Balkinization  

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Elzabeth Warren again

Sandy Levinson

Charles Fried, who among other things was Solicitor General under Ronald Reagan (as well, of course, as a distinguished professor at the Harvard Law School and a former member of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court) has a terrific piece in the Boston Globe endorsing Barney Frank's suggestion that Obama should give Elizabeth Warren a recess appointment to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Fried, who is somewhat libertarian in his politics, describes Warren as an "enemy of dishonesty, abuse, and just plain fraud," and he notes that capital (and capitalist) markets can't operate effectively if there is no adequate protection against these ills.

I must say, incidentally, that the stupidest argument in Prof. Warren's favor is that she invented the idea of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Talented academics have good ideas all the time, and that's generally not an argument for putting them in charge of complex agencies. What makes the appointment of Elizabeth Warren essential is not only that she had a very good idea several years ago, but, far, far more importantly, she has consistently fought for the idea at the highest level of politics, that she has demonstrated a remarkable, even charismatic, persona with regard to the ability to make complex ideas accessible, and, as Prof. Fried notes, she is passionately committed to making this idea work. By definintion, no one has the relevant prior experience in running this kind of regulatory agency, since it hasn't existed before and the existing regulatory structures, prior to the new bill, were systematically dismantled by recent administrations (including, of course, the Clinton Administration and Robert Rubin). I have no doubt she'll be a superb administrator, but if there are any problems in pushing the paper, she can always hire a deputy. The fact is that much of the job will involve informing the public as to what the Agency will be doing, and why in fact it serves their (rather than the banks') interests, and there is literally no one better in the country (including, I suspect, Barack Obama) in doing that.

One final note: I had a conversation today with a colleague who was reporting on a conversation he had had with a Washingtonian who was bewailing what has happened to the OLC as the result of the Administration's abject cowardice in selecting a head who might have expressed, at one time or another, controversial views about presidential power, etc. It will be shattering if on top of this he punts on Elizabeth Warren.

Comments:

Professor Fried argues for a recess appointment. There are very good reasons why that is an imperative.

As this NYT piece On Finance Bill, Lobbying Shifts to Regulations makes clear, the industries affected are already gearing up to exercise their influence on the creation of the new rules and regulations. The piece ends with a joke which is apparently doing the rounds in Washington: ”Congress finally passed a jobs bill — full employment for lawyers.”.

Only it isn’t a joke. The banking and financial services industries and their lobbyists are rushing around to hire lawyers, particularly those who have already worked in regulatory agencies . The longer it takes to have the appointee in place, the more difficult it is going to be for the new regulator to obtain the services of the most able.

Quite a few really talented lawyers might well think that service under Elizabeth Warren in the first years of the new regulator would be a very good entry on a curriculum vitae.

The appointment of Professor Warren would resonate immediately with the general public. Public reaction to the other names said to be under consideration is likely to be “..Who? Why not Warren?”.

The electorate is in a sour mood. See Tea Party Demographics: White, Republican, Older Male with Money. Bloomberg is reported as concluding:-
”Tea Party supporters are likely to be older, white and male. Forty percent are age 55 and over, compared with 32 percent of all poll respondents; just 22 percent are under the age of 35, 79 percent are white, and 61 percent are men. Many are also Christian fundamentalists, with 44 percent identifying themselves as “born-again,” compared with 33 percent of all respondents."

This is a demographic which has been “captured” by Fox News, Newsmax, and the Drudge Report etc.

But there is one tried and tested way to reach such electors and that is via their wives. Women are much more concerned with consumer protection issues.

The nomination of a dynamic personality like Elizabeth Warren will go down well. If the Administration appoints Professor Warren and then gets her on TV, particularly day-time TV, to talk directly to the public about consumer protection issues over the next three months, I suggest Rahm Emmanuel might be pleasantly surprised by the impact that has on the polls.
 

If Elizabeth Warren is willing to accept a recess appointment, well knowing the attacks that will come from the GOP and the banking/financial industry, because she knows what, when and how to do the job, that says a lot about her courage, conviction and dedication. And what the Obama Administration needs is courage, conviction and determination. Consider the personal risks to Prof. Warren that she would be taking on, well knowing that until the time comes for Senate confirmation the long knives of the banking/financial lobby will be working their monies to attempt to discredit her. This effort may be countered by educating consumers that they need not be ripped off by past practices of the banking/financial industry. Prof. Warren has the courage. Does President Obama?
 

Sandy:

Fried assumes that Warren would use regulation to stop subprime lending when it was the banking regulators - the Fed, Justice and HUD - who pushed the subprime market and enacted regulations forcing Freddie and Fannie to create a secondary market for this junk. Currently, the Obama Auto Team just gave GM $3.5 billion to buy AmeriCredit for the purpose of making subprime auto loans. Color me skeptical that Warren will do a thing to reverse government pushing of bad credit loans.

Fried also suggested that Warren is necessary to make credit card fees transparent. If Fried has looked at his credit card statements recently, he will notice that reform was already enacted. (This is a rare opportunity to extend kudos to a Dem Congress which is otherwise in the running for worst in American history.)

It appears Fried is projecting his disagreements with the financial system into potential Warren reforms.

Sandy, you appear to know Warren well. What specific policies has she been proposing that you think she might enact if appointed.

Thanks in advance.
 

I disapprove of this concept of giving people recess appointments without even trying to bring them up for a vote.
 

I disapprove of this concept of giving people recess appointments without even trying to bring them up for a vote.

In the abstract, I agree; the recess appointments clause was designed in the horse-and-buggy days, and almost any use of it today is an abuse. Ronald Reagan each year used to appoint the entire board of the Legal Services Corporation (11 members) by recess appointment because he knew that the Senate would not approve them because their mission was to dismantle the Corporation.

Under present circumstances, however, with the Republicans willing to filibuster any appointments, with the purpose of preventing any government action, recess appoints are, regrettably, necessary.
 

Bart De Palma posts:-

” Sandy, you appear to know Warren well. What specific policies has she been proposing that you think she might enact if appointed.

If our poor dear Bart were a little less inclined to rush to his keyboard before doing the necessary research to comment intelligently, he could easily have found on line what Professor Warren herself has been advocating in the consumer protection field.

Here is a link to Professor Warren’s 2007 Article which called for the establishment of a consumer financial services regulator:
Unsafe At Any Rate

Bart might do well to read and attempt to understand at least that article before essaying further comment on the subject.

He could also try an author name search in any reputable law library or bookseller. I suggest he skip the many scholarly works and settle for 'The Fragile Middle Class: Americans in Debt' and 'As We Forgive Our Debtors: Bankruptcy and Consumer Credit in America' both written with Teresa Sullivan and Jay Westbrook for for a general readership and which are out in paperback as well as hard cover. Indeed they may be available in a reasonably stocked public library.
 

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Mourad:

BD: ”Sandy, you appear to know Warren well. What specific policies has she been proposing that you think she might enact if appointed.

Here is a link to Professor Warren’s 2007 Article which called for the establishment of a consumer financial services regulator: Unsafe At Any Rate


To start, here is the correct link:

http://www.democracyjournal.org/pdf/5/Warren.pdf

Next, in "Unsafe At Any Rate," Warren offers a parade of credit horribles that we consumers are too ignorant to understand and require a bureaucracy to save us from. This parade of horribles suggests such a bureaucracy could fundamentally rearrange our present credit system. However Warren's only disclosed policy proposals are to make credit card statements clearer, something I noted Congress achieved over the past year without a new bureaucracy.

Thus, the question stands: What would Warren do as our new credit czarina?
 

Perhaps yodelism is too immature to remember the days of borrower protection via usury laws and how, over the years, via credit card company heavy lobbying, these usury laws were in effect overridden, making it difficult for states to continue to protect consumers. Recent changes are not sufficient. I don't expect that it would be difficult for Prof. Warren to develop appropriate regulations to protect all consumers that would be covered under the new statute that would be within her jurisdiction. But one thing is clear: yodelism stands for the obstruction of whatever the Obama Administration proposes.

The bait is tossed out for answers from Sandy, because he happens to know Prof. Warren. I somehow doubt that Sandy will take the bait, but then you never know. Of course, yodelism could point to a failure of Sandy to respond as proof of yodelism's points. How cute.
 

Shag:

Usury laws are essentially credit redlining.

Folks with mediocre to poor credit histories can only obtain credit in exchange for higher interest rates to account for the risk of default.

Usury law putting an arbitrary cap on interest rates effectively denies credit to those with mediocre to poor credit histories.

Perhaps, it is a good policy to deny credit to the non-creditworthy because they have proven themselves unable to manage credit. However, this policy should be openly debated in Congress and enacted by a vote of our elected representatives, not enacted out of the public eye by a bureaucracy run by a Credit Czarina.

Any other speculations as to what our proposed Credit Czarina may enact if appointed without confirmation?
 

Bart writes:-

Fried assumes that Warren would use regulation to stop subprime lending…

I do not read Professor Fried’s op-ed in support of Elizabeth Warren as making any such assumption.

Further, having now belatedly read Unsafe at Any Rate Bart asserts:-

Warren offers a parade of credit horribles that we consumers are too ignorant to understand and require a bureaucracy to save us from. This parade of horribles suggests such a bureaucracy could fundamentally rearrange our present credit system.

The “parade of horribles” does imply a need, not for mere “rearrangement” but for fundamental reform of the consumer credit system.

What Bart appears not to want to understand is that that it is unreasonable to expect every citizen of every level of education and sophistication to peruse important documents (such as those relating to a mortgage) with the same level of understanding as a lawyer (or at least some lawyers) might have.

Nor is there real equality of bargaining power between the seller/lender and purchaser/consumer. If Bart thinks differently, let him just try negotiating contract terms with a credit card provider. I expect he would be told where to get off in pretty short order.

So in reality if a consumer wishes a particular product, he cannot negotiate on equal terms, the best he can hope for is to make a selection between different products all offered on that provider’s standard and non-negotiable terms. What are called ”contracts d’adhesion”.

In the UK quite a lot of the initial impetus for reform of such contracts came from the Judiciary. Famously, Lord Denning once held that a particular small print consumer contract term was so onerous that it should be held unenforceable unless “printed in large type with a big red clock in the margin”.

What I expect the new regulator will seek to implement are broadly the same matters which we in the UK regard as proper considerations where there is not equality of bargaining power.
These include ensuring that there are no unfair contract terms, that the borrower is properly informed of the costs and charges for the product and that these are objectively reasonable, and easily comparable with competing products, that borrowers are not offered products which, objectively assessed, they cannot afford and that the actions to be taken in cases of arrears or other defaults are proportionate and properly regulated.

Obviously the US and UK markets are differently organised but a recent UK Financial Services Authority consultation paper on the better regulation of mortgage lending in the light of recent events may be of value to those who have an interest in the subject - see - Mortgage Market Review: Responsible Lending.

Irresponsible lending practices are actually generally bad for both the lender and the borrower unless, of course, the initial lender gets away with his irresponsibility by, for example, the securitisation process which passes the consequences on to others and leaves the irresponsible lender with his ill-gotten gains.
 

Mourad said...

What Bart appears not to want to understand is that that it is unreasonable to expect every citizen of every level of education and sophistication to peruse important documents (such as those relating to a mortgage) with the same level of understanding as a lawyer (or at least some lawyers) might have.

That is why you engage lawyers or other experts like realtors to explain complex legal documents.

Nor is there real equality of bargaining power between the seller/lender and purchaser/consumer.

That is correct. There are alternating buyers and sellers markets. However, what you really mean is that sellers are smart and consumers are stupid.

If Bart thinks differently, let him just try negotiating contract terms with a credit card provider. I expect he would be told where to get off in pretty short order.

Actually, its rather easy. You simply have to pick up the phone and try. I have had fees waived and renegotiated terms on credit cards a couple dozen times. My finest hour was obtaining a 2% rate for the money I used to start my law firm.

In this era of bankruptcy, even folks with poor credit histories have leverage because credit card companies would like to keep a regular payment schedule at reduced rates rather than having a bankruptcy judge take a cleaver to their principle recovery. This is why we have a thriving credit counseling industry.

What I expect the new regulator will seek to implement are broadly the same matters which we in the UK regard as proper considerations where there is not equality of bargaining power.
These include ensuring that there are no unfair contract terms, that the borrower is properly informed of the costs and charges for the product and that these are objectively reasonable, and easily comparable with competing products, that borrowers are not offered products which, objectively assessed, they cannot afford and that the actions to be taken in cases of arrears or other defaults are proportionate and properly regulated.


In sum, the government will tighten the terms for credit and fewer people will be able to obtain it under the theory that consumers are too stupid to manage their own lives and it is better for the government to deny them credit altogether than to allow them to risk credit failure.

Typical authoritarian thinking.

Here is typical libertarian Tea Party thinking:

Peggy Noonan penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal providing vignettes from the Tea Party rebellion, of which this one best captures the essence of the movement flying revolutionary era flags proclaiming "Don't Tread on Me!"

When Rep. Brian Baird went before his constituents in Clark County, Wash., on Aug. 18, he was met by this speech from a young man in the audience: "I heard you say that you are going to let us keep our health insurance. Well thank you! It's not your right to decide whether I keep my current plan or not, that's my decision." The constituent got cheers.

In short, all you authoritarians who have designs on running my life can take a hike.
 

Under present circumstances, however, with the Republicans willing to filibuster any appointments, with the purpose of preventing any government action, recess appoints are, regrettably, necessary.

I do not object to using a recess appointment as a response to a filibuster. But at least try to break the filibuster first.
 

Usury laws are essentially credit redlining.

Folks with mediocre to poor credit histories can only obtain credit in exchange for higher interest rates to account for the risk of default.


As an exercise for the commentariat, try to figure out the difference between a world where people are denied credit on the basis of race, and one where people are denied credit on the basis of bad credit.

The schtick of "we must do exactly what the business lobby wants, for the good of the consumer!" got old several decades ago.
 

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I agree with Steve. All too often the Dems simply cave on the threat of a filibuster. It would be nice to occasionally force the GOP to actually filibuster.
 

Now we have this yodelism:

"Usury laws are essentially credit redlining."

This sounds libertarian to the nth degree if the suggestion is that there should be no financial regulations whatsoever regarding lending. Consider the trap created for so many. Once upon a time, bankruptcy was available to get out of the trap. But thanks to the lobbying efforts of credit card companies, such relief is now limited.

Also, once upon a time, federal tax policy permitted consumers to have the possibility of a tax deduction for many kinds of interest paid by a taxpayer. Alas, limitations were imposed. But note that on the business side, interest deductions subsidizing borrowings by financial firms are so attractive that equity interests are quite low, similar to subprime borrowers, except that the financial firms are not charged excessive interest rates in comparison to consumers. Perhaps consumers should have been similarly bailed out.

Sandy, I have a question for you. As a good friend of Prof. Warren, have you no objection to references to her as "Credit Czarina"?
 

I have to laugh at Bart, who has demonstrated his innumeracy over and over, claiming that is easy for the average person to understand credit agreements, which now have incredibly complex formulae for describing how variable interest rates, for example, are computed.

Face it: lots of smart people have spent endless man-years circumventing laws requiring disclosure. The average consumer, who has little time, little desire, and little skill, plus a modicum of morality, cannot compete with the behemoths.

Congress cannot keep up with the modern corporations in their efforts to circumvent the spirit of any law standing between them and their profits. A bureaucracy, although not a perfect solution, can at least respond within a reasonable time.

Nominate Warren. If the Senate stalls, recess appointment is appropriate.
 

It's not every day that you see someone throw down some innumeracy smack.
 

"Nominate Warren. If the Senate stalls, recess appointment is appropriate."

When is the next "recess" when that can be done?
 

Shag:

The only helpful financial regulations are those which promote transparency and those which prevent fraud. Denying consumers access to a product simply because the government thinks they are too stupid to use the product is authoritarianism.

The term Credit Czarina is a comment on the authoritarian nature of the position, not Ms. Warren.
 

Poor Bart’s so-called “Libertarianism”, is merely a convenient euphemism for anarchy. Any state needs to regulate some matters in the public interest.

I understand Bart holds himself out as an attorney. One assumes therefore that his professional behaviour is regulated by in the public interest by whatever Rules of Professional Conduct apply in Colorado. I would be surprised if such rules were to permit Bart to charge fees for services not carried out or which were unreasonable in amount, or if he were not required to put advances of fees or other client monies into a trust account and keep them separate from his own monies.

Now suppose that Bart’s average DUI case is of less importance to the average client than the financial commitment the same client takes on when contracting for a mortgage.

So why, pray, does Bart think that it is proper to regulate the provision of legal services in the public interest but not the provision of financial services?

Bart said of regulation: In sum, the government will tighten the terms for credit and fewer people will be able to obtain it under the theory that consumers are too stupid to manage their own lives and it is better for the government to deny them credit altogether than to allow them to risk credit failure.

Absolute cr*p. I would not expect the new US consumer regulator to take a very different overall approach to ours which the FSA summarises thus:

Our philosophy is that consumers should be provided with the information that they need to make informed decisions about their financial arrangements; that this information should be fair, clear and not misleading; and that customers have the right to expect that any professional advice they receive is appropriate for their individual circumstances...

In a competitive market, firms must not be prevented from offering innovative or high-risk products to those investors who are prepared, on the basis of an informed judgement, to accept the risks.


So in reality, the principle for the provision of financial services is the same as for the provision of legal services. The lawyer has a duty to advise the client in terms which are fair, clear and not misleading. It is then up to the client to decide what to do on the basis of an informed judgment.

Of course, the obligation to give advice, sometimes requires the advice to be couched in strong terms.
 

My second job is as a loan officer for a mortgage company. The idea that one would turn to a Realtor® as an expert to help you with your loan documents is nonsense. A Realtor® gets paid if a deal goes through. They do not get paid if the deal does NOT go through. They are known to fight, claw, scream, and harass loan officers who reject their clients. It's another case of the foxes guarding the henhouse.

A good loan officer should offer a product that is in the client's best interest and be willing to explain every last word. That said, not every loan officer is good and some are downright predatory. They also don't get paid unless someone takes out a loan. Lenders and investors also depend on those borrowers for their money. Given the fact that everyone in the industry stands to lose if the borrower does NOT make a deal, disclosure becomes a mandatory protection.

Note that B2B loans don't follow that rule. The understanding is that businesses are well aware of the notions of risks and rewards and are capable of navigating the paperwork appropriately with little hand-holding.

However, the recent attempts to make things transparent and easy for borrowers to compare between lenders/products (specifically the redesigned Good Faith Estimate) have actually REMOVED vital pieces of information that the client should have. In our state (California), it's less of an issue as some state-required forms still carry that info.

As for the clients' ability, it depends on the clients. No, people are generally not so stupid that can't understand what they're doing--especially if you go over each form and explain it before they sign. You occasionally meet people who have no idea what they're doing. They've refinanced three times in three years because their "friend" Bob who's a mortgage guy told them they should do that to get more cash out, and now their payments are sky high, their equity's gone, Bob won't answer their phone calls, and can you help them?

But for the most part, the problem is the products that lenders offer directly. Client Chuck wants low house payments. Big Bank says "how low do you want them?" Chuck says (on cue) "As low as possible!" Big Bank says, "Coming right up!" and dishes them out a turd sandwich of a deal involving a nasty I/O or negam loan that does indeed have low payments but does nothing to preserve their equity.

Trust me, a typical borrower's concern about what will happen in 5,10 or 15 years is nothing compared to their concern with the answer to the question "what will my monthly payments be?"

That's why honest mortgage brokers are upset with being the scapegoats in the latest round of reforms; if investors hadn't packaged risk incorrectly and lenders hadn't offered ridiculous loan products, we simply wouldn't be in the situation we're in.
 

Mourad said...

Poor Bart’s so-called “Libertarianism”, is merely a convenient euphemism for anarchy.

There are levels of government between your preferred authoritarianism and anarchy.

Any state needs to regulate some matters in the public interest.

The only legitimate use of the state police power is to keep one person from harming another. All other decisions concerning how we live our lives belong to us. Your repeated desire to direct people's lives to save them from themselves is tyranny.

Mourad: What I expect the new regulator will seek to implement are broadly the same matters which we in the UK regard as proper considerations where there is not equality of bargaining power.
These include ensuring that there are no unfair contract terms, ... that borrowers are not offered products which, objectively assessed, they cannot afford...

BD: In sum, the government will tighten the terms for credit and fewer people will be able to obtain it under the theory that consumers are too stupid to manage their own lives and it is better for the government to deny them credit altogether than to allow them to risk credit failure.

Mourad: Absolute cr*p. I would not expect the new US consumer regulator to take a very different overall approach to ours which the FSA summarises thus:

Our philosophy is that consumers should be provided with the information that they need to make informed decisions about their financial arrangements; that this information should be fair, clear and not misleading; and that customers have the right to expect that any professional advice they receive is appropriate for their individual circumstances...

In a competitive market, firms must not be prevented from offering innovative or high-risk products to those investors who are prepared, on the basis of an informed judgement, to accept the risks.


So you are now abandoning your previous position that the government should determine what financial instruments the people are allowed to purchase in favor of a far more restrained - dare I say libertarian - set of regulations only promoting transparency? In that case we are in agreement, although I somehow doubt your sudden conversion to limited government.
 

PMS_CC makes very telling observations. He is absolutely right about the role of the realtor (UK=estate agent). They are on commission in relation to the sale and therefore the last person to whom a prospective buyer should turn for advice.

In the UK they are often also intermediaries in the mortgage application process from which they also receive a commission from the mortgage provider.

Therefore under our regime, they may be one of the crucial intermediaries because they will have to elicit the financial information about the purchaser necessary to enable the lender to make a responsible decision.

It seems that that under the regime PMS_CC describes, loan officers for a mortgage provider have the same role and are under the same pressure to conclude transactions and that is also true no doubt about the mortgage adviser within a financial institution which is to be a lender.

The crucial thing is that information about the prospective borrower has to be collected by these intermediaries and verified to enable the prospective lender to assess the ability of the borrower to repay. Further it is they who have to give advice to the borrower as to which product is suitable in the light of the information provided.

Responsible lending does entail lenders only offering suitable products tailored to the specific circumstances of the prospective borrowers on the basis of full disclosure and it does have to allow for the possibility that in some cases, the financial circumstances of the borrower will be such that the only responsible lending decision will be “sorry, my friend, there is no suitable product for you in your present circumstances”.

It also involves regulating how the lender deals with customers after the transaction completes.

That is why our FSA regulates both intermediaries and lenders and also regulates the way lenders deal with customers in arrears - see Redstone Mortages

What poor dear Bart proposes is that lenders should be free to offer unsuitable products to the impecunious, that intermediaries should be free to give bad advice, and that borrowers should be induced to enter into a path which will inevitably lead to their home being repossessed and homelessness.

All, no doubt, in the name of enabling irresponsible lenders to make huge profits in order to provide dear Bart and his friends with unearned income from predatory lending.

Doubtless, Bart then salves his conscience by donating his cast-off clothing to those made homeless.

Morally, it is the equivalent of allowing cotton mill owners to get rich by hiring small children to work 12 hour shifts operating dangerous machinery.

This is supposedly “Libertarian”. No it is not! Bart has forgotten the distinction between “liberty” and “licence”.
 

Bart writes: Here is typical libertarian Tea Party thinking….

