New Ruskin
This is what is Wrong with the Republican Party. Part I & Part II
Catalog of Courses
Intel Operations:
Psy Ops
Lecture Hall
Lecture Notes 2016
Lecture Notes 2015
Lecture Notes 2014
Lecture Notes 2013
Lecture Notes 2012
Lecture Notes: July 2008 - June 2010
Lecture Notes: May 07 - June 08
Lecture Notes: Oct. '05- April '07
Lecture Notes: September '05
Lecture Notes: August '05
Lecture Notes: July '05
Lecture Notes: June '05
Lecture Notes: May '05
Lecture Notes: April '05
Lecture Notes: March '05
Lecture Notes: January & February '05
Lecture Notes: December '04
Lecture Notes: November '04
Lecture Notes: October '04
Lecture Notes: September '04
Lecture Notes: August '04
Lecture Notes: July '04
Lecture Notes: June '04
Lecture Notes: May '04
Lecture Notes: April '04
Imus Protests April 2004
Last Will & Testament
Funeral Procession
Baghdad Claims Office: How I would settle Iraqi Prisoner Claims.
Top 40
Metaphysics 303
Who Killed Duane Garrett: Part II
This is what is Wrong with the Republican Party. Part I & Part II
A Public Letter to Rosie Allen
A Public Appeal to Governor Davis
How Don and Mike Removed the Evil One From MSNBC
Who Killed Duane Garrett? 3 Suspects: Motive Greed & Power
McGurk Tutorial
45 minutes and the Distortions of History
Don Imus Says Good Morning
Judgment Day

The Hateful Fool

Part I:
"I think Radio Talk show hosts are the new party bosses of the Republican Party."  ----    Senator Tom McClintock  08-11-03, KSFO radio
The Conspirators meet 08-21-03 on KSFO:
Mrs. Jack Swanson:  The White House, the National Republican Party, haven’t given a dollar for the recall.

John Gizzi, political reporter for Human Events:  Governor Davis would claim it was part of the ‘vast right wing conspiracy.’

Mrs. Jack Swanson:  He is doing that anyway.

John Gizzi:  Well yeah,  but we don’t want to give him any evidence.

You see,  Mr. Gizzi, has to explain to Mrs. Jack Swanson, that we should not give them any evidence.  She is that dumb.    

The triumph of Hate Radio is the death of the Republican Party in California.  Why does the Republican Party not hold a single statewide office?   This is the face of the fat, arrogant, hateful Republican Party in California.

For months she has used her radio program to harass and torment (see also Psy. Ops. see also CENCAL letters at the Moynihan Library).  She is driven by her unhappiness and her obsessive compulsions.  She married the station manager to further her career.  Had a child to secure that “contract.” 

How do I know these things about her?     Examine her conduct for yourself.   Soon after giving birth to her child, by her own admission, she began going out every night to play poker with her friends.  (All male.  How did she pay her gambling debts?  She admits that the $50,000 she was paid for her story merely covered the debts she admits.)    Now twelve years later she still can not control herself.  Consider that she has spent months following me and rushing to her radio microphone to report where she last saw me.  Why has she stolen my mail,   burglarized my rooms, planted a microphone to listen in?   Because she is so happy with her life that it fills her up every day with love and delight.  No, just the opposite.

Now in her unhappiness and shame she lashes out at the world --- with what results can be seen.  Her candidate is a poor second to the leaders.  But because of her,  and people like her,  the Republican Party in California is circling the drain.   For Mrs. Jack Swanson and Michael Weiner being Republican is only a cover for their hate.  The people understand this.  The Republican Party in California  is unpopular and deservedly so.

She calls U. S. Senator McCain a "media whore."  She recently said Warren Buffet “does not know his head from . .  . a . . . a . . . hole in the ground.”   She is famously Hate Radio’s dumb blond.          Media Whore?  She should know.  She has participated in burglaries, electronic eaves dropping, and the theft of mail. 

Just one more example of how dumb she is:

I have accused her of using her program for years to harass and torment me; of following me and reporting on her radio show where she last saw me; of making covert references to my stolen notebooks and letter;  I have accused her of actively participating in these burglaries and thefts;  I have said she is a fat, stupid, thief, liar, scoundrel, and murderer.


And what is her response?  She posts a photo on the KSFO web site to show she was not always as fat as she appears here. 


Oh, a murderer.  Ok.  Stupid? Yes.  But see:  Look how thin! 



This is what is wrong with the Republican Party:  Part II


In the early 1990s I wrote to the Senate about the use of laser disks in education because I had promised myself, when in elementary school,  that I would do “something” to improve education.


The years passed by and as it turned out I was never in a position to do anything.  Then, (see Stolen Notebook fragment number 4), I thought there was one last thing I had to do.  What I could do, I did do, I wrote some letters, to the Senate and President Bush (41). 


