Saturday, November 22, 2014

Executive's executive order on immigration

A montage from a lot of disparate online discussions on the topic follow, with a little sensationalism to get the ball rolling in some places. Not a lot new here, but I devoted some time to this and if your predilections are similar to mine but you're busy with life at the moment, feel free to cut and paste as needed for use in battle on whatever turf you're fighting on. No need for attribution.

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The point isn't to ameliorate the suffering of the world's vast (and growing vaster) impoverished masses. There are over 5 billion people living in countries poorer than Mexico. We're looking at going from de facto amnesty to executively-sanctioned amnesty of mere millions here--much less than one-tenth of one percent of the international underclass. It's like trying to empty the ocean by filling up a plastic quart cup with salt water.

The point isn't to reunite families or whatever other lugubrious tripe is being spouted by special interests, either. Obviously that's an easy fix that involves a one-way trip back to the 'vibrant', 'enriching' countries these scofflaws came from in the first place. Based on how much we hear about the putative family values of our neighbors to the south, it's a real head-scratcher as to why it hasn't already occurred!

The point is to inundate the country with unskilled, uneducated, underachieving, civilly inept, criminally-prone, affirmative-action eligible, resentful welfare cases. In short, the point is to create more Democrats.

- "I don't know about all that, but I sure am happy to take their money everyday and let them beef up my bonus check."

I doubt you'd argue that your line of reasoning is universally applicable. You could, for example, use the same principle to argue in support of slavery (and the parallels between unskilled, third-world immigration into the West and slavery are not insignificant, especially those espoused by nation wreckers like the Koch brothers and the Chamber of Commerce).

- "Overall Democrats are the more educated, skilled and progressive party."

Progressive, like any other political label, is a malleable term. The progressive movement in the West was the driving force behind the eugenics movements of the early 20th century. It has also been behind various socialist movements throughout the world going back to the late 19th century. The kibbutz is a natural outgrowth of this progressivism. Incidentally, it's empirically clear that diversity and sense of community mix about as well as oil and water. See Robert Putnam's work, for example. He's a good Harvard professor and intellectual and consequently sat on his findings for over five years because he was afraid of the conclusions but eventually he made them public and they contained what anyone who knows the emperor has no clothes figured they would. In diverse communities there is very little interracial social mixing and people even tend to withdraw from their own groups more than in more homogeneous settings. Famously, diversity causes people to socially and civically "hunker down".

My point isn't to pass normative judgment on your use of the term. Imprecise labels are still helpful, but caution is advisable when you show reverence for a term with such a storied history.

Regarding the statement about Democrats being the more educated, skilled, and progressive party, that's a tricky and generally incorrect assertion, at least without some major clarification.

From 2008 onward, the GSS shows the mean years of education for self-described Democrats as 13.57 and for self-described Republicans as 13.94 (aged 30+ to allow for school completion to have occurred). The median Republican is definitely wealthier than the median Democrat, as exit polling from 2012 and 2014 both show. That's accentuated further by the fact that exit polling data track income in nominal dollars, but $100k/year in Kansas goes a lot farther than $100k/year in California does, and red states are generally states with lower nominal incomes and correspondingly lower costs-of-living. That's not the only way to measure the nebulous word "skill", but it seems like a reasonable enough one.

Once educational attainment is controlled for, Republicans even more significantly out-earn Democrats. Post-graduates with low incomes are Democratic gold (think doctorate in sociology who does clinical evaluations at a halfway house). Conversely, modestly educated, self-made people with high incomes lean heavily Republican (think guy who went into construction right out of high school and started his own company in his twenties after gaining the requisite experience to do so).

Averages aren't the entire story, of course, and the dynamic that is increasingly coming to define the political landscape of the US is one of an alliance of the top and the bottom (Democratic) against the middle (Republican). It's difficult to get reliable data on the affiliations of the super rich, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that among those earning, say, over $10 million/year, the majority of those who are politically affiliated are Democrats.

Everything discussed above draws on the behaviors and outcomes of the entire population. Progressive SWPLs squirm at the thought, but those Democrat-vs-Republican comparisons that look favorable across the board for Republicans when everyone is taken into account look less impressive when only whites are considered. A table I put together was used in a book entitled Science Left Behind showing the former but not the latter, but it wasn't because I didn't alert the authors to as much. They understand well that when it comes to sizing up the life performances of the "average" Democrat and the "average" Republican, Republicans come out looking better on measures of income, criminality, marriage rates and fidelity, civil engagement, charitable giving, tax cheating, etc. If we're honest with ourselves, this shouldn't come as much of a surprise since 90%+ of blacks and 65%+ of Hispanics vote Democrat.

- "I must have missed the part where Obama granted suffrage to immigrants."

