Sunday, November 23, 2014

Expanding the GOP Map

Expanding the GOP Map 
Republicans need to appeal to blacks and Hispanics via jobs and education. 
New Mexico governor Susana Martinez (Mark Wilson/Getty)

Less than two weeks before the midterm election, Debbie Wasserman Schultz went on CNN and proclaimed that Democrats were “expanding the map” while the Republicans’ map was “constricting.” In hindsight, Ms. Schultz looks pretty silly, but at the time it seemed she was making a reasonable point. Republicans were worried about Senate races in Kansas and South Dakota that should have been sure things. It wasn’t until the vote count came in from the Maryland governor’s race that everyone realized just how bad DWS was at her job. Or at least, at prognosticating.
But this “expanding the map” idea is a good one; I don’t know who came up with it. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell describes the war between the superstates Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia; the war takes place exclusively in a “disputed area” whose control passes from belligerent to belligerent. But, like California or Texas, the home territories of Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia are never at risk. Just the Ohios–Floridas–North Carolinas in between.
This year, the Democrats talked a lot about “turning Texas blue.” Obviously, that didn’t pan out; folk-hero filibusterer Wendy Davis got thumped, losing her race for governor by more than 20 points. Democrat David Alameel lost to Senator John Cornyn by more than 25 points. On the other hand, Republicans actually did succeed in turning some liberal strongholds red, gubernatorially; Maryland, for one, plus Massachusetts and Illinois. Toeholds in Democrat territory: a good sign. What would it take for Republicans to expand the map in a big way? As a thought experiment —
They would have to appeal to black and Hispanic voters. Hispanics vote Democrat over Republican at a 2-to-1 clip; blacks, 9 to 1. If the Republicans could reverse those ratios, they’d win every state but Vermont and Hawaii. Even an even split would open up most of the country, including the ponderosas New York and California. It sounds fantastic, but is it? The chief concern for black and Hispanic voters, reportedly, is jobs. (Among Hispanics, jobs ties with education.) According to the Labor Statistics Bureau, during Mr. Obama’s administration, Hispanic unemployment has risen to 7.5 percent, a point and a half above the national average. Black unemployment is up to 12 percent, double the national average. Both groups should be ripe for new politics. Republicans just have to make a case.
Hypothetically speaking, the GOP might forget waiting for elections and insread start running generic, pro-Republican, pro-jobs ads right now (or as soon as midterm fatigue is over). They would want to target the Southwest and the Pacific coast, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, D.C., Baltimore, New York, Bridgeport, Providence. This is why we have super PACs, right? I don’t condone dirty politics, but in Georgia, Democrats tried to blame the GOP for Michael Brown’s death (“If you want to prevent another Ferguson . . . vote Democrat”) and in North Carolina, for Trayvon Martin’s (“[Republican Senate candidate Thom] Tillis even led the effort to pass the type of stand-your-ground laws that caused the shooting death of Trayvon Martin”). So, maybe . . . “Democrats started Jim Crow, Republicans ended slavery”? A low blow, sure, but isn’t that how the game is being played? We know that the subject of slavery isn’t politically taboo, because, according to Charlie Rangel, “some [Republicans] think slavery isn’t over.” So what about “Democrats want to keep you poor and angry. Democrats want you to need them. Give Republicans a chance”? Or simply “Vote jobs, vote Republican.” How many ad minutes do you have to buy before “Republican” is synonymous with “jobs” and “Democrat” with “unemployment”?
And education: Make vouchers a big deal. They’re anathema to the teachers’ unions, but everyone else loves them. Parents especially; especially parents in poor neighborhoods. Case in point: Vouchers were a massive hit in D.C., the leftest city in the country. How about: “Democrats care about teachers, Republicans care about kids. Hate your kids’ school? Republicans think you should be able to send your kids to any school, for free.” Or something like that. Vouchers could be the winningest idea in politics (if for no other reason than that they’re such a damned good idea).
Liberals don’t enjoy conservatives’ trying to sell them something. Understandably. So the Republicans might try getting their foot in the door with some pithy quotes. For instance, from Frederick Douglass: “I am a Republican, a black, dyed-in-the-wool Republican, and I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress.” Or Malcolm X on black support for Democrats: “You put them first and they put you last, ’cause you are a chump, a political chump.” Or maybe something telling from Ms. Alveda King, the Christian, conservative niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Speaking of Christian conservatives, the GOP isn’t just the economy-opportunity party, it’s also the religion-religious-freedom party; blacks and Hispanics are among the most religious groups in the country. Eighty-seven percent of black Americans are religious, 4 points above the national average. Eighty-four percent of blacks are Christian (mostly Protestant); more than half go to church weekly. Eighty-five percent of Hispanics are religious; about half are Catholic and most of the rest Protestant. Maybe the Little Sisters of the Poor could make some ad appearances.
And the GOP has massive resources in its available spokesmen, though I hate to single them out for their races. Susana Martinez just won her second term as governor of deep-blue New Mexico; she won by 15 points. Marco Rubio is one of the most eloquent men in the party, and rumor has it he’s just as eloquent in Spanish. Is it too soon to float a Cruz–Rubio ticket? Could you watch the news this week without seeing the charming new Utah rep, Mia Love? Is there a better man in the country than Colonel Allen West?
Remember, the black vote has been solidly Democratic only since the New Deal. Before that, all the way back to Appomattox, black Americans were just as solidly Republican. A turn to the GOP now wouldn’t be any farther-fetched than the earlier turn left. As for Hispanic votes — the GOP picked up 6 points between ’12 and ’14. Could be the start of something. Someone call Reince.
— Josh Gelernter writes weekly for NRO and is a regular contributor to The Weekly Standard.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

