Open Minds

Open Minds:

I am sure glad to hear that the New Leaders will be men and women of Open Minds.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s family background as the son and grandson of admirals has given him a worldview shaped by the military, “and he has a hard time thinking beyond that,” Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., said Friday.

“I think he’s trapped in that,” Harkin said in a conference call with Iowa reporters. “Everything is looked at from his life experiences, from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous.”

Harkin said that “it’s one thing to have been drafted and served, but another thing when you come from generations of military people and that’s just how you’re steeped, how you’ve learned, how you’ve grown up."
Man, that's an indictment of almost our entire existing military. You're welcome for everything, Tom. And hey, thanks for voting to send our dangerous, close-minded volunteers to fight in Iraq for you.
WTF, over.

"Hitler's demands were not unreasonable."

I don't even have words for this sort of thinking.

(via Ace of Spades)
P. J. O'Rourke on Politicians:

After all my time covering politics, I know a lot of politicians. They’re intelligent. They’re diligent. They’re talented. I like them. I count them as friends.

But when these friends of mine take their intelligence, their diligence, and their talent and they put these into the service of politics, ladies and gentlemen, when they do that, they turn into leeches upon the commonwealth. They are dogs chasing the cat of freedom. They are cats tormenting the mouse of responsibility. They are mice gnawing on the insulated wiring of individualism. They are going to hell in a hand basket, and they stole that basket from you.

From the CATO newsletter linked here.

A Sacred Oath on our behalf

A Sacred Oath on Our Behalf:

The President's remarks were far more than that one small matter mentioned below. What he has sworn, in his capacity as the President of the United States of America, is nothing less than... well, read for yourself.

We gather to mark a momentous occasion. Sixty years ago in Tel Aviv, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel’s independence, founded on the “natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate.” What followed was more than the establishment of a new country. It was the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham and Moses and David — a homeland for the chosen people Eretz Yisrael....

I have been fortunate to see the character of Israel up close. I have touched the Western Wall, seen the sun reflected in the Sea of Galilee, I have prayed at Yad Vashem. And earlier today, I visited Masada, an inspiring monument to courage and sacrifice. At this historic site, Israeli soldiers swear an oath: “Masada shall never fall again.” Citizens of Israel: Masada shall never fall again, and America will be at your side.
But Masada fell to Rome.
Sixty years ago, on the eve of Israel’s independence, the last British soldiers departing Jerusalem stopped at a building in the Jewish quarter of the Old City. An officer knocked on the door and met a senior rabbi. The officer presented him with a short iron bar — the key to the Zion Gate — and said it was the first time in 18 centuries that a key to the gates of Jerusalem had belonged to a Jew. His hands trembling, the rabbi offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God, “Who had granted us life and permitted us to reach this day.” Then he turned to the officer, and uttered the words Jews had awaited for so long: “I accept this key in the name of my people."
The President of the United States has taken an oath, before the parliament of Israel, that America will help them make real the promises they believe God Himself made to their nation. It is the same oath they require of their soldiers.

The Belmont Club says that this is the New Rome repaying the sins of the Old Rome:
Nothing can disguise the fact that six million Jews died, not in the Middle East, but in ovens which burned in the very heart of Europe. In countries that prided themselves in culture; that listened to Mozart; read books and vaunted their universities. When Golda Meir said with relief, on the occasion of the foundation of Israel that "For two thousand years we have waited for our deliverance. Now that it is here it is so great and wonderful that it surpasses human words" she was speaking of escape from a darkness within the very center of Western civilization.

Yet nothing great or wonderful is safe forever, and that darkness, that love for savagery, that admiration for the brutal, that was believed to have died beneath the ground in 1945 is on the march again. It is crawling out of books, lofty towers, places of culture in precisely the manner Camus warned us against. He said that the evil may be beaten, but it is rarely beaten forever; "that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city."

But we may not speak of it. And therefore it begins.
The focus on politics is misplaced. This is a question of religion, and sacred oaths. It is fearsome.

What a day

What A Day:

I was occupied a good portion of the day with family business, so imagine my surprise this evening to sit down and read the news:

A) President Bush, speaking before the Israeli legislature, gave a foreign policy speech that 'aides privately admitted was an attack on Obama.'

"As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland, an American senator said..." Heh, yeah, that's pretty clear.

