Saturday, March 31, 2012

Heroism and the Media

During the Civil War, Congress established the nation's highest military honor.  The Defense Department explains:
Signed into law July 12, 1862, the measure provided for awarding a medal of honor "to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldierlike qualities, during the present insurrection." Although it was created for the Civil War, Congress made the Medal of Honor a permanent decoration in 1863. Almost 3,400 men and one woman have received the award for heroic actions in the nation's battles since that time.
A previous post described one Medal of Honor recipient. Another was Ed Freeman.  This email has been circulating lately:
You're a 19 year old kid.

You're critically wounded and dying in the jungle somewhere in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam . It's November 11, 1967. LZ (landing zone) X-ray. Your unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense from 100 yards away, that your CO (commanding officer) has ordered the helicopters to stop coming in.

You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns and you know you're not getting out. Your family is half way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll never see them again.

As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day. Then - over the machine gun noise - you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter. You look up to see a Huey coming in. But.. It doesn't seem real because no MedEvac markings are on it.

Captain Ed Freeman is coming in for you.

He's not MedEvac so it's not his job, but he heard the radio call and decided he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway. Even after the MedEvacs were ordered not to come. He's coming anyway. And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 3 of you at a time on board. Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses and safety.

And, he kept coming back!! 13 more times!! Until all the wounded were out. No one knew until the mission was over that the Captain had been hit 4 times in the legs and left arm. He took 29 of you and your buddies out that day. Some would not have made it without the Captain and his Huey.

Medal of Honor Recipient, Captain Ed Freeman,United States Air Force, died last Wednesday at the age of 70, in Boise, Idaho. May God Bless and Rest His Soul.

I bet you didn't hear about this hero's passing, but we've sure heard a whole bunch about Whitney Houston, Lindsay Lohan, Dr. Murray, that sicko Sandusky, and a 72- day sham marriage.

Shame on the media !!!
Freeman actually died on August 20, 2008 -- but unlike so many viral emails, this one is mostly accurate.  The account of his heroism tracks with his Medal of Honor citation.  And according to Snopes.com, there was little coverage of his death outside of Idaho.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Gerrymander!

Reid Wilson writes at National Journal:

Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry was the first politician to take advantage of rules that allow one party to draw maps to its own advantage. Two hundred years ago this month, after Gerry signed into law a map of state Senate districts that would favor his Democratic-Republican Party’s candidates, the Boston Gazette offered its satirical take on one such district, around Gerry’s home base of Marblehead, just north of Boston. The meandering district, which curved north and east around a Federalist Party stronghold, looked like a salamander, the newspaper said, coining a new word to describe the tortuous political mapmaking: gerrymandering.
Gerry might have been proud of the past year’s round of redistricting. Both Republicans and Democrats have continued the tradition he started, carving up districts to play to their electoral strengths—and, in the process, redrawing the lines party strategists will obsess over for the next decade.



Young Voters and Obama

Previous posts have looked at the youth vote.  At National Journal, Charlie Cook writes that the president cannot necessarily count on the kind of youth passion he generated in 2008:
Visit any college campus today, and you are likely to sense a lack of passion and energy for Obama. It’s far from clear that he can reproduce the unusually strong turnout among younger voters that he sparked in 2008 or match the 66 percent performance level he achieved then. The data back up the doubts. Gallup tracking surveys in January and February recorded Obama’s job-approval rating at 52 percent and 54 percent, respectively, among 18-to-29-year-olds. The polling suggests he would win the majority of the youth vote, but not anything close to 66 percent. As with other key voter groups, Obama’s numbers with young Americans are better than they were last fall, when his approval ratings among that sector were typically in the mid-to-high 40s. The pattern is a common theme across so many voter groups: Obama is doing better, but his gains aren’t enough to put him close to 2008 levels.
...
Over the years I’ve found the Democracy Corps, a group started by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and the indescribable James Carville, to be a source of enormously valuable survey research and focus-group findings. ... Republicans have now formed their own version of the Democracy Corps with Resurgent Republic, headed by veteran Republican strategist Ed Gillespie and longtime pollster Whit Ayres. Resurgent Republic frequently has other pollsters conduct research projects as well. This week it released a polling memo from Gillespie and Ed Goeas, the lead partner in the Tarrance Group, one of the GOP’s top polling firms. The memo was based on focus groups with Generation Y voters (ages 23-30) in Raleigh, N.C., and Columbus, Ohio. Only independent voters in that age cohort who were undecided on the generic presidential ballot test were included in the focus groups. This limited participation in the group to the true fence-sitters, as opposed to those whose votes in the fall are pretty predictable.
According to the memo from Goeas and Gillespie, “If these groups are representative of this demographic at large, it will be a tall task to counter the disillusionment many feel due to a pattern of overpromising and underdelivering.” They continued, “It is important to note that young voters’ ongoing frustration does not mean they will outright abandon Obama, as was evident in the Ohio groups, but it should call into question their reliability to turn out for him this November, barring any changes.”

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gender Gap

The Pew Research Center reports:
The gender gap -- the difference in support for a candidate among women and men -- has long favored Democratic presidential candidates, and is about as wide today as it was at this point in the campaign four years ago when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were matched in polls against Republican John McCain.
Even so, Barack Obama's advantages among women voters over his GOP rivals are striking. Obama led Mitt Romney by 20 points (58% to 38%) among women voters and Rick Santorum by 26 points (61% to 35%) in the Pew Research Center's most recent national survey, conducted March 7-11. Obama runs about even with Romney among men and leads Santorum.
Just as women have been more likely to vote Democratic in presidential elections, a higher percentage also identifies with or leans toward the Democratic Party. In surveys this year, 52% of women identify with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic, compared with 43% of men. That is in line with the gender gap in party identification dating back to 1990. In 2008, 56% of women and 46% of men identified as Democrats or leaned Democratic.
There are several clusters of issues on which men and women divide, including social issues, views of government and its role, energy and the environment, and foreign policy and national security.
Read the full report for a detailed anlaysis of gender differences in politics.

