May 5, 2007

The Game of Nations, Congo-Style

Here's a podcast interview at Electric Politics with Larry Devlin about his new memoir Chief of Station, Congo about his years as the CIA's man in the Congo, in which he says he wasn't responsible for the murder of the decolonized state's first President, Patrice Lumumba.

Strange as it seems now, in 1960, everybody -- the UN, Washington, Moscow -- kind of imagined the future of the world was being determined on the banks of the Congo. Now, we just try not to think about the place. The CIA's man Mobutu was a prime stinker, but the place sure hasn't improved in the decade since he's been gone. Apres Mobutu, le Deluge, for which Mobutu and America bear much responsibility, but then maybe 35 years apres le Deluge is not so bad in tropical Africa. Anyway, it makes me tired to think about it.

Eisenhower liked to use the CIA as a cheap alternative to fighting the Cold War using the Army. (Similarly, he pushed ahead into the nuclear ICBM deterrent as an alternative to matching the Red Army tank for tank and man for man.) Not only did it save money and American lives, but it slowed the rise of the "military-industrial complex" that Eisenhower detested, and sidestepped the kind of war fever among the public that had made McCarthyism so popular during Truman's Korean War. Playing Machiavellian games among the Congo's elite was a lot better than sending American troops to the heart of darkness.

Eisenhower's VP, Richard Nixon, called Ike, who pretended to be a kindly old duffer in public, the most devious man he had known.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Somebody finally reads Obama's Dreams from My Father

On the liberal Washington Monthly blog, Kevin Drum admits that Obama's autobiography isn't what he expected:

I've read Dreams From My Father, Obama's autobiographical "story of race and inheritance."

... You'd think that after reading an autobiography you'd get a better sense of the author. But I didn't. In fact, there's a very oddly detached quality to the book, almost as if he's describing somebody else. This is clearest in the disconnect between emotions and events: Obama routinely describes himself feeling the deepest, most painful emotions imaginable (one event is like a "fist in my stomach," for example, and he "still burned with the memory" a full year after a minor incident in college), but these feelings seem to be all out of proportion to the actual events of his life, which are generally pretty pedestrian. Is he describing his real feelings? Is he simply making the beginning writer's mistake of thinking that the way to convey emotion is to use lots of adjectives? Or is something else going on?

Another oddity is that we get very little sense of what motivates him. In 1983, for example, he decided to become a community organizer, but says in the book only that he was "operating mainly on impulse." Even with the benefit of a decade of hindsight, the only explanation he can offer is that it was "part of that larger narrative, starting with my father and his father before him, my mother and her parents, my memories of Indonesia with its beggars and farmers and the loss of Lolo to power, on through Ray and Frank, Marcus and Regina; my move to New York; my father's death." That's not very helpful.

There's just something very peculiar about the book. I can't put my finger entirely on what it is, but for all the overwrought language that Obama employs on page after page, there's very little insight into what he believes and what really makes him tick. It was almost as if Obama was admitting to his moodiness and angst less as a way of letting us know who he is than as a way of guarding against having to really tell us. By the time I was done, I felt like I knew less about him than before.

As I've pointed out, the most straightforward explanation of Obama's "Story of Race and Inheritance" is that he's telling the truth in his book: it really is all about race for Obama, which is why white pundits don't get it. In sharp contradiction to the media's happy-clappy chatter about him, he doesn't transcend race, he's obsessed with it.

On the other hand, maybe he's a con-artist who says different things at different times, or a manic-depressive who truly feels radically different things at different times. Who knows? But the man is running for President, so we ought to find out.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May 3, 2007

Books for Boys

Books for Boys: There's been a vicious circle in kids' publishing in recent decades. As women came to dominate education and publishing, the books assigned in class got girlier and girlier, and boys lost even more interest in reading books, so publishers brought out even girlier books, and boys got even more bored, etcetera etcetera ...

Finally, two publishing industry veterans, Steven D. Hill and Peggy Hogan, decided to make money off this market failure by launching Sterling Point Books, which specializes in nonfiction books about heroes aimed at boys in the 10-17 range. Most of the initial titles are reprints of out-of-print books from Bennett Cerf's Random House Landmark Books of the 1950s onward. Cerf signed up heavyweight authors like John Gunther (Inside Europe), C.S. Forester (Horatio Hornblower), Alistair MacLean (Guns of Navarone), and William L. Shirer (Rise and Fall of the Third Reich) to write about warriors and adventurers for boys.

My younger son has now read a half dozen of the Sterling Point titles. Geronimo: Wolf of the Warpath has been his favorite. They've inspired him to ask me lots of questions, mostly of the unanswerable "Could John Paul Jones beat Lawrence of Arabia?" variety.

They come in handsome paperbacks for $6.95, with good-sized typefaces and lots of leading between the lines to make the pages inviting to the eye.

They would make good graduation presents. Here is the list so far, with more due in November.