For this crime of writing the Senate, I have been stalked and harassed and tormented by rich powerful people.  It “amused” them to destroy my life. Why?


Because as a conservative I disapprove of single issue politics I entangled my letters in other issues.  Our politicians have to deal with a large number of issues and I think it unfair of us to advocate exclusively only one.  Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say that scholars of Urban Studies were often criticized for saying, ‘Every thing is connected to everything else,’ but, he would insist, “Every thing IS connected to everything else!”


This is why they set out to destroy me,  because I spoke my mind, because I testified, to the Senate, about the issues of the day.  One issue in particular was my undoing.  I argued that small groups, operating as a kind of “shadow Senate” controlled the national discussion.  So they set out to destroy me.  Thus am I refuted.


Perhaps I could have avoided this peril had I not wondered from my subject of laser disks.  However, when we turn to single issue politics we are abandoning not only the politicians, and our responsibility, we are abandoning our duty to society:  our duty to participate in life, in all of its complexity.  Single issue politics should be condemned just because it is easier.    


In life, unlike common political rhetoric, one has to choose between many closely related issues, values.  This is why I identified myself as a Republican.  Not because it made my job easier.  I associated myself with all the issues on the Republican platform not because I was in full agreement with each question, but rather because I did not want to appear to be ducking these issues.


Of course single issue politics is easier.  It is easier precisely because it eliminates all other concerns.  As was argued in the Last Letter, (see Moynihan Library), single issue politics is fascism.  [If your definition of fascism requires that the fascists to have control of the state it will do you no good.  If this is a requirement of your definition, you will only be able to identify the fascist after he has come to power; when it will be too late.  Our politics, our definitions, should help us navigate the present.]  


However, because I discussed the issues of the day; because my letters came to the attention of the Senate; I became the target of the elite “shadow Senate.”


Starting in 1991 and continuing to this very moment, I have been harassed, and tormented, and oppressed by a group of powerful, malicious people.


As can be seen there was no advantage to me in identifying with the Republican Party, (particularly in Northern California).  So this is the first thing that is wrong with the Republican Party:


1-     05-03-04:

It is not really a Party.  It appears to be a collection of politicians and wealthy contributors backed by a powerful fundraising organization.  Arguably it has always been so, at least for the last 100 years.  It is now a term of abuse among conservatives but the Party once really was a Rockefeller organization.


In California, every few years, millionaires take it on themselves to run for office.  They spend millions of dollars on TV ads, but they could not spare an hour of their time in the years preceding the election to organize the  Party.  Indeed, many of these millionaires may well have been Democrats.


In the absence of an organized Party any radio show host or columnist can claim to “represent” the Party.  As noted above, (see This is What is Wrong with the Republican Party: Part I), one prominent Republican, McClintock, claims that radio talk show hosts “are” the “new party bosses.”  (God save the Republican Party.)


For example, Pat Buchanan ran for president, and was allowed to speak at the National Convention, (giving the now infamous, Cultural Civil War speech).  Pat Buchanan had not months before argued that the U. S. A. should take Saddam Hussein’s offer of $9 a barrel oil.  [Because we live in a morally benighted age I must explain that Pat Buchanan was, in other words, recommending to us that we should purchase stolen oil that Mr. Hussein had taken in an illegal war, against all rules of law and morality.]  This was not then, nor since, thought to have disqualified Pat Buchanan from speaking “for” the Republican Party. 


His poor showing in the primaries is typical.  Radio talk show host are delighted with .6, or .5, or .4, shares.  Candidates would not even qualify for the ballot with such poor showings.  The point here is not that millionaires who are Rockefeller Republicans or lunatic right wing pundits like Buchanan and Weiner, are taking over the Party, the point rather is that, like Oakland California,  “there is no there there.”


2  - 05-07-04


Therefore who is surprised that Pat Buchanan regularly appears on the Weiner show.  (Hitler and Stalin entered into a partnership too.)  Pat Buchanan has visited this web site, but he knew about Weiner’s wrongful conduct years before this web site was created.  Senators McCain, and Hatch, Santorum, continue to appear on the Don Imus show even though they know how Imus has stalked me from my job at State Farm (1998) to GAB (2003).  Senator Hatch even thought to make a joke during his last appearance, mentioning that he had heard what Imus has “done to some of your listeners.”


Senator Dodd appeared on the Imus show and referenced the stolen notebook but who can doubt that other Senators also knew of the burglary and the notebook?   Sam Donaldson, Mrs. Jack Swanson, Don Imus, all have referenced the electronic surveillance that Michael Weiner has carried out for years.  It is doubtful that Republican Senators are unaware of this harassment.