Health Care and the Supreme Court


Our chapter on interest groups notes that think tanks and advocacy groups may try to influence the judiciary by filing amicus curiae briefs.  The health care debate provides a vivid example, as the American Enterprise Institute reports:
In one of the most interesting discussions on Wednesday, Justice Samuel Alito asked what the fallback position would be for the rest of the act if the mandate were declared unconstitutional. He then referred to the amicus, or "friend of the court," brief filed by AEI health experts Thomas Miller, Joe Antos, Jim Capretta and Chris Conover, among others, which contends Title I, mandating the establishment of health exchanges and the means to pay for them, must go.

In response, Paul D. Clement, lead attorney for the petitioners and a former solicitor general under President George W. Bush, said that Title I and "a handful of related provisions that are very closely related to that are really the heart of the act."

"At a certain point, I just think that, you know, the better answer might be to say, we've struck the heart of this act, let's just give Congress a clean slate. If it's so easy to have that other big volume get reenacted, they can do it in a couple of days; it won't be a big deal. ... I'd rather suspect that it won't be easy," Clement said.

Here's another look at the amicus brief. Other extensive writings that Miller has done on the current case can be found on the AEI blog here and on his AEI scholar page here.
Dylan Scott writes at Governing:
The Supreme Court’s deliberations over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion hinged on fundamental questions about the relationship between the federal government and the states. Does the ACA represent a transition from “cooperative” federalism to “coercive” federalism by encroaching on the 10th Amendment, as the 26 opposing states suggest?
Prior to this week’s arguments, Governing asked some legal experts to speculate on the potential implications for federalism if the Medicaid expansion is overturned. Some, including 13 states that filed an amicus brief with the Court in support of the law, have argued that such a decision might set a precedent that could delegitimize other programs (such as education and transportation) in which federal funding is predicated on some conditions set by Congress.
While much of Wednesday’s oral arguments centered very specifically on the ACA and the Medicaid expansion, those broader issues were raised by justices themselves.
“Are you suggesting that at a certain point the states would have a claim against the federal government raising their taxes because somehow the states will feel coerced to lower their tax rate?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor, considered a supporter of the ACA, asked Paul Clement, former Solicitor General and attorney for 26 states opposing the law, after Clement said that increased federal taxes reduced the states’ ability to impose their own taxes.
“No, I’m not,” Clement replied.
...
When Solicitor General Donald Verrilli stepped up to defend the government’s position that the Medicaid expansion was constitutional under the Spending Clause, Justices Antonio Scalia and John Roberts pressed him to explain if there are any limits to the conditions that Congress can place on states to receive federal funding.
When Verrilli offered the example of Congress forcing state governments to relocate their statehouses, Scalia interrupted. “Short of that, they can make the state do anything at all?” he asked.
Verrilli responded that any conditions must be “germane” (there must be a relationship between the condition and the spending it affects) before Roberts cut in, saying Verrilli hadn’t addressed the central question of whether coercion is even possible.
“The concern is, if you can say: ‘If you don't agree with this, you lose all your money,’ whether that's really saying the limitation in the Constitution is… largely meaningless,” Roberts said. Verrilli replied that he didn’t believe the current case presented that question.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Justices Don't Read the Bills, Either

As previous posts have noted (here and here), members of Congress seldom read the bills that they pass.  Oral argument on the health care bill shows the Supreme Court justices do not always read the bills, either.  Politico reports:
Justice Antonin Scalia cut in when Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler said the justices would need to look at “the structure and the text” of the 2,700-page law .
“Mr. Kneedler, what happened to the Eighth Amendment?” Scalia asked — a joking reference to the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. “You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages?
“And do you really expect the court to do that? Or do you expect us to — to give this function to our law clerks? Is this not totally unrealistic? That we are going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?"
...
Although “read the bill” was a rallying cry on the right during the congressional fight over the law, Chief Justice John Roberts seemed to acknowledge Wednesday that he hadn’t done so himself.
“Where is this line?” he asked Kneedler at one point. “I looked through the whole Act, I didn't read ... “
Justice Stephen Breyer brought sections of the law to court to use as props, but he admitted that he also hadn’t read all the words — and doesn’t intend to either.
“Here's the rest of it, you know, and when I look through the rest of it, I have all kinds of stuff in there. And I haven't read every word of that, I promise,” he said.

Oppo People

Previous posts have examined opposition research, or oppo.  NBC reports:
As befits the age of internet transparency, Oppo people no longer hide under the dark rocks of the political landscape. From Rodell Mollineau at “American Bridge” to Jonathan Collegio at the conservative “American Crossroads” (co-founded by White House veteran Karl Rove), they are more than open about what they do.
We are, they say, living in the “golden age” of opposition research, where the Internet has not only made it easier than ever to find negative details about a candidates life, innovations like YouTube and Twitter allow them to take their message right to the people. As Ben Smith of Buzzfeed.com puts it, “The Super Pacs have become their own media outlets.” 
...
While opposition research relies on diligent investigation of sometimes arcane facts (for example, that John Edwards spent $400 on a Beverly Hills salon haircut), it’s the weaving together of many of those facts to create a negative storyline that makes this approach such a powerful weapon. “A voter is not going to go through all of these data points and decide whether or not they’re going to vote for someone,” says Jonathan Collegio. “They need to have a package for them.”
Rodell Molineau defended that packaging and says that the public can’t be “spoon fed” lies.
“The way we look at our role, is to find the truth,” he said. “It needs to be grounded in some sort of fact, because the American people are not stupid.”

 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Religion in the States

Our chapter on civic culture emphasizes the role of religion in American public life, while our chapter on federalism notes many differences among the states.  These two themes come together in a new Gallup survey:
Mississippi is the most religious U.S. state, and is one of eight states where Gallup classifies at least half of the residents as "very religious." At the other end of the spectrum, Vermont and New Hampshire are the least religious states, and are two of the five states -- along with Maine, Massachusetts, and Alaska -- where less than 30% of all residents are very religious.