Jonathan Rauch has an analysis of the impact of the Tea Party in the National Journal The Tea Party Paradox

His conclusion is:- ” Republicans’ problem is that core conservative constituencies— particularly white working-class and Christian voters—are shrinking as a share of the electorate. Core center-left constituencies—minorities, left-leaning women, professionals, and socially liberal Millennial Generation voters—are growing. The demographic trends appear to require Republicans to expand beyond their conservative base just to keep from losing ground. But debranded Republicans, unlike ordinary partisans, demand purity in exchange for their votes.”

On Frum Forum: How the Tea Party is killing the GOP David Frum describes the analysis as “urgently important” and suggests it presents “a nasty dilemma”.

On an earlier thread Bart wrote:-

”Given that nearly all of the Dem policies currently poll just above genital herpes, being the Party of No pretty much reflects the public mood.

I wondered a bit about that observation. So I looked at the polls Gallup: - Americans back more Stimulus Spending to Create Jobs

According to this poll, 60% of Americans favour more government spending to create jobs and stimulate the economy, 56% want the government to regulate energy output from private companies to reduce global warming and 55% want more regulation of major financial institutions. The only measure on which the GOP stance had near majority support was for repeal of the healthcare legislation – 50% to 45% with 5% having no opinion.

The later Kaiser healthcare tracking poll for July showed (1) favourable 50% and (2) unfavourable down 6% to 35%. Those “unfavourable” include seniors, who believe the “death panel” falsehood.

So if in poor dear Bart’s view the Democrat’s policies are polling just above those for a social disease, what does that signify for the GOP policies?

It seems as if the financial services industry too is coming round to Elizabeth Warren – see this piece in Bloomberg’s Business Week Warren Reaches Out to Lobbyists, Republicans in Charm Campaign

The relevance of this is that now is the time for the Administration and the Democrats to go on a media offensive. The establishment of the Consumer Protection Bureau is supported by a majority – which can grow. An established media personality like Elizabeth Warren could drive the polls sharply upwards.

No wonder poor dear Bart is so against the whole idea.
 

Mourad said...

Jonathan Rauch has an analysis of the impact of the Tea Party in the National Journal The Tea Party Paradox His conclusion is:- ” Republicans’ problem is that core conservative constituencies— particularly white working-class and Christian voters—are shrinking as a share of the electorate. Core center-left constituencies—minorities, left-leaning women, professionals, and socially liberal Millennial Generation voters—are growing.

The Emerging Dem Majority thesis has a series of demographic problems:

1) Conservatives reproduce at or above replacement rates, liberals (like their EU conterparts) do not.

2) This thesis is depending primarily upon the past surge of hispanic immigrants continuing to create a minority majority nation and that hispanics will vote the way they did in 2008 rather than 2004. Thus, the Dem attempts to stop enforcing the immigration laws and to naturalize the last wave of illegal immigrants.

The problem here is that a heavy majority of Americans want to enforce the immigration laws and the recession has reversed the immigration surge as there are no longer open factory and construction jobs.

Moreover, as later generations of hispanic immigrants enter the middle class and become business and property owners, they become natural libertarian/conservative constituents.

3) The millennials tend to self identify liberal because they are young and without responsibilities. When they get married and have families, that will change as it did for their boomer parents in the 80s and 90s.

Thus the demographic trends of immigration and youth are largely illusory and cannot overcome the fact that conservatives are out reproducing white liberals.

The demographics is destiny political argument also assumes that political beliefs are hardwired in a group like genetics. This is, of course, ridiculous.

The 2006 and especially 2008 elections which the Emerging Dem Majority crowd like to cite as evidence now appear to be anomalies based upon a fraud where Obama and Dems in swing districts campaigned from the center or center-right and a market collapse on the eve of the 2008 election. However, after the Dems governed from the hard left (or EU middle) over the past year and a half in violation of their campaign promises, Americans appear to have rediscovered that they are a center-right nation.

Pew Research just released the results from a poll where different partisan groups were asked to rate themselves and the Democrat, Republican and Tea Parties along an ideological continuum from liberal to conservative. The Dems hard left turn governing the country over the past two years has left the middle behind. Independents now properly view the Dems as a liberal party and place themselves ideologically closer to the Tea Party and far closer to the GOP than to the Democrats.

This shift of Independents to the right has been noted in the MA, NJ and VA elections and nearly every 2010 election poll for several months now, intensifying after the Dems rammed through Obamacare against the wishes of the voters.

In short, the Emerging Dem Majority thesis appears more and more quaint as time goes on. The question now is whether the GOP can convince what appears will be a historical voter shift in 2010 into something more permanent than a one time rebellion against Dem left governance.
 

Thus the demographic trends of immigration and youth are largely illusory and cannot overcome the fact that conservatives are out reproducing white liberals.

The demographics is destiny political argument also assumes that political beliefs are hardwired in a group like genetics. This is, of course, ridiculous.


I thought I would nip this in the bud before it gets posted. The first paragraph above refers to the fact that children tend to adopt their parent's politics and other cultural points of view. I did not mean to imply that there are conservative and liberal genes that are passed onto children.
 

Bart, the wunda demographer, pontificates:

A- Conservatives reproduce at or above replacement rates, liberals (like their EU conterparts) do not.

Really ? I wonder why. Is it because conservatives are simply more fertile? What would the cause of that be?

Or is it because conservatives only copulate (i) heterosexually and (ii) in the “missionary position” and (iii) without contraception – none of which propositions seem to tally with some of the recent antics of some GOP legislators?

Or is it because conservatives indoctrinate their women into the belief that their primary role is to be married to a proper conservative and have at least four children?

That was certainly the policy behind the 1993 Encouragement of Marriage Act in Nazi Germany so there is precedent.

B- Moreover, as later generations of hispanic immigrants enter the middle class and become business and property owners, they become natural libertarian/conservative constituents

Really ? Only the “hispanics”? Some sort of fall-out from the Reagan/Kirkpatrick policy of support of fascist regimes in Latin America is it? Anyone told the National Council of La Raza that conservatives will make it easier for those “hispanics” who so wish to obtain their citizenship and vote?

Or is this also true of all the other immigrant groups the conservative WASPS have successively despised: the ones they called the "paddies", the "kikes", and the "guinea wops"?

Funny, that. I rather thought the Irish, the Jewish, and the Italian communities in American have historically quite often supported the Democrats.
 

Mourad said...

BD: Conservatives reproduce at or above replacement rates, liberals (like their EU conterparts) do not.

Really ? I wonder why.


This should be the foremost question before the EU, whose native population is literally dying off for lack of reproduction. I suspect careerism, abortion and a cultural belief that children and families are optional are major factors, but this is speculation on my part.

This new phenomenon in human demographics deserves massive and immediate study, but I suspect that the left dominated academia does not really want to take this look in the mirror.

BD: Moreover, as later generations of hispanic immigrants enter the middle class and become business and property owners, they become natural libertarian/conservative constituents

Really ? Only the “hispanics”?


Hispanics by far make up the majority of immigrants and tend to be far less educated than the other immigrant groups like Asians. Thus, it has taken a couple generations to fully join the middle class.

Or is this also true of all the other immigrant groups the conservative WASPS have successively despised: the ones they called the "paddies", the "kikes", and the "guinea wops"? Funny, that. I rather thought the Irish, the Jewish, and the Italian communities in American have historically quite often supported the Democrats.

Actually, apart from the Neo-Cons, the Jews are fairly stalwart Dems while the so called ethnic whites became the so called Reagan Democrats.
 

Bart writes:-

Thus the demographic trends of immigration and youth are largely illusory and cannot overcome the fact that conservatives are out reproducing white liberals.

The demographics is destiny political argument also assumes that political beliefs are hardwired in a group like genetics. This is, of course, ridiculous.

Dear Bart is, as so often, tangled up in the illogicality of his own argument. I hope this will help.

As a former military man (however briefly), Bart must surely remember the soliloquy of Private Lewis [Gilbert & Sullivan, Iolanthe, Act II Scene 1]

When all night long a chap remains
On sentry-go, to chase monotony
He exercises of his brains,
That is, assuming that he's got any.
Though never nurtured in the lap
Of luxury, yet I admonish you,
I am an intellectual chap,
And think of things that would astonish you.
I often think it's comical – Fal, lal, la!
How Nature always does contrive – Fal, lal, la!
That every boy and every gal
That’s born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative!
Fal, lal, la!

That disposes of the nature –v- nurture part of dear Bart’s little problem.

However, I am more concerned with the first sentence: ”….the fact that conservatives are out producing white liberals”.

1. Why do conservatives have to be out to produce? Can’t they get it up at home?

2. If the descendant of any two conservatives is a “white liberal”, what are the implications for Mendelian genetics, and will this fact not inexorably lead to the extinction of conservatism?

3. "What will become of us without any barbarians (sorry, conservatives)? These people were a kind of solution." - [With apologies to C.P.Cavafis].
 

This op ed from Paul Krugman is worth a read:
Curbing Your Enthusiasm.

Hope someone in the White House reads and inwardly digests.
 

This yodelism:

"Thus the demographic trends of immigration and youth are largely illusory and cannot overcome the fact that conservatives are out reproducing white liberals."

suggests considering a new nickname - "The Blankster" - to dispute this, at least anecdotally.
 

"Thus the demographic trends of immigration and youth are largely illusory and cannot overcome the fact that conservatives are out reproducing white liberals."

Baghdad, we all support your "shoot blanks for liberalism" policy.
 

It's curious that this yodelism:

"Thus the demographic trends of immigration and youth are largely illusory and cannot overcome the fact that conservatives are out reproducing white liberals."

refers to "white" liberals but not to "white" conservatives. Could it be that non-white conservatives are the studs and not "white" conservatives? And what about non-white liberals' reproductivity - are they chopped liver?

Perhaps the existence of a cite for this alleged "fact" is what is illusory.
 

Shag:

I limited the failure to reproduce to white liberals because African American and Latin liberals have no problem reproducing at or above replacement rates. There is no such racial dichotomy among conservatives.
 

1. There is a WSJ article "The New Credit-Card Tricks" which provides a reminder of the urgent need for better regulation of the credit card issuers and which non-WSJ subscribers may access via The Huffington Post.

2. Apropos poor dear Bart’s increasingly hilarious pseudo-science on the differential reproductive rates of conservatives as opposed to white liberals and non-white liberals, has anyone noticed that one does not hear as much about conservative legislators being out reproducing as one hears of them being outed for activities which may well be pleasurable and sexual, but which are unlikely to result in the pitter-patter of tiny conservative feet.
 

This explanatory yodelism:

"There is no such racial dichotomy among conservatives."

might suggest, then, that liberals are outproducing convervatives. It also suggests that non-whites are not conservatives, perhaps because conservatives do not want them. Perhaps this extends to the Tea Party.

But, I ask again, is there a cite supporting the "fact" proposed?

By the way, here's a score I can report:

Shag (white liberal) 4
Blankster (white conservative) 0
 

Mourad, are you suggesting that conservatives outsource reproducing, like they want to outsource Social Security, etc?
 

Blankster Bart. I like it a lot.
 

Mourad:

The numbers do not lie most especially for native Europeans.
 

The numbers do not lie most especially for native Europeans.
# posted by Bart DePalma : 9:12 PM


The numbers don't lie about what for native Europeans, Blankster?
 

Just in case some thought there might be some substance to poor dear Bart’s latest fantasy, Bart kindly provided a link to his own blog.

When one encounters the assertion: the numbers do not lie… one expects to be taken to some reputable data set: The US Census, the UK Census, Eurostat, something like that, or in default to some scholarly interpretation by a recognised authority.

Not so with dear Bart, of course. His reproductive “Apocalypse Now” scenario is taken from:-

(1) a Professor Arthur Brooks, apparently lately Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University where he appears to have published mainly about fundraising for non-profits – which no doubt explains why he is now apparently headed to that well-known non-profit rest home for politicians of the extreme right in need of a stipend between administrations, the American Enterprise Institute;

(2) one Larry Eastland who had some ill-defined functions in the Nixon, Ford and Regan Administrations and who it seems once wrote a paper, ”A Republican Dilemma” arguing that the USA needed to legalise its immigrants from Latin America to remedy what he saw as a looming US demographic disaster.

Apparently the paper was published on a website called ”Conservative Battleline” which now appears to be defunct (but it can be retrieved from a Google cache); and

(3) a work by Mark Steyn, the well-known Islamophobe and frequent guest on the shows of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, who is so far to the loony right that even our Daily Telegraph newspaper dropped his column in 2006.

Still, it’s an ill-wind. After all, Colorado has one of the lowest population densities in the USA so there’s plenty of room for a goodly number of the 11 million or so hispanic immigrants Larry Eastland thinks should be granted US citizenship.

I’m sure dear Bart, as a person of mixed European ancestry – on one side probably originating from Spaniards who settled in Southern Italy – would be delighted to welcome those of his own ethnicity and make them feel entirely at home, comforted by the knowledge they are likely to be highly reproductive as good Catholics, and, as he puts it, “natural libertarian/conservative constituents” once they advance to the middle classes.

Perhaps Bart could take this up with the ACP candidate for the office of Governor of Colorado, Tom Tacredo Goes Rogue.
 

Mourad, your link doesn't work because you left out a letter - "n" - in Tancredo. But even correctly spelled, isn't "Tom Tancredo Goes Rogue" redundant?
 

Sorry Shag, let's see if this is any better:

Tom Tancredo Goes Rogue.

As I recall, Mr Tancredo's stance on immigration was extreme which is rather strange given that Mr Tancredo's grandparents on either side were immigrants.

But then, of course, his Chickenhawk draft exception was on the grounds that he was "mentally unfit for duty due to generalized anxiety, depression, and panic disorders". Perhaps Mr Tancredo now suffers from "hispanics under the bed" syndrome.

I think he also once sponsored a draft Constitutional amendment to make English the official language of the US not withstanding the judgment of that great authority, Professor Higgins:-

"There even are places where English completely disappears.
In America, they haven't used it for years!"


Bart has been invited several times to comment on Mr Tancredo's candidacy for office, but he is being rather coy on that issue.
 

I just reread a fairly recent National Geographic article on Mantids and there came to mind yodelism's claim of conservatives "out reproducing white liberals" and my suggestion to Mourad that this may result from outsourcing of reproducing by conservatives. Call this Shag's Conservative Mantidian Theory. Here's how it goes:

Conservative males look for white male surrogates to attend to reproducing chores that in Mantidian fashion may result in the demise of the surrogate promptly after the act, thereby decreasing the ranks of white liberals and thus their reproducing capabilities. At the same time, conservative males can keep their wits -heads - about them without any missionary burdens. (Remember the punchline to a morality joke: "Never lose your head over a ....")
 

Mourad:

Typical left. If you cannot address the facts, attack the messengers and then change the subject.

The numbers still remain. Facts are stubborn things.
 

This "conservatives are out-reproducing liberals" theme of Bart's is one of his favorite songs.

Every time I hear it from him I think of "The Marching Morons" by Kornbluth, which, in view of the teabaggers, is looking less like fiction and more like prophecy.
 

C2H50H:

I don't want to nit-pick but your "inside" quote in:

"This 'conservatives are out-reproducing liberals' theme of Bart's is one of his favorite songs."

attributable to our NOAGN* is not quite accurate - it should read:

"conservatives are out reproducing white liberals"

a "fact" claimed but remaining unsupported with a cite despite two requests. Our Blankster is a factless prophet.

*NIT ON A GNAT'S NUT
 

More on Bart’s pseudo-scientific ravings.

A useful clue was to discover that Bart was relying on the work of Mark Steyn. In 2006 Steyn asserted the arrival of ”Eurabia” and that Muslims would account for 40% of the population of Europe by 2020. That was, of course, the most utter drivel.

Steyn’s calculations were based on the false premise that immigrants reproduce at the higher birth-rate prevalent in their country of origin. In the UK we have good birth statistics. Immigrants to this country have almost identical birth rates to the general population. As of now about 4% of the population of Europe is Muslim. It is expected to rise to about 6% by 2020 and to 10 percent within 100 years.

Bart is not the only loon giving credence to Bart's pseudo-science. There is also one Silvio Cano Jr (whom I’ve never heard of but who appears to have some connection with talk radio) who posted this:
Republicans are wining the baby battle! which quotes from one of the same sources as Bart. Note the last line:

“Thank you, Republican mothers. Thank you for doing your part!”

Shades of Kinde, Kirche, und Kuche in the 3rd Reich

The Tea Party movement (which Bart supports) seems to have quite strong racist and Islamopobic overtones – see this reaction to one event Tea Party Convention kicks off with racist rant - delivered by, guess who, Colorado’s Tom Tancredo. Just one other source from many Yes There is racism in the Tea Party movement.

What we do know from the polls Tea Party Demographics is that:-

"Tea Party supporters are likely to be older, white and male. Forty percent are age 55 and over, compared with 32 percent of all poll respondents; just 22 percent are under the age of 35, 79 percent are white, and 61 percent are men. Many are also Christian fundamentalists, with 44 percent identifying themselves as “born-again,” compared with 33 percent of all respondents."

The crude process of extrapolating from voting figures of the Bush election does not allow for the possibility that children of many Bush voters are very likely to have been turned off by their parents’ mentality.

That’s perhaps why just 22% of Tea Party supporters are under 35.
 

It's a relief to come back on topic and note that Jonathan Alter says in Newsweek:
Pick Elizabeth Warren.
 

Mourad:

Once again, you offer up straw men to change the topic.

The topic is not how fecund you and your immigrant co-religionists are in Europe, but rather how the native Europeans and secular left Americans are not reproducing at anything near replacement numbers.

