The Republican Party has become the Southern Party. Or so we’ve been told ad nauseam, at least since Richard Nixon launched an effort wean disaffected whites from the Democratic Party. There’s more debate about the chronology and causes of the South’s realignment than many people realize: the wonderfully named Sean Trende argues that it began long before 1968 and had more to do with urbanization than than with race. For some critics, however, the electoral map is irrefutable evidence that the Party of Lincoln has become the Party of the Confederacy (plus the mountain West, which no one ever talks about).
But it may not always be that way. As the outcomes in 2008 and 2012 showed, the Upper South is much more competitive than it used to be. Virginia leans blue. And North Carolina is up for grabs.
Larry Sabato offers an intuitive but nevertheless interesting explanation of what’s going on (h/t @jbouie). Using data from the 2010 census, Sabato observes that states that have experienced big declines in the number of voters who were born there (the “nativity rate”) tend to turn blue. That’s largely because minorities, whether from foreign countries or other states, are more likely to move than whites. They are also more likely to be Democrats.
Virginia, whose population has also been transformed by the growth of the affluent D.C. area, has been the pioneer of this change. North Carolina is following a similar pattern. Based on current trends, Georgia’s nativity rate is likely to drop below 50 percent within the next decade or so. If that happens, and if Sabato’s right, it may again become possible for Democratic presidential candidates to win there too.
The loss of the Upper and Coastal South would be bad news for Republicans. On the other hand, the correlation between high nativity rates and support for the GOP means that the Republican stronghold may be shifting to the Midwest, which attracts few new residents but still commands a pile of electoral votes.
Consider the irony of such a scenario. Republicans have lost ground in North and gained it in the South partly because their appeal is concentrated among whites. But the South is becoming far less white than it used to be, partly because of immigration and partly because its weather and lower cost of living have made it an attractive destination for domestic relocation. As a result, Republicans are beginning to struggle there, just as they do in the more diverse Northeast and West Coast.
So could the GOP return from Southern exile to its origins in the Midwest? Doing so would refute the geographic argument that it’s the party of the Confederacy. But that’s mainly because the Confederacy ain’t what it used to be.
Human cloning is real.
Yesterday, the prominent scientific journal Cell published a paper by scientists at Oregon Health & Science University announcing that they had successfully derived stem cell lines from cloned human embryos. Some context is necessary, however, to start to grasp the implications of what has taken place.
First of all, a brief primer to the science. Cloning is more commonly referred to in scientific circles as “somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT),” where scientists take the DNA from an adult (somatic) cell and transfer it into an unfertilized egg, which has had its own DNA removed. Normally to begin developing into an embryo, a fetus, and ultimately an adult human being, the egg has to be fertilized by a sperm to which kick off the series of coordinated steps that constitute human development.
Instead of having the genetic material from two parents combine into a unique new life, however, cloning takes the full genetic information from an adult and places it into the emptied egg. These researchers immersed the egg in a caffeine solution and delivered regular electrical shocks, among other techniques, forcing it to enter development, dividing and growing until it reached “blastocyst” stage, where a protective outer layer called the trophoblast surrounds the mass of inner cells (ICM) that will constitute the myriad parts of a human body, and being.
At this point, as is the necessary procedure to obtain embryonic stem cells, they dissolved that protective outer layer to obtain the inner cells rich in total potential, and grew them into an “immortal” line of stem cells. To prove their success, some of those cells were programmed into muscle cells and grown into tumors under the skin of immune-suppressed mice. The muscle cells were made to contract, and filmed doing so.
The controversies and debates about cloning specifically are legion, and will be given new intensity with this announcement, but some points can be made at the outset. For those who believe that human life is worthy of protection from its inception, the creation of a human life for the express purpose of destroying it, and manipulating what could have been a child into reproducible tissue for manipulation and research is abhorrent.
