Hispanics as a conservative constituency

One reason for President Obama’s big re-election victory is that Hispanics turned out for him in record numbers.  71% voted for him, with Mitt Romney  getting only 27% of the Hispanic vote.  George W. Bush got 44%, so it’s not impossible for Republicans to get Hispanic votes.  Unlike Bush, Romney came across as anti-Hispanic, due to his tough stance and characteristically tone-deaf comments about immigration.  But, in fact, Hispanic voters May have the potential of becoming part of the conservative base.  From Jonathan Capehart:

Every month for the next two decades, 50,000 Hispanics will turn 18.

Just to be clear, that’s 50,000 U.S.-born people every month for the next 20 years who become eligible to vote. [Whit] Ayres cited this stunning statistic that was highlighted in a study of the Hispanic electorate by Resurgent Republic, a conservative nonprofit research group on whose board he sits. That report also highlights the promise and the peril for the Republican Party in reaching Latino voters.

Of the 10.9 million Latinos registered to vote, 51 percent of them are Democrats and 18 percent are Republicans. But when you view them through an ideological prism, 54 percent of Hispanics identify as “conservative” while 39 percent say they are “liberal.”

via 50,000 shades of dismay for the GOP – PostPartisan – The Washington Post.

After all, most Hispanics are conservative Catholics, are extremely family-oriented, and are hard workers.  They would be a natural conservative constituency, if the whole immigration issue could be solved.

The Iron Dome

Hamas has been firing rockets and missiles into Israel, sparking Israeli retaliation.  The two sides have agreed to a cease fire.   Israel managed to shoot down virtually all of rockets thanks to a new anti-missile system called “Iron Dome.”  Based on American technology, this is the most successful technology to defend against missiles ever devised.  From Slate’s Sarah Tory:

The debut of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense shield has added a new element to the conflict, one that military officials are calling a “game-changer.” Why is Iron Dome such a significant addition to Israel’s military arsenal?

Iron Dome actually works. Israeli officials are claiming that the shield is destroying 90 percent of missiles and rockets it aims at that have been fired into southern Israel by Hamas. This level of success is unprecedented compared with older missile defense systems such as the American-made Patriot model used during the 1991 Gulf War. Israelis have almost always suffered far fewer casualties than Palestinians have, but Iron Dome has made that disparity even larger. As of Monday, Israel has reported three casualties, all of which occurred during a temporary malfunction in the missile-defense system.

The missile-defense system can detect rocket launches and then determine the projectiles’ flight paths. Iron Dome intercepts rocket or artillery shells only if they are headed for populated areas or sensitive targets; the others it allows to land. After pinpointing a rocket for destruction, Iron Dome fires a warhead that destroys the rocket within seconds. Currently, five Iron Dome systems are deployed in Israel. Most are located in the south, near Gaza, and each operates with a 45-mile radius.

Israeli officials point out that Iron Dome saves money despite the fact that the interceptors cost up to $100,000 each. The cost of rebuilding a neighborhood destroyed by a rocket attack—not to mention people wounded and lives lost—would be far greater than the cost of the interceptor. In addition, the system buys Israel time, allowing it to plan out an appropriate response without the political pressure that would be generated by hundreds of potential deaths. Experts have called Iron Dome’s success a crucial factor in deterring Israel from launching a ground assault on Gaza.

via Israel Iron Dome defense: How has missile defense changed battle in Gaza – Slate Magazine.

Rock ‘n’ roll for adults

Bob Dylan came to the nation’s capital earlier this week, and I went to his concert with Pete Muller, frequenter of this blog, who initiated the whole expedition.  First he threw a birthday party for his wife with some other quite amiable friends who happened to be in D.C.  At my suggestion, we met at my favorite Washington restaurant, that temple of haute cuisine known as Hill Country Barbecue.  Then Pete and I walked a couple of blocks to the Verizon Center, a big venue that Dylan was able to pack out, even at age 71.

Yes, most of the people in the audience, like me, were similarly aged.  Lots of gray hair, not as long as it used to be.  Some were accompanied by their grown children.  Or grown grandchildren.  There were some whippersnappers in hipster glasses or concert T-shirts, serious music aficionados by the look of them.  But most defied Dylan’s earlier plea to be forever young.  It was an interesting crowd, and it wasn’t just aged hippies.  Pete’s a surgeon; I’m whatever I am; I saw Fred Barnes, the conservative journalist and Fox News contributor, sitting not far from where we were.

The opening act was Mark Knopfler, the English musician who was once lead singer for Dire Straits.  Remember them, back in the 1980s?  “Money for nothing,” the first song played on MTV Europe?  Now he is singing sober, intense, country-tinged songs that I’d characterize as Brittannia roots music, with his band of exceptionally fine musicians playing Celtic instruments along with the electric guitars.   Pete called it “rock ‘n’ roll for adults.”

And then came the one true Bob.  I had seen him about four times; Pete had seen him eight.  We had never seen him so animated.  Pete said that he had a touch of arthritis and so was no longer standing all the time playing his guitar.  Now he sits behind a grand piano, which he plays quite well, adding numerous harmonica solos, as at his beginning.  But on a couple of songs, Bob came out, took the mic, American-Idol style, and just sang.  Not only that, he was kind of dancin’ and jivin’.  And he was even smilin’.

The other times I saw him, he was concentrating on playing his guitar and often had his back to the audience.  Not this time.  He didn’t say much–“Thank you, friends!”–but he was engaged and connected with the crowd in a way that I found surprising.   He has a new album out that I am really enjoying, Tempest, and he played a couple of songs from that (the enigmatic “Early Roman Kings” and the lovely “Soon after Midnight”).  But he mostly played old songs (“Highway 61 Revisited,” All Along the Watchtower,” “Blowing in the Wind”).  The thing is, though, every time he plays those old songs, he does it in a different way.  The arrangements, the rhythm, the inflections, even the tunes are different.  And yet they are still the same songs.  This is what rewards going to Dylan concerts again and again through the years.  And it says something about Dylan and about all of us other old guys in the audience.

Postmodernists have talked about the myth of individual identity, arguing that we really are different people, depending on whom we are with and the different stages in our lives.  But Dylan is the same person, for all of the changes that he has gone through–including his religious changes–and the 60-year-olds in the audience are the same persons who were moved by Dylan’s music when they were young and are still moved by it in different ways, who have been following him through his changes and through their own.

P.S.:  For a good account of this particular concert, see this review in the Washington Post.

Also, I would like to make an off-the-wall prediction so that if it happens you will have seen it here first:  I predict that Bob Dylan will once again surprise his fans and confound the musical world, this time by joining the Roman Catholic Church.  In the Rolling Stone interview we posted about, he is evidently reading Roman Catholic theology.  (When asked about “transfiguration,” Bob tells the interviewer, “You can go learn about it from the Catholic Church.”) And then in “Duquesne Whistle,” the best song on the new album, he has the line, “I can hear a sweet voice callin’./ Must be the Mother of our Lord.”)


Democrats have a file on you

One of the reasons President Obama was re-elected, according to observers, is the way his campaign made use of data-mining and other on-line resources.  This article by Craig Timberg and Amy Gardner in the Washington Post details what the campaign did and says how other Democrats are trying to get their hands on the database that was compiled.

But when you read the article, do red flags about privacy keep coming up?  I wonder if people who are worried about the information Google collects on each one of us has a similar concern about the information the Democratic party collects on each one of us.  And if the commercial use of this kind of information is problematic, isn’t the political use even worse?

If you voted this election season, President Obama almost certainly has a file on you. His vast campaign database includes information on voters’ magazine subscriptions, car registrations, housing values and hunting licenses, along with scores estimating how likely they were to cast ballots for his reelection.

And although the election is over, Obama’s database is just getting started. . . .

The database consists of voting records and political donation histories bolstered by vast amounts of personal but publicly available consumer data, say campaign officials and others familiar with the operation. It could record hundreds of pieces of information for each voter.

Campaign workers added far more detail through a broad range of voter contacts — in person, on the phone, via e-mail or through visits to the campaign’s Web site. Those who used its Facebook app, for example, had their files updated with lists of their Facebook friends, along with scores measuring the intensity of those relationships and whether they lived in swing states. If their last names sounded Hispanic, a key target group for the campaign, the database recorded that, too. . . .

All Democratic candidates have access to the party’s lists, which include voting and donation histories along with some consumer data. What Obama’s database adds are the more fine-grained analyses of what issues matter most to voters and how best to motivate them to donate, volunteer and vote. . . .

The database powered nearly everything about Obama’s campaign, including fundraising, identifying likely supporters and urging them to vote. This resulted in an operational edge that helped a candidate with a slim margin in the overall national vote to trounce Romney in the state-by-state electoral college contests.

Obama was able to collect and use personal data largely free of the restrictions that govern similar efforts by private companies. Neither the Federal Trade Commission, which has investigated the handling of personal data by Google, Facebook and other companies, nor the Federal Election Commission has jurisdiction over how campaigns use such information, officials at those agencies say.

Privacy advocates say the opportunity for abuse — by Obama, Romney or any other politician’s campaign — is serious, as is the danger of hackers stealing the data. Voters who willingly gave campaigns such information may not have understood that it would be passed on to the party or other candidates, even though disclosures on Web sites and Facebook apps warn of that possibility.

Chris Soghoian, an analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union and a former FTC technologist, said voters should worry that the interests of politicians and commercial data brokers have aligned, making legal restrictions of data collection less likely.

“They’re going to be loath to regulate those companies if they are relying on them to target voters,” he said.

via Democrats push to redeploy Obama’s voter database – The Washington Post.

Church of England says “No” to women bishops

The Church of England voted not to allow women to be bishops.  Bishops, priests, and laity had to pass the proposed change by a two-thirds majority.  The Bishops voted 44-3 in favor of female bishops.  The priests voted 148-45 in favor.  The measure was blocked by the laity, who voted 132-74, which was about 4 votes shy of the 2/3 needed.

The British parliament is indignant and is threatening intervention in the state church.

Some people recommend an episcopalian polity so that bishops would keep churches orthodox.  But it would seem, judging from the experience of American Anglicanism, that they don’t.   Some favor a clergy-dominated polity to keep the church orthodox, and yet, as we see here, the clergy are often the ones trying to enforce a liberal agenda.  In this case and in many others, the laity turn out to be most conservative faction in the church.


via Church of England blocks move to approve female bishops.

CS Lewis to be added to Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of C. S. Lewis.  Next year on the 50th anniversary of that occasion, Lewis will be honored with a plaque in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey.

English writers have been either buried here or memorialized since the time of Geoffrey Chaucer.  Lewis will join literary luminaries like Spenser, Samuel Johnson, Blake, Keats, Dickens, and T. S. Eliot.

I didn’t realize Lewis had that stature outside of Christian circles, though, of course, Westminster Abbey is, above all, an Anglican church.

BBC News – CS Lewis to be honoured in Poets’ Corner.