Replenishing the population is not some Nazi policy, but rather a demographic imperative for the survival of a civilization.

I personally can give less than a damn whether the secular left dies out from disinterest in reproduction. However, it is the left's disinterest in its own survival that is amazing to me.
 

Bart,

Your concern for the survival of the "secular left" is touching, but don't spare any worry for us. The history of the world since about 1400 indicates that a dedication to rationality, science, and liberal ideals has a tendency to spread and infect even those who have been inculcated with conservatism in their youth.

While the barbarians or teabaggers (but I repeat myself) may produce a period of backsliding for a generation or two, perhaps even longer, people will tend to think, and thinking will inevitably lead to a rejection of mindless bigotry and thoughtless ideology.

Actually, since I hang out at one of the largest public campuses in the country, I can tell you that, while teabaggerism may be popular in the cultural backwaters, it's nothing but a joke among the young.
 

I wonder what The Blankster is doing personally to replenish his ilk? [Is cloning optional?]

I note that he now conjoins "the native Europeans and secular left Americans [as] not reproducing at anything near replacement numbers." He still fails to provide a cite with respect to "white liberals" in support of his original claim. He now refers to "secular left Americans." Are there no "secular conservative Americans"?
 

shag:

I provided you with multiple links. Read them and then we can chat.
 

Bart writes:-

The topic is not how fecund you and your immigrant co-religionists are in Europe, but rather how the native Europeans and secular left Americans are not reproducing at anything near replacement numbers.

Shag: As you will see, the persons on whom Bart relies for his crackpot theory are neither demographers nor statisticians and there is no validity to the proposition he seeks to advance.

For what it is worth, the population of the UK has risen from just over 52 millions in the 1950’s to over 62 millions today. We have sufficient immigration to ensure that the population will continue to rise, indeed our problem is rather one of keeping the infrastructure adequate to cope with rising population.

As for ethnicity, our Islands have been invaded and settled by the Beaker Folk in pre-history, the Celts, the Romans, the Norse, the Angles, the Saxons, the Danes, the Normans and by successive waves of immigrants post 1066. We have been ethnic mongrels for centuries.

There are, of course, still some in the UK who take the view that ”the wogs begin at Calais” and when I am in Milan, I often hear the expression ”Africa begins at the river Po”. Both are expressions denoting insecurity and, of course, neither is true. The ethnic mix of our islands and of the rest of Europe will continue to evolve and will be the better for it, even if there are hiccups along the way.

Bart’s alleged concerns for liberal values are touching but wrong-headed for the reasons given by C2H50H in his post.

I really cannot understand why Bart has espoused this rubbish and is now seeking to propagate it unless, as I strongly, suspect, it is in reality the same message put out by the fascists in Italy and Spain and in Nazi Germany – namely that procreation advances the cause.

I remember the nuns in the Montessori school I went to in the 1940’s encouraging us to donate half a crown to have a black baby in Africa baptised and I suppose that’s also a ”grab ‘em early enough and they’re yours for life” message too.

But why raise the issue on this blog? Bart's chances of picking up any converts must be infinitesimal.

On the other hand, Bart may simply be posting on the theory that any old rubbish is good enough to district attention away from the need to implement effective bank regulation and consumer protection and in that, respect, he has, of course been successful.
 

Yodelism on reproducing seems to boil down to this schoolboy claim by conservatives:

"Mine is bigger than yours."

Let me remind him of one score:

Shag (white liberal) 4
Blankster (white conservative) 0

Yodelism ignores the conservatives' concern with the demographic changes expected by 2050 here in America regarding reproducing.
 

Mourad:

The topic is not how fecund you and your immigrant co-religionists are in Europe, but rather how the native Europeans and secular left Americans are not reproducing at anything near replacement numbers.

Shag: As you will see, the persons on whom Bart relies for his crackpot theory are neither demographers nor statisticians and there is no validity to the proposition he seeks to advance.


Yet another citation to authority logical fallacy. A grade school child can count census data, although it is apparently difficult to get a leftist to even read it.

For what it is worth, the population of the UK has risen from just over 52 millions in the 1950’s to over 62 millions today...

Yet another straw man. The Brits had no problem producing children two generations ago after WWII. What part of currently do you have a hard time understanding?

We have sufficient immigration to ensure that the population will continue to rise...

Finally. Thank you for indirectly conceding the point. Immigration is also what the Dems are relying upon to replenish their electorate.

BTW, one would think that attorneys such as yourself and shag would know that gratuitous insults do not make up for a weak factual argument. They just make you look churlish.
 

BTW, one would think that attorneys such as yourself and shag would know that gratuitous insults do not make up for a weak factual argument.

Blankshot, lies and bullshit don't make for a very good argument, either, but that has never stopped you.
 

GOTCHA!

Bart relies on absolutely bogus data about ”Eurabia” put out by a noted Islamophobe, to make an anti-immigration argument! And doubtless an anti-Islam one as well.

He then compounds his error by relying on more flawed data to run a “Conservatives have more babies than liberals do” argument replete with creepily fascist overtones.

Well, I did say earlier on this thread that if I had to locate Bart somewhere on the scale of left to right in European politics, I’d place him on the extreme right with the neo-fascists.

Quod Erat Demonstrandum

BTW - That’s what made today’s polling report on the Colorado Governor’s race such a joy to read: The Tancredo Effect

Tancredo’s another who has been playing the race and immigration cards at Tea Party events.
 

Mourad,

That link is broken, I think. Perhaps you meant this?
 

C2H50H - Yes, that's the one!

Do you know the Cavafis poem
Waiting for the Barbarians?

Seems like one barbarian less.

[I hope I did not screw up the link this time]
 

I hadn't been heard of that. Thanks for the educational link.

But there will always be barbarians, if only because not thinking is easier than thinking.
 

Very strong pro Warren article on CNN’s Fortune page:
Why Not Elizabeth Warren?

See also: Elizabeth Warren’s Enemies List - in the New Republic.

See Also: Wall Street nervous about watchdog’s bite
- Sacramento Bee.
 

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