It's the political long game, obviously. Were it politically expedient in the short-term, the executive order would've come prior to the mid-term elections, not after them. Instead, it came immediately following the last election cycle that the current executive has any influence over or suffers any potentially negative consequences from. This strikes me as rather straightforward.

Politically, non-Asian minorities (NAMs) vote heavily Democrat. At first blush, demographic trends appear to overwhelmingly be in the left's favor. I think, overall, that is indeed very much the case, though it's often overstated. This is because, among whites, conservatives outbreed liberals and have been doing so for at least the last two generations (ie since the availability of modern contraception). Political orientation is significantly heritable, on the order of .45-.65. Basically, we have a situation in which whites are becoming more conservative but at the same time becoming an ever smaller proportion of the entire population. Restrict immigration, and conservatives have a chance. Open up the floodgates, and they're definitely toast.

That summation, of course, wasn't meant to be interpreted as the sole justification for the president's action. Things are, as they say, more nuanced than that. But there's huge long-term political upside for the left from anything that makes the country less non-Hispanic white and more black and Hispanic.

- "If you consider yourself HUMAN - you need to back the fuck up from opinions like this one and think about the other HUMANS that you're insisting on dehumanizing. You need to think about these - yes, admittedly, oftentimes poor and uneducated HUMANS who cross into America because they have no options in their native country."

The contradictory messages put out by the open borders crowd are staggeringly brazen. Illegal immigrants have no opportunities in their home countries on the one hand, but they're crucial to the US' high-tech, skill-based economy on the other. We shouldn't callously enforce our sovereign laws because it'll break up immigrant families, but these illegal immigrants are willing to send unaccompanied minors by the tends of thousands across the border through rugged and often dangerous terrain. The US is full of unwelcoming racists and bigots, yet millions upon millions of aspiring immigrants risk imprisonment (and hundreds of millions more would like to do so if they were able to) and even life and limb to come and live in this unwelcoming, racist land of ours. These illegal immigrants are hard-working, entrepreneurial types who create lots of value here in the US, but we need to act with magnanimity in our hearts as we offer charity to the desperately poor, huddled masses that seek refuge in America. The multicultural vibrancy that illegal immigrants bring is a welcome addition to the American cultural mosaic, yet the societies they come from are so dysfunctional that the only humane thing for us to do is allow them unadulterated access into the US.

GSS variables used: PARTYID(0-1)(5-6), AGE(30-89), EDUC, YEAR(2008-2012)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

T-t-t-today junior

I've been thinking about how awful the last two US presidents have been at speaking interactively in public. Given that it constitutes a not insignificant portion of what they do (and what they've done with some regularity prior to ascending to the highest political office in the country), I'd have trouble believing it if I hadn't witnessed it for the entirety of my adult life.

Obama has a good presentation when it comes to reading what the teleprompter tells him to say (Bush could hardly even manage that), but when it comes to giving interviews or pressers, they both consistently sound like stammering buffoons:



It doesn't feel like an exaggeration to presume that a significant portion of readers could give more polished, intelligible performances than the most recent putative leaders of the free world have been able to.

It might be that politicians on the national stage are so restricted in what they say that very little can ever really sound candid or coherent. More cynically, maybe they don't actually spend any time other than when they're actually in front of the public thinking in the sorts of generic platitudes they regularly feed us and so genuinely aren't familiar with the material.

In that same vein, Jokah Macpherson adds that "the most likely explanation is that public speaking doesn't have much payoff in politics. The most successful politicians are more likely the ones that can win over the right people (lobbyists, party leaders, etc) through charm one-on-one. There's a minimum level of competence necessary but few people change votes based on good speaking delivery."

More cynically still, perhaps it's that the most successful politicians can be won over and reliably used as marionettes by said lobbyists and party leaders.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Secession Strategy

Pat Buchanan riffing on the results of 2014 mid-term elections in the US:
As Jeremy Peters of the New York Times wrote in the paper’s lead story a week before the elections:
“Democrats in the closest Senate races in the South are turning to racially charged messages — invoking Trayvon Martin, the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Jim-Crow era segregation. 
… 
“The images and words they are using are striking for how overtly they play on fears of intimidation and repression.” 
The ads worked. But while Dixie Democrats rolled up landslides among black voters, Michelle Nunn, daughter of Sen. Sam Nunn, carried only 27 percent of the white vote in Georgia, and was wiped out. 
... 
As ethnonationalism pulls at the seams of many countries of Europe, it would appear it is also present here in the United States. When political appeals on the basis of race and ethnicity are being made openly by liberal Democrats, as in 2014, we are on a road that ends in a racial-ethnic spoils system — and national disintegration.
The way to get to national breakup from where we are now is to have non-Southern whites follow the political trail blazed by Southern whites over the last four decades. Over that period of time they've only tiptoed in that direction through the Reagan years and have more-or-less stayed put since then. It's an open question as to whether or not whites will continue to vote for a Democratic party in which they, and by extension their interests--both practical and ideological--have become a minority in the disaffected coalition.

The implementation of the "Southern Strategy" Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater first adopted in the late sixties meshes pretty well with the inception of the GSS, which began in 1972. The following graph shows mean partisan affiliation among whites in the South (West South Central, East South Central, and South Atlantic regions in Census terminology) and whites in the rest of the country over the last forty years. Affiliation is on a 0-6 scale with 0 being "strong Democrat" and 6 being "strong Republican":


This trend--most exemplified in the Deep South states of Alabama and Mississippi, where whites voted against Obama in 2008 by margins of 88%-10% and 88%-11%, respectively--coupled with the region's history, suggests that serious future attempts at secession will first spring to life in the South. Though it surely makes every good SWPL cringe to think that as goes the South, so might go the US, there it is.

Once politics has undeniably devolved into a naked spoils system where demographics is the primary driver of electoral behavior for whites (as it already is for blacks and to a lesser extent for Hispanics), secession will begin to seem less like a bitter, abstract overreaction akin to moving to Canada if George W. Bush is re-elected and more like something as conceivable and palpable as Scotland's narrowly defeated attempt to secede from Great Britain or Catalonia's overwhelming desire to separate from Spain.

GSS variables used: RACE(1), PARTYID, YEAR, REGION(1-4,8-9)(5-7)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hey hey, ho ho, we might just have to get up and go

In the last chapter of an obviously dense but well-written book audaciously entitled A Short History of the World, author Alex Woolf, holding his lituus, notes that "the concept of the nation-state is itself under threat from the ever-growing forces of globalization". I suspect that statement would've met with a lot more credulity in 1994 than it does today. In his defense, the book was published in 2008. Just the intervening six years have been full of evidence enough to give pause to anyone confidently asserting as much.

Using Ipsos-Reuters' interactive public polling site that allows users to create their own cross-tabs shows that, in 2014, the percentages of respondents who either "tend to support" or "strongly support" the idea of their "state peacefully withdrawing from the USA and the federal government" by age range is as follows:

Age%Secede
18-2938.8
30-3928.0
40-4924.0
50-5921.4
60+15.3

The trend is clear. Younger Americans are less attached to the idea of the United States as a unified political body. Their parents and grandparents were part of something on the rise, something that could boast of heroic achievements like winning world wars and putting men on the moon. Now they see a country where the greatest rewards are given to those who create ever-more engrossing ways to impotently navel-gaze and the importance of achievement is of a distant secondary importance to the identity of the person or group doing the putative achieving.

Keep in mind that this survey data is from 2014, not a year like 2004 when a Republican was in the White House. Indeed, Republicans are more inclined towards secession than Democrats (30.0% and 16.8%, respectively) are, yet the correlation between entertaining ideas of secession and a person's age run in the opposite direction of the correlation between a person's age and his political orientation.

Put in another way, 46.0% of Republicans aged 18-29--almost half of the cohort--support the idea of secession. Secession is more of a generational issue than a partisan one. While only 23.9% of Republicans aged 60 and older like the thought of the country breaking up, 34.0% of Democrats aged 18-29 do.

As the country becomes increasingly economically, linguistically, socially, and culturally diverse, there is less and less to hold the people inside this geographically-defined entity together. Approval ratings for virtually all federal agencies and organizations save for the military are perpetually in the toilet irrespective of which party controls the legislative or executive branches of government. The US is way too big and too disparate to make much sense as anything other than a conveniently large free trade zone today, anyway.

I find this quite encouraging. Salt-of-the-earth Americans need to defend themselves against the actions of wealthy elites who intentionally create incentives and disincentives to push undesirables out of their artificially expensive and restrictive residences and into middle-American suburbs while simultaneously browbeating those same middle-America denizens for not grabbing their ankles like good bitches and ushering in the ruin of their communities and resisting being forced to decide whether to let their kids share classrooms with budding thugs aspiring for criminality or take out a second mortgage to send their children to private schools when a decade prior their public schools were something the community could be and was proud of.

Fuck California, fuck Illinois, and most especially, fuck Washington DC. They're dead broke. They've made tons of promises they can't keep. They made their beds, now let them lie in those beds. Become a new barbarian, because the state doesn't represent you or your interests.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ice people weather

The week's weather forecast for Ferguson, MO:


Now, with the Midwest in the midst of an unseasonable cold snap, might be a good time for the grand jury to publicize its verdict. The population at *ahem* high-risk of rioting isn't known to have much of an affinity for arctic air.