Republicans for affirmative action

Earlier this week Wonkblog highlighted 10 odd items in the Republican platform.  Among these:

2) Police the universities for liberal bias. “Ideological bias is deeply entrenched within the current university system. Whatever the solution in private institutions may be, in State institutions the trustees have a responsibility to the public to ensure that their enormous investment is not abused for political indoctrination. We call on State officials to ensure that our public colleges and universities be places of learning and the exchange of ideas, not zones of intellectual intolerance favoring the Left.”

5) Affirmative action for Republican officials inside the District of Columbia. “D.C.’s Republicans have been in the forefront of exposing and combating the chronic corruption among the city’s top Democratic officials. We join their call for a non-partisan elected Attorney General to clean up the city’s political culture and for congressional action to enforce the spirit of the Home Rule Act assuring minority representation on the City Council. After decades of inept one-party rule, the city’s structural deficit demands congressional attention.”

Okay, #2 does not directly call for affirmative action to hire conservative professors, but it’s not far off.  Also, give me a break.  There’s really not a lot of political indoctrination going on here.  Unless, that is, like Stephen Colbert, you believe that the truth has a liberal bias.

On a related platform note, Republicans are making some real sense on crime (not that anybody’s talking about it):

Four years ago, Republicans devoted a section in their platform to the War on Drugs, lamenting the “human toll of drug addiction and abuse” and vowing to “continue the fight against producers, traffickers, and distributor of illegal substances.”

That plank is conspicuously missing from the GOP platform this year. The fight against illegal drugs is only mentioned in passing, mostly with reference to drug cartels and the ban on using controlled substances for doctor-assisted suicide.Policy experts agree that the omission is significant. “This is less a ‘tough on crime’ document than you would have expected. And leaving out the War on Drugs [is] quite astounding,” says Mark Kleiman, a crime policy expert and professor at UCLA. “It’s a bit more of a libertarian attitude,” says Marc Levin, who runs a conservative criminal justice reform project called “Right on Crime” that’s attracted the support of Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist.

What’s more, the 2012 platform includes new provisions that emphasize the importance of rehabilitation and re-entry programs to help ex-prisoners integrate back into society—using language that Kleiman describes as “a lot less ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key.’”

“While getting criminals off the street is essential, more attention must be paid to the process of restoring those individuals to the community,” the platform says. “Prisons should do more than punish; they should attempt to rehabilitate and institute proven prisoner reentry systems to reduce recidivism and future victimization.” The document also criticizes the “overcriminalization of behavior,” though it doesn’t elaborate on the point much further.

Hooray!  Common sense in the GOP platform.  The post goes on to note that this is probably being driven by pressure from Republican governors who absolutely need to cut police and prison budgets and spend criminal justice dollars much more efficiently (and talk about an area with low hanging fruit for more efficient spending).  Good to see movement in this direction.  In the end, if we get the reforms in criminal justice that we sorely need, it won’t be because people have seen the light so much as we just can’t afford to keep wasting so much money that could be better spent.

Photo of the day

I think the Republican convention deserves two photos of the day in a row.  Really nice set from Alan Taylor.  I really like this Mitt unbuttoned photo.  Anyone who eats pizza with the grandkids can’t be all bad.  This is just a sweet photo.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney watches the Republican National Convention on television, with his grandchildren, from his Tampa hotel room, on August 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Chart of the day

Obama’s 2008 performance versus latest estimates of 2012 performance (via Simon Jackman via the Monkey Cage):

Good news for Obama is that this still gives him an electoral college majority.  He’s only slipped below 50% in two states he won last time.  Bad news is that there’s an awful lot of states within the margin of error (not shown) of being below 50.  It is interesting to see just how different the slope of the line is for different states.

Partisanship in 2012

Fascinating look at contemporary partisanship from Pew (it’s from a week ago, don’t understand why I saw none of the usual suspects blog on this– found it yesterday via a FB link).  Lots and lots of interesting stuff– hard to know what to highlight.   Two basic demographic features struck me, though.

First, the Republican party is ever more the party of white males:

GOP Voters: Overwhelmingly White, Mostly Male

The demographic differences between the Republican and Democratic voters are reflected in current profiles of the two parties’ bases. In surveys conducted in 2012, nearly nine-in-ten (87%) Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters are white, while just 11% are minorities. In contrast, 61% of Democrats are white, while nearly four-in-ten are African American (21%), Hispanic (10%) or another race (7%).

Men make up a majority (52%) of Republican Republican-leaning voters; among Democratic voters, 43% are men while 57% are women. Republican and Republican-leaning voters also are far more likely than Democratic voters to be married (65% of Republicans vs. 49% of Democrats).

Obviously, the gender breakdown is always going to be quite stable, but as mentioned often before, the ever-increasing reliance on white voters is not exactly the ticket to a reliable future for Republicans.  Another positive feature for Democrats: though there was clearly an Obama-spike in 2008, the Democratic lead is holding quite solid among Millennials:

And, of course, they will become a larger portion of the electorate as the Silent generation slowly ebbs.

Also, worth noting that Democrats are definitely down from 2008, but I think overall this reflects a return to fairly long-term trends after an anti-Bush, pro-Obama surge in 2008.

Also, after I found this, I also found a nice take from William Galston.

Drawing conclusions

Interesting article in the Post about how Fact Checks are becoming such a contentious political issue right now.  I just loved this bit:

Jon Cassidy, writing on the Web site Human Events, said one fact-checking outfit declares conservatives inaccurate three times as often as it does liberals. “You might reasonably conclude that PolitiFact is biased,” he wrote.

Hmmm.  I’m thinking of another reasonable conclusion that Cassidy seems to be missing.

Stuff to read

1) Fabulous Condi smackdown by Slate’s Fred Kaplan:

Second (this is the chutzpah part), Condi Rice—a top adviser in the most disastrous, reputation-crippling foreign-policy administration in decades—has no business lecturing anybody on this score.

2) Quote of the day: Lindsey Graham (via Drum):

The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.

3) The evil genius of the porn industry lawyers:

At first blush, the multi-million dollar porn anti-piracy legal field itself reeks of graft. How could it not? The basic mechanism is thus: Identify a porno that has been uploaded to BitTorrent; make a list of IP addresses that uploaded the film; subpoena the names behind the IP addresses; send out form letters asking for a settlement to make (embarrassing) alleged wrong go away; threaten a lawsuit otherwise; rinse and repeat.

4) Reagan would be a socialist apostate in today’s GOP.  Great Benen post (building on a Bloomberg piece):

It looks like Bloomberg Insider published one of the more talked about pieces of the day, and it’s on one of my favorite subjects.

Ronald Reagan remains the modern Republican Party’s most durable hero. His memory will be hailed as The Great Uncompromiser by those who insist the GOP must never flag in its support for smaller government, lower taxes and conservative social values.

His record tells a different story.

During Reagan’s eight years in the White House, the federal payroll grew by more than 300,000 workers. Although he was a net tax cutter who slashed individual income-tax rates, Reagan raised taxes about a dozen times.  

5) NYT editorial calling out the lies of the Republican convention.

6) Really interesting piece about the tactical evolution of professional soccer.

Scalia smackdown

Wow.  Judge Richard Posner delivers a complete intellectual smackdown of Scalia in TNR.  I was going to link this as part of an omnibus post, but after reading it, realized it deserves a post of it’s own.  Anyway,  I’ve never quite understood the cult of Scalia’s intellect.  Everybody is always saying how smart he is, even when they disagree with him.  I’ve never come to that conclusion based upon his writings.  It almost seems like something you are supposed to say, than being based on any actual objective intellectual foundation.   Here’s Posner’s excellent critique of Scalia’s “non-ideological” originalism:

He is one of the most politically conservative Supreme Court justices of the modern era and the intellectual leader of the conservative justices on the Supreme Court. Yet the book claims that his judicial votes are generated by an “objective” interpretive methodology, and that, since it is objective, ideology plays no role. It is true, as Scalia and Garner say, that statutory text is not inherently liberal or inherently conservative; it can be either, depending on who wrote it. Their premise is correct, but their conclusion does not follow: text as such may be politically neutral, but textualism is conservative.

A legislature is thwarted when a judge refuses to apply its handiwork to an unforeseen situation that is encompassed by the statute’s aim but is not a good fit with its text. Ignoring the limitations of foresight, and also the fact that a statute is a collective product that often leaves many questions of interpretation to be answered by the courts because the legislators cannot agree on the answers, the textual originalist demands that the legislature think through myriad hypothetical scenarios and provide for all of them explicitly rather than rely on courts to be sensible. In this way, textualism hobbles legislation—and thereby tilts toward “small government” and away from “big government,” which in modern America is a conservative preference.

There’s plenty more great analysis from Posner.  If you have any interest in the Supreme Court and/or the Constitution, this is a definite must-read.

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