Look at the betting odds in 2016, which strongly favored Clinton over Trump:
Now look at the betting odds in 2020, which less strongly favor Biden over Trump:
I have read commentary to the effect that Biden is in better shape now than Clinton was at this point in 2016 because he has a bigger lead in the polls than Clinton did. I believe that observation is flawed because it seems to rely on conglomerations of polls (like those tracked by RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight), the quality and composition of which varies from day to day, and which has probably changed a lot since 2016.
I follow White House Watch at Rasmussen Reports. It’s superior to most polls because it’s a tracking poll that samples the same group of likely voters throughout a campaign. I suspect (but don’t know for sure) that there’s a lot of overlap between the 2016 sample and the 2020 sample.
The graph below compares Clinton’s and Biden’s lead or deficits against Trump, given the number of days left before election day. As that day draws nigh, Biden is actually doing worse than Clinton.
Notably, the final Rasmussen poll in 2016 hit the popular vote gap right on the head: Clinton “won” the mythical nationwide popular vote by 2 percentage points. And it did her no good because her popular-vote “victory” was the result of lopsided outcomes in deep-Blue States (e.g., California), where extra popular votes didn’t translate into extra electoral votes. I expect the same kind of result this year, though some of the States that went narrowly for Trump in 2016 may flip in 2020.
UPDATED 10/28/20 — TRUMP EKES OUT A NARROW LEAD.
But is it real? So many votes have already been cast that current polling may not accurately reflect the outcome. So, for what it may be worth:
The estimates represented in this graph reflect Trump’s daily strong approval/strong disapproval ratio (derived from the Daily Presidential Tracking Poll at Rasmussen Reports), the relationship between that ratio and Trump’s share of the popular vote (based on White House Watch at Rasmussen Reports), and the relationship between share of popular vote and number of electoral votes (see this).
Previous posts in this series:
Democrats vow “retaliation” for the confirmation of Amy Vivian Coney Barrett as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Big deal! Democrats were certain to pack the Court anyway. John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch, though they wander off the conservative reservation from time to time, are nevertheless too conservative for Democrats. (That’s especially true of the up-and-coming radicals who will control the party in a few years.) The urge to pack will grow exponentially if Trump wins, the GOP holds the Senate, and Trump’s next nominee is a replacement for Stephen Breyer, now the Court’s oldest justice — by 10 years — at 82.
In the meantime, let us enjoy the fruits of the successful Trump-McConnell campaign to move the nation’s courts to the right. And hope that it’s not all undone in the next few years.
Related page — U.S. Supreme Court: Lines of Succession and Ideological Agreement (updated to reflect Barrett’s confirmation and the Court’s holdings in its 2019-2020 term)
This post is adapted from “Election 2020: Liberty Is at Stake“. I have recast it as a set of 17 betting propositions, which I have in fact offered to a correspondent who is blind to the danger of a Biden victory because he is a “conservative” collabo — and a Trump-hater to boot. To make the bet more interesting, I revised the terms on 10/07/20.
UPDATE (10/11/20): My collabo correspondent has yet to respond to my betting propositions. Like a lot of never-Trumpers, he is cutting off his head to spite his body.
If Biden wins the upcoming presidential election and if Democrats control both the Senate and House from January 2021 to January 2023, I will bet any amount up to $xxxx against your bet of one-half of my bet on the initiation of at least 6 of the 17 items listed below. (My parenthetical comments in the various items are asides, not conditions to be met in deciding the outcome of this bet.) My specific bet is that from January 3, 2021, through January 3, 2023, at least 6 listed actions will be initiated by a presidential executive order, a draft regulation, a legislative proposal from the White House, or a draft bill under consideration by a committee of Congress. Further actions – including but not limited to disapproval of a final regulation, presidential veto of a law, judicial rejection of an enacted law – aren’t relevant here. Initiation of an action, as described above, is what counts in the context of this bet.
Additionally or alternatively:
If Biden wins the upcoming presidential election and if Democrats control both the Senate and House from January 2021 to January 2023, I will bet any amount up to $xxxx against your equal bet on the initiation of at least 9 of the 17 items listed below. (My parenthetical comments in the various items are asides, not conditions to be met in deciding the outcome of this bet.) My specific bet is that from January 3, 2021, through January 3, 2023, at least 9 listed actions will be initiated by a presidential executive order, a draft regulation, a legislative proposal from the White House, or a draft bill under consideration by a committee of Congress. Further actions – including but not limited to disapproval of a final regulation, presidential veto of a law, judicial rejection of an enacted law – aren’t relevant here. Initiation of an action, as described above, is what counts in the context of this bet.
Here are the actions that I am offering to bet on:
1. Abolition of the Senate filibuster.
2. An increase of at least two seats on the U.S. Supreme Court (USSC), though there may be some vacancies to be filled.
3. Adoption of an interstate compact by states controlling a total of at least 270 electoral votes, committing each member state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who compiles the most popular votes nationwide, regardless of the outcome of the popular vote in each state that is a party to the compact. (This may seem unnecessary if Biden wins, but it will be a bit of insurance against the possibility of a Republican victor in a future election.)
4. Statehood for either the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico, or for both of them. (Each would then have two senators and a requisite number of representatives with full voting privileges in their respective bodies. All of them will be Democrats, of course.)
5. Empowerment of the executive branch to do at least three of the following things:
a. Regulate personal and business activity (in new ways) with the expressed aim of reducing CO2 emissions.
b. Commit at least $500 billion in new obligational authority for research into and/or funding of methods of reducing and mitigating CO2 emissions.
c. Issue new kinds of tax rebates and credits to persons/households and businesses that spend money on any item on a list of programs/technologies that are supposed to reduce CO2 emissions.
d. Impose tax penalties on persons/households and businesses for their failure to spend money on any item in the list mentioned above (shades of the Obamacare tax penalty).
e. Impose penalties on persons/households and businesses for failing to adhere to prescribed caps on CO2 emissions.
f. Establish a cap-and-trade program for CO2 emissions (to soften the blow of the previous item). (Needless to say, the overall effect of such initiatives would deal a devastating blow to economic activity – meaning massive job losses and lower real incomes for large swaths of the populace.)
6. Authorization for an agency or agencies of the federal government to define and penalize written or spoken utterances that the agency or agencies declare unprotected by the First Amendment. (This can be accomplished by cynically adopting the supportable position that the First Amendment protects only political speech. The purported aim would be to curb so-called hate speech, but when censorship is in full swing — which would take only a few years — it will be illegal to criticize or question, even by implication, such things as illegal immigration, same-sex marriage, transgenderism, anthropogenic global warming, the confiscation of firearms, or the policies of the federal government. Violations will be enforced by fines and prison sentences — the latter sometimes called “sensitivity training”, “citizenship education”, or some other euphemistic term. Candidates for public office will be prime targets of the enforcers, which will suppress open discussion of such matters.)
7. Imposition of requirements for organizations of all kinds — businesses, universities, charitable organizations, clubs, and even churches — to favor anyone who isn’t a straight, white male of European descent. (The “protections” will be enacted, upheld, and enforced vigorously by federal agencies, regardless of their adverse economic and social effects.)
8. Effective nullification of the Second Amendment through orders/regulations/legislation, to enable gun confiscation (though there will be exemptions for private security services used by favored elites).
9. Use of law-enforcement agencies to enforce “hate speech” bans, mandates for reverse discrimination, and gun-confiscation edicts. (These things will happen regardless of the consequences; e.g., a rising crime rate, greater violence against whites and Asians, and flight from the cities and near-in suburbs. The latter will be futile, anyway, because suburban and exurban police departments will also be co-opted.)
10. Criminalization of “sexual misconduct”, as it is defined by the alleged victim, de facto if not de jure. (Investigations and prosecutions will be selective, and aimed mainly at straight, white males of European descent and dissidents who openly criticize this and other measures listed here.)
11. Parallel treatment for the “crimes” of racism, anti-Islamism, nativism, and genderism. (This will be in addition to the measures discussed in #7.)
12. Centralization in the federal government of complete control of all health care and health-care related products and services, such as drug research, accompanied by “Medicare and Medicaid for All” mandates. (Private health care will be forbidden or strictly limited, though — Soviet-style — there will be exceptions for high officials and other favored persons. Drug research – and medical research, generally – will dwindle in quality and quantity. There will be fewer doctors and nurses who are willing to work in a regimented system. The resulting health-care catastrophe that befalls most of the populace will be shrugged off as necessary to ensure equality of treatment, while ignoring the special treatment accorded favored elites.)
13. Revitalization of the regulatory regime (which already imposes a deadweight loss of 10 percent of GDP). A quantitative measure of revitalization is an increase in the number of new rules published annually in the Federal Register by at least 10 percent above the average for 2017-2020.
14. Proposals for at least least two of the following tax-related initiatives:
a. Rescind the tax-rate cuts enacted during Trump’s administration.
b. Increase marginal tax rates for the top 2 or 3 income brackets.
c. Impose new taxes on wealth.
15. Dramatic enlargement of domestic welfare programs. Specifically, in addition to the creation of “Medicare and Medicaid for All” programs, there would be a “fix” for Social Security that mandates the payment of full benefits in the future, regardless of the status of the Social Security Trust Fund (which will probably be abolished). (Initiatives discussed in #5, #7, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, and #15 would suppress investment in business formation and expansion, and would disincentivize professional education and training, not to mention work itself. All of that would combine to push the real rate of economic growth toward a negative value.)
16. Reduction of the defense budget by at least 25 percent, in constant dollars, by 2031 or sooner. (Eventually, the armed forces will be maintained mainly for the purpose of suppressing domestic uprisings. Russia and China will emerge as superpowers, but won’t threaten the U.S. militarily as long as the U.S. government acquiesces in their increasing dominance and plays by their economic rules.)
17. Legalization of all immigration from south of the border, and the granting of citizenship to new immigrants and the illegals who came before them. (The right to vote, of course, is the right that Democrats most dearly want to bestow because most of the newly-minted citizens can be counted on to vote for Democrats. The permanent Democrat majority will ensure permanent Democrat control of the White House and both houses of Congress.)
* * *
I don’t believe that the Democrats would try to launch all 17 of the initiatives in the next two years, or that every initiative that they do launch will become established in law. But I offer the list because it is a good representation of the initiatives that are strongly favored by radicals in Congress, in elite circles, among large swaths of the populace, and in the streets. The list is in keeping with the direction in which the country is headed and, in many cases, has been headed since the 1930s — despite Reagan and Trump, and with the connivance of Ike, Nixon, the Bushes, and (in some crucial cases) the USSC.
The Constitution’s horizontal and vertical separation of powers, system of checks and balances, and limitations on the power of the federal government have been eroded almost to the point of irrelevance. The next few years, if Democrats control the White House and Congress, will put an end to the pretense (or false hope) of governance in accordance with the Constitution as it was written.
Previous posts in this series:
Today’s lesson is about the importance of keeping the Electoral College — if, like me, you are an ardent anti-
Democrat fascist. Consider the 12 presidential elections from 1972 through 2016, in which a third-party candidate failed to earn an electoral vote (though a few were cast for third-party candidates out of spite). The record of the past 12 elections shows why it’s so important to retain the Electoral College, and to ensure that some States don’t join an unconstitutional pact to cast their electoral votes for the “winner” of the mythical national popular vote.
Consider this graph (which I’ll explain in detail):
The horizontal axis represents the share of the two-party popular vote won by each GOP candidate; the vertical axis represents the share of the electoral vote won by each GOP candidate (ignoring votes cast for other candidates by faithless electors). The various points on the graph represent the outcome of each election from 1972 through 2016. (For ease of viewing, the labels for the years in which a GOP candidate won are placed to the left of the regression line; the labels for the years in which a Democrat candidate won are placed to the right of the regression line.)
If the relationship between popular votes and electoral votes were proportionate, the points on the graph would be clustered around the dashed red line. But because of the winner-take-all rule that prevails in most States, there is a knife-edge relationship between popular votes and electoral votes; departures from 50 percent of the “national” popular vote usually reflects gains (or losses) of whole States and their blocs of votes. (The point labeled “1984”, for example, represents the 1984 presidential election in which Ronald Reagan won 59.2 percent of the total number of votes cast for him and his Democrat opponent, Walter Mondale. Reagan’s 59.2 percent of the two-party popular vote yielded him 97.6 percent of the electoral vote because Reagan lost only D.C. and Mondale’s home State of Minnesota.) So a relatively small change in a candidate’s share of the “national” popular vote yields a disproportionate change in the candidate’s share of the electoral vote (which is truly a national tally). The regression line (dashed black line) and its accompany equation reflect the knife-edge relationship.
But, because the number of electoral votes cast by a State is equal to the number of U.S. senators and representatives from the State, the Electoral College is weighted in favor of less-populous States. And those, in recent decades, have generally voted Republican. In 2000, to take a crucial example, George W. Bush won 50.5 percent of the electoral vote while drawing 49.7 percent of the two-party popular vote. He was able to do that because he won the electoral votes of 29 States to Albert Gore’s 22 jurisdictions (21 States plus D.C.). In other words, Bush had an edge of 14 electoral votes that offset Gore’s edge in populous States with Democrat majorities.
A starker example, of course, is the outcome of the 2016 election, in which Donald Trump won 48.9 percent of the two-party popular vote but earned 56.9 percent of the electoral vote. His Democrat opponent, Hillary Clinton, won the electoral votes of only 21 jurisdictions (20 States plus D.C.). More important, though, was Trump’s ability to eke out narrow victories in States that Gore had won in 2000 (e.g., Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin), while losing States with fewer electoral votes that had gone to Bush in 2000. Trump’s edge in number of States won earned him a bonus of 18 electoral votes. It’s a bonus that Trump could use in the coming election.
In general, the regression equation in the graph suggests that, on average, a GOP candidate would win 50.2 percent of electoral votes (a bare majority of 270-268) with 49.5 percent of the popular vote.
This all leads to the obvious question (posed in classic left-speak): Is it fair? The correct answer is that “fairness” has nothing to do with it. The Electoral College is justifiable as a matter of State sovereignty:
As long as the States retain their power under the Constitution, they remain co-sovereign with the government of the United States. The election of a president by the Electoral College recognizes the co-sovereignty of the States, and the separate voice that each of them has in the election of a president.
It is not for the voters of California to dictate the winner of a presidential election, as they would have done in 2016 had a nationwide tally of popular votes by State been decisive. Rather, it is for the voters of each State, in the aggregate, to cast what amounts to a State-wide vote through the Electoral College. One can quibble with the constitutional compromise that gave less-populous States a slightly disproportionate say in the outcome. (The number of electoral votes cast by each State is equal to the number of its Representatives in Congress — thus roughly proportional to its population — plus the number of its Senators in Congress, which is two for every State regardless of its population.) But the principle remains, regardless of the quibble: Each State is independent of every other State and its aggregate preference should not be submerged in the mythical nationwide popular-vote tally.
(The quoted passage is from an aptly titled post of mine: “Vive le collège électoral!”.)
Previous posts in this series:
In my previous post I contrasted the results of polling by Rasmussen Reports with two indicators published by RealClearPolitics: its the “poll of polls” and its summary of election betting markets. Although Rasmussen’s numbers (as of September 30) look bad for Trump, they’re not as bad as the numbers produced by most polls and betting markets.
Why is that? Rasmussen’s polls yield better — more accurate — results than most other polls because Rasmussen’s polls are unbiased. It’s not surprising, therefore, that Rasmussen has an excellent track record. Many pollsters and pundits try to dismiss Rasmussen as pro-Republican, or to denigrate Rasmussen’s methods. This is a classic example of psychological projection because most polls are systematically biased toward Democrats.
There are two reasons for that. Pro-Democrat pollsters (and their media allies) don’t like to publish bad news about Democrats. By the same token, underestimating the electoral prospects of Republicans is a devious form of election-rigging: It helps to demoralize Republican voters and therefore reduce pro-Republican turnout at election time.
How biased are the other polls? On average, extremely biased. The following graph shows the relationship between Rasmussen’s polling on the 2020 presidential election and the average of the dozen-or-so polls tracked by RealClearPolitics:
If I had removed Rasmussen’s poll from RCP’s average, the result would have been more stark, but it’s stark enough as it is. Rasmussen’s (presumably) accurate poll (White House Watch) would have to show Trump leading Biden with 70 percent of likely voters before the RCP average would show Trump tied with Biden.
The moral of the story: I won’t cite the RCP “poll of polls” again.
I will however cite RCP’s summary of betting markets. They don’t estimate the split of the popular vote, but they do measure the degree of confidence that one or another candidate will win. Unfortunately, there is growing confidence on the part of bettors that Biden will win.
I will close with a reminder of what’s at stake in this election: liberty.
I discuss the Dark Side — the consequences of Democrat control of the White House and Congress — in this post.
Regarding the outcome of the presidential contest, I am following
three two indicators this year: White House Watch at Rasmussen Reports , the summary of two-way polls (i.e,, Trump vs. Biden) at RealClearPolitics, and the betting market at RealClearPolitics. [See this post for an explanation of the changes.]
In the graph below, only the RealClearPolitics (RCP) betting market reflects the perceived outcome of yesterday’s “debate” between Trump and Biden. And Biden seems to have come out ahead in that encounter. But the odds against Trump were slipping before the debate, which is consistent with the trend in the Rasmussen poll (which doesn’t reflect the debate).
The two-way RCP poll is (on average) several days out of date, but Biden has an edge there, too. [Ignore the blue line, which represents the RCP two-way poll.]
In sum, the tide is running against Trump, and I wouldn’t bet on him at this stage. It will take a big October surprise (e.g., indictment of high-level ex-FBI officials in Russiagate) to turn things around. As for the Senate, a tie looks possible at this point. But with Harris as vice president, the Democrats would effectively control the Senate even if it’s split 50-50.
The bottom line: Lovers of liberty had better prepare themselves for the real-world equivalent of Nineteen-Eighty Four.
I have written many times over the years about what will happen to liberty in America the next time a Democrat is in the White House and Congress is controlled by Democrats. Many others have written or spoken about the same, dire scenario. Recently, for example, Victor Davis Hanson and Danielle Pletka addressed the threat to liberty that lies ahead if Donald Trump is succeeded by Joe Biden, in tandem with a Democrat takeover of the Senate. This post reprises my many posts about the clear and present danger to liberty if Trump is defeated and the Senate flips, and adds some points suggested by Hanson and Pletka. There’s much more to be said, I’m sure, but what I have to say here should be enough to make every liberty-loving American vote for Trump — even those who abhor the man’s persona.
One of the first things on the agenda will be to enlarge the Supreme Court and fill the additional seats with justices who can be counted on to support the following policies discussed below, should those policies get to the Supreme Court. (If they don’t, they will be upheld in lower courts or go unchallenged because challenges will be perceived as futile.)
Abolition of the Electoral College
The Electoral College helps to protect the sovereignty of less-populous States from oppression by more-populous States. This has become especially important with the electoral shift that has seen California, New York, and other formerly competitive States slide into leftism. The Electoral College therefore causes deep resentment on the left when it yields a Republican president who fails to capture a majority of the meaningless nationwide popular vote, as Donald Trump failed (by a large margin) in 2016), despite lopsided victories by H. Clinton in California, New York, etc.
The Electoral College could be abolished formally by an amendment to the Constitution. But amending the Constitution by that route would take years, and probably wouldn’t succeed because it would be opposed by too many State legislatures.
The alternative, which would succeed with Democrat control of Congress and a complaisant Supreme Court, is a multi-State compact to this effect: The electoral votes of each member State will be cast for the candidate with the most popular votes, nationwide, regardless of the popular vote in the member State. This would work to the advantage of a Democrat who loses narrowly in a State where the legislature and governor’s mansion is controlled by Democrats – which is the whole idea.
Some pundits deny that the scheme would favor Democrats, but the history of presidential elections contradicts them.
If you’re going to abolish the Electoral College, you want to ensure a rock-solid hold on the presidency and Congress. What better way to do that than to admit Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia? Residents of D.C. already vote in presidential elections, but the don’t have senators and or a voting representative in the House. Statehood would give them those things. And you know which party’s banner the additional senators and representative would fly.
Admitting Puerto Rico would be like winning the trifecta (for Democrats): a larger popular-vote majority for Democrat presidential candidates, two more Democrat senators, and five more Democrat representatives in the House.
The “science” of “climate change” amounts to little more than computer models that can’t even “predict” recorded temperatures accurately because the models are based mainly on the assumption that CO2 (a minor greenhouse gas) drives the atmosphere’s temperature. This crucial assumption rests on a coincidence – rising temperatures from the late 1970s and rising levels of atmospheric CO2. But atmospheric CO2 has been far higher in earlier geological eras, while Earth’s temperature hasn’t been any higher than it is now. Yes, CO2 has been rising since the latter part of the 19th century, when industrialization began in earnest. Despite that, temperatures have fluctuated up and down for most of the past 150 years. (Some so-called scientists have resolved that paradox by adjusting historical temperatures to make them look lower than the really are.)
The deeper and probably more relevant causes of atmospheric temperature are to be found in the Earth’s core, magma flow, plate dynamics, ocean currents and composition, magnetic field, exposure to cosmic radiation, and dozens of other things that — to my knowledge — are ignored by climate models. Moreover, the complexity of the interactions of such factors, and others that are usually included in climate models cannot possibly be modeled.
The urge to “do something” about “climate change” is driven by a combination of scientific illiteracy, power-lust, and media-driven anxiety.
As a result, trillions of dollars have been and will be wasted on various “green” projects. These include but are far from limited to the replacement of fossil fuels by “renewables”, and the crippling of industries that depend on fossil fuels. Given that CO2 does influence atmospheric temperature slightly, it’s possible that such measures will have a slight effect on Earth’s temperature, even though the temperature rise has been beneficial (e.g., longer growing seasons; fewer deaths from cold weather, which kills more people than hot weather).
The main result of futile effort to combat “climate change” will be greater unemployment and lower real incomes for most Americans — except for the comfortable elites who press such policies.
Freedom of Speech
Legislation forbidding “hate speech” will be upheld by the packed Court. “Hate speech” will be whatever the bureaucrats who are empowered to detect and punish it say it is. And the bureaucrats will be swamped with complaints from vindictive leftists.
When the system is in full swing (which will take only a few years) it will be illegal to criticize, even by implication, such things as illegal immigration, same-sex marriage, transgenderism, anthropogenic global warming, or the confiscation of firearms. Violations will be enforced by huge fines and draconian prison sentences (sometimes in the guise of “re-education”).
Any hint of Christianity and Judaism will be barred from public discourse, and similarly punished. Islam will be held up as a model of unity and tolerance – at least until elites begin to acknowledge that Muslims are just as guilty of “incorrect thought” as persons of other religions and person who uphold the true spirit of the Constitution.
This has been in effect for several decades, as jobs, promotions, and college admissions have been denied the most capable persons in favor or certain “protected group” – manly blacks and women.
Reverse-discrimination “protections” will be extended to just about everyone who isn’t a straight, white male of European descent. And they will be enforced more vigorously than ever, so that employers will bend over backward to favor “protected groups” regardless of the effects on quality and quantity of output. That is, regardless of how such policies affect the general well-being of all Americans. And, of course, the heaviest burden – unemployment or menial employment – will fall on straight, white males of European descent. Except, of course, for the straight while males of European descent who are among the political, bureaucratic, and management elites who favor reverse discrimination.
Rule of Law
There will be no need for protests riots because police departments will become practitioners and enforcers of reverse discrimination (as well as “hate speech” violations and attempts to hold onto weapons for self-defense). This will happen regardless of the consequences, such as a rising crime rate, greater violence against whites and Asians, and flight from the cities (which will do little good because suburban police departments will also be co-opted).
Sexual misconduct (as defined by the alleged victim), will become a crime, and any straight, male person will be found guilty of it on the uncorroborated testimony of any female who claims to have been the victim of an unwanted glance, touch (even if accidental), innuendo (as perceived by the victim), etc.
There will be parallel treatment of the “crimes” of racism, anti-Islamism, nativism, and genderism.
All health care and health-care related products and services (e.g., drug research) will be controlled and rationed by an agency of the federal government. Private care will be forbidden, though ready access to doctors, treatments, and medications will be provided for high officials and other favored persons.
Drug research – and medical research, generally – will dwindle in quality and quantity. There will be fewer doctors and nurses who are willing to work in a regimented system.
The resulting health-care catastrophe that befalls most of the populace (like that of the UK) will be shrugged off as a residual effect of “capitalist” health care.
The regulatory regime, which already imposes a deadweight loss of 10 percent of GDP, will rebound with a vengeance, touching every corner of American life and regimenting all businesses except those daring to operate in an underground economy. The quality and variety of products and services will decline – another blow to Americans’ general well-being.
Incentives to produce more and better products and services will be further blunted by increases on corporate profits, a more “progressive” structure of marginal tax rates (i.e., soaking the “rich”), and — perhaps worst of all — taxing wealth. Such measures will garner votes by appealing to economic illiterates, the envious, social-justice warriors, and guilt-ridden elites who can afford the extra taxes but don’t understand how their earnings and wealth foster economic growth and job creation. (A Venn diagram would depict almost the complete congruence of economic illiterates, the envious, social-justice warriors, and guilt-ridden elites.)
Government Spending and National Defense
The dire economic effects of the foregoing policies will be compounded by massive increases in government spending on domestic welfare programs, which reward the unproductive at the expense of the productive. All of this will suppress investment in business formation and expansion, and in professional education and training. As a result, the real rate of economic growth will approach zero, and probably become negative.
Because of the emphasis on domestic welfare programs, the United States will maintain token armed forces (mainly for the purpose of suppressing domestic uprisings). The U.S. will pose no threat to the new superpowers — Russia and China. They won’t threaten the U.S. militarily as long as the U.S. government acquiesces in their increasing dominance.
Illegal immigration will become legal, and all illegal immigrants now in the country – and the resulting flood of new immigrants — will be granted citizenship and all associated rights. The right to vote, of course, is the right that Democrats most dearly want to bestow because most of the newly-minted citizens can be counted on to vote for Democrats. The permanent Democrat majority will ensure permanent Democrat control of the White House and both houses of Congress.
Future Elections and the Death of Democracy
Despite the prospect of a permanent Democrat majority, Democrats won’t stop there. In addition to the restrictions on freedom of speech discussed above, there will be election laws requiring candidates to pass ideological purity tests by swearing fealty to the “law of the land” (i.e., unfettered immigration, same-sex marriage, freedom of gender choice for children, etc., etc., etc.). Those who fail such a test will be barred from holding any kind of public office, no matter how insignificant.
The following table summarizes the frequency with which the justices disagreed with one another in non-unanimous cases during the recently completed 2019-2020 term (October Term 2019). (For a complete treatment of the terms during which John Roberts has been chief justice — OT2005-OT2019 — go here and scroll down past the three-part table that traces the Court’s lines of succession.) The use of non-unanimous cases highlights the degree of disagreement among justices, which would be blurred if all cases were included in the analysis.
I used the statistics that underlie the preceding table, and its counterparts for the preceding 14 terms, to construct the following index of defection (D) for each justice, by term:
D = percentage disagreement (in non-unanimous cases) with members of own wing/percentage disagreement (in non-unanimous cases) with members of opposite wing.
The “conservative” wing’s members during the 2005-2019 terms were and are Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Kennedy, Roberts, Thomas, and Scalia. The “liberal” wings members in the period were and are Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, Sotomayor, Souter, and Stevens.
The lower the index, the more prone is a justice to vote with the other members of his or her wing; the higher the index, the more prone is a justice to vote with members of the opposing wing. Here’s a graph of the indices, by term:
Kennedy’s long-standing proneness to defect more often than his colleagues grew markedly in the 2014-2015 terms and receded a bit in the 2016 term. His turnaround in the 2017 term restored him to the Court’s “conservative” wing. Whereupon he retired and was succeeded by Kavanaugh.
Roberts’s slippage in the 2011-2015 terms has never been fully reversed, and his performance in the 2019 term bodes ill for the future of the “conservative” wing. Roberts’s transparent attempts to protect the Court from accusations of political bias (e.g., the Obamacare, census, and DACA cases), have rightly caused conservatives to be wary of him.
Gorsuch started out strongly in his abbreviated 2016 term (he joined the Court in April 2017), but he seems to be a fairly solid “conservative”, with some notable exceptions (e.g., LGBTQ rights).
Kavanaugh’s record in his second term aligns him with Gorsuch as somewhat of a “conservative” maverick — but not in the same league as Kennedy and Roberts.
What’s most striking about the preceding graphs, other than Kennedy’s marked departure from the “conservative” wing after the 2010 term and sudden return to it in his final term, is the increasing coherence (ideological, not logical) of the “liberal” wing. This graph captures the difference between the wings:
Despite Kennedy’s retirement, the presence of Roberts (and to a lesser extent, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh), ensures that the “conservative” wing will be less monolithic than the “liberal” wing.
The statistics also yield an index of polarization (P) for each justice, by term:
P = maximum percentage of non-unanimous cases in which a justice disagreed with any other justice during the term
A slight upward trend over the past 15 terms? Perhaps. But there has been definite movement toward polarization since Kennedy’s peak defection terms (2014-2015). Trend or no trend, it’s clear that there is and has been a great deal of polarization among most of the justices. The exceptions are among the “conservatives”, namely Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Roberts — which is why the “liberal” wing is more monolithic.
THE THOMAS STANDARD
I would be pleased no end if the Supreme Court consisted of Clarence Thomas and eight clones of him. It seems to me that Justice Thomas has been the most faithful adherent of the Constitution among all of the justices who have served on the Court since I became interested in its doings more than 50 years ago. Taking Thomas as the standard for constitutional judging, it is possible to grade some of the other justices who have served with him, including all of his present colleagues.
Reversing the numbers discussed thus far, so that degree of disagreement becomes degree of agreement, and focusing on the extent to which other justices agree with Thomas non-unanimous cases, I obtain the following statistics:
Scalia was a stalwart “conservative”, albeit somewhat quirky inn criminal cases, as is Gorsuch. Alito remains a stalwart, and Kavanaugh shows promise. Roberts continues to slip away. Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor remain stalwart “liberals”. At the present rate, Sotomayor will find herself alone on the Court’s far-left fringe.
This was posted by a Facebook “friend” (who is among many on FB who seem to believe that figuratively hectoring like-minded friends on FB will instill caution among the incautious):
The point I want to make here isn’t about COVID-19, but about probability. It’s a point that I’ve made many times, but the image captures it perfectly. Here’s the point:
When an event has more than one possible outcome, a single trial cannot replicate the average outcome of a large number of trials (replications of the event).
It follows that the average outcome of a large number of trials — the probability of each possible outcome — cannot occur in a single trial.
It is therefore meaningless to ascribe a probability to any possible outcome of a single trial.
Suppose you’re offered a jelly bean from a bag of 100 jelly bean, and are told that two of the jelly beans contain a potentially fatal poison. Do you believe that you have only a 2-percent chance of being poisoned, and would you bet accordingly? Or do you believe, correctly, that you might choose a poisoned jelly bean, and that the “probability” of choosing a poisoned one is meaningless and irrelevant if you want to be certain of surviving the trial at hand (choosing a jelly bean or declining the offer). That is, would you bet (your life) against choosing a poisoned jelly bean?
I have argued (futilely) with several otherwise smart persons who would insist on the 2-percent interpretation. But I doubt (and hope) that any of them would bet accordingly and then choose a jelly bean from a bag of 100 that contains even a single poisoned one, let alone two. Talk is cheap; actions speak louder than words.
It will be a while before there is some reliable polling about the presidential race. In the meantime, I’ll post about relevant issues, such as Trump’s popularity, the state of the economy, and the status of the COVID-19 outbreak.
At this stage, it’s best to compare Trump’s standing against Obama’s when Obama was seeking reelection eight years ago. Trump’s relative standing has declined sharply in the past year, though it may (or may not) be on the rebound:
Voters’ perceptions of the state of the union is important, too. That perception has gone south with the rise of COVID-19 and domestic unrest. It may be irrational to blame an incumbent for matters beyond his control, but that’s what a lot of voters do. And Obama, by contrast, went into the election of 2012 with a rising tide to good feeling to buoy him.
Derived from Rasmussen Reports Right Direction/Wrong Track poll.
Trump’s numbers, by election day, will depend in large part on the perceived state of the economy. A robust turnaround will help him. A weak turnaround or new dip will hurt him.
STATE OF THE ECONOMY
The employment numbers are still bad, despite a sharp turnaround. The following graph shows the real vs. nominal unemployment rate (method explained here):
Uncertainty about COVID-19 and the state of the union has put a damper on investor’s resurgent optimism about the future of the economy:
Much attention is being give to the resurgence of confirmed COVID-19 cases; less is being given to the continued decline in the rate at which COVID-19 is producing deaths nationwide. Inasmuch as the response to COVID-19 has become politicized, the effect of the contagion on the outcome of election 2020 will depend, in part, on which piece of news takes center stage. Generally overlooked factors are the relative rarity of COVID-19 and the greater rarity of deaths caused by it. The following graphs sum it up:
Based on statistics recorded here. The projection of deaths is based on the rate at which deaths have declined since the peak rate on April 21, 2020.
Sir Winston Churchill said many memorable things in his long and eloquent life. Nowadays, much of what he said would be considered “divisive”, that is, espousing the defense of liberty and reason. Here are some examples (drawn from this site):
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!
Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities… because it is the quality which guarantees all others.
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.
There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion.
A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.
All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.
Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.
… as I was here, I have a serious bone to pick with the parents of yore who broke the gender barrier by giving boy names to girl babies. There was a time when Ashley, Beverly, Evelyn, Leslie, Marion, Meredith, Merle, Shirley, and Vivian were boy names (exclusively or predominantly). The Brits even had girl-name equivalents for Leslie (Lesley) and Vivian (Vivien).
That was in the dim past. Naming has since gotten out of hand:
In 1910, just 5% of American babies named “Charlie” were girls. Over 100 years later, girl Charlies took over their male counterparts for the first time in 2016—making up 51% of the share.
With little fuss or fanfare, Charlie has gone gender-neutral….
Quartz analyzed the Social Security Administration’s public data on baby names to find out whether what happened with “Charlie” is an exception, or part of a wider trend. Our results show that, on average, the country is slowly moving toward using more gender-neutral names. And a few popular names are leading the way.
To analyze the trend, we calculated a “genderedness score” for every American baby name—and for the country on the whole. The score goes from zero to one. A zero means a name is perfectly non-gendered. That is to say, exactly half of the babies with that name are boys, and the other half are girls. A one, meanwhile, means the name is used exclusively for one gender. So a lower score means a name is more gender-neutral, and less biased.
“Biased”? What’s biased about calling a boy by a boy’s name and a girl by a girl’s name? The PC brigade to the contrary notwithstanding, sex (a.k.a. gender) isn’t “assigned” at birth — it just is.
American parents have long had a strong preference for gendered names. The overall genderedness score was 0.97 in 1920, meaning nearly every kid had a name that was used almost exclusively for just boys or just girls. The score is falling, though. It hit 0.946 in 2016, the most recent year the SSA has name data for. The 1920 score is close to the historical average for names like “Billy,” “Selma,” and “Otis.” Names around the new—less gender-specific—number include “Jerry,” “Aden,” and “Orion.”
That’s another thing: Made-up names that have no historical roots. (And don’t get me started on “black” names.)
Several popular names, Charlie among them, are driving this trend [toward gender-neutrality]. No girls named “Blake” show up in the data at all until 1951. But today, one-quarter of American Blakes are female. And it’s not just boys’ names being given to girls, either. “Marion,” for example, has seen a major shift from girls to boys….
Many other popular names from the 2016 dataset are also gender-neutral, including “Finley,” “Justice,” and “Armani.” Here are the least-gendered 20, only including those with more than 500 babies with that name.
Name Gendered score Births Charlie 0.02 3,448 Oakley 0.05 1,009 Justice 0.05 1,257 Landry 0.07 612 Armani 0.07 962 Skyler 0.09 1,667 Azariah 0.1 656 Finley 0.16 2,961 Royal 0.16 1,134 Lennon 0.19 1,095 Hayden 0.2 3,942 Casey 0.22 834 Emerson 0.23 3,163 Rowan 0.24 3,522 Baylor 0.24 548 Dakota 0.24 2,266 River 0.24 2,943 Remy 0.24 1,042 Emory 0.25 715 Phoenix 0.26 1,945
At the same time, some names are becoming more gendered. “Ashton” has gone from being pretty equal to primarily a boys’ name. “Harper” used to be more common for boys, but is now over 97% girls. And the most popular names from 2016 score high on the genderedness scale—Emma and Olivia at 0.99, and Scarlett and Victoria at 1.00, without a single boy.
Given that the average is moving the other way, though, it seems these mono-gendered choices are slowly becoming less popular. Gender-neutral options like Parker, Jordan, and Riley were among the top 100 in 2016.
Note the number of made-up names and names that (in saner times) would be thought of as masculine (e.g., Landry, Finley, Lennon, Casey, Emerson, Baylor, and Emory).
Unmentioned by the author is a phenomenon that would be obvious to an attentive reader: The appropriation of names (like cultural appropriation generally) is a one-way street. Girls get to do it (well, their parents do); boys just suffer in silence (or else) as their names become sissified.
You’ll know that the cultural revolution has succeeded when Emma, Scarlett, and Victoria become accepted as boys’ names.
The labor-force participation rate peaked in January 2000:
The business-cycle recession of 2008-2011 slammed full-time employment; the temporary closures of 2020 had the opposite effect:
The real vs. nominal unemployment rate (setting the real unemployment rate equal to the nominal rate in January 2000, and adjusting for subsequent changes in the labor-force participation rate and the fraction of employed persons working full-time):
Go here for an explanation of the method and the reasons for the decline in the labor-force participation rate from 2000 to 2016.
Just for the fun of it, let’s divide the world into the old racial categories — Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid — and stipulate that they are associated with broadly different cultural heritages. By cultural heritages, I mean not just such things as weird languages, funny dance steps, and peculiar ways of decorating oneself, but also such things as the STEM disciplines, the technologies resulting from their application, and various other refinements (or lack thereof) in the various arts (e.g., plastic, visual, musical, and terpsichorean).
Now, it is widely believed by those persons who are sensitive to such things that Caucasoids commit grievous social sins when they adopt and adapt (i.e., appropriate) the cultural artifacts of Mongoloids and Negroids. But Mongoloids and Negroids are free of sin when the appropriate the cultural artifacts of Caucasoids.
This is a good thing for Mongoloids and Negroids because, unlike Caucasoids who claim to detest cultural appropriation, they know where they would be without it. Where’s that? Living in primitive conditions without the following (and much more):
Computers (of all sizes)
Radio and TV
Automobiles (of all kinds), airplanes, and trains (including subways)
Mass production of myriad products, from foodstuffs to folderol
Complex and efficient distribution networks for the aforesaid products
The vast array of services that has accompanies, enabled, and evolved with the aforesaid artifacts (and other)
Various sports (e.g., baseball, basketball, soccer, football)
That’s enough of that.
Now consider the number of Mongoloids and Negroids (billions, actually) who benefit from such things. And consider the number of Mongoloids and Negroids in the U.S. (millions, certainly) who are among the country’s top earners because of such things.
Where would those billions and millions be if cultural appropriation were banned by force of law?
Data source: here.
Nothing that I say here will have any effect on the downward spiral of the United States into an anti-libertarian oligarchy, controlled by an academic-media-information technology-regulatory complex that is intent on the suppression of straight, white persons of European descent who aren’t members of the complex, and anyone (regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin) who dissents from the party line du jour.
The oligarchs themselves will do everything in their considerable power to control the narrative and keep their followers in line by using the contemporary equivalent of bread and circuses (tawdry entertainment; sensational, biased “news”; transfers of income and wealth; further erosion of the institutions that inculcate and enforce traditional morality; etc.).
You can read what I have said about such matters (e.g., here) — and much more — by consulting the list of categories and the tag cloud in the sidebar, and by reading selections from my (very long and semi-organized) list of favorite posts. I will say no more, having said more than enough, to no avail, in a blogging career that spans more than twenty years.
But, as an inveterate analyst, I will continue to produce statistical charts and tables that probe such matters as the status of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, Trump’s polling, the outlook for election 2020, climate data, economic indicators, and the ideological direction of the Supreme Court. So, from now on, I will publish posts on subjects that lend themselves to statistical treatment — without commentary. (Well, I may throw in an occasional bit of barbed humor.)
I will report, you may decide — or despair — as you wish.
As many (including me) have observed, COVID-19 case statistics don’t give a reliable picture of the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. Just a few of the reasons are misdiagnosis; asymptomatic (and untested) cases; and wide variations in the timing, location, and completeness of testing. As a result, the once-tight correlation between reported cases and deaths has loosened to the point of meaninglessness:
Source: Derived from statistics reported here.
So when you hear about a “surge” in cases, do not assume that they are actually new cases. It’s just that new cases are being discovered because more tests are being conducted. The death toll, overstated as it is, is a better indicator of the state of affairs. And the death toll continues to drop.