Call It A 2016 Election Dress Rehearsal…

DFL Representative Steve Simon is running for Secretary of State against GOP endorsed candidate Dan Severson. 

He’s had kind of a rough race so far; during the primaries, he came in with barely over 40% of the DFL vote, against a perennial candidate (Dick Fransen, who’s sort of a downmarket Ole Savior) and an unknown.  He’s got no name recognition to speak of (as compared to Dan Severson, who is a former state rep, SOS and Senate candidate). 

So he’s gotta get some name recognition – “popularity” – somehow, between now and November.

Now, as of last summer, Simon had a set of Twitter followers that, quite frankly, would befit a candidate who could only eke out 42% in his own party’s primary; around about a thousand or so.

Then, suddenly, BOOM: he was over 70,000 followers.

A case of Steve-mentum?

Probably not. It would seem the Simon campaign has chosen to try to buy some popularity – at least on Twitter:

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A “TwitterAudit” shows that at least 55,000 of Simon’s 70,000 followers are probably fakes.  An email from a GOP analyst explains:

This typically indicates that someone has purchased a list of fake subscribers.

Some of the earmarks of “list buyers” are:

  • Twitter accounts that are in a foreign language (paging thru his followers, it’s remarkable how many are in Russian, Asian and Arabic (yes, Arabic)
  • Twitter accounts that have no image of a real person next to them, but instead just have what is called the “Twitter egg” – again, paging thru Steve’s followers, it’s clear that a majority of his followers are “eggs”.

Check out the Twitteraudit yourself.

If this is how he runs his Twitter account, imagine what he’ll do for the voter rolls!

“But wait, Merg!  Lots of people, yourself included, have lots of spam followers on Twitter!  I mean, look at how popular you seem to be with 18 year old Filipinas!”.  Spam followers are certainly an issue on Twitter – everyone’s got ‘em – but having one’s number of overall followers multiply by almost two orders of magnitude in less time than it’s taking me to type about it is not just the sign of some staff intern getting happy fingers on the “Follow!” buttons. 

“But Merg!  Maybe Simon’s account was hacked!”.  Maybe.  Show us the evidence that a “malicious” “hack” just happened to inflate a less-than-popular candidate’s numbers into Twitterverse regional A-lister levels, and we can talk. 

I’ll wait. 

But I’m not going to hold my breath, if it’s all right with you. 

Continue reading

The Wages Of Horner

In Virginia last night, the Republican and Libertarian votes together totalled 53% – including about 8% for the Libertarian candidate.  Macauliffe got 47%.

Now, not every Libertarian votes Republican – but it’s a safe bet that most of the Libertarian voters in Virginia – a state where the Libertarian party has barely gotten into single digits in the recent past – were more likely to vote Republican than Democrat.

And Republicans are pointing out that this – the Democrats pumping big money into spoilers that undercut the GOP vote – is the wave of the future.

And like so many of the most noxious trends in current politics, it got its start here in Minnesota, where in 2010 Mark Dayton was saved by a concerted Democrat effort to peel off Republicans to fake Republican Tom Horner.

Horner got 10% of the vote – just enough more of them from Republicans to hand the race to Dayton.

Minnesota’s past, America’s future?

Perhaps.

Path for Minnesota “libertarian” candidates to get into that Bentley they’ve been looking at in the next election?

What do you think?

Mighta Been

While Mitt Romney wasn’t my dream candidate, few things more infuriated me last year than the idea that the Ron Paul wing of the GOP robotically chanted – that Romney was the same as Obama.

That noted conservative tool Salon notes that it just isn’t so.  The article runs down a hypothetical first 200 days of a Romney administration, based on its own publicly stated (and some privately-stated) plans:

Romney aides wince at the comparison, but their 200-day plans sound like a Bain turn-around for America’s economy: a co-ordinated series of shocks aimed at impressing investors, but likely to startle and anger many ordinary folk. Democrats would have scorned it as a wish-list for bosses and billionaires. But Mr Romney believed his reforms would work, and work fast. Benefits would follow swiftly, in the form of private investment and job creation: persuading the wider public to trust in President Romney’s competence, if not to love him.

I don’t care about “loving” a president.  I just care about heading in the right direction. 

We are, currently, not.

Everything You Need To Know About Last Tuesday’s Election, P. J. O’Rourke Wrote In 1991

From Parliament of Whores:

I have only one firm belief about the American political system, and that is this: God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat.

God is an elderly or, at any rate, middle aged male, a stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal and a great believer in rules and regulations. He holds men accountable for their actions. He has little apparent concern for the material well being of the disadvantaged. He is politically connected, socially powerful and holds the mortgage on literally everything in the world. God is difficult. God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get into God’s heavenly country club.

Santa Claus is another matter. He’s cute. He’s nonthreatening. He’s always cheerful. And he loves animals. He may know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, but he never does anything about it. He gives everyone everything they want without the thought of quid pro quo. He works hard for charities, and he’s famously generous to the poor. Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one: There is no such thing as Santa Claus.

It was “Protect your lady parts” vs. “Er, that sure is a lot of debt to rack up with all those entitlements to pay”.

