Older, whiter, Mitt

March 21, 2012

While he probably has a few shellackings ahead in individual primaries, like Louisiana, Willard Romney is now all-but-certain to be the Republican nominee for President.

For this, there is a particular demographic group to whom he owes thanks, other than the multi-millionaires who’ve given him the wherewithall to spend like a drunken sailor.

Old white people.

Now, speaking as an older white male, I take particular note of National Journal’s Ron Brownstein, who is turning demographic political analysis into an art form, referring to turnout in the Republican primaries, at least through Super Tuesday, as a “monochromatic electorate.”

Not only are the primary voters overwhelmingly old, they are `way overwhelmingly white.

Voters 50 and over constituted a majority of voters in every Republican primary through Super Tuesday, from 55 percent in Arizona to 71 percent in Florida.

But more telling, 90 percent – that’s 9-0 percent – of voters in Republican primaries through March 6th were white. The lowest state percentages were Florida (83 percent) and Arizona (89) percent.

All these percentages, both ages and race, were well above the usual turnout in a general election, when the electorate overall will be younger and far more diverse.

Michelle Cottle, writing in The Daily Beast notes that seniors are the one and only age cohort in which Romney is out-polling Barack Obama.

It will be interesting to see how Candidate Etch-A-Sketch handles this. After all, for those of us old enough to remember, Etch-A-Sketch screens aren’t in color.

I have to wonder how his decision to forgo enrolling in Medicare will play with this crowd.

UPDATE – You can add “male” (“maler?”) to “older” and “whiter.” Women don't like him very much.

Of course, there’s still all that money . . . .



Late Night St. Patrick’s Day Listening with The Pogues

March 17, 2012

“A Rainy Night in Soho”

Great ache of a song, in the same vein as Tom Waits’ “Martha.”


Set `em up, Joe

March 15, 2012

It’s gonna be a long, lonely night.

Any bets Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me has this this weekend?


Contraception not lookin’ like a winner for the Rs or for Rush

March 14, 2012

A new Bloomberg poll should convince the guys – and a few gals (where is Michele Bachmann on this, anyhow?) – on the other side of the aisle (heck, the other side of the 20th Century) they ought to be more concerned with job creation and such and less about whether women have sex.

People see this as a health care issue, not one of religious freedom. Now, I’m sure the Rs were counting on Catholic priests (backed up, as I noted earlier, with millions in lobbying funds) mounting their pulpits every Sunday from here to November to decry Obama and urge their flocks to vote Mittens, but it doesn’t look to be playing out that way.

And I particularly love the finding that a majority of Americans polled want Limbaugh to take a hike:

More than half of those interviewed also say radio host Rush Limbaugh, who called a female law student testifying publicly in favor of birth-control coverage a “slut” and “prostitute,” should be fired based solely on those comments.

The market isn’t showing the All-American Oaf a lot of love these days, either.


The Holy See visits K Street, checkbook in hand

March 14, 2012

The Hill has a story up by Eliza Newlin Carney that should sour sacramental wine.

Apparently, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is not content to use its inherent moral stature, nor its perch from thousands of pulpits across the land, to preach its message. No, they’re willing to get in there and throw elbows like any other special interest that has mega-millions to spend and pop for a reported $26.7 Large to lobby Congress in their relentless struggle against women’s choice.

That would have bought a lot of hot meals, or a few hundred affordable homes, or a couple of medical clinics (which would never, ever dispense contraceptives). Or a lot of recompense for the families of all those children who were sexually abused by men of faith they trusted.

I have no bone to pick with religions having their say in political matters, even getting engaged in the kind of grassroots advocacy other groups practice with their elected officials. But there’s something unseemly about the men of the cloth hiring the guys from Gucci Gulch.


So long, Encyclopaedia Brittannica

March 13, 2012

After 244 years of publication the Encyclopaedia Britannica will cease to be available in hard copy after the current supply runs out.

This, as president Jorge Cauz notes, was foreseeable, even inevitable. And I can understand the greater value of an information resource that is continuously updated.

So, I regret the passing of the hard-cover version, but there is something much more troubling to me, as Lynne Kobayashi, the Hawaiian librarian, points out. We live in a world where information is available from almost innumerable sources through a couple of mouse clicks, but (a) that information is only accessible if you have a computer – see any number of articles on the “digital divide” – and (b) without professional guidance, it’s almost impossible for a user to determine the quality of that information. The internet is lively, free (except when we’re giving up our privacy to be bombarded with advertising), and practically limitless, but that lovely chaos also means all kinds of crap can masquerade as fact. Listen to any high-school, or even college, teacher bemoan students’ reliance on Wikipedia.

(Let me hasten to add that’s not meant to be a knock of Wikipedia per se. It’s a useful general reference; I use it often. But it’s not an academic source.)

Britannica will still be available online, but it will cost you, and so it competes with information sources that are free, but less credible. I don’t like those odds, nor do I like the implications of a global society being dumbed down because they couldn’t tell the difference between fact and crap. Sorta like Fox News . . . .


Thomas Edsall absolutely nails it in the NYT

March 12, 2012

His brilliant lede says it all – Instead of serving as a springboard to social mobility as it did for the first decades after World War II, college education today is reinforcing class stratification . . . .

But he then goes on to explain, in great detail, how a college degree, universally considered to be the stepping stone to a better life with greater opportunity and security, is becoming an unreachable goal for too many qualified Americans whose families simply cannot afford it.

And, as always, this is not some natural phenomenon, but a direct result of policy choices, choices that are only increasing the gap – it’s a gulf, really – between a wealthy few and the rest of us.

Read it and weep, or, better yet, read it and get very angry. Then get active.

UPDATE – Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich weighs in.