Cloning compounds these considerations by transforming the nature of human life itself. As sexual beings, every child is the product of a union, possessing a unique inheritance unto themselves (identical twins notwithstanding) that will generate and govern their own story going forward. Cloning, however, gives that child the inheritance of a life already once lived. Many of our reproductive technologies already run perilously close to making the creation of life into manufacture, and cloning would drastically advance that by beginning to recycle the very material of life, to some degree inevitably making a newborn into a do-over. The demand is already there, to recover a lost child, to regenerate a dead genius, to live on forever genetically intact. We should not provide the supply.
These scientists protest that they have no interest in reproductive cloning, though, and indeed claim that a forthcoming paper will prove that their technique cannot be used to bring a child to term even if they wanted to do so. Even here, their justifications are weak. Embryonic stem cells, far from the promises of universal supply kits of personalized medicine promised at the DNC a decade back, have an inherent limit: human embryos are hard to come by. They require women to undergo highly invasive and sometimes risky techniques not to give birth, but to give scientists material to work with. The women used in this study were paid thousands of dollars, raising concerns over the exploitation of the poor, the commodification of the human body, and the commercialization of women’s reproductive powers. Furthermore, the research shows that while these scientists were very efficient, techniques obtaining more than 16 eggs at once produced eggs drastically less capable of being used for cloning.
Moreover, human embryonic stem cell research has fallen off dramatically since the discovery in 2006 of a technique for turning adult cells back into the “pluripotent” state embryos are so desirable for, at much less cost and without the ethical concerns of destroying embryos. Those cells, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), won Shinya Yamanaka a Nobel Prize for his efforts this year, and have revolutionized the stem cell research world. That breakthrough, it must be recognized, took place under a Japanese regulatory regime that made experimenting on human embryos almost impossible.
Taken together, a strong case is made for banning human cloning of any sort, and for keeping scientific research within the bounds of what is morally acceptable. Science wields awesome powers for achieving the ends we set before it, and we should not do it so little credit as to assume that medical progress must be ethically transgressive.
A classic C-SPAN clip from 1993 is doing the rounds on Facebook. Brian Lamb is frustrated when the “balanced” left-right discussion he tried to set up on Bill Clinton’s presidency is stymied by Pat Buchanan and Christopher Hitchens agreeing that Clinton is a neoliberal corporatist. Long clip, but worth watching—bookmark it.
According to many Republicans, Barack Obama has been scandal-plagued since sometime shortly after his inaugural parade. But only within the past few days have national political media begun to adopt the same view, as a cluster of controversies—over Benghazi, the IRS’s targeting of conservative activist groups, and the Department of Justice’s secret seizure of Associated Press phone records—emerged in quick succession, prompting journalists to announce that a watershed moment for the Obama presidency was at hand. “What we are witnessing is nothing less than a dramatic reversal of the nation’s political narrative,” declared Roll Call‘s Stu Rothenberg, who wondered whether all this augured a “game changer for 2014.” Continuing the theme, Politico theorized that these scandals will expose the limits of “a growing and activist government” and consequently “bolster the conservative worldview.”
Of the three controversies, Benghazi is most purely a product of the contemporary “conservative worldview”—Republicans have been promoting the story for eight months, fueled by a barrage of fury on Fox News and right-wing internet outfits. But the outrage has had virtually nothing to do with discontent over “a growing and activist government.” Instead, what seems to animate it is continued suspicion that the Obama administration deliberately lied about the nature of the attack to avoid suffering a potential setback in the heat of a presidential campaign. Last week’s hearing did lend a degree of credence to the theory—progressives are now less inclined to casually dismiss concerns that the post-attack talking points were manipulated—but regardless, recent developments had no bearing on the desirability of “a growing and activist government.” With very few exceptions, Republicans have not used the Benghazi saga as an opportunity to challenge the underlying logic of the Libya incursion, though a considerable swath of voters could be receptive to such a challenge, including disaffected Democratic-leaning folks who object to Obama’s interventionism and militarism.
In the case of the IRS “scandal,” when the news broke, Obama swiftly denounced the agency’s conduct as “outrageous,” and Democrats vowed to fully investigate. Assuming there is no further conspiracy, this issue may harm Obama in the short-term but seems unlikely to effect a broad-based shift in attitudes toward government power other than to intensify feelings among conservatives who already detest the president and the IRS. As the “Tea Party” brand remains extremely unpopular, progressives and independents will generate little sympathy for the self-described “Tea Party” and “Patriot” groups that were targeted.
By stark contrast, Monday’s revelation that the Justice Department seized two months’ worth of phone records from the Associated Press is a veritable “game-changer”—a full-blown scandal in every sense of the word. DOJ officials obtained these highly sensitive records in secret, preventing the AP from seeking judicial review; sources for as many as 100 reporters may have been compromised. Pulitzer Prize winners Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, whose investigative journalism has been indispensable, were among the targets.
The gravity of this “massive and unprecedented intrusion,” as the AP described it, cannot be overstated. Attorney General Eric Holder has claimed that his department carried out the action pursuant to a criminal investigation into a national-security leak that “put the American people at risk,” creating a situation that “required aggressive action” to remedy.
A substantial set of Americans, young people especially, has grown deeply cynical of state officials’ rote invocation of ill-defined “threats” to justify abridging core civil liberties. Ironically, this scandal is by far the most compelling example of what “a growing and activist government” might wreak—yet it also appears to be the scandal in which the GOP has the least interest. It most threatens Obama precisely because it is not tainted by partisan grandstanding. It is a scandal on its face and required no trumpeting from congressional zealots in order to enter the mainstream discourse.
But since the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans have demonstrated a remarkable inability to capitalize on Obama’s many vulnerabilities. Notwithstanding pumped-up “narratives” about the administration’s imminent downfall, there is little reason to expect much will change.
The most basic criticism of Obama turns out to be the truest. A one-term Senator doesn’t have much preparation for governing anything—yes, a risk that Republicans will have to keep in mind with Marco Rubio and Rand Paul—and government under Obama often seems to be run by functionaries. It’s all too plausible that Obama didn’t know, or care to know, about the IRS applying discriminatory standards against right-leaning 501(c)(4) groups, and his attitude toward Eric Holder’s Justice Department grabbing Associated Press phone records appears similarly blasé.
This is rather unlike the disgraced president to whom many Republicans want to compare the incumbent. As Dana Milbank puts it: “Nixon was a control freak. Obama seems to be the opposite: He wants no control over the actions of his administration. As the president distances himself from the actions of ‘independent’ figures within his administration, he’s creating a power vacuum in which lower officials behave as though anything goes.” That’s not exculpatory: a president is responsible for the abuses of his administration whether he orders them directly or simply creates the conditions in which they can happen.
It’s doubtful, alas, that congressional Republicans will treat these matters as anything other than opportunities for Benghazi-style partisan hype. There are fundamental matters behind each of these scandals that the GOP establishment does not want to face any more than Obama does. Namely: exactly what the CIA was doing in Benghazi (and why the U.S. had to be so deeply involved in Libya in the first place), the tremendous discretion the IRS enjoys over whom it targets and how, and the extent to which the War on Terror is really a War on Transparency in government. Failure to strike these problems at their roots only reinforces the idea that the GOP’s leadership cares not a whit for the substance of the issues but only about embarrassing Obama. That may be enough to rally the base ahead of 2014, but there are many other Americans—not nearly enough, to be sure—who actually would like someone to stand up for consistent standards, not only for the IRS but to check and limit arbitrary executive power across the board.
As Jordan Bloom mentioned yesterday, Corey Robin has a provocative essay on the connection between between Nietzsche and the “Austrian” economists in The Nation. The piece is titled “Nietzsche’s Marginal Children”, as if Menger, Mises, Hayek and Schumpeter were Nietzsche’s direct heirs. The actual argument is more subtle: “the relationship between Nietzsche and the free-market right…is thus one of elective affinity rather than direct influence, at the level of idiom rather than policy.”