America's Missing Wealth

Rich KarlgaardForbes Staff
I celebrate innovation and growth.

America's Missing Wealth

Few grasp compounding’s power. Or they do, but the need for quick gratification overwhelms their good sense. On the radio someone asks Dave Ramsey, the money guru with an avid following among the heartland’s middle class, whether it’s okay to take out a payday loan for special occasions. “Like what?” asks Ramsey. “Um, tickets to the state fair,” the caller answers. Now, understand that Ramsey is a debt hawk who hates credit cards. The idiocy of taking out a usurious payday loan for state fair tickets is like sending a plump pitch over the plate. “Were you born stupid,” Ramsey asks, “or do you try your best to act that way?”
Let’s ask that question of our federal government.
Suppose the U.S. economy, since 1949, were giving up 2% extra growth per year because of bad economic policy. Or, as Ramsey might say, because Presidents, legislators and unelected regulators were born stupid or try their best to act that way.
Now, 2% a year doesn’t sound like much. Most of us could spend 98% of our budget next year without too much pain. The quip about compound interest is noteworthy only because it would take a genius like Einstein to observe something so profoundly simple yet subtly opaque.
English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d...
English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d’Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
But run the numbers yourself–and prepare for a shock. If the U.S. economy had grown an extra 2% per year since 1949, 2014′s GDP would be about $58 trillion, not $17 trillion. So says a study called “Federal Regulation and Aggregate Economic Growth,” published in 2013 by the Journal of Economic Growth. More than taxes, it’s been runaway federal regulation that’s crimped U.S. growth by the year and utterly smashed it over two generations.
Not all regulation is bad. Mandatory seat belts have helped cut traffic fatalities by 51% on a population-adjusted basis since 1949. Far fewer people are now killed or maimed in industrial accidents. The air in downtown Los Angeles is breathable again. Would this have happened without federal regulation? Yes, but likely not as fast.
So let’s, for the sake of argument, posit that some regulation has been good for us, while many other regs have only hurt economic growth. Let’s also argue that sensible regulation, combined with the retirement of outdated regulation, could have brought about the same improvements to health and safety–but at a cost of 1% potential growth per year, not 2%. Where would the U.S. economy be today?
–The 2014 GDP would be $32 trillion, not $17 trillion.
–Per capita income would be $101,000, not $54,000.
–Per capita wealth would be $480,000, not $260,000. It would probably be higher than that, since savings rates might be higher.
–The U.S. would have no federal, state or municipal debts or deficits.
–Pensions would be solid. So would Social Security.
–The trend of new entrants to The Forbes 400 would not favor entrepreneurs in software, the Internet and financial services but would be more broadly distributed across all industries. Electronic bits–money and software–are less prone to regulation than such physical things as factories, transportation, etc.