But it follows from the first point, i.e. if there is no Party, no core set of principles that unites the people, they will not individually demonstrate those principles in their actions. Mrs. Jack Swanson is active in Republican Party politics, and her involvement in having me followed and then using her radio show to harasse me with taunting references to the surveillance, far from disqualifying her undoubtedly elevates her in the Republican Party.


03  -  05-10-04:


For such a Party, without a coherent Party platform or doctrine (1), and whose members feel no loyalty, or even harbor outright hostility towards one another (2), if follows that their actions are desultory, failing to build even a political party, much less a set of connections into the larger society.


The fact that best illustrates this point is this:  The Economics Faculty of Stanford University is 90% Democrat.   


I can well imagine Rush Limbaugh, the king of talk radio, refuting this point with some glib reference  such as “who needs Stanford” or the like, thus illustrating all three points:  Media pundits without loyalty either to the Party or Party Members not just distaining connections to the larger society but actively cutting off those relations.  Indeed in some cases, Weiner, we do well to examine if they are not covert agents deliberately attempting to sabotage the Party from within.


Many times I have heard it said that “in the long run,”  “eventually,”  “over time,” our message will get out and we will eventually convert the public.  I am sure that eventually, illegal immigrants from Mexico, and their children will vote Republican; if not in this generation then the next.  But as you look at how slowly votes are being turned up in the Black community, and among the Jews, and among the White ethnics; the Irish, (can you say Kennedy?), the prospects for a Reagan landslide seems to recede like an ebbing tide.


It is not just the universities, and the media, (two important centers of power that Republicans seem to have surrendered), but in most of industry, (corporate contributions are increasingly evenly divided), and the great foundations; not just the city centers but increasingly the suburbs as well, the Republicans serve increasingly as the punch line of a joke rather than as exemplars of political insight and leadership.


Reagan united the upper and middle classes, but now the Democrats seem increasingly positioned to unite not just the working and middle classes but to take a significant share of the upper class, which is increasingly characterized by its cognitive abilities rather than its stock portfolio.  (Not that stock ownership no longer characterizes the upper class:  capital distribution has continued a century old trend towards the upper, (ruling), class. Also the skewing of the income distribution is in part a function of the genetic distribution described in the Bell Curve, and about which public discussion is not allowed. (However, cognitive ability does not alone explain the entirety of  the income misdistributions.  The knowledge economy plays its part but is not the complete explanation.))


Increasingly the upper class has taken control of the levers of power, in part because cognitive ability has given them access to those levers.  However, once in place, like all ruling classes they have found it more convenient to remove the bother of meritocractic requirements.  The Republican have been as willing as the Democrats in assisting the upper class in this process of consolidation of power, but this is the point: for the Democrats this results in a possible expansion of power into what was formerly a Republican class, for the Republicans it represents the abandonment of its commitment to the middle class.


For example, Democrats are more likely to lead the final assault on standardized testing in public schools, but many Republicans have tried to kneel to the Soccer Moms of the upper class who disdain the tests of their children’s ability as an insult to their vanity.  What of the Meritocracy?  For the Democrats this is a continuation of their goal to eliminate all standards in governmental hiring and contracting.  (Can you say Affirmative Action?)  The great urban party machine that was the Democrat party never saw any value in Meritocracy or civil service. 


It was the great achievement of the late Nineteenth Century Republican Party that transformed the Party of Lincoln  into the Party of Reform of a more general and relevant kind.  True it was the Rockefeller party but as noted above as the upper class increasingly makes its home in the Democrat’s house, the loss of Reform as a Republican issue strips away every last element of its miniscule platform.


Many examples could be given however, let us try just a few and track how many visitors stay with us.


Microsoft is often set out as an exemplar of the information economy.  People like Mr. Limbaugh, the king of talk radio, use this as an example of the private economy moving on its own with out state involvement.  What if, however, I could show you in a paragraph or two that Microsoft represents not the free enterprise economy but a classic example of the upper classes using the state to solidify their position and eliminate the bother of market competition?


But first consider the housing market as an example of Republican abandonment of professed values, (free market, capitalist competition, individual choice, etc.), and the capturing of an industry and indeed whole sections of our society by Democrats.  The academic research, the facts, leave no room for doubt.  Government interference in the economy have caused bubbles in real estate, principally on the coasts.  (see 1948. Edward L. Glaeser and Joseph Gyourko
The Impact of Zoning on Housing Affordability  )


And yet even though the Democrats have distinguished themselves in this real estate manipulation by state and local government mainly, with the active support of the Federal government during both Democrat and Republican regimes, no Republican office holder or candidate has commented on this distortion and abuse.