Gallup classifies 40% of Americans nationwide as very religious -- based on their statement that religion is an important part of their daily life and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week. Another 32% of Americans are nonreligious, based on their statement that religion is not an important part of their daily life and that they seldom or never attend religious services. The remaining 28% of Americans are moderately religious, because they say religion is important but that they do not attend services regularly or because they say religion is not important but still attend services.
Religiosity varies widely across U.S. states and regions, with Mississippi in the deep South and Vermont in New England providing the most extreme example of the disparity. Fifty-nine percent of Mississippians are very religious and 11% nonreligious, while 23% of Vermonters are very religious and 58% are nonreligious. Although New Hampshire ties Vermont with 23% of its residents classified as very religious, slightly fewer (52%) residents in the Granite State are classified as nonreligious.
See a post from 2010 on this subject.

Health Care Law Before the Court

The Washington Post reports:
The Supreme Court’s conservative justices appeared deeply skeptical that the Constitution gives Congress the power to compel Americans to either purchase health insurance or pay a penalty, as the court completed two hours of debate Tuesday on the key component of the nation’s health-care overhaul law.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, traditionally the justice most likely to side with the court’s liberals, suggested that the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act invoked a power “beyond what our cases allow” the Congress to wield in regulating interstate commerce.
“Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?” he asked.
The arguments revealed a familiar alignment of the court. Its four liberal justices, appointed by Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, supported the government’s argument. But one of the five conservatives appointed by Republican presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush would be needed to uphold the act, and all at some point resisted the government’s position. Their sharp questioning raised doubts about whether the individual insurance mandate could survive the Supreme Court’s historic review.
Rich Lowry writes:
The shade of James Madison hovers over the Obamacare argument at the Supreme Court.
It is the system of limited and carefully divided government powers that he had a large hand in crafting — and defended so ably in the Federalist Papers — that is at stake in the contest over the constitutionality of the individual mandate.
If the mandate stands, it will be the latest blow to Madison’s scheme, which is the best architecture for self-government yet devised by man, but has been steadily worn down over time.
...
In the mind of contemporary progressivism, these words of Madison from the Federalist Papers simply don’t compute: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” They are an antiquated 18th-century sentiment unsuited to our more complex and more sophisticated time, to be ignored when not actively scorned.

But Madison thought this division of power so important for a reason: “In the compound republic of America, the power surrendered by the people is first divided between two distinct governments, and then the portion allotted to each subdivided among distinct and separate departments. Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people. The different governments will control each other, at the same time that each will be controlled by itself.”


Monday, March 26, 2012

US President Tells Russian President About His Second Term

Presidents generally look forward to the flexibility of second terms, when they no longer have to worry about reelection.  Jake Tapper reports on a conversation between President Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.  Microphones picked up on the exchange as White House aides let reporters into the room:
President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.
President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…
President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Americans Elect is Lagging

A previous post dealt with Americans Elect. Dan Morain writes at The Sacramento Bee:

Americans Elect is a nonprofit corporation created by billionaire investor Peter Ackerman, who is dissatisfied with politics as usual. The organization's goal is to gain ballot access in all 50 states, paving the way for the ideal presidential candidate - no one knows who - who would work across party lines for the betterment of all people.
The concept is to use the Internet to conduct an online primary in June to nominate presidential and vice presidential candidates from opposite parties who would "work together to develop fresh solutions to the serious challenges facing our country."
Americans Elect seems very civic-minded and techie. Mr. Smith enters the Internet age. This would seem to be a good year for a third candidate. Polls show voters are restless and unhappy with the choices in this year's presidential race. At least that's the theory driving the Americans Elect effort to help a third major candidate, to be determined, get on the ballot.
But there are hard political realities, like trying to recruit top-tier candidates to try something that has never been tried, and trying to generate voter interest when there are no high-profile candidates. And then there is the matter of creating a campaign organization in a matter of months. Winning candidates spend years developing their networks.
Not wanting to jump to conclusions, I posed some questions to the organization: What is AE's explanation for the lagging numbers of people supporting candidates? How many people have signed up to be so-called delegates who could cast votes for Americans Elect candidates? In how many states does AE have ballot access? Would AE care to discuss the difficulties of candidate recruitment?
Multiple emails and voicemails during a 24-hour period met with silence, until Americans Elect press secretary Ileana Wachtel responded: "Not ignoring. We just won the People's Choice Award at South by Southwest and on the road doing a tech tour. Perhaps we can catch up at another time."
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/03/25/4364744/americans-elect-has-many-ifs-and.html#storylink=cpy


Ballot Access News reports:
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/03/25/4362357/online-alternate-campaign-is-flagging.html#mi_rss=Opinion#storylink=cpy

Only eleven candidates seeking the presidential nomination of Americans Elect have as many as forty supporters within the Americans Elect process. They are:
1. Buddy Roemer, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has 2,221 votes. Here is his web page.
2. Rocky Anderson, Salt Lake City, Utah, has 954. Here is his web page.
3. Laurence Kotlikoff, Brookline, Massachusetts, has 638. Here is his web page. He is a professor of economics and was an economic advisor to President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors.
4. Michealene Risley, Woodside, California, has 588. She makes documentary films and is a published author. One of her films, “Flashcards” was nominated for an Oscar and concerns child abuse. Her other film is “Tapestries of Hope” about Zimbabwe. She doesn’t seem to have a campaign web page.
5. T. J. O’Hara, Rancho Santa Fe, California, has 189. Here is his web page. He is a businessman.
6. Mike Ballantine, registered to vote as a Green Party member in Pennsylvania, but has lived in Vietnam for the last six years. He has 117 votes. Here is his web page.
7. R. J. Harris, Norman, Oklahoma, has 80. Here is his web page. He is also seeking the Libertarian Party nomination.
8. Marlin Miller, Tennessee, has 70. Here is his web page. He is also the presidential nominee of American Third Position Party.
9. Dwight Smith, Detroit area, Michigan, has 58. He doesn’t seem to have a campaign web page.
10. David Jon Sponheim, Oak Harbor, Washington, has 47. Here is his web page. He is also the presidential nominee of America’s Third Party.
11. Verl Farnsworth, Mesa, Arizona, has 46. Here is his web page.