–Faster, quieter successors to the supersonic Concorde? Cheap, safe nuclear power? Cancer-curing drugs for small populations? Bullet trains financed by private investors? Yes!
–The U.S. would have the resources to fight the multiplicity of threats from abroad, from ISIS to hackers.
Am I guilty of positing ideal outcomes from all that extra wealth? Perhaps. Still, it would be wonderful to have that extra wealth in people’s pockets and in government treasuries. What a missed opportunity!
Let’s start electing people who are pledged to rethink regulation. This might sound like a conservative partisan plea. It’s not. John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton–two Democrats and a Republican–were the best Presidents since 1949 regarding regulation (by “best” I mean that these three Presidents allowed regulation to grow the least). The three worst: Harry Truman, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Poverty Doesn’t Cause Crime

Poverty Doesn’t Cause Crime 
Progressives won’t admit that Judeo-Christian values, not economics, determine moral behavior. 

Dennis Prager 
One of the first clues that this Columbia-educated, liberal, Democrat, New York Jew had that there was something wrong at the heart of progressive/left-wing thought was when I read and was taught over and over that “poverty causes crime.”
I knew from the first that this was dogma, not truth.
How did I know?
First, I thought about the world that I knew best — my own. My paternal grandparents were extremely poor immigrants from Russia. They lived in a small apartment in Brooklyn where they raised four children, none of whom, of course, ever had their own room. Moreover, my grandfather was a tailor and as such made little during normal years, and next to nothing during the Great Depression.
They were considerably poorer than the vast majority of Americans who lived below the poverty line as it existed when I was in college and graduate school. And they would have regarded most of those designated poor today as middle-class, if not rich by the standards of their day.
That is worth remembering whenever an American claims that violent crime in America is caused by poverty. The poor who commit murder, rape, and robbery are not only not starving, they have far more material things than the word “poverty” suggests.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey for 2005 (the last year I could find in detail — but it doesn’t matter what year, because those who say that poverty causes crime have said it for a hundred years and continue to say it), among all poor households:
Over 99 percent have a refrigerator, television, and stove or oven. Eighty-one percent have a microwave; 75 percent have air conditioning; 67 percent have a second TV; 64 percent have a clothes washer; 38 percent have a personal computer.
As for homelessness, one-half of 1 percent living under the poverty line have lost their homes and live in shelters.
Seventy-five percent of the poor have a car or truck. Only 10 percent live in mobile homes or trailers, half live in detached single-family houses or townhouses, and 40 percent live in apartments. Forty-two percent of all poor households own their home, the average of which is a three-bedroom house with one and a half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
According to a recent Census Bureau report, 80.9 percent of households below the poverty level have cell phones.
When the Left talks about the poor, they don’t mention these statistics, because what matters to the Left is inequality, not poverty.
But that is another subject. Our subject is the question, Given these statistics, why do the poor who commit violent crime do so? Clearly it is not because they lack the basic necessities of life.
Now I didn’t know any of these statistics back in college and graduate school. So how did I know that “poverty causes crime” was a lie?
I thought about my grandparents, and I could not imagine my grandfather robbing anyone, let alone raping or murdering.
Why not? Because it was unimaginable. They were people whose values rendered such behaviors all but impossible.
But there was another reason.
I was as certain as one could be that if I were poor in America, I wouldn’t rob, rape, or murder.
Which leads me to wonder about people who believe that “poverty causes crime.”
When people say this, there are only two possibilities. One is that, on some level of consciousness, they think that if they were poor, they would commit violent crimes. My hunch is that this is often the case. Just as the whites who say all whites are racist are obviously speaking about themselves, those who claim that poverty leads to violence may well be speaking about themselves, too.
The other possibility is that they are not speaking about themselves, in which case they would have to admit that poor Americans who rob, rape, or murder are morally inferior to themselves.
Which, of course, happens to be true. People (of any income level) who rob, rape, and murder do so because they lack a functioning conscience and moral self-control. It is not material poverty that causes violent crime, but poor character. But the “poverty causes crime” advocates refuse to acknowledge this, because such an acknowledgment blames criminals — rather than American society — for poor peoples’ violent crimes.
And that they won’t admit. Because once they do, they will have begun the journey toward affirming conservatism and Judeo-Christian values, both of which are rooted in the belief that values, not economics, determine moral behavior.
— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His most recent book is Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at


