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February 02, 2008

Comments

There's more to politics than policy. Policies have to change to meet circumstances -- otherwise, you get George Bush.

In addition to policy, you have to consider character. Not in the narrow sense of "would I like to have a beer with this guy?", but "do I trust this person to make appropriate decisions in unexpected situations?"

The primaries give us a look at both.

"Those changes were the product of blood, sweat, and tears over a long period of time."

I’d argue that those changes were the product of post-industrial cash surpluses, combined with a heaping helping of white guilt.

Problem is that those post-industrial surpluses have been spent. And my kids have been mortgaged for $200,000/ea. Come and collect it.

To an interesting 21st Century;

Oh, heavens, Bill. Of course they were the product of armies of activists. On the other hand, cash was around for a while without producing any such effect. Certainly the 50s were not exactly an impoverished era in the US, and yet, strange to say, not a lot happened as far as rights for women were concerned, other than backsliding.

"It confirmed how much I enjoy primaries – especially this one. Frankly, I’ve never agreed with those who belittle primary races, or feel above picking sides."

I'll be caucusing on the 5th, myself. I've never agreed with those who belittle caucuses. Why do people hate caucuses, and so rarely, if ever, admit they exist?

I blame hatred of America. And illegal immigration; I bet those people are stealing all the caucus references.

If people don't respect the caucuses, the terrorists will win.

The big picture is something to see. On a gut level, it's political history in the making. Yeah, yeah, I know I said the same thing (off-line) about how the Dem's pitched a shutout in 2006, Governors, House, and Senate, didn't lose a one. A historic moment, blah, blah, blah. I Might have jumped the gun, or the shark, on that one.

This time, the arguments against a popular public agenda are batted away so much easier, they are less compelling. And it seems like the two candidates on the Democratic side are on the right side of history. As a harsher on the Hillary campaign, I do got to say that you raise a good point about the quality of
the Democratic candidates. Even though she is the last one I would choose, Hillary looked decent in the debate, almost like a Democrat.

May you live in interesting times, they say.

I had the same thoughts on the debate. I think its quality was much more evident because there were only two people left standing, and these two are *extraordinarily* good at what they do. Even Edwards, who's not bad by any means, sort of diluted things. And by comparison the Republicans sound like a bunch of clowns, quibbling over who is more Reagan-esque.

It was easily the most captivating Presidential debate I can remember.

I wonder if this race will have any kind of small beneficial effect on the racism and sexism in this country. You have a woman and a black man, and they are just so clearly the intellectual heavyweights against three white guys on the other side, who just don't have the same intellectual firepower. Can't help but think this might be good for perceptions. It's just so clear. I guess I fear that this may not be self-evident to exactly those people who would be most benefited by realizing it.

Publius, I think you'll find that most of the annoyance being expressed about the horserace is that fact that the horserace is being covered to the exclusion of all else. There is no substantive media coverage of the issues -- it's all horserace, all the time. And that's bad.

Maybe it just says something about how the parties select their candidates.
being married to a president who happens to have been a genius and being a (half) black man who doesn't get weeded out by the system seems to be a better predictor of this sort of intelligence than being a rich businessman or a Vietnam vet/long term congressman or a whatever Huckabee is.

Just another rewrite of a perennial, but still more true than not.

its funny, but i really did "enjoy" watching this debate, more than the rest combined.

i'm a big believer in letting as many different kinds of people get on the stage to run at the very beginning(hell, let there be fifty candidates!) but then once it starts shaking out, i wish more of them would get the hint and bow out.

i'm happy edwards dropped out when he did--this last debate would've been more of the same i think had he been there. i think it made both Obama and Clinton sharper.

Vindication and narcacism. Fantasy worlds. Kings and Queens. Camelot.

Kennedy. Peace Corps and Green Berets. Democrats. Civil rights. Minorities running for President. It's history.

Government employees. Agencies at Congress. Vindication and narcassim. It's federal service. Serving the country, but not in the military. Careers created and fantasies fulfilled. The US government does this for it's federal employees. Afghanistan is just a PC fantasy. It's not dems, but it is Camelot. NATO. Victoria Nuland and her career, falling apart as we watch. Vindication of narcassism. Plame. Vindication of mistakes. Fantasies for narcassistic jesters who use others lives to create their own Camelot.