Two of the most annoying things about talking with liberals for this last three days (also last 15 years):

  1. How many of them think the January “fiscal cliff” and sequestration are the real financial time bomb
  2. How many of them, when asked what we do about all the debt Obama is racking up, and how much more of it he plans to rack up, seem to think that “Bush did it too!” is an answer.

Thank God – both the real one and O’Rourke’s – for the House of Representatives.

The Morning Answers “Never”

Well, the voters spoke.

A thin majority said “give me things I want, and make someone else pay for it!”.

Message received.

Biggest Winners

  • Government Dependents:  Government workers, public employees union members, clients of all types who live off of wealth generated by others?  You’ve got four years of party time.
  • The Media:  The media, in Minnesota and elsewhere, compiled a shameful record in this past election.  From CBS spiking the story that President Obama knew Benghazi was a terror attack almost from moment one to the Minnesota press’ silence on the local consequences of Obamacare’s medical device tax (which is shipping jobs to India via FedEx even as we speak) to its complete pass on Mark Dayton’s past, his record, his mental health and the people who support him, the press found its new purpose.  It may be dying on the open market – but the media still has a role; the Democrats’ Praetorian Guard.  The media polling and “fact check” industries, in particular, dropped all pretense of “journalism” and became unvarnished cheerleaders for the left.
  • Plutocrats And Their Lackeys:  Make no mistake about it – Minnesota’s biggest winner last night was Alida Messinger.  They won by pouring bottomless pits of money – inherited from robber barons and extorted from employees alike – into gulling…
  • Low-Information Voters:  From the lefty tweeps who babbled about “Romney’s Tax Returns”, to Sandra Fluke’s whinging about a non-existant war on women, to every single voter that still believes the economy is George W. Bush’s fault – and there were many of them – last night was a resounding victory for remedial America.

Biggers Losers

  • Atlas:  The parts of America that actually produce things – from the Minnesota Third Congressional District, where Erik Paulsen crushed Brian Barnes, and the Sixth, where Michele Bachmann seems to have held off a well-funded challenger with hair that defies physics – to the entire US-281 corridor from North Dakota down through Texas, the parts of America and Minnesota that actually create wealth, productivity, energy, are going to be hamstrung with ever-more-onerous regulations and ever-higher taxes.  We are one chamber of Congress away from being France.
  • Our Grandchildren:  My three grandchildren, between them, are $650,000 in debt. So far.  And, by the way, counting. Have a great life, kids.
  • Freedom:  P. J. O’Rourke – who’d be rolling in his grave today if he were dead – once said conservatives see freedom in terms of speech, religion, press, assembly, association, thought.  Liberals see it as the freedom to wave their privates about and be free of consequences.  Expect Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security to become an even more-egregious enforcer of political correctness disguised as safety.
  • Grassroots Politics: This race was a huge win for big-money out-of-state interests over home-grown candidates with grass-roots support.  When the brilliant Stacey Stout, who knocked every single door in her open district twice, can lose to a toxic stiff like Peter Fischer, who campaigned like his mother-in-law’s life depended on it and was supported only by a wave of out-of-district money, you know there’s a problem.
  • The Victims of Benghazi And Juarez: The truth about both of these episodes – a cynical election-eve cover-up and an even more cynical use of government power to prop up Administration social policy that backfired, killing hundreds – will be that much longer in coming out.
  • The Entire American Ideal:  This nation was once a “free association of equals”.  No longer.  Today, the US is “a group of managed outcomes”.
  • Our Future:  It’s virtually inevitable that the US will now charge blithely over the fiscal cliff, without even the faintest bit of interest at the executive and half the legislative level.  At least Greece and Spain had a Germany to run to to ask for a bailout.  Who does the world’s largest economy ask for help?  Read up on your Weimar German history if you’re missing the point, here.

Cutting Out The Middle Men

Word has been making the rounds that Obama plans to declare victory late this afternoon – long before the polls even start closing on the East Coast.

If it happens, it’ll be an attempt to do what the Big Three Networks tried to do for Algore in 2000; declare victory early enough to discourage Republican voters in the Central, Mountain and Pacific time zones.

If you are a Real American, you need to make sure your Republican relatives know what’s up.  This is way too important to leave to chance and the ministrations of our in-the-bag major media.

The Democrats and the media – and yes, let’s cut the crap and recognize they are indistinguishable – will do whatever it takes to finagle a victory for The One.

Bandwagoneering?  That’s nothing.

This Guy Would Have Made A Good Saint Paul Republican

I couldn’t resist:

I was 234th through the polling line in St. Paul Ward 4 Precinct 14. Turnout was moderate, maybe a little lighter than I’ve seen; I remember it being much heavier at the same time of the day back in 2008 and especially 2004.

I voted GOP down the line, as promised; Romney/Ryan, Bills, Hernandez, Karschnia, Lipp.

I also voted Yes on Voter ID (doy) and on Marriage, for the reasons I explained yesterday.

Hope And Change

Nate Silver says it’s all over, and that all us bitter, gun-clinging Jebus freaks should just shut up, go home, and be happy to pay more for a bigger USA.