It's a fair attack, delivered in a speech in Washington, DC, in the President's role as the head of his party. An attack on a political opponent delivered before a foreign government, where a President speaks as the head of state for all Americans? That's the sort of thing we didn't used to do.

B) This Israeli parliament burst into applause.

C) Joe Lieberman said Bush was exactly right. (That link is to Think Progress -- if you read the comments, it may be helpful to note that the "Nazi" they are referring to is Lieberman, not the actual Nazis mentioned by the President.)

D) Obama was outraged at the suggestion that he might try to appease foreign enemies. He also said that his promise to meet personally with Iran and others "without precondition" was not to be read as appeasement, as there would be "preparation" for such talks.

E) John McCain asked just what Obama wanted to talk to Iran about, if it wasn't appeasement.

Allahpundit is right to ask two serious question. First:

A serious definitional question: What separates “appeasement” from negotiation generally? The right, I take it, would characterize negotiations with any aggressor as appeasement since it creates a perverse incentive by rewarding a malefactor for misbehavior. Want to talk to President Obama? Simple: Start your own nuclear program, build a proxy army in a neighboring state (or better yet, two neighboring states) and wait for him to beat a path to your door. The left, I’m guessing, would define the term more narrowly, as negotiation with an aggressor without a demand that he concede anything already gained. Signing a peace deal with Hitler in exchange for his promise that he won’t do anything bad from now on would be appeasement; signing a peace deal with him in exchange for his withdrawal from Czechoslovakia wouldn’t.
And second:
The question McCain should be asking is what Obama intends to do if that deal is struck and then we discover that Iran’s cheating, just like it was cheating in concealing its nuclear program in the first place prior to 2002 and just like it’s guaranteed to try to cheat post-bargain given how effectively nuclear facilities can be concealed these days. And instead of whining about “hypocrisy,” Obama should hit him with the counterfactual: What exactly is Maverick’s plan for dealing with them? We’re on the clock here; they’ll have a bomb circa 2015 at the latest. Is he going to fold his arms and wait for Israel to deal with it or is he prepared for airstrikes, an admission Obama doubtless would love to wring out of him? To which McCain’s reply, of course, will be to ask if Obama’s ruled out airstrikes no matter how dire the situation is.
The real policy on Iran appears to be "hope they fall into internal revolution," which is certainly possible. If they do, the investment in building Iraq's military as an regional ally will more than pay for itself.

Hope is not a plan, though; and tyrannical governments have proven very resilient at crushing internal revolts. So yes, what is left if not appeasement? Are airstrikes on the table? An offensive similar to the one that took down the Taliban, where we don't just hope for an internal revolt but openly aid one? Negotiation with preconditions? What preconditions?

Iraq is what everyone has been talking about, but Iran is going to be the big question that the next President faces. It's valuable, then, to see the general election campaign starting off with a chance to see what the candidates have to say about it.
Ghost Pandas.

LT G recounts the wierdness that is Iraq, at night.
Clever lads.

If this isn't proof that the UK is overrun with surveillance cameras, I don't know what is.
One of the most difficult things for a DIY label to do is to create an engaging music video on a shoestring budget. The Get Out Clause has found a novel way around this problem using a combination of Manchester’s state of the art CCTV system and a little knowledge of the Freedom of Information & Data Protection Act. The Get Out Clause set up at various locations around Manchester city centre where they knew there would be CCTV coverage and performed their new single Paper. The footage was then requested under the Freedom of Information & Data Protection Acts and a video was cut together in their home studio.

What's also telling is that all those cameras don't seem to be doing anything to reduce the crime rate, either. At least somebody has found a use for the things.

(via Art of the Prank)

An Oddity

An Oddity:

Bthun posted this link in the comments to an earlier post. It's to an article about how many Americans are now taking prescription drugs every single day.

The article says that 2/3rds of adult women and 52% of men are taking such drugs on a daily basis. I'm curious as to why there is a disparity, when I've always heard that women lived longer and were less subject to various diseases than men.

Is it that chronic medication increases as you grow older, and women live longer? Or is it that women are more likely to go to the doctor, and thus have the opportunity to be prescribed something? Or some other factor?

Essential Library for Men

Essential Reading for Men:

Since we're all reading Protein Wisdom now, let's talk about this book list. One Hundred "must read" books for men is quite an undertaking. It's an impressive list, mostly, but I think it's too biased in favor of literature-class books: those 20th century texts, and a few 19th century ones, that we are told are Great Novels. (Henry Miller in a list of books for men? Edward Abbey once called him, "Our finest lady novelist.") I would suggest you can dispense with those if you wish.

