Visual source: Newseum
The New York Times doesn't mince words about Newt Gingrich's Southern Strategy.
Newt Gingrich won the primary by a decisive margin of more than 13 percentage points, and there is no mystery about how he did it. Two-thirds of voters interviewed in exit polls said they made their decision on the basis of the two South Carolina debates, where Mr. Gingrich exploited racial resentment and hatred of the news media to connect with furious voters.
Mr. Romney’s foam-rubber ideology was not built for an electorate this rigid. Mr. Santorum’s profound social conservatism might normally have played well, particularly because two-thirds of primary voters said they were evangelical or born-again Christians, but he appealed only to Republican minds, not hearts.
It was Mr. Gingrich who pulled the race into the gutter, where he found considerable support. He repeatedly called Mr. Obama “the greatest food-stamp president in American history,” and lectured a black questioner at Monday’s debate about the amount of federal handouts to blacks, suggesting their work ethic was questionable.
What did South Carolina voters really admire about Newt? His ability to both play the race card and then summon up the righteous indignation of a victim whenever anyone even started to call him on it. That's a model for the campaign the GOP base wants to see.
Ruth Marcus listens to some of Newt's finger-wagging complaints and says that Newt may be pleasing the base, but the truth is he's off base.
And then, to even wilder cheering, the inevitable liberal media attack. “I am tired,” Gingrich proclaimed, “of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.”
Let’s dispense, first, with Gingrich’s bias point: It plays great, but it’s bogus. The “elite” media love a juicy story, all the better if it’s captured on camera, and its pursuit of such tales knows no partisan bounds. To those who complain about liberal media bias, think back to the crazed scrum of reporters thronging then-candidate Bill Clinton when the Gennifer Flowers story first emerged on the eve of the New Hampshire primary.
But Clinton was a Democrat. That's a completely different thing.
Ross Douthat says that both parties have trouble finding good candidates.
As weak as this year’s Republican field has proved, it’s not that much weaker than a number of recent presidential vintages, from the Democrats’ lineups in 1988 and 2004 to the Republican field in 1996. In presidential politics, the great talents (a Clinton, a Reagan) seem to be the exception; a march of Dole-Dukakis-Mondale mediocrity is closer to the rule.
The thing is, Democrats are not having trouble finding a strong candidate this year. No matter how many past seasons you dredge up, for 2012 the problem is all on one side. And actually, the 2004 Democratic field was a pool of infinite riches compared to this year's GOP menagerie. As for this year, Douthat seems to still be assuming that Romney is inevitable, but he's looking a lot more evitable this morning.
New York Times editorial looks at how every effort to remedy racial disparity in education has come under attack and how legal decision this year could all but eliminate any meaningful actions.
Three notable lawsuits around the country show the continuing controversy. In March, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit will reconsider Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in public university admissions, which a three-judge panel of the court struck down last summer. ...
In the Fifth Circuit, a three-judge panel a year ago upheld the use of race as a factor in admissions at the University of Texas at Austin. ...
In the Ninth Circuit next month, a three-judge panel will hear an appeal from a district court decision to dismiss a challenge to California’s Proposition 209, which outlawed race-conscious admissions in 1996.
Any or all of these cases could end up before the Supreme Court, on which four conservatives have made clear that they would make illegal even narrowly tailored diversity programs. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. spoke for himself and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito Jr. in 2007 when he wrote in an opinion, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
The plain truth is that affirmative action in all areas has been so gutted that it's effect is negligible, but don't expect any of the Republicans to celebrate their victory over opportunity. They need this issue to boost the fear factor.
Elisabeth Rosenthal Looks into why sunshine doesn't always disinfect (and can even grow weeds).
Disclosure laws — meant to elucidate — do not necessarily lead to greater transparency or prevent the things they were meant to deter. Every holder of a subprime mortgage that is now underwater once signed an elaborate disclosure statement required by the Truth in Lending Act describing precisely the risky terms of their loan. Likewise, “super PACs” in the presidential campaign are technically compliant with financial disclosure laws, but have so far proved successful at hiding many of the sources of their money.
Everyone agrees that openness is a virtue in a democracy. So what is going wrong?
One fundamental problem is that disclosure requirements merely get information onto the table, but themselves demand no further action. According to political theory, disclosure is both a citizen’s right and a tool to ensure good government and consumer protection, because it provides information that leads to informed decisions. Instead, disclosure has often become an endpoint in the chain of responsibility, an act of compliance with the letter of the law rather than the spirit of transparency.
Get out enough information and it's not actually information anymore, it's just noise. Most of what is produced by disclosure laws never gets the analysis needed to give it value.
Peter Singer wonders what it does to a democracy when the armed services aren't just staffed by a tiny percentage of the population, but increasingly the weapons aren't even carried by humans.
Just 10 years ago, the idea of using armed robots in war was the stuff of Hollywood fantasy. Today, the United States military has more than 7,000 unmanned aerial systems, popularly called drones. There are 12,000 more on the ground. Last year, they carried out hundreds of strikes — both covert and overt — in six countries, transforming the way our democracy deliberates and engages in what we used to think of as war.
We don’t have a draft anymore; less than 0.5 percent of Americans over 18 serve in the active-duty military. We do not declare war anymore; the last time Congress actually did so was in 1942 — against Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. We don’t buy war bonds or pay war taxes anymore. During World War II, 85 million Americans purchased war bonds that brought the government $185 billion; in the last decade, we bought none and instead gave the richest 5 percent of Americans a tax break.
We've reached a point where we can inflict incredible damage half a world away, and do so with no cost but to our pocketbooks. And it's going to get worse. This is an issue that touches at the core of who we are as a nation, and it's being all but ignored.
Light maxes out at 186,000 miles per second in a vacuum, sound tops 750 mph at sea level, but what's the top speed for a bird?
Fast-moving birds like goshawks can zip through dense forests by intuitively avoiding the trees, but researchers at MIT have discovered a theoretical speed limit over which they are guaranteed to crash.
Can tweets sub for scientific instruments?