- Admiral Richard Byrd: Alone in the Antarctic by Paul Rink (Aug 28, 2006)

- Alexander the Great by John Gunther (Hardcover - April 1, 2007)

- Amelia Earhart: Flying Solo by John Burke (April 1, 2007)

- Behind Enemy Lines: A Young Pilot's Story by H. R. DeMallie (April 1, 2007)

- Ben Franklin: Inventing America by Thomas Fleming (April 1, 2007)

- General George Patton: Old Blood & Guts by Alden Hatch (Aug 28, 2006)

- George Washington: Frontier Colonel by Sterling North (Aug 28, 2006)

- Geronimo: Wolf of the Warpath by Ralph Moody (Aug 28, 2006)

- Invasion: The Story of D-Day by Bruce Bliven (April 1, 2007)

- John Paul Jones: The Pirate Patriot by Armstrong Sperry (Aug 28, 2006)

- Lawrence of Arabia by Alistair MacLean (Aug 28, 2006)

- Path to the Pacific: The Story of Sacagawea by Neta Lohnes Frazier (April 1, 2007)

- Teddy Roosevelt: American Rough Rider by John Garraty (Mar 1, 2007)

- The Barbary Pirates by C. S. Forester (April 1, 2007)

- The Sinking of the Bismarck: The Deadly Hunt by William L. Shirer (Aug 28, 2006)


My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Did you know that there are unions of public school principals?

Teachers unions are highly controversial and always in the news, yet you almost never hear about the existence in many districts of of unions for principals and downtown administrators. A lazy teacher is a lot smaller of a problem than a lazy principal, yet you never hear about how principals unions protect bad principals. I guess not many people can believe there are such things as principals and administrators unions.

For example, I finally found out tonight the name of the principals union in Los Angeles: The Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, which defines itself like this:

The Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA) represents the Middle Managers in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

AALA is organized into four departments: Adult School Administrators, Elementary School Administrators, Secondary School Administrators and Supervisory Administrators...

AALA’s primary role is to ensure that members have the protection of Due Process, as contained in the collective bargaining agreement between AALA and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). AALA provides its members with representation in resolving grievances, counseling in the area of salaries, health benefits, retirement and professional concerns.

If you are the principle of, say, Garfield High School in East LA (where celebrated math teacher Jaime Escalante of the "Stand and Deliver" fame creamed the top few percent off the 4,372 students), you have over 230 teachers working for you, plus some large number of non-teaching staffers. That's being Management with a capital M. And, yet, these principals have their own union to keep them from being held accountable.

What's next? A union for Trident nuclear submarine captains? "Sure, Commander Frobisher may have wiped out Edmonton with an unauthorized ICBM salvo, but he has 24 years seniority, so this union is not going to let him get fired over one little screw-up!"

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Do we have to play the "Great Game" quite so much?

The 9/11 slaughter was a byproduct of the "Great Game," a phrase Kipling popularized in his classic novel Kim to describe the rivalry in Asia between the British Empire in India and the Russian Empire, which was subduing the Muslim "Stans" of Central Asia and pushing, vaguely, in the direction of India. From roughly 1813 onward, Britain and Russia jockeyed for power and influence over the buffer zone of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union inherited the Czarist empire and the U.S. inherited many British Empire strategic concerns. Thus, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and the U.S. encouraged Saudis to play a role in the anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan, which eventually helped bring down the Soviet Union. But an unwanted side effect was that Osama bin Laden sharpened his taste for trouble in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Now, in the apocalyptic calculus of the Cold War, the 9/11 blowback was eminently a price worth paying. If in 1980 you asked me if I would trade 3,000 U.S. civilians' lives to eliminate permanently all possibility of a U.S.-Soviet nuclear war or even of just a U.S.-Soviet tank war in the Fulda Gap, I would have agreed instantly.

But the Cold War is over. We won.

In Kipling's novel, the "Great Game" sounds like tremendous fun, but, when you stop and think about it, Christ Almighty, it's only Afghanistan they are squabbling over, after all, not the Monterey Peninsula.

And that raises a more general issue. The "Great Game" is only a specific version of the "Game of Nations" (which was the title of a 1969 book by CIA agent Miles Copeland, father of Stewart Copeland, drummer of The Police).

For example, the U.S., apparently, recently encouraged Ethiopia to invade Somalia, as part of our revival of the Grand Strategy of the Crusaders, which was to make contact with the Christian King Prester John on the far side of the Islamic World and encourage him to open a two-front attack on the insolent Musselmen.

When I was younger and more testosterone-driven, this kind of thing seemed very exciting. Why, yes, of course America must assert its national interests in the strategically vital Horn of Africa!

But now, just thinking about it makes me very, very tired. I have no faith any longer that the U.S. government officials who are playing the Game of Nations in the Horn know what they are doing. I suspect they are men who, being extremely competitive by nature, should instead cultivate an obsession with college sports. America is full of successful used car dealers who find fulfillment in life by bribing 7-foot teenagers to play hoops for good old State U. It's all a pointless arms race, but it sops up a lot of male competitiveness and nobody gets killed. America's foreign policy elite, in contrast, are far above such tasteless antics, but, on the other hand, they get people killed.

I'd imagine that our machinations in, say, the Horn will get people killed, and that only some of them will deserve killing. Further, I presume that some of the killees will have loved ones who will swear colorful desert nomad vows to wreak vengeance on Americans in return, and when some of them eventually carry out their promises, that will just encourage future American government officials to believe that we simply have to play the Game of Nations even harder. Rinse and repeat.

It strikes me that America has some straightforward national interests that are in line with at least some of the interests of other powerful countries, who would be happy to follow American leadership if we mostly restricted ourselves to:

- Defending existing national borders from wars of territorial conquest

- Discouraging the further cartelization of oil exporting capacity (you'll note that our globally popular leadership of Desert Storm in 1990-91 combined these two interests)

- Defending freedom of the seas and the like

- Encouraging good government (most importantly in Mexico, a country that our foreign policies elites pay remarkably little attention to, relative to farther off lands).

On the other hand, maybe America has to play the Game of Nations to the fullest extent possible. Perhaps if we don't do it, somebody else will, and they'll be so good at it that our way of life is irreparably harmed.

