016? Not Too Early for Chatter 
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Now that the Obama and Romney campaigns have closed their headquarters in Chicago and Boston, the attention of the political world is shifting to an office suite tucked behind the colonnades of the Biltmore Hotel complex here. 
The suite is where former Gov. Jeb Bush manages his consulting business, his education foundation and, now, the (very) early decision-making process for a possible presidential run in 2016.
When former President Bill Clinton rolled through here while campaigning for President Obama, he speculated about Mr. Bush’s intentions with Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and friend of Mr. Bush.

 Navarro is from a rich Nicaraguan family that made themselves unpopular enough that they relocated to Miami in 1980.
It was no idle topic for Mr. Clinton, given the possibility that his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, could seek the Democratic nomination.

That's exactly what this country needs: the fresh thinking and fresh blood of a 2016 Bush v. Clinton race.
When Senator Marco Rubio of Florida held a strategy session here to discuss his own political future last week, the question of Mr. Bush, a mentor, hung over the room; a decision by Mr. Bush, 59, to seek the Republican nomination would almost certainly halt any plans by Mr. Rubio, 41, to do so or abruptly set off a new intraparty feud. 
Mr. Bush is said by friends to be weighing financial and family considerations — between so many years in office and the recession his wealth took a dip, they said, and he has been working hard to restore it — as well as the complicated place within the Republican Party of the Bush brand. Asked this week about whether his father would run, Jeb Bush Jr. told CNN, “I certainly hope so.” 
For now, however, “It’s neither a ‘no’ nor a ‘yes’ — it’s a ‘wait and see,’ ” said Al Cardenas, the chairman of the American Conservative Union and a longtime friend and adviser to Mr. Bush. “It continues to intrigue him, given how much he has to share with the country.” 
After Mitt Romney’s defeat by a Democratic coalition built around overwhelming support from Hispanics and other fast-growing demographic groups, many Republicans are looking for a candidate who can help make the party more inclusive without ceding conservative principles — and no one is the subject of more speculation at this point than Mr. Bush. 
To his supporters, Mr. Bush is the man for the moment. His wife, Columba, was born and raised in Mexico. He speaks Spanish and favors overhauling the immigration system in a way that would provide a route to citizenship for people already in the country illegally but otherwise law-abiding. 
... George W. Bush’s break with the populist right began midway through his second term over his support for a pathway to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, which grass-roots activists labeled an amnesty plan. His push for immigration legislation failed.

Huh? George W. Bush pushed immigration in 2001 and 2004 as well.
This year, even before Election Day, Jeb Bush was warning of what he called his party’s “stupid” approach to illegal immigration. (Mr. Obama took 71 percent of the Hispanic vote, according to interviews with voters.) 
“The day after the election, I started getting e-mails and texts from friends and others wanting Governor Bush to run and asking whether he would,” said Justin Sayfie, a Florida lobbyist who served as an adviser to Mr. Bush when he was governor. 
The calls for Mr. Bush to step forward have grown louder since Mr. Romney told donors that Mr. Obama won the election by giving “gifts” of government benefits to Hispanics, African-Americans and younger voters. 
“That stupid comment that came out of Mitt Romney’s mouth would never in a million years have come out of Jeb Bush’s mouth because he doesn’t think it,” said Ms. Navarro, the strategist, who sees Mr. Bush regularly at the Biltmore, a gathering spot for local politicos. “This election result has made Jeb Bush’s voice that much wiser and that much more needed for the Republican Party: What he’s been warning about all along proved to be true.” 

Jeb Bush is now Presidential Timber not only because his wife is a Mexican failed jewel smuggler, but because he regularly drinks at the Biltmore with Latin America's oligarchs and right-wing exiles. From the Miami Herald in 2006:
The First Lady of The Biltmore 
Former Diplomat Ana Navarro, 34, feels the Cuba issue closely and is becoming a quiet, behind the scenes player. As a former ambassador from Nicaragua to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Navarro said she saw first hand how Cuban diplomats bullied the commission into leniency in Switzerland. She called them “thugs.” Her boyfriend, Biltmore Hotel owner Gene Prescott, and her have made the Biltmore the home headquarters of Cuba talk recently. At least five Cuba-related events have been held there in the last few weeks. Navarro is a member of the deep-pocketed US Cuba Democracy PAC. She says she also corners officials and diplomats from outside Miami who stay at the Biltmore. “There is not one that doesn’t come here that doesn’t get a dose of Western Hemisphere and Cuba issues.”  Prescott is a Democrat and Navarro is a Republican, so they play both sides of the coin.

In general, the common idea in the media that Jeb will appeal to Latino voters because he vacationed three times at the ranch of the brother of President Salinas of Mexico, who was known as Mr. 10% Percent because of his immense corruption and who was then sentenced to 27 years in prison for murder, is ... interesting. It might even be true that Jeb's ties to Latin America's oligarchs will work as well for him outside of Florida as it does in Florida. But, then again, maybe not. For example, Jeb's friends, the Salinas Brothers, are really not that popular in Mexico these days.

Back to the New York Times:
After waiting his turn following his brother, Mr. Bush, who declined to be interviewed for this article, is not commenting publicly on the election’s outcome. But he has assured friends that he will step forward as the nation again grapples with how to address illegal immigration. He is co-author of a book called “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution,” to be published in the spring. 
His complicated political considerations include the question of whether the country would consider electing another Bush. 
... However, Mr. Bush’s friends say, his last name is not his biggest concern. Aside from financial matters, friends said he is also conscious of how a run would affect his family, especially the political prospects of his sons.

Sons, not son? Uh-oh ...
Jeb Bush Jr., 29, is a founder of a political action committee, Sun Pac, formed to promote and recruit conservative Hispanic political candidates. 
George P. Bush, 36, has filed paperwork in Texas in preparation for a campaign to become land commissioner. 

