Discussion Outline - Prepared by Tom Chancellor

This discussion outline was prepared by Tom Chancellor who suggested the book for this month and who will lead the discussion on September 15th.

Tom is an experienced attorney. His wife, Denise, who is also a regular participant at our meetings, is the Utah Assistant Attorney General in charge of environmental matters.
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Discussion Outline - Prepared by Tom Chancellor

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To: ReadingLiberallyEmailList@johnkarls.com
From: ReadingLiberally-SaltLake@johnkarls.com
Bcc: Our Approximately 150 Members
Sent: Saturday, September 11, 2010 – 0049 EDT > 0729 EDT
Subject: Meeting THIS WEDNESday Sep 15 + Suggested Discussion Outline

Dear Friends,

Our next meeting is THIS WEDNESday evening, Sep 15th, at the Salt Lake Public Library (210 East 400 South) in Conference Room C, accessible by the SPECIAL elevator just inside the EAST entrance.

Please join us for socializing from 6:15 pm > 7:00 pm or, if you prefer, come only from 7:00 pm > 8:45 pm for our formal discussion. We provide coffee/decaf + chocolate chunk cookies - or bring a sandwich/quiche/dessert from the Library Branch of the Salt Lake Roasting Company just inside the EAST entrance - or bring your own snack/beverage.



Tom Chancellor, who suggested the book, prepared the discussion outline, and will lead the discussion itself, is an experienced attorney. His wife, Denise, who is also a regular participant at our meetings, is the Utah Assistant Attorney General in charge of environmental matters.


There are many potential subjects we could discuss. However, I would like to focus initially on the items on this outline. If time permits we can go on to other topics.
Bishop’s statistical analysis is based on county-by-county voting patterns (Democratic and Republican) in presidential elections. There are 3,111 counties in the U.S. and between 4% and 5% of the population moves from one county to another each year.

A. The Role of Migration in Our Political Segregation: Ch 2, pp. 41-57.

A-1. The number of competitive counties is declining. Counties with landslide votes for one party or the other in presidential elections are increasing. In 1976, 38% of the counties (containing 26% of the nation’s voters) were landslides for one party or the other; in 2004, there were more than 60% and they contain nearly half of all voters. pp. 6, 10. Once a county tips for one party or the other, it usually stays for that party and the spread increases over time. p. 43. In 2004, only 34% of Democratic voters lived in counties that voted for Bush. p. 45, n.4.

A-2. Migration is the driver. Republican counties are growing substantially faster than Democratic counties. pp. 55-56. The overwhelming majority of people who move from Republican counties go to other Republican counties (usually landslide counties), while people leaving Democratic counties don’t seem to show much preference as to the politics of their destination. p. 44. Bishop does recognize that migration is only one of several factors at work. p. 12.

A-3. The politics of place: geography matters. The people moving to Republican landslide counties are considerably poorer, less educated, more religious and white than those moving to Democratic landslide counties. p. 56. We are familiar with the use of statistics to break down voters into such groups or blocs. However, Bishop then goes on (citing Pew research) to state that voting groups such as Evangelicals, union members, women etc., living in Democratic landslide counties, are “an entirely different breed from those living in Republican landslide counties.” p. 48. That is, their attitudes on some fundamental issues are, on average, quite different depending on the county they live in. For example, union members and women in strong Republican counties are overwhelmingly in favor of the Iraq war but against it if they live in strong Democratic counties. Views of supposedly durable voting blocs are radically different (as to guns, gay rights, use of military force, etc.), depending on whether they live in strongly Democratic or strongly Republican counties. Bishop contends that self-selection within such groups (union members, women, etc.) is occurring on the basis of cultural, faith and political factors: liberal union members gravitate to Democratic counties, while conservative union members move to Republican counties.

A-4. Bishop cites San Francisco and Orange Counties as specific examples:

A-4-1. San Francisco County: The number of voters today is the same as in 1948; in 1976, the Republican candidate for president got 44% of the vote but in 2004 only 15%. Bishop says this is because “ Democrats sorted themselves in and Republicans sorted themselves out [of the County].” p. 44.

A-4-2. Orange County: Orange County has always been Republican. Still its population has nearly tripled – in a state that has become increasingly Democratic–and yet it voted more Republican in 2004 than 1964 (Goldwater). Bishop implies that Republicans are self-selecting Orange County, while Democrats are going to Los Angeles County.

Sec. A Questions to Discuss:

1. Do you agree that people seek out others like themselves for marriage and friendship and that this includes faith, cultural values and political views?