FDR famously characterized December 7, 1941, as a date that would live in infamy because of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor that day. By the same token, Barack Obama’s willful attack on the Constitution marks today as a date that will live in infamy because of the president’s willful violation of the limits on his power. (“Infamy” is the word that Peter Wehner attaches to Obama’s forthcoming action.)
A certain novelty adds to the disgrace of the president’s assault on the Constitution. Obama has himself repeatedly made the constitutional case against what he is about to do. Among the videos compiling excerpts of Obama’s statements making the case against what he is about to do is the one below put together by National Review.
Has a president ever willfully violated the limits on his authority placed on him by the Constitution? Has a president ever done so for narrow partisan purposes? I believe that the willful excess and low motives that attend Obama’s action make it unprecedented in our history. Obama has delivered us to some kind of a nadir.

A Legacy of Liberalism

A Legacy of Liberalism 
The current problems facing blacks in America owe more to the Great Society than to slavery. 
Attendees at a job fair in Chicago, November 2012 (Scott Olson/Getty)

Thomas Sowell 
Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said there were “phrases that serve as an excuse for not thinking.” One of these phrases that substitute for thought today is one that depicts the current problems of blacks in America as “a legacy of slavery.”
New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof asserts that there is “overwhelming evidence that centuries of racial subjugation still shape inequity in the 21st century” and he mentions “the lingering effects of slavery.” But before we become overwhelmed, that evidence should be checked out.
The evidence offered by Mr. Kristof in the November 16 issue of the New York Times seems considerably short of overwhelming, to put it charitably. He cites a study showing that “counties in America that had a higher proportion of slaves in 1860 are still more unequal today.” Has he never heard statisticians’ repeated warnings that correlation is not causation?
The South long remained a region that blacks fled by the millions — for very good reasons. But, in more recent years, the net migration of blacks has been from the North to the South. No doubt they have good reasons for that as well.
But there is no reason to believe that blacks today are unaware of the history of slavery or of the Jim Crow era in the South. Indeed, there are black “leaders” who seem to talk about nothing else. Yet blacks who are moving back to the South seem more concerned with the present and the future than with the past.
Kristof’s other “overwhelming” evidence of the current effects of past slavery is that blacks do not have as much income as whites. But Puerto Ricans do not have as much income as Japanese Americans. Mexican Americans do not have as much income as Cuban Americans. All sorts of people do not have as much income as all sorts of other people, not only in the United States, but in countries around the world. And most of these people were never enslaved.
If we wanted to be serious about evidence, we might compare where blacks stood a hundred years after the end of slavery with where they stood after 30 years of the liberal welfare state. In other words, we could compare hard evidence on “the legacy of slavery” with hard evidence on the legacy of liberals.
Despite the grand myth that black economic progress began or accelerated with the passage of the Civil Rights laws and “War on Poverty” programs of the 1960s, the cold fact is that the poverty rate among blacks fell from 87 percent in 1940 to 47 percent by 1960. This was before any of those programs began.
Over the next 20 years, the poverty rate among blacks fell another 18 percentage points, compared to the 40-point drop in the previous 20 years. This was the continuation of a previous economic trend, at a slower rate of progress, not the economic grand deliverance proclaimed by liberals and self-serving black “leaders.”
Ending the Jim Crow laws was a landmark achievement. But, despite the great proliferation of black political and other “leaders” that resulted from the laws and policies of the 1960s, nothing comparable happened economically. And there were serious retrogressions socially.
Nearly a hundred years of the supposed “legacy of slavery” found most black children being raised in two-parent families in 1960. But thirty years after the liberal welfare state found the great majority of black children being raised by a single parent.
The murder rate among blacks in 1960 was one-half of what it became 20 years later, after a legacy of liberals’ law-enforcement policies. Public-housing projects in the first half of the 20th century were clean, safe places, where people slept outside on hot summer nights, when they were too poor to afford air conditioning. That was before admissions standards for public-housing projects were lowered or abandoned, in the euphoria of liberal non-judgmental notions. And it was before the toxic message of victimhood was spread by liberals. We all know what hell holes public housing has become in our times. The same toxic message produced similar social results among lower-income people in England, despite an absence of a “legacy of slavery” there.
If we are to go by evidence of social retrogression, liberals have wreaked more havoc on blacks than the supposed “legacy of slavery” they talk about. Liberals should heed the title of Jason Riley’s insightful new book, Please Stop Helping Us.
— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2014 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Obama’s Unprecedented Amnesty

Obama’s Unprecedented Amnesty 
The president’s planned executive action goes far beyond anything Reagan or Bush Sr. did. 