And I thought…:

(Audio NSFW)

XOXO,

An Uppity Peasant

100 Reasons I’m Voting For Lipp, Karschnia, Hernandez, Bills And Romney, And Not Their Opponents

Here’s my biennial tradition – 100 reasons I’m voting for the Republicans, not the Democrats.

But this year, I’m not focusing just on the President.

Dan Lipp, HD65A

100. Because Dan’s a regular working guy from the neighborhood.

99. Dan is a Liberty guy.  He realizes, as all the smart ones do, that it’s not only through less government, but through rolling back some of the government we have, that this nation has any chance of prospering.

98. And the last thing the Midway needs is more DFL professional politicians telling us what regular working guys from the neighborhood need.

97. Because Rena Moran is one of those professional politicians…

96. …and one of the most extreme people in the Minnesota House.  Nothing useful will get done while her party is even close to influence.  And so I’ll be voting for Dan, and very, very much against Rena Moran.

Rick Karschnia, SD65

95. Because Rick comes from the world of business. And if there’s anything Saint Paul (to say nothing of our idiot legislature) needs, it’s more business people and fewer lawyers and professional career pols.

94. And while there are politicians in Minnesota more “professional” and “career” than DFL incumbent Sandy Pappas, it’s all pretty irrelevant.

93. Because Rick will be a Senator that votes for conservative and libertarian principle, at least conceptually in the mold of the Tea Party freshmen that did such a great job in the 2010-2011 sessions.

92. That stuff I said about Rena Moran being “extreme?”  She’s a a piker compared to Sandy Pappas.  If you look in the dictionary under “smug intransigence”, Sandy gets a two-page spread.

91. I’m voting for Rick and Dan because winning the Minnesota Legislature – keeping majorities in both chambers – will block Mark Dayton’s agenda.

90. Although it’s not Mark Dayton’s agenda.  Mark Dayton is really one of those disembodied brains kept alive in a jar, except he walks more or less under his own power.  But “his” agenda is really that of the unions and far-left plutocrats who own him in every meaningful way.

89. And defending our Legislative majorities will be a huge gut-shot to Dayton’s political future…

88. ….and help ensure he remains a one -term governor.

Tony Hernandez, MN CD4

87. I’m voting for Tony because he’s a Saint Paul guy with rock-solid integrity.

86. And because he’s done a great job of appealing both to liberty voters and conservative voters.

85. Because anyone that plans his wedding in mid-campaign is the kind of multi-tasker that can actually do things in DC.

84. Because his platform is the kind of thing that Americans of all political stripes should be able to agree with.  And that – not some kind of phony cross-aisle gesturing – is the essence of real bipartisanship.

83. And Betty McCollum is all about the empty gesture of bipartisanship…

82. …which doesn’t come close to covering the fact that she is among the most extreme, partisan Reps in the US Congress.

81. Because Tony’s a business guy, while Betty is a professional politician.

80. Because I’d rather have Tony working on writing up a new budget than Betty McCollum.

79. Because the Fourth Congressional District needs better.

78. Because Betty McCollum supported Obamacare, which is sending the health insurance premiums of working Minnesotans through the roof.

77. And because Tony will vote for repeal.

76. Because Betty McCollum supported the Central Corridor, which is gutting business in the Midway…

75. …while Tony knows better than that.

74. Because Tony is an independent thinker…

73…while Betty McCollum is a marionette whose strings are pulled by the Teachers Unions.

72. Because it’s a finger in the eye of all the blow-hard DFL jagoffs who bleat “this is a DFL town!”, as if having a one-party city is something to be proud of.

Kurt Bills, US Senate

71. Because Amy Klobuchar, media meme notwithstanding, is an extreme, partisan liberal.

70. Because a Bills win would give half the the Twin Cities media – which has cashed in much of what passed for its “integrity” to support the daughter of their ol’ buddy Jim Klobuchar – have a collective stroke over the loss.

69. Because Bills is a regular guy.

68. Because Bills is a Liberty candidate…

67…who endorsed Romney – because he realizes perfect IS the enemy of good enough!

66. And the Paulbots gave him holy hell for it.

65. Because for all her palaver, A-Klo is in the left-most third of the US Senate.

64. And this state is no longer a hard-blue state.  We don’t need two “progressives” in Washington; it makes us look stupid.

63. Because Klobuchar belongs to a party that believes you should spend first, and cover it with money exacted from “the rich” and, when that runs out, money borne down from heaven on unicorns.

62. Because the Chinese want you to vote for A-Klo.

61. As does Hugo Chavez.

60. Because I’d rather have Bills confirming our next Supreme Court justice than Klobuchar.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, President and Vice President

59. Because Mitt will crank open the big brass nozzle for domestic energy production.

58.  In so doing, Mitt will actually do the ultimate “green jobs progrlam”.  Here’s how – are you an environmentalist?  Then get used to the idea that “saving the environment’ is something that requires prosperity first and foremost.

57. And at this point in our history, that means “enough energy to fuel a prosperous economy”.

56. MItt gets that.

55. Barack Obama does not.  He believes that direct subsidy of untried technology will accomplish a “green revolution” by sheer brute financial force.  That’s never, ever worked. Ever.