2. Bishop says that these days, when we move, we seek a place that has people who share our way of life and values. We seek to avoid the risk of hassle as to values. Do you agree?

3. Even if you accept that today we are seeing the development of communities that have a distinctive set of political and lifestyle values, can this be captured in county-wide statistics or are counties too large a unit to capture the clustering of like-mindedness?

4. On the local level: Do people choose to live in “conservative” Davis or Utah counties, rather than “liberal” Salt Lake County, in order to be with people who share their way of life and values?

5. Bishop seems to accept the view that since the mid-70s Americans have experienced increased mobility and freedom to select where they will live and that this is a major contributor to political segregation. p. 35. Putting aside any effects of the recent downturn, do you agree?

B. Choosing a Political Party: p. 23.

How do we decide what political party to join? According to Bishop (citing social scientists), often the choice is not based on any examination of party positions or even one’s policy views on specific issues, compared with the views of the people who belong to that party; the selection often doesn’t involve reason, calculation or comparison. Rather, it is a question of which group has the kind of people you want to be connected with– a question of fit. An individual sizes up each group and gets an impression as to which group seems filled with his/her kind of people; which feels right. Moreover, Bishop says, once a party is picked, Americans rarely change their affiliation. “Party attachments are uniquely strong in the United States.”

Sec. B Questions to Discuss:

1. How does the above compare to you own experience? Have you ever changed party affiliation?

2. If it is true that party affiliation is chosen on the basis of impressions and vibes rather that specific positions, then could the operation of group polarization (discussed below) be one factor contributing to the political segregation described above?

C. Group Polarization: pp. 63-70.

In these pages, Bishop summarizes approximately 60 years of social psychology research that demonstrates the effects of the group on an individual: like-minded groups not only enforce conformity but also tend to create more extreme views. Majorities not only have their beliefs reinforced, but the group interaction produces a consensus that is more extreme than the average of the individual judgments in the group. The group’s hostility to dissenting views becomes intense. Majorities gain confidence in the rightness of their views and alternative views are isolated and fall silent. “Homogeneous communities become self-propelled engines of partisanship, squelching dissent and emboldening majorities.” p. 72. The science behind group polarization does not seem to be in dispute.

In light of group polarization, what are some possible consequences where one party has a dominant position in a given community?

1. Over time we would expect the size of the majority to grow as the majority becomes more confident of the rightness of its positions, others go along to get along, and dissenters drop out of the process to avoid trouble.

2. New people moving into the community, even if they were affiliated with the other party, would tend to modify their views to be accepted or would opt out of the process to avoid trouble.

3. If unaffiliated people in the community, first coming into politics, join one party or the other on the basis of vibes, not positions, then most would probably go into the dominant party and over time their positions would conform to the group and become more extreme than in the beginning.

D. Miscellaneous:

1. There is a good discussion of confirmation bias at pp. 74-77.

2. In past discussions, the meaning of representative government has surfaced. There is a discussion of this, which I like, at pp. 70-72.

3. Bishop doesn’t discuss the independent voter. He cites a study which concludes that the true uncommitted voter is somewhere between 6% and 10%. p.76.


It will be 9/11 when most of you read this. I hope that none of you lost any friends or relatives on 9/11 and that none of you will ever do so in the future as the result of a terrorist attack.

As many of you know, I have had three close brushes with death.

[The first was in 1966, 2 years after the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 2 years before the assassination of Martin Luther King, at the hands of terrorists of a sort = segregationists in Bertie County North Carolina who were within 90 seconds of assassinating me, according to NC State Police who had been summoned by the owner of a restaurant who thought his premises would be destroyed in the course of my assassination.]

The second was on 9/11 when I was on a subway located within a few hundred feet of the first World Trade Center tower as it went down and located inside what became the fenced border of the World Trade Center disaster area.

The third was this past May 1st when, if the Metropolitan Opera had finished a bit earlier and the Times Square bomber had been a bit more competent, I would once more have been history. (I always stay at the Harvard Club when in town, so my bus back from the Met always passes through Times Square.)

FYI, I am attaching for the curious a nearly-contemporaneous write-up of 9/11 which, despite the factual detail, does not capture the primordial terror that the world had come to an end when, upon emerging from a subway station a few hundred feet from the South Tower which had just come down (the North Tower was still up) and being covered with 3 inches of fine white soot, I looked up at a pitch-black sky on what had been a blue-bird sunny day 90 minutes earlier.

Sorry to be so morose. But I still make it a point never to fly on a 9/11 anniversary.

One Columbus Place – Unit N41A
New York, NY 10019
19 September 2001

Dear Friends,

Thank you all very much for your recent inquiries regarding my safety vis-à-vis the World Trade Center attacks last week. I am very sorry to be writing a universal response to accompany a brief individualized cover note. However, there were quite a few voice-mail and E-mail messages and, in addition, I have been preoccupied by the condition of my father in Michigan who is expected to pass away imminently.

Tuesday the 11th dawned sunny in New York City without a cloud in the sky. Although I am usually in the office by 7:30 am, errands prevented me from entering the Columbus Circle subway station of the Broadway line until about 9:30 am (since moving back to the City from Connecticut several years ago, I no longer try to drive during rush-hour traffic).

There were several people with portable radios reporting that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center but the reports indicated that it was a small airplane. However, several fire engines were already racing south past Columbus Circle.

The Broadway subway line comprises two local trains that come from Riverdale (the West End of the Bronx along the Hudson River) and end at South Ferry (the southern tip of Manhattan), and two express trains – one starts in Harlem and the other just north of the Bronx Botanical Garden and, after running the length of Manhattan, both serve different areas of Brooklyn.

After an unusually-long wait of perhaps 15 minutes, a No. 2 Express train arrived on the local tracks accompanied by announcements that it would be making all local stops in Manhattan. However, after Penn Station at 34th street, it made no more stops to let passengers on or off. After skipping the stations at 28th St., 23rd St., 18th St., 14th St., Sheridan Square, Houston St., Canal St., Franklin St. and Chambers St., the train came to a stop before reaching the Park Place station.

The Chambers Station is where the local and express lines split. The next stop on the local line is underneath World Trade Center Building No. 4 – 200 feet east of the South Tower (WTC Building No. 2).

The express line splits off to the east to go to Wall Street where my office is. Wall Street is only six blocks long. The western end of Wall Street is one block east and three blocks south of the southeast corner of the WTC. My office is in the middle of Wall Street, 4.5 blocks east and three blocks south of the WTC.

Incidentally, the New York Stock Exchange is two blocks from the western end of Wall Street. Although Wall Street is one way traffic from west to east, the first two blocks have been closed to traffic for a number of years ever since one of the terrorist bombings of American installations abroad raised the concern that the New York Stock Exchange might be the target of a car bomb. The only way to reach Wall Street by car has been to go a block past the west end of Wall (Broadway is one-way south), turn left on Exchange street which is only 10-12 feet wide for two blocks, and come up the other side of the NYSE on Nassau Street past a string of barriers that prevent traffic from coming closer than 100 feet or so of the NYSE building. The two blocks of Wall Street that are closed, the two narrow blocks on Exchange Street and the portion of Nassau Street that is involved are all heavily patrolled by heavily-armed quasi-military personnel.

Our express train came to a stop between stations right at the point where the local and express lines split. We were located 300 feet from the northern edge of the WTC and 950 feet from the North Tower (WTC Building No. 1). We remained there for 45 minutes with no lighting or air conditioning. The train was filled with smoke.

While our train was going past nine stations without stopping, a passenger with a portable radio had heard the report that South Tower had also been hit, and that both airplanes had been Boeing 757/767’s. He was unable to get any reception on his portable radio while we were stopped.

Finally, the lighting and air conditioning came back on and our train began to inch forward. When we had gone about 500 feet, the train stopped again. An announcement was made that only the first car had been able to reach the platform of the Park Place station because the train ahead of us had been abandoned before completely leaving the station – so everyone would have to walk forward to the first car to leave the train.

I was toward the rear of the train. By the time I walked through the train and reached the platform, several passengers had already tried to go up to the street and had come back covered with soot and ash. They were hysterical and security personnel were advising passengers to remain underground on the platform.

There was no announcement that the South Tower had collapsed. However, I decided that it would be important to get a bottle of water as quickly as possible. So I covered my nose with a hanky and went up to the street. The streets and sidewalks were covered with about 3 inches of soot and ash, the sky looked completely black as if it were midnight (despite the sunny day without a cloud in the sky only 90 minutes earlier), and the air was very difficult to breathe despite the hanky.

Since I knew the area well, it took little time to find a lunch place that had bottled water. I remained there for about 30 minutes with perhaps 30-40 people, about half the capacity of the lunch place, while the sky gradually became slightly lighter – finally appearing as if dawn might break in another hour (even though it was now almost 10:30 am).

At that point, the sky turned black again. Although we didn’t know it because we had not been able to hear any noise or feel any concussion, the North Tower had just collapsed.

From my days of flying light aircraft as a hobby, which makes you very attuned to atmospheric conditions, I knew that the prevailing winds from the west meant that I was almost directly down wind from the World Trade Center and that it would make a great deal of sense to go out on the street again and walk directly north in order to escape the down-wind area of the World Trade Center. Otherwise, I would be breathing smoke as long as I remained there. And there was a good chance that the smoke would contain asbestos.

I hoped that 8-9 blocks would take me out of the down-wind area of the WTC. And, sure enough, after 8-9 blocks I was out of the smoke and once more the sky was clear blue without a cloud around. I looked back at the base of the WTC. Both towers were down and thick black smoke was pouring out of the base.

I continued walking north because there was very little traffic and what little there was comprised only emergency vehicles headed south. By the time I reached the New York University campus just north of Houston Street, people were talking on cell phones (further south, cell phones had not been working because the transmitters there were located on top of the North Tower). I tried mine and about every fifth call went through. The second call went to my voice-mail to change the introductory message to begin, “Good AFTERNOON. This is John Karls. It’s Tuesday the 11th and…” Many of you heard the message and concluded that I was all right.

At 14th Street, there were a few cross-town buses running – the first sign of non-emergency traffic. So I turned westward to reach a northbound Avenue. On the corner of 14th and Sixth (aka Avenue of the Americas), a bus was taking its first passengers. The driver was apologetic that the bus would only go as far as Central Park South (aka 59th street), but that is only 3 blocks east of where I live (which is just south of Lincoln Center, looking down 41 stories on the Metropolitan Opera House with the Hudson River to the left and Central Park to the right). A few minutes later, I was home!!!

Monday morning, I went back to my office building since the media were full of stories that the exchanges would be re-opening. The whole Wall Street area was very eerie. Although the streets and sidewalks had been cleaned, they still had an intense odor of the soot and ash that had covered them. Every street corner had check points manned by military personnel. Military barriers and patrolling hummers were everywhere. There was no electricity. Each building had 2-3 trailers of emergency generating equipment delivered by 18 wheelers. However, the emergency generators were only sufficient to deliver electricity to the floors occupied by traders. Upon entering my building, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein personnel said only the floors occupied by the Dresdner Bank traders had electricity and none of the Kleinwort/Wasserstein investment bankers would even be permitted to fetch essential materials from their offices before tomorrow (September 20th) at the earliest.

So far, I do not know anyone who is missing. However, approximately 130 members of my law school class came to New York and, for the last 15 years, approximately 80-90 of us have been having lunch together once a month at the Harvard Club – so I expect that there may yet be some friends from that pool or elsewhere who will turn up missing. I pray for everyone from whom nothing has been heard.

Your friend,

John Karls

Subsequent File Note:

Both the Park Place subway station described above and the luncheonette in which I obtained the bottle of water, were for the first six months following 9/11 inside the fence border of the 9/11 disaster area from which the public was excluded. At that point, the fence was shrunk to encompass solely the WTC pit (or so-called “tub” – the formerly water-tight wall/floor preventing seepage from the Hudson River into the underground facilities/basements of the WTC). Though many of the buildings previously inside the fence border but now outside the shrunk border, were still not permitted to be used and some of them have been permanently condemned.


(1) California friends (both L.A. and S.F.) have either been electrified or unaffected by 9/11 depending on whether they work in high-rise office buildings – since Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had planned to attack office buildings in FOUR American cities simultaneously and Osama bin Laden had cancelled at the last moment the attacks on San Francisco and Los Angeles on the grounds that it would be too difficult to pull off attacks on opposite sides of the continent simultaneously and that simultaneity was essential to success.

(2) A close friend who was the Executive Director of the California Ski Industry Association, which is based in a S.F. high-rise office building, reported that the square footage of the two WTC towers (even though a small fraction of total space in the Wall Street business district and even though total space in the Wall Street business district is a small fraction of total space in Manhattan’s mid-town business district) exceeds the total of all business square footage in San Francisco. (I have not tried to verify this statement – she stated that it came from a San Francisco Chronicle 9/11 story.)

We hope to see and hear all of you on September 15th!!!

Your friend,

John K.

PS - To un-subscribe, please press "reply" and type "deletion requested."

PPS - Our sister organization, Drinking Liberally, usually meets twice a month on Friday evenings for socializing with like-minded individuals from 6:30 pm > 9:30 pm at Piper Down (1492 South State Street).

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