There are two of them?

Be afraid, be very afraid.

NYT discovers Google Gaydar

Awhile back, I pointed out in Taki's that you can use Google's auto-completion prompts to quantify which celebrities the public suspects might be gay. Now, the NYT has a similar article:
Don’t Ask? Internet Still Tells 

Of course, being a respectable publication, the NYT has to fit this phenomenon into the approved "Who? Whom?" political framework:
So what might explain this apparent fascination with people’s sexual orientation? 
Ritch Savin-Williams, a professor at Cornell University who studies gay issues, said that the frequency of such inquiries is a symptom of the politicized nature of homosexuality. For instance, he said that people who are gay or who favor gay rights [i.e., Good People] might be looking for allies and like-minded people, while people who oppose such rights [i.e., Bad People] might be looking to demonize someone, whether a politician, athlete or actor.

There is also a third, unmentioned group: those who who like to understand how the world works. No doubt these weirdos comprise only a tiny minority, but that's one minority that is of no interest to the NYT, at least when it comes to Gay Issues.

By the way, I've since discovered that my Google Gaydar system works superbly well in another field of entertainment for identifying the performers' strategy for attracting a particular target audience. I'll have to write it up one of these days.

The Dying Alone Demographic crucial to Obama

Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (Stanley Greenberg was Bill Clinton's pollster) has a report on the 2012 election emphasizing single women. Greenberg has long emphasized the marriage gap, just from a Democratic perspective:
Greenberg is double counting the gaps, while I present them as just the difference between Romney's percent among one group and his percent among another. But the message is similar. The marriage gap has been bigger than the gender gap for a half dozen consecutive elections (at least):
Greenberg writes:
President Obama won women by a 55 to 44 percent margin and lost men by a 45 to 52 percent margin, leaving an 18-point gender gap, up from 12 points in 2008.   But this difference is dwarfed by the marriage gap—the margin between married and unmarried women.  Married women supported the Republican candidate in 2012 by a comfortable six-point margin.  It is Obama’s huge victory among unmarried women that delivered the women’s vote and with it, the White House.  There is a 43-point difference in the margin between married women and unmarried women, a number which exceeds the gender gap by a factor of two.  
This marriage gap is not new.  Marital status has been driving how voters vote—and, whether they vote—for several election cycles.   What is different about this cycle is that the Obama campaign was the first national campaign to recognize the importance of unmarried women and target advertising and messaging explicitly to these voters.   This proved a smart investment.

In 2010, Democratic support among unmarried women dropped significantly, and Democrats lost the overall vote among women and the Congress.  In 2012, Democratic support among unmarried women bounced back sharply.

The key for Obama in 2012, thus, was to agitate the fringiest element: single women who didn't bother to vote in the unglamorous 2010 election.

November 22, 2012

Giant Japanese Robot from Outer Space personnel news

Here at iSteve, our mission includes keeping you up to date on the latest developments at the Giant Japanese Robot from Outer Space high school that is perpetually about to zap the Los Angeles Cathedral across the 101 freeway with its flamethrower death ray.

The $232 million school has been open for several years now, but has so far not been a success. The idea of building a Fame type performing arts high school right off the Hollywood Freeway in the northwest corner of downtown L.A. to attract the children of the huge array of talented parents who live to the north and west made sense. But, then it was decided that catering to the children of the people who pay most of the taxes was racist, so it was decided to reserve most of the spaces in the school for children from the neighborhood, a neighborhood not noted for producing talent.

The original plan was to get billionaire art patron Eli Broad to kick in some more bucks in return for putting his name on the thing, but he's been cool to the idea. After several years as merely High School #9, it is currently called the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts after the recent school chief. But that name probably won't last because the school board recently paid out $450,000 for the elderly Cortines sexually harassing a middle aged male employee. (But, looking on the bright side, at least it wasn't a kid!).

Things have gotten so desperate lately that LAUSD has taken the radical step of actually hiring a principal, Norm Isaacs, with a proven track record of turning around a failing school by making it more attractive to talented students. From the LA Times:
After a difficult search process, a veteran Los Angeles principal who later started a local charter school has been chosen the newest leader of the downtown visual and performing arts high school. 
Norman Isaacs, 67, was not the first or second choice of Los Angeles Unified School District officials, but he has long been viewed as a leader within and outside the school system for his role in developing and managing arts programs. 
... For years, Isaacs nurtured the well-regarded arts program at Millikan Middle School in the San Fernando Valley. Then he left the Los Angeles district, largely out of frustration over his unsuccessful efforts to develop a continuation of Millikan's program at nearby Grant High School. ... 
The job of leading the $232-million downtown arts high school, which just started its third year, has proved a revolving door. This summer, a school committee considered more than 30 candidates; its top choices were two educators from outside the system who'd been recruited by billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad. 
Broad had pushed for an established figure from outside L.A. Unified and was willing to sweeten the district's salary offer. 
But Kim Bruno, from New York City, accepted and then changed her mind. Then, last week, Rory Pullens, who heads the performing arts high school in Washington, D.C., did an about face too. He had been due to start in November.  
The district also has replaced three previous top administrators at the school from inside the district, in one case sparking protests. 
A Pennsylvania native and economics major, Isaacs had envisioned a one-year Los Angeles teaching stint in 1969. But the job captivated him; he worked his way up through some of the most difficult schools in the system before becoming Millikan's principal in 1995.

Back in the early 1990s, Millikan Middle School in pleasant Sherman Oaks was a gang-infested wasteland. After a middle school student murdered a local homeowner, the well-connected neighbors demanded that the school be shut down. In desperation, the school district made Isaacs principal of Millikan Middle School and let him implement his hitherto unthinkable strategy of making this public school in Sherman Oaks attractive to people who live in places like Sherman Oaks.