What Americans Think About Energy

Previous posts have examined opinions on energy. Gallup reports:
Americans are about as likely to say production of energy supplies (47%) should be prioritized as to say environmental protection (44%) should be, a closer division than last year, when energy led by 50% to 41%. These views mark a shift compared with the early 2000s, when Americans consistently assigned a higher priority to environmental protection

The greater preference for energy production over environmental protection in recent years likely results from the economic downturn, given that Americans have made economic matters their highest priority. There was a brief exception in the spring of 2010, however, after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill brought environmental issues back to the forefront.
Although Americans still view the economy as their No. 1 concern, they perceive the economy to be improving. In this context, the public is now about evenly divided on whether energy development or the environment should be given priority.
Gallup also reports:
As gas prices continue to rise in the United States, 42% of Americans describe the energy situation as "very serious," slightly above the historical average of 38%, but lower than at several other points since Gallup first asked the question in 1977.

The high point in energy concern, 58%, came in May 2001, another time of rising gas prices, which were contemporaneous with rolling blackouts in California due to energy shortages.
Usually, at least 40% of Americans have said the energy situation was very serious during times of higher gas prices, such as in 1979, 2008, and this year. However, the current percentage of 42% is slightly lower than what Gallup measured last year (45%), in 2008 (46%), and in 1979 (47%).
The low point in perceptions of the energy situation as very serious, 22%, came in 2002.
The gasoline  issue illustrates how slight differences in question wording can affect results.  CBS/NY Times asked: "Is the price of gasoline something a president can do a lot about, or is that beyond any president's control?" By a 54-36 margin, respondents said that a president can do a lot about the prices. ABC/Washington Post asked: "Do you think there's anything the Obama administration reasonably can do to reduce gasoline prices, or do you think gas prices have risen because of factors beyond the administration's control?"  This time, the margin was closer with a 50-45 split saying that the administration could do something.  The latter question referred specifically to the "Obama administration" and asking whether it could "reasonably do" something.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Religion Behind Bars

Tocqueville came to America to study its penitentiaries.  He reported on religious influences behind bars -- which continues today, as the Pew Research Center reports:
Professional prison chaplains see America's state penitentiaries as places bustling with religious activity, ranging from efforts by inmates to proselytize or convert other inmates to religious switching by prisoners.
In the view of the chaplains, religious counseling and other religion-based programming play an important role in rehabilitating prisoners.
More than seven-in-ten state prison chaplains say efforts by inmates to convert others are very or somewhat common. About three-quarters of them report that a lot or some religious switching occurs among inmates, and they note growth in the numbers of Muslims and Protestant Christians in particular as a result of this switching. Nearly three-quarters of the chaplains surveyed say they consider access to religion-related programs in prison to be "absolutely critical" to successful rehabilitation of inmates.
A sizable minority of chaplains say that religious extremism is either very or somewhat common among inmates, but an overwhelming majority report that religious extremism seldom poses a threat to the security of the facility in which they work

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ethics and Accountability in Texas

KTBS-TV  reports on how Texas fared in a recent study of ethics and accountability.
When it comes to integrity and ethics, Texas passes, but just barely. According to a new study, the Lone Star state earned the low grade of D-plus for accountability in state government. 
"I'm not surprised, I'm not shocked at all," said Israel Nandamudi, a Political Science professor at East Texas Baptist University. "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. So even if you elect the so called good people, once they taste blood, once they see a loophole they just want to take it. It's a character issue."

The State of the 2012 Campaign

The Fundamentals:
Gasoline Prices as a Problem for the President

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Poll on Religion and Politics


The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life polled 1,503 adults from March 7-11 about religion and politics.  Some findings:
The number of people who say there has been too much religious talk by political leaders stands at an all-time high since the Pew Research Center began asking the question more than a decade ago. And most Americans continue to say that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of politics.
Nearly four-in-ten Americans (38%) now say there has been too much expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders, while 30% say there has been too little. In 2010, more said there was too little than too much religious expression from politicians (37% vs. 29%). The percentage saying there is too much expression of religious faith by politicians has increased across party lines, but this view remains far more widespread among Democrats than Republicans.
Slightly more than half of the public (54%) says that churches should keep out of politics, compared with 40% who say religious institutions should express their views on social and political matters. This is the third consecutive poll conducted over the past four years in which more people have said churches and other houses of worship should keep out of politics than said they should express their views on social and political topics. By contrast, between 1996 and 2006 the balance of opinion on this question consistently tilted in the opposite direction.
...
A majority of the public (54%) views the Republican Party as friendly to religion, while 24% say the GOP is neutral to religion and 13% say it is unfriendly toward religion. Roughly four-in-ten (39%) rate the Obama administration as friendly, with 32% saying it is neutral and 23% saying the administration is unfriendly to religion. The Democratic Party is seen as friendly to religion by 35% of the public; it is seen as neutral by 36% and as unfriendly by 21% of the public.
Approximately one-in-five Americans (19%) rate news reporters and the news media as friendly to religion, and 14% say university professors are friendly to religion. Roughly one-in-three say that reporters (35%) and professors (32%) are unfriendly to religion.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

William Buckley and American Conservatism

In his book on Buckley, Bogus says that  Robert Taft represented a different kind of conservatism.

God and Man at Yale got a scathing review from McGeorge Bundy:
Most remarkable of all, Mr. Buckley, who urges a return to what he considers to be Yale's true religious tradition, at no point says one word of the fact that he himself is an ardent Roman Catholic. In view of the pronounced and well-recognized difference between Protestant and Catholic views on education in America, and in view of Yale's Protestant history, it seems strange for any Roman Catholic to undertake to define the Yale religious tradition (and Yale has thousands of Catholic alumni and friends who would not dream of such a course); it is stranger still for Mr. Buckley to venture his prescription with no word or hint to show his special allegiance. 
Whittaker Chambers on the Hiss case:
For the contrast between them and the glittering Hiss forces is about the same as between the glittering French cavalry and the somewhat tattered English bowmen who won at Agincourt.  The inclusive fact about them is that, in contrast to the pro-Hiss rally, most of them, regardless of what they had made of themselves, came from the wrong side of the railroad tracks. ... 
No feature of the Hiss case is more obvious, or more troubling as history, than the jagged fissure, which it did not so much open as reveal, between the plain men and women of the nation, and those who affected to act, think, and speak for them.
WFB remembers Ayn Rand.