54. Mitt will roll back – not stop, but positively roll back  – the orgy of regulation that Obama has unleashed in the past four years.

53. Obama will make good on his promise to President Medvedev; free of worrying about re-election, he’ll ratched up the war on small business that he started with a bang in the past four years…

52. …which have made the US a terrible place for small business.

51.  Romney will renew the Bush tax cuts.

50. Obama will sunset them – and add in many, many, many more of his own.

49.  Mitt has promised to enact the first cut in discretionary spending since the Reagan Administration – five percent.

48.  Don’t believe him?  See Messrs. Hernandez and Bills, above.  We can force him to make good on the promise (not that I think we’ll need to) – but we’ve gotta control Congress.

47. In fact, Romney will be the first president since Reagan fundamentally disposed to cutting discretionary spending.

46. Obama, naturally, will ratched up discretionary spending.

45.  Romney will put everything on the table – means-tests, raising retirement age, whatever – to reform Medicare and Social Security.

44.  Obama will try to scare people into carrying on with a doomed status quo.

43.  Because Romney will end the user of federal power to browbeat Catholics, Evangelicals and other principled people into paying for federal programs that mortally offend their – our – beliefs.

42. And Obama will supercharge the attack on religion.

41. Romney will end the ratcheting-up of the civil sacrament of abortion.

40. Obama will not.

39.  Obama’s Homeland Security secretary Napolitano has spent four years scapegoating all of the many petty dissidents whose rights are supposedly protected by the Constituition, putting pro-lifers, tax-reform advocates, second-amendment activists, “preppers”, school choice advocates and Tea Partiers on “terrorist” watch lists.

38. Romney is a member of a faith that has been persecuted for its beliefs in the past; I find it highly unlikely that he’ll continue to use the Federal government – especially Homeland Security – to persecute people who dissent from government in good faith.

35. And he damned sure knows “Religious Freedom” isn’t served by forcing religious institutions to pay for things that their beliefs hold morally repulsive;

34. Because Barack Obama has a long history of actively working for gun control.

33.  Because Mitt Romney may not be Ted Nugent, but he’ll get out of the way of the Second Amendment.

32. Because while racism motivates almost none of the opposition to Barack Obama, it motivates a massive amount of his support.

31.  Because of Sonia Sotomayor…

30.  …and Elena Kagan.

29. Because David Breyer is almost 76.

28. Ginsberg?  She’s 80.  And it’d be great to have those two replaced by responsible conservatives for the next 20 or 30 years.

27. And while I know not every Republican-appointed justice has turned out to be a legal originalist (hello, David Freaking Souder), it’s for sure that a John Kerry or Algore appointment would have been worse (and Roberts, as bad as his Obamacare decision was, may have done us a favor via the back door, calling OCare a tax issue rather than a Commerce Clause issue; at least tax issues are legislated rather than litigated).

26. Because Antonin Scalia is 76/

25. And so is Anthony Kennedy.

24. And you know what whomever Obama appoints will be a nightmare for the rest of most of our natural lives.

23. And the thought of both of them being replaced by liberal bobbleheads is too horrific to think of.

22. A Romney administration will treat “separation of powers” as a limit to be observed.

21. For the past four years, Obama has treated it as an obstacle to be breached.

20. Because while our nation needs to re-evaluate its defense strategy and the spending that supports it, we certainly do need a Navy larger than we had in 1917.

19. Because Obama has been shamelessly leaching credit from the SEALs who actually killed Bin Laden, and from the planners and intelligence people who made the mission possible.  Obama does indeed deserve credit for making the call (finally); that credit is paid in full.

18. Because Barack Obama bowed, scraped and deferred to every foreign leader that’d have him (except Queen Elizabeth), and seemed to be looking for more…

17. …and Romney just isn’t going to do that.

15.  Because you are not better off than you were four years  ago.  Your income has dropped…
14. …as your taxes have risen.  
13. And if you are unemployed, you have been there longer than at any time in US history.  Our current “recovery” is the slowest since World War II.
12. Because by this time in the 1980 recession – the 1984 election – we were adding four times as many jobs per month as we are today.  That’s how sharp recessions are supposed to work…
11.  …but just as the New Deal did with the Great Depression, Obama’s interventions in the economy are preventing a big, dramatic economic comeback.  
10. Because Mitt Romney understands this.
9. And Barack Obama’s worldview hinges on not only denying it, but repudiating it.  
8. Because I’m a bitter, gun-clinging Jebus freak, and I’m proud of it. 
7. Because our nation’s economy is heading toward not one, but two cliffs; a tax cliff in January that will flense whatever “recovery” we’ve had so far, and a bigger, nastier one that will involve the devaluation of the dollar and, most likely, a depression that will make the Great Depression look like the deflation of the Dotcom Bubble,.  
6. And Romney and Ryan are the only candidates that seem to acknowledge this, much less take it seriously.  Obama does not; he and his followers continue to believe that money  will continue to be borne down from the heavens on magic unicorns.  
5. Because my granddaughter is already in debt thanks to Obama.
4. Because we may not really be better than this – but if we’re not, the consequences are truly, truly terrible.  
3. Because the media at all levels has been such a shameless Praetorian Guard for  Obama, reality and fact be damned.
2. . Obama sees America as one big Chicago…
1. …and Romney sees it as a shining city on the hill.  
Vote like your future depends on it.  Because it does depend on Obama, the Democrats and the DFL being retired to the septic tank of history as soon as possible. 

Poll-arity

One outcome is certain tomorrow – the pollsters will finish last.

Give the pollsters of the 2012 cycle some credit – they’ve managed to straddle the fence, predicting a solid electoral victory for Barack Obama…and potentially a major popular vote win for Mitt Romney.

The top line of most of the recent polls has been easy enough to read.  The Real Clear Politics national average represents a statistical tie as Obama leads by 0.7% but the sheer numbers of polls showing slight edges to Obama in key states has the conventional wisdom pegging the President at somewhere around 290 to 303 electoral votes.  A step drop from 2008 but a large win by comparison to the recent histories of 2004 or 2000.

Yet the crosstabs of almost every pollster suggests a far different outcome as Mitt Romney holds a lead among unaffiliated/independent voters.  And the margins are anything but slight.  Romney leads independent voters by 7% with Fox News’ polling. By 9% with Rasmussen Reports.  12% according to two separate polls by NPR and the New York Times.  16% by Monmouth’s numbers.  And a jaw-dropping 24% by CNN.

The lead isn’t universal – Gallup has Obama up 1% among indies with Politico having a similar result…after deciding they would qualify more indies as Republicans following Romney’s 10% lead just two weeks earlier.  The trendline is obvious.  The question is how much does it matter to win independents?

Conventional wisdom in politics is like conventional wisdom about everything else – it’s right up until the point it’s wrong.  Whereas independent voters have been prized possessions in past elections, suddenly the value of these voters has been called into question:

It’s true that independents are a diverse group. But that’s mostly because the large majority of independents are independents in name only. Research by political scientists on the American electorate has consistently found that the large majority of self-identified independents are “closet partisans” who think and vote much like other partisans. Independent Democrats and independent Republicans have little in common. Moreover, independents with no party preference have a lower rate of turnout than those who lean toward a party and typically make up less than 10% of the electorate. Finally, independents don’t necessarily determine the outcomes of presidential elections; in fact, in all three closely contested presidential elections since 1972, the candidate backed by most independent voters lost.

Let’s look at that last statement in greater detail.

On the surface, it’s 100% correct.  Jerry Ford, John Kerry and George W. Bush all won the independent voter demographic and all three lost the popular vote (although not the election in all three cases).  Bush won indies by 2% and lost by 0.5% in an electorate that was 4% more Democrat than Republican.  Kerry won indies by 2% as well but lost by 3% in a tied partisan affiliation election.  And Ford, amidst a massive movement of Republicans to Independents post-Watergate, won that block by 4%…the largest margin for a losing candidate and done in an electorate with a 15% Democratic advantage.

The trendline here is simple as well – a narrow advantage among independent voters guarantees nothing other than perhaps a close election.  But compare Romney’s margin among indies to past performances.  Obama won indies by 7%.  Clinton won indies, despite an independent candidate on the ballot, by 8% in 1996 and 6% in 1992.  Bush Sr. won by 14% in 1988 and Reagan by 28% and 25% respectively in his two races.

Can Romney win independents and still lose the election?  Of course.  But only if a few other conditions arise.  The electorate has to be strongly Democrat.  Many pollsters are using D+8ish models ala 2008 even as 825,000 voters in eight key battleground states dropped their Democrat registration.  Or Romney could lose a key chunk of Republicans to offset his gains among indies.  That too seems unlikely as Democrats have held voter identification advantages every year since 1972 except in 2002 & 2004 – and the largest Republican advantage was 1% in ’02.

Some have argued that Romney’s lead among independents is simply a reflection of dissatisfied Republicans having left the party but whom will still vote conservatively.  It’s not a bad theory and it’s supported by some evidence.  Gallup has Republicans at 28% and Independents at 38%.  Pew has Republicans at 25% and Independents at 36%.  Yet neither Gallup or Pew reflect such a shift in their presidential polling.  Gallup has Obama up 1% among indies, as previously stated, and Pew has Romney up only 3%.  If Republicans just dropped the ‘R’ from their ID, someone forgot to tell them.

The end result isn’t actually about who wins on Tuesday.  Regardless of the  outcome, most of the pollsters have made a series of startling errors.  Either they’ve completely whiffed on properly defining party IDs within whatever likely voter model they’re using or they can’t accurately identify independent voters as a demographic.  Simply put, the numbers don’t match.  Obama can’t win if he loses the largest party ID block by high single or low double digits.  Conversely, Romney can’t lose if he wins independents by those kinds of margins.

The question in doubt tomorrow isn’t whether the pollsters erred but on which end of the spectrum.  We’ll find out for sure on Tuesday.  The pollsters will have to find out how they went wrong starting on Wednesday.

ADDENDUM:  Over at Mr. Dilettante’s, D pithily surmises the conundrum of the 2012 polls:

One thing will be decided this time — either polling is broken, or the time-honored tradition of reporting and observation is obsolete. It’s a fascinating question to resolve.

 

The Poll

Stand aside, Gallup and Rasmussen and PPP and SUSA.

It’s time for “Poll In The Dark” – the most prestigious poll in America (that I’ve worked on personally in this cycle.

Put in your predictions; it should be great fun on Wednesday comparing them with reality.

Standing Astride History, Yelling “Hi”

My high school friend Nuke wanted to do something for the GOP this election season.  But he wasn’t sure what to do.

But he does make a mean sign.  So he decided to get out on the street.  Literally.

For the past couple of weeks, he’s been standing on the footbridge over Highway 55 at Winnetka, during the afternoon rush, holding signs and waving at passing traffic.

I joined him up on the overpass on Friday.

We got a few thumbs-down, and a few middle fingers – yes, I am #1 – but a lot more honks in agreement, and not a few people bellowing their agreement out the window.

Anyway – Nuke’s going to be up on the overpass tonight, Monday night, one last time before the election.  Give him a honk or a thumbs-up if you’re passing by.  Or bring a sign of your own.

Holding My Nose

Ever since the idea of the Marriage Amendment was broached, I’ve been deeply, intensely ambivalent about it.

On the one hand, I’m a libertarian-conservative.  Indeed, I’m a libertarian-conservative before I’m a Republican.  I think government should get out of the way of peoples’ rights.

And that means gay peoples’ rights, too.  One of the fundamental tenets of all conservatism, especially libertarian conservatism, is that we are all equal before the law. Or at least we should be.

But I’ve found many of the arguments against the Marriage Amendment to be intensely disohonest.

“If you don’t support gay marriage, you are a bigot”: Nope.  Not only do I support equal rights for gays, but I guarantee you I’ve put more on the line against genuine hatred of gays than you have, pretty much whoever you are.  (No, I’m not going into details).  Anyone using this ‘argument” – it’s not an argument, it’s just browbeating – needs to shut up, go down to the courthouse, and officially renounce their right to vote; they don’t deserve it.

“It’s about rights”!:  If only it were.

I support – and have always supported – civil unions, because they equalize gay couples’ civil rights. But when you suggest civil unions – which are (or can and should be made to be) exactly the same in terms of tax, probate and other legal rights as marriage – as a compromise, the fangs come out.  ”It’s a second-class institution!”, they say – which completely upends the “it’s about rights” argument.  It’s not about rights, it’s about a status.

“It’s about love!”:  Now we’re getting somewhere, sort of.

Marriage is not about “love”.  Love is a vital part of a marriage, of course.  But saying marriage is “about two people loving each other” trivializes marriage.

Of course, the institution has become more and more trivialized over the past fifty years or so.  The cultural left has tried to give marriage, the institution, the death of a thousand cultural cuts over the past generation or two.  No-fault divorce has, over time, led to such a debasement of the institution that the term “starter marriage” is tossed about with a chuckle and a wink in polite society.  ”But what about all the people who used to stay in miserable marriages for fifty years?”, the well-meaning cultural lefties respond.  No argument here – a miserable marriage is a terrible thing…

…for everyone but one participant.  The children.  One of the cultural left’s most self-indulgent conceits is that children are happier with divorced, “happy” parents than married miserable ones.  It is simply not true.  The children are happier if their miserable parents put on a happy face and sack up and focus on raising them rather than indulging their own happiness (barring real, serious abuse – which, Lifetime movies notwithstanding, is a minority).  It is a fact, and it is immutable, and ignoring it destroys children and turns them into miserable dysfunctional adults.  And about half of parents today aren’t up to the job.

While cultural critics of traditional marriage point out that marriage has taken many forms in many societies, and even evolved considerably in our own society, when you strip away all the variants, it always boils down to A Guy and A Gal getting together to try to have and raise children.  Sometimes more than one guy, more often more than one gal, but usually one of each, and with a gender-count invariably stuck at two.

And the fact that society sees marriage as something other than “the best place to raise children” that is perhaps the greatest symptom of the trivialization of the institution.  When gay marriage advocates say “you don’t need to have kids to be married” – they have a point.  The Catholic Church until recently wouldn’t marry people that didn’t procreate; in some protestant parts of Western Europe until fairly recently, an engaged couple wouldn’t marry until they were expecting.

The institution has become so trivialized that in many parts of the country, it’s becoming a formality for a minority; in some major Blue-state cities, most co-habiting couples are not married.  In some parts of the country – by no means all inner cities – most babies are born out of wedlock.

And all of us – cultural conservatives and liberal alike – have allowed it to happen.

“Why shouldn’t all these wondeful, loving gay families have the same status as conventional families?”:  This one’s a little better.  Given the epidemic of single-parent homes in this country, and the social pathologies it’s producing, I’ll say this; if a child has a choice between being adopted by a single parent or a gay couple, I’d say go with the couple; if nothing else, it’s a lot easier to raise kids when you can do one-on-one or double-team defense than if you have to play zone.

And somewhere in that statement is a backhanded reason I’d almost support gay marriage in and of itself; the way the argument’s been presented so far, every gay couple is a perfect, loving pair of superparents, as opposed to us nasty, dysfunctional, human breeders.  If you were to legalize gay marriage, at least gay couples would be liberated from their image as perfect superhumans; the TV show Cops would no doubt soon feature police responding to an impeccable Warehouse District loft to drag a drunk (and impeccably-coiffed) guy in a husband-beater T-shirt and boxers down to jail after a domestic disturbance, as the bloody-nosed partner yells “I love you, Derek!  I’ll be here when you get back” through his tears.

I’ll return from facetious-land now.

But here’s one big gnarly fact of human emotional development that the left – not just the gay marriage movement, but the entire cultural left (many of whom are as homophobic as the most caricatured southern baptist) – want to kill and bury; Gender matters.  There’s a reason that the social institution we call “marriage”, throughout human society, is always a mixed-doubles sport; because whatever you believe created humanity in all of our complexity – God, biochemistry, L. Ron Hubbard or remorseless fate – created us so that as the human mind develops emotionally, all other things equal, it is best served by having a male and a female parent.   There are vast swathes of studies showing that, all other things being equal, kids develop best emotionally with two parents, one of each gender.  Female parents – mothers – provide empathy and nurturing and show boys what women are supposed to be like; Fathers teach risk-tolerance and socialized aggressiveness and show their daughters what a guy is supposed to be, ideally (and yes, that’s in functional families, and yes, any individusal person and couple may be different).  Single-parent households produce children who lack one of those sets of traits in their upbringing.

Which isn’t to say that gay parents can’t do a good job; they just bring a double-helping of one set of tools to the table.

But that’s OK – it’s a non-issue; I support gay adoption, because it’s better than many of the alternatives.

That is why the left’s argument that a vote against gay marriage is like a vote for Jim Crow, for “Separate but Equal”, for slavery, is so very wrong.  Black and white men are biologically the same species; so are black and white women.  But men and women are, in fact, very very different – and they’ve very different for a reason.

Men and women, black and white, should all have equal rights under the law.  Even if their affectional orientation is toward the same sex.

———-

 So How About That Marriage Amendment?

Dennis Prager had an excellent article in the National Review last week:

Proponents of same-sex marriage ask: Is keeping the definition of marriage as man-woman fair to gays? Opponents of same-sex marriage ask: Is same-sex marriage good for society?

Few on either side honestly address the question of the other side. Opponents of same-sex marriage rarely acknowledge how unfair the age-old man-woman definition is to gay couples. And proponents rarely, if ever, acknowledge that this unprecedented redefinition of marriage may not be good for society.

Prager cuts to the crux of the issue; it’s really two issues:

  • Should gay couples have the same rights as straight ones?:  There’s no real moral case they shouldn’t have the same legal rights.  And in fact every single one of the rights that a couple can get by getting married – the ones that aren’t available one way or another right now – can be legislatied without needing to redefine marriage.  Every last one of them.
  • Is it in society’s best interest allow marriage to be further re-defined?”: The dilution of what marriage is supposed to be – a vehicle not for “Love” or even “Happiness”, but for raising children as functionally and effectively and with as much emotional health as possible – is behind many of this society’s current ills.  Crime, addiction, the disintegration of the school system – all of them trace, more or less directly, to the disintegration of the Western idea of family.

And answering both of those questions honestly – if you take either of them seriously, and many of the partisans on both sides of the debate do not – is difficult.

If you accept that Marriage is supposed to be about creating and raising children, that gay couples deserve equality as citizens before the law, and that thousands of years of human development, and reams of studies, are correct in showing that children develop best – all other things being equal – by being raised by mixed-gender couples (while legally allowing that gay adoption is preferable to single-parenthood), then the conclusion is…:

  • We need to socially de-trivialize marriage:  and I mean this in a radical way.  This means not only eliminating no-fault divorce, but also getting churches and secular authorities that perform weddings to more-aggressively dissuade couples from marrying when they shouldn’t, and yes, to maybe even quit marrying couples who have no intention of having kids, too.  In for a penny, in for a buck.
  • We need to recognize that “marriage” – in the “institution in which children are raised” sense of the term – is no more a “right” than childbirth.  Men and women want to have kids, but biologically, only women can (but not without a starter).   Ditto with marriage as an institution intended for raising children.  It’s something anyone can want – but for the children, in most cases, all other things being equal, it should be a man and a woman.
  • It’s time to enact civil unions, because not all couples will be mixed-gender, and they do raise kids, and absent the biological and emotional advantages of mixed-gender couples, many of them do a perfectly fine job of it.
That, or eliminate the secular idea of marriage altogether and privatize the whole thing.

———-

One thing that is not difficult, in our litigious society, foreseeing what’ll happen if gay marriage is legalized; any refusal to recognize it will be stomped flat in court.  Because Marriage is not the only institution that’s been trivialized; so has the right to free association.

Are you a baker that doesn’t want to bake a cake for a gay wedding?  A photographer that won’t photograph ‘em?   And eventually and inevitably,, a church that refuses to perform ‘em?  Bend over and grab your legal ankles; the ACLU and, likely as not, city/county/state “Human Rights” bureaucracy will no doubt come calling.

“But the First Amendment won’t allow that!” is a cop-out, not an answer.  The First Amendment will prevent these absues exactly as the Second Amendment protected the gun owners of New Orleans from gun confiscation, or the First Amendment protected Eugene Debs’ freedom of speech, or the Fourth Amendment prevents property forfeiture on accusation of a drug crime, or the Tenth prevents abuses of the Commerce Clause; only with hard work and costly legal action.

Let’s be honest; the Constitution only protects those that make it protect them, and have or create the power to make it protect them.

———-

So I’m probably going to vote for the Marriage Amendment.  Not because I don’t support equal rights for gays – Civil Unions do, in fact, confer equal rights, and I support them.  And not because I don’t think same-sex couples can’t raise kids – they can, although not as well as a mixed-gender couple, all other things being equal.

No, I’m going to vote for the Amendment because it’s one of many things our society needs to do to de-trivialize the notion of what marriage and family really are.  I believe society needs to get serious about the idea of what family is, and should be - and at the same timegive gay couples the rights they need to function in raising their own families (however they get them), and while protecting the First Amendment rights of free association of those who disagree with the idea of gay marriage from the inevitable depredations of the grievance industry.

So to some extent I’m going to hold my nose when I do it – but I’m voting for the Marriage Amendment.

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Bread And Circuses

Bloomberg carries on with NYC Marathon:

T]hose urging the city to halt the run believe that the thousands of Marathon volunteers could direct their efforts towards post-Sandy relief and cleanup, “and they also argue that the event will divert thousands of police from important hurricane-related duties.” But despite petitions circulating, work started up again yesterday on the Marathon route.

A tipster, who wishes to remain anonymous, told us there were lots of workers in and out of the park today, who had “started before the storm and then came back starting yesterday.” Trailers are lined up from around 71st to 66th Streets on Central Park West, a food truck was set up today, and “generators have been sitting there at least a week.” The tents that were taken down prior to the storm have also been set back up, and there is a stage set up near 73rd Street.

Considering all the volunteer help and NYPD attention that’s already being diverted to the Marathon, the added sight of generators and food being channeled to the event is probably going to strike some New Yorkers as a little misplaced—we’re thinking of the ones who are currently lined up waiting for the National Guard to ration out MREs and bottles of water.

Can you imagine if a Republican mayor – who’d just endorsed, say, George W. Bush – had done something like this?

Parts Is Parts

Joe Doakes of Como Park emails:

“I, Pencil” is a famous Economics essay that makes this startling claim: Nobody knows how to make a pencil.

Consider the ordinary No. 2 lead pencil children use in grade school. No single person knows every piece of knowledge needed to make a pencil: forest management for the wood; polymer science for the paint; ore mining and refining for the metal and graphite; how to make whatever the eraser is made of; and the manufacturing process to bring the components together. A pencil is a simple tool but the result of a complex set of discrete processes, all of which must work in perfect harmony. If enough elements are removed, the result is not a pencil. If what you needed was a No. 2 lead pencil, removing some of the essential elements of a pencil leaves you worse off than you were before the changes were made.

President Obama’s recent “The First Time” campaign message uses a losing-your-virginity sexual theme to advise young voters that their first vote should be cast for someone who cares about women getting birth control, not somebody who studies in the library; in other words, someone cool and casual, not someone boring but permanent. The thinking underlying this ad is similar to the thinking behind the sexual revolution that led to the gay marriage movement and all are delusions dangerous to long-term societal stability.

 

The concept of marriage looks as simple as a pencil but it’s actually a complicated collection of rights and policies. Before 1970, the family was the fundamental organizational unit of society because, as Robert Heinlein famously noted, it was the most successful institution ever devised for protecting children while preserving family wealth. Marriage was hard to get into (blood tests, waiting periods) and hard to get out of (good cause required and alimony paid). But the incentives were good: sex outside marriage was illegal, children born outside marriage were denied rights, unmarried couples were denied tax breaks and were social outcasts.

The sexual revolution convinced us the individual should replace the family as the focus of society. Satisfying the desires of individuals became more important than sacrificing for one’s family. The changes to society were slow to manifest but breathtaking in scope. No-fault divorce made marriage temporary. Child custody assumptions turned fathers into powerless, occasional visitors. Abortion made casual sex outside marriage risk-free. Childhood illegitimacy and poverty rates skyrocketed while test scores plummeted and child abuse and neglect rates exploded.

A society focused on individual gratification at the expense of children’s futures cannot prosper long-term. By every economic and social measure, people raised in traditional families today are miles ahead of single-parent or never-married families. 40 years of evidence shows Heinlein was right. The sexual revolution removed some of the essential elements supporting traditional marriage and as a result, society is worse off.

Gay marriage advocates assure us that re-defining “marriage” away from one-man-one-woman won’t hurt the institution of marriage a bit. I can’t agree. I think we’ve already stripped the pencil of the eraser, metal holder and paint. If we strip the lead out, what’s left won’t be a pencil at all. That’s not a problem if we have ballpoints and highlighters and crayons to substitute for the pencil. But what’s the substitute system for protecting children and preserving family wealth? What’s the substitute for the next generation, and the one after that?

Joe Doakes

Como Park

More tomorrow.