According to Robin, both Nietzsche and the Austrians saw value as a subjective commitment under conditions of constraint rather than an objective contribution by labor. For this reason, they endorsed agonistic social relations in which individuals struggle to express and impose valuations to the limits of their differential strength, while rejecting egalitarian arrangements that attempt to give producers a fair share of the value they have generated. Although he was most interested in philosophy and art, Nietzsche also described the conditions necessary for cultural renewal as “great politics”. For the Austrians, by contrast, the marketplace was the setting for contestation over value.
Like Robin’s argument in The Reactionary Mind, this interpretation is bound to appeal to leftists who are already convinced that there’s something sinister about conservative and libertarian thought (see the comments at Crooked Timber here). But it has serious problems, which Brian Doherty and Kevin Vallier have already begun to point out.
For one thing, there’s nothing unique to Austrian economics about the subjective theory of value. As Robin acknowledges, the foundations of the so-called marginal revolution were laid by the Frenchman Walras and the Englishman Jevons, as well as the Austrian Menger. That wouldn’t matter if the influence of these writers had been especially strong in the milieu that eventually produced Mises and Hayek. But in fact, almost all modern economists, whatever their theoretical or political orientation, accept some descendant of Walras, Jevons, and Mengers’ arguments. What’s more, Robin generally ignores the technical mathematical background of the marginal revolution, which he presents primarily as debate in moral philosophy. That decision obscures the most important cause of the transformation of economic thought in the 19th century: the demand that economics become a science on the model of physics.
Robin is also evasive in his chronology. He acknowledges that “[a]round the time—almost to the year—that Nietzsche was launching his revolution of metaphysics and morals, a trio of economists [Walras, Jevons, and Menger], working separately across three countries, were starting their own.” But he doesn’t deal explicitly with the possibility that this temporal coincidence makes any connection between Nietzsche and marginal economics circumstantial.
It’s true that Hayek and his Austrian contemporaries received the new theories of value in economics in a cultural context influenced by Nietzsche. But that tells us nothing about those theories’ original inspiration—let alone their truth. In any case, the fact that marginal economics became dominant in a setting where Nietzsche had little or no influence, such as the British academy, suggests that the heroic individualism he so brilliantly articulated was by no means a necessary condition of the transformation of economics. And given the variety of reactions to Nietzsche in the 20th century, it’s clearly not a sufficient one.
It’s also crucial to remember that Nietzsche was not the only 19th century thinker who challenged the leveling tendencies of democracy and socialism. On the contrary, this concern is among the major themes of Tocqueville, Carlyle, Mill, Kierkegaard, Burkhardt, Freud, Dostoyevksy, and Pareto, to name only a few. Robin knows too much to ignore these names, some of which occur in the piece. But Robin’s focus suggests that they served, at most, as adjuncts or supplements to Nietzsche.
Robin’s central error, in other words, is an uncritical acceptance of Nietzsche’s evaluation of himself as a “fate” rather than an articulator, however brilliant, of ideas that were very much in the air of the 19th century. In this respect, Robin shows an odd affinity for Leo Strauss, who tended to reduce intellectual history to a decontextualized dialogue among great thinkers.
Interesting, isn’t it? The IRS, EPA, and DOJ scandals all happened before the election. We’re only hearing about them now.
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) May 14, 2013
Yup. Sure is.
– EPA chief Lisa Jackson, alias “Richard Windsor,” resigned in late December amidst a transparency scandal involving the use of fake email accounts to avoid scrutiny. Today, the same organization that sued for access to those emails reveals that the EPA gave green groups fee waivers for FOIA requests 93 percent of the time, whereas the Competitive Enterprise Institute was required to pay 14 out of 15 times.
– The IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups (and small-government ones and ones whose stated mission is to “make America a better place to live”) went back to 2010, when they first started receiving egregiously detailed questionnaires. The White House has known since April, and pinned it on the Cincinnati field office originally, per the IRS commissioner’s apology. Not only is that claim not true—senior IRS officials have known since 2011, as the Washington Post reported last night, and they lied to Congress about it—but the Cincinnati office isn’t just a random peripheral subdivision, it’s the main office for processing exempt organizations claims. Not to mention CNN is now reporting that several other field offices were involved. Both the President and House Speaker John Boehner have promised to look into the matter. On the Senate side, Max Baucus will be heading up the investigation, and he actually encouraged investigating Tea Party groups.
– In the most shocking scandal yet in the president’s war on leaks—alternatively, war on whistleblowers—the Associated Press revealed yesterday that the Justice Department obtained two months’ worth of phone records from more than 20 different phone lines in an apparent attempt to trace the sources of a story about a foiled bomb plot by Yemen-based terrorists. The AP’s CEO has called it a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.”
Not every one of these could have been uncovered by the mainstream press, though all of them have to do with concerns raised by conservatives months or in some cases years ago that weren’t taken seriously. ProPublica’s decision yesterday evening to out the Cincinnati office as their source for confidential tax documents seems especially self-serving in light of the developing scandal. The Washington Post‘s story on Lisa Jackson’s resignation didn’t even mention her pseudonymous emails. You’d think a major newspaper would be concerned enough about transparency to do so. With a mainstream press this solicitous of the administration, is it any wonder they thought they could get away with snooping on reporters’ phone records? American Pravda, indeed.
Update: I guess I should have put that headline in quotes. Also, RNC chairman Reince Priebus has just called for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation.
It’s hard to know which is the bigger deal, Stephen Hawking’s BDS-inspired decision to drop out of a high-powered conference in Israel (a country he has visited several times before) or the Boston Globe’s endorsement of Hawking’s protest. Both actions would have been virtually inconceivable five years ago, and both reflect the broader impatience of mainstream, high-prestige Western institutions and personalities with Israel’s intensifying land-grabbing on the West Bank and its longstanding practice of using the never-ending “peace process” to camouflage policies of slow-motion ethnic cleansing.
Hawking of course is a global celebrity, renowned as a top theoretical physicist who has triumphed professionally despite suffering from the most debilitating of diseases. His defiance is celebrated in graphic form here and analyzed perceptively by the Israeli anti-occupation journalist Larry Derfner here. Derfner doesn’t really like BDS but notes that nothing else to date has worked: the Israeli public seems all too happy to elect governments which support the occupation, the United States is too timid to try “tough love” on Israel, and it’s very difficult for the Palestinians to make non-violent protest effective against an occupier using live ammunition, midnight arrests, and detention without trial. Not that they aren’t trying. Read More…
Jason Richwine, the young conservative scholar who co-authored the Heritage Foundation report on the long-term costs of the amnesty bill backed by the “Gang of Eight,” is gone from Heritage.
He was purged after the Washington Post unearthed his doctoral dissertation at the JFK School of Government.
IQ tests fairly measure mental ability. The average IQ of immigrants is well below that of white Americans. This difference in IQ is likely to persist through several generations.
And the potential consequences of this?
“A lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market.”
Richwine defended his 166-page thesis before Harvard’s George Borjas, Richard Zeckhauser and Christopher Jencks, who once edited The New Republic. But while his thesis was acceptable at Harvard—it earned Richwine a Ph.D.—it has scandalized the Potomac priesthood.
Our elites appear unanimous: Richwine’s view that intelligence is not equally distributed among ethnic and racial groups, and is partly inherited, is rankest heresy. Yet no one seems to want to prove him wrong.
Consider Richwine’s contention that differences in mental ability exist and seem to persist among racial and ethnic groups.
In the Wall Street Journal last month, Warren Kozak noted that 28,000 students in America’s citadel of diversity, New York City, took the eighth-grade exam to enter Stuyvesant, the Bronx School of Science and Brooklyn Tech, the city’s most elite high schools. Students are admitted solely on their entrance test scores.
Of the 830 students who will be entering Stuyvesant as freshmen this fall, 1 percent are black, 3 percent are Hispanic, 21 percent are white—and 75 percent are Asian.
Now, blacks and Hispanics far outnumber Asians in New York. But at Stuyvesant, Asians will outnumber blacks and Hispanics together 19-to-1.
Is this the result of racially biased tests at Stuyvesant?
At Berkeley, crown jewel of the California university system, Hispanics, 40 percent of California’s population and an even larger share of California’s young, are 12 percent of the freshman class. Asians, outnumbered almost 3-to-1 by Hispanics in California, have almost four times as many slots as Hispanics in the freshman class.
Another example of racial bias?
The 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA, which measures the academic ability of 15-year-olds worldwide, found the U.S.A. falling to 17th in reading, 23rd in science, 31st in math.
Yet, Spain aside, not one Hispanic nation, from which a plurality of our immigrants come, was among the top 40 in reading, science or math.
But these folks are going to come here and make us No. 1 again?
Is there greater “underclass behavior” among Hispanics?
The crime rate among Hispanics is about three times that of white Americans, while the Asian crime rate is about a third that of whites.
Among white folks, the recent illegitimacy rate was 28 percent; among Hispanics, 53 percent. According to one study a few years back, Hispanics were 19 times as likely as whites to join gangs.
What about Richwine’s point regarding “social trust”?
Six years ago, in “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the 21st Century,” Robert Putnam, author of “Bowling Alone,” wrote that after 30,000 interviews he found that ethnic and racial diversity can be devastating to communities and destructive of community values.
In racially mixed communities, Putnam wrote, not only do people not trust strangers, they do not even trust their own kind.
“People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ’hunker down,’ that is, to pull in like a turtle … (to) withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television.”
With the immigration bill granting amnesty to 12 million illegals, an open door to their dependents and a million new immigrants each year, almost all from the Third World, America in 2040 is going to look like Los Angeles today. Yet, it was in L.A. that Putnam found social capital at its most depleted and exhausted.
If Richwine is right, America in 2040 will be a country with whites and Asians dominating the professions, and 100 million Hispanics concentrated in semiskilled work and manual labor.
The issues Richwine raises go to the question of whether we shall survive as one nation and one people.
If our huge bloc of Hispanics, already America’s largest minority at 53 million, is fed by constant new immigration, but fails for a couple of generations to reach the middle-class status that Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians and Poles attained after two generations, what becomes of our “indivisible” nation?
Rather than face this question, better to purge and silence the Harvard extremist who dared to raise it.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?” Copyright 2012 Creators.com.
Amid loud cries of “Witch! Witch! Burn the Witch!” an enraged throng of ideological activists and media pundits late last week besieged the fortress-like DC headquarters of the conservative Heritage Foundation, demanding the person of one Jason Richwine, Ph.D., employed there as a senior policy analyst. The High Lords of Heritage, deeply concerned about any possible threat to their million-dollar salaries, quickly submitted, though they waited until late Friday, the dead-zone period of national news coverage, before announcing that young Dr. Richwine had been expelled into the Outer Darkness.
Only a week earlier, Richwine had reached a pinnacle of his career, listed as co-author of a widely trumpeted Heritage research study demonstrating that Congressional passage of proposed immigration reform legislation would cost American taxpayers some six trillion dollars…or perhaps the figure was six quadrillion dollars.
But then some enterprising journalist discovered the dreadful evidence of Richwine’s horrific heresy, namely that his 2009 doctoral dissertation at the Harvard Kennedy School had focused on the very low IQs of those racial groups providing most of our current immigrants, with his conclusion being that such inflows must be halted lest American society be dumbified into disaster. Taken together Race and IQ constitute an exceptionally volatile mix in modern American society, and ignited by a six trillion dollar spark, the resulting explosion blew Richwine out of his comfortable DC employment. Read More…