But they wouldn't let him carry on at Grant H.S., a school best known for three decades of Armenian v. Mexican ethnic rioting.

Singapore most unemotional country, Philippines most emotional

From a Gallup Poll written up in the Guardian.

Which countries are most resistant to immigration?

A reader writes [By the way, this is just the reader's rough draft, so don't blame him for anywhere that it's not fully developed.]
Sword here again.

Every so often, propulation replacement in the USA is lamented/castigated by the iSteve commentators. The most recent time that happened, that got me thinking:

Which country is the most resitant to population replacement?

Of course, there are a lot of poor hellholes that do not attract anyone except those who have a specific reason to be in just that country (miners, diplomats, criminals in need of a failed state, etc) but that is not what we are looking for. Instead, we should limit the question to only those countries which are so well-run so that there are significant numbers of people from other ethnic groups that would be interested in living there, if they could. In order to make the discussion more productive, it is best to limit it to countries those in the top of some statistical league.

I choose the 47 countries that are in the top quartile of the wikipedia list on Human Development Index (HDI)

These countries are:
classified as possessing a "Very high human development".[12]
Norway, Netherlands, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, France, Slovenia, Finland, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Greece, Cyprus, Andorra, Estonia, Slovakia, Malta, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Portugal, Latvia.

Australia, New Zealand

North America:
United States, Canada

Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Israel, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Brunei, Quatar, Bahrain,

Latin America and the Carribbean:
Chile, Argentina, Barbados

There were no African countries in this august list, the top one - Seychelles - coming in at #53.

So, what characteristics of a country would be protective against population replacement?

First, I classify borders into 4 categories:
1. Easily walkable - to pass the border requires walking, but no special outdoor skills, nor skills in evading border patrol. Many borders in Europe fit into this category.
2. Trekkable - to pass this border, one has to walk in harsh terrain, but it is doable for the average healthy adult. Mexico-USA border is in many places an example of this.
3. Transportable - no private person can walk, swim or boat past this border with vehicles commonly owned by usual people. Getting past it requires paying costly air or boat tickets, or being a stowaway. Iceland is surrounded by these borders.
4. Blocked borders - these borders are staffed with border patrol units tasked with apprehending or killing anyone attempting to pass except in designated chokepoints, and the borders are fortified with man-made hindrances that are intended to stop, impede, or make obvious any attempt at non-authorized border crossing. Examples include the border between East and West Germany, borders around the Spanish exclaves in North Africa, and the borders surrounding Israel.

Secondly, there are 3 major types of political system in these countries:
1. Two-party democracy with single-seat constituiences - USA is a prominent example. Duverger´s Law dictates that there will be 2 parties in such a system, and that makes it very difficult for an immigration restriction party to thrive and survive.
2. Multi-party democracy with proportional representation - Most of Europe follows this model. Most countries also have a restrictionist party, which is linked to the fact that the hindrances to market entry is much lower in such a political system.
3. Non-democracies - applies to some asian countries.

Division according to founding history of the country
1. Founded by recent immigration into a land inhabited by pre-industrial tribes - USA and NZ fit into this category. NZ is much better off, since it was only colonized by one major overseas group, and the native population is both more cohesive and less afflicted by social ills than the minority groups of USA. The founding myth/ethos/whathaveyou of immigration as a nation-creater makes it more difficult to get acceptance for a immigration stop.
2. Traditionally monoethnic countries - do not have any ethnic minorities of any significant size, or have been like that until fairly recently. This is obviously the best case.
3. Duoethnic countries - two relatively large ethnic groups that completely dominate over any 3rd groups. The relation between the 2 major groups can be friendly (Finland) or more hostile (Belgium) or something in between (Canada).
4. Truly multiethnic countries, with the Austrian Empire as probably the best example.

In some cases, countries move from one category to another, either as a result of a friendly split (Czechslovakia, going 3->2), or war splitting a country into many pieces (Austrian Empire, post-WWI), or a war shaving off the outer minority fringes of a country so that only the monoethnic core is left (Hungary, post-Trianon), or various mixed cases.

Division according to popularity of language
1. National language is widely spoken outside the borders of the county - USA is a good example. This makes it much easier for an illegal immigrant to keep his head down, while at the same time getting hired.
2. National language is uncommon outside the country - Iceland is probably the best example. This makes it difficult for illegal immigrants to find a job, and minimally function in a society.

What other factors are there that act as protectors against population replacement? Which if those will be still there even if the political class is OK with importing people?

This could be put into a Excel project, but one should probably have defined all other factors before doing that.

My hunch as to which countries are most resistant, in order:
1. Japan
2. South Korea
3. Iceland
4. Finland
5. Liechstenstein
6. New Zealand
7. Norway
8. Sweden

What is your bet/ordering?

I'm wondering if Germany isn't surreptitiously creeping up onto this list? And what about Israel? Until this century, Italy was strong on "move 'em on."

The (hopefully) ultimate post on Trout v. Cabrera: alternative universes v. what actually happened

I'm sure everybody is sick of the baseball debate over the the American League Most Valuable Player award going to 29-year-old veteran Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers over 20-year-old wunderkind Mike Trout of the California Angels. But, I've think I've come up with a subtle but useful distinction.

Personally, I would have voted for Trout. But I think I can come up with a better defense of the sportswriters voting for Cabrera than they can.

Ironically, Trout is a classic Five Tool Player that the pre-Moneyball old school scouts would have drooled over because he Looks Good in a Uniform. Cabrera is the kind of pudgy Ken Phelps-like power hitter who whom Bill James drooled over.

But, leave that aside because here's something that I've never really grasped before in all the years I've been thinking about baseball statistics (since 1965 when I was six).

