April 1, 2006

The Lobby in action:

When you Google on Mearsheimer Walt lobby, you find 177,000 references on the Web. When you Google on Mearsheimer Walt lobby "David Duke" you get 55,700 references. So, 30% of all articles mentioning the Israel Lobby study by the two prestigious foreign policy scholars drag in the NY Sun's utterly irrelevant David Duke red herring smear.

That, in a sick way, reflects an impressive degree of coordination and ruthlessness. At the intellectual level where you've even heard of Mearsheimer and Walt, you have to be aware, deep down, that you are humiliating yourself by repeating the David Duke smear. But, apparently, tens of thousands of people are so dedicated to preserving the Israel Lobby's continued stranglehold on public discourse that they willingly publicly abase themselves morally and intellectually.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Does Tom Wolfe script the news?

The current brouhaha over allegations by a black stripper that she was gang-raped by the almost all-white Duke U. lacrosse team sounds likes an amalgamation of Wolfe's three novels: "I Am Charlotte Simmons" (Duke U. was the main model for Wolfe's "Dupont U. and lacrosse players pop up in it as mega-frat boys); "A Man in Full" (one of the subplots was a dubious rape allegation made by the white daughter of Georgia Tech's biggest donor against the college's top black football player); and "Bonfire of the Vanities" (about the NYC district attorney's search for the Great White Defendant to relieve the tedium, distastefulness, and political incorrectness of prosecuting countless lowbrow guilty-as-sin minorities).

America's most distinguished jurist-intellectual, Richard A. Posner, has admitted Wolfe's prophetic talents in Posner's book Overcoming Law:

"When I first read The Bonfire of the Vanities … it just didn't strike me as the sort of book that has anything interesting to say about the law or any other institution…. I now consider that estimate of the book ungenerous and unperceptive. The Bonfire of the Vanities has turned out to be a book that I think about a lot, in part because it describes with such vividness what Wolfe with prophetic insight (the sort of thing we attribute to Kafka) identified as emerging problems of the American legal system.

"The book was written before Michael Milken was convicted and Clark Clifford indicted; before investment bankers and securities brokers were dragged, crying, in handcuffs from their offices on charges of criminal fraud that often turned out to be unsubstantiated; before courthouses became scenes of violence; before the Tawana Brawley fraud; before the trials of the police who beat up Rodney King; before the Los Angeles riots that followed the acquittal in the first of those trials; before the trial of the rioters; before the indictment of O.J. Simpson. American legal justice today seems often to be found at a bizarre intersection of race, money, and violence, an intersection nowhere better depicted than in The Bonfire of the Vanities even thought the book was written before the intersection had come into view."

UPDATE: 4/10/06: The Duke Lacrosse Goat Rodeo only gets better: KTLA reports:

Lawyers representing members of the Duke University lacrosse team say DNA tests found no link between players and an exotic dancer who says she was raped at a team party.... An attorney representing the team says tests by the state crime lab found no DNA material from any young man on the body of this complaining woman.

Defense attorneys also say time-stamped photographs show the woman was already injured when she arrived at a party.

Also, WRAL reports:

According to a 2002 police report, the woman, currently a 27-year-old student at North Carolina Central University, gave a taxi driver a lap dance at a Durham strip club. Subsequently, according to the report, she stole the man's car and led deputies on a high-speed chase that ended in Wake County.

Apparently, the deputy thought the chase was over when the woman turned down a dead-end road near Brier Creek, but instead she tried to run over him, according to the police report.

Additional information notes that her blood-alcohol level registered at more than twice the legal limit.

In spite of that incident, her attorney at the time, Woody Vann, asserts that what happened then should not cause people to question her character now. He said she is a decent and credible human being.

Isn't it about time that Tom Wolfe's critics publicly admit that the man understands modern American better than any of them could ever dream of?

Once again we see from the media's frenzied hunt for the Great White Defendant (to use Wolfe's term from 1987's Bonfire of the Vanities), so reminiscent of the last umpteen episodes of the Law & Order franchise, that what white Americans really like is sticking it to other white Americans. As Wolfe pointed out in his description of the New York City district attorney's office, white Americans find the transgressions of African Americans and Hispanics to be depressing and boring, in large part because whites see themselves (condescendingly) not as being in status competition with minorities, just with other whites. This is not because white people hate white people as a whole, just other white people they are competing with for status. The Duke lacrosse team, a bunch rich preppie jerks, makes a wonderful target for other whites wishing to parade their moral superiority.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Question from a reader:

I am wondering if you have ever looked into the issue of African-American's distrust of the medical system. I can imagine that older black men and women might harbor suspicion (since they remember days of segregated health care) but does the Tuskegee syphilis study still exert such a long shadow? Is there really that much distrust? I wonder if this has just become a cliche passed down by nearly everyone who writes about race and health...

