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Sunday, February 7, 2016

James Madison v. Donald Trump

At The Weekly Standard, Jay Cost writes that James Madison had a low regard for Andrew Jackson and would not care for his spiritual heir:
Madison would have less regard for Trump. The mogul's campaign is half populist crusade, half insult-comic shtick, but Madison thought that one virtue of representative government was its ability to elevate the political discourse. In Federalist 10 he writes that our system can "refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations." Trump is the antithesis of these ideal statesmen the Framers hoped would staff the government. Madison himself notes that "enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm," but this is hardly reason to select as president somebody as benighted as Trump.

Madison would, moreover, likely be unimpressed by Trump's wealth. In the 1780s and '90s, speculative activity had reached a frenzied state, and many a man had amassed himself a large fortune. Madison thought that this demonstrated neither virtue nor industry. In a debate at the Constitutional Convention over whether certain offices should require their holders own property, Madison argued that holding property was "no certain evidence of real wealth. Many enjoyed them to a great extent who were more in debt than they were worth. The unjust laws of the States had proceeded more from this class of men, than any others. It had often happened that men who had acquired landed property on credit, got into the Legislatures with a view of promoting an unjust protection (against) their Creditors." What might Madison think of the "real wealth" of Trump, who inherited a fortune from his father and whose companies have had to declare multiple bankruptcies?
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Madison would appreciate how aggravated voters are—in the 1790s, he himself felt like the government was being hijacked by an interested faction—but he would never support for president a meanspirited, inexperienced demagogue such as Donald Trump.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

News Sources in the 2016 Campaign

Pew reports on a January survey from its American Trends Panel:
News and information about the contentious 2016 presidential election is permeating the American public, according to a new survey of 3,760 U.S. adults by Pew Research Center. About nine-in-ten U.S. adults (91%) learned about the election in the past week from at least one of 11 types of sources asked about, ranging from television to digital to radio to print.
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As a platform, television and the Web – and even radio to a lesser degree – strongly appeal to certain parts of the public, while print sits squarely at the bottom. As many people name late night comedy shows as most helpful as do a print newspaper.

Age, education level and political party account for some of the differences here. Cable television’s overall popularity is pronounced among those who are 65 and older and also among Republicans, while social media is the clear favorite among the youngest age group, 18 to 29-year-olds.

About four-in-ten (43%) of those 65 or older who learned about the election in the past week say cable television news is most helpful, 26 percentage points higher than any other source type and much higher than any other age cohort. In fact, only 12% of 18 to 29-year-olds who learned about the election say that cable news is the most helpful.
Instead, about a third (35%) of 18 to 29-year-olds name a social networking site as their most helpful source type for learning about the presidential election in the past week. This is about twice that of the next nearest type – news websites and apps (18%), another digital stream of information. Social media drops off sharply for older age groups, with 15% of 30 to 49-year-olds, 5% of 50 to 64-year-olds, and just 1% of those 65 years and older saying the same. This is consistent with our previous research, which has shown thatsocial media is the most prominent way that Millennials get political news, more so than any other generation.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Children and Parental Employment

Many posts have discussed marriage, family, and economic inequality.

Child Trends reports:
As of 2013, more than one in four children (26 percent) did not have at least one resident parent employed full-time, year-round. Among children younger than six, three in ten (30 percent) were without secure parental employment and, of children in families headed by single mothers, more than half (58 percent).
IMPORTANCE
Secure attachment to the labor force, defined here as full-time, full-year employment, is a major contributor to financial stability and well-being for families. For low-income families, it is not a guarantee of escape from poverty, [1] but it is associated with higher family income and greater access to private health insurance. Higher income, in turn, is associated with many positive child outcomes including better health, behavior, academic achievement, and financial well-being as adults.[2],[3] In particular, deep, persistent, and early poverty are related to poorer child development.[4] A study of low-income families found benefits to children’s social-emotional skills when their mothers were employed early in the child’s life, compared with similar children whose mothers who were not employed.[5] However, in some cases, long hours of employment among mothers with very young children have been associated with modestly negative child outcomes.[6] Studies have found drops in family income, as well as income fluctuation, to be associated with a greater risk of behavioral problems, and lower reading and mathematics achievement, compared with children in families who had not been poor.[7] More recent research links parental (particularly fathers’) permanent job loss to increased likelihood of parental divorce, family relocation, and children’s repeating a grade; and to decreased earnings when children enter the labor force.[8][9] Thus, the “scarring” effects of parental unemployment may be multigenerational.[10]

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Secular New Hampshire

Frank Newport writes at Gallup:
New Hampshire is the least religious state in the U.S., edging out Vermont in Gallup's 2015 state-by-state analysis. Mississippi has extended its eight-year streak as the most religious state, followed closely by neighboring Alabama.
 These state-by-state results are based on over 174,000 interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking in 2015, including more than 480 interviews in every state and more than 1,000 interviews in most states. Complete results and sample sizes are shown at the end of the article.
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Over the past eight years, New Hampshire and Vermont have vied for the bottom position on Gallup's ranking of the most religious states. This year, New Hampshire comes in two percentage points lower than Vermont, and those two states are significantly lower in religiosity than the next two states, also in New England: Maine and Massachusetts.