A pervasive distinction between sabermetric statistics and traditional statistics is that the new statistics (such as Wins Above Replacement [WAR], in which Trout did best) are generally intended to predict the future better by removing as much as possible the impact of luck, while the old statistics (such as Runs Batted In [RBI], which favored Cabrera) are intended to describe the past, which includes the impact of luck. MVP awards are handed out based on performance in the season just past, so a case can be made that the backward-looking statistics make sense in MVP voting.

Think of it as the difference between scientists and historians. The former are obsessed with replicability, the latter with narrative.

To illustrate this, compare Cabrera's 2012 season not to Mike Trout's 2012 season, but to Cabrera's own 2011 season. Cabrera has been highly consistent as a hitter over his ten year career, peaking over the last three years.

Cabrera actually had a higher WAR in 2011 (7.3) than in 2012 (6.9), but he only finished fifth in the MVP voting a year ago. Why? Because his RBI total in 2011 was only 105, compared to 139 in 2012.

In the 20th Century, the RBI championship notoriously correlated with winning the MVP award, although that connection has faded in this century as the sabermetricians have increasingly had their say.

Sabermetricians have long argued that RBIs are over-emphasized in discerning excellence because they are so context sensitive (you want guys ahead of you in the batting order getting on base, but not hitting homers that clear the bases) and dependent upon luck.

Moreover, past clutch hitting performance seldom accurately predicts future clutch hitting performance. The whole notion of clutch hitting in baseball seems pretty dubious: trying hard in four at bats per day just isn't all that physically or mentally debilitating, so it seems likely that major league baseball players try pretty hard most times they come up to bat. Moreover, the typical major leaguer has come up to bat in clutch situations thousands of times since he was a small boy and if he were inclined to choke when the pressure is on, he probably wouldn't have made it to the majors.

So, maybe Cabrera's relatively low RBI total in 2011 was just bad luck, and regression toward the mean would suggest it was likely to go up in 2012, which it did. 

And, he's likely to drive in fewer than 139 runs in 2013 due to regression toward the mean. Heck, if they replayed the 2012 season in a computer a million times, Cabrera probably wouldn't average 139 RBIs. He had to be lucky in 2012 to drive in that many. Maybe he only "deserved" to drive in, say, 125, and then he wouldn't have won the RBI race and thus wouldn't have won the Triple Crown and probably wouldn't have won the MVP award. You could run a million computer simulations of the season and check this out.

One of Cabrera's sabermetric critics Keith Law of ESPN raised the question of alternative universes, Twittering:
No. #narrative RT @theknapsackkid: do you think in an alternate universe where Hamilton hits 2 more homers, Cabrera still wins mvp?

Indeed, much of what sabermetricians do is try to estimate what would happen in alternative universes.

But, here's the thing: Cabrera really did drive in 139 runs in 2012. That is what happened in this universe That doesn't mean he was the best player of 2012, or that he would have been the most valuable player if you could average across infinite alternative universes, but it does suggest that he was a really valuable player in this universe.

WAR is slanted toward inputs, while RBIs is a measure of outputs. Famously, one of the inputs valued by sabermetricians is walks. Cabrera only walked 66 times in 2012, down sharply from 108 in 2011. All else being equal, across a million alternative universes, that big decline (which was reflected in his On Base Percentage) is a bad thing. 

But, that decline in walks and on-base percentage was actually part of the Tiger management’s grand strategy. In 2011, Cabrera had batted fourth (clean-up), but hadn’t cleaned up as much as they’d hope because other teams had pitched around him because they weren’t all that afraid of the #5 hitter. Cabrera made the best of this situation where he wasn't getting that many pitches that he could really drive, accepting a lot of walks, hitting 48 doubles (but only 30 homers) and leading the league in On Base Percentage. Sabermetricians love On Base Percentage because in random situations, it's very valuable on average. But the Tiger management didn't think Cabrera was as valuable to them in 2011 as he ought to be because he was walking and doubling too much and homering and driving in runs too little.

The Tigers figured that they weren't really paying Cabrera $21 million to deliver power statistics of 30 homers and 105 RBIs. So, they spent $23 million in 2012 salary to land Prince Fielder so they could move Cabrera up to the #3 spot in the line-up and protect him with a famous home run hitter in the clean-up spot.

Fielder is even fatter than Cabrera, so he would need to play first base. (The Tigers’ designated hitter spot was filled by Delmon Young, who is a complete oaf.) This, by the way, reflects the influence of the sabermetrics revolution of the 20th Century: Cabrera is listed at 240 pounds, Young 240, and Fielder 275. Before Bill James' time, it was rare for a team to put out a lineup with 3 guys who look more like semipro slow-pitch softball players, but the first generation of sabermetricians proved that baseball was overrating elegant defense, baserunning, and line-drive hitting compared to homers and walks. So, now, baseball is full of guys who look like offensive linemen.

So, Cabrera lost weight over the offseason and worked hard on fielding and throwing so he could move back to third base to open up first for the poor-fielding Fielder.

And this strategy worked well. Free to swing away, Cabrera upped his homers from 30 to 44 and his RBIs from 105 to 139. His On Base Percentage dropped from .448 to .393 and his Runs scored from 111 to 109. But, all told, Cabrera delivered exactly what the Tigers had been hoping for.

Now, you could say that if you used your computer to randomly assign Cabrera to a different team, on average in your alternative universe simulations, his 2011 season would be more valuable than his 2012 season. But we don't live in infinite alternative universes, we live in this highly continent single universe.

You can see the difference between an MVP Award and a statistically sound analysis of ability more easily when thinking about World Series MVP Awards. Consider the famous 1986 World Series between the Mets and Red Sox. Out of all the good players on those two teams (Roger Clemens, Gary Carter, Jim Rice, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Evans, Keith Hernandez, Doc Gooden, Don Baylor, etc.) was World Series MVP Ray Knight really the best one?

Of course not. Indeed, the Mets let their World Series hero go during the offseason. But, he really did have a valuable World Series.

Say a player in the World Series crushes a lot of balls, but most of them right at somebody and winds up batting .231 as his team gets swept (a little bit like Cabrera in 2012 World Series). A statistical system even better than WAR would predict that he would do much better if that World Series were replayed a million times. It might even predict he'd be the MVP more often than anybody else.

But, they don't play the WS a million times, they just play it once, and in World Series that was actually played, Cabrera wasn't the WS MVP.

Conversely, it's not ridiculous to argue that Cabrera was the most valuable player in the AL in the 2012 season, even if Trout was the best.

P.S., Also, there's the Career Achievement aspect: Cabrera is 29 and has come close to the MVP before, finishing in the top 5 five times. He's headed toward the decline phase of a highly respectable career, the kind that usually wins an MVP award.

Trout is only 20 and if he's really as good as he appeared to be in 2012 (i.e, like a mid-career Mickey Mantle), he ought to win several when he's older and even better.

Career Achievement isn't supposed to play a role in MVP voting, but it's reasonable that it does to some extent, especially since the advent of steroids.

In short, 29-year-old Miguel Cabrera has passed more PED tests than 20-year-old Mike Trout has.

That doesn't mean he's clean, but Cabrera's career arc looks reasonable. And that may well be unfair to Trout, but that's the world we live in.

November 21, 2012

NYT: "Assessing How Pivotal the Hispanic Vote Was to Obama’s Victory"

Not particularly.

If it's close enough, everybody is pivotal. 

During the 2000 recount in Florida, I recall getting a press release from a Sikh-American association pointing out that Sikhs had no doubt tipped the balance of the Presidential election. There were X thousand Sikhs in Florida and they had voted heavily for one candidate or the other because that guy had endorsed the Sikh demand for an exemption from laws mandating motorcycle helmets (because Sikhs have to wear turbans). (Motorcycle helmet laws have been a perpetual issue for Sikhs all around the world.) Or maybe they voted against the guy who had called for helmets. I can't remember, but I do remember their math was pretty accurate.

So, therefore, the press release concluded, Sikhs elected the President in 2000.

From the NYT: 
Assessing How Pivotal the Hispanic Vote Was to Obama’s Victory 
... Not unexpectedly, the Hispanic vote was also not decisive in Iowa or New Hampshire where Mr. Obama could have carried the states even if he had won none of the Hispanic vote whatsoever. 
In Ohio, where the president received an estimated 54 percent of the Hispanic vote, according to exit poll data, we find he could have won the state with as little as 22 percent of the Hispanic vote, and in Virginia, where he received 64 percent of the Hispanic vote, we find that he could have carried the state with just over 33 percent. 
It is also worth noting that in states that were not considered battleground territory, Mr. Obama could still have won without a majority of the Hispanic vote. In California, Mr. Obama took the state’s 55 electoral votes with 72 percent of the Hispanic vote, but could have won with as little as 25 percent. And in Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), where Mr. Obama received an estimated 80 percent of the Hispanic vote, he could have still carried the state with just over 37 percent. 
With these five swing states, along with the safe Democratic states that Mr. Obama should have carried regardless of the Hispanic vote, the president would have reached 283 electoral votes, winning the Electoral College without needing to win a majority of the Hispanic vote in each state. 
In the remaining swing states – Nevada, Florida and Colorado – along with New Mexico, Mr. Obama did require a majority of the Hispanic votes cast in order to carry those states, although the shares he achieved still exceeded the threshold minimums he needed. In Colorado, where Mr. Obama received an estimated 75 percent of the Hispanic vote, we estimate that he could have won with just over 58 percent, and in Nevada, where he won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote, he could have carried the state with just under 54 percent. In the key battleground of Florida (29 electoral votes), Mr. Obama’s 60 percent share of the Hispanic vote was just above the 58 percent share required for victory in that state. 
In New Mexico, Florida, Nevada and Colorado, slightly higher shares (but still less than a majority) of the Hispanic vote could have swung them to Mr. Romney, and this may well put these states in play in the next election if the Republican candidate and platform have broader appeal among Hispanic voters. 

A big fraction of Hispanic voters are in blue California and red Texas. Florida is a purple state, but the number of Hispanics there who care all that much about amnesty in a family way are limited.
Which brings us to our second question: Would a revamping of the Republicans’ immigration policy be sufficient to cause Hispanics to shift to the Republican Party? 
The exit poll results suggest that the Republicans’ assertion that Hispanics are socially conservative is not necessarily true. 
Two-thirds of Hispanic voters said that abortion should be legal in most or all cases, compared with slightly more than half of white voters, according to exit poll results. Hispanics were also more liberal when it came to same-sex marriage, with 59 percent saying it should be legal in their state, compared with 51 percent of blacks and 47 percent of white voters. 
Exit poll results also indicate that Hispanics are not necessarily racing to adopt the Republican platform of smaller government. Nearly 6 in 10 Hispanics said Mr. Obama’s health care law should be expanded or left as is, compared to about a third of white voters. And 57 percent of Hispanics said that government should be doing more to solve the problems of individuals, compared to 36 percent of whites. Hispanics, like the rest of the electorate, were also in favor of raising income taxes in order to reduce the federal deficit.
So for any Republicans crafting a strategy that focuses solely on Hispanic voters and immigration policy in order to win back the White House in 2016, they may want to re-examine this year’s exit poll results.

NYT: College basketball is racist

New York Times op-ed columnist Joe Nocera writes:
Race and the N.C.A.A. 
... Three of the most high-profile eligibility cases this basketball season — Muhammad, Nerlens Noel at Kentucky and Rodney Purvis at North Carolina State — are African-American. Five Ohio State football players who were suspended for trading some of their Ohio State gear for tattoos in 2010 were African-American. Ditto the 14 North Carolina football players who got embroiled in a scandal two years ago. 
When I asked Stacey Osburn at the N.C.A.A. whether white players ever had such problems with the N.C.A.A., she insisted they did. Yet somehow, the high-profile cases almost always seem to involve blacks. 
Could it be that the N.C.A.A. rules are inherently discriminatory, or that its investigators are primed to think the worst of talented black football and basketball players, even before an inquiry? 
Nah. Must just be a coincidence.

I published an op-ed in 1991 calling for the end of amateurism in big time college sports, that offered an ethnic analysis of amateurism: basically, it's an idea that appealed to the English upper classes and not to too many others. I like the Scottish approach, as implemented in golf over the last 150 years: professionalism is fine, but amateurs get their own playpen.

You could make a race-based case against college sports amateurism: assume that people with IQs of 85 or lower won't get anything out of being on a college campus. That's only 1 out of 6 whites, which isn't a huge fraction. But, it's 1 out of 2 blacks, which is. It's not right to make being smart enough for college a bottleneck for such a large fraction of top athletes.

But, I suspect that thought has never ever occurred to Joe Nocera. 

November 20, 2012

"Anna Karenina"

From my movie review in Taki's Magazine of the spectacular adaptation of Tolstoy's classic by director Joe Wright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard, starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law:
Third and most remarkably, Wright’s film may be the first of the numerous Anna Karenina adaptations whose sympathies lie firmly with her cuckolded husband, the unsexy bureaucrat Karenin. ... 
Today it’s universally assumed that an unfaithful wife should get custody of the children. Yet Wright and Stoppard don’t seem terribly interested in pointing fingers at 19th-century Russians for their lack of enlightenment about family law. 
When Anna laments that she can’t possess both her lover and her son because “The laws are made by husbands and fathers,” it’s hard not to respond, “As well they should be.” Wright’s film depicts the staggering amount of wealth piled up in Imperial Russia by aristocratic families—much of it spent by women on fashion. But all of this acquiring and saving depended on an orderly system of inheritance where men knew that their heirs really are theirs.

Read the whole thing there.

Susan Rice's children and the future of Affirmative Action

Commenter Noggin writes about UN ambassador and potential Secretary of State Rice (Susan, not Condi) and her quite white-looking children:
You know, sad to say it, but these kids are the guys making out like bandits from AA. They're probably around 7/8ths white, so the drop in IQ from their African ancestry is likely minimal to none, and they obviously will grow up in a well-to-do neighborhood/school so they have every advantage, but they get to check off black on their college admissions entrance, on every job application, scholarship, etc for their whole life, so get all the perks from that. That's the near-future of the US. And how AA will eventually die.

I often see commentary, including from white liberals, saying that racial preferences are on their way out, that affirmative action is obviously doomed, etc. After all, isn't it ridiculous that the Secretary of State's relatives get affirmative action? How many people in the world are more powerful than the Secretary of State? (Besides the President, of course.) So, obviously, real soon now somebody or other is going to take this privilege away from the Secretary of State's relatives. 

Well, sure ... but I have to think that there's an alternative way to look at it. Are you, personally, going to volunteer to peeve the Secretary of State by harming her children's prospects because of their race? How did annoying Susan Rice work out for Col. Qaphoffee? She's got drones, man!

Think of it from the point of view of a college admissions office or an HR Department. They have rules and guidelines about who they can take, but they also know perfectly well that even if Susan Rice's kids are lazy nimrods, they still want them because they are plugged into the highest levels of the Global Power Elite. They're connected. Affirmative action gives admissions offices and HR departments an excuse to favor Susan Rice's children -- in the name of Diversity and Fighting Racism -- over the children of random unconnected losers.

Lots of people assume that just because it's absurd and unfair for Susan Rice's children to get special racial privileges, somebody will organize to take those privileges away. But, the more power quasi-non-whites like Susan Rice get, the harder it will be to take their racial privileges away from them and their descendants unto the seventh generation.

Such is the way of the world.

Big 10 expands into NYC, DC media markets: Excellent ...

I've long been pointing out that Republicans devote too much attention and money to college football. College football trails only golf in the civic-mindedness / Republicanism of its fans. Since the chances of getting them to cut back are nil, I am a booster of luring Democrats into this time and money pit. 

This week, the famous old Big Ten conference centered around the Upper Midwest abruptly added Rutgers (which is more or less the U. of New Jersey and is only 38 miles from Times Square) and Maryland (which is just a few miles northeast of Washington D.C. in Prince George's County). Nate Silver writes:
But the main rationale for adding the schools seems to be economic: the prospect that they would give the Big Ten, and its cable network, access to the New York and Washington, D.C., media markets. 
On that account, the decision may be questionable. Although Rutgers and Maryland are in densely populated areas, they also compete against a number of other Division I football programs for fans and attention. 
Moreover, affinity for college football is considerably lower on the East Coast than it is in the Midwest or the South. Thus, the schools have fewer fans than most other current Big Ten members.

I guess it's not the Big 10 anymore, but more like the Fair-to-Middling 14.

The relative lack of big time college football in the power corridor from Boston to DC leaves Northeastern men with more time on their hands to get up to no good, with both liberalism and, especially, neoconservatism as major outlets for male aggression and tribalism.

In contrast, I'm reminded of Robert Novak, the late Washington D.C. political reporter, who never succumbed to the neoconservative urge, much to the rage of other Republican Jews such as David Frum, who labeled Novak "unpatriotic" for his lack of enthusiasm about the Iraq Attaq. Novak, a working class Jew who loved the rough and tumble of domestic politics, simply inherited his foreign policy views from his better educated old WASP partner Rowland Evans, and channeled his personal aggressiveness not into rooting for war in the Middle East, but into fanatical support for the U. of Maryland basketball team. 

Novak strikes me as an example of a healthy way for men to sublimate militaristic urges that remain crucial for the preservation of civilization in crises, but cause needless trouble during non-crises.

The Big Ten strategy to Electoral College victory in 2016-2020

I was talking to a Democratic political operative who knows far more about voting patterns than I do, and he agreed with my hunch that the most plausible road back to victory in the Electoral College for Republicans runs through what I think of as the Big Ten states: the Upper Midwest, the Great Lakes states minus New York plus Iowa. (Although the Big Ten is lately the Big Fourteen and sprawls all over the place.)

It's not a sexy sounding strategy: these states will undoubtedly lose a few Electoral Votes in 2024, but in 2016 and 2020, they'll be attractive targets. Rather than convert Latinos or single moms or Latino single moms or whatever to voting Republican, all you have to do is pick up some more whites in mostly white states in elections when black turnout is likely to drop if the Democrats nominate a non-black candidate.

The 2012 math is pretty intriguing. Romney needed 64 additional Electoral Votes to win, and, leaving aside Illinois, which he lost big and Indiana, which he won: he lost by moderate margins in these states:

Pennsylvania 20
Ohio 18
Michigan 16
Wisconsin 10
Minnesota 10
Iowa 6

He could have won the election if he'd just won four of those six: PA, OH, MI and either WI or MN

Or he could have won without Michigan by adding Iowa, and keeping PA, OH, and both WI and MN. 

And, adding a state or two elsewhere (Virginia? Colorado?) makes the Big Ten strategy math extremely plausible.

This Big Ten strategy doesn't sound impossible: mostly it means that the GOP has to figure out how northern whites and southern whites can get along better in a Republican coalition than northern whites and blacks can get along in a Democratic coalition. 

Of course, anybody who tries to put together such a sensible coalition will be the most evil person in the history of the world. Remember when Jesse Helms won re-election by running an ad against affirmative action? That was evil. Remember when George H.W. Bush's supporters ran an ad pointing out that Michael Dukakis was such a clueless liberal that he had vetoed a bill withdrawing prison furloughs for first degree murderers, with predictable consequences? That was evil.

Romney didn't do that. He ran a nice campaign and lost. But being a loser makes you evil anyway, so, short of just plain taking a dive like McCain in 2008, it's damned if you do and damned if you don't if you are a Republican.

"Tell Me a State’s Fertility Rate, and I’ll Tell You How It Voted"

My December 20, 2004 article in The American Conservative introduced the concept of the "Baby Gap" in American voting.

From New York Magazine:
Tell Me a State’s Fertility Rate, and I’ll Tell You How It Voted 

Grumbling GOP commentators and reveling feminists finally agree on something: This was the year when single ladies helped to deck the White House in blue. But another, even more powerful feminine factor was at play in this election, as it has been in races past: Almost invisibly over the past decade, family size in America has emerged as our deepest political dividing line.

Stunningly, the postponement of marriage and parenting — the factors that shrink the birth rate — is the very best predictor of a person’s politics in the United States, over even income and education levels, a Belgian demographer named Ron Lesthaeghe has discovered.

Actually, Professor Lesthaeghe has graciously conceded that I beat him to this discovery by a year or so, as I pointed out in this 2006 article.
Larger family size in America correlates to early marriage and childbirth, lower women’s employment, and opposition to gay rights — all social factors that lead voters to see red.

Actually, it's white fertility that correlates with Republican voting by state. For example, California, the biggest state, has moderate overall fertility, but votes solidly Democratic. It has low white fertility.
The converse, according to futurist Joel Kotkin, marks “the rise of post-familialism,” overturning the notion that a woman's life requires a wedding dress and at least two kids to dutifully rear. David Brooks devoted a column to this report Friday, and his reaction demonstrates the red blood spilling over our shift to a freer attitude toward life and family choices. “...

Here's Brooks's 2004 NYT column touting my research, for which he was systematically denounced for guilt by association.
Americans are increasingly rejecting traditional conservative power structures — the old models of authoritarian Church and State — as Europeans have for decades. “It’s amazing how once you get rid of obedience to the authority of institutions so much simply falls away,” Lesthaeghe told me over coffee at a conference in Vienna last year. He went on to predict that, despite the GOP backlash against it, American’s adaptation toward a more liberal way of living could only encourage a political shift to the left. You could see this destiny manifested in last Tuesday’s vote: in Maine, for marriage equality; in New Hampshire, for a completely woman-governed state for the first time in American history; in Massachusetts, for progressive candidate Elizabeth Warren; and so on.

Warren strikes me as somebody sympathetic to the struggles of couples hoping to be able to afford to form a family. But, what do I know? Here's my 2003 review of a book by her.
Yet, for all those social measures on the 2012 ballot, our near-continental divide of politics and fertility was even more distinct during the Bush era, before the New York Times had added the “celebrations” category to its still-hetero wedding listings. Despite the rampant conservatism of that time, there was no rape caucus to combat; the Evangelical block was country strong. In the 2004 presidential election, while swift boats sailed cross the headlines, fertility rates in states that voted for Bush were 12 percent higher than they were in states that picked Kerry. When Lesthaeghe studied the map county by county, he found the link between family size and political leaning became even stronger. This morning, he sent me an e-mail to say he still has to check the county results from this election, but once again, he expects the same granular correlation, "no surprises, judging from the state-level results." 
Since then, the polarization has weakened slightly. While voting in 2008 fell clearly along fertility lines, demographer Phillip Morgan found in examining the fertility of “MSNBC v. Fox News” audiences liberals' post-Obama glow engendered the optimism needed to have a kid in a crushing recession. 
Conversely, a red outlook no longer meant a rosy one to the snarling cynics at Fox: Subsequently, conservatives began to consider larger, and therefore more expensive, families to be an increasing impossibility. Low birth rates aren’t really about freedom but fear, Morgan believes. “People put off having kids,” which leads to sinking fertility, he told me, “because they’re really frightened about the future.”

With liberal fertility on the rise

Hispanic fertility, and that has dropped sharply since 2008.
, the predictive power of family size finds itself waning. As our demographics change, that county-by-county correlation that was so absolute ten years ago is beginning to yield to a purple reign. Celinda Lake, one of the Democratic party’s leading pollsters and strategists, who predicted the single ladies swing well before the exit polls, told me our future partisan fertility map is being redrawn. She says that as birth rates rise amongst women of color who vote consistently Democrat, the states working blue may make a radical turn to become our most fertile ones.

Right, but that's why I focused on white fertility in 2004.
“We’re on the verge of a dramatic shift. It will be a different conversation ten years from now,” Lake told me, estimating that the predictive power of fertility will last until 2020, but not much longer.

But that would be because whites are increasingly swamped in the electorate.
And with an increasingly liberal bloc of mothers — like the ones who renewed Obama’s lease on the Oval Office in massive numbers — perhaps it’s not impossible to imagine electing a woman who opted for her own one-child family so she could dedicate herself to a world outside the home. A low-fertility politic doesn't mean no fertility; it doesn't mean refusing motherhood. Rather, it supports a woman’s choice to “shut it down,” to borrow a recent turn of phrase. It speaks to an ethic of an inclusive, extra-domestic life. 

"Incompetent" is a racist code word

From The Hill:
Clyburn: GOP letter criticizing Rice uses racial 'code words' 
By Justin Sink - 11/20/12 08:08 AM ET
Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Tuesday a letter from nearly 100 House Republicans urging President Obama not to appoint Susan Rice as Secretary of State employed racially-charged "code words" to make its case.  
The letter, signed by 97 House Republicans, says Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, "is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public in the Benghazi matter" — language Clyburn saw as racially loaded. 
"You know, these are code words," Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, told CNN. "We heard them during the campaign, during this recent campaign we heard Sen. Sununu calling our president lazy, incompetent, these kinds of terms that those of us, especially those of us who were grown and raised in the South, we would hear these little words and phrases all of our lives and we'd get insulted by them.  
"Susan Rice is as competent as anybody you will find, and just to paste that word on her causes problems with people like [incoming Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman] Marcia Fudge and certainly cause a big problem with me," he added. 
In a press conference earlier this week, Fudge said she believed criticism of Rice contained "a clear… sexism and racism." 
"It is a shame that anytime something goes wrong, they pick on women and minorities," Fudge added.

Why was I not previously informed of the existence of the Fudge family?
Clyburn described himself as frustrated by the criticism of Rice. While it is fair to criticize her for having initially claimed the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was the result of a protest against an anti-Islam video, he objected to the language used by Republican leaders. 
"I don't like those words," Clyburn said. "Say she was wrong for doing it, but don't call her incompetent."

November 19, 2012

White voters by religion

From Reuters' poll of 40,000+ voters, let's look at Romney's share of the two party vote among white people by different religious self-identifications:

Mormon 89%
Baptist 79%
Other Protestant 75%
Methodist 66%
Presybterian 65%
Lutheran 60%
All Whites 58%
Catholic 57%
Episcopal 55%
Other Religion 51%
Jewish 34%
None 32%

This suggests a refinement to my basic theory that voting Republican rather than Democratic correlates with belonging to the core rather than to the fringes of American life.

The twist is that the religious groups that went most heavily for Romney tend to be aspirational toward coreness. Granted, the obvious impact of group pride among Mormons in Romney boosted the GOP vote among Mormons to stratospheric levels in 2012, but Mormons have become consistently strong Republicans. One reason is because, owing to their odd history, they still aspire to be seen as part of the core of America. This urge to appear normal is a major reason that so many people these days consider Mormons strange. What kind of weirdo tries to be seen as a normal middle class American white person these days? Mitt Romney may have suffered more from Americans thinking Mormons are kind of bizarre than George Romney did 44 years ago, when most Americans tried to act the way Mormons still act today.

In a different way, Baptists tend to be aspirational core Americans, too. They tend to be from somewhat down the social scale, and being Baptist is a way to avoid the snares lurking all about that could drag them down out of the middle class: drunkeness, single motherhood, and so forth. ("Other Protestant" presumably includes a lot of evangelicals,  megachurch members, and generic Christians, but also, perhaps, some Congregationalists, Church of Christ, and other liberal-leaning post-Puritans.)

In contrast, elite groups who vote less heavily Republican, such as Episcopalians and Jews, tend to find aspiring to belong to the core of America déclassé

Episcopalianism boomed in the Robber Baron era as ambitious young businessmen from various Protestant backgrounds (frequently post-Puritan) settled upon that as a consensus church to belong to, just as they joined the Republican Party. For example, famous northeastern prep boarding schools tended to have an Episcopalian tie. Episcopalians (i.e., country club Republicans) still vote moderately Republican, but less than other white Protestants. Country club Republicans could now be considered a swing vote.

Jews are kind of the anti-Mormons. While Mormons make a great effort to act like they are at the center of American life, despite being a weird new religion headquartered in an out of the way place far from the power centers of American life, many Jews put effort into feeling and acting alienated from an America over which they have, by almost all objective measures, much influence and face, by almost all historical standards, little opposition. My sense is that Jewish aspirations toward being core Americans were at their peak in the mid-20th Century, and, unsurprisingly, have since declined as they achieved that goal. The concept of diminishing marginal returns explains much in this world.

All that said, allow me to reiterate that Obama's not-insignificant decline in appeal to Jews from 2008 to 2012 remains a potentially important story that has gone almost unmentioned in all the touchdown dances in the media since the election.