I would also dispute a few of the choices: Aristotle's Politics, for example. Not that you shouldn't read the Politics, but Arisotle's political ideals are an extension of his ideas on personal morality to the state. Until you've got the concept from his Nicomachean Ethics, then, you won't really grasp what he's trying to say in the Politics.

By the same token, The Republic is not what I'd suggest you read from Plato if you were only going to read one book. I'd suggest one of the earlier works that deal with Socrates more as a man and less as a literary device: perhaps the Crito, or the Laches.

With quibbles like that aside, most of the list is excellent. The non-fiction works are the best. The inclusion of the old Boy Scout Handbook is a wise stroke, and something we've talked about here before. I can think of several more nonfiction works that would better the list by replacing some of the novels, in my opinion; but the ones they suggest are very good.

Did I miss Louis L'amour in that list? It's hard to pick a book of his to include -- one would like to say, "Any three books by him," or just "every book by him." He's an odd character in that none of his books are indispensable, and they often repeat plots; but because of the "man v. nature" element of his books, all of them are worth reading in order to gain a deeper appreciation of the nature that surrounds you. If you don't want to read all of them, though, you can read pretty much any of them to get his underlying moral principles, which are the other lesson of his works.

GHMC Angel

Grim's Hall Movie Club: Angel and the Badman

Here's a movie that's been mentioned time and again in this hall. I'd like to propose that we watch it, this weekend.

It's one of those movies in the clear now, so you can find it for sale on any number of cowboy movie compilations. If you can't find it, though, the whole thing is availabe online (in multiple parts) here.

Who's with me for this one?

UPDATE: Cassidy, you are specially required to join us, assuming you have the power. This is a movie you should see, if you haven't yet.

This just makes me giggle.


I wonder how he really feels.


Congress and States Rights?

I don't have the background to know for certain what to think about this article on proposed immigration law, which bthun sends. I'm not sure how much Congress is trying to assert new authority, and how much it's extending something it already has the power to do.

Opinion from our friends who have been called to the bar is welcome.


Georgia Revises Handgun Carry Law:

With the governor's signature, a major update to Georgia firearms law has passed. The AJC's coverage is typically horrid, both wrong on the facts and biased against the law even in defeat; but it's an occasion for celebration all the same. (The text of the law is here.)

Two ways in which the article is wrong, for those of you in Georgia:

"Concealed weapons will now be allowed in state — and by extension — local parks."

Wrong: the Georgia Firearms Law permits you to carry openly or concealed.

Also wrong: " extension -- local parks." Georgia already has a pre-emption law that forbade localities from passing laws against carrying in local parks. So really, it's just the state parks, historic sites, recreational areas, and wildlife management areas.

Another error, although minor by comparison to these basic errors of fact:

"[The NRA and] argued that holders of concealed weapons permits — who submit to fingerprinting and a criminal background check — are no danger to the public and might even protect the public."

Actually, what we argued was that armed citizens would definitely protect the public.

GeorgiaCarry deserves a lot of credit for working to get this passed, as does the NRA.

The law doesn't take effect until July 1st, 2008, so don't let your eagerness get the better of you. (I'm looking at you, JHD. :)

Now, my next hope for Georgia law: fixing the knife laws, so that anyone with a firearms license may also carry a knife (openly or concealed). It doesn't make a lot of sense to permit the one and not the other.


Patriotism and a Woman:

Protein Wisdom was musing on proper patriotism, yesterday, as expressed by left and right. I think they both have it wrong.

[I]t is fair to infer that Obama tends to attract those who disagree that that “we should be willing to fight for our country whether it is right or wrong,” which seems entirely consistent with Obama’s view of patriotism (and of Israeli nationalism). As Michael Barone would put it, it is the difference between Jacksonians and academics. For the New Left, the idea that disagreements over foreign policy stop at the water’s edge died in Vietnam.