Senator Feinstein, led five successive down zonings in the City and County of San Francisco during her political career.  Yet even as she down zoned the city she avariciously accumulated all the multi story buildings for which she could secure financing.   As a member of the County Board and later as Mayor, (ascending upon the murder of Moscone), she was able to secure a great deal of financing.  She bought low and sold high. 


The “tender loin,” a section of the city with many multi story buildings,  offered many low cost buildings.  As the repeated down zonings had their effect the value of her multi storey buildings rose, the increasing equity being used to finance still more acquisitions. Her tenants did not benefit from her rising prosperity.  Indeed, unlike the workings of a free market, controlled economies do not flourish on the voluntary decisions of free actors acting in mutual assent.  Quite the reverse. 


Senator Feinstein’s capital was built on the coercion of the free market;  by the remorseless operation of a state controlled market.  Remember, Senator Feinstein, the tenants had asked for weeks that the front door lock be repaired?  Just couldn’t seem to lay your hands on a spare few dollars?  Tenants would come in the building and the front door to the street did not lock.  The door was finally fixed, but unfortunately for the woman on the third floor, not until after a rapist had thus gained entry.  Well the insurance can take care of the details.


The last estimate, before the dot com bubble burst was that the imbalance in jobs to houses was 70,000; i.e. more jobs than places for the workers to live.  In one recent interview the KCBS reporter confessed that though the current imbalance between the average household income and the average home, now nearly $65,000, was bothersome for him ‘intellectually’; as a home owner he was reluctant to favor policies that would allow for the construction of more homes.  For he reasoned if the average price went down due to an increase in the supply of homes, how would he ever be able to pay his mortgage, wouldn’t his home also go down in value?


(Such is the state of Economics’ Education in California.  Does the average price determine what the KCBS reporter could sell his home for?  Class?  Answer: If the average price falls due to say the availability of 300 square foot condominiums, (such structures are illegal in San Francisco), would the radio man’s suburban 2,500 square foot home decrease in value? Indeed his value could well, most certainly would, increase if the availability of small worker homes allowed for an increase in economic activity.  Such things  are possible in a free economy of mutual assent.  All state controlled economies are, on the other hand, zero sum.  Indeed I wonder that share holders have not yet sued the management of concerns that continue to build plants and offices in such a constricted economy such as the Bay Area.  Intel, for example? Genentec?)


The point here is that you do not hear word one from Republicans.  Not at the national level, not state, nor local.  Indeed, the argument that the Party should involve itself in such an issue, arguing for free enterprise in construction and housing is regarded as being “socialistic.”  Who are we to interfere with these democratic institutions?  My question for you to consider is this:  Are the Republicans who argue this way, who block discussion of this government manipulation of the housing market, really working for the Party, or are they Democrat agents secretly working for the other side by steering the party in the wrong direction? 


In health care again the general confusion of the subject makes difficult any clear examination of either party’s position. But again, part of the confusion is deliberate.  For example, income transfer is really at the heart of most of the discussion.  It is to the Democrat’s advantage to cover up this fact. But what would a health care discussion cover if not income transfer?


Do not look to the Republican Party for the answer.  In trauma care and the financing of emergency rooms, (see Army Navy Club 12) we explained that a reform and elimination of duplicate coverages would lower the cost of coverage for trauma care and would simplify and lower the cost of health care generally.  (Note “Pete” Fortney Stark, the congressman, (known as Mary Stark), reacted angrily to this Republican’s foray  into this area of public policy which the Democrats hope to keep to themselves.)


All emergency room treatment is currently paid for by the patient, insurance or finally the government, which mandates that no emergency room patient be turned away.  However, owing to delays in payments, (for example when I left the AAA insurance claims office I estimated there were tens of millions of dollars in unpaid medical bills for which coverage existed but were none the less over 60 days old), the emergency rooms are being forced to close.  Highland Hospital reports $70 million in unpaid bills.  


Since payment for trauma care is guaranteed, by government, and since all serious emergency trauma cases are already being presented, the only issue left to discuss is how to finance them.  Yet this simple and obvious point appears lost on the Republican Party.  Similarly, with the President’s extension of Medicare to cover medicine, you would have thought, from their public discussions, that Republicans were in a position to eliminate Medicare completely. 


For it can be seen that once Medicare was established all costs for treatment had been agreed to.  The Republican complaints that this would “add” to the cost denied the fact that the medicines might well reduce the costs.  It was estimated that the savings might be as high as $14,000 per patient, in treating them with medicines, early, rather than waiting for them to present themselves later at the hospital.  Adverse risk selection is not an issue, or do you suppose more people will now present themselves for Medicare coverage now that medicines are partly covered?


Let us pause for a moment to reflect on what could be said for the Republican Party’s leadership if President Bush had not led the way in extending coverage to medicines.  It appears to be a party of one, for without President Bush there would have been no leadership.