New Hampshire is in the national spotlight this week as the presidential candidates focus on next Tuesday's primary in the Granite State. According to entrance polls of Iowa caucus voters, Ted Cruz's win in the GOP caucus on Feb. 1 in Iowa was driven by his strong appeal to highly religious or evangelical Republicans -- who turned out in large numbers. Although Iowa as a state has only average religiosity, it is still significantly more religious than New Hampshire, suggesting that Cruz will have fewer evangelicals to bring out to vote in that state's primary.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ethanol Loses a Round

Timothy P. Carney reports at The Washington Examiner:
The ethanol lobby is a paper tiger, and Ted Cruz just tore it to shreds.

Cruz, the country's most famous enemy of the federal ethanol mandate, just won Iowa, winning more votes than any person in the history of the caucuses.

Cruz thus busted the myth that you can't mess with the ethanol lobby and still win Iowa. The lesson goes beyond ethanol: The only constituency for corporate welfare is on K Street.

Politicians are fooled into thinking corporate welfare is important to voters because politicians spend an inordinate amount of time with the powerful people to whom corporate welfare is vitally important. That's why every candidate who has tried to win Iowa has prostrated him or herself before ethanol.

They thought they had to. Cruz proved they didn't.
Cruz campaigned on a five-year wind-down of ethanol. Other candidates, like Jeb Bush, said they would consider winding down the mandate in 2022 — during a presumptive second term. Cruz's plan involves a 20 percent reduction of the mandate in his first year in office, and the same cut each year until it zeroes out.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Trump and the Isolationist Tradition

Thomas Wright writes at Politico:
With his background and personality, Trump is so obviously sui generis that it is tempting to say his views are alien to the American foreign policy tradition. They aren’t; it is just that this strain of thinking has been dormant for some time. There are particular echoes of Sen. Robert Taft, who unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination in 1940, 1948 and 1952, and was widely seen as the leader of the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Taft was a staunch isolationist and mercantilist who opposed U.S. aid for Britain before 1941. After the war, he opposed President Harry Truman’s efforts to expand trade. Despite being an anti-communist, he opposed containment of the Soviet Union, believing that the United States had few interests in Western Europe. He opposed the creation of NATO as overly provocative. Taft’s speeches are the last time a major American politician has offered a substantive and comprehensive critique of America’s alliances.
Trump’s populism, divisiveness and friendliness toward dictators is also reminiscent of Charles Lindbergh, once an American hero, who led the isolationist America First movement. In some areas, Trump’s views go back even further, to 19th-century high-tariff protectionism and every-country-for-itself mercantilism. He even invokes ancient Chinese history, telling Bill O’Reilly last August that his idea for a wall across the U.S.-Mexican border is feasible because “you know, the Great Wall of China, built a long time ago, is 13,000 miles. I mean, you're talking about big stuff.”

Monday, February 1, 2016

Federalist 10 and the 2016 Election

D.J. Tice writes at The Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
The founding fathers said there would be days like this. On the eve of the 2016 Iowa caucuses — which will plunge America into a maelstrom of election contests sweeping us dizzyingly toward actually choosing a new president — the understated warning from the chief author of our Constitution clangs like a fire bell.
Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.
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Yet even if these appetites produce a Sanders or a Trump presidency, the [Jesse] Ventura precedent suggests it might deliver another surprise, and a welcome one. In his official acts (as opposed to his celebrity antics), Gov. Ventura largely steered a mainstream course, delegating vigorously to decent public servants he placed in key jobs. A President Trump or Sanders might adjust to reality, too.
That’s likely, because America’s complex and cumbersome system of government constrains every office holder, making it improbable that even a champion demagogue could enact destabilizing innovations, at least not without major compromise.

This is why debates over the proper boundaries on a president’s executive orders matter. It’s why the much-criticized Senate filibuster, which makes passing controversial laws difficult, shouldn’t be carelessly discarded. It’s why limits should be enforced on a president’s war powers and on the government’s right to spy on citizens. It’s even why we must question tough-on-crime measures like the psychiatric commitment of sex offenders after they’ve served their prison terms.