On the other other hand, we have the example of the late, unlamented Soviet Union, which enthusiastically played the Game of Nations in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Cuba, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and other strategically vibrant hellholes. How's that working out for them?

I outlined my one-word Grand Strategy to replace the Bush Administration's Invade-the-World-Invite-the-World here in But perhaps I'm being naive ...

In summary, please let me know your views. Can America cut back on playing the Game of Nations, or are we fated to play it to the maximum?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"The Queen"

This has been one of the periodic dead zones of the movie release year, so my new review in The American Conservative is of the DVD release of "The Queen," featuring Helen Mirren's stupendous performance. An excerpt:

Arriving in San Francisco one afternoon in 1983, I saw on the news that Queen Elizabeth II was to dine that evening with President Reagan in Golden Gate Park. So, I climbed into a cab and, feeling like the nursery rhyme pussycat, declared, "I want to look at the Queen!"

"Any queen in particular, buddy?" responded the cabbie. "This town's full of them."

He dropped me on a street corner where hundreds had already assembled, including a dozen Irish demonstrators chanting IRA slogans. Eventually, the longest motorcade I'd ever seen rolled by, and, finally, there in a limousine window was the face on all those postage stamps, bestowing upon us her regal wave, a quarter-turn of her upright cupped hand. We bystanders erupted in cheers, including the IRA supporters, who hopped up and down in joy. Then she was gone, and the Irish protestors slunk off, shame-faced at succumbing to the glamour of the crown.

Yet the Queen's dignity was soon trumped by the rapidly emerging visual grace of her daughter-in-law, the Princess of Wales, a goddess who deigned to appear on the cover of People every month.

That Elizabeth's stiff upper lip response to Diana's 1997 death threatened the very existence of the monarchy is the premise of playwright Peter Morgan's witty and empathetic screenplay for "The Queen," now out on DVD.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May 2, 2007

How to get high test scores for your K-12 school:

New York prints an amusing article about a new elite public school on Avenue D in the Lower East Side:

NEST+m: An Allegory

The “Stuyvesant of the East” has become one of the most sought-after public schools in the city. It got that way by leaving much of the public out.
By Jeff Coplon

As light faded on the first arctic day of winter, a band of 40 die-hard parents huddled on Seventh Avenue, outside Region 9 headquarters of the Department of Education. Mostly white and middle-aged, armed with signs and certainty, they stood shivah for a dream foreclosed on the Lower East Side: the notorious NEST+m, a school for the best and brightest in all New York.

Braced against the slicing wind, they chanted against the ousting of their founding principal, the feared and revered Celenia Chévere, and grieved for the motto she once posted outside her office door:

A public school with a private-school mission.

The sign dripped with hubris, but it had wooed the striving classes well. Since the troubled birth of New Explorations Into Science, Technology & Math, in 2001, its parents had tithed body and soul and disposable income—for their children, to be sure, but also for the urban impossibility: a truly great public school. In NEST they’d found a hothouse with record test scores, free of the usual tawdry concessions—sardined classes, peeling paint, creeping illiteracy.

Now, after some nasty infighting and a crackdown by the chancellor, their school had been turned inside-out. For the old guard, everything precious seemed dead: small-group advisories, split-gender math and science, the Sarah Lawrence–size seminars, the prepster dress code. Demoralized, the stalwarts had coined a different sort of slogan: Just another DoE school.

When a school loses the culture that made it distinctive, “people imply that it’s a law of history … that it died a natural death,” says Deborah Meier, founder of the seminal alternative school Central Park East. “If we actually track it back, it may have been murdered.”

Last fall, as NEST imploded, its PTA president emeritus moved her son to a private high school. “I feel like I’ve been robbed,” says Emily Armstrong, “and there’s nothing I can do about it.” She has a theory about why NEST’s enemies sought to strangle it in the cradle and kept at it till they won.

“It’s all race and class,” she says wearily. “It’s nothing else but that.”

So, how do you get high test scores? Step one: Keep the local kids from applying.

Over the next few months, Chévere did all she could to discourage the locals. Of two dozen sessions where NEST applications were distributed, twenty were held at the 14th Street Y, at the cusp of District 1 and the whiter, wealthier District 2. “It was like trying to catch a moonbeam,” says Margarita Rosa, executive director of the Grand Street Settlement. Rosa’s deputy, Pablo Tejada, ran a Beacon program after school and on weekends at JHS 22, serving close to 2,000 children, youth, and adults. Although he saw Chévere weekly that spring, Tejada says, he couldn’t get NEST brochures until after the deadline. When parents pressed to learn more about the school, Rosa says, they were “treated very, very rudely and given the runaround … It was an atmosphere that basically said, ‘Certain people need not apply.’”

Lopez was pushing for access to NEST. According to Armstrong, the councilwoman announced that every child at Baruch had a guaranteed spot at the new school. As summer approached and few acceptance letters made their way to the project, the backlash began: Leaflets blasted NEST as racist. There were death threats, and smashed windshields in the parking lot. “I’m one of them,” Chévere plaintively told the Times, referring to her Hispanic critics. “But they don’t see me as that. They see me as elitist.” ...

Step two: Drive out low-performers who get in.

When school started, Chévere divided the seventh grade into the “A-class” and the “B-class.” The A-class had five children, most of them white. The B-class was composed of twenty or so students from the immediate neighborhood, nearly all of them Hispanic or black. Some of them were quick and able, if less than enamored with the NEST uniform (polo shirts and khaki slacks or skirts from the Lands’ End catalogue) and its Sisyphean homework loads; others lagged tragically in basic skills.

