At The Federalist, David Harsanyi reflects on the Georgia special election and teases the question:
What if Republican voters who don’t particularly like Donald Trump are also able to compartmentalize their votes? What if they dislike Democrats more than they do the president? What if, rather than being punished for Trump’s unpopularity, local candidates are rewarded for their moderation? This, of course, would be a disaster for Democrats. And Tuesday’s run-off election in Georgia’s sixth district shows that it might be possible.
Whether or not this played a factor in the not-too-surprising outcome of that election (the Czar doubts anyone in our Castle thought Jon Ossoff might win), Mr. Harsanyi pokes at a topic dear to the Czar’s bloated, blood-blackened mass of tissue he charitably calls his heart: the inability of most liberals to anticipate conservatives’ self-reliance.
Here’s what the Czar is talking about: most conservatives have no trouble doing things for themselves, by themselves, and without mewling. Whether it’s Boy Scouts, NASCAR, football, or the military or whatever, conservatives generally look at a problem, roll up their collective sleeves, and get to work on it. No one has to tell them what to do, how to do it, or why: if there’s a problem, and it needs fixing.
This translates to politics. A “typical” conservative does not exist: almost by nature, conservatives figure out what’s in their own best interest and get to the task at hand. This guarantees a wide disparity of thought and opinion, which may be why a handful of liberal pundits who attempt to pinpoint a conservative stereotype are so-often stymied. Few people are more genuinely anarchist than libertarian-minded conservatives.
Sure, this translates to politics: a conservative is far more likely to cast a libertarian vote than, we see, a liberal will cast a Green Party vote. Of course, liberals do vote for parties other than the Democratic party, but not in significant numbers.
One of the first things liberal commentators do is try to identify who the conservative leader is. Obviously, this year, it’s Donald Trump: and every goofy thing or nutty comment that flies out of his mouth is, ipso facto believed by all conservatives everywhere, universally. Ask any liberal talking-head: Trump comments on terror? All conservatives are islamophobic. Trump makes a junior-high quip about women? All conservatives are women-haters. Trump garbles a fact about the physical world? All conservatives hate science. By now, you’ve thought up even more examples than these three.
However, the point seems to escape these same commentators that, possibly, conservatives have different opinions. Some of them may think for themselves. Actually, how shocking is it that perhaps most conservatives have a completely different world view than their president? Perhaps some don’t even agree with each other!
In 2012, you can recall, there was a crazy-mad belief rampant among most liberals that—ready?—Rush Limbaugh was the de facto head of the Republican party. Why? Because…well, because he had giant ratings and therefore had to be the one in charge of Republican GroupThink. Weeks of attacks on Limbaugh followed.
In 2008, however, it was Sarah Palin who was in charge. You know how they treated her, as well as how she—unfortunately—responded. The Czar brings this up because it is the only explanation why liberals connected a strategy-based image on her website to the 2011 shooting of Gabby Giffords—as she was viewed as the Overlord of the GOP HiveMind, for sure Jared Loughner was following her instructions. Although it was patently obvious that the graphic—which used crosshairs on Dem-held strongholds—had nothing to do with the politics-free insanity of Loughner (who, though, voted Democratic at one point well-before he snapped), the “Palin encouraged Loughner” anecdotes came pouring out last week when a Bernie Sanders supporter did attempt to assassinate Republican lawmakers because of what Sanders stated on his website.
Okay, so, here we are: liberal democrats are shocked that conservatives in Georgia would vote for a candidate that distanced herself from Trump. Likewise, they’re confused as to why non-Trump supporters wouldn’t vote for their guy. Probably, most Republican voters felt their candidate was likely to win; most Democrats in the area remain shell-shocked that they just can’t win an election when it’s so obvious that Democrats hate Trump.
“Maybe we should consider the possibility that conservatives vote for the candidate who better represents them, instead of mindlessly voting for the candidate we think they should vote for,” said no Democratic-leaning pundit on earth. “Yes,” agreed his equally non-existent colleague, “it’s possible we understand nothing about their psychology.”
Because we do it, they must do it, is a too-common liberal approach. Liberals have suppressed inner-racism dating back centuries; therefore, Republicans must be racist. Liberals have done a bad job representing women; therefore, Republicans hate women, too. Liberals are terrified of Islam, and so Republicans must be islamophobes.
And liberal democrats tend to lockstep-follow anyone yelling into a microphone—therefore,
Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, no, Donald Trump must be the GOP thought-leader of the day. And it just isn’t that simple.
GorT knew yesterday’s commute home was going to be a trainwreck. I was leaving the Chantilly, VA area around 3:30pm heading to the Bethesda, MD area right at the tail end of a sizable summer thunderstorm – guaranteed the Beltway was going to be stop and go and all my usual side routes congested as well. So, with our new venture into podcasts, I decided to give a listen to a few podcasts I had tagged to give a listen. The first one up was the “Stuff to Blow Your Mind” podcast and their episode, “Science Communication Breakdown” which was posted about a week ago.
Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick try to take on the subject of why people don’t accept certain ideas when these ideas are based on science – in particular, they center the discussion around the perception of climate change (and even more specifically, global warming). This includes discussions around cognitive dissonance, “identity protective cognition”, and “cultural cognition”. If I had to guess, the hosts are firm believers that Anthropogenic Global Warming is happening and scientific consensus proves that. If you haven’t guessed, GorT has a few issues with these guys and their podcast episode.
First, I’m not sure if they realize that what they are describing with regards to “identity protective cognition” – where people’s beliefs about a subject are skewed in order so they fit into the social group with which they find affinity – applies just as much, if not maybe more so, to the American left where identity politics are at its core. These are the folks that have presented us with “post-normal science” where “facts are uncertain.”
Second, consider this quote from the podcast, “there are some facts of science that, if true, tend to be unfriendly to the world view.” The speaker (I don’t know which one of the two this is) goes on to align that with folks opposed to community or broad organized efforts to address climate change. Let me be a bit nit-picky here: facts of science ARE true…so maybe the speaker meant, some theories of science, as theories are what gets proven true or false. Second, if he is implying the man-made CO2 is driving climate change, that is a theory that has yet to be empirically proven true. The last 10 or so years of temperature data contradict the models’ predictions and therefore, following the scientific method, the theories should be re-addressed or tossed out. Maybe I’m wrong and these guys are thinking that the “facts of science” that exist are these temperature readings that are disproving the models and theories….but I don’t think so.
Lastly, during the podcast, the hosts repeatedly talk about why people can’t agree with the “scientific consensus”. They break that down with numbers that try to defend the “97% of climate scientists believe that humans are a significant driver in climate change.” While part of this is debatable and likely flawed, I’d like to poke at a different aspect today. Just because 70 or so climate scientists agree doesn’t mean it is scientifically proven. Believing in scientists doesn’t make the science real. Consider that most of the world believed in the scientists who believed in a geocentric view of the solar system. Heliocentric ideas existed probably back to the 3rd century BC with Aristarchus of Samos. But it wasn’t until 1543, when Copernicus published De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies), that we starting seeing a real push of science with regards to our understanding of the solar system’s orbits. Think about that: for over 1800 years the scientific consensus was that the Earth was the center of the solar system. And don’t discount science back then – it was really happening:
1021 – first use of controlled experiments and reproducibility of results
11th century – concepts of true north and magnetic declination discovered
1121 – variation of gravitations and gravitational potential energy discovered
1220-35 – rudiments of the scientific method established
13th century – correct explanation of rainbow phenomenon
14th century – discovery of the curvature of light through atmospheric refraction
Yes, science has accelerated and we can do more now than ever before, but scientists are still humans with all our flaws and biases.
The real question that should be asked is whether people believe in the science behind Anthropogenic Global Warming. Many will not understand it – and the hosts do point out that when you encounter a subject that you do not comprehend one turns to “experts” in the field for an opinion. The slippery slope, that I think these hosts slid down and fell right into the waters of Camp Wannaweep, is the equating of a scientific belief with an opinion of a scientist.
News comes out of the Supreme Court that they will take up a case that could—indirectly or directly—address gerrymandering of districts.
Democrats are celebrating because a recent study showed that a computer-simulated redistricting—without partisan bias—showed that Democrats could have won the House of Representatives in 2012 and 2016.
Of course, reading the actual study shows there’s not a jot of indication as to how the neutrality of the eventual districting was assured. There’s a lot of talk about statistics, and the report truly does show its math formulas, but the report does not answer the question: what map was used as its control? In other words, if we were to claim that a state was districted unfairly (they cite Michigan, among a few others) so that a Democratic voting bloc was divided and diffused among stronger Republican blocs to suppress a larger Democratic vote as a percentage (which is basically gerrymandering), you need to provide a “neutral” map for us to compare. In other words, show us the map that would have been more politically neutral; otherwise, your claim is based on a mathematical possibility rather than a probability.
The report concludes that gerrymandering exists, which is true. The report concludes that Republicans have been doing it according to the usual practices since 2010—which makes sense, as the GOP took the House in 2009 and therefore had some control over the 2010 Census triggered the re-mapping of congressional districts. But it’s a bit far-fetched to say that with a more neutrally drawn map, Democrats would have won X seats in Congress…unless we see that neutrally drawn map. Simply putting out statistical statements is not an effective argument.
The Czar is certain that gerrymandering exists. And yes, Republicans do it. Also, since it wasn’t mentioned in the story, Democrats do it, too. In fact, every political party in American history has done this since its beginning. Elbridge Gerry, the source of the name, was already expert at it when it was coined in 1812.
And the idea was well-known to the Founding Fathers (the first accusation of tampering with districts goes back to the First U.S. Congress in 1789), which is one of the keystone reasons we have a national census every 10 years. This allows political parties the ability to re-assess the map on a periodic basis, and allow the party du jour to re-do the map to their advantage. If malapportionment occurs, or if cracking occurs, there are legal remedies to this. They tend to be very hard to prove.
The possibility exists that Democrats are losing House elections because their party is not very widespread. When your voting base primarily lives in large cities, you win the cities but lose the states. Illinois is a good example: out of 18 Representatives apportioned to the state, 10 of them live in the greater Chicago area. Unless those Democratic voters start to move into the rest of the state, no amount of redistricting will change this. If Democrats want to win Michigan—one of the study’s targets for their claim—maybe Democrats need to start winning elections outside of Detroit and the 5th District.
The problem is, as we know, Democrats can’t. They don’t have a popular-enough platform outside of population centers. It almost doesn’t matter if Democrats or Republicans draw the maps—or if the study’s authors do: if people don’t vote, it doesn’t matter.
The study understands this, to a point: they talk about the wasted vote. For example, if you’re a Democrat living in a district heavily occupied by Republicans, you don’t bother voting because it’s a waste of time. That’s actually one of the techniques used in gerrymandering. But it’s also offset by Republicans living in New York, California, Chicago, Boston, and a whole bunch of other places.
In short, the claim “Republican gerrymandering cost Democrats the House” is a lot like saying “Hillary Clinton won the popular vote,” or “Russians hacked the election.” Using statistics, rather than a neutral redistricting map, is identical to the farcical claim from 2016 that Republicans win elections because electoral votes have unequal populations; therefore, urban black district votes are 3/5 of a white Wyoming district with a smaller population. It’s questionable math used to conclude a pre-desired political point. The real method is bipartisan in origin.
Ultimately, it’s just more sophistry hoping to prove some sinister force is behind Republicans’ winning the House, Senate, and Presidency—and not the collapse of the Democrats as a functionally, manageable political party into leftist incompetence.
The reason Republicans can redistrict maps is because they’re winning more seats, not the other way around. Please—draw up a better map—a real physical one—based on the 2010 census and then determine how the House would change.
As we recorded our first episode, there was some typical Gormo-hilarity that took place, including the following discussion on Pandas
Checkout some of the insanity when the Czar, ‘Puter, and GorT get together to talk about smoking and grilling food.
Meet the Gormogons and listen as we discuss the media.
Teaser for the upcoming Gormogon podcast
It’s been a while since GorT provided an update on entertainment options that he’s enjoyed recently.
First, let’s be honest: the Netflix, Amazon, and non-traditional media players are really coming forward with some great stuff. GorT’s been enjoying a number of those programs in addition to a number of BBC productions recently while traveling for business and exercising to include the following.
This Amazon Original show is a “coming of age” series set in the mid-80s follows a bunch of college-aged kids in New Jersey who have summer jobs at the local country club. The storylines are ok, the acting is solid, and the casting is spot on – particularly with Craig Roberts in the lead role as David, Paul Reiser as the country club President and Wall Street trader, his wife played by Gina Gershon, and – in particular – Ennis Esmer as the aging, playboy tennis pro at the club. Two seasons are available now with a third coming. GorT has a fondness for much of the music featured in the series given that he is 4-5 years younger than the main characters but grew up with the same tunes.
GorT awards it 7 out of 10 sleestaks
GorT, unsurprisingly, is a Science Fiction fan and believes that we’re in a drought of good science fiction on television today. The revamped Battlestar Galactica (BSG) was a stand out and few series since have been good. I’ve mentioned Dark Matter as a decent, throw-away* series but The Expanse, from the SyFy Channel, is a solid effort. The storyline is complex and engaging. The story, set 200 years from now, pushes the future just enough to be believable but create an interesting “universe” for the series. It pulls a thread from a seemingly isolated incident to one that involves multiple faction conflict. GorT is starting season 2 and looks forward to enjoying it.
GorT awards it 8½ out of 10 sleestaks
Based on G.K. Chesterton’s mysteries written a hundred years ago, stars Mark Williams, notable as Mr. Arthur Weasley from the Harry Potter series, as the main character who solves local mysteries via his intuitive abilities. While a bit campy and shallow in the plot, the series is well done and enjoyable with characters that you get to know and enjoy. I assume that the creators worry that the more complex plots of Chesterton’s originals would be too much to accomplish in a single episode TV show.
GorT awards it 7 out of 10 sleestaks
GorT has a thing for British mystery** shows – Father Brown is one, and I’ve mentioned others in the past: Death in Paradise, Sherlock, The Bletchley Circle, and Broadchurch. And Netflix’ recommendation algorithm*** works really well and popped up Shetland as a potential candidate for GorT to watch. Well, I pretty much binged it over the past few weeks – mostly while on the treadmill, but the final season on Netflix (Season 3) held me such that I finished off the last two episodes in one sitting. It’s a smart mystery series set on the Shetland Islands in the North Sea between Scotland and Norway. A bit like Hinterland, a series set in Wales, the show focuses on a small police force solving crimes in the remote area. The main character has a good backstory that gets developed over the seasons and the supporting cast is solid with some good dry humor tossed in to lighten it up.
GorT awards it 8 out of 10 sleestaks
If you’ve got thoughts on these or other series, drop me a line. Plus, maybe this will form up into a podcast episode in the near future.
* by throw-away, I mean that it doesn’t involve deep thinking where you have to be mentally engaged with the show for the entire time. GorT needs a distraction on the treadmill, not a mental workout as well as physical
** and British naval shows to include Hornblower and Master & Commander
*** the algorithm works until your kids find it funny to add Caillou, Higgletown Heroes, and other random shows to my profile