Of vital importance in the Medicare discussion, (it could hardly be called a debate), was the question of income transfer.  Who is paying for what? Yet this important issue was overlooked by the Republicans and, no surprise,  the Democrats alike.   (Indeed, once again, it is only because of the President, that there is any means testing for payments, in the plan.  The only other politician who has insisted on fairness in public financed benefits is Tony Blair who required the bill for college be shared by the primary beneficiaries, the students, to general amazement of his country’s politicians.) 


But more generally in the health care discussion the Republicans fail to focus on the real issues around which they could build a party.  Income transfer is one.  An even better issue is government regulation and over regulation of the market and the consequential misallocation and misdirection that occurs.  Why does everything have to stay just as it is?  Why can’t Republicans lead the reform?  This failure is why the middle class doubts the Republican’s sincerity.  Are we really trying to help?


If you fail to solve a problem as simple as financing trauma care at emergency rooms, a reform that would actually save money how can you be thought serious about other issues? 


Can Army medics provide care to our troops?  Why then can they not also provide care to our citizens?  For example the “nurse practitioners” could help lower the cost of care in a great many cases, but medical men, understandably oppose all such reform.  Where are the Republicans?   Why can’t pharmacists issue their own prescriptions, for at least some medicines?  Where are the Republicans?  Automated systems for testing, diagnosis, and supervision have made huge advances, but you would not know it to look at the American medical system.  Where are the Republicans?


To all these questions,  Republicans, like Rush Limbaugh, the king of talk radio, complain about government interference in the “best medical system in the world.”  Best?  For whom?  Interference?  These are arguments for getting the government out of the way.  Why should the government take the side of the medical men when the nurse practitioners only seek to find their “market?” Why must government insist on a “doctor’s visit” for a simple prescription?  If automated systems improve care why should the government block progress?  No, we are trying to stop government interference.  


This contradiction, between what Republican say and what they do, is what caused the middle class to start moving steadily to the Democrats.


Now for Microsoft.  This entire monopoly is based not on the market but the law.  The law of copyright.  The state imposed limitation on the market place has forced out all of Microsoft’s competitors.  Not fair competition but the power of the state has created this monopoly.


How so?  Program developers were required to write code for one of four main operating systems.  Their programs, called applications, ran independently, with their own “look and feel,” from the operating systems.  But owing to the copyright law the application developers could not specify standard code to interface with their applications so that any operating system could run any application.  Which would have been a free market.  The copyright law was used by Microsoft to limit free competition.  Market power did the rest, after elimination of the competing operating systems, for want of applications.


Similar situations continue, and the inept, (deliberately inept one suspects), national government makes no effort to intervene.  For example, no law has yet been proposed let alone enacted, forget about being enforced, that would prohibit cyber trespass.  Programs constantly install themselves on private computers, with out leave, and not only has nothing been done but the Republicans appear to actually be on the side of the pirates.  This isn’t free enterprise.  Permission to board is not being requested.  There is nothing consensual in the arrangement.


Just as in the 1970s, when the government failed to use its powers to guarantee a free market in operating systems, to day, once again, the government contemplates no law to prevent cyber trespass. 


All the current battles being fought in the computer industry are being fought over “source code.”  Linux is succeeding precisely because its code is “open source.”  The compatibility of their code is off setting any disadvantage of not having a copyright.  (The suit, Microsoft sponsored, against Linux is, (no surprise), about an alleged claim of copyright infringement.)  Or for example, Java  Script, by Sun was licensed to Microsoft under written agreement that Microsoft would not change the code.  Again, the whole market model for Sun, was that their code would be standard across all machines.  By changing the Java Script code Microsoft not only violated its license agreement but it cast doubt over the universality of the Sun code, which, again, was the center of its market strategy.  These details are presented only to demonstrate how the copyright issued by the state dominates this industry.


The issue being put to the reader is not whether we should break up Microsoft, (though found to be in violation of anti trust laws this was not the penalty decided by the courts), much less whether we should travel back in time to the 1970s and change the copyright code to promote competition in the computer industry.  The reader is being invited to reflect on how the state interferes with and shapes the economy.  The state, eternal and unresponsive to the market alters the economy in many ways that the reader may not previously have suspected.


We have seen in housing, in medicine, now in computers, how the state’s laws act on the economy.  The free market is not an “objective” “fact” it is the opposite.  It is the result of millions of subjective opinions made by the consumers.  There is never a level playing field.  However, we must always be on the watch for how the players seek to distort and alter the outcome by the use of the state.  The old Romans asked:  Who benefits?  And so should we. 



Time and again, the Republican Party, says it stands for issues such as free enterprise, removal of government interference with private markets, yet what we see is the failure to act.