YAF and The Sharon Statement

Buckley, Goldwater, and Civil Rights

Buckley and Baldwin (Buckley at about 39:30).

New York City

Michael Barone on John Lindsay:
New York City mayor John Lindsay was the most disastrous American public official in the second half of the twentieth century. New York City lost a million people during his mayoralty, as people voted with their feet. In addition, Lindsay did damage that went far beyond the city limits.
...
But through his public policies in New York City and his national leadership in the Kerner Report and other venues, Lindsay managed to create a new mindset among a large number of Americans. This frame of mind held that we must expect poor people and black people to commit crime. Their criminality is a justified rebellion against the evils that have been visited upon them. We must expect low-income people and minorities to go on welfare. Lindsay’s welfare commissioner, Mitchell Ginsberg, eliminated almost all eligibility requirements for welfare. He was known as “Come and Get it Ginsberg.” The city administration
made welfare payments to anybody who applied. Lindsay held that increasing welfare rolls was a good thing. It was a sign of government righting a social wrong.
...
Crime boomed, and millions became victims. New York‘s crime rate was increasing even before Lindsay became mayor, but his arrival inaugurated a striking rise in crime, leading to the destruction of large parts of New York City. Places like the South Bronx, Brownsville, and big sections of Harlem were virtually wiped off the map. Buildings were abandoned, vandalized, or torched. Whole blocks emptied out. Middle-class people, lower-middle-class people, working-class people, anybody making a living moved out. The neighborhoods were then patrolled by criminals.
The Context:  The 1960s Crime Wave:

 


 
Firing Line
1968: Buckley v. Vidal
Reagan Country
1978: Buckley v. Reagan on the Panama Canal

 
Peggy Noonan:
I started reading NR, and it sang to me. They saw it the way I was seeing it: America is essentially good, the war is being fought for serious and valid reasons, the answer to every social ill is not necessarily a social program, when you let a government get too big you threaten your own liberties—-—and God is real as a rock. I was moved, and more. It assuaged a kind of loneliness. Later I found that half the people in the Reagan administration had as their first conservative friend that little magazine.
Bogus, p. 256: "Most members of the conservative movement, however, would continue to see communism as an evil, implacable, and unified force right up to the dissolution of the Soviet Union."  National Review, May 1, 1981:

 

 

 

Different Views of Federalism

Federalism is simply the best political system ever conceived of for maximizing human happiness. A one-size-fits-all policy imposed at the national level has the potential to make very large numbers of citizens unhappy, even if it was arrived at democratically. In a pure democracy, I always say, 51% of the people can vote to pee in the cornflakes of 49% of the people.
...
The problem for conservative and libertarian federalists is that whenever we talk about federalism, the left hears "states' rights," which is then immediately, and unfairly, translated into "bring back Bull Connor."

But that may be changing. In an essay for the spring issue of Democracy Journal, Yale law professor Heather K. Gerken offers the case for "A New Progressive Federalism." Her chief concern is how to empower "minorities and dissenters." Not surprisingly, she defines such people in almost purely left-wing terms of race and sexual orientation. Still, she makes the very compelling point that the current understanding of diversity — including minorities as tokens of inclusion — pretty much guarantees that racial minorities will always be political minorities as well.
...
Allowing local majorities to have their way, Gerken continues, "turns the tables. It allows the usual winners to lose and the usual losers to win. It gives racial minorities the chance to shed the role of influencer or gadfly and stand in the shoes of the majority."
The New York Times editorial page, however, cites a recent study to disparage federalist approaches:
For all the reform talk by many governors and state lawmakers, very little has really changed in most capitals over the decades. Budgeting is still done behind closed doors, and spending decisions are revealed to the public at the last minute. Ethics panels do not bother to meet, or never enforce the conflict-of-interest laws that are on the books. Lobbyists have free access to elected officials, plying them with gifts or big campaign contributions. Open-records acts are shot through with loopholes.
And yet all the Republican presidential candidates think it would be a good idea to hand some of Washington’s most important programs to state governments, which so often combine corruptibility with incompetence. In a speech on Monday, Mitt Romney said he would dump onto the states most federal anti-poverty programs, including Medicaid, food stamps and housing assistance, because states know best what their local needs are.
States, however, generally have a poor record of taking care of their neediest citizens, and could not be relied on to maintain lifeline programs like food stamps if Washington just wrote them checks and stopped paying attention. In many states, newspapers and broadcasters have cut their statehouse coverage, reducing scrutiny of government’s effectiveness and integrity.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Godfather and the Presidency

At the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dick Polman quotes The Godfather to make a constitutional argument:
Michael Corleone tells Kay that his dad, Vito, is really no different than "a senator or a president." Kay tells Michael that he's being naive, because "senators and presidents don't have men killed."
To which Michael says, "Oh. Who's being naive, Kay?"
You tell her, Michael! Because, as the U.S. attorney general made clear the other day - in a speech that got little play in the media, thanks to the Republican primaries - Obama is the first president to claim the legal authority to whack U.S. citizens, to act as judge, jury, and executioner without a shred of transparency or public accountability. 
This issue flared briefly last fall after Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born, American-educated radical Muslim cleric, was lit up in Yemen by one of Obama's drones. ... 
Indeed, 18 months before Awlaki's death, it was reported (via government leaks) that Awlaki's name had been placed on a hit list of American citizens, but today we still don't know who is on the list, why they were placed on the list, what kind of evidence puts you on the list, or which government officials maintain the list. What's clear, however, is that an American citizen can be placed on the hit list without knowing it, and with no opportunity to face or refute one's accusers.
All that would appear to be in violation of the Fifth Amendment (No person shall be "deprived of life ... without due process of law"), as well as Obama's constant boast that he is running "the most transparent administration in history." And when Attorney General Eric Holder said in his speech that Obama can make these life-or-death decisions without any judicial oversight, he contradicted Sen. Obama, who had insisted on the Senate floor that even presidents fighting a war on terror needed to be checked and balanced by judicial oversight




 

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Toll

Battle Deaths in American Wars

Revolutionary War 4,435
War of 1812 2,260
Mexican American War 1,733
Civil War 140,414
Spanish American War 385
World War I 53,402
World War II 291,557
Korean War  33,739
Vietnam War 47,434
Gulf War 147
Iraq War 3,479
Afghanistan War 1,488

Sources: Anne Leland and Mari-Jana "M-J" Oboroceanu, "American War and Military Operations
Casualties: Lists and Statistics" (Washington: Congressional Research Service, February 26, 2010); DOD casualty data as of March 19, 2012.

