Asked about the likelihood that they themselves will become rich, Americans surveyed seemed to be slightly less optimistic than they were in 1990. Twenty-eight percent said it is at least somewhat likely they'll become rich, down from a peak of 34 percent in 1996.
Friday, June 08, 2012
Thursday, June 07, 2012
ANDREW KOHUT: By the middle of his first term, most Democrats strongly disapproved of George W. Bush. And almost from the get-go, most Republicans have strongly disapproved of Barack Obama. So part of it Is response to these presidencies and the political culture. Part of it, too, is the way the parties have changed. The parties have become smaller than they once were. We have a record number of political independents.JUDY WOODRUFF: In fact, an unprecedented 38 percent of those surveyed identified as independents, the most to choose that description at any point in the last 75 years.
By comparison, just 32 percent said they were Democrats, and only 24 percent now call themselves Republicans.
There are three bits of information to process here:
1) Self-identified Democrats hold an 8 point edge over self-identified Republicans. This means the Democrats message to its membership has been more effective than the Republicans.
2) Of the 38% who self-identify as "independent," there's a strong diversity (not unexpected) of political views, but no consistency. They can be older and fiscally conservative and socially liberal (which, when you think about it, is an opportunity to make them choose either lower taxes or lower services, and message it that way), they can be younger and fiscally liberal and socially liberal, and then there are the suburban types who really only care about how to take care of the kids and will the trains run on time.
3) Most of the people in the middle, that 38%, aren't independent because they reject either party. They're independent because they believe *both* parties have rejected them. Both have stopped listening to their needs, they feel, and so will choose to vote on candidates.
The opportunity to pluck many of these votes back is waiting, and the work really isn't that hard. Indeed, Bill Clinton was a master at finding votes out of unlikely places, and he made it look easy. You just have to stop framing the world as "us versus them," and start framing it as "me and you."
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
I never got very invested in the recall Walker movement. I was cheering for the other outcome, obviously, but I always figured recalling a governor after just two years in office when he's not accused of a crime is a pretty tall order. You see I didn't write that much about it. The margin of Walker's win is a little surprising, but then, he outspent the other side six or seven to one.
As Frum notes over on his blog, the outcome points to a bleak future for public-employee unions, where the next decade will likely see "its pay relentlessly ground down, as private sector pay has been ground down over the decade past." The scope of this loss ought to make these unions and the Democratic Party think twice about what their long-term strategy is going to be here. They're not going to win recall elections against governors who do things they don't like, and even Democratic governors are going after their benefits. It's a terrible thing that the pressure on all wages (except for the top 5 percent or so) is downward, and that private and public employees making, say, $45,000 a year are being pitted against each other, but that's the situation.
Both have begged the question (Tomasky admits that's not what interested him about the recall): why is this so?
How have conservatives so effectively purchased the heart and minds of the average Republican voter as to convince them to be angry at the nurse who takes home $50,000 but to worship the hospital CEO who takes home ten or even twenty times that, nevermind the HMO head who takes home a hundred times that who exploit them for profit?
In Tomasky's defense-- and I've followed his writings since his days at the Village Voice, so I know whereof I speak-- he's a stellar reporter who does amazing work uncovering facts and digging for truth. This kind of analysis is not in his wheelhouse.
But Frum, a political hack who's probably sat in on more "strategerey" sessions than I've had hot meal, ought to be a bit more candid about how this has happened.
After all, he sat in the same room as Karl Rove for years.
A telling stat in Tomasky's piece was the exit poll question where 17% of Obama supporters voted for Walker. Obama was particularly quiet on the vote, and my suspicion is his private polling put the results in less doubt than the public polling. No sense wasting precious political capital on a quixotic venture.
The theory is that recall elections without an actual criminal allegation hanging over the incumbent's head are hard to justify-- Gray Davis had his own issues with a then-popular celebrity leading the charge-- and that these 17% agreed that Walker should be given his legally-won term.
Fair's fair. And there's no guarantee they'll vote for him in 2014. They, like many in 1998, simply felt the complaints lodged didn't rise to a level commensurate with removal from office.
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
The National Science Foundation has just revealed the existence of not one, but two pristine, Hubble-class space telescopes, still in their original wrappings, in a warehouse in Rochester, N.Y. The pair was originally built for the National Reconnaissance Office, the agency in charge of spy satellites, to look down at Earth rather than up into space. But the NRO has moved on to bigger and better instruments, and decided to hand the telescopes over. "It just blew me a way when I heard about this," says Princeton astrophysicist David Spergel, a member of the National Academy of Science's Committee On Astrophysics and Astronomy. "I knew nothing about it."
Monday, June 04, 2012
Here's the deal: during Mayor Giuliani's tenure, a political philosophy was applied to police tactics. Called "Broken Windows," it assumed that by cracking down and arresting people for minor crimes like turnstile jumping or possession of a joint, a message would be sent that crime would not be tolerated, thus discouraging larger crimes.
Did it work? It's a quaint notion to believe it did and it may have had some small positive impact on the level of crime in the 1990s in NYC.
During the first half of the '00s, NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly applied this theory more broadly. Rather than spot a crime, he went out of his way to find them, insituting the "stop and frisk" practice where police would pull over a person for the crime of being Latino or black, and pat them down, then if they were carrying anything illegal or could be shown to be implicated in an unsolved crime, arrest them.
Nice, huh? The average percentage of people who were innocent of anything hovered around 87% over the past ten years. Some white people were stopped, of course, and ironically white people were arrested and/or issued summonses about twice as often as blacks and Latinos. Representing about 11% of the stops while representing two-thirds of the criminal outcomes, you'd think cops would focus on more whites as the years progressed, but not so.
Many of the crimes involved the possession of small amounts of marijuana which, despite its alleged "decriminalized" status in New York-- it merely means possession of pot has been bifurcated from drug possession laws-- is an offense, which results in a ticket.
If it's the only crime of which the offender is cited. Or, more relevant, his first arrest and conviction. After that, Katie bar the door.
Needless to say, possession of even a joint in those circumstances make you a repeat offender and even though it's considered a violation and dismissed the first time, the next time a possessor will face a judge. And then it becomes either a good lawyer or a conviction. A criminal record and all that implies.
Bleak prospects for a young minority youth in a city like New York. You can't get a job easily with a criminal record, you will always have a handicap in terms of income and housing and god knows what happens to you in jail.
It's not marijuana that's a gateway drug; it's being arrested for possession that is the gateway.