Mark Krikorian 
“The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all, and that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President of the United States of America.”
The latest from apologists for President Obama’s planned decree to unilaterally amnesty perhaps 5 million illegal aliens is that Reagan and Bush Sr. did it, so what’s the problem?
It’s interesting that the anti-borders crowd seems to have conceded the point I made in August that most past executive grants of status to illegal aliens were the consequence of foreign crises in the illegals’ home countries and thus not relevant to the current discussion. These were, as Ross Douthat’s trenchant column pointed out Sunday, “modest, clearly defined populations facing some obvious impediment (war, persecution, natural disaster) to returning home.”
So the fallback position of those claiming precedent is to grasp at two actions taken by Reagan and the elder Bush that came in the wake of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) amnesty.
Nice try.
The Reagan administration action that amnesty advocates point to is simply irrelevant to the current case and trumpeted only because Reagan’s name is attached to it. In what was a legitimate exercise of prosecutorial discretion shortly after passage of the 1986 law, INS announced that as a practical matter it would look the other way under certain circumstances with regard to minor children both of whose parents received amnesty but who did not themselves qualify for the amnesty. It granted no work permits, Social Security numbers, or driver’s licenses. In the context of trying to implement the convoluted IRCA amnesty, I might well have done the same thing.
George H. W. Bush’s 1990 “family fairness” policy is at least somewhat germane, in that it provided for renewable “voluntary departure” (i.e., amnesty) for certain spouses and children of amnesty beneficiaries, including work authorization. But it is no precedent either, for three main reasons:
First, its size and scope. Despite claims at the time that “as many as 1.5 million” illegal aliens might benefit from the policy, the actual number was much, much smaller. In 1990, Congress passed legislation granting green cards to “legalization dependents” — in effect codifying the executive action Bush had taken a just few months earlier. That (lawful) measure actually cast the net wider than Bush’s action, and yet only about 140,000 people took advantage of it — less than one-tenth the number advocates claim. Scale matters here; Bush’s action cannot meaningfully be described as a precedent for Obama’s scheme that would be 30 or 40 times larger.
Second, both Reagan’s and Bush’s moves were cleanup measures for the implementation of the once-in-history amnesty that was passed by Congress. In other words, it was a coda, a tying up of loose ends, for something that Congress had actually enacted, and thus arguably a legitimate part of executing the law — which is, after all, the function of the executive. Obama’s threatened move, on the other hand, is directly contrary to Congress’s decision not to pass an amnesty. In effect, Bush was saying “Congress has acted and I’m doing my best to implement its directives,” while Obama is saying “Congress has not done my bidding, so I’m going to implement my own directives.”
Finally, in the same 1990 immigration law that codified Bush’s “family fairness” directive, Congress rejected further ad hoc presidential amnesties by creating Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The various unilateral actions presidents had taken to amnesty small groups of illegal aliens over the years — Extended Voluntary Departure and Deferred Enforced Departure were among the Orwellian euphemisms deployed — were clearly seen as abuses of the discretion which Congress granted the president. TPS was intended to limit that discretion in granting legal status, including work permits, to illegal aliens, by limiting such grants to clearly specified circumstances — such as when a country suffered an earthquake or hurricane — and imposing specific procedures upon the executive. And to make certain that future executive actions didn’t simply become a means of naturalizing entire populations of illegal aliens, the TPS law requires any bill addressing naturalization of TPS recipients has to pass the Senate with a 60 percent super-majority.
It is absurd for Obama to claim that the very executive overreach that prompted Congress to impose these limits established a precedent for even greater executive overreach today.
Whatever their merits, the Reagan and Bush measures were modest attempts at faithfully executing legislation duly enacted by Congress. Obama’s planned amnesty decree is Caesarism, pure and simple. “Precedent” isn’t the right word for the Obama crowd’s invocation of Reagan. The right word is “pretext.”
— Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies