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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, November 13, 2006

McIlheran Watch: Another Sore Loser

I remember 2004. I even remember 1994, mostly. An election, as those were for me, that ends up as a repudiation of you and all you stand for can really kind of hurt. How you deal with it shows a lot about your character. If you're Charlie Sykes, for example, you mislead your readers into thinking that you had a bigger impact than you did. If you're Joe Lieberman, you pretend nothing major happened. If you're any conservative Tim Rock read this week, you imagine the grapes were sour, anyway.

But my favorite has to be Patrick McIlheran; if you're him, you turn your back on a year's worth of your work as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's conservative frontman and declare that you don't have to be popular to be right:
[W]hat got defeated [. . .] is a certain sense that conservative ideas are right because they are popular [. . .]. Conservatism's superiority is taken for granted because it is self-evidently a 'winning' philosophy. We win, therefore are right. We are right, therefore we win. [. . .]

So it's going to be harder, maybe lonelier, for conservatives. So? Our ideas aren't validated by being popular. They're validated by being right.
(Of course, if you click through to read it, you'll find P-Mac is basing his assertions on a column by . . . wait for it . . . Charlie Sykes.)

Why is this my favorite? Because McIlheran has made a point, repeatedly, about how popular the positions he espouses are! Watch:
Though, in a heartening development, people aren’t necessarily buying the X-Files take on the NSA looking at calling records. ABC polls and finds that people regard looking at who’s calling whom as necessary to fighting jihadists.
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But the rallies Monday, with people in t-shirts reading, “We are not criminal,” aren’t necessarily helping. Polls show that most Americans, while sympathetic to immigrants, don’t like people sneaking in.
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Owen at Boots and Sabers comments with particular lucidity today: [. . .]

“Also, it is worth noting that polls show that 70% of the people support a constitutional amendment to limit government spending or revenue. This appears to be yet another case of the special interests driving Madison in a direction contrary to the will of the people.”
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No business that Mark Bradley knows of has broken up over taxes owed upon death. He ought to know - he's a big-name Wisconsin estate lawyer. He's not saying it doesn't happen, but he says fears over what is now a 46% tax are overblown. If a family absolutely doesn't plan, the IRS will take installment payments over a decade or so.

Others differ, of course. Ann Kinkade, who heads the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Family Business Center, says she's heard horror stories, though none firsthand. Businesses working with her have estate planning in mind.

This is a key question, since the tax is with us still. Despite polls showing most Americans don't like the IRS rifling the pockets of rich corpses, the Republican Senate still can't pull the trigger on a tax that's as anachronistic as the top hat on the Monopoly Man.
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The Wall Street Journal reports that support for legalized abortion is falling. The Roe vs. Wade decision that took the matter out of the hands of states and voters is now supported only by a 49% to 47% plurality in a Harris poll.

Sixty-three percent don’t think the Supremes will overturn the decision, but 40% favor laws that do more to protect children from being aborted.
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But if the unified aim is to make this nation forgive, en masse, 11 million people who broke the law, good luck. Polls show such rallies are hardening attitudes, if anything.
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[E]xpanding the labor pool depresses wages. Interestingly, more than a quarter of American-born Latinos polled by the Pew Hispanic Center last summer agreed. [. . .] Most of all, conflating legal and illegal immigration into one chanting insistence that America owes someone something won't fly. That Pew poll found that 60% of American-born Latinos want to keep driver's licenses out of illegal immigrants' hands.
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Critics ask us to take counsel of their fears. "People become afraid of their own government," Feingold says. That is, not only is it offensive that the government listened in, but without oversight, we don't know the NSA wasn't up to no good.

But polls show a more sanguine public, and no wonder. The more facts emerge, the more the claims erode, especially since, amid the plentiful emerging evidence that the program existed, no signs point to political abuse.
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People seem to sense this, as when they tell pollsters - 65% to 26% this summer in a Wisconsin poll, for instance - that they don't favor financing campaigns from tax money. Of course not: Once incumbents can just take from you the money they need, it's one less reason for them to have to listen to you.
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But polls repeatedly show that ordinary Americans are bothered by the illegality of illegal immigrants, and the presence of 11 million of them after the problem was supposed to have been fixed by reforms in 1986 shows a failure of the federal government. It's not surprising when local people take a whack at it.
Remember, that's just the past year, and probably not even as thorough a search as I could have done.

But, anyway, now we know what McIlheran really thinks. And the next time he shows up with some poll or another claiming to be speaking with the voice of the majority, we can remind him: Sorry; just because it's popular doesn't make it right!

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