Painting By Numbers

“Mathematicians won the war.  Mathematicians broke the Japanese codes, and built the A-bomb. Mathematicians . . . like you.  The stated goal of the Soviets is global Communism.  In medicine or economics, in technology or space, battle lines are being drawn.  To triumph, we need results: publishable, applicable results.  Now who among you will be the next Morse?  The next Einstein?  Who among you will be the vanguard of democracy, freedom, and discovery?  Today, we bequeath America’s future into your able hands.”

            —Judd Hirsch as Helinger in A Beautiful Mind


I said last Wednesday I didn’t want to get into the deep weeds trying to break down the numbers on what happened Tuesday night.  There are plenty of theories out there, from a strong Hispanic vote, to a weak Republican base turnout, to Hurricane Sandy, etc. etc.  I don’t have the strength for it, and I’m too many decades removed from college for that sort of detailed political science statistical analysis.  And in any event, it won’t change the result.

That said, I did see something I thought was interesting.  I don’t know what I make of it, but follow me on a little mathematical exercise here.

The AP had Obama taking 61,212,519 votes out of a total of 119,413,147.  The black vote made up 13% of the total electorate, meaning black voters cast 15,523,709 ballots, using the AP’s numbers.  Obama took 93% of those votes, or a total of 14,437,049 votes.

Now, my original thought in looking at this was I assumed we’d see Obama capturing what seems like an impossibly skewed percentage of the black vote, which would indicate raw racism (i.e., blacks voting for the black candidate because he’s black).  The truth is, 93% isn’t far removed from the 95% of the black vote Obama garnered in 2008, and isn’t all that different from the 88% John Kerry (who is definitely not black) got in 2004, or the 90% Al Gore (who isn’t black but may have invented it) got in 2000.  I don’t see anything to be made there.

But here’s what I thought was interesting.

We saw above that the math indicates about 15.5 million black votes were cast.  But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 there were 38.6 million blacks in the U.S.  Of them, only 27.2 million were of voting age.  Now, I understand that that data is a couple of years old, but I can’t imagine the numbers changed all that much in two years.  So we’re talking about squeezing 15.5 million votes out of what is about a 27 million population.

Rusty, what’s the big deal?

Well, here’s the rub.  We were bombarded over the last two years with studies, reports, and complaints about how the rules were rigged in such a way to suppress black voting.

  • We’re told that, because of a racist criminal justice system, 7.7% of blacks are felons and thus ineligible to vote.  That’s about 2.1 million, using the 2010 census figures.
  • We’re told that as many as 25% of blacks lacked sufficient I.D. to comply with racist voter I.D. laws—the Brennan Center says that’s 5.5 million people, but using the Census figures it’s more like 6.8 million who, according to the victim panderers and race-baiters, were at risk of not being able to vote this year.
  • As September of this year—too late in most circles to correct the problem—reports had the NAACP saying that another 6 million blacks were eligible to vote, but simply hadn’t registered.

As an initial point, let me say that all this complaining about racist voter suppression is interesting, when we see that blacks, who make up 12% of the population, actually made up 13% of the electorate.  If The Man is conspiring to reinstate Jim Crow-style suppression of the black vote, I submit it isn’t working.

But back to our exercise.  Taking these various complaints I listed above more or less at face value, what does that do to our 2012 electoral math?

Well, we started with a total possible black voting population of about 27.2 million.  Subtract from that the roughly 2.1 million felons and you have 25.1 million.  The Left’s complaint that between 5.5 million and 6.8 million blacks were adversely affected by voter I.D. laws is patently bogus, but let’s give them credit for 1 million kept home because they didn’t have the same I.D. needed to collect welfare; that drops your voting population from 25.1 million to 24.1 million.  Then you back out the 6 million the NAACP says weren’t registered, and suddenly you’re down to a total voting population of only 18.1 million.

15.5 million votes out of a voting population of 18.1 million.  That’s an astonishing 85% turnout.

And there’s the problem.

Voter turnout nationally in the U.S. in modern times is normally between 50 and 55%, and has trended steadily downward since 1960.  Black turnout is normally a couple of points below the national average, although in 2008 it was a couple of points above the national figure at right at 60%.  Even if voting enthusiasm in the black community was up from 2008—and every indication heading into Tuesday was that it wasn’t, and total turnout was considerably lower than 2008—that doesn’t explain an 85% figure.  And even if we assume that, say, half of the 6 million who were unregistered according to the NAACP not only managed to correct that, but also to show up and vote, you’re still talking about a total voting population of only 21.1 million, which would mean a 74% turnout.