Any thoughts? Any leads on scholars who have looked into this with an open-mind?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Michael Lind read my "Citizenism" article

The maverick patriotic leftist writes a brief satire:

"A Post-Patriotic Progressive Runs for Congress"
By Michael Lind

"Hello. I'm a post-patriotic progressive. I believe that nation-states like the USA are obsolete and indeed immoral. I abhor and denounce the bigotry of 'citizenism'-- the idea that the American government should favor the interests of the 300 million citizens of the US over those of the other 5.7 billion people on earth. I oppose policing and fencing the border, just as I oppose any measure that would threaten the inalienable human right of foreign nationals to sneak into the US without our government's knowledge or permission. And whenever I see an American flag, it creeps me out because it seems, well, fascistic."

"Vote for me, my fellow citizens--oops, I mean, my fellow territorial residents, to represent you in the Congress of the antiquated USA, pending the formation of a North American Union, a World Parliament, or a United Federation of Planets."

A Google search shows that a large majority of all web references to "citizenism" made by Americans are in response to my articles.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

March 31, 2006

Stephen Walt to step down as head oh Harvard's Kennedy School of Government?

A reader writes:

First Harvard boots Larry Summers for exhibiting Galilean curiosity about the world around him, and now Harvard boots the Dean of the Kennedy School of Government for daring to point out that the people who are powerful enough to have him fired are . . . . powerful.

But this lockdown on free speech at Harvard pales in comparison to the move to crush Politically Incorrect speech in Europe and Canada.

I fear that we are entering a new global Dark Age.

I'm having trouble confirming this demotion of Walt. Justin Raimondo cites this article in The Australian newspaper, which looks legit, but raises the question of why the only publication to hear about it is on the opposite side of the world from Cambridge, MA. A reader writes:

I Googled too when I heard this-- but after reading the Australian article it struck me that these sorts of post are typically time limited in academica. Believe it or not, many academics would rather be spending time researching and writing. I found a report from four years ago on Walt's appointment. Coupled with the way the Australian phrased the resignation 'KSG confirmed Walt will be stepping down in June' , it sounds to me like this is a normal academic duty rotation.

In any case, doesn't this entire controversy where the Israel Lobby en masse furiously denounces these two scholars for pointing out the existence of the Israel Lobby remind you of that scene in "The Wizard of Oz" where the Wizard shouts, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain"?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Unhappy Cesar Chavez's Birthday

The fervent anti-illegal immigration activist's birthday will no doubt be commemorated today as a vindication for illegal immigration. Mark Levin discussed my American Conservative article "Cesar Chavez, Minuteman," which tells the true story, on Sean Hannity's radio program last night.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

A brief philosophy, history, forecast, and theology of science

Stewart Brand, founder of the hippie touchstone The Whole Earth Review, gave the following introduction to Kevin Kelly's "SPECULATIONS ON THE FUTURE OF SCIENCE":

Science, says Kevin Kelly, is the process of changing how we know things. It is the foundation our culture and society. While civilizations come and go, science grows steadily onward. It does this by watching itself.

Recursion is the essence of science. For example, science papers cite other science papers, and that process of research pointing at itself invokes a whole higher level, the emergent shape of citation space. Recursion always does that. It is the engine of scientific progress and thus of the progress of society.

A particularly fruitful way to look at the history of science is to study how science itself has changed over time, with an eye to what that trajectory might suggest about the future. Kelly chronicled a sequence of new recursive devices in science...

2000 BC — First text indexes
200 BC — Cataloged library (at Alexandria)
1000 AD — Collaborative encyclopedia
1590 — Controlled experiment (Sir Francis Bacon)
1600 — Laboratory
1609 — Telescopes and microscopes
1650 — Society of experts
1665 — Repeatability (Robert Boyle)
1665 — Scholarly journals
1675 — Peer review
1687 — Hypothesis/prediction (Isaac Newton)
1920 — Falsifiability (Karl Popper)
1926 — Randomized design (Ronald Fisher)
1937 — Controlled placebo
1946 — Computer simulation
1950 — Double blind experiment
1962 — Study of scientific method (Thomas Kuhn)

It's interesting how there are two golden ages in this list: the 17th Century and the mid-20th Century.

Projecting forward, Kelly had five things to say about the next 100 years in science...

4) New ways of knowing will emerge. "Wikiscience" is leading to perpetually refined papers with a thousand authors. Distributed instrumentation and experiment, thanks to miniscule transaction cost, will yield smart-mob, hive-mind science operating "fast, cheap, & out of control." Negative results will have positive value (there is already a "Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine"). Triple-blind experiments will emerge through massive non-invasive statistical data collection--- no one, not the subjects or the experimenters, will realize an experiment was going on until later. (In the Q&A, one questioner predicted the coming of the zero-author paper, generated wholly by computers.)

Kelly's talk offers many more potential improvements in the methodology of science. Brand concludes:

"Science is the way we surprise God," said Kelly. "That's what we're here for." Our moral obligation is to generate possibilities, to discover the infinite ways, however complex and high-dimension, to play the infinite game. It will take all possible species of intelligence in order for the universe to understand itself. Science, in this way, is holy. It is a divine trip.

Novelist Vladimir Nabokov, who was, in his own way, both a part-time scientist and a deeply religious man, seemed to share this sense of the universe as a divinely-instituted puzzle that we are morally obliged to try to solve through science and art, even though the game might go on on forever.

(Via Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution).