The New Left view can be usefully contrasted with a metaphor Rick Moran has used to describe liberal patriotism:
I think it is apparent that some on the right love America in a different way than some on the left. Think of the right’s love of country as that of a young man for a hot young woman. The passion of such love brooks no criticism and in their eyes, the woman can do nothing wrong. They place the woman on a pedestal and fail to see any flaws in her beauty, only perfection.On the other hand, love of country by many liberals is more intellectualized – perhaps the kind of love we might feel for a wife of many years. The white hot passion may be gone and her flaws might drive you up a wall at times. And it is difficult not to dwell on her imperfections. But there is still a deep, abiding affection that allows you to love her despite the many blemishes and defects they see.

It isn’t that most on the left love America any less than those on the right. They simply see a different entity – a tainted but beloved object that has gotten better with age.
Alternatively, it could be argued that some on the left (esp. the New Left) treat America like the girlfriend they hold to a standard of perfection and always find wanting, complaining about her to their friends in her presence. And that some on the right love America like their wives, acknowledging her past and present flaws, while recognizing that those flaws might not be corrected overnight, or even in his lifetime. And that most American husbands do not find it useful to publicly take sides in an argument against their wives, even when they might privately do so. Or to dismiss their wives’ concern that there may be an intruder in the house.

It is wonderful — not to mention politically smart — that Obama has started talking more about the greatness of America and its ideals. However, should he be elected president, he will be elected president of the nation as it is, not of its ideals. Obama claims he wants to bring Americans together. If he truly does, he will have to accept that he cannot cavalierly dismiss the views of his fellow citizens anymore than he can dismiss the views of his wife.
Insofar as you want to make a metaphor wherein the country is a woman, both of these concepts are wrong. If America is a woman, she is your mother.

You should love her because she bore you into the world, and gave you every chance you had as a youth. You should love her because she defended you, nursed you while you were weak, and gave you a chance to grow strong. You should love her without failing because it is your duty, and because no man can hate his mother without destroying a part of himself.

Of course, "patriotism" is from the Latin patria, in turn derived from Pater, which means "Father." Still, it is usual to think of America as being a woman, in part because the name takes a feminine form. Whether you love her as a mother or as a father, however, love her that way.

Obama was right (this once)

Obama was Right:

ABCNews takes Obama to task on Iraq. Well, he deserves all he gets on that score, as his Iraq plans demonstrate neither an understanding of the military nor reasonable judgment as concerns the fate of millions of Iraqis or the stability of the region.

Yes, he deserves all he gets... almost.

No sooner did Obama realize his mistake -- and correct himself -- but he immediately made another.

"We need agricultural specialists in Afghanistan, people who can help them develop other crops than heroin poppies, because the drug trade in Afghanistan is what is driving and financing these terrorist networks. So we need agricultural specialists," he said.

So far, so good.

"But if we are sending them to Baghdad, they're not in Afghanistan," Obama said.

Iraq has many problems, but encouraging farmers to grow food instead of opium poppies isn't one of them. In Iraq, oil fields not poppy fields are a major source of U.S. technical assistance.
Agriculture is indeed tremendously important to Iraq. The Tigris and Euphrates river valleys are very fertile, which is why so many ancient civilizations were rooted in Mesopotamia -- a fact even an ABCNews reporter might have learned in school if he'd been listening. If not, he might have learned it from the US military, which has been talking for quite some time about efforts to set up agricultural unions and coops, chicken and fish farms, help refurbish tractor factories, and so forth.

Why is it that, five years into the war, the media still have this concept that Iraq is a Saudi Arabia-style desert where nothing grows but oil? The reporter objects to Obama's "pushback" on the issue, claiming that he has reported on Iraq "extensively" and that the claim strikes him as "doubtful."

OK, well, it's still true. Iraq needs agricultural experts, and there's much to be gained from deploying them. Not only does the agricultural industry exist in Iraq, it's the main industry in much of the country. Not only is Mesopotamia fertile, it's fertile enough that -- when it begins to be fully developed again -- it will be a major source of wealth and food in a time when food prices are rising worldwide.

An Reservation To Both Earlier Posts

Regarding Both Earlier Posts:

Both of today's posts turn out to be linked, in a way. Greyhawk says that the Obama speech is what he's calling "a telegraphed punch," and that Obama intends to fight for the military vote using the new GI Bill.

That's a telegraphed punch. Obama acknowledges he expects Hillary Clinton to get as much as 80% of the West Virginia primary vote. So he quite wisely turns his focus to his next opponent, and the issue that will ensure the Vietnam veteran loses the military/veteran vote in November - the new GI Bill.

In response, McCain and other Republicans are busy creating "kick me" signs to wear throughout the upcoming political season.