The US is falling apart and the jesters are selling out their fantasies.

Who won't run? Jokers and entertainers.

The entire debate – certainly the most substantive one in my lifetime – was a collective advertisement for the Democratic Party. Whatever else it achieved, the clash of these Titans made the Republican field look small, petty, and tired.

And that last sentence really captures what's wrong with our politics today. Most progressive Democrats are perfectly satisfied so long as their party looks better than the Republicans. And they do. But that's a very, very low bar.

Clinton and Obama are nearly identical politically. Neither will even consider single-payer healthcare. Neither would dream of reducing our bloated defense budget or challenging the role of the military-industrial complex in our nation's life. Neither of them will call the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush administration what they are. Neither of them will speak semi-truthfully about the great class divisions in the U.S. as John Edwards was doing. Neither of them will even promise to be out of Iraq by 2013.

And yet because neither of them is promising to stay in Iraq for 100 years or to "double Guantanamo" we're supposed to feel good about them?

the clash of these Titans made the Republican field look small, petty, and tired.

Even David Brooks admited the same on News Hour last night.

And I'd have to agree with you on the statement about "armies of activists." They were the necessary ingredient for change to happen. And that's where I think Hillary's comment about MLK and LBJ missed the mark. She was right that it took a president to push and sign the bill, but Johnson wouldn't have been signing the bill if not for the hard and dangerous work done by a multitude of Civil Rights activists.

I am a big fan of a single-payer health care plan and many other progressive issues that neither of the candidates we've got left have embraced. But I understand that if you come out of the gate talking about those things, you get laughed off the playing field. Universal health care in this country is going to happen gradually, because most people can easily be scared off by the word "socialism."

I was actually just remarking yesterday how much smarter and more compelling the Democratic candidates are. And you know, watching the early debates, the two of them were clearly the best back then, even with Mike Gravel yelling from one side and Bill Richardson overrunning his time on each question to interrupt them. They ARE the best two candidates.

Don't we all wish that this wasn't the primary, though? That our choice for president came down to a choice between Clinton or Obama? Damn, that'd be great.

because neither of them is promising to stay in Iraq for 100 years or to "double Guantanamo" we're supposed to feel good about them?

Good point and the answer is obviously "yes." Is there any doubt in your mind about that?

Clinton and Obama are already running a general election campaign where they want to get elected to be president of all the united states, not just the blue ones.

Political campaigns are not fought in a vacuum; you campaign to win against an opponent. If McCain wants to stay in Iraq for a century or more, then god bless. Let's have an election and let the people decide.

Lastly I want to say that if Edwards was the candidate with the best ideas, that might be why he lost. Ideas don't "win." Candidates win. Ideas ignite the imagination and stimulate emotions. Emotions move people, they move people to vote for a candidate (or against another).

If Edwards lost because "they stole his ideas," then he wasn't a strong enough candidate to win in the first place.

Marvelous post - thanks for helping us step back and take a longer & wider view. An excellent perspective. Have you also noticed how much the black & women issue has NOT been covered per se. That's an interesting indicator of progress. It's also an indicator of how much this election matters to people, especially younger voters. So are we at a cusp point where can return to focusing on substantive issues ?
Speaking of which let's give Edwards all due credit for forcing key issues and proposals onto the public agenda (as Krugman recently did). IMHO there are three critical factors that get tested: 1) Vision & Leadership, 2) Character and 3)Policy. A long sustained primary puts enormous pressures on the candidates and forces the person out from behind the personna which helps test #1 & #2. But neither Obama or Clinton have yet coupled a compelling vision to policies let along addressed the issues of workability.
FWIW these are issues I've been exploring on my blog as well.
Well done. Thank you.

Marvelous post - thanks for helping us step back and take a longer & wider view. An excellent perspective. Have you also noticed how much the black & women issue has NOT been covered per se. That's an interesting indicator of progress. It's also an indicator of how much this election matters to people, especially younger voters. So are we at a cusp point where can return to focusing on substantive issues ?
Speaking of which let's give Edwards all due credit for forcing key issues and proposals onto the public agenda (as Krugman recently did). IMHO there are three critical factors that get tested: 1) Vision & Leadership, 2) Character and 3)Policy. A long sustained primary puts enormous pressures on the candidates and forces the person out from behind the personna which helps test #1 & #2. But neither Obama or Clinton have yet coupled a compelling vision to policies let along addressed the issues of workability.
FWIW these are issues I've been exploring on my blog as well.
Well done. Thank you.

Wonderful post - I've been getting sick of reading all these posts about who won what and why, much of it sounding like any one of the pundits on TV that the blogosphere so often criticizes. I agree completely with the sentiments expressed here, and I can honestly say, I am proud to be american.

Who won't run? Jokers and entertainers.

ahem...

Publius:

Great post! Yeah, it could be all surface over substance but I'll take shiny and shallow over the mucky crap of the past month or so between Obama and Clinton.

I'm all for substance, but (he spreads his hands in front of him describing a panorama, palms out) without a little presentation, it was becoming a little gnarled, ingrown, and Republican.

Let's savor the moment.


P.S. "Armies of Katherines" Where's the first gig? After nearly 50 years in the studio, the band's CD release party is in early November. Then .... an 8-year tour.

Norm died getting Kofi over the oil for food.

He really should be President.

And publius: this is a great post.

I have yet to watch a single debate, myself. This one sounds like one I should have seen. Generally, though, I find the format so infuriating that I end up throwing things at the TV set.

btw: La Opinion endorses Obama. This is big.

Don't we all wish that this wasn't the primary, though? That our choice for president came down to a choice between Clinton or Obama? Damn, that'd be great.

Considering the dwindling likelihood of the GOP candidate winning, isn't that essentially what it is?

"Considering the dwindling likelihood of the GOP candidate winning, isn't that essentially what it is?"

No. That's over-confident and foolish. Things can change fast in politics, and events change things.

Neither do I see a Clinton/McCain contest as anything to relax about winning.

But regardless of the nominees, nothing is certain. Maybe a meteorite will blow up a city three weeks before the election, and suddenly the candidate with the best meteor-protection plan will be poised to win. Who knows?

GF: "Maybe a meteorite will blow up a city three weeks before the election..."

You didn't hack NASA & NSF again did you, Gary?

About things changing fast in politics, why just a few months back...

And we all know what a good scandal can do to derail a candidacy.

And, criminy, the election isn't for nine months.

Not to mention, I've had a lifetime's fill of being assured that the Democrat was going to be a shoe-in this time.

I'm a former local delegate for Gary Hart. I remember vast confidence among huge numbers of Democrats that Jimmy Carter, for all his faults, would, with his logical and incisive mind, blow away the senile and rambling extremist Ronald Reagan in the general election. I remember plenty of people who thought Mondale could beat Reagan. I remember when Dukakis was the overwhelming favorite. I remember the wavelets for Bill Bradley, and Paul Tsongas (Tsongas won New Hampshire, beating Clinton, remember?; and Hart won in 1984; for that matter, Pat Buchanan won in 1996, as well).

So I don't have to go back to how Kerry was going to be a war hero knock-out to G. W. Bush, or to how Al Gore was going to crush the lightweight Texas governor. I have a longer memory than that.

I'll celebrate after Obama's sworn in, and that'll remain tentative for some time to come. For real confidence, get back to me after the end of his first, if not second, term.

I got some time to make up on this whole concept of political good news.

Universal health care in this country is going to happen gradually, because most people can easily be scared off by the word "socialism."

Nonsense. Heck, even Hillary Clinton disagrees with you on this. From the last debate:

And what I've concluded when I was looking at this, because I got the same kind of advice which was, it's controversial; you'll run into all of this buzzsaw. And I said, been there, done that. (Laughter.) But if you don't start by saying you're going to achieve universal health care, you will be nibbled to death.

But SarahJ's views on universal healthcare are entirely typical of the way progressive Democrats treat their own (supposed) political views. Progressives begin each campaign season by assuming that none of their actual core political beliefs are achievable and then ritualistically cut off their noses to spite their face by enthusiastically supporting yet another set of Wall Street Democratic militarists.

Compare this to conservatives, who in four short years between 2000 and 2004 managed to make support for torture a mainstream political position. Overton Windows don't move themselves.

You know what will guarantee that single payer will never happen? Refusing to propose it because it will never happen. The same go for sensible policies on drugs, poverty, the environment, the military, you name it.

This is why I never take seriously all the proud talk by progressives about reforming the Democratic Party. Not only are they not actually trying to reform the Democratic Party, they don't even believe in reforming the Democratic Party, because they simply assume that their own ideas can't win.

"btw: La Opinion endorses Obama. This is big."

Yeah, La Opinion's pissed off because Hillary backed away from supporting legislation to give illegals driver's licenses, and Obama in the debate supported the idea.

"...we were disappointed with her calculated opposition to driver's licenses for the undocumented, which contrasts markedly from the forceful argument in support made by Obama."

And once that's accomplished, I hope Obama will speedily back laws that require printing the info on the license in English and Spanish, to speed up the bi-lingual-ing of California, and the rest of the southwest, ASAP.

G. Farber: "Not to mention, I've had a lifetime's fill of being assured that the Democrat was going to be a shoe-in this time."

criminy - I finally agree with you on something…

So does Susan Estrich:

'In a year that feels like it should be bright Blue, the truth is that many Democrats I talk to are legitimately worried that, with either of the two candidates left in the race, we are venturing into the unknown, the black box of hidden prejudice and bias and Clinton-hating and racism, taking a chance at a time when the only way we could lose is by taking a chance. As a friend succinctly put it: This is the year for a safe white man. That is what Al Gore's supporters kept telling him, and why so many of them were so frustrated by his decision to sit out the race. A safe white man couldn't lose. Only a woman or a black could lose."

"And once that's accomplished, I hope Obama will speedily back laws that require printing the info on the license in English and Spanish, to speed up the bi-lingual-ing of California, and the rest of the southwest, ASAP."

What's the link between driver's licenses and Spanish/English bilingualization, Jay? Can you expand?

As regards the licenses, is it your position that refusing to issue such licenses will keep illegal immigrants off the roads? Or is it your position that refusing to issue such licenses will lead to fewer deaths and more insured drivers?

Or do you feel that the increased number of people killed, and fewer insured drivers, are a worthwhile trade-off for not "sending a message"?

Since it's entirely possible you don't hold with any of that, what advantage do you believe makes it worthwhile to not issue licenses without proof of citizenship?

"...that the Democrat was going to be a shoe-in this time."

"shoo-in," drat it. I don't know what a "shoe-in" would be.

What makes the horse race compelling is how MANY people care--& in a good way. democracy, baby.

but the dc press on crap like the "snub" drives me personally insane. What I enjoy most this week is the local coverage, especially the Obama rallies in Kansas & Idaho. Kennedy on El Piolin, too.

I have been a totally delinquent Obama supporter, but I am volunteering on the 5th.

GF: " I don't know what a "shoe-in" would be."

A new episode of Sex And The City?

"A new episode of Sex And The City?"

Now you're just carrieing on. Don't make me have to read you your Miranda rights.

Samantha web you're spinning there, Charlotte.

Besides, who do you think you are, Mr. Big Shot?

Bravo IB.

I think it's worth reading again:

Progressives begin each campaign season by assuming that none of their actual core political beliefs are achievable and then ritualistically cut off their noses to spite their face by enthusiastically supporting yet another set of Wall Street Democratic militarists.

Compare this to conservatives, who in four short years between 2000 and 2004 managed to make support for torture a mainstream political position. (Or the way the Estate Tax became the Death Tax--nfs) Overton Windows don't move themselves.

You know what will guarantee that single payer will never happen? Refusing to propose it because it will never happen. The same go for sensible policies on drugs, poverty, the environment, the military, you name it.

G. Farber: "What's the link between driver's licenses and Spanish/English bilingualization, Jay? Can you expand?"

briefly, cause o'm on my way out to lunch:

I'm in favor of increasing bilingualization because I believe there's nothing we as a nation can do to prevent it. It's already a fait accompli here in California, and other southwestern states. And Hispanic migration will continue unabated for generations to come. I don't remember the specific percentages (I think you can find them at Pew) but coupled with the current inordinately high Hispanic birthrate they will probably comprise 30 or 40 percent of the U.S. population in the coming decades. But unlike previous immigrant languages that permeated neighborhoods in cities throughout the US during influxes of immigrate populations and then quickly evaporated from widespread use (you rarely hear Yiddish or German or Swedish or Polish spoken in public venues; or see storefront signs splashed in those languages; or newsstand shelves filled with their newspapers), those countries weren't contiguous to the US: there wasn't a continuous, unstoppable flow from any particular group that spoke a language other than English; and therefore none of those foreign languages ending up permeating our culture to the extent that Spanish now permeates the U.S.

Therefore, since Spanish is going to become more widespread in the decades ahead, you may as well capitulate to the inevitable. Comprendo? And after the Amnesty Bill is passed (the most likely candidates are all in favor of it) in addition to stipulating that those given Amnesty be encouraged to learn English, we need to pass legislation insisting that it be a prerequisite to High School graduation that all American students learn Spanish, so that they will be able to compete with bi-lingual Hispanics, who already far outnumber non-Spanish speaking Americans in almost every retail store, hospital, and government agency where they have to interact with the public here in L.A.

G. Farber: "What's the link between driver's licenses and Spanish/English bilingualization, Jay? Can you expand?"

briefly, cause o'm on my way out to lunch:

I'm in favor of increasing bilingualization because I believe there's nothing we as a nation can do to prevent it. It's already a fait accompli here in California, and other southwestern states. And Hispanic migration will continue unabated for generations to come. I don't remember the specific percentages (I think you can find them at Pew) but coupled with the current inordinately high Hispanic birthrate they will probably comprise 30 or 40 percent of the U.S. population in the coming decades. But unlike previous immigrant languages that permeated neighborhoods in cities throughout the US during influxes of immigrate populations and then quickly evaporated from widespread use (you rarely hear Yiddish or German or Swedish or Polish spoken in public venues; or see storefront signs splashed in those languages; or newsstand shelves filled with their newspapers), those countries weren't contiguous to the US: there wasn't a continuous, unstoppable flow from any particular group that spoke a language other than English; and therefore none of those foreign languages ending up permeating our culture to the extent that Spanish now permeates the U.S.

Therefore, since Spanish is going to become more widespread in the decades ahead, you may as well capitulate to the inevitable. Comprendo? And after the Amnesty Bill is passed (the most likely candidates are all in favor of it) in addition to stipulating that those given Amnesty be encouraged to learn English, we need to pass legislation insisting that it be a prerequisite to High School graduation that all American students learn Spanish, so that they will be able to compete with bi-lingual Hispanics, who already far outnumber non-Spanish speaking Americans in almost every retail store, hospital, and government agency where they have to interact with the public here in L.A.

Speaking of learning Spanish, may I point out that "comprendo" is first person?

It's already a fait accompli here in California, and other southwestern states

yup, from San Francisco to Los Angeles to San Diego, to Las Vegas, to Los Cruces, to Albuquerque, to El Paso to La Grange... the Spanish influence has been creeping in for a while now. ;)

Unfortunately for your argument, what you argue is not borne out by research. The linguistic assimilation of Spanish speaking immigrants to the US is as high as any of the groups you mention.

High immigration levels of the 1990s do not appear to have weakened the forces of linguistic assimilation. In other words, the incentives to convert to English monolingualism by the third generation do not seem to have changed. Mexicans, by far the largest immigrant group during the 1990s, provide a compelling example. In 1990, 64 percent of third-generation Mexican-American children spoke only English at home. In 2000, the equivalent figure had risen to 71 percent. However, the level of English monolingualism dropped from 78 to 68 percent among third-generation Cubans between 1990 and 2000. link

Owing to the number and density of Spanish speakers in metropolitan Southern California, Mexicans and other Latin American immigrants retain a greater ability to speak their mother tongue very well compared to other groups, but, by the third generation at the latest, ability drops sharply and converges toward the pattern observed for white Europeans...Although the life expectancy of Spanish may be appreciably greater among Mexicans in Southern California, its ultimate demise nonetheless seems assured by the third generation. Like taxes and biological death, linguistic death seems to be a sure thing in the United States, even for Mexicans living in Los Angeles, a city with one of the largest Spanish-speaking urban populations in the world PDF PDF link

I believe the reason that Spanish continues to permeate our culture is that we have an underclass of people who we are unable to, for political reasons, grant the appropriate residency/citizenship. When placed in that situation, the logical response is to make damn sure you speak Spanish because you are constantly being threatened with deportation.

Unfortunately, suggesting that monolingual English speakers need to perhaps learn another language, and that they might have to accept that they will enter a linguistic situation where they are at a disadvantage is a threat to horrible to contemplate, which is why you see the reaction that you do.

"Hispanics, who already far outnumber non-Spanish speaking Americans in almost every retail store, hospital, and government agency where they have to interact with the public here in L.A."

It says here:

The racial makeup of the city was 46.9% White (29.7% White/non-Hispanic[55]), 11.24% African American, 10.0% Asian, 0.8% Native American, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 25.9% from other races, and 5.2% from two or more races. 46.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).[56] 42.2% spoke English, 41.7% Spanish, 2.4% Korean, 2.3% Tagalog, 1.7% Armenian, 1.5% Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin) and 1.3% Persian as their first language.
The first cite is to the census and the second also to the 2000 Census. A touch dated, to be sure, but not enough to support "far" outnumber.

Without doubt, what you say is true of East LA. As regards Los Angeles as a whole, I invite your supporting cite (not to support a claim of Spanish-speakers outnumbering, but far outnumbering, and not in some of those locations but in "in almost every" location in all of Los Angeles).

As regards the claim that use of Spanish in the U.S. will increase, I won't argue. But you seem to be assuming that second, third, and fourth generation Hispanic immigrants won't, like all other immigrants before them, and following the studies of multi-generation Spanish-use in the U.S. that I'm aware of, take up using English as their primary or sole language. I'm unclear what proof there is to support such an assumption.

Pew:

Nearly all Hispanic adults born in the United States of immigrant parents report they are fluent in English. By contrast, only a small minority of their parents describe themselves as skilled English speakers. This finding of a dramatic increase in English-language ability from one generation of Hispanics to the next emerges from a new analysis of six Pew Hispanic Center surveys conducted this decade among a total of more than 14,000 Latino adults.1 The surveys show that fewer than one-in-four (23%) Latino immigrants report being able to speak English very well. However, fully 88% of their U.S.-born adult children report that they speak English very well. Among later generations of Hispanic adults, the figure rises to 94%. Reading ability in English shows a similar trend.2

As fluency in English increases across generations, so, too, does the regular use of English by Hispanics, both at home and at work. For most immigrants, English is not the primary language they use in either setting. But for their grown children, it is.

[...]

# Of adult first-generation Latinos, just 23% say they can carry on a conversation in English very well. That share rises sharply, to 88%, among the second generation of adults, and to 94% among the third and higher generations.
# A majority of foreign-born Hispanics (52%) report that they speak only Spanish at home. That is true of just 11% of their adult children and of 6% of the children of U.S.-born Hispanics.
# Half of the adult children of Latino immigrants speak some Spanish at home. By the third and higher generation, that has fallen to one-in-four.

Your turn.

"Hispanics, who already far outnumber non-Spanish speaking Americans in almost every retail store, hospital, and government agency where they have to interact with the public here in L.A."

It says here:

The racial makeup of the city was 46.9% White (29.7% White/non-Hispanic[55]), 11.24% African American, 10.0% Asian, 0.8% Native American, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 25.9% from other races, and 5.2% from two or more races. 46.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).[56] 42.2% spoke English, 41.7% Spanish, 2.4% Korean, 2.3% Tagalog, 1.7% Armenian, 1.5% Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin) and 1.3% Persian as their first language.
The first cite is to the census and the second also to the 2000 Census. A touch dated, to be sure, but not enough to support "far" outnumber.

Without doubt, what you say is true of East LA. As regards Los Angeles as a whole, I invite your supporting cite (not to support a claim of Spanish-speakers outnumbering, but far outnumbering, and not in some of those locations but in "in almost every" location in all of Los Angeles).

Pt 2 next, to get around the spam filter, which rejected this comment.

Pt. 2: As regards the claim that use of Spanish in the U.S. will increase, I won't argue. But you seem to be assuming that second, third, and fourth generation Hispanic immigrants won't, like all other immigrants before them, and following the studies of multi-generation Spanish-use in the U.S. that I'm aware of, take up using English as their primary or sole language. I'm unclear what proof there is to support such an assumption.

Pew:

Nearly all Hispanic adults born in the United States of immigrant parents report they are fluent in English. By contrast, only a small minority of their parents describe themselves as skilled English speakers. This finding of a dramatic increase in English-language ability from one generation of Hispanics to the next emerges from a new analysis of six Pew Hispanic Center surveys conducted this decade among a total of more than 14,000 Latino adults.1 The surveys show that fewer than one-in-four (23%) Latino immigrants report being able to speak English very well. However, fully 88% of their U.S.-born adult children report that they speak English very well. Among later generations of Hispanic adults, the figure rises to 94%. Reading ability in English shows a similar trend.2

As fluency in English increases across generations, so, too, does the regular use of English by Hispanics, both at home and at work. For most immigrants, English is not the primary language they use in either setting. But for their grown children, it is.

[...]

# Of adult first-generation Latinos, just 23% say they can carry on a conversation in English very well. That share rises sharply, to 88%, among the second generation of adults, and to 94% among the third and higher generations.
# A majority of foreign-born Hispanics (52%) report that they speak only Spanish at home. That is true of just 11% of their adult children and of 6% of the children of U.S.-born Hispanics.
# Half of the adult children of Latino immigrants speak some Spanish at home. By the third and higher generation, that has fallen to one-in-four.

Your turn.

Small note about last night's debate:

CNN's coverage of the debate between the two Democratic presidential candidates, held at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, clocked 8.3 million viewers between 8 and 9:52 p.m. -- that's now the record holder for highest-rated primary debate in cable TV history.

In contrast, NBC attracted an average of around 6 million viewers between 8 and 10, with a consomme of "My Name Is Earl" and "The Office" repeats and the first hour of an original two-hour "Celebrity Apprentice," in which the Donald offed contestant Pastore.

And CNN's debate wasn't just watched by your grandparents. It was neck and neck with NBC among 18-to-34-year-olds, with 1.3 million and 1.4 million, respectively; and among 18-to-49-year-olds, with 3 million and 3.2 million, respectively.

So, y'know: more people paying attention than just us junkies.

The linguistic assimilation of Spanish speaking immigrants to the US is as high as any of the groups you mention.

A hearty yup to you! There's more continuity in the migration of people from Spanish-speaking countries; the reason you don't hear a lot of Swedish/German/Italian/whatever these days is that those migrations effectively stopped a while ago. You keep hearing Spanish because new native Spanish speakers keep moving here. They learn English with about the same success as earlier immigrant groups, and so do their kids.

Driver's licenses don't give anyone legal status to stay here, just the ability to secure insurance and be tested before driving. State issue, not federal.

publius, your post got me interested enough to watch the debate, something I have not had time to do in the last several months. Well, the first half. I'll try to find time to watch the rest soon. I was impressed, once again, by how much Hillary Clinton has improved as a politician since a few years ago. Warm, intense, confident -- she sounded Presidential. Very surprising.

I still think she can't overcome her pre-existing negatives in the general campaign. But if she becomes the candidate, I will support her with far fewer reservations.

As for Obama, he still stammers too much. It's nice to know he's thinking, but he ought to have some of these answers ready to roll off the tongue. Other than that, he's good.

Re policy -- the reason not to focus on policy is simple: the candidates themselves are hard-pressed to identify a policy difference. In fact, that was the first question in the debate, and it took them each about a full minute to explain the difference in the details of their respective health care plans. They didn't have much else to point to, either. Fact is, on policy these two are interchangeable for most purposes. They don't differ on anything very large or very core to their platforms, nothing they won't change if necessary.

That leaves us political junkies, even the policy wonks, focusing on personality/character and electability. As to those, I think Barack Obama has an edge, though not as big a one as I expected.

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