Transparency and Accountability in the States

The Center For Public Integrity reports on the State Integrity Investigation, an assessment of transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms in all 50 states
Not a single state — not one — earned an A grade from the months-long probe. Only five states earned a B grade: New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, California and Nebraska. Nineteen states got C’s and 18 received D’s. Eight states earned failing grades of 59 or below from the project, which is a collaboration of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International.

The F’s went to Michigan, North Dakota, South Carolina, Maine, Virginia, Wyoming,South Dakota and Georgia.

What’s behind the dismal grades? Across the board, state ethics, open records and disclosure laws lack one key feature: teeth.

“It’s a terrible problem,” said Tim Potts, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Democracy Rising PA, which works to inspire citizen trust in government. “A good law isn’t worth anything if it’s not enforced.”
Some of the results of the State Integrity Investigation seem more than a little counterintuitive. New Jersey emerges at the top of the pack, a seemingly stunning ranking for a state with a reputation for dirty politics. And there are other surprises:Illinois, hardly a beacon of clean governmental in recent years, comes in at a respectable number 10. Louisiana ranks 15th.

Social Media and News

The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism has come out with  The State of the News Media 2012, the 9th edition of its annual report on American journalism.

Here are some findings about the role of social media:

Over all, just 9% of Americans very often follow news recommendations from Facebook or from Twitter on any of the three digital devices (computers, smartphones or tablets). That compares with more than a third, 36%, who very often go directly to news organizations on one of their devices, 32% who get news from search very often, and 29% who turn to some sort of news organizer site or app.
Among just digital news consumers (excluding those who say they do not get news online), the percentage who get at least some news from one of these two leading social networks rises to 52%. But this still trails by a large margin other ways of getting news (92% go directly to news websites and 85% use search).
...
Another finding is that, contrary to what some observers have argued, the rise of social media recommendations at this point does not appear to be coming at the expense of people going directly to news sites or searching for news topics they are interested in. Instead, social media news consumption is supplemental. This expanded behavior also mirrors what we see in the larger report about news consumptions on different digital devices. Smartphones and tablets do not appear to be replacing computers as much as providing additional ways to get news.
For example, fully 71% of those who ever follow news links on Facebook also get news somewhat or very often by going directly to a news organization’s website or app.1 Among Twitter news followers, 76% also go to home pages or use apps from a news organization very or somewhat often. Similarly 65% of Facebook news users get news via key word search very or somewhat often, as do 69% of Twitter news users.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Celebrity Arrests

Our chapters on civil rights and interest groups discuss protest as a political tactic.  Protest sometimes involves arrest as a result of civil disobedience.  One example is George Clooney, who briefly went to jail after protesting Sudanese human rights abuses:

Other celebrities have followed a similar course. Woody Harrelson faced a marijuana possession charge for planting hemp seeds as part of a crusade to legalize the plant. A Kentucky jury acquitted him.   Martin Sheen, of West Wing fame, has been under arrest more than 60 times for protesting everything from human rights abuse to environmental pollution.


Kony and Social Media

Our chapter on mass media explains how technological change is transforming the news business.  The change is most pronounced among younger people, as the Pew Research Center reports:
The 30-minute video released last week by the San Diego-based group Invisible Children calling for action against Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony provided striking evidence that young adults and their elders at times have different news agendas and learn about news in different ways. Those ages 18-29 were much more likely than older adults to have heard a lot about the “Kony 2012” video and to have learned about it through social media than traditional news sources. Indeed, a special analysis of posts in Twitter showed that it was by far the top story on the platform.
Moreover, younger adults were also more than twice as likely as older adults to have watched the video itself on YouTube or Vimeo. As of March 13, the video had been viewed more than 76 million times on YouTube and 16 million times on Vimeo, making it one of the most viewed videos of all time on those sites.
Special polling and social media content analysis by the Pew Research Center tracks how the “Kony 2012” video and information about it reached so many Americans in a relatively short period of time, and the critical role social media played, especially for adults under age 30.
There is a downside.  Just as the Kony video spread rapidly, so did unhappy news about its maker.  MSNBC reports:
The maker of an Internet film gone viral that calls for the arrest of Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony has been hospitalized in California following an "unfortunate incident" that his group and family said on Friday stemmed from the emotional toll of recent weeks.
Jason Russell, director of the 30-minute "Kony 2012" video and co-founder of the group Invisible Children, was hospitalized on Thursday for "exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition," Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey said in a statement.
"The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday," Keesey said, without providing further details.

Budgets, Deficits, and the Debt

The Associated Press reports:
A new estimate from congressional economists says the government will run a $1.2 trillion deficit for the budget year ending just a few weeks before Election Day. It would be the fourth straight year of trillion dollar-plus deficits.
The almost $100 billion spike from earlier projections for the fiscal 2012 deficit comes almost exclusively because Congress passed legislation recommended by President Barack Obama to renew a 2 percentage point cut in payroll taxes and jobless benefits for people languishing on unemployment rolls for more than six months.

The Congressional Budget Office report is just the latest confirmation of the government's severe fiscal problems. While the official CBO forecast predicts the deficit sliding to just 1 percent of the size of the economy within a few years, that estimate relies on revenues averaging about $500 billion a year over the coming decade — mostly from expiration of Bush-era tax cuts on income, investments, large estates and for families with children.
But Obama and Republicans alike agree on extending the bulk of the Bush-era tax cuts when they expire at the end of the year. A battle is set, however, on whether to extending income tax rate cuts on income in excess of $200,000 a year for individuals or $250,000 a year for couples.
Earlier in the week, CBO reported:
Over the longer term, budgetary challenges will remain even if the fiscal policies specified by current law come to pass—and the challenges will be much more acute if those policies do not remain in place. Under both CBO’s baseline and its alternative fiscal scenario, the aging of the population and rising costs for health care will push spending for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health care programs considerably higher as a percentage of GDP. If that rising level of spending is coupled with revenues that are held close to their average percentage of GDP for the past 40 years (rather than being allowed to increase, as under current law), the resulting deficits will push federal debt to unsupportable levels.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Social Media and Political Activism

The Huffington Post reports:
As social media comes of age, a host of platforms for social engagement and online organizing are making their presence known, from sites like Ruck.usto Avaaz. While the spectre of slackatavism still lingers over the entire realm of online political action, the last year has shown just how potent the marriage of social media and boots on the ground organizing can be.
The article profiles Jim Gilliam, CEO of NationBuilder, which allows nontechnical people to set up campaign sites.

"It's harder and harder to grab people's attention," Gilliam said. "You can't just buy television advertising and expect for anyone to pay attention to it. So even big companies have this problem. And there's this model that's been worked on for literally thousands of years called community organizing. It started with Moses, right? Its the idea of building relationships, talking with people, holding events and organizing around this sort of model.
"A whole generation of folks that sort of now have this opportunity to not ask permission from the traditional gatekeepers."
...
"Turns out that politics is all just counting numbers," Gilliam said. "That's actually all it is, campaigns. All you have to do is count the numbers better than the other person counts numbers and you can basically determine at the beginning of the campaign how many votes you need. And then the question is: who's going to find them first? Obviously it's more complicated than that because people aren't going to give you their vote if they don't like your message. There's all kind of stuff like that, but really all it boils down to is: you're counting voters." 

At the San Francisco Chronicle, Joe Garofoli reports that activists have long tried to pressure advertisers to drop programs and hosts they didn't like. As the case of Rush Limbaugh suggests, social media give them new strength:
Activist groups appeal to their members - which range from a few thousand to a few million depending on the size of the organization, to exert pressure on advertisers with telephone calls, e-mail messages and mass postings to the companies' Twitter and Facebook sites.
"The real difference is that now consumers have the ability to talk to marketers one-on-one," said Brad Adgate, director of research at Horizon Media, an advertising and media analytical firm. "Now, within a matter of hours you can have 7,000 comments on a company's Facebook page, which is very public."
Dozens of advertisers have left Limbaugh's program, Adgate said, because of the pressure. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

State Higher Education Spending

The State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) has a new report titled State Higher Education Finance FY 2011. Among other things, it reinforces a point of our federalism chapter, namely that states vary widely in their expenditures on higher education:



Fake Hayes Quotation

This blog has mentioned fake quotations from Jefferson, Lincoln, Tocqueville, and Martin Luther King.  Now, comes the next frontier:  fake Rutherford B. Hayes!  Yesterday, President Obama said:
There have always been folks like that. There always have been folks who are the naysayers and don't believe in the future, and don't believe in trying to do things differently. One of my predecessors, Rutherford B. Hayes, reportedly said about the telephone, "It’s a great invention, but who would ever want to use one?" (Laughter.) That's why he's not on Mt. Rushmore -- (laughter and applause) -- because he’s looking backwards. He’s not looking forwards. (Applause.) He’s explaining why we can't do something, instead of why we can do something.
Carl Cannon explains at RealClearPolitics:
It’s hard to know where to begin unraveling this, but a good place to start is the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, where resident scholar Nan Card confirmed to any journalist who bothered calling her -- which is more than you can say for the White House speechwriting crew -- that Hayes never said anything of the kind about the telephone, or any other invention.
According to contemporaneous accounts, what Hayes really said when he first used the phone was, “That is wonderful.”
In fact, Hayes installed the first telephone in the White House, along with the first typewriter, and invited Thomas Edison in for a visit to show off the phonograph -- and was no one’s idea of a technophobe. “He really was the opposite,” Card told Benjy Sarlin of Talking Points Memo. “Between the telephone, the telegraph, the phonograph, and photography, I think he was pretty much on the cutting edge.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Santorum, Puerto Rico, and Statehood

Our chapter on citizenship notes that residents of Puerto Rico are American citizens even though it is not a state (and even though most do not have to pay federal income tax).  There has long been debate about the island's status, and this debate is entering the US presidential campaign. ABC reports:
Rick Santorum Wednesday became the first Republican presidential hopeful in this election to visit Puerto Rico before the island commonwealth’s Sunday primary, taking a controversial stand on statehood that he was forced to defend this morning after losing a key supporter.
Rather than boost his standing, the trip has ignited a firestorm with Santorum’s comment that English would have to be “the main language” in order for Puerto Rico to become a U.S. state.
“Like in every other state, it [must comply] with this and every other federal law,- and that is that English should be the main language,” Santorum said in an interview with the El Vocero newspaper Wednesday. “There are other states with more than one language, as is the case with Hawaii, but to be a state of the U.S., English should be the main language.”
The question of statehood is a huge issue in Puerto Rico, which is set to vote on the matter in November. The island’s voters will have a referendum on whether to become a state, something some Puerto Ricans favor and others oppose, whether they be in favor of remaining a commonwealth or becoming independent.
Santorum’s comments left one of his supporters, Oreste Ramos, so upset that the former Puerto Rican senator rescinded his endorsement.
“Although such a requirement would be unconstitutional, and also would clash with our sociological and linguistic reality, as a question of principle I cannot back a person who holds that position,” Oreste said, according to El Vocero. “As a Puerto Rican and Spanish-speaking U.S. citizen, I consider the position of Mr. Santorum offensive.
CNN provides some background:
Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution spells out how states can be admitted to the union, making no mention of language requirements. The passage states: "New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress."
A second clause states Congress has the power to "dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States."
In the past, Congress has passed "enabling acts" for territories seeking statehood, and has included provisions requiring English to be the prevailing language as a requirement for admission. The Louisiana Enabling Act of 1811 mandated the new state conduct its official business in the same language as the United States.
In 1906, Congress passed an enabling act requiring Oklahoma use English in its public schools before it obtained statehood.
There is currently no law declaring an official language of the United States, though several attempts have been made to give English that designation. Thirty-one states have passed laws naming English as their official language.
Both English and Spanish are official languages of Puerto Rico, though Spanish is by far the dominant language on the island. According to census data released in 2012, 81% of Puerto Rico residents spoke English "less than very well," with 95% saying Spanish was the language they spoke at home.

Transparency and Irony

Our chapter on interest groups discusses public policy organizations. Some of these groups advocate greater transparency, but as Dan Eggen reports in The Washington Post, many of them do not make public disclosure of their own contributors.
Most of the organizations behind the latest disclosure push — including Americans United for Change, Common Cause and Public Citizen — fall under a portion of the tax code that allows them to keep their donor details private. Some of the groups do reveal their biggest contributors voluntarily, but not at the level of detail required for political campaigns, super PACs and other explicitly election-oriented organizations.

The contrast underscores the muddiness surrounding much of the disclosure debate, because a broad array of the nonprofit groups that advocate for greater transparency in political donations are often not required to make such disclosures themselves.

Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit conservative group that has come under regular fire from liberal organizations for not disclosing its funders, accused its rivals of hypocrisy for seeking refuge under the same confidentiality laws that they criticize.

“They don’t disclose their donors, nobody knows who gives them money,” said Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for Crossroads GPS and its affiliated super PAC, American Crossroads. “But here they are, trying to force other groups to disclose.” 
...

Adviser Robert Creamer said Americans United “abides by the same standards and rules as all (c)4s” and goes beyond those requirements by identifying the labor groups that support it.
“There are a number of different kinds of organizations that have been involved in campaigns for transparency,” Creamer said. “The point of the current campaign has to do entirely with corporate funds, and our argument that corporations should not be investing shareholder money in trying to influence elections.”






Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pollster: "People Are Stupid"

In an article for Politico about voter knowledge, Alexander Burns quotes a top pollster:
“The first lesson you learn as a pollster is that people are stupid,” said Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm. “I tell a client trying to make sense of numbers on a poll that are inherently contradictory that at least once a week.”

Jensen, a Democrat, pointed to surveys showing that voters embraced individual elements of the Affordable Care Act, while rejecting the overall law, as an example of the political schizophrenia or simple ignorance that pollsters and politicians must contend with.

“We’re seeing that kind of thing more and more. I think it’s a function of increased political polarization and voters just digging in their heels and refusing to consider the opposing facts once they’ve formed an opinion about something,” said Jensen, who has generated eye-catching data showing many GOP primary voters still question the president’s religion and nationality. “I also think voters are showing a tendency to turn issues that should be factual or non-factual into opinions. If you show a Tennessee birther Obama’s birth certificate, they’re just going to say ‘well in my opinion he’s not a real American.’ It’s not about the birth certificate; it’s about expressing hatred for Obama in any form they can.”
Burns closes:
And besides, said Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown, if voters seem to the political class like they are temperamental or unreasonable, it’s sort of beside the point. Americans may change their policy views as they learn more or as events change, or for no good reason at all. But in the end, those views are the only metric in electoral politics that really matters.

“Just because someone’s not familiar with something doesn’t mean they won’t give you their opinion. And just because they don’t know a lot about it – their vote still counts as much as someone who does know a lot about it,” Brown said.

“In the business of politics, voters are always right. Just like on Wall Street, the market is always right,” he said. “You don’t fight the market.”
Politico editor John Harris talked about the article during coverage of the Deep South primaries:


Social Media and Deliberation

At The Huffington Post, journalist Nathan Gardels reports on themes emerging from a brainstorming session on governance and social media held by the Nicolas Berggruen Institute in Palo Alto on March 4, 2012. 
The crisis of governance today in democracies results from the "lack of deliberation."
Deliberation is necessary so that democracy produces collectively-intelligent decisions instead of dumb politics.

Without deliberative mechanisms for making decisions that weigh consequences and balance trade offs, social networks that only enhance unmediated participation and information also just enhance the "dumb mob."
Turning the "dumb mob' into the 'smart mob' is one of the key challenges for the immense participatory power of social media.
As it is now, social media like Twitter or Facebook are good for simple minded mobilization of those prepared to act, but not for the processes of negotiation and consensus building required for intelligent decision making.
To bring deliberative polling to cyberspace might be one way to help forge the smart mob out of the dumb mob.
...
While deliberative polling has been done physically -- by bringing 200 or 500 people together through scientific sampling (not unlike in Athens 2400 years ago where the assembly of 500 was chosen by lottery) -- it has not been done virtually.
The success of on-line seminars by universities such as Stanford -- where as many as 160,000 people participate virtually -- suggests the possibilities.
...
Too much transparency can destroy the robustness of deliberative institutions. This is the "paradox of openness."
If deliberative polling requires a certain 'depoliticized space,' deliberative institutions require a certain opacity to shield their decisions from popular pressure and "tyranny of the majority.' This is why the Supreme Court and the Federal Reserve are not "transparent' institutions.
Opacity allows the breathing space for reasoned deliberation not subject to popular opinion.
However, to ensure that deliberative institutions don't become hidebound, they must be linked to robust feedback loops and replenished or 'aerated' periodically by rotations of personnel.
...
Neutral, objective, quality information is the basis for solid deliberation.
Yet, here, we face the same politicization and polarization as in political life. Just as primaries drive politics in democratic societies to polarized positions, the imperative of "monetizing attention' for niche markets contaminates the objective quality of information, which is edited to sell. Bloggers talk only to their own tribe. People find only the information they are looking for. Information becomes non-communication.