Whether we examine housing, or health care, or computer code copyright, we see monopoly after monopoly securing the protection of the state to confound private choice. 


And we see a Republican Party that retreats ever further from its principles.


Don Imus harassed me at State Farm and GAB.  Michael Weiner burglarized my rooms, stole my notebook, interfered with me at Farmers, and has escalated his harassment since then, extending into electronic surveillance.  Ron Owens used his influence to harasse me at the health club, (as did Weiner), and then stalked me to Access and had me fired.  Michael Krasney and Rose Guilbault used their influence to harasse me and have me fired at AAA.  Mrs. Jack Swanson did the same at CENCAL and published my letters.  During the Clinton years my report that insurance companies were cheating on their taxes, using the unpaid taxes to subsidize  their claims operations, resulted in the IRS using Crawford and Company to harasse me, and then a ridiculous “tax audit” from which the IRS retreated and accepted my return as filed without a single change.  Senator Dodd joked with Imus about the stolen notebook.  And Senator Hatch also thought it a good joke. 


Where is the Republican Party?  Whether we talk about policies, of about the particulars of my circumstance, the Party is missing.





A portrait in red and blue

From The Economist print edition

The great American political divide, as seen through the congressional districts of Nancy Pelosi and Dennis Hastert

POLITICALLY, the United States is split down the middle these days. The dead-heat presidential election of 2000 followed congressional elections in 1996 and 1998 which were also, in effect, drawn by the two main parties. The Republicans and the Democrats are now preparing for next year's elections in the belief that the outcomes could be just as close.

What does this deep, central division mean? Are the voters split between yin and yang? Masculine, feminine? Mars, Venus? The Economist thought an answer might be found by looking at a leading member of each party and, perhaps more revealingly, at the districts that send them to the House of Representatives in Washington, the chamber the Founding Fathers designed to be closest to popular opinion.

In the House, Dennis Hastert is the Republican speaker, Nancy Pelosi the leader of the Democratic minority. Mr Hastert, a hulking former wrestling coach, is a fairly straightforward conservative: he is against abortion, gay marriage, the Kyoto protocol; for the invasion of Iraq, the death penalty. Ms Pelosi, a tiny bird-like woman, is an unabashed, card-carrying liberal.


The districts they represent provide an even bigger contrast. Remember those maps of the 2000 election that divided America into the “red” states that voted for George Bush and the “blue” states that voted for Al Gore? Ms Pelosi's district, California's eighth, is more or less coterminous with San Francisco, the bluest, most liberal city in America. Mr Hastert's district, Illinois's 14th, is deep scarlet. It begins in the suburbs 30 miles (50km) west of the Chicago Loop, and then stretches out through miles of cornfields to a point just 40 miles short of the Iowa border.

It has a good claim to being the most Republican district in the country, at least if you factor in length of loyalty. The Republican Party has a strong southern flavour at present, but states such as Texas and Georgia have turned red only in the past decade or so. Illinois has been full of Republicans since the Grand Old Party was founded in 1854. The district contains many of the GOP's greatest landmarks, from memorials to Union soldiers killed in the civil war to Ronald Reagan's birthplace.

Ms Pelosi's district used to be Republican, too: all San Francisco's mayors from 1912 to the mid-1960s were Republican. But today the city competes with next-door Berkeley for the title of America's most Democratic enclave: 56% of registered voters are Democrats and only 12% Republican. San Francisco does not elect a single Republican official. The president of the city's Board of Supervisors is a member of the Green Party, as are three of the seven members of the school board.


The two places are very different. San Francisco is part of vertical America, a land of soaring skyscrapers and high-density living. Mr Hastert's district is part of horizontal America. The same goes for the people. In Illinois a broad girth is a sign of health. In San Francisco even the chefs are thin. San Francisco is a mixture of blue-bloods and gays, dotcom millionaires and ageing hippies. Mr Hastert's district is resolutely ordinary. Locals think of themselves as typical Americans, and their geographical vision is often bounded by the Great Plains that surround them.

Not surprisingly, the two districts have totally different attitudes to growth. San Francisco is a strikingly beautiful city, famous for its precipitous hills, the Golden Gate bridge and the mists that roll in to keep it, as the saying goes, air-conditioned by God. With the sea on three sides, it has grown in size over the years without losing its human scale. Though in many respects a small town, it also has the amenities of civilised life, from decent museums to fine restaurants. Mr Hastert's district is flat and boring, culturally as well as physically.

Yet Mr Hastert's district is growing while Ms Pelosi's is stagnating. New houses march like a vast army resolutely westward across the Great Plains, from Chicago to rural towns such as Yorkville, where Mr Hastert taught, and Dixon, where Ronald Reagan spent much of his boyhood. And behind the houses are all the accoutrements of suburban boom time: huge schools and giant shopping malls. The high-school where Mr Hastert once taught has doubled in size since he entered politics in 1980. The main roads are lined by row upon row of shopping malls, each filled with superstores that seem bent on testing to the limit the principle of economies of scale.

San Francisco, by contrast, is anti-growth. Whenever it has looked as though its expansion might become dramatic—as in the 1970s and the 1990s—anti-growth activists have come up with referendums to squelch it. They say the city cannot expand without sacrificing its legendary beauty: 777,000 people are enough for a bit of hilly land that occupies just 47 square miles (122 sq km) at the tip of a peninsula.

Well, maybe. Much of San Francisco is indeed stunning, but some would profit from redevelopment. A lot of the city's housing consists of nondescript houses and some districts, particularly south of Market Street, are downright tawdry. At least part of the anti-growth lobby seems more concerned with thumbing its nose at business than with preserving the past. Conservationists recently celebrated their success in stopping a developer from doing up the city's old armoury, which is becoming increasingly decrepit.

The second big difference between the two districts lies in the relative importance attached to family life. Most of the people flocking to Mr Hastert's district are doing so for one reason: to bring up their children. They want space to build big houses, as well as freedom from the drawbacks of urban life, particularly crime. In upmarket St Charles 85% of people own their own homes; even in meat-and-potatoes Elgin, home ownership runs to 70-75%.

In the first half of the 20th century, San Francisco was one of the most family-friendly cities in the country, with magnificent parks and schools and an abundant supply of family houses. One of America's most popular radio programmes between 1932 and 1959, “One Man's Family”, was a hymn to the joys of bringing up a family in the shadow of the Golden Gate bridge. But San Francisco now has one of the lowest proportions of families with children in the country (it has more dogs than children, say some). Almost 70% of the population is single. This is not just because the city is the capital of gay America. San Francisco also has lots of young singles, and of older people living alone.

Both the property market and the school system discourage families. Only 35% of San Franciscans own their own houses, compared with a national average of 70%. At the same time, rent control both freezes rental housing and institutionalises an anti-growth mentality. The public-school system is strained both by high immigration—half the city's schoolchildren speak a language other than English at home—and by poor management. Most middle-class people either send their children to private schools or move out.

There is also a class difference. Mr Hastert's district is as resolutely middle-class as it is cheerfully mid-American. A few businessmen live in multi-million-dollar houses, and send their children to private schools. But most people send their children to public schools, shop in giant shopping malls and eat in chain restaurants. The region's varied economy means that you do not need a higher degree to get ahead: people do well in farms and factories as well as in office suites. And the almost universal commitment to the public schools reinforces the sense of equality. Sue Klinkhamer, the mayor of St Charles, points out that her local school district is so big that people living on fairly modest incomes can send their children to the same schools as do millionaires.

San Francisco is both higher- and lower-class. The city is home to some of the richest people in the country, many of them, like the Hearsts, Haases and Crockers, the heirs to rather than the creators of huge fortunes. It also has a disproportionate number of single professionals with big disposable incomes. Yet it is also host to one of the country's biggest concentrations of homeless people. Over 8,000 of them, perhaps twice that number, many drug-addicted or mentally ill, live on the streets. “A mixture of Carmel and Calcutta”, is the verdict of Kevin Starr, California's state librarian, on his native city.

The contrast extends to the two districts' representatives. Mr Hastert taught history and politics, and coached wrestlers, at Yorkville high-school for 16 years (his wife, Jean, taught PE there for 36 years). He is passionate about old cars, sport and farming. Ms Pelosi, by contrast, is blue-blooded. Both her father and her brother were mayors of her native Baltimore. She was taken under the wing of another political dynasty: the Burtons of San Francisco. Her husband is a leading businessman, and the Pelosis are a fixture on the San Francisco social and cultural scene.


Not surprisingly, the political cultures of the two districts are totally at odds with one another. Mr Hastert's district is a place where even Democrats profess affection for Mr Bush. Ms Pelosi's district is a place where Mark Leno, the state assemblyman for eastern San Francisco, can find himself labelled a “conservative”, even though he favours “transgendered rights” and the legalisation of cannabis for medical use.

It is not just ideology. San Francisco is a city of political activists. Cecil Williams, a “minister of liberation” who runs Glide Memorial Church in the heart of the Tenderloin district, boasts that “We don't just do one kind of [political] demonstration here, man. We do them all.” San Francisco saw some of America's biggest public protests against the war with Iraq. Activists tend to attribute the locals' readiness to get involved in politics to their high level of education: over half the population have either graduate or post-graduate degrees. Others think it has more to do with the fact that government is the biggest local employer. Public-sector unions are stalwarts of the Democratic Party's left wing.