“It was clearly racial steering,” Mendez says. “I often wonder whether we did those kids any service. Their life was hell.”

The B-class became the principal’s white whale, her sour obsession. According to one of its teachers, Chévere would declare, “I’m going to torture them until they leave.” She ordered the B-class students cited for every conceivable infraction, no matter how picayune. “She told me to write up anyone for anything,” the teacher says. “If a kid looked tired, if he didn’t have a belt on, if his hair wasn’t washed …” Chévere forwarded the paper barrage to the Administration for Children’s Services. When besieged parents came to the school, the teacher says, Chévere held ACS over them as a threat: Withdraw their children, or else.

Step three: recruit.

In the savvy-parent grapevine, no strong school stays secret for long. By NEST’s second year, 400 applicants vied for 75 spots in the ninth grade alone. In year three, middle-class families poured in from private schools, brownstone Brooklyn, even haughty District 2. District 1’s share ebbed to 40 percent, while the proportion of free-lunch students dropped by half.

“She wanted that look,” a former NEST teacher says. “I remember a meeting where Celenia said, ‘We need to get more Asian kids. We want to look good when people walk around [on tour], and we want to have the higher math scores.’”

Step four: cheat.

On the afternoon of the eighth-grade state ELA exam in January 2004, a middle-school teacher—who asked that her name be withheld to protect her current job with the DoE—stopped by the principal’s conference room to say good-night. Seated around the rich dark-wood table, she recalls, were the principal and her administrative cadre. Spilled out before them were stacks of ELA test booklets and the original answer sheets, says this teacher, whom we’ll call Randy. No one seemed to be bothered by the DoE protocol that finished tests be promptly sealed and sent off to the region.

As Randy moved to leave, Chévere told her, “‘You’re not going home. You’re going to stay and help us look over all the kids’ answers,’” she says. “I felt very much like they were asking me to change answers, and I refused.” The conversation ended—and so, a few months later, did Randy’s career at NEST.

We cannot know exactly what Chévere and her staff were doing that afternoon, but the school’s numbers give pause. On the 2003 ELA, 35 percent of NEST’s eighth-graders tested at or above grade level, not much better than the citywide average. In 2004, the school’s new crop of eighth-graders—the ones whose tests were allegedly “looked over” by Chévere’s staff—made a quantum leap. Of 31 students, all but one—or 97 percent—met the standard.

The following year, a special-education student named Jennifer, who asked that her last name be withheld, got some unusual marching orders from the NEST office. In January 2005, she says, she was told to stay home on the day of the eighth-grade ELA exam. Randy, the former middle-school teacher, says this was common practice at NEST; special-needs students would take the test instead on a makeup day, with no outside monitors present.

At the ELA retake, Jennifer says, there were about ten students in the room: the four or five from her special-ed class, taught by a Chévere favorite named Jennifer Wilen, and four or five more from the mainstreamed population who qualified for extra test time. Wilen sat among her students and read each multiple-choice question aloud, Jennifer says. Then she’d “let us guess, and if we circled the wrong one … she would say, ‘No, that’s wrong—b is the answer.’ I’d erase it and circle the b.” The mainstreamed students raced ahead, shouting answers to one another. (On the day of her state math test, according to Jennifer, the procedure changed a bit. Since Wilen was “a little dumbish about math,” the student says, “she asked the kids who took regular classes for the answer, and they would just tell us, and we would just circle down the answer.”)

Toward the end of the ELA test, Jennifer says, Wilen told her students to cover their tracks by erasing some correct answers and entering wrong ones: “We just erased like two, and that’s it—two answers.”

As it turned out, two erasures might have been conservative. Of ten NEST eighth-graders with special needs, all scored at or above grade level on the ELA that year. Their mean scaled score outshone their general-education schoolmates; it also surpassed the average for any general-ed eighth-grade class at all but three schools in the city. In the math test that year, Jennifer’s test group scored even higher. And NEST’s seventh-graders with special needs did better yet; all seven tallied 4’s on the ELA. (Wilen denies feeding students answers. Asked to explain the unusual scores, she first suggested that perhaps the eighth-graders “did a really good job cheating” on their own, then reconsidered, saying she had “trained those poor little kids beautifully” with a relentless regimen of ELA practice tests.)

When these test results were relayed to Robert Tobias, longtime chief of assessment for the old Board of Ed and now a research director at NYU’s Steinhardt School, his response was unqualified: “Based on a career of 30 years of looking at these kinds of data, I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s one in a million.”

Overall, NEST had a banner year in 2005. With 99 percent of its students scoring at or above the standard in English and 97 percent in math, it outranked all but a handful of schools. Even today, Chévere trumpets her “stellar track record”: “All my students achieved perfect to near-perfect scores on all standardized tests at all grade levels. I’m extremely proud of that achievement.”

But Jennifer derived no pleasure from her pair of 4’s. “If I don’t do something by myself, I’m not going to know it,” she says. That fall, glowing transcript in hand, she was placed in general-ed classes at Health Professions High School and soon fell hopelessly behind. She’s since transferred to a school in New Jersey, but her academic future—and goal of college—remains in doubt.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

I guess the NYT doesn't have the Duke Lacrosse team and Don Imus to kick around anymore:

From the New York Times:

Study of N.B.A. Sees Racial Bias in Calling Fouls

An academic study of the National Basketball Association, whose playoffs continue tonight, suggests that a racial bias found in other parts of American society has existed on the basketball court as well. A coming paper by a University of Pennsylvania professor and a Cornell University graduate student says that, during the 13 seasons from 1991 through 2004, white referees called fouls at a greater rate against black players than against white players.

These scholars should get the Nobel Prize for their discovery that there are still white players in the NBA!

The economists write:

The data in Figure 2 show that 21 out of 29 black referees [74%] have a below-average bias in foul-calling against black players, while 34 of 55 white referees [62%] have an above average bias in foul-calling against black players.

That would seem to raise the obvious question: who is right and who is wrong? Perhaps the black refs on average are wrongly discriminating against the white players more than the white refs are wrongly discriminating against the black players? I realize it's completely despicable to even entertain that possibility, but it is a conceptual possibility. ... Okay, forget I ever said that. Everybody knows that in all facets of human behavior, blacks are more accurate and honest decision makers than whites, so white racism must be the only possible explanation.

The economists admit, unsurprisingly:

"Unfortunately our framework is not well-suited to sorting out whether these results are driven by the actions of black or white referees."

They go on to take some SWAGs at why it's really the white refs' fault, but they admit that is much weaker than the rest of their analysis. But that doesn't stop the NYT from playing this study up as proof of the White Man Keeping the Black Man Down in the NBA.

Interesting findings from this huge study in the pdf that the NYT doesn't play up:

- Blacks get 83% of the playing time in the NBA.

- Blacks get substantially fewer fouls called on them per 48 minutes of playing time, but they are more likely to be starters, who get fewer fouls, and not play center, a position that fouls a lot. Possibly, referee bias in favor of blacks contributes to blacks getting to be starters more, but nobody is interested in investigating that.

- NBA teams would win slightly more games if they played whites more. The economists write: "In our sample, the team with a greater share of playing time accounted for by black players won 48.6% of games ..." That this figure doesn't diverge far from 50% show that NBA teams are pretty good about about putting the best team on the court irrespective of color, but you know that if the study showed the opposite -- that teams that played more whites won only 48.6% of the time -- the NYT would be howling about anti-black prejudice.

If you are interested in a blatant example of old guard stupidity in sports having a disparate impact by ethnicity that the media relentlessly ignored for decades because it was benefiting a minority group, here's my 2003 article "Baseball's Hidden Ethnic Bias."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May Day Illegal Immigrant Rallies a Bust

From the LA Times:

About 35,000 people turned out at two Los Angeles rallies, far fewer than the combined 115,000 that organizers had anticipated and greatly fewer than the roughly 650,000 who turned out at rallies last year.

Turnouts were light across the country compared to last year, when millions of marchers in 150 cities took to the streets.

Chicago — home of the original May 1 International Workers' Day more than a century ago — drew the largest crowd with 150,000, while New York's rally drew only hundreds.

But a good time was still had by some:

In Los Angeles, after police tried to disperse demonstrators who had moved off the sidewalk onto Alvarado Street about 6 p.m., some of the few thousand participants still in the park started throwing plastic bottles and rocks at officers.

As the failure of these demonstrations show, the notion that the illegal alien cause represents an irresistible political tidal wave is one of the more derisible peddled by the media:

- First, illegal immigrants aren't supposed to vote.

- Second, they aren't very good at self-organizing and they aren't very interested in public affairs. They tend to be much more wrapped up in the complicated dramas of their private lives.

= Third, Hispanic citizens, who can vote, have quite ambivalent feelings about illegal immigration.

- Fourth, illegal immigrants lack talented leaders, as do Latinos in general. Indeed, despite all the moral failings of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Louis Farrakhan, you have to grant them that they are good at their jobs. They rouse rabbles with the best of them. You can't say the same about the various self-appointed Hispanic leaders, none of whose names come to mind at the moment.

At some point in the future, all this might change. But when America's elites tell you that illegal immigrants are too powerful a political force for anything to be done about illegal immigration, they are lying. The reality is that they don't want to do anything about illegal immigration.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The real Obama

Lots of white people keep telling themselves that electing Sen. Barack Obama President will convince black people that the only thing that is holding them back is their own lack of self-discipline. Surely, somebody as smart as Obama, they assume, must understand that the ostensible purpose of most of his career -- getting more government money for blacks -- is exactly what has most damaged blacks morally.

That, however, is not exactly what Sen. Obama is telling blacks. For example, on the 15th anniversary of the most shameful event in recent African-American history, Obama played the black self-pity card in demanding more handouts for the inner city. From the LA Times:

Obama appeals to blacks in L.A. remarks
By Scott Martelle, Times Staff Writer

Invoking images of Los Angeles in flames, Sen. Barack Obama argued Sunday — the 15th anniversary of the nation's most violent modern civil uprising — that little had been done to fix the chronic social and economic conditions that gave rise to a three-day rampage that killed at least 53 people.

And although the riots occurred in L.A., the conditions that spawned them persist across the nation, Obama told an overflow crowd at South-Central's First AME Church. The Illinois Democrat is seeking his party's presidential nomination.

"There wasn't anything going on in Los Angeles that was unique to Los Angeles," Obama said. "If you traveled to Chicago, you would see the same young men on street corners without hope, without prospects, and without a sense of any destiny other than ending up in prison or in a casket."

Obama drew a sustained ovation when he rebuked the Bush administration for, as Obama put it, funding the war in Iraq instead of impoverished Americans — particularly those in minority neighborhoods. "We have now spent half a trillion dollars on a war that should have never been authorized, and should have never been waged," Obama said. "We could have invested that money in SouthCentral Los Angeles, or the South Side of Chicago, in jobs and infrastructure and hospitals and schools. Why is it we can find the money in a second for a war that doesn't make any sense?" ...

Obama did not offer specific proposals to solve the problems he described. His approach has more often relied on lofty rhetoric than real-world prescriptions. ...

There's a widespread assumption that the vagueness of Obama's platform stems from his lack of experience, but it seems equally plausible that he's just hoping to keep secret what he really favors.

Speaking in a church that has a stained-glass window depicting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Kennedy and his brother Robert, Obama recalled a news article he read at the time of the riots about a young pregnant woman shot in the abdomen, the bullet lodging in the soft tissue of her fetus' arm. After surgery, the mother and baby were fine, although the infant was left with a scar.

Obama made the infant — and the bullet — symbols for L.A. after the riots.

"Even in the midst of violence and despair, there's always something to be hopeful for. That baby represents the rising up of hope out of darkness and despair," he said.

"It made me think about us in this country 15 years later, how not only do we still have scars from that riot, but in many American cities we haven't even taken the bullet out," he said. "We still haven't stitched up the patient."

The problems were exposed again with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he said, when countless poor people had no way to leave their neighborhoods ahead of the floodwaters. Many perished, or were left stranded on rooftops for days.

"The tragedy struck New Orleans long before the hurricane hit," Obama said, citing lowperforming schools and high levels of violence and poverty. "There's a reason why the planning to evacuate them was ineffective — because the folks who were making the planning assumed that people had cars."

The parallels to Los Angeles in the years since the riots are clear, he said: At neither time has there been sustained public interest in correcting underlying problems.

"We go from shock to trance," Obama said. "We wake up and we're surprised that there's poverty in our midst, and that people are frustrated and angry."

He mocked the creation of investigative panels to divine the causes of problems.

"There's a little bit of money that folks piece together to send it into the community to make sure that folks are quiet and go back to the status quo, but we never take the bullet out of the arm," Obama said. "We don't need panels and reports and commissions. We need some surgery on the indifference to poverty in this country."

By the way, here is my UPI article on the 10th anniversary of the South Central Riot.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The origin of Rice's and Rumsfeld's "Werewolves" theory: Back in August 2003, National Security Advisor Condi Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced that we shouldn't worry about armed guerilla resistance in Iraq, because we had to deal with the same thing in Germany in 1945-47, and look how well that turned out. Condi told the VFW:

There is an understandable tendency to look back on America's experience in post-War Germany and see only the successes. But as some of you here today surely remember, the road we traveled was very difficult. 1945 through 1947 was an especially challenging period. Germany was not immediately stable or prosperous. SS officers -- called "werewolves" -- engaged in sabotage and attacked both coalition forces and those locals cooperating with them -- much like today's Baathist and Fedayeen remnants.

And Rummy elaborated:

One group of those dead-enders was known as "werewolves." They and other Nazi regime remnants targeted Allied soldiers, and they targeted Germans who cooperated with the Allied forces. Mayors were assassinated including the American-appointed mayor of Aachen, the first major German city to be liberated. Children as young as 10 were used as snipers, radio broadcasts, and leaflets warned Germans not to collaborate with the Allies. They plotted sabotage of factories, power plants, rail lines. They blew up police stations and government buildings, and they destroyed stocks of art and antiques that were stored by the Berlin Museum. Does this sound familiar?

Well, the Aachen assassination took place more than a month before the German surrender, so it doesn't count. Otherwise, remarkably little happened after VE day. A bomb went off in Hamburg after the war was over, but it might have been one of the gazillion bombs the British and American air forces dropped on that city. And there were a few killings, but sex conflicts were a likely cause for a good number of them.

(There might have been more anti-American violence, but the Germans were grateful that we weren't raping and ethnic cleansing them, like the Russians were doing in Eastern Europe, with the post-VE Day German death total being two million or maybe higher.)

So, where did the speechwriters of the Bush Administration luminaries come up with this idea? Apparently, they misread a lame pro-war fictitious satire written on July 28, 2003 by Rand Simberg as being real! Simberg blogged:

Administration In Crisis Over Burgeoning Quagmire
August 12, 1945

WASHINGTON DC (Routers) President Truman, just a few months into his young presidency, is coming under increasing fire from some Congressional Republicans for what appears to be a deteriorating security situation in occupied Germany, with some calling for his removal from office.

Over three months after a formal declaration of an end to hostilities, the occupation is bogged down. Fanatical elements of the former Nazi regime who, in their zeal to liberate their nation from the foreign occupiers, call themselves members of the Werwolf (werewolves) continue to commit almost-daily acts of sabotage against Germany's already-ravaged infrastructure, and attack American troops. They have been laying road mines, poisoning food and water supplies, and setting various traps, often lethal, for the occupying forces ...

For many, marching in the streets with signs of "No Blood For Soviet Socialism," and "It's All About The Coal," this merely confirmed that the administration had other agendas than its stated one, and that the war was unjustified and unjustifiable.

It was then published by on July 30, 2003.

Simberg later wrote:

To indicate clearly that it was satire, I attributed it, as usual, to the mythical WW II news agency, "Routers," and I incorporated my own 2003 copyright at the bottom. Subsequently, it was picked up by emailers, the copyright was stripped, "Routers" was misspelled to correspond to a more familiar (and actual) wire service, and it quickly found its way across cyberspace.

We don't know for sure that this influenced Rice and Rumsfeld, but it's the likeliest source I've heard of.

Now, Rice is supposed to be an academic expert on the Soviet Union, so the history of Central Europe in 1945-47 shouldn't be such terra incognita to her. (And Rumsfeld, who was born in 1932, is old enough to know better.) So, why were they so credulous (besides, of course, wanting this to be true to make their policy look less disastrous)?

As usual, I see an aversion to politically incorrect generalizing about ethnicities as a source of ignorance among decision-makers. One of the basic generalizations that anybody who looks around at the real world with open eyes quickly comes up with is the reverse correlation between organized violence and disorganized violence. Groups that are competent at organized violence in wartime, such as the Germans and Japanese, tend to be orderly during peacetime. And groups that tend to be anarchic during peacetime also tend to be incompetent at organized violence during wartime, with the Iraqis being perhaps the most notorious example of this.

There are many exceptions to this, but it's still one of the most obvious patterns in 20th Century history. However, if you are morally opposed to noticing patterns, as all the most respectable people are today, you'll be a sucker for idiocy.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

May 1, 2007

What if Sen. Harry Reid is right and senile?

What if Sen. Harry Reid is right and senile? The 77-year-old Washington Post columnist David Broder has been widely denounced as senile for calling 67-year-old Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) a "bumbling" "embarrassment" for his recent anti-war remarks.

But what if Broder is wrong about the war, but right about Reid? A person who knows most of the Senators, but, as far as I could tell, doesn't have strong partisan biases, told me that Reid appears pretty ga-ga. Reid, who was once an amateur boxer, is, I'm told, very dependent on his aides to keep him on track and feed him his lines. My source thought it was time for somebody to mention in public that Reid seems more senile than anybody else in the Senate.

Now, I just have one source for this, and I don't know (or care) enough about political personalities to be able to evaluate this claim, so don't take this too seriously ... unless more evidence turns up. Perhaps, I'm wrong and I'm baselessly slandering this poor man. On the other hand, Reid is the Senate Majority Leader and, in exchange for his enormous power, he can put up with with some perhaps overly-skeptical inquiry.

If true, this would mostly be an issue for the Democrats to worry about, not the public at large. Originally, I had incorrectly assumed that Reid, as Senate Majority Leader, is third in line behind Cheney and Pelosi to succeed to the Presidency, so this would be an issue for the whole country. But, I was wrong. Instead, the succession falls upon the Senate's President Pro Tempore, who, by custom, is the senior senator in the majority party. So, third in the chain of succession is 89-year-old Robert C. Byrd, who, I'm told, is quite sharp compared to Reid.

This ends my rare attempt at reporting/gossip-mongering. Back to my regularly scheduled sourceless opinionizing...

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

April 30, 2007

"Libertarianism is applied autism"

As usual, Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution illustrates Across Difficult Country's aphorism. Alex says:

I understand individual rights and I understand counting everyone equally but I see less value in counting some in and some out based on arbitrary characteristics like which side of the border the actors fall on.

The difference is quite obvious if you remove the libertarian economists' assume-we-have-a-can-opener blinders. We live in a world where violence -- perpetrating it and preventing it -- is the fundamental fact that social and political organization must deal with.

Thus, all property rights come out of the barrel of a gun.

Once you realize that, the reason why we prefer the welfare of our fellow citizens to that of non-citizens is (to get all reductionist):

They are the ones who would fight on your side.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

My prediction about Obama press coverage turning out correct:

Over on's blog, I have an entry, "The Predictable Press," about how I forecast that as winter turned to spring, the locus of investigative journalism into Barack Obama's past would shift from Hawaii to Chicago. Sure enough, it's 73 in Chicago today, and the NYT has a big article on Obama's black radical spiritual advisor. [More]

Meanwhile, Kevin Drum has a graph from the Pew Research Center showing that registered voters believe Obama is less liberal than Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, or Al Gore. Clearly, Obama has both been misleading the public and there are an awful lot of people who want to be misled by him.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Are African-American cultural interests narrowing or expanding?

Something that everybody in about 1975 knew was inevitable was that African-Americans would expand into a much wider variety of pursuits as greater opportunity became open to them.

But, has that happened? Or are blacks increasingly focused on a handful of black-dominated areas? We've had enormous amounts of various kinds of affirmative action -- both quotas and additional recruitment and training -- aimed at getting blacks into more careers. And yet, they seem to want to move into narrower ruts.

I'm not talking just about, say, theoretical physics, but also about fields like tennis. After Althea Gibson won five Grand Slam singles titles in 1956-1958, and Arthur Ashe won three from 1968-1975, it seemed inevitable that such famous role models would lead to an infusion of numerous blacks into professional tennis. And, yet, ... with the exception of the Williams sisters, who are closer to the exception that proves the rule (their strong-willed father pretty much bred them with the goal of physically outdoing white women in tennis), blacks haven't made much of a mark in tennis since. Half-black Frenchman Yannick Noah won the French Open in 1983, but his son is now a college basketball player at Florida (granted Joakim Noah is around 9 feet tall so it only makes sense for him to play basketball, but still ...)

Now, part of what is going on is that tennis today requires more childhood training than in the old days. Most tennis pros of this decade were sent away by their parents to live at tennis academies as adolescents. So, it costs more to raise a tennis star than in Gibson and Ashe's day, so that works against blacks.

One possibility is that while middle class black adults are reasonably culturally open-minded, black youths are more ethnocentric than before, are more into keepin' it real and not acting white. For example, I've played golf over the years in foursomes with dozens of black guys (and over the last decade I've finally started to see black women playing golf), but none that I can recall under age 25. Golf isn't as youth-dominated as tennis, and you can have a fairly normal upbringing and become a professional golfer, but you still almost always have to start playing as a teenager. That of course is expensive, but you also have to want to be a golfer when you are a teen. I suspect that is much rarer among black teens.

So, are blacks avoiding non-traditional careers? It's hard to say for sure.

In contrast to tennis, there has been a slow but pretty steady movement of blacks into, say, film directing, including directing films with non-black casts. F. Gary Gray did a good job with "The Italian Job" in 2002, and Antoine Fuqua has directed a number of conventional Hollywood films, like "Shooter" and "King Arthur," although his best remains "Training Day," which won Denzel Washington an Oscar.

So, please help me out. Can you think of more non-traditional careers, such as movie directing, in which blacks have been doing better and better? Alternatively, can you think of careers where there aren't significant IQ barriers to success, such as tennis, but blacks just don't seem to be choosing to enter?

Urban v. Suburban Travel: Diversity in ownership v. diversity in employment

It's often remarked that the commercial environment that the business traveler in America confronts is remarkably uniform: all across this vast land of ours, he'll find the same rental-car companies at every airport, the same hotel and restaurant chains off every interstate. Moreover, these firms strive to deliver a uniformity of service - every contingency is anticipated in a binder and the response pre-programmed.

In contrast, in certain big cities, typically ones with huge immigrant populations, there are far more unique restaurants, hotels, and shops. This is frequently extolled as a shining benefit of diversity and perhaps it is.

But let me ask a question of all the nice liberals that I haven't heard mentioned before: As you travel, look at the workers you come into contact with and ask: On the whole, where do African-Americans find employment? In boring old corporate chains or in funky diverse one-of-a-kind establishments?

The answer appears to be titled heavily toward the Amerisuites and Alamo rental cars and Ruby Tuesdays. Just as African-Americans have long done relatively well in the peaceful, clerical side of the U.S. Army, where everything is spelled out in endless detail ahead of time, they tend to thrive better on the job in big chains with cookie-cutter manuals, and bureaucratic hiring procedures.

In contrast, unique urban establishments tend to have fewer blacks working for them relative to the size of the nearby black population. Immigrant owned businesses tend to hire other people, especially relatives, from their immigrant groups and white business owners tend to find they're more comfortable bossing around immigrants, even black African immigrants, than African-Americans.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

April 29, 2007

Kevin Drum finally reads Obama's autobiography and finds it "florid and overwrought" and inexplicable.

But he knows one thing for sure: I can't possibly be right about it!

The Washington Monthly's blogger Kevin Drum loyally tries to stand up for his employer's much-snickered over story by young Alexander Konetski about his brief tenure as a copy editor at The American Conservative and how he heroically resigned because the editors wouldn't spike my Obama story, Obama's Identity Crisis, on his say-so.

Of course, there's also the possibility that Drum is subtly sticking it to his employer by quoting a particularly amusing part of the self-important Konetski's screed:

Even before I read the piece I knew I wouldn't like it. TAC's editor, who was pleased with Sailer's work, had told me as much. But I found the piece so offensive when I first read it that I jumped out of my chair and rushed into the managing editor's office to try to kill it on the spot. She and the editor promptly dismissed my objections. The piece is provocative, they said — it's edgy. It's racist, I said — and the magazine will be regarded as such for publishing it. ....The weekend after Kara and Scott dismissed my objections to Sailer's essay, I read Dreams From My Father.

In other words, Konetski jumped to a conclusion with no idea what he was talking about, then scrambled to find evidence for it.

Ironically, the Washington Monthly did an abysmal job of fact-checking an article accusing The American Conservative of poor fact-checking. Konetski, who had been hired in November, tries to give the impression that he was a Major Player at the magazine while implying that I was some obscure figure who had "submitted" an article on Obama (instead, it was commissioned) that for some inexplicable but no doubt vile reason the editors chose to believe me over a Big Wheel like him.

In reality, the editors trusted me rather than him because I had a track record of approximately 100 pieces published in TAC going back to its first issue in 2002. As they well know, I've frequently been smeared by more formidable figures than Alexander Konetski, but have always ended up with the facts on my side.

Drum's item is most interesting for his somewhat philistine but reasonable characterization of Obama's Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance:

None of which is to say that Obama wasn't confused and uncomfortable with his racial identity for much of his first three decades. In fact, that's the whole point of the book. What's more — and this is the part of Dreams I found most peculiar — it's never really clear why. In language that's often florid and overwrought, but also oddly artificial, he tells us how he feels, but the circumstances of his life are never drawn starkly enough to make it clear why he feels the way he does.

In other words, Drum implies that Obama's emotions about race weren't objectively justified by the rather pleasant life he has lived. Which is certainly true.

But after that brief foray into honesty, Drum goes back to beating the, uh, drum over my sins. Unfortunately, all he can come up with is naked assertion:

... Sailer wants us to believe that this act of black identification automatically suggests a rejection of Obama's white heritage. Unfortunately, this says more about Sailer's state of mind than Obama's. There's simply nothing in the book to seriously back it up."

Well, no, it's not true that black identification "automatically" suggests a rejection of Obama's white heritage. For example, Obama's half-white half-brother Mark, a Stanford physics student who had grown up in Kenya, refused to reject his white heritage, which caused Obama break off contact with him.

But it is true in Obama's specific case, as voluminously documented in his long autobiography, that identification with the black race involved emotional rejection of the white race. (At least, if his book is to be believed, which is a big if -- he didn't actually reject the many the privileges granted to him by such white-founded institutions as Punahou Prep, Occidental College, Columbia University, and the Harvard Law School.

At this point, all I can say is, "Please read the book." It's better-written than Drum claims, and not so puzzling as Drum found it ... if you don't make the a priori assumption that I just have to be wrong about it.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer