The McLaughlin Group

Host: John McLaughlin

Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek;
Rich Lowry, National Review;
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune

Taped: Friday, June 1, 2012
Broadcast: Weekend of June 2-3, 2012







JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Demography Rules.

Fasten your seatbelt. Get this: White births make up less than half of the births in the U.S. today numerically. Nonwhite births are numerically dominant in the U.S. today. The implications for politics, the economy and the nation's identity are noteworthy. And the Census Bureau has made it official. Now 49.6 percent of all births in the U.S. today are white.

This is the first time in history that white births registered below 50 percent. So says a leading demographer at the Brookings Institution, Dr. William Frey. He notes that, quote, "We have been inching in that direction in the last several years," unquote.

The U.S. Census data on the shift was made public for the 12-month period that ended last July. Dr. Frey says, quote, "This is an important tipping point, a transformation from a mostly white baby-boomer culture to the more globalized, multiethnic country that we are becoming," unquote.

The New York Times calls this a milestone for the nation. Here's the Times piece, bylined by Sabrina Tavernise. Quote: "Such a turn has been long expected, but no one was certain when the moment would arrive, signaling a milestone for a nation whose government was founded by white Europeans and has wrestled mightily with issues of race from the days of slavery through a civil war, then civil rights battles, and most recently highly charged debates over efforts to restrict immigration," unquote.

Q: Is the Hispanic birthrate surging or is the white birthrate being delayed?

PAT BUCHANAN: Well, the white birthrate has been below replacement level for about 35 years, John, in the United States.

If you want to see what the future of America is going to look like, I think you ought to look at California, where whites are clearly already in the minority. They're down, I believe, to close to 40 percent now.

What's happened to the golden land? It's got the lowest bond rating in the United States. Its budget is completely in deficit. You've got the test scores of California students on average are declining dramatically. You have the departure of the middle class, black and white, Americans from California, because the taxes are going up dramatically.

And politically, John, you have the death of the Republican Party. And I think as the -- because 90 percent of all Republican votes nationally, 90 percent are white votes. And they're 63 percent of the country now. And as they fall to, say, 50 percent, you've got to get almost all of them to win the election. So the change is dramatic.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When I used the word "delayed," I'm referring to females today, white females, who are postponing, delaying, what would have been an earlier child-birthing period because they want to accomplish something in their jobs or whatever. So this is really a question that may not have a basis in fact, what we see on the screen.

ELEANOR CLIFT: I don't think the white birthrate is going to catch up with the Hispanic birthrate. But this is a tilting of America that we've seen coming for a good long while. I agree with Pat on one thing. It is the death of the Republican Party if they don't change some of their policies and the tone of their rhetoric towards the new America.

I don't think it's a negative thing and I don't think it has the fire as a political issue that it once had. You have illegal immigration from Mexicans slowing -- Mexico -- slowing down dramatically. You have many people, my own family included, who have multicultural aspects. It is not a scary thing to most people. People are fine with it.

And the generation that -- this new generation of babies, they're going to be -- they're the workers of tomorrow. If we didn't have them, we would be in trouble.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My piercing point has still not been addressed. White females are having babies later. Latino females have their babies in their 20s. Therefore, the statistic is based on what is not --

MS. CLIFT: But this is one statistic, John. America is no longer going to have a -- self-identify as a white nation. We are -- as this researcher said, we're joining the multicultural world. And even if more white women have babies, I don't think that's going to change the trend --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they have them later.

(Cross talk.)

CLARENCE PAGE: You're leaving out income, John.

RICH LOWRY: John, this is not an inevitable or natural thing. This is a product of deliberate government policy, starting in 1965, when we changed our immigration laws. And for four decades you've had this overwhelming tide of immigration.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Simpson-Mazzoli.

MR. LOWRY: That's --

MR. BUCHANAN: No -- the immigration law of 1965.

MR. LOWRY: You had 1965 --

MR. BUCHANAN: Teddy Kennedy.

MR. LOWRY: -- and then there was liberalization since then. But the optimistic case, which Eleanor makes, if you want to make that case, you can look back at the turn of the century, when actually in 1910 we had a higher proportion of foreign-born people in this country than we do now. It was 15 percent back then. Now it's around 12. And there were a lot of people then who weren't considered -- they were considered minorities, not entirely whites; Slavs and Jews and Italians and all the rest of it. And they were assimilated perfectly fine.

The thing that's different now is, one, after 1910 you had a big pause in immigration so it could stop and digest. And two, you had a much stronger assimilationist ethic then, which has really eroded now. And that's why I'm somewhere between Pat and Eleanor, with Pat representing a plausible but very pessimistic scenario, and Eleanor representing a plausible but optimistic scenario.

MR. PAGE: I think that assimilationist ethic --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before you continue, let me note --

MR. PAGE: That assimilationist ethic is very much alive.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that there's a column here published in the Chicago Tribune --

MR. PAGE: Who wrote that, I wonder.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- "America's Uneasy Browning," Clarence Page, May the 23rd. What's your point here?

MR. PAGE: Well, the thing is -- the assimilationist ethic is hardly dead. I find it laughable, in this day and age, of not only a mixed-race president but Marco Rubio in Florida. You've got the governor of Louisiana, governor of South Carolina, parents Indian-born and all, assimilating very well.

I mean, I think the melting pot or Mulligan stew, whatever you want to call it, still works. California is in trouble because of people like Howard Jarvis with Proposition 13 back in the 1970s who put this lid on taxes. So they no longer wanted to pay for the wonderful educational system California used to have. If you don't pay for it, you're not going to get it; same thing with more recently -- probably why the Republican Party is losing out there is because they alienated Hispanics, the fastest-growing population in California.

MR. BUCHANAN: But look, who's talking about --

MR. PAGE: If you do that kind of thing nationally, you're asking for a doomed America. Fortunately, most Americans --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, let me talk, John --

MR. PAGE: -- and I can talk of the reactions to my column -- you'll get a chance, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right.

MR. PAGE: Most Americans are quite optimistic about the melting pot still being alive.

MR. BUCHANAN: Is that why --

MR. PAGE: And I think the Census made a mistake by not counting mixed-race people as white, or at least some of them as white. It's hard to know how many to count. But the fact is we are going through a browning process right now whereby more and more people have somebody of a different race in their family, and they're getting used to it.

MR. BUCHANAN: But let me -- let's talk a little bit -- look, you're going to get new taxes this fall. Hopefully, according to Jerry Brown, he's going to raise the income tax, I think, over 10 percent in California. Whites and African-Americans are leaving California, the middle class.

Now, why can't Republicans get Hispanics? The simple reason: Half of all Americans don't pay any income taxes. The vast majority of Hispanics are under that. They get food stamps, free education, Medicaid, all these --

MR. PAGE: Republicans want Hispanics to --

MR. BUCHANAN: Hold it. It's my turn. You filibustered last time.

MR. PAGE: (Laughs.) OK, Senator.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, and the whole thing is, when Texas goes, John -- and Texas -- whites are a minority in Texas -- when that tips the way of California, it is the end of the Republican Party, the conservative party nationally, because Republicans cannot win a voting bloc, Hispanics, half of whom drop out of high school.

MS. CLIFT: I disagree. I actually think the Republican Party is going to reinvent itself. They've got a number of figures within their ranks that are rising stars --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MS. CLIFT: -- that represent the optimistic view on the changing demographics. And if they don't adapt, they will die. But I think they will adapt. Pat, you're on the wrong side of this one.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, I'm not --

MR. LOWRY: Clarence made a good point.

MR. BUCHANAN: I know where it's going. I don't think it's --

MR. LOWRY: Clarence made a good point about --

MR. PAGE: Clarence made a good point. Please.

MR. LOWRY: (Laughs.) Mixed-race people, some of them identify themselves as white. Also half of Hispanics on the Census --

MR. PAGE: Yes.

MR. LOWRY: -- identify themselves as white. And actually, talking about assimilation, this is a cause for optimism. Hispanics, the longer they're here, the richer they are, the more they call themselves typical Americans in surveys --

MS. CLIFT: They become Republicans.

MR. LOWRY: -- and the more they call themselves -- identify themselves as white.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Sky Cops.

The U.S. military now deploys up to 10,000 UAVs -- unmanned aerial vehicles, drones. These drones have no pilots on board, but they are piloted. The pilots may be located thousands of miles away in sites like NORAD in Colorado. These drones give assistance and surveillance and reconnaissance and then fighting the enemy.

Congress recently passed legislation that opens up domestic airspace to unmanned drones. The law directs the FAA, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, to streamline permits for U.S. police nationwide and first responders to pilot commercial drones from an electronic switchboard remotely. The FAA must also safely integrate commercial drones into U.S. airspace by 2015.

In the past, drones have been almost exclusively the military's domain. But smaller, lightweight, cheaper models are now in use by law enforcement agencies at all levels, who want to be -- to use drones to detect crime before it happens.

The FAA predicts as many as 30,000 drones -- that's 30,000 -- will be flying in the skies within eight years from now. Privacy advocates don't like this at all, like the ACLU. Drones will be misused, they say, to invade privacy.

CATHERINE CRUMP (ACLU staff attorney): (From videotape.) They can actually also be armed with various types of weapons. And police departments inside the U.S. express an interest in being able to use various forms of non-lethal force on those drones. So they raise a number of privacy concerns, but also safety concerns, and could shape, you know, what it means to be out of doors in the U.S.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Anthony (sic/means Andrew) Napolitano, a former judge on the New Jersey supreme court and a current Fox News analyst, is against drone use by the FBI and by local police without first securing a court order.

ANDREW NAPOLITANO (former New Jersey superior court judge): (From videotape.) The first American patriot that shoots down one of these drones that comes too close to his children in his backyard will be an American hero.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Q: Is the use of police drones substantively different than the use of police helicopters? If so, why all the fuss? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Well, it's the same idea, spying. But these little drones are like big brother on steroids. Some of them are very tiny, like sort of a disco ball. And you can imagine them floating everywhere, gathering all kinds of information. And I think there are going to be laws that are litigated that go to the Supreme Court over how you control these things. And there are safety concerns as well. But it's the wave of the future. They're coming. And frankly, I'm not all that upset about them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they're cheaper than helicopters.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you know, there are -- Eleanor's right. Look, they can be abused, sure. You get them sitting over your swimming pool in the summer, peeping in your window.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, looking for topless sunbathers? (Laughter.) Huh?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah. But at the same time, look, police, they use those helicopters in car chases. They use them in riots. They use them in hostage situations, all of these things. They can be enormously helpful. They're cheap. And they also don't risk lives the way helicopters do. And so are they open to abuse? Sure, they are. But everything else is as well. And they're going to have rules and regs on it. I love Judge Napolitano, but don't shoot the thing down, your honor. (Laughter.)

MR. PAGE: The difference is, of course, that helicopters are noisier, a lot noisier; anybody who's had one fly over their house.

MR. BUCHANAN: You can't do it secretly.

MR. PAGE: You can't do it secretly. You know, the chopper is there. Otherwise you can go on the Web now and see pictures of mechanical drones as small as a hummingbird. There's one called the Hummingbird because it's that same size. And the future of this is remarkable.

But the question is, you know, how much of -- the old question -- how much of a tradeoff do you want to make between, you know, liberty and privacy, if you will? How much do you trust the government insofar as not abusing this kind of thing?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, here's a lament for you. There is no privacy in America. Smartphones track your every movement, even when you turn them off. Google can drive every street, photograph every house, pick up every wifi signal, and even sweep up passwords, and it's perfectly legal. Facebook can collect volumes of personal information from users, dossiers better than anything Big Brother could dream, and sell it to third parties, including ones with contracts to share that data with government agencies. There's no privacy left.

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is anybody appalled by this?

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible) -- already. (Laughs.)

MR. LOWRY: Well, things like Facebook, people are voluntarily giving their information. You don't have to go on Facebook and give them your birthday and all the rest of it. I think actually the swimming pool example with the drone is a good one where the line will be very fuzzy, because the line is, are you in places where you have an expectation of privacy? So driving on the road, you don't if you're speeding. And drones will make it very hard to speed, I think. It's going to be very bad news for speeders.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, why do you want so much privacy --

MR. LOWRY: But if you're sunbathing, you know, on your private pool in your backyard --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying more than you're saying?

MR. LOWRY: -- like yours, John -- (laughter) -- and you have a drone overhead looking at you, that's a place where you have --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Take a look at this one. (Laughter.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John, look at George Allen. George Allen in his campaign, he was sitting there talking. Hey, macaca. Look at macaca over there. And the guy had one of those little phones that takes pictures.

MR. PAGE: Now they all have one.

MR. BUCHANAN: And that cost him his Senate seat down there.

MR. PAGE: All the campaigns have one.

MR. BUCHANAN: And they're all over the place.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit Q: Does America need a national law protecting citizens' privacy from both corporate and government snooping drones? Yes or no.

MR. BUCHANAN: We've got enough laws right now, John. And it will evolve.

MS. CLIFT: We've got enough laws, plus there are already 40 members of a drones caucus in the House on Capitol Hill --


MS. CLIFT: -- supporting these things. There must be money to be made.

MR. LOWRY: They must have drone contractors in their districts. We don't need another law --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They have something that they want to hide, huh?

MS. CLIFT: Oh, no, they've --


MR. LOWRY: We don't need a law. We have the 4th Amendment.

MR. PAGE: No matter what law they pass, by the time they pass it, it'll be obsolete, because technology is just moving right ahead.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pending legislation is inadequate. We need a law.

Issue Three: Overhauling the TSA.

KIP HAWLEY (former TSA administrator): (From videotape.) My theory is let's clean out -- let's not have the officers look for the knives and small things. Focus on bombs, toxins, things that could destroy the plane.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Kip Hawley is frustrated with the TSA, the Transportation Security Administration, the agency he oversaw from 2005 to 2009. Hawley now says airport security is broken.

TSA was created in the wake of the 9/11 attack to bolster flight security. But long lines, pat-downs and rigid baggage screening has built public animosity towards the TSA. Hawley suggests the change of focus away from searching for low-risk items like nail clippers to detecting high-risk threats like strange behavior by would-be passengers carrying bombs.

Hawley admits that knives, even small knives, can be dangerous, but cockpit doors are now locked and reinforced.

MR. HAWLEY: You just cannot take over a plane with the knives. And it's a risk-management issue. You can say, yes, somebody could bring a knife and stab the guy next to him. That's a risk. And when I tried to get small scissors taken off the prohibited-items list, there was a scream of there'll be blood running in the aisles. But what I wanted, and I think what risk management would dictate, is you've got to find the bombs, because a bomb will take down a plane.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hawley has these suggestions: One, more TSA officer flexibility. Quote: "TSA officers should have more discretion to interact with passengers and to work in looser teams throughout airports. No security agency on earth has the experience and pattern-recognition skills of TSA officers," unquote.

Two, eliminate baggage fees. Passengers may overstuff carry-on luggage to avoid multiple-bag fees, resulting in a, quote-unquote, "checkpoint nightmare" in the bag-content search.

Three, randomize security. The more terrorists know what to expect at the airport, the greater the chance to evade the system.

Q: Is there an additional benefit inside the cabin from going back to allowing free checked baggage? Rich Lowry.

MR. LOWRY: Yeah. Well, he's saying if you don't have people stuffing so much in their carry-on bags, there'll be less of a hassle in the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean in claiming space up there in the racks, that someone else claims on it.

MR. LOWRY: Correct.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also the exit process and the entrance process is slowed up.

MR. LOWRY: You're obviously a man who's on a lot of planes, John. (Laughter.)

MR. PAGE: Once a week.

MR. LOWRY: You're actually right. Everything he says makes sense. But the bureaucratic inertia is just incredible. He counts it a great victory that he made it possible for people to take ice skates onto planes again. And if that's a big change at the TSA, probably none of this is going to happen. We should have an Israeli-style system that is focusing more on individual passengers, but it's hard to scale that up in a big country. And the political obstacles to it are just enormous.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me add to that Israeli situation. You are consulted. Everybody in line is consulted by -- in my instance it was a woman agent, and she identifies herself. She says, can I ask you a few questions? She asks you a few questions. And then she moves you ahead. So that is a quick process. It's an interplay, and it's quite civilized.

MR. PAGE: That's right. But it takes time, and like Rich said, the volume of our air traffic here is so much larger than Israel's. You'd need a lot of trained people. The lines are already pretty bad. And thanks to the fame you've brought me with this program, John, I've had the experience of checking in at the airport and the guy says, oh, hello, Mr. Page. May I see your ID?


MR. PAGE: Has that ever happened to you?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Every weekend.

MR. PAGE: Yeah. They've got to ask you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I get the full nine yards.

(Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: They brought down those planes, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you OK with patting? Oh, fine. Go ahead.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, they brought down --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Take your shoes off.

MR. BUCHANAN: What did they use, though? On 9/11 they used box cutters. And one guy came over there -- the Chicago guy or Detroit guy came with -- in his underwear. And the other guy, the shoe bomber, had the explosive in his shoe.


MR. BUCHANAN: So you've got a lot of these things that you can deal with on the people personally.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit Q: The TSA recently removed Henry Kissinger, former national security adviser and secretary of state, from his wheelchair in order to frisk him. Does that prove that it's time for management overhaul of TSA? Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I think Henry the K probably enjoyed being treated like an average Joe.


MS. CLIFT: Maybe I'm exceptional, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to argue that point out? (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: I have gotten resigned to TSA. And thanks in part to Mr. Hawley's efforts, rarely do you wait more than 10 minutes. And so they've really gotten it down. It seems like a bizarre system, but I don't know which of the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor --

MS. CLIFT: -- safeguards I would remove.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- it is primitive -- primitive.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. Well, it's fighting --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's do it at least the way the Israelis do it. And think of the problems the Israelis theoretically would have --

MS. CLIFT: They don't have nearly the number of planes that we have.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- with danger. Understand?

MR. PAGE: Yes.

MR. LOWRY: And John, the moment --

MS. CLIFT: They don't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It has been trouble-free.

MR. LOWRY: The moment you have someone inappropriately profiled by --

MR. BUCHANAN: Bring down one of those planes and it'll all come back. And the Israelis do not have one tenth or one twentieth the passengers we do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you can frame that any way you want. But what the Israelis are doing, it makes sense to me, Pat.

Issue Four: Stay Neutral.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are. In such cases, we should not be afraid to act. But the burden of action should not be America's alone. Our task is instead to mobilize the international community for collective action.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Commander in Chief Obama 15 months ago laid out his doctrine for U.S. military intervention when the safety of the United States is not threatened. The core of this Obama intervention doctrine is selective engagement. That means only intervening in certain foreign policy situations; namely in those where other countries will also carry their share of the military load. Case in point: The U.S.-NATO mission to remove Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi.

One alternative to the Obama doctrine is the doctrine of neutrality. Neutrality is defined as, quote, "abstention of a state from all participation in a war between other states," unquote. In other words, under neutrality, a nation will not intervene in a war between two other countries unless its own national security is threatened.

Neutrality has guided U.S. foreign policy since the founding of the nation. President George Washington adopted neutrality in 1793 and 1794 to prevent the U.S. from getting entangled in a war between Britain and France. President Woodrow Wilson adopted neutrality from 1914 to 1917 to avert U.S. involvement in World War I. It delayed our involvement.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed neutrality measures in 1935 to prevent a war with Nazi Germany. That neutrality ended with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: (From videotape.) December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Historians say the Pearl Harbor attack not only brought the U.S. into World War II, but ended U.S. neutrality for good. But today many wonder whether President Obama has opted for neutrality by avoiding military involvement in Syria, where leader Bashar al-Assad is engaged in an intense crackdown against insurgents and civilians.

Q: Can the U.S. policy regarding the Syrian belligerency be described as neutral?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence Page.

MR. PAGE: Well, we're trying, but, no, it's very hard to honestly describe it that way. It's to the Syrian government's advantage right now, though, to have this particular timing, because we -- there's a certain exhaustion among Americans for getting involved in foreign disputes like this that don't obviously pose a threat to our security. So I don't expect to see us getting any deeper involved than we are now. But it's hard for us to call ourselves an honest broker.

MR. LOWRY: We're not neutral in the least.

MR. BUCHANAN: We're not neutral at all.

MR. LOWRY: We're not neutral in the least, John.

MR. BUCHANAN: What are you talking about?

MR. LOWRY: We wanted Assad to go. It's just that we think there's either too much effort or too much risk --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're talking about military force.

MR. LOWRY: -- to undertake serious -- well, that's not neutral.


MR. LOWRY: I mean, every dispute that you don't intervene in doesn't mean you're neutral in that dispute.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we're talking about --

MR. LOWRY: We're leaning as hard as we can --


MR. LOWRY: -- within the current parameters --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're talking about --

MS. CLIFT: We're too big to --

MR. BUCHANAN: Rich is exactly right, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her talk.

MS. CLIFT: We're too big to be neutral. Everybody knows that the stake -- we have a stake in seeing Assad go. But we're not going to get aggressively involved in an uprising --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think --

MS. CLIFT: -- that could set off a conflagration in the area. When there's no Mandela or no strongman like Maliki in Iraq, you can't go wading into this. So he's resisting getting involved. But he's got a finger on the scale for the Kofi Annan plan and for efforts to overthrow --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, we're not neutral. We are noninterventionist. We are anti-Assad all the way. As for the Hitler --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm talking about using military force against Assad.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's noninterventionism.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction: Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin will be recalled. Yes or no.

MR. BUCHANAN: No way. He's home free.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, but that $25 million --


MS. CLIFT: -- is a lot to overcome for the Democrats.


MR. LOWRY: Emphatically no.

MR. PAGE: Yes, but narrowly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is no.