Liberal Myths: Proposition 187

There are some things that just are not at all true, but are still part of the conventional wisdom, and are repeated with frequency in magazine articles and talking head shows.  Lies often have a useful function and the longevity of the Prop 187 myth is due primarily to just how useful it is, to both sections of the left and right.

And so this story is trotted out once again, in Peter Beinart’s piece in The Atlantic, The Republican Party’s White Strategy.  This time, the purpose is to attempt to discredit Trump’s anti-illegal immigration strategy by arguing that it’s been tried before, to utter failure, and Trump is offering a redo of the same failed strategy that will lead to the same result as it allegedly led to in California, unending Democratic rule as far as the eye can see.

Well there certainly is unending Democratic rule for as far as the eye can see in California.  The gist of Prop 187 myth is as follows:  The 1994 proposition forbade illegal aliens from accessing non emergency medical care, public education, and other California services.  Republican Governor Pete Wilson latched on the proposition to win re-election, but by doing so, he destroyed the Republican Party in California by forever alienating Hispanic voters because of hate, bigotry, or whatever.  Except for celebrity candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republicans have been shut out from power ever since.

That general thesis has been more or less debunked on the right. Anne Coulter broke down the issue here, arguing that supporting Prop 187 won Pete Wilson a 20 point victory in the election. The actual vote totals on the Prop 187 referendum break down this way:

Support for Prop. 187 was strongest among white non Hispanic voters (+28 points), and especially white males (+38 points). Latinos, on the other hand, voted No by a 73% to 27% margin. Blacks and Asians divided about evenly, with 52% voting in favor and 48% opposed.

So in terms of an ethnic breakdown, Prop 187 was popular and won among all ethnic groups except for Hispanics.  Even then, as Coulter points out, Proposition 187 was still more popular among Hispanics than President Bush was in running for re-election just 2 years earlier (14% in California).

So Prop 187 passed and the voters never had contact with it again.  Naturally this proposition went to the courts immediately and was finally struck down in the California courts in 1997.  So how did a wildly popular voter’s referendum that helped a flailing Republican gubernatorial candidate achieve a massive re-electoral victory doom the Republican Party in California?

Beats me.  But that’s the myth.

But the media and conventional wisdom have stuck with that, but actually there is a simpler answer and since it comes from the left in theory it should resonate at least with those more left leaning.  Reliable Lefty writer Kevin Drum of Mother Jones takes another look at the proposition 187 myth and finds it lacking.  Welding the mighty tool of Occam’s razor, a tool that’s useful only as long as you are not trying to confabulate a Rube Goldberg method to get a preferred answer, Drum makes a simple observation:

The greater the share of the non white vote; the greater the share of the Democratic vote.  It’s the demographics…again.  Prop 187 wasn’t even a bump on the road to Republican decline; that marched in lockstep with the share of the nonwhite electorate.  This is now and will be soon replicating itself across the United States.  Of course as I’ve noted, there could be stop sticks along the way, but the general trend, in our tribalistic era, is that the Republican electorate shrinks as the white population shrinks, and it’s shrinking everywhere.

So even though the Prop 187 myth isn’t true doesn’t mean it’s not pointed out real problems.  But the purpose of the myth is to force Republicans into open borders/amnesty types of positions; in other words, to accelerate the shrinking of their own electorate.  It’s clearly obvious why the Democrats would support that, but why do so many Republicans fall for that too?

It’s not called the stupid party for nothing.

The Dumbed Down Gun Debate

I hadn’t intended to write anything about the flared up gun debate simply because as an issue, it’s been done to death, and no one’s mind is ever changed.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever written about it, in spite of the frequency in which it comes up as an issue. On the other hand, anytime there is a shooting the issue flares up as if we’ve never discussed it before, and we get treated to the same old arguments…

Of course, as I noted earlier in the week, if we’re going to debate anything, it should be terrorism, but the media has guided the issue away from that to guns because, that’s what they feel comfortable talking about.  They don’t feel comfortable talking about terrorism, so guns make a nice distraction from the real issues. To that end, one of my guilty pleasures, the Monsters of the Morning radio show, had an oh so serious gun control discussion.  Although I was slightly irritated at having my morning dose of fart jokes cut off, it’s a local Orlando station and Central Florida needed the catharsis of talking about the tragedy.

Monsters of the Morning

 

Listening to the show on podcast, it more or less fulfilled my expectations.  In other words, I was in a constant state of facepalm.  Of course listening on podcast meant the show was in the can and I couldn’t call in for any corrections.  On the other hand, what’s the point?  I’ve seen other gun debates in which the pro gun person would have to correct all of the typical mistakes that anti gun people make because in general, the anti gun people, not having any interest in firearms other than as a hate totem, don’t know anything about them. In this debate the primary anti gunner was producer Carlos Navarro, who, as a superlib Obama supporter, was the natural default antigun proponent.

But there is a way to argue with liberals on guns and a way that is totally ineffective. Like most leftists, he didn’t care about the 2nd Amendment, and was pretty clear that he didn’t think much of the constitution; or care about the rights of people they hate (you know, “bitter clingers”) having access to weapons for recreation or self defense.  In fact, from his perspective, the onus on justifying why you need an AR-15 was on the gun owner, which was the question he asked every single caller.  From his perspective, they had to justify to him why they had to have an AR-15.  As you can imagine, every reason fell short. So trying to argue from those points is worthless.  When the constitution only means what the next liberal judge on the court says it does, constitutional arguments are moot.