The proposed 21st Century GI Bill would allow soldiers to receive free tuition for college. Obama said it is one of a number of upgrades to GI benefits and healthcare the federal government should provide.

"It would provide every returning veteran with a real chance to afford a college education, and it would not harm retention," Obama told about 1,500 people at the Charleston Civic Center. After that, he stopped to shoot a game of pool with a veteran at a South Charleston pub.

The Illinois Democrat said McCain, whom he added he greatly respects as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, doesn't like the new plan.

"He is one of the few senators of either party who oppose this bill because he thinks it's too generous," Obama said. "I couldn't disagree more.

"At a time when the skyrocketing cost of tuition is pricing thousands of Americans out of a college education, we should be doing everything we can to give the men and women who have risked their lives for this country the chance to pursue the American dream."

In fairness it must be noted that McCain supports a hastily contrived Republican alternative to the Webb bill that offers lower benefits and covers fewer troops - and has no chance of passing in a Democrat-controlled congress. But while he simplifies the issue here, Obama's characterization of McCain's opposition is on the mark.
Hawk is a big fan of the bill, in part because the SECDEF is so worried about it -- Secretary Gates says that the benefits are so generous that it will be hard to retain servicemen and women past their first term of service, because they'll want to get out and start collecting benefits. That may very well be true.

I'm not sure it's that big a problem, however: because there will also be a large number of 18-year olds coming up behind them who want to get in line for the same generous benefits. While retaining veteran servicemen who have proven excellent is indeed a necessary and important function, that can be done through further incentives for top performers.

It seems to me that we as a nation would greatly benefit if a lot more of our youth passed through the military -- on a volunteer basis, of course. Insofar as this bill would help create that, I'm all for it. We'll work out the deficiencies through more generous pay or other benefits for those who remain in the service -- another thing I'm all for.

So in any event, how does this tie together with the first post of the day?

This bill was the brainchild of Jim Webb, one of the last Southern Democrats, and the author of Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. In other words, he's one of the last -- at this point, may be the only -- of the old type of Southern Democrat to occupy a position of leadership in the Senate.

This is the kind of advantage the party could get from listening to people from the South. And it's the kind of advantage the country can get, too: this new GI Bill is good policy, not just good politics.

America would be stronger if the Democratic Party were more the party of the people it claims to be -- of the people, that is, not just "for" the people.

Obama hits boomers

Obama Hates Hippies:

Woof. TalkLeft notices Obama trying to say something nice about Vietnam Veterans, and chiding those who didn't honor their service. Which, ah, includes almost every one of his intellectual supporters:

In other words, Obama intends to battle the war-hero McCain by throwing us under the bus... Everybody will be lying under the bus, which sounds like it may be the size of a 747 before we're through with this election.
Hey, don't worry, man. You fought for him, you believed in him. He'll fight for you too, right?

Swing States

Swing States:

West Virginia is voting today. According to Wikipedia, it's one of the three "swing states" in the South (assuming one counts WV, FL or Arkansas as "Southern" -- a point that might be debated).

In West Virginia the Democratic Party still enjoys a numerical advantage in registered voters. It looks like Sen. Clinton will be getting a lopsided number of those voters on her side -- something better than a thirty-point margin. Of the other two "Southern" swing states, Florida and Arkansas, Clinton won 70-26 in Arkansas, and won Florida under the odd circumstances of which we are all aware.

However, Clinton is increasingly unlikely to be the nominee.

So it looks like this will not be the year that the Democratic Party tries to reform its message in a way that will appeal to Southerners. In a way, that makes sense: the public mood for change has never been higher. 2006 was also a "change" election -- the Democrats won every single educational grouping, for example, as well as both males and females.

So why are we doing it all again? Amusingly, the answer is that the Democrats have been so incompetent.

The Democratic Congress has been so worthless, voters currently blame all problems on Bush and the Republicans -- who, in spite of not controlling Congress these last two years, seem to be the only ones who ever get their way on anything in government. This probably explains the Communist Party USA's demand to "end right-wing control of Congress." The Speaker of the House from San Francisco is so incompetent that she can't get Rep. Obey or her other fellow party members to line up with her, so it's the "right wing's" fault: they actually manage to vote together some of the time.

As a result, this change election is about changing out Republicans for Democrats in the minds of most of the electorate. It's about making the same change as in 2006 all over again, "but harder this time." If we do it hard enough, even these idiots might be able to pass a damn law once in a while.

Well, OK. Rational or not, that does suggest a Democratic victory in November. On the other hand, a victory can be broad or narrow; and given the supermajorities needed for real change (e.g., cloture votes in the Senate, which require 60 Senators), a broad change would be the thing to go for.

Instead, however, the Democratic party seems to want to push for the candidate least acceptable to swing state voters, and not just in the South: Ohio prefers Clinton to McCain to Obama.

So what? The overall trends are so negative for McCain and Republicans in general, why not get while the getting is good?

I think the answer has to do with the nature of the Democratic Party's constituency. Recent elections have shown that Republicans do best among those with high school educations, some college, and those with college degrees. Those who did not finish high school and those who have postgraduate degrees tend to prefer Democrats by large margins.

What do the two groups, highest and lowest, have in common? One thing: the sense that the system doesn't work for them. This makes sense for lower-education voters: they really do tend to be on the bottom, socially and economically. Whether it's their fault or the system's fault, or some combination of the two, it is easy to see why they would resent living in a system where people like them drift downward.

But why do the most highly-educated people favor Democrats? The problem was explained, and predicted, by economist Joseph Schumpeter in the 1930s.

Marx believed that capitalism would be destroyed by its enemies (the proletariat), whom capitalism had purportedly exploited. Marx relished the prospect. Schumpeter believed that capitalism would be destroyed by its successes. Capitalism would spawn, he believed, a large intellectual class that made its living by attacking the very bourgeois system of private property and freedom so necessary for the intellectual class's existence. And unlike Marx, Schumpeter did not relish the destruction of capitalism. He wrote: "If a doctor predicts that his patient will die presently, this does not mean that he desires it."
The problem is resentment. Schumpeter taught that the capitalist system would create such wealth that a large class of people could make a living doing nothing but thinking and writing; and many of the smartest people of society would drift into that class.

But capitalism's real rewards aren't for the smartest, but for those who take the greatest risks. Many of these lose everything. For those who have little to gain otherwise, the risk of losing everything isn't so great -- which is why most millionaires never finished college.

For those who can do quite well, thank you, without taking those risks -- well, a reasonable appreciation of the risks suggests taking the sure but more modest gains, such as you might get with a career as a lawyer or a college professor. Being smart people, they tend to understand the risk/profit calculation, and do just that.

And then they watch people less well educated, and maybe not so smart, rush past them into wealth and power. The wealth buys access to politicial leaders, and with access comes policy preferences. And these smart folks start to get mad. They start to hate the system that preferences risk-takers over intelligent, careful, stable people. And they want to "fix" the system to raise themselves, and enshrine their class -- the class of the intellectuals -- over the others.

These people are the leaders of the modern Democratic Party. They make common cause with the poor because it's useful, but they have little idea what the problems of the poor actually are. They get what understanding they have through "listening tours" and similar things. These folks -- the ones Jeffrey was calling "the best and brightest" -- believe their intelligence and education makes them the natural leaders of mankind. They want to fix society so that they are in fact the actual leaders of mankind -- and, in return, they'll do kind things for us when they get there.

Which will be paid for through taxes. On those damn businessmen, the idiots. They never deserved all that money -- it's not right someone so stupid should have it.

The problem is that these leaders really don't understand the other half of their coalition -- more than half, in fact, since they produce the majority of the votes. The Obama critique of Pennsylvania voters ("bitter," "cling to religion and guns") arises from this basic belief: we are the natural leaders, and if we give the poor the right set of services, they will keep us in power. There is no real connection with these voters: the intellectuals are in no way part of the class that empowers them.

The Republican leaders, at least, can draw on a class of people they understand -- because they belong to it, and arise from it. Democratic leaders miss these opportunities, even in their best years, because they really don't understand the people they want to vote for them.

Consider this:
Psychologists David Sears and Donald Kinder, as well as others, found that this racial resentment was the single most important factor -- more important than even conservative ideology or political partisanship -- in explaining strong opposition to a host of government programs that either directly or indirectly benefited minorities. Of course, that doesn't mean there couldn't be principled conservative opposition to government-guaranteed equal employment or urban aid. But, according to the political psychologists, racial resentment played the largest role in fueling public skepticism.