A reader points out:

"Interesting about scientific developments list. But "1920" for Karl Popper's falsifiability is surely far too early? KP published LOGIC OF SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY in 1934. In 1920 he was only 18, and while he might have started world championship philosophizing very young, he didn't start that young!"

Another says:

"Recursion is the essence of science. For example, science papers cite other science papers..."

No, feedback is the essence of science: it checks itself against reality, adjusts itself, then checks again. Something that doesn't do that, like recursive-mutative theology, perpetually expands in contradictory ways. Force or fashion settles theological arguments; fit with reality settles scientific ones.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

News Flash

"Barry Bonds climbs up the outside of the Empire State Building and swats fighter planes to the ground with his bat. In response, baseball commissioner Bud Selig announces plans to consider a committee to possibly investigate the alleged influence of performance-enhancing drugs."

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

The new GOP platform: "Immigration, Imperialism, and Insolvency"

is Daniel Larison's nomination for the Bush Era Republican Party's slogan. I'm trying to come up with a slogan as good as that one, something like "Invade the world, invite the world, indebt America." But is "indebt" a real word (i.e., does it exist apart from "indebted")?

Reader suggest:

"Invade the world, invite the world, in hock to the

Bush's new slogan: "They came. I conquered. We're broke"

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

How to play the old statistical shell game on the NYT op-ed page, Part CCXXVII

In the grand tradition of the recent New York Times op-ed "proving" that Hispanic immigrants lower the crime rate, Linda Chavez writes in the NYT:

While most immigrants from Latin America, especially Mexico and Central America, lag in educational attainment, their children are far more likely to stay in school: according to research by the Pew Hispanic Center, 80 percent of second-generation Latinos graduate from high school. Almost half of second-generation Latinos ages 25 to 44 have attended college, and those who graduate earn more on average than non-Hispanic white workers.

I'm guessing that the last statement means that the small fraction of Latinos who have actually graduated from college (e.g., 9.3% of second generation Mexican-Americans) earn more than the average of all non-Hispanic white worker (most of whom haven't graduated). Well isn't that special!

Here's a logical equivalent:

"Almost half of second-generation Latinos ages 25 to 44 have played Little League baseball, and those who become major-leaguers earn more on average than non-Hispanic white workers."

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

NYT: Illegal immigrants making American culture less "vibrant," more lowbrow

Charles Lyon's NYT piece "Hispanic Films Have Yet to Catch the Same Wave as Hispanic TV" doesn't quite come out and say this, but it makes the same general point I've been noting for years: despite all the wishful thinking about how illegal immigrants are injecting "cultural vibrancy," Hispanic immigrants are instead boosting the market for and thus the prevalence of the worst junk prolefeed entertainment in America. I guess you could call it "assimilation" but it's a dreary prospect of assimilation to the lowest common cultural denominator.

This decade has seen some quality movies coming out of Latin America and Spain, but most of their fan base in the U.S. consists of upper middle class non-Hispanic whites. In contrast, 40 million Latinos in the U.S. have made almost zero impact on the movie business. In a half decade of reviewing movies, I've reviewed only one film made by Latino Americans ("Real Women Have Curves"). Even "A Day Without a Mexican" about how the whites, blacks, and Asians of California would fall apart if all the Mexicans disappeared was made by four members of Mexico City's cultural elite, not by representative Hispanic-Americans.

Lyons notes:

... one of the more confounding puzzles of the film world: the expanding Hispanic population in the United States, which totaled 35 million in the 2000 census and is projected to top 100 million by 2050, still hasn't created a market for Spanish-language pictures.

"A prosperous Spanish-language market hardly exists in the U.S.," said Jack Foley, president of distribution at Focus Features. "The Latino market in the U.S. is not changing. Latinos most enjoy English-language Hollywood entertainment. They want escapism and entertainment, exactly as the majority of American moviegoers demand."

Mr. Foley said films like his company's Spanish-language feature "The Motorcycle Diaries" and Lionsgate's "Amores Perros," as well as IFC's "Y Tu Mamá También," had worked in the limited independent art market. But he added that they failed to attract the broad, multi-ethnic Spanish-speaking population in the United States because most Spanish speakers here don't want to see specialized films.

Similarly, the exhibitor Cinemark USA, which in 2002 began the film series Cine en Español in a Dallas theater, found attendance to be lackluster. After less than nine months, Cinemark discontinued the series. "We just didn't have the numbers," explained Terrell Falk, Cinemark's vice president of marketing and communications.

Hispanic television, by contrast, has long thrived in the United States. Last year, advertisers spent over $3 billion on the country's top three Spanish-language television networks — Univision, Telemundo and Telefutura — according to TNS-Media Intelligence, which tracks advertising and marketing across print and electronic media. Moreover, popular telenovelas, like Telemundo's "Cuerpo del Deseo" ("Body of Desire"), can attract nearly two million viewers a night, according to data supplied by Telemundo, which is owned by NBC.

A couple of years ago, one of the other fathers of a kid on my son's baseball team was a very distinguished-looking actor from Mexico. He'd had quite a bit of success on Mexican television playing upscale roles, but his attempt to make a career in Hollywood in English-language television and movies wasn't going anywhere because he was too aristocratic-looking to play a plausible Mexican-American immigrant.

In response, he was trying to put together a Spanish-language version of the hit American legal series "The Practice," with himself taking the Dylan McDermott role as the lead lawyer. The law firm would be set in downtown LA and handle Latino-Americans' cases. His idea was to translate David E. Kelley's scripts into Spanish, and then commission the addition of new storylines to interweave with them of particular interest to Latin American immigrants in the U.S. (e.g., immigration law problems). He'd had a lot of meetings with the American Spanish-language networks like Univision, but they'd treated him like he was proposing they turn Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past" into a TV series. "The Practice" isn't exactly "Upstairs, Downstairs," but the American Spanish-language networks researchers saw it as way too middle-brow for their low-brow audiences.

This was first brought home to me about two decades ago when I went to see a concert in Chicago by Los Lobos, the outstanding Mexican American rock group from East LA. If you were to play word-association games with American rock bands, the word "superb" wouldn't trigger too many names, but Los Lobos would definitely be one of them. The streets around the concert hall were jammed with Mexican immigrants in cowboy hats. But when we got to the show, it turned out all the Mexicans were going to the "Grupo Latino" night at the dance hall next door, and the Los Lobos fans were the same upper middle class white kids who would have turned out to see Talking Heads or Lou Reed.

A reader adds:

"Sounds as if America's distributors of high(ish) Spanish-language culture are having the same difficulties which occurred to Australia's taxpayer-funded ethnic TV station, 0/28, during the 1980s. Channel 0/28 was filled (as its successor, SBS, still is filled) with art house movies from every Swedish, Spanish, Italian, Iranian, and French auteur you've ever heard of and plenty whom even you probably haven't. Those who watched such movies were largely Anglo. Meanwhile the targeted ethnic audience was in fact watching unremitting prolefeed on the main networks."

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

March 30, 2006

"V for Vendetta"

From my upcoming review in The American Conservative:

A film critic would have to hate George W. Bush awfully bad to praise publicly the ludicrous yet humorless "V for Vendetta," in which a disguised superhero blows up the Houses of Parliament to overthrow the clerico-fascist despotism ruling Britain in 2020. Yet, a big majority of movie reviewers have given their thumbs-up to "V for Vendetta," even though it is just another masochist's fantasy masquerading as a profound political allegory from the Wachowski Siblings, the frauteurs who were to blame for the "Matrix" trilogy.

"V for Vendetta" started out in the 1980s as a "graphic novel" (an expensive, pretentious comic book) by Alan Moore (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) about how Margaret Thatcher would turn England into a totalitarian dystopia by 1997. Well, that didn't exactly happen, so now the Wachowskis have rewritten it as a post-9/11 fable implying that President Chimpy McHitlerBushton will crush all dissent Real Soon Now. Personally, I'd rather endure a Bush press conference than see this movie again.

Remember director Ridley Scott's famous "1984" Super Bowl commercial introducing the Apple Macintosh? Now, imagine that 45-second spot dragged out over 132 minutes. In "V for Vendetta," the Big Brother tyrant ranting about unity and security from a vast video screen is played by John Hurt ("Alien"). An ambitious, deeply religious Conservative politician, he had imposed martial law in the wake of a terrorist virus attack, putting society under the thumb of fanatical Church of England bishops. (According to Google, the phrase "fanatical Church of England bishops" has never been seen before.) The government dispatched all Muslims and homosexuals to concentration camps (although the film forgets to mention how these two victimized minorities got along on the inside).

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

The "Prop. 187 Destroyed the California GOP" Myth

One of the most malign myths in American politics is that Governor Pete Wilson destroyed the California GOP by endorsing the anti-illegal immigration Proposition 187 in 1994. As I wrote in 2002:

Running against multiculturalism worked well for Ward Connerly's mentor, Pete Wilson, who was governor from 1991-1999. Connerly, said, "In my opinion, Pete Wilson would trounce [Gray] Davis [in the 2002 gubernatorial race -- Davis ended up winning by 5 points over novice candidate Bill Simon, then was famously recalled the next year], notwithstanding the conventional wisdom in California that Wilson is 'divisive' and 'anti-Latino.'" This is an unfashionable assessment -- Wilson might be the most demonized man in recent Republican history -- so it's worth reviewing the history.

A severe recession struck California shortly after Wilson took office, making him "the most unpopular governor in the history of modern polling," according to a 1994 California Journal article. His disapproval ratings were greater than his approval ratings throughout his first term. Thus, Wilson entered his 1994 re-election bid trailing his Democratic opponent by 20 percentage points. Yet, in part by making Prop. 187 one of the centerpieces of his re-election campaign. Wilson came from behind and won by 15 points. Prop. 187 itself passed by 18 points.

Wilson is now widely derided as the man who destroyed the Republican Party in California by his support for the three anti-multiculturalist initiatives. Yet, the subsequent record shows less evidence of that than is generally assumed. In 1996, Wilson backed Prop. 209 [against racial quotas], which passed by nine points. In 1998, he endorsed Prop. 227 [against bilingual education], which passed by 22 points. He left office in 1998 (due to term limits), with his approval rating at its highest level ever -- 55 percent to 37 percent among registered voters in the Sept. 1998 L.A. Times Poll.

Clearly, the booming economy of 1998 contributed to Wilson's late blooming popularity, just as the recession hurt his approval ratings in earlier years. But it's hard to see much evidence that his perceived swing over the years from moderate to conservative made him less popular with the voters as a whole.

In contrast, 1998 Republican candidate Dan Lungren came out against the anti-bilingual education Prop. 227. He lost to Davis by 20 points. Similarly, in the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush -- who supports amnesty for illegal Mexican immigrants, bilingual education, and what he calls "affirmative access" -- outspent Al Gore $20 million to nothing in California, and still lost by 11 points.

The poor performances by Lungren and Bush are frequently blamed on Wilson, who is said to have unleashed a tidal wave of Hispanic electoral power by backing the anti-illegal immigration Prop. 187. Latinos, who traditionally didn't much register or vote, are widely assumed today to have entered into politics en masse to fight against Prop. 187 and its sponsor, Pete Wilson...

According to Census Bureau figures, Hispanics cast 11.4 percent of the vote in 1994 when the Republican Wilson won by 15 percentage points. By 1998, when the Republican Lungren lost by 20 points, Hispanics comprised 13.9 percent of the voters. (Their share remained level at 13.9 percent in 2000. In the rest of America, by the way, Hispanics only accounted for 4.4 percent of the vote in 2000.) That Hispanic growth of 2.5 points is, of course, impressive, but it can hardly account for the Republicans' 17 point collapse from Wilson's 55 percent in 1994 to Lungren's 38 percent in 1998. [More]

The bigger story was that between 1994 and 1998 there was an enormous outflow of conservative whites from California, in part due to changes in the state caused by illegal immigration and the huge Hispanic baby boom in California that followed the 1986 amnesty.

As I wrote in 2000:

Demographer [William] Frey points out, "Another cause of the rise of the California Democrats is selective out-migration of the more rock-ribbed Republicans. The folks who have been leaving California's suburbs for other states have the white, middle-class demographic profiles of Republican voters. California's middle class families are being squeezed out by real estate prices. And Republicans are heading for whiter states where they won't have to pay taxes for so many social programs for the poor."

Finally, while white high school graduates have been leaving, California's booming New Economy is attracting an influx of well-educated whites from the other 49 states. Traditionally, Frey notes, "Californians of high socio-economic status have been more likely to be classic liberals than similarly well-off residents of other states." Frey expects that newcomers who move to California to make their fortunes in Hollywood or Silicon Valley will also tend to vote Democratic more often than their wealth would suggest.

Between 1990 and 2000 in California, the Total Fertility Rate for non-Hispanic whites, which correlates closely with GOP share of the vote across the country, dropped by 14%. The white voters who were left were a lot more socially liberal. And the GOP gave them no reason to turn out in 1998 or 2002.

The recall election of 2003, however, turned out famously different, as the Democrats' blunders on immigration gave white voters a reason to show up and vote Republican. The two GOP gubernatorial candidates, Schwarzenegger and McClintock, pulled a stunning 62% of the vote. I wrote in VDARE:

Cruz Bustamante: The Man who Believed Karl Rove

Ten million words have been written about Arnold Schwarzenegger, so let's pause to remember the forgotten man of the California recall: Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante.

During the first half of the campaign, the polls frequently showed Bustamante with a small lead over Schwarzenegger. Yet, come judgment day, in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 5 to 4, Arnold spotted Bustamante the 13.4% share of the vote won by conservative Republican Tom McClintock, and still won by a remarkable 17 percent (48.7 to 31.7 percent).

In other words, the combined Republican vote beat Bustamante by over 31 points.

That’s Cruz’n for some bruis’n! How did Bustamante blow it?

When Bustamante became the only Democrat in the race to replace Gray Davis, his strategy seemed obvious. He just had to run as a pragmatic Democratic centrist and win the numerous Californians who just don't much like Republicans. If at least one other Republican stayed in the race with Schwarzenegger (as McClintock ultimately did), then Bustamante would have only needed to win, say, the same proportion of voters as there are registered Democrats (43.7 percent) or as would vote against the recall (44.7 percent).

There was nothing outlandish about Bustamante positioning himself like this. He really was, by California standards, a centrist - a career politician from the unhip Central Valley who had devoted himself to servicing big agribusiness. In 1993, for example, he voted to prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining drivers' licenses.

Yet, rather than run for Governor of all California, Bustamante campaigned as if the race was for El Gobernador de Mexifornia. Instead of competing with Schwarzenegger for the middle-of-the-road vote, he devoted much of his energy to battling Green Party candidate Peter Camejo (2.8 percent) for the stick-it-to-the-gringo vote.

Every time I turned on the TV, Bustamante was paying tribute to "undocumented workers" and their moral right to drivers' licenses, free college tuition, and welfare.

He turned the recall into a referendum on the wonderfulness of illegal immigration.

It lost.

Why did Bustamante decide to run as if he was the spiritual descendent of Pancho Villa raiding Columbus, New Mexico?

Bustamante's big mistake was that he actually believed all the hype he'd been reading about the Hispanic vote, what I call "Karl Rove's smoke screen." You've seen these assertions a hundred times in recent years:...

  • It's political suicide for Republicans to appeal to the interests of the ethnic majority of voters - but it's smart politics for the Democrats to Hispander to the Latino minority because that would never cause a backlash among the majority.

In reality, of course, a month before the election, Davis sealed his fate by foolishly signing the legislature's bill giving drivers' licenses to illegal aliens without the criminal background checks Davis had previously demanded. And Bustamante tried to ride the issue into the Governor's Mansion. Both Schwarzenegger and McClintock ran against it. And 70 percent of the voters on Election Day told the LA Times exit pollsters that they opposed the bill. [More]

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

March 26, 2006

My new VDARE column: "Mike Judge -- King of the Hill."

Here's an excerpt from VDARE.com:

One of the lesser known but more interesting figures in American pop culture is Mike Judge. He's the man behind the increasingly impressive animated television series King of the Hill, which will broadcast its 200th episode in May.

When it first premiered on Fox, King of the Hill was derided as a slow-paced imitation of the frenetically brilliant The Simpsons because it features less than half as many jokes per episode. But once King of the Hill matured, the insightful and unusual quality of its low-key humor became evident. It now must rank among the finest sit-coms in television history.

Judge also created Beavis and Butt-Head, which was a controversial sensation on MTV in the mid-1990s. And he wrote and directed the 1999 live action comedy movie Office Space, which flopped at the box office but has since attained cult status on DVD.

Judge, who lives in Texas, is that rarity in the entertainment business: an unabashed populist conservative. Most strikingly, he has demonstrated a deep, sympathetic interest in the welfare of the white American blue-collar man.

Hank Hill, hero of King of the Hill, exemplifies the traditional American male virtues in an age that holds them in contempt. Much of the comedy stems from Hank (who wistfully remarks of Ronald Reagan, "I miss voting for that man") doing battle with the pretensions of Northeastern liberalism and the rapacity of globalized corporatism. Judge says of Hank, "He's probably the most like me of all my characters."

Judge's upcoming film Idiocracy, which sounds as if it's inspired by C.M. Kornbluth's famous 1951 science fiction short story The Marching Morons, makes his IQ interest explicit.

In Idiocracy, Luke Wilson (Old School) plays the most dispensable private in the U.S. Army. He is chosen to be a guinea pig in a "Human Hibernation Project", but due to a bureaucratic snafu, he's not awoken for hundreds of years. He discovers, to his horror, that's he's now the smartest man in America.

Dysgenic breeding and rampant commercial degradation of the culture have made real life in America as mindless as a World Wrestling Entertainment Smackdown...

Judge's plot is explicitly eugenic. A review of an early draft of his screenplay with Etan Cohen says:

"There's also a hilarious opening scene of the script that perfectly sets up the eventual future in the film. It deals with a conservative, smart, and well-to-do yuppie couple who plans and over-analyzes every aspect of their life, mainly that of the decision of when to have a child. Simultaneously, on the right side of the screen appears a 'white trash' couple who has lots of sex without protection, and over generations and generations, produce more and more dumbasses, 'multiplying like rabbits, drowning out the yuppie couple.'"

NARRATOR: "Evolution does not necessarily reward that which is good or beautiful. It simply rewards those who reproduce the most."

This initial draft sounds funny but crass. Judge's views of intelligence are more complex than this suggests, so I suspect that Idiocracy will turn out to be more humanely insightful when it finally gets to the screen, probably this October.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

American Enterprise Institute conference on abortion and crime this Tuesday, March 28 in Washington D.C.:

It's going to be an all-star line-up of economists commenting on the Donohue-Levitt theory that legalizing abortion cut crime. It looks pretty technical, but I'll try during my 12 minute presentation to keep it simple.

Abortion Legalization and Crime Rates

Is There a Relationship?
Register Online
Start: Tuesday, March 28, 2006 1:00 PM
End: Tuesday, March 28, 2006 5:00 PM
Location: Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, AEI
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
Directions to AEI

In 2001, John Donohue of Yale University and Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago published a paper entitled "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," in which they argued that legalized abortion in the 1970s significantly contributed to decreased crime in America during the 1990s. The article sparked a fierce controversy which has yet to abate. The controversy further captured public attention when Levitt featured the argument in his bestselling book, Freakonomics. In this AEI event, nearly every economist who has studied whether there is a link between abortion and crime will weigh in on the available empirical evidence, including Professor Donohue and his leading critics. Is there a link between legalized abortion and crime rates? If so, in which direction is it?

12:45 p.m.
Jonathan Klick, AEI and Florida State University
Panel I
Chris Foote, Boston Federal Reserve
Ted Joyce, Baruch College, CUNY
Leo Kahane, California State University
Phillip Levine, Wellesley College
Steve Sailer, The American Conservative
Jonathan Klick, AEI and Florida State University
Panel II
John Donohue, Yale Law School
John R. Lott Jr., AEI
David Paton, Nottingham University Business School
Florenz Plassman, SUNY-Binghamton
Ted Frank, AEI
Register Online

More Information
Philip Wallach
American Enterprise Institute
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-862-5820
Fax: 202-862-7171
E-mail: PWallach@aei.org

Media Inquiries
Veronique Rodman
American Enterprise Institute
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-862-4870
E-mail: VRodman@aei.org


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Your mileage may vary -- and how!

It's time to revise the federal gas mileage rating methodology.

Have you noticed how the official gas mileage ratings on cars are absurdly optimistic? For example, my 1998 Honda Accord was supposed to get 20 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, but I average about 17 mpg, maybe 18 mpg overall for mixed city and highway driving, so my annual gas consumption is about one-third higher than the federal government told me it would be.

My guess is that the government's mpg testing methodology has gotten progressively less realistic. I'd bet that the test comes from the mid-1970s and assumes 55 mph on the highway and relatively unimpeded city driving. I live in the same neighborhood where I started driving three decades ago and I certainly stop and start far more now on both the freeways and the surface streets due to increased congestion. But when I do find an uncrowded freeway, it's hard to drive less than 70mph without getting run over by everybody averaging 75-80mph. Not only is the 55mph speed limit legal history in most places, but cars are better built today and can now go 80mph safely and quietly, so people do it more.

This outdated test means that vehicle buyers don't realize how expensive unaerodynamic and heavy SUVs will turn out to be. The huge 2006 Ford Expedition doesn't sound so bad at 14mpg city, 19 mpg highway, but I bet you actually get more like 11 or 12 mpg overall. Considering as well the non-monetary costs of oil consumption for the environment and foreign policy, is it too much to ask that the government tell us the straight story on mpg ratings?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

O.J. Simpson's lawyer proclaims Mearsheimer and Walt guilty by association

From the NY Sun:

"Harvard's Paper on Israel Drew From Neo-Nazi Sites"
By MEGHAN CLYNE - Staff Reporter of the Sun

WASHINGTON - A prominent Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, is alleging that the authors of a Harvard Kennedy School paper about the "Israel lobby," one of which is the Kennedy School's academic dean, culled sections of the paper from neo-Nazi and other anti-Israel hate Web sites.

"What we're discovering first of all is that the quotes that they use are not only wrenched out of context, but they are the common quotes that appear on hate sites," Mr. Dershowitz, who is identified in the paper as part of the "lobby," told The New York Sun yesterday...

The paper, the law professor said, was "simply a compilation of hateful paragraphs lifted from other sources and given academic imprimatur." Mr. Dershowitz said that he and his research assistants were currently working on a comparative chart showing the parallelism between parts of the Walt-Mearsheimer paper and quotes available on neo-Nazi Web sites.

While Mr. Dershowitz stressed that the comparison project was a "work in progress," one particularly noticeable example of the authors' alleged culling from hate sites was found in the Walt-Mearsheimer paper's use of a quote from a former executive editor of the New York Times, Max Frankel.

Under the section "Manipulating the Media," on pages 19 and 20 of the paper, Messrs. Walt and Mearsheimer write: "In his memoirs, for example, former Times executive editor Max Frankel acknowledged the impact his own pro-Israel attitude had on his editorial choices. In his words: 'I was much more deeply devoted to Israel than I dared to assert.' He goes on: 'Fortified by my knowledge of Israel and my friendships there, I myself wrote most of our Middle East commentaries. As more Arab than Jewish readers recognized, I wrote them from a pro-Israel perspective.'" The footnote cites Mr. Frankel's 560-page book, "The Times of My Life and My Life with the Times," published in 1999.

Yet the Frankel quote used by Messrs. Mearsheimer and Walt, Mr. Dershowitz said, is nearly identical to the quote used by a neo-Nazi Web site in its own take on Jewish press influence, "Jewish Influence in the Mass Media." The document, posted on Holywar.org, quotes more extensively from the same section in Mr. Frankel's memoir.

The smoking gun!

(Amusingly, Norman Finkelstein has accused Dershowitz of the same thing. Finkelstein says that Dershowitz's latest book on Israel lifts, unattributed, 20 quotations purportedly from primary sources but actually from a discredited secondary book. You can read about it at Wikipedia if you really want to, but it strikes me as a pretty small bore scandal.)

To refresh your memory on why Alan Dershowitz, of all people, shouldn't be throwing stones accusing others of guilt by association:

An acclaimed Harvard Law School professor, Alan Dershowitz had an enviable life filled with book deals, speeches, and wealthy clients. He frequently appeared as a guest on network and cable television shows, often staking out controversial positions on issues relating to the criminal justice system. His appetite for publicity seemed insatiable.

At the time of the murders, Dershowitz was just finishing a book called The Abuse Excuse--and Other Cop-Outs, Sob Stories, and Evasion of Responsibility. Concerned that Dershowitz's thesis may negatively impact Simpson's case, Shapiro decided to hire Dershowitz, in part to "shut him up." Rarely present in court, Dershowitz spent most of his time handling motions and other support documents. His main assignment was to prepare for possible appellate review of an adverse trial outcome.

In his book, The Best Defense, Dershowitz gave a view of the approach he would later take in the Simpson case. "Once I decide to take a case," Dershowitz wrote, "I have only one agenda: I want to win. I will try, by every fair and legal means, to get my client off--without regard to the consequences." In his memoir The Best Defense, Dershowitz noted that "almost all of my clients have been guilty."

As you may recall, Dershowitz's client virtually decapitated a young Jewish man, Ron Goldman, yet O.J. Simpson is a free man today, thanks to Dershowitz and the other members of the Dream Team.

Obviously, the ludicrousness of the arguments used in the Lobby's frenzied attack on Mearsheimer and Walt shows the weakness of their case. But the point of making these humiliatingly stupid arguments against the two scholars is not to win a rational debate but to intimidate everybody else. The purpose is to demonstrate to bystanders that the Lobby is willing to do whatever it takes to smear anybody who calls attention to its power, and so, if they know what's good for them, they'll keep their mouths shut.

In an editorial called "The Belfer Declaration," the NY Sun praises various zillionaire donors to Harvard for threatening to withhold support and demands that Leslie Wexner ("The Gap") do the same. It writes:

For those covering the effort of anti-Israel academics to demonize the Jewish state in the American academy, things don't get more dramatic than the scandal at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. It turns out that the Kennedy School's academic dean, Stephen Walt, whose shoddiness and biases in a paper he co-wrote called "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" ignited the scandal, holds a chair called the Robert and Renee Belfer professorship in international affairs. When we called Mr. Belfer to get his reaction, he clammed up tighter than a conch in a mudslide. But the skivvy around New York, where Mr. Belfer lives, is that the billionaire former Enron director, who has been generous to Jewish causes, was so infuriated and mortified by what Dean Walt was doing that he asked that Dean Walt not use the title of the Belfer professorship in promoting the article.

I like the part about Mr. Belfer being a "billionaire former Enron director." I guess the reason for mentioning their hero's tangential Enron connection (which was hardly his primary business interest) is to imply that he will not be restrained by any sense of morality, decency, or fairness, so you'd better not cross him or his friends.

By the way, if you are interested in an even-handed assessment of this paper, long-time Israeli foreign policy official Daniel Levy's commentary in the Israeli paper Ha'aretz is sensible:

The tone of the report is harsh. It is jarring for a self-critical Israeli, too. It lacks finesse and nuance when it looks at the alphabet soup of the American-Jewish organizational world and how the Lobby interacts with both the Israeli establishment and the wider right-wing echo chamber.

It sometimes takes AIPAC omnipotence too much at face value and disregards key moments - such as the Bush senior/Baker loan guarantees episode and Clinton's showdown with Netanyahu over the Wye River Agreement. The study largely ignores AIPAC run-ins with more dovish Israeli administrations, most notably when it undermined Yitzhak Rabin, and how excessive hawkishness is often out of step with mainstream American Jewish opinion, turning many, especially young American Jews, away from taking any interest in Israel.

Yet their case is a potent one: that identification of American with Israeli interests can be principally explained via the impact of the Lobby in Washington, and in limiting the parameters of public debate, rather than by virtue of Israel being a vital strategic asset or having a uniquely compelling moral case for support (beyond, as the authors point out, the right to exist, which is anyway not in jeopardy). The study is at its most devastating when it describes how the Lobby "stifles debate by intimidation" and at its most current when it details how America's interests (and ultimately Israel's, too) are ill-served by following the Lobby's agenda.

The bottom line might read as follows: that defending the occupation has done to the American pro-Israel community what living as an occupier has done to Israel - muddied both its moral compass and its rational self-interest compass.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

Thought for the Day

A reader writes, apropos of the name-calling against the authors of the "Israel Lobby" report:

Everyone is a liberal when it comes to their "privileges," but a conservative when it comes to their "interests."

Remember "Bernard" from BBC's unmatched series "Yes Minister" (Remember that one? We used to watch it the whole extended family; it was like a crash course on governance based on a millennium of distilled British wisdom.) He called these "political irregular verbs". For example:

"I'm defending my country's interests; you're meddling with others' affairs; they are 'terrorists.'"

It's when they are defending another country's interests at the expense of ours that I get annoyed.

By the way, how come when we are being lectured on the Wisdom of the American Founders these days, you never hear about Washington's "Farewell Address" anymore? The part where Washington warns:

"Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite [foreign country] are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests."

sounds like he was anticipating the smear jobs the Israel Lobby is flinging at Mearsheimer and Walt. (Of course, he was thinking of the need for Americans to resist the blandishments of the partisans of England and France, but it's still relevant.)

Washington, Hamilton, and Madison worked on the Farewell Address, on and off over four years, and it is clearly the best considered document of the era. For a long, long time in America, it was considered the best advice from the Founding generation.

Instead, now you mostly hear about the Declaration of Independent, which Jefferson stayed up all night to write. Not surprisingly, its most famous section appears to suffer from a proofreading bug that distorts its meaning. As it is, it reads:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

But as artificial intelligence guru John McCarthy pointed out, it would make a lot more sense if it read:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, in that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer