May 12, 2005

What's the Matter with Democrat Analysts?

We've spent a little time lately on voter demographics, one of my own applied professional fields. And we've spent a LOT of time over the last year on apparent contradictions between population demographics and party affiliation and voting trends. I have pointed out over and over again that one must beware of trying to make predictions or gain any serious insight to the electorate based on single correlations, and weak ones at that.

Democratic analysts (Thomas Frank leaps immediately to mind) seem to have real trouble understanding how "working people" in red states can vote Republican. A recent SLATE article by Timothy Noah, oh-so-charmingly titled Conservatism As Pathology: Are Bush supporters literally insane? is a case in point.

Now Steve Sailer of the Human Biodiversity Institute and has come up with an extremely insightful statistical analysis of the voting populace, one that goes well beyond the misleading and uni-dimensional analysis so beloved by some. No matter which side of the divide you're on, there's some good news and some bad news here. But most of all, it's one of the most informative examinations of the electorate that I've seen in years. If you really want to get a grip on what drives current voting trends in America, I highly recommend Sailer's article.

[As always, cross-posted to Centerfield.]

CBS--Can They Just Not Stop Themselves?

The rightie talk radio community and blogosphere is hopping mad today about a quote by Ken Starr used on CBS News. CBS interviewed Starr about the filibuster flap.

In what was apparently an in-context statement about the GOP's proposed use of the "nuclear option," Starr is shown on camera saying:
"This is a radical, radical departure from our history and from our traditions, and it amounts to an assault on the judicial branch of government."

The problem? Starr wasn't talking about the "nuclear option" at all. He was talking about the Democrat's refusing to let judges come up for a vote because of their judicial philosophy.

Starr later said:
The 'radical departure from our history' snippet was specifically addressed to the practice of invoking judicial philosophy as a grounds for voting against a qualified nominee of integrity and experience. I said in sharp language that that practice was wrong.

He apparently went on in the interview to compare the current flap with the Republican's voting for the confirmation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court during the Clinton Administration.
I contrasted the current practice...with what occurred during Ruth Ginsburg's nomination process as numerous Republicans voted, rightly, to confirm a former ACLU staff worker. They disagreed with her positions as a lawyer but they voted -- again rightly -- to confirm her.

The broadcast that started the furor can be found here ("Filibuster Showdown"). CBS is refusing to release the complete tape of the Starr interview for review. And it wasn't even a Mary Mapes production.

[As always, cross-posted to Centerfield.]

May 05, 2005

DeLay Possessed

Or something like that. I can't think of anything but possession that accounts for this...

DeLay: To Serve Well is to Serve Humbly

Think of what we could accomplish if we checked our pride at the door, if collectively we all spent less time taking credit and more time deserving it. If we spent less time ducking responsibility and more time welcoming it. If we spent less time on our soapboxes and more time on our knees.

I am speechless.

May 03, 2005

Benefit "Cuts" For The Rich...The Horror! The Horror!

Bush has finally come up the first details of Social Security reform, and they include benefit "cuts" for the rich, and a sliding progressive scale-back for those in the middle. The poor would go on with the current schedules.

Naturally enough, Democrats are outraged.
Bush would "gut benefits for middle-class families," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said in a joint statement.

First, an obvious point. Benefits for those on the upper end would not actually be cut, the rate of growth in those benefits would be slowed down. Benefits for the wealthier among us in constant-dollar inflation-adjusted terms would not be reduced one dime from current levels. Benefits for the middle class would not be cut but would increase faster than inflation and thus would still rise in real terms. Benefits for the lower-income would rise as currently scheduled, and maybe even be enhanced.

This is the same shrill screeching we hear all the time about programs being "gutted" when they're actually getting more money than the year before, just not as much as they were previously scheduled for, or as much as they wanted.

Second, why is reducing federal expenditures (in a time of record deficits) on the rich and middle class a bad thing, but raising taxes on them a good thing?

As the mathematics of the Pozen proposal shows, much of the problem with future SS financing involves the steady growth of benefits at rates above inflation, and the effect of the proportion of those increased benefits going to the better-off. By establishing a baseline safety-net "floor" of benefits (as I've argued for here) and reining in the top-end expansions for those with more resources, a good chunk of the problem goes away. This is the mathematical "flip side" of the Democrat argument that the SS problem can be "solved" with "minor" tax increases.

UPDATE: House GOP Plans Social Security Draft

Soon to be seen on as "House GOP Plans Draft". Hey, be sure to get "GOP" and "Draft" together in that headline....nope, no subliminality there.

MORE UPDATE: Bush's Social Security Plan Cuts Benefits

Under Bush's approach, future Social Security checks would increase more quickly for the lowest-income retirees than for everyone else. Though Bush promised that middle- and upper-income retirees would get benefits "equal to or greater than the benefits enjoyed by today's seniors," they would be smaller than what the system is now promising for the future.

See point #1, above. Seems that Pelosi and Reid are writing the headlines for AP now.