The answers also revealed which groups within society continued to harbor racial resentment. With the help of Harvard doctoral student Scott Winship, I looked at the levels of racial resentment in ANES data from 1988, 1992, and 2000 (the questions were omitted in 1996). What Winship and I found was that resentment was highest among males rather than females, the middle class rather than the wealthy or poor, those lacking a college degree, those who worked in skilled or semi-skilled blue collar jobs or as laborers, and residents of small towns in the Midwest and South. Does that profile sound familiar? It's more or less a description of the white working-class voters who have spurned Obama and with whom John Kerry and Al Gore had trouble. The only groups that didn't evince racial animosity toward blacks were voters with post-graduate degrees and, of course, African Americans....

But the problem with implicit association tests--or tests that use subliminal cues--is deciding what they mean in the real world.
Do Republicans carry out psychology exams on the middle class to figure out what prejudices they might have? Do they then say, at the end, "But the problem is, we still don't know what this means in the real world"?

Democrats from the South, including myself, have been trying to talk the intellectual class out of this nonsense for years. I have a postgraduate degree, but I have also been poor in the South: we got by on $15,000 a year at one point. I'm part of one of the classes you want to vote for you, have been part of the other, and have cultural reasons to continue to think of myself as a Democrat even though the party refuses to listen to anything I say, and is led by people who despise my home.

Such argument hasn't worked -- the South has factored less and less in the calculus of the Democratic leadership in every election cycle. They consider the South unredeemable, mired in cultural issues they can't understand or engage; and so write off a third of the Senate in even the most friendly election year.

So again this year, as West Virginia makes clear what its preferences are -- following Florida and Arkansas, and in the face of Ohio working-class voters' clear warnings -- the intellectuals will be picking their favorite instead.

Does that mean McCain wins in November? No, but it means he has a fighting chance. I'm glad about that, because he's a better candidate than either Clinton or Obama -- especially Obama. Of course, if you really listened to the people you want to vote for you, you'd have better candidates, too.


On Coyote:

I've been curious about the interest in dangerous coyotes shown by InstaPundit and the Chicago Boyz. We have coyotes here, and I can tell you that if you're concerned about them, one of the best defenses is to have a horse. Horses love to stomp coyotes.

The general point they are trying to make -- that many wild animals we normally haven't worried about become dangerous if we stop being dangerous -- is well-taken. Coyotes are a nuisance anyway, so much so that Georgia regulations permit taking them in the day or at night; with big game weapons if you're hunting big game, and small-game weapons otherwise; with no limit; using electronic or other kinds of calls; using traps or firearms; etc. If you read through the document, you'll find they are exempted from every kind of protection that is normally afforded to animals.

In some states, coyotes have a bounty on them. And, too, you can sell the hides if they're good -- I've heard of people getting as much as $40 for a coyote hide, though mostly they're worth a lot less, and some of them are worth nothing.

In spite of all that, I've never shot one. I think I have an attitude about dangerous wildlife somewhere between the "hippies" the Chicago Boyz point to, and the "put the fear of God into them" attitude that InstaPundit seems to be favoring (if I'm understanding him correctly -- his brevity could be misleading, but I gather that he believes it is important to shoot cougars and coyote in order to keep them afraid of people). I tend to agree with the hippies that these animals are an ornament of nature, and one I would rather have around me than not. I find a world without wild animals, all of which are potentially dangerous, sterile and sad. (This will surprise no one who remembers my killing time in Iraq stalking hyenas with a camera.)

On the other hand, I and my family always go armed in part to be prepared for animal encounters, like this one with a bear when I was out swimming with what was then a very young boy. We've taken the trouble to learn how to interpret their behavior. We maintain food and garbage discipline, to avoid luring them into conflict, and so forth.

I think the proper attitude toward life runs in this direction: not to eliminate dangers, but to be dangerous enough yourself that you needn't fear to encounter them. Then you may have the beauty of the bear, without watching one carry off your children.

Life of the Mind

Life of the Mind:

Returning to a fairly classic theme for Grim's Hall, a post on the military and the life of the mind. It references two roundtables from last week, one on the Minerva project, and the other on military advances in regenerative medicine.

Mother's Day

Mother's Day:

Happy Mother's Day to all -- those of you who are mothers, and those of you who have mothers.

If you have a television, you may wish to watch the America's Favorite Mom thing tonight. Soldiers' Angels founder Patti Patton-Bader was a semi-finalist. It would be wonderful if she had won.