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Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Revolving Door Comes to Cambridge

Jeff Stein at The Washington Post:
Harvard’s orientation for new members of Congress is pitched as a way for incoming lawmakers to learn about life on Capitol Hill, but some new Democrats broke with precedent and criticized it. The protests from these freshman Democrats, including Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), reflect the left pull of the party, as well as their rejection of some practices once regarded as part of the bipartisan consensus.
After dinner Tuesday, lawmakers attended a session where they introduced themselves. The event included remarks by former congressman Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), who was described in an itinerary provided to The Washington Post by Harvard as vice chair in the Institute of Politics and a former member of Congress. Delahunt also founded a lobbying firm, the Delahunt Group, which in 2018 lobbied for Fuels America, a biofuel lobbying group, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

On Wednesday, new lawmakers also attended “White House Congressional Relations: How to Advocate for Your Priorities.” The panel listed as speakers Dan Meyer and Anne Wall, president and vice president, respectively, of the Duberstein Group. The Duberstein Group, a multimillion-dollar lobbying firm, has lobbied for the Bank of Mellon New York, Comcast, S&P Global and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and other large corporate interests, the Center for Responsive Politics says.
On Thursday, former congressman Joseph J. Heck (R-Nev.) spoke at an event called “Navigating Washington and Capitol Hill.” After losing his seat, Heck joined the firm RedRock, according to Roll Call. He has lobbied on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association; TRAX International, a government tech firm; and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The former lawmakers' ties to lobbying firms were not disclosed on the calendar of events provided to The Post by the Harvard Institute of Politics. In a text message, a spokesman for Harvard’s Institute of Politics said freshman lawmakers “get a binder upon arrival that include lengthy bios of all participants, including their businesses.”

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Rich County, Poor County

On Thursday the U.S. Census Bureau announced the release of the 2013-2017 American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates, which features more than 40 social, economic, housing and demographic topics.  The highlight below confirm that the Washington DC metro area encompasses some of the nation's richest counties.

Of the 3,142 counties in the United States, median household income declined in 222 counties (7.1 percent), while median household income increased in 521 counties (16.6 percent) when comparing 2013-2017 five-year estimates with 2008-2012 estimates.
For the 2013 to 2017 period, among the geographic areas with 10,000 people or more, the locations with the highest and lowest median household incomes were:

By county and county equivalent:
Loudoun County, Va.; Fairfax County, Va.; Howard County, Md.; Falls Church City, Va.; and Arlington County, Va., were among the highest counties by median household income.
McCreary County, Ky.; Holmes County, Miss.; Sumter County, Ala.; Bell County, Ky.; and Harlan County, Ky., were among the lowest.

By metropolitan statistical area:
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.; Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.V.; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.; Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.; and California-Lexington Park, Md., were among the highest metropolitan statistical areas by median household income.
Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas; Sebring, Fla.; McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas; Valdosta, Ga.; and Pine Bluff, Ark., were among the lowest.

By micropolitan statistical area:
Los Alamos, N.M.; Summit Park, Utah; Williston, N.D.; Juneau, Alaska; and Edwards, Colo., were among the highest micropolitan statistical areas by median household income.
Middlesborough, Ky.; Helena-West Helena, Ark.; Rio Grande City, Texas; Deming, N.M.; and Cleveland, Miss., were among the lowest.
Of the 3,142 counties across the nation, poverty rates declined in 441 counties (14.0 percent), while poverty rates increased in 264 counties (8.4 percent) between the 2008-2012 period and the 2013-2017 period. The U.S. poverty rate was 14.6 percent, a significant decrease from the 2008-2012 five-year percentage of 14.9.
Looking at the more than 29,000 places in the United States, poverty declined in 2,016 places (6.8 percent), while poverty increased in 2,215 places (7.5 percent).
From 2013-2017 among geographic areas with 10,000 people or more, the locations with the highest and lowest poverty rates were:

By county and county equivalent:
Morgan County, Utah; Falls Church City, Va.; Lincoln County, S.D.; Douglas County, Colo.; Loudon County Va.; and Carver County Minn., had among the lowest poverty rates of U.S. counties.
Todd County, S.D.; Oglala Lakota County, S.D.; and Holmes County, Miss., had among the highest poverty rates.

By metropolitan statistical area:
Barnstable Town, Mass.; Fairbanks, Alaska; Appleton, Wis.; Sheboygan, Wis.; California-Lexington Park, Md.; and Napa, Calif., had among the lowest rates of poverty of U.S. metropolitan statistical areas.
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas; Laredo, Texas; and Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas, had among the highest poverty rates.

By micropolitan statistical area:
Los Alamos, N.M.; Torrington, Conn.; Sheridan, Wyo.; and the Jackson WY-ID micropolitan statistical area, had among the lowest poverty rates of U.S. micropolitan statistical areas.
Middlesborough, Ky.; Gallup, N.M.; Cleveland, Miss.; Clarksdale, Miss.; Raymondville, Texas; Rio Grande City, Texas; and Zapata, Texas, had among the highest rates.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Bush's Leadership

Former Secretary of State James A. Baker eulogizes his old friend George H.W. Bush:
He was not considered a skilled speaker, but his deeds were quite eloquent. And he demonstrated their eloquence by carving them into the hard granite of history. They expressed his moral character, and they reflected his decency, his boundless kindness and consideration of others, his determination always to do the right thing, and always to do that to the very best of his ability. They testify to a life nobly lived. He possessed the classic virtues of our civilization and of his faith. The same virtues that express what is really best about this country. The same ideals were known to and shared by our founding fathers. George Bush was temperate in thought, in word, and in deed. He considered his choices and then he chose wisely.

The Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, less than one year into his presidency. It was a remarkable triumph for American foreign policy. As joyous east and west Germans danced on the remains of that hated wall, George Bush could have joined them metaphorically, and claimed victory for the west, for America, and frankly, for himself.

But he did not. He knew better. He understood that humility toward and not humiliation of a fallen adversary was the very best path to peace and reconciliation, and so he was able to unify Germany as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, not withstanding the initial reservations of France, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union.

Thus, the Cold War ended, not with a bang but with the sound of a halliard rattling through a pulley over the Kremlin on a cool night in December 1991 as the flag of the Soviet Union was lowered for the very last time. Need we ask about George Bush's courage? During World War II, he risked his life in defense of something greater than himself. Decades later, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and began to brutalize Kuwaitis, George Bush never wavered.
Peggy Noonan at WSJ:
Here’s a theory: Bush’s achievement wasn’t seen for what it was, in part because America in those days was still going forward in the world with its old mystique. Its ultimate grace and constructiveness were a given. It had gallantly saved its friends in the First World War, and again in the Second; it had led the West’s resistance to communism. It was expected to do good.
Having won the war, of course it would win the peace. It seemed unremarkable that George Bush, and Brent Scowcroft, and a host of others did just that.
Bush was the last president to serve under—and add to—that American mystique. It has dissipated in the past few decades through pratfalls, errors and carelessness, with unwon wars and the economic crisis of 2008. The great foreign-affairs challenge now is to go forward in the world successfully while knowing the mystique has been lessened, and doing everything possible to win it back.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Saving Lieutenant Bush

Jon Meacham's eulogy for President George H.W. Bush, December 5, 2018:

The story was almost over even before it had fully begun. Shortly after dawn on Saturday, September 2, 1944, Lieutenant Junior Grade George Herbert Walker Bush, joined by two crew mates, took off from the USS San Jacinto to attack a radio tower on Chichijima. As they approached the target, the air was heavy with flack. The plane was hit. Smoke filled the cockpit; flames raced across the wings. "My god," Lieutenant Bush thought, "this thing's gonna go down." Yet he kept the plane in its 35-degree dive, dropped his bombs, and then roared off out to sea, telling his crew mates to hit the silk. Following protocol, Lieutenant Bush turned the plane so they could bail out.

Only then did Bush parachute from the cockpit. The wind propelled him backward, and he gashed his head on the tail of the plane as he flew through the sky. He plunged deep into the ocean, bobbed to the surface, and flopped onto a tiny raft. His head bleeding, his eyes burning, his mouth and throat raw from salt water, the future 41st President of the United States was alone. Sensing that his men had not made it, he was overcome. He felt the weight of responsibility as a nearly physical burden. And he wept. Then, at four minutes shy of noon, a submarine emerged to rescue the downed pilot. George Herbert Walker Bush was safe. The story, his story and ours, would go on by God's grace.

Through the ensuing decades, President Bush would frequently ask, nearly daily, he'd ask himself, "why me? Why was I spared?" And in a sense, the rest of his life was a perennial effort to prove himself worthy of his salvation on that distant morning. To him, his life was no longer his own. There were always more missions to undertake, more lives to touch, and more love to give. And what a headlong race he made of it all. He never slowed down.

On the primary campaign trail in New Hampshire once, he grabbed the hand of a department store mannequin, asking for votes. When he realized his mistake, he said, "Never know. Gotta ask." You can hear the voice, can't you? As Dana Carvey said, the key to a Bush 41 impersonation is Mr. Rogers trying to be John Wayne.

George Herbert Walker Bush was America’s last great soldier-statesman, a 20th century founding father. He governed with virtues that most closely resemble those of Washington and of Adams, of TR and of FDR, of Truman and of Eisenhower, of men who believed in causes larger than themselves. Six-foot-two, handsome, dominant in person, President Bush spoke with those big strong hands, making fists to underscore points.

A master of what Franklin Roosevelt called the science of human relationships, he believed that to whom much was given, much is expected. And because life gave him so much, he gave back again and again and again. He stood in the breach in the Cold War against totalitarianism. He stood in the breach in Washington against unthinking partisanship. He stood in the breach against tyranny and discrimination. And on his watch, a wall fell in Berlin, a dictator's aggression did not stand, and doors across America opened to those with disabilities.

And in his personal life, he stood in the breach against heartbreak and hurt, always offering an outstretched hand, a warm word, a sympathetic tear. If you were down, he would rush to lift you up. And if you were soaring, he would rush to savor your success. Strong and gracious, comforting and charming, loving and loyal, he was our shield in danger's hour.

Now, of course, there was ambition, too. Loads of that. To serve, he had to succeed. To preside, he had to prevail. Politics, he once admitted, isn't a pure undertaking; not if you want to win, it's not. An imperfect man, he left us a more perfect union.

It must be said that for a keenly intelligent statesman of stirring, almost unparalleled, private eloquence, public speaking was not exactly a strong suit. “Fluency in English,” President Bush once remarked, “is something that I’m often not accused of.” Looking ahead to the ’88 election, he observed inarguably, “it’s no exaggeration to say that the undecideds could go one way or the other.” And late in his presidency, he allowed that “we are enjoying sluggish times, but we are not enjoying them very much.”

His tongue may have run amok at moments, but his heart was steadfast. His life code, as he said, was “Tell the truth. Don’t blame people. Be strong. Do your best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course.” And that was and is the most American of creeds. Abraham Lincoln’s “better angels of our nature” and George H.W. Bush’s “thousand points of light” are companion verses in America’s national hymn. For Lincoln and Bush both called on us to choose the right over the convenient, to hope rather than to fear, and to heed not our worst impulses, but our best instincts.

In this work, he had the most wonderful of allies in Barbara Pierce Bush, his wife of 73 years. He called her "Barb," "the silver fox"—and when the situation warranted—"the enforcer." He was the only boy she ever kissed. Her children, Mrs. Bush liked to say, always wanted to throw up when they heard that. In a letter to Barbara during the war, young George H.W. Bush had written, "I love you, precious, with all my heart, and to know that you love me means my life. How lucky our children will be to have a mother like you." And as they will tell you, they surely were.

As Vice President, Bush once visited a children's Leukemia ward in Krakow. Thirty-five years before, he and Barbara had lost a daughter, Robin, to the disease. In Krakow, a small boy wanted to greet the American Vice President. Learning that the child was sick with the cancer that had taken Robin, Bush began to cry.

To his diary later that day, the Vice President said this: "My eyes flooded with tears. And behind me was a bank of television cameras. And I thought, 'I can't turn around. I can't dissolve because of personal tragedy in the face of the nurses that give of themselves every day.' So I stood there looking at this little guy, tears running down my cheek, hoping he wouldn't see. But if he did, hoping he'd feel that I loved him."

That was the real George H.W. Bush, a loving man with a big, vibrant, all-enveloping heart. And so we ask, as we commend his soul to God, and as he did, "Why him? Why was he spared?" The workings of providence are mysterious, but this much is clear: that George Herbert Walker Bush, who survived that fiery fall into the waters of the Pacific three quarters of a century ago, made our lives and the lives of nations freer, better, warmer, and nobler.

That was his mission. That was his heart beat. And if we listen closely enough, we can hear that heartbeat even now. For it’s the heartbeat of a lion, a lion who not only led us, but who loved us. That’s why him. That’s why he was spared.

Largest Counties, 1988 and 2016

One measure of change in the electorate is the performance of Republican presidential candidates in the 15 largest counties in 1988 and 2016.  On average, GOP performance dropped about 19 percent.

1988 2016
Los Angeles CA 46.90% 22.40% -24.50%
Cook IL (Chicago) 43.40% 20.80% -22.60%
Harris TX (Houston) 57.00% 41.60% -15.40%
Maricopa AZ (Phoenix) 64.90% 47.70% -17.20%
San Diego CA 60.20% 36.60% -23.60%
Orange CA 67.70% 42.30% -25.40%
Miami Dade FL 55.30% 33.80% -21.50%
Kings NY (Brooklyn) 32.60% 17.50% -15.10%
Dallas TX 58.40% 34.30% -24.10%
Riverside CA 59.50% 44.40% -15.10%
Queens NY 39.70% 21.80% -17.90%
Clark NV (Las Vegas) 56.40% 41.70% -14.70%
King WA (Seattle) 44.80% 21.00% -23.80%
San Bernardino CA 60.00% 41.50% -18.50%
Tarrant TX 61.20% 51.70% -9.50%

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Magnitude of Bush's Victory

In 1988, George H.W. Bush, the 41st president, got a higher share of the popular and electoral vote than any presidential candidate since then.

                                    Popular %        Electoral Vote

1988    Bush 41           53.4                 426
1992    Clinton, B.       43.0                 370
1996    Clinton, B.       49.2                 379
2000    Bush 43           47.9                 271
2004    Bush 43           50.7                 286
2008    Obama             52.9                 365
2012    Obama             50.9                 332
2016    DJT                  46,0                 304

Monday, December 3, 2018


Looking back, 1988 was a turning point. It would be the last time any presidential candidate broke 400 votes in the electoral college, the last time California, New Jersey and Illinois went red. What was up until then viewed as the Republican lock would give way in four short years.
After that night, no non-incumbent Republican would again lead the popular vote. The Democratic party would capture a plurality in six of the next seven presidential elections. Flyover country would emerge as a contiguous Republican bastion, Democrats relegated mostly to the coasts. Another realignment was under way.
 Back in the day, the president’s father was a senator from Connecticut and a golf partner to President Eisenhower. Now, the Nutmeg state’s entire congressional delegation is Democratic. Ned Lamont, governor-elect, played golf at the country club where George met Barbara Bush.
No Republican has carried these states since Bush in 1988:
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • Vermont