But there is a line of argument that they are vulnerable on, because it’s already part of their suitcase of issues. They totally don’t accept the logic of prohibition.  They know that the war on drugs is a failure, and they know making drugs illegal; particularly weed, doesn’t keep anyone from getting some.

But when it comes to guns, prohibition seems totally plausible. But that is the crux of the current gun control argument: the logic of prohibition.  Liberals do care that the war on drugs is a failure since the government has totally failed to restrict the sale or import of drugs.  Prohibition can’t work with drugs they will say, so why do they think it will work with guns?  Take a typical leftist or libertarian argument against drug prohibition and replace the word ‘drugs’ with ‘guns’ and you have the same argument. It’s just a matter of whose pot is being gored.  In fact, I credit host “Dirty” Jim Colbert for making that point regarding cigarettes.

After all, if you are really concerned about saving lives, wouldn’t you be in favor of banning alcohol? Annually, 88,000 people a year die from alcohol related causes. However in 2015, there were 12,942 gun deaths in the US.  A large number, but if you were interested in saving the most lives, you would ban alcohol.  But….most people like to drink.  So if you like to drink but don’t own weapons, then you want the government to go after the other guy, and that’s the case here.

Interestingly the most eye opening thing about the show is that most of the callers still supported keeping AR-15’s legal, and that’s in Orlando, three days after the city suffered the worst terrorist attack in the US since 9/11.  That’s reassuring when everything in the media wants them banned.  So while I expect Morning Joe to go off on another 6 month crying jag on gun control, there still seem to be people who are immune to it.

 

When Every Tragedy needs its own Talking Points

First of all, just like on Facebook, I should note that I’m safe.  I was not in a downtown Orlando gay club at 2:00 am this weekend.  Shocking I know but I was actually in bed asleep, so it was jarring to wake up on Sunday and discover that that my local Central Florida news was the center of a national, actually international; story.

And it’s a particularly horrific one.  Depending on how you count it, the Pulse Nightclub shooting was either the 3rd deadliest terrorist event on US soil or the worst mass shooting.  Apparently how you count it very much depends on your political leanings.  As a divided country, I suppose it’s only natural that events like these get pulled out of their factual moorings to be used as an ideological talking point.

Having gotten so used to that exact thing in the now routine terrorist attacks that plague the West, I was curious how the quickly the talking points would be developed, and what they would be.  But first, the media reaction:

South Park Muslims

As I’ve noted previously, the media has to go through it’s own version of the 5 stages of grief so they can first deny, then soften the blow that terrorism is actually terrorism;  particularly if they can attempt to pin the crime on someone else.  In fact I was joking yesterday that the headlines on American papers will say something like, “White Homophobic Gun Owner Slaughters Innocents.”  I came pretty close with this Florida Today headline, “Co-worker: Omar Mateen homophobic, ‘unhinged.’”  Some days the jokes just write themselves, and some days they’re written by newspaper editors.

But back to the talking points; based on following the political forums and cable news, the real issue is not of course, radical Islam, it’s guns and religion.  I should say, by religion, they are not talking about Islam, they are talking about religion in general.  After all, a Christian is a Muslim is a Buddhist is a Mormon…only wait, they are talking about a specific religion!  Good old Christianity!  The real root of Islamic terrorism!  As this ACLU attorney tweeted:

Besides Christians, let’s not forget guns.  Listening to Morning Joe this morning, they actually took a break from calling Trump a racist to mention that some guns were involved in a nightclub slaughter.  Yes, just the guns.  The gun argument is so overplayed that it’s hard for even gun control advocates to try to make it the solution to this crisis.  But still they try…

It’s too bad that the battle is over talking points rather than the real root of the problem; Islamic terror.  I honestly thought that 9/11 was a big enough tragedy to wake the country up, but it looks like we’re a few dirty bombs short of paying attention to our real terror problem, and I’m not sure even that would be enough, which dooms us to more and more of these incidents in the future.

 

A Dictatorship of the Punditariat

I honestly thought the #NeverTrump guys had already hit rock bottom.  I didn’t see how much further down they had to go in making themselves look foolish and idiotic. I figured this post was the last I would ever write on the die hard #NeverTrumps.

I was wrong.David French

The editor of The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, whose record of inaccuracy on political predictions over the past year is probably unmatched in modern punditry, revealed this week that his long search for a Great Write Hope is fellow pundit David French, a writer at National Review.  If there is a better example of how insular the pundit class has become I couldn’t imagine what it would be.  The pundits, gazing around at the political field, decide to dispense with the actual voters and select one of their own.

The genesis of an Acela Corridor campaign is the utter failure of the chattering classes to understand the rise of Donald Trump or…well anything that’s happened in the past year. And yet they continue to insist that they’re the best and brightest and know what they’re doing.  Of course their Acela Putsch is doomed to failure.  The world will never be ready for Punditocracy.  The few hundred votes that they represent are insignificant, but the fact that they can command TV news time brings attention to them way out of their importance.

Meanwhile, they’ve had years, generations even, of being taken seriously.  But who is going to take them seriously now; ever?