CRISPR/CAS9 and The Future of Medicine

As I began writing a piece on Donald Trump and early this evening, I thought to myself “what’s the point?” What good will come from yet another piece bemoaning the rise of the now-Republican front runner? So I decided to actually report some good news. That good news is a revolutionary news CRISPR/CAS9.

What is CRISPR/CAS9? It’s a radical new “gene-editing” technology that has the power to transform medicine and biology as we know it (click here for a full primer). Through this radical paradigm-breaking technology, humanity has the ability to completely wipeout ancient scourges like Malaria.

Scientists can now hone in on a specific gene and cut through it like scissors and re-paste it like glue. (I’m being overly simplistic here for lack of expertise).   

And while this technology has been around and creating buzz for a few years now, a recent breakthrough just occurred. Scientists have discovered a way to not only cut out the HIV virus from human cells, but they’re also able to prevent the virus from spreading. Such technology also has the potential to destroy other genetic diseases like Autism.

Now, doesn’t that make for a better story than Donald Trump?

The Libertarian Moment, Approach the Bench?

One of the big debates swirling around the freedom movement these days is whether or not America is currently going through “a libertarian moment.” The libertarian moment, as defined by Reason magazine editors Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, is “a time of increasingly hyper-individualized, hyper-expanded choice over virtually every aspect of our lives.”

By this, the pair are largely talking about the crumbling of institutional power centers giving way to an empowered mass of individuals, each being able to customize her own life and choices.

In the realm of consumer choices, this is undisputed. What is less well known, however, is the effect this trend is having in politics—more to the point, politics. More to the point still, local politics.

While Donald’s Trump flirtation with fascism and Hillary Clinton’s flirtation with everything just short of fascism have libertarians grabbing the nearest fifth of Jack Daniels on Tuesday night, something very different is happened at the local level.

Two controversial prosecutors with a record of being soft on criminal cops were thrown out.

In Chicago, voters kicked out the Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez, who was extremely slow to indict the police officer who shot black teenager Laquan McDonald in the back 16 times. Alvarez also has a history of using kid gloves to deal with the Chicago Police Department.

Her opponent and election victor, Kim Foxx, made the McDonald shooting a centerpiece of her campaign against Alvarez.

In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, voters also threw out incumbent prosecutor Timothy McGinty. McGinty’s office refused to press charges against two Cleveland officers for shooting Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Cleveland resident, in 2014.

So in at least a few jurisdictions, voters have clearly had enough of “soft-on-crime” prosecutors who are literally letting law enforcement getting away with murder.

Libertarians have railed against abusive police practices and their threat to individual liberty and justice for decades.

It looks like voters are starting to agree.

And in light of these victories, pro-liberty advocates should be setting up grassroots organizations that focus specifically on judicial, prosecutorial, and county sheriff races.

These advocates, if victorious, could fundamentally transform the criminal justice issue in favor of liberty without having to change one single law.

And with a new law enforcement community more in favor of reform in hand, the momentum to actually change laws for better would be unstoppable.

Call it a libertarian moment for the bench.

Are Newspaper Endorsements Worth More Than the Paper They’re Printed On?

Yesterday, The Des Moines Register, the largest newspaper in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, endorsed Senator Marco Rubio for the Republican presidential nomination and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

Newspaper endorsements used to play big in primary elections. But they don’t seem count for very much anymore. Indeed, in reporting the Register’s endorsement of Rubio, The New York Times opined that “the paper’s once highly anticipated backing might be less meaningful than it once was, in an age of reduced print circulation.”

However, a recent history of Des Moines Register endorsements going back to 1988 found that on the Republican side, the paper’s Republican endorsements went on to win eventual GOP nomination every time.

On the Democratic side, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders can take comfort in the fact that the results have been just the opposite: The Iowa paper’s selection has never correlated with the party’s eventual nominee since 1988.

Okay, so the results are fairly lopsided in Iowa. But what about New Hampshire?

In the Granite State, the main print media mainstay is the very conservative Manchester Union-Leader—so Democrats need not apply for endorsements.

This year, the Union-Leader has endorsed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who currently sits at around 7 percent in state polls, compared to Donald Trump, who dominates there at over 32 percent, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average.

Past primary endorsements have been more mixed. Election analyst Nate Silver, writing for the New York Times in 2011, analyzed previous endorsements and how well they correlated with the eventual New Hampshire primary winner and GOP nominee going back to the 1980 election (See graph below).

fivethirtyeight-1127-manchesterunion1-blog480.png

(Nate Silver/The New York Times)

In 1979, the Union-Leader endorsed Ronald Reagan, who went on to win the primary by a whopping 50 percent, and eventually went on to win the Republican nomination and defeat President Carter in a 45 state landslide.

The newspaper’s record for successfully picking the primary winner since then has been less than stellar. The next time it’s preference matched up with those of New Hampshire GOP primary voters was 1996, when firebrand outsider Pat Buchanan defeated Bob Dole. The next successful endorsement came 12 years later when the Union-Leader endorsed Senator John McCain.

So, the big question is what impact will this round of editorial presidential nods have on this election. If someone had an answer to that question, she would be very, very rich indeed.

But if past is prologue Marco Rubio has much more of reason to smile than does Hillary Clinton.

 

Jim Webb, Last Of The Old Jeffersonian Democrats

(Photocredit: Wikipedia)

(Photocredit: Wikipedia)

Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb has announced that he is running for president–by a simple Facebook post. The announcement marks a very different tact taken by most candidates, who, like Texas Senator Ted Cruz or Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, have opted for big announcement speeches in from of adoring crowds, or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who chose to announce via a several-minute long video that was more reminiscent of a life insurance commercial than a presidential campaign.

Webb himself seems like a man who is very much out of step with today’s Democratic party on economic issues. He talks more about growing the economy and expanding opportunity, rather than sticking to the cheap demagoguery of Bernie Sanders, who claim that if only Washington had more power and money everyone would live like kings.

The Virginia Democrat speaks more like a libertarian-leaning populist, who is mad as hell about the wars and America’s braggadocio foreign policy.

But while this is a rare trait in today’s “progressive” Democrats, hellbent on using government to “save” America and the world, the old-fashioned Jefferson-Jackson-Cleveland brand of the party, with it’s emphasis on personal freedom, limited government, and peace toward all nations, have a long and (mostly) proud history, although clearly on the issue of race there is much to be desired.

Unfortunately, that legacy appears to be dead and no serious commentator gives Webb any chance against the hyper-corporatist centralizer, Hillary Clinton.

Senate Democrats abandon Obama on Fast-Track Authority

In a stunning defeat for President Obama, the Senate Tuesday voted down giving the president Trade Promotion Authority (so-called “fast track”) to make it easier to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive 11-nation trade deal, without amendments.

By failing to reach the 60-vote threshold to reach cloture and cutoff debate, the bill remains very much in doubt. The upper chamber voted 52-45, with every Democrat voting “no” except for Delaware’s Tom Carper.

The defeat is a big win for the forces of anti-free trade within the Democratic Party, especially Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Warren has publicly classed the Mr. Obama in the past few days leading up to vote.

It is also a sign that Democrats are struggling to define what they’re party will stand for after the president leaves office in 2017.

Likely 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has largely stayed silent on the TTP and fast-track authority since announcing for president about a month ago. Although, while a member of the Obama cabinet, Secretary of State Clinton strongly backed the free trade deal, indicating she has seen the shifting political winds in her party has changed course.

While the bill is likely to come back up for a vote in the next two weeks before Congress goes on recess, the fate of TPP and the consensus on free trade with in the Democratic Party since the days of Bill Clinton and the largely successful Nafta agreement remains very much in doubht.

Hillary’s Kennedy-LBJ Paradox: If Elected She’ll (Probably) Accomplish More Liberal Goals Than Obama, But She’ll Never Be Loved Like Him

Political writers love to make comparisons between different politicians in different times. How does X politician compare with FDR? Is the Iraq War comparable to Vietnam? Can we really call the IRS Tea Party targeting McCarthyism? Comparisons abound. And in making these lightly theorized analogies, this writer is no exception.

So here is another consideration from history to throw into the mix: If Hillary Clinton wins, and if Democrats regain Congress (the latter proposition probably won’t happen but bear with me), she will probably be quite successful in passing liberal agenda items like immigration reform, climate change legislation, new pro-Big Labor “card-check” rules, and national protections for gays and lesbians against discrimination.

But even if she isn’t as successful as proposed, we can still do a thought experiment. Suppose she get’s all the the aforementioned Democratic initiatives through (regardless of the fact that besides immigration reform they don’t work and violate constitutional liberties) and liberals still loath her like the did Lyndon Johnson.

LBJ did in two years what it took Franklin Roosevelt to do in four terms and what it would have taken John Kennedy to do in 10. He passed Medicare and Medicaid, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights and Fair Housing Rights Acts, passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, passed Pell Grants, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and opened many new federal regulatory departments and welfare programs. He also cut taxes quite a bit.

And yet, after all this, the left of his own party despised him. Yes, this was mostly because of the disastrous Vietnam War, but that can’t explain everything because the Obama administration has engaged in many more costly wars in Libya, Yemen, and elsewhere. Whether it’s Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Harry Truman, or Bill Clinton, liberals are usually always willing to elect warmongers to the White House if they’ll agree to reduce economic freedom and property rights protection and increase legal plunder through income redistribution to bride voters.

But there are shining moments when the Left puts it’s government greed aside to pick candidates that are genuinely anti-war, like Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern.

Barack Obama, while many consider him in those latter two molds, is much more like JFK, and that’s not necessarily a compliment. By that comparison I mean to say he is considered to be a dove but is really hawk, but is able to portray himself as a dove and capture the imaginations of the electorate. He also did not accomplish much domestically.

His civil rights bill quickly became stalled in the Congress by segregationist Democrats and Republicans skeptical of expanding federal power.

President Kennedy created the Peace Corps, which symbolically is more important than it is actually. Another policy change, unionizing federal employees, would turn out to be fiscal disaster many decades later as we are now experiencing.

Now, as before, contrast that with the Johnson record: liberal and effective at ramming left-wing social welfare legislation through without much debate.

If elected, Hillary would be a classic warmongering hawk in the old Cold War sense. She believes in war as a “humanitarian” cause, like her failed war in Libya. But if she get’s a climate bill through passing or restricting First Amendment liberties with a campaign finance “reform” bill, that would be a liberal dream.

But she will not be loved like Obama. That does not mean she’ll suffer like LBJ. But it does mean that President Obama will defeat her all over again, only this time in the history books and in the memories of the American people.

Rubio Running For President

(Photocredit: Politico)

(Photocredit: Politico)

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, in an announcement in Miami, FL that wrapped up a few minutes ago, is running for president. The speech was bold in language and sparse in detail, but from a political standpoint it was very effective.

The immigrant narrative was heavy in the speech. Rubio alluded to his parents coming to America after the Castro coup in Cuba. That plays well and could really give Hillary Clinton a run for her money.

In the primaries, while Rubio is popular among donors, there doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm for him in the early primary and caucus states. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz seem to be locking down the Tea Party insurgent vote.

However, if either or both of those candidates flame out early there could be an opening. But it is more likely Rubio’s chief rival will be Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is considered a base favorite but is also largely acceptable to donors and the GOP establishment.

Look for Rubio and Walker attacking each other in the months to come before the caucuses and primaries.