Alas, political activism does not necessarily make for a well-run city. San Francisco's political arrangements are dysfunctional. Power is divided between a mayor and a Board of Supervisors who are often at loggerheads. The 11 supervisors are elected by districts rather than the whole city, an arrangement that encourages parochialism. Add to this the local fondness for ballot initiatives—referendums, recalls—and you have a formula for gridlock.


The situation in Illinois is exactly the opposite. People will turn up for the occasional rally, say, to commemorate September 11th. Plenty of them are angry about the high level of property taxes. But they do not really care. The staff who look after Mr Hastert's farm while he is away have so far refused all his invitations to make their first visit to Washington, DC. Yet local politics seems to work pretty well. The streets are clean. The schools are successful. The mayors of blue-collar Aurora and Elgin have done much to regenerate their cities.

Two other differences in values are striking. The first concerns religion. Mr Hastert's district is building new churches or expanding old ones. In the Chicago suburbs some churches have thousands of members. Out in the sticks, some small towns have seven churches and just one bar. San Francisco, by contrast, has been closing churches for years. There was a time when the Roman Catholic archbishop was one of the most powerful political figures in town. Today he is not merely a marginal figure in a largely secular city, but also just one voice amid a religious cacophony that praises everything from Buddhism to the Church of Satan.

Then there are the two districts' attitudes to social disorder. Mr Hastert's district is meticulously well kept. The mayor of St Charles says she recently received a call complaining about cobwebs on a local bridge. She had them removed that day.

San Francisco's army of homeless can give it a medieval feel. Beggars line the streets and doss in doorways. Deranged unfortunates roam free. The United Nations fountain in the Civic Centre had to be walled off recently because it was being used as a public lavatory. The homeless get a monthly stipend from the city and state governments, and free food from religious groups. A recent ballot initiative to give street people care rather than cash was struck down on a legal technicality, though the voters had approved it.

Two rather nuanced lessons can be drawn from Pelosiville and Hastertland. One involves partisanship. The gulf between Illinois's 14th district and California's eighth helps explain why competition in America's political system is becoming fiercer at the national level. Fifty years ago the differences between the country's two, relatively unideological, parties seemed small. Now they gape wide. Against this, however, the partisanship that so poisons the atmosphere in Washington, DC, does not always extend to local politics. Though the two districts could not be more different, in both of them the two parties rub along pretty well.

The bigger lesson has to do with America's political future, not just nationally but also internationally. Most foreigners are at ease in Ms Pelosi's America. They know San Francisco from films or even personal experience: tourism has been the city's biggest industry since the early 1960s. Europeans, in particular, feel at home with the city's compact structure, leftish politics and permissive atmosphere. Mr Hastert's America, on the other hand, is a mystery.

Yet most of America's growth is coming from places like Mr Hastert's district. The proportion of Americans living in suburbs has risen from just under a quarter in 1950 to more than half today. And increasingly people work in the suburbs as well as live in them: Joel Kotkin, of Pepperdine University, points out that suburbia accounts for 57% of office space in the country and 90% of new office building. Suburbanites prefer Republican to Democratic policies by a 15-point margin, according to Mark Penn, a Democratic pollster.

But just as you imagine that the Republican Party's triumph is as inevitable as the onward march of McMansions and shopping malls, the picture clouds. The Democrats have been gaining ground in Mr Hastert's district. The refugees from Chicago are not as reliably Republican as rural types. Many are unhappy with the GOP's religious wing and its intolerant views on abortion. The district has also seen a huge growth in its Latino population. It is perhaps a warning to Republicans that Mr Reagan's boyhood home town, Dixon, now has a Democratic mayor, albeit one who voted for Mr Reagan and describes Mr Bush as “a great human being”.


The Democratic Party has been doing even better in Illinois as a whole. Having voted Republican in every presidential election between 1968 and 1988, Illinois went Democratic in 1992. Al Gore won the state by 12 points in 2000. Two years later the GOP lost control of both the governorship, for the first time in 26 years, and the state Senate, for the first time in ten. Helped by the state Republican Party's corruption and incompetence, the Democrats are plainly in full contention.

But if the Democratic Party as a whole is not necessarily doomed in suburban America, the San Francisco version of the party assuredly is. Democrats can survive in the land of mega malls only if they make their peace with mainstream America—if, that is, they adjust to the priorities of people who own their own homes and go to church on Sunday.

It is possible to imagine voters in districts such as Mr Hastert's returning a Democrat. But it is impossible to imagine them sending their sympathies to the French consulate during the recent row between America and France, or tolerating an invasion of beggars. Whether America becomes more Republican is debatable; there seems little doubt that it will become more conservative, and less cosmopolitan. In the long term that may have more profound implications for America's relations with the rest of the world than any little disagreement about Iraq.