20 to 25 points (about 50%) more than normal, and 14 points above even 2008.  That is, assuming much of what the race-baiters and fearmongers would have you believe is true.

Make of it what you will.  I just thought you should know.


Yesterday (November 11) was Veteran’s Day, although the federal government will celebrate it today.  To those of you who have served in our armed forces, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

NAACP Takes Voter I.D. Issue Global

Andrew:         What do you need a fake I.D. for?
Brian:             So I can vote.
—Emilio Estevez as Andrew Clark and Anthony Michael Hall as Brian Johnson in The Breakfast Club
I wish I were making this up, but I’m not that clever. 
Continuing a theme struck by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz back in June, the NAACP is crying that GOP-backed voting laws are “designed to restrict or limit the ballot access of voters of color.”  At issue are rules requiring I.D. to vote, restrictions on voting by felons, and limits on registration and early voting periods.  A lot of this is same-old, same-old, but the NAACP is taking this Quixotic quest against imaginary racism to new depths:
They’re appealing to the United Nations for help.
That’s right, the NAACP is pre-emptively asking the U.N.—that beacon of support for democracy and bastion against corruption—to intervene in the 2012 U.S. elections.  Maybe next they’ll petition for statehood recognition.
The self-defeating irony here would be comic if it weren’t so damn dangerous.  The only “enforcement” mechanism the U.N. has to bring to bear is the imposition of massive global economic sanctions against the U.S.  Is that really what you want to do right now in the midst of a lengthy recession/depression/pseudo-non-recovery?  Who do you expect would be hurt the most by such an action? 
Alex, I’ll take “the very same low-income blacks who are allegedly being disenfranchised” for $1,000, please.
As I’ve previously discussed here, there is nothing racist or discriminatory about asking people who want to vote to demonstrate that they are who they say they are, and that they’re eligible to vote, which is all voter I.D. and registration rules do.  Frankly, I can’t believe there’s even any controversy about this:  if you’re going to have rules about who can and cannot vote (you have to be 18, you have to be a U.S. citizen), why would you not have some mechanism in place to enforce them?  The only real reason to oppose such rules is if you are interested in cheating.
The argument, of course, is that such rules effectively disenfranchise blacks because blacks disproportionately lack the required identification.  To support this argument, the NAACP continues to whip the tired horse that is the 2006 report of NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, which claimed that as many as 25% of voting age blacks don’t have a current government-issued photo I.D.  A few things are worth noting about that report:

  • It purports to extrapolate national figures based on a telephone survey of a grand total of 987 participants, that also “weighted” the results “to account for underrepresentation of race,” but the report doesn’t say how.  In other words, they extrapolate from an extremely limited sample that, in some undisclosed way, deliberately skewed minority data.
  • It is unclear how these 987 participants were selected.  The report says they were selected at random, but we do not know from what pool (a phone book? tax rolls? arrest records?) or in what geography (were these people selected nationwide, or all in Queens?).  Nor do we know what mechanism was used to ensure randomness.
  • The report claims its 987 participants were all voting-age U.S. citizens—how do they know from a phone call?  What do you suppose the odds are that someone here illegally will say “yes” when asked by a stranger in a random phone call if they are a citizen?  I guess we’re just to take them all at their word, which is really what voter I.D. opponents are advocating as the benchmark for voting.
  • 135 participants said they had both a U.S. birth certificate and a naturalization certificate, which the study says is likely due to their confusion between the two.  Such confusion in itself reinforces the point above, but giving them the benefit of the doubt, do we really want people voting who are that easily confused?  I’m just saying.  How many more confused the question do you have an I.D. with do you have an I.D. on you right now as we’re talking on the phone?
Most importantly, however, and the point that continues to be lost is that this report and those who rely upon it are asking the wrong question, which is whether people have an I.D.  When an alleged 25% of blacks say they don’t, the NAACP and others then cry that requiring an I.D. to vote is racism, as though white people are simply born with the requisite papers while people of color aren’t.  The salient question isn’t whether blacks have I.D., because no one inherently has it; even white people have to get off their ass and go down to the DMV to get one.  The question is whether black people can get I.D. if they need it.
The NAACP says that for many it’s simply too onerous to get a photo I.D.  The $15 to $45 is just too expensive for many of the poor.  That States like Tennessee and South Carolina are offering free I.D.’s doesn’t really help, you see, because even then poor blacks don’t have and can’t afford the necessary underlying documentation required to obtain the free I.D. 
Tennessee, just by way of example, exempts from the I.D. requirement indigents who cannot obtain the requisite documents without paying a fee.  Further, under the instructions for obtaining a free voter I.D., Tennessee explicitly tells its residents that if they cannot obtain a birth certificate, they can speak with a service center manager who will work with them to identify alternative documents to prove citizenship (Texas takes things like school records and even inmate cards).  But even where free I.D. isn’t available, the cost simply isn’t that great.  In my home State of Texas, an I.D. costs $16.  That’s a grand total of 31 cents a week, or a little more than four cents a day
Furthermore, photo I.D.—or the kinds of underlying documents necessary to get one, such as birth certificates, passports, hospital records—are routinely required for all kinds of activities and services in modern American society.  You want to board an airplane?  Good luck without an I.D.  Many merchants require I.D. to use a credit card or write a check.  A lot of downtown buildings in major cities—including government buildings like courthouses—require photo I.D. to even walk in the door.  And in places like uber-racist/Tea Party hotbed New York require these kinds of I.D. to get food stamps.
The fact of the matter is that there is nothing difficult about getting the appropriate I.D., and we require it all the time in all sorts of contexts without raising charges of racism.  As I’ve said before, to make that claim is in itself racist, because what you’re saying is that blacks are children for whom we have to make special exceptions or dumb things down because they just can’t satisfy the rules applicable to everyone else.  You perpetuate a culture of victimhood, incompetence, and dependency, where society expects less of blacks and ultimately they come to expect less of themselves.
I’ll issue the same challenge to NAACP that I made several weeks ago to Representative Andre Carson (D-IN) after his Congress-wants-to-lynch-black-people rant:  name names.  Identify even one actual live human being who is eligible to vote and wants to vote but cannot because they cannot obtain the appropriate I.D.  And when you do, I’ll issue a second challenge:  why don’t you spend half the energy and effort you did on the U.N. to actually help that person get the I.D. they need? 

“Tea Party” Racism . . . Not!

How long has this been goin’ on?
How long has this been goin’ on?
Well your friends with their fancy persuasion
Don’t admit that it’s part of the scheme.

But I can’t help but have my suspicion,

‘Cause I ain’t quite as dumb as I seem.
—Ace, How Long

Following up on Monday’s piece about John Lewis and voter I.D. laws, apparently racism allegations are going to have to be a theme this week.

Congressional Black Caucus Whip Andre Carson, referring to the “Tea Party” told a group in Miami last week: 
“The Tea Party is stopping that change . . . This is the effort that we’re seeing of Jim Crow.   Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us [black people] as second-class citizens . . . Some of them in Congress right now with this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me . . . hanging on a tree.”
This is a consistent message now being trumpeted across the country by the Left and particularly members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and it’s obvious it’s going to be the centerpiece of their 2012 campaign:  the Tea Party is a bunch of racists at war with and out to lynch black people.  And we can all go straight to hell for it. 
Racism.  Jim Crow.  Lynching.  War.  You, American Citizen, can go to hell.  From Congressmen.  Where, oh, where, is the Annointed One, the Great Uniter, the Post-Racial President who has repeatedly called for toning down overheated rhetoric?  Maybe this is on his “to-do” list if and when he ever gets off the damn golf course. 
While we wait for President Obama, let’s clear up a couple of things, because Representative Carson and his Black Caucus colleagues are exposing a startling level of ignorance.  First, there is no “Tea Party” as such.  It isn’t an entity, and it has no organization, structure, or official leadership.  The “Tea Party” is a philosophy or world view that in the last couple of years has manifested itself in a true grass roots movement as people of like persuasion have become fed up with the way business is done in the District.   
And what, exactly, is that philosophy or world view, you ask? 
It’s quite simple, really.  What the people who make up the Tea Party movement are about is restoring liberty—for everyone—by reducing the size and influence of the federal government, and reducing taxes and spending.  That’s it.  Indeed, the moniker “Tea Party” had its origins as “T.E.A.” Party, meaning Taxed Enough Already.  The idea is that we all—again, that’s everyone, including black people—prosper when government gets out of the way and allows us the freedom to apply our individual efforts and talents to take responsibility for ourselves and to provide for ourselves.  When Tea Party advocates speak of “restoring” the government to its constitutional moorings, we’re not expressing a wistful longing for the glory days of 1950s segregation or 1850s slavery (and lest I be misconstrued and called a racist yet again, I use the phrase “glory days” as a sarcastic caricature of what we’re accused of); we’re referring solely to returning government to the size and scope it was originally intended.  It has absolutely nothing to do with race, and it isn’t in any way aimed at black people except insofar as they are included in the “all of us” who would benefit from smaller government and greater liberty.   
Let me repeat:  what Tea Party folks want is to reduce the size of government and let people keep more of what they earn so they can better take responsibility for themselves. 
Second, by so lightly throwing the term “Jim Crow” at the Tea Party movement, 36 year old Representative Carson demonstrates that he’s not old enough to have any idea of what Jim Crow actually was.  “Jim Crow” referred to the separate-but-equal policy of segregation in the South following Reconstruction.  This policy was enforced through things like discriminatory voting restrictions and laws maintaining separate school systems and public facilities (John Lewis was at least using the term in its correct context, even if he was wrong in its application).  These things were outlawed by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education and by Congress in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  I’m not so naïve to think that there is isn’t still racism around, but Jim Crow simply doesn’t exist, and it hasn’t since long before Representative Carson was born.
But more importantly, Jim Crow has nothing to do with what the Tea Party movement is about.  Advocating for smaller government and lower taxes is not a call for segregation; there is simply no connection between the two.  It’s a non sequitur.  And by attempting to make that connection where it doesn’t exist, Carson and others trivialize the work and achievement of those who fought the real civil rights battles of the 1950s and 1960s, and mock the suffering of those who—unlike Carson—actually did bear the heinous brunt of Jim Crow.
I understand you may disagree from a policy standpoint, but trying to reduce government spending and debt is the same thing as lynching?  Really?
Listen to what so-called black leaders like Andre Carson, Cedric Richmond, and Maxine Waters are saying: the Tea Party movement is inherently racist.  Well, for that to be so, it must be that the idea the Tea Party movement advocates—reducing government so people can take responsibility for themselves—is in itself inherently racist.  And if that idea is inherently racist, what they’re really telling you is that black people are incapable of taking responsibility for and providing for themselves.  They can’t make their own decisions.  They need government to provide for them and to make decisions for them as though they are a bunch of children. 
Who’s the racist now?
The only ones who benefit by selling black people short and keeping them addicted to the public teat are these very leaders who lead the life of Riley in the District while spewing this victim mentality nonsense.  As long as the black community continues to listen to the Carsons and Richmonds and Waters of the world, all they’ve done is trade the master’s chains and plantation rations for those of their black overseer.
Mindlessly throwing around accusations of racism against a nameless, faceless group is the act of a coward.  Mr. Carson, I double-dog dare you to go to the House floor and name names.  Call them out to their face.  If members of Congress really are racists who want to lynch blacks, then tell us who. 
I’ll wait.

Voter I.D. Requirements Are Not Racism

“There’s a blurred spot in my vision . . . there . . . no, there . . . no, no . . .”
—Adele Maliss-Morey, as the Woman with Dirty Glasses in Doc Hollywood
I respect and admire John Lewis.  He is rightfully regarded as an icon of the 1960s civil rights movement, and his record of achievement—and personal sacrifice—in this regard is undeniable.  I actually had the privilege of meeting him once, and found him to be intelligent and engaging. 
But he’s wrong on this one. 
In a New York Times op-ed last Friday, Lewis invoked the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King in calling State voter I.D. requirements racist “poll taxes.”  He claims that these provisions disproportionately affect minorities, and are “clearly crafted to affect not just how we vote, but who votes.”  The basis for this claim is his assertion that “as many as 25 percent of African-Americans lack acceptable identification.”  One suspects that that number is complete nonsense, especially when you consider the variety of I.D. that is actually acceptable in most states.  Interestingly, just as Debbie Wasserman-Schultz did back in June in calling voter I.D. laws “literally” a return to Jim Crow, Representative Lewis cites no source for his figure,* and it isn’t clear whether he’s referring to ¼ of all blacks, or ¼ of voting-eligible blacks.  
Most significantly, however, Lewis only says these people “don’t have” I.D.  He doesn’t say they “can’t get” I.D., nor does he cite a single example of someone who wanted to being unable to get appropriate I.D., much less somehow being denied that I.D. because they’re black.  And there’s the real crux of the issue. 
I recognize I’m operating at a disadvantage as a white male born after the era of Jim Crow and the civil rights victories of the 1950s and 1960s.  I’ve never seen a “whites only” sign.  I haven’t marched, and I haven’t suffered the beatings and imprisonment and other indignities Representative Lewis has.  But there has to be something more to the charge than it’s racism because I’m civil rights hero John Lewis and I say it is.  He diminishes his message, discounts his achievements, and cheapens the sacrifices he and others have made when he cries racism where it isn’t. 
Sadly, there was a time when charges about racist voting laws were legitimate.  But this isn’t 1963, and this isn’t Jim Crow.  Mr. Lewis, you’ve won that fight.  Nobody is going to prevent you from getting an I.D. to vote.  Voter I.D. isn’t the same as the old “literacy tests” administered subjectively by boards of white people.  I.D. is tied directly to the constitutional requirements for voter eligibility:  citizenship, minimum age, and residency.  There is nothing racist about trying to ensure that only people who are supposed to vote are doing the voting.  And for those who want to dismiss the argument as a false crusade against a problem that doesn’t exist, consider the following: 
·      This Spring an NAACP official in Mississippi was recently sentenced to 50 years for, among other things, voting in the name of others, including dead people;
·      Earlier this month ACORN was assessed the maximum possible fine after a voter fraud conviction by a Nevada judge who cited ACORN’s long history of voter registration violations;
·      The Colorado Secretary of State’s office has determined that some 12,000 non-citizens registered to vote in 2010, and as many as 6,000 actually voted;
·      The State of New Mexico is investigating 64,000 cases of possible voter fraud;
·      A Milwaukee Police study found there was an illegal organized attempt to influence the 2004 elections;
·      In Ohio the NAACP has been repeatedly found involved in fraudulent voter registrations;
·      In Troy, New York, the City Clerk recently pled guilty to voter fraud charges.
Voter I.D. measures are directed at curbing this kind of abuse, and they have nothing to do with keeping blacks from the polls.  The test is objective and simple—do you have I.D.  In Texas all it takes to get a driver’s license or State I.D., either of which would suffice (other documents are also acceptable, but these are by far the two most common) is a $16 fee ($25 for a DL), and proof of identity and citizenship taken from a pool of acceptable forms including: 
·      Birth certificate
·      Social Security card
·      School records
·      State or federal government I.D.
·      Texas inmate card
·      Texas or federal parole card
·      Medicare or Medicaid card
·      Vehicle registration
Are you really telling me with a straight face that a significant number of blacks who are actually interested in voting can’t come up with this?  If voter I.D. opponents were really interested in preventing the alleged racist impact of such measures, they would spend their time helping people get the necessary I.D. instead of railing against the requirement or registering dead people.  That they don’t speaks volumes about their true motivation.  Heck, they could even hold a fundraiser to foot the $16 fee. 
I’ll bet Warren Buffett would write that check for you on the spot if you stop coddling him and ask.
In point of fact, claiming that requiring I.D. is racist is not only ludicrous in 2011, but the charge is in itself racist just as former Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson was being racist when he argued that raising admission requirements for athletes was racist.  Both claims rest on the fundamental assumption that blacks are incapable of meeting the requirement, and thus need the rules to be dumbed down for them.  Lewis himself should know better, and should bristle at the suggestion. 
He is a shining example to the contrary.
The unfortunate fact is that what the Left learned in the 1960s is that applying the “racism” label is a powerful political tool.  No one wants to be branded a racist, and tapping into white guilt can get you a long way towards achieving just about any political aim you please.  So they use it, whether it applies or not.  In so doing, they perpetuate the very racism they claim to be working to defeat; at some point, we can’t get past the racial injustices of our national past if we don’t actually allow ourselves to get past them and move on.
You want to honor Dr. King’s memory and his vision for a time when men are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin?  Then stop calling “racism” every time there’s something you don’t like politically.  Stop selling the black community short by insisting they’re handicapped when they’re not.  All modern voter I.D. requirements are trying to do is ensure that the people casting votes are the people who are supposed to be casting votes. 
As Lewis himself said in his speech at the 1963 March on Washington, “One man, one vote is the African cry. It is ours too. It must be ours.”
* I can surmise that they both are referring to a 2006 paper published by NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice that extrapolated a 25% nationwide figure for voting-age blacks based on unverifiable responses given in a telephone survey of 987 participants “randomly selected” from an unidentified pool in an undisclosed geography.  The survey asked vague questions about whether respondents had identification they could “readily access” with no real tie to actual voter identification requirements.  More importantly, the survey makes the same mistake as Mr. Lewis and Ms. Wasserman-Schultz in that it is only concerned with whether people had I.D. right then at the time of the call, and not the salient question of whether they could obtain the proper identification if they needed it to vote.