September 13, 2008

Obama ad idea: poker v. craps

A factoid/metaphor that Obama should try to get to the public's attention is that he plays poker while McCain loves to roll the dice. Which kind of man do you want to see conducting America's foreign policy?

September 12, 2008

"The Women"

From my review of "The Women," starring Meg Ryan, Annette Bening and the traditional all-female cast, in The American Conservative:

Isn't it irritating when a know-it-all movie critic trashes a new release just because it's not as good as its classic source (whether that be an older film, book, play, TV show, or theme park ride)? That's a tiresome routine because it's mathematically certain that most new movies will be comparatively worse than the material upon which they are based. The average new movie is, inevitably, average in quality, while the famous old works that Hollywood spends tens of millions adapting into new flicks were almost all above average.

On the other hand, the differences between the source and the new release offer useful clues to the filmmakers' point of view, and can illustrate cultural change.

Therefore, my rule as a reviewer is to watch the new film first to see what my unbiased reaction is, then read the book or watch the old DVD.

The new version of "The Women" illustrates the value of this approach. It had been a couple of decades since I'd seen George Cukor's 1939 version of the satirical play by Clare Booth Luce (the future grande dame of the American Right) about Park Avenue ladies who lunch. So, I found the new film -- a chick flick buddy comedy about Mary (Meg Ryan) and Sylvia (Annette Bening), the squabbling best friends forever who eventually team up again to win Mary's husband back from the scheming perfume counter vixen Crystal (Eva Mendes) -- to be quite likable. ...

But then I watched the original from Hollywood's annus mirabilis of 1939, and it makes the 2008 effort seems like The Importance of Being Earnest as rewritten to serve as a very special episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. ...

The remake was intentionally declawed by its writer-director Diane English, creator of Candace Bergen's Murphy Brown television show, out of feminist loyalty to the team. English complained, "… the movie had very old-fashioned ideas that were in great need of updating … The original play and film were written as a poison pen letter to shallow society women who would stab each other in the back over a man … I had to figure out a way to shift the focus. I wanted to celebrate women …"

Self-esteem boosting female empowerment plot developments ahoy! (Aren't there any bitchy gay men left in Hollywood who could have done for the remake what Cukor did in 1939?)

More Panhandling

The summer 2008 fundraising drive is off to a good start. I want to thank you for your generosity. It has really lifted my spirits, especially after my mechanic called Thursday to tell me the reason the MAINT idiot light on my '98 Accord dashboard is on is because the catalytic converter is busted, so I have to get that fixed before the next annual smog check. I presume a catalytic converter can't be as expensive as a transmission ...

By the way, despite all the talk about "energy independence," which Obama says he'll conjure up in 10 years (and McCain is for it too), I never hear about a simple way to reduce oil consumption: get more miles per gallon by going back to the old system where the federal air pollution standards for cars were less stringent than the standards for California and a few other states where smog is a major problem.

You used to look at the EPA's MPG sticker on a new car and it would say, maybe, "20 city / 30 highway" in big letters, then in small type you'd see the California rating, which might be "18 / 27." Polluting less burns more fuel, but I gather that the federal government has raised everybody to California's standards. It's worth it here in Southern California, where the smog problem has virtually disappeared compared to the 1970s. But, perhaps it's overkill in, say, half the country. If the windy-rainy-empty half of the country could get 10% better mileage, that would be an eventual national savings of 5% (your mileage may vary), which is not insignificant. But nobody seems interested.

Anyway, I'm getting off track. The point of this post is to ask more readers to give me money. Think of it this way: giving me money will not only make me happy and allow me to continue with a career I love, but it will really annoy a lot of people who don't want me to continue. And those are exactly the people it's soul-satisfyingly fun to annoy.

There are four ways to give me money. (All four appear to be working, for once.)

You can make tax deductible credit card contributions to me here (click on the first "Make a Donation" button you come to on the screen); or fax credit card details here (please put my name on the fax); or you can snail mail checks made out to "VDARE Foundation" and marked on the memo line (lower left corner) “Steve Sailer” to:

VDARE Foundation
P.O. Box 1195
Washington, CT 06793

Second: You can send me an email and I'll send you my P.O. Box address.

Third: You can use Amazon. Just click here.

Fourth: You can use Paypal, either by just using any credit card or if you have a specific Paypal account. Just click here.

Fill in your your Paypal ID on the right or click "Continue" on the center-left to fill in your credit card info. on the left (scroll down to bottom left-center to go on).

Thanks. I appreciate it, deeply.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 11, 2008

The Smart Car

The minuscule two-seater engineered by Mercedes-Benz, beloved by people who want to show the world that they are saving the world, is so tall and so heavily stuffed with safety and luxury equipment that it only gets 33 / 41 miles per gallon, not much better than cheaper cars that actually have backseats and trunk space, like the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris.

The Smart Car is kind of like what you'd expect if Hitler had won the war and then ordered the Panzer factories to switch to making golf carts.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The 2008 iSteve Panhandling drive!

I usually run two fund-raising drives per year, but this year I hadn't gotten around to it all summer -- too much blogging, I guess: this is the 659th post of 2008. And, there's been about 70,000 words between VDARE and American Conservative.

Then, my mechanic called to say, no, the problem causing my car to lurch alarmingly wasn't the solenoid like he thought it was yesterday, it was the entire transmission, and do I want the $1950 used transmission or the $2150 rebuilt transmission? (What should I get? It's a 1998 Accord with 104,000 miles and a lot of dents.)

So, it's time for the midyear 2008 panhandling drive.

I know the economy is lousy, but I really do appreciate anything you can spare.

I was trying to think of something I could promise in return for contributions, such as no more track & field analyses until the 2012 Olympics, but, nah, my plan is to keep on writing whatever I feel like. That's how I get motivated and avoid writer's block. Your generosity makes it possible for me to make a living writing whatever I think is right.

There are four ways to give me money. (All four appear to be working, for once.)

You can make tax deductible credit card contributions to me here (click on the first "Make a Donation" button you come to on the screen); or fax credit card details here (please put my name on the fax); or you can snail mail checks made out to "VDARE Foundation" and marked on the memo line (lower left corner) “Steve Sailer” to:

VDARE Foundation
P.O. Box 1195
Washington, CT 06793

Second: You can send me an email and I'll send you my P.O. Box address.

Third: You can use Amazon. Just click here.

Fourth: You can use Paypal, either by just using any credit card or if you have a specific Paypal account. Just click here.

Fill in your your Paypal ID on the right or click "Continue" on the center-left to fill in your credit card info. on the left (scroll down to bottom left-center to go on).

Thanks. I appreciate it, deeply.

September 10, 2008

Frontier Fecundity

Here's the opening of the Sarah Palin article I wrote last week for the upcoming issue of The American Conservative:

Why, in one uproarious week of American politicking that not even H.L. Mencken would have expected, has the once unknown Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, outraged roughly one-half of the country and overjoyed the other half?

What intrigues people about elections aren't the platform planks. Deep down, political contests are about picking symbolic champions. Just as Barack Obama, recently of the Illinois legislature, has arationally excited tens of millions by his emphasis on his bloodlines, by his implication that national racial reconciliation is "in my DNA," the overstuffed life story of the caribou huntress and mother of five (and soon to be grandmother at age 44) embodies the oldest boast Americans have made about their homeland: the fecundity of the frontier.

Compared to Obama's much-lauded but tedious life, cautiously plotted in countless Chicago backrooms, the Alaskan-sized lustiness of Gov. Palin's full-throttle biography comes as a delight. The way the only-in-Alaska factoids about her keep piling up, like in an Old West tall tale, always leaves me laughing.

Consider, for example, Palin's husband Todd. What kind of man could be married to a woman so hormonally exuberant, with her dual archetypes straight out of a Camille Paglia reverie: half Alaskan Amazon, half Venus of Willendorf? Exactly the kind of man you'd expect: he works as both a North Shore oilfield roughneck and a salmon fisherman. He's also won the state's snowmobile championship, the 2,000 mile Tesoro Iron Dog race, four times, but only finished fourth this year because he had to ride the last 400 miles with a broken arm after being thrown 70 feet. Did I mention he's part Eskimo?

I won't give away the rest of my article, but veteran readers can guess how this all ties together with many of my long-time obsessions such as Affordable Family Formation. I'm always accused of having weird obsessions, but they seem to eventually turn out to be everybody else's weird obsessions, too.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Should Obama demagogue the Fannie/Freddie bailouts?

With Obama falling behind McCain in betting on for the first time this year, David Kane suggests that Obama should break with elite consensus and denounce the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:

Most of the good and great think that this bailout is absolutely necessary. I don’t think it is and, moreover, the politics of the issue line up nicely for Obama. Imagine that he said something along these lines:

For too long President Bush and the Republicans in Congress, led by Senator McCain, have put the interests of the rich and powerful ahead of the interests of working Americans. For too long, Bush and McCain have sought to comfort the rich, have tried to help Wall Street instead of Main Street. Our current recession was caused by the failed economic policies of Bush and McCain.

Yet, this week, they have gone a bailout too far. They propose to spend hundreds of billions of dollars bailing out their rich friends on Wall Street and in China. They want you, working Americans, to back up the promises made by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But why should we? Why should regular Americans like you and me be on the hook for their failed policies? Why should our tax dollars go to Wall Street Banks and International Sovereign Wealth Funds? They invested stupidly. They should face the consequences of their mistakes.

When you make a mistake, does the federal government bail you out? No. Why should we bail them out? McCain and Bush want to send your money to China and to Wall Street.

A lot of recent Bush Administration actions are designed to kick the can down the road until January 20, 2009, when the troubles of the economy become somebody else's problems. For Obama, however, the sooner the economic collapse arrives, the more likely he will be elected in 2008 and re-elected during a recovering economy in 2012.

In thinking about the politics, one analogy might be to FDR. Roosevelt ran in 1932 on a platform of balancing the budget. During the four month long interregnum, he behaved irresponsibly, refusing Hoover's offers to work together on the economic crisis. This created a fear that he would be a bad president, leading to the bank-run crisis of the week leading up to his Inauguration on March 4, 1933, the lowest point of the Depression.

As he must have planned, however, FDR used the drama of the crisis he had created through his own inactivity to raise the tension to an unbearable point. So, when he finally stepped on stage on March 4th, and instantly deployed his rhetorical mastery, he appeared to be a savior. Fear switched to hope and loyalty instantly. (And the history books have all been written to blame the irrelevant Hoover, not the incoming FDR, for the bank runs of early March 1933.)

Of course, the Depression lingered under FDR for another seven or eight years, but the way he had framed it as proof of the failings of capitalism allowed him to pass a lot of liberal legislation, such as Social Security.

On the other hand, Obama's economic ideology is one that largely assumes that the main economic problem is not a lack of prosperity, but too much inequality. Obamanomics presumes the capitalist system will generate huge prosperity, at least at the high end, so that the rich can be milked for the benefit of the non-rich (defined as an income of no more than $250k per year, which is, not surprisingly, almost exactly the most money the Obamas ever earned in a year before they got rich in 2005). The higher taxes on the rich would go to cut taxes a little for the others, and, especially, go for salaries of social service workers, his core constituency.

Obama is, in large part, a believer in Chicagonomics -- not the U. of Chicago's house brand of economics, but the City of Chicago's brand as practiced under the Daley Dynasty. The Daleys aren't socialists. They are true believers in the capability of corporate capitalism to pile up huge amounts of money, a portion of which they can siphon off, through taxes and shadier means, to pay off their friends and supporters in road-building contracts and in salaries and grants to social service workers to oversee the dysfunctions of the vast underclass.

And it more or less works. Chicago isn't Detroit. The Daleys try not to kill the goose that lays their golden eggs, at least not too quickly. During periods of non-Daley rule since 1945, the parasites would freelance (e.g., each building inspector would have his hand out), driving businesses out of Chicago. But during periods of Daley hereditary monarchical rule, the Daleys would provide corporations with one-stop shopping for all their payoff needs, so businesses could plan their budgets accurately.

Of course, Chicagonomics works better for a single city with big advantages in an installed base of companies, magnificent buildings and lakefront, and crucial transport nodes than it does for a whole country.

Moreover, we are now realizing that some of this prosperity that Obama hoped to tap was a house of cards.

Personally, I think the way to win in 2008 would be to run against the Bush-McCain grand strategy of Invade the World, Invite the World, In Hock to the World. (By the way, how's that working out for you?) But that's too simplistic for the ever-so-sophisticated Obama.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

"Just How Stupid Are We?"

Senator Obama said:

“[Palin] was for [the Bridge to Nowhere] until everybody started raising a fuss about it and she started running for governor and then suddenly she was against it,” Mr. Obama said, speaking over an applauding crowd in Michigan. “I mean, you can’t just make stuff up. (Maybe, maybe not.] You can’t just recreate yourself [Yes, you can -- See Obama 2000 vs. Obama 2001]. You can’t just reinvent yourself [The gentleman doth protest too much]. The American people aren’t stupid. [Yes, we are.]

Speaking of how stupid we are, here's a summary of historian Rick Shenkman's book, Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 9, 2008

Dear Sen. Obama: Don't try to sound folksy

Obama's "lipstick on a pig" blunder is a reminder that he needs to hire a jokewriter so he can poke some much-needed fun at himself. Over the last dozen days, the whole race has wandered off into old-fashioned American comedy (what could Frank Capra have done with a Sarah Palin character?), leaving the new-fangled Obama rattled.

Jeez, when somebody makes a joke about the the stupid job you had when you were in your 20s, you make a joke back. You don't get all hurt, peeved, and self-righteous like Obama did about Palin's little "community organizer" witticism. Maybe his "lipstick" line wasn't aimed at Palin, but he ought to have expected that everybody would take it that way by now.

Obama's Achilles heel has always been that his gimlet-eyed appraisal of human beings doesn't extend to himself -- he can't keep from feeling sorry for himself. It seems like a hundred years ago that I called Obama "a close student of other people’s weaknesses, a literary artist of considerable power in plumbing his deep reservoirs of self-pity and resentment, an unfunny Evelyn Waugh..." (Waugh could never stop feeling sorry for himself that he was born into a merely affluent, respectable family rather than a rich, aristocratic one. Obama's sad "story of race and inheritance" is more complicated, but still rather similar.)

That's why Dreams from My Father reads like the Brideshead Revisited of law school application essays.

The GOP brain trust (if such an oxymoronic body exists) will sooner or later figure that out and try to spend the rest of the campaign poking and prodding Obama's delicate self-image to see what happens.

In one of his half-brilliant, half-wrongheaded insights, Spengler suggests:

"Combine a child's response to serial abandonment with the perspective of an outsider, and Obama became an alien species against which American politics had no natural defenses. He is a Third World anthropologist profiling Americans, in but not of the American system."

Sometimes, Obama reminds me of the persona Christian Lander invented for the narrator of Stuff White People Like: the mild-mannered but cold-blooded interloping observer/exploiter of upper-middle class Americans' self-delusions and status anxieties. (Perhaps Lander had Obama in mind?) Those traits can take you a long way, but Obama may have to show a little more to go all the way.

Detailed account of the Georgian-Russian war

A military-oriented blog has a highly detailed account of the recent unpleasantness in the Caucasus. I can't judge the accuracy or bias (the author reads Russian, so presumably a lot of accounts by combatants have made their way onto the Russian-language Internet -- no word about how much he got from Georgians).

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Obama as community organizer v. Romney as LDS missionary

Richard Cohen in the Washington Post waxes on about Barack Obama being a community organizer;

In the biographies of both presidential candidates are episodes of pure wonderment. No man can read about McCain's time as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam and not wonder, "Could I do that?" For most of us, the answer -- the truthful answer -- is no.

For Obama, that episode has nothing to do with physical courage but much to do with moral commitment. At age 22 -- a graduate of Columbia University and already making good money as a financial researcher, he walked away to work with the unemployed and alienated in Chicago. Obama, who later went to Harvard Law School, knew precisely what a valuable commodity he was and how much money he could have made. He turned away from all that -- or, at least, postponed it, and not because community organizing was the route to political success. (Just name one.) Once again, ask yourself if you would have done it.

Oh, boy... First, Obama wasn't "already making good money as a financial researcher." His one private sector job was as a copy editor for a newletter sweat shop notorious for paying low salaries. (He also worked for a Ralph Nader project to get Harlemites to recycle - very SWPL) And his community organizer pay ($35k after 3 years) wasn't all that bad by the standards of Chicago yuppies in the 1980s. (I was there, I know.)

Obama's less than spectacular entrance to the New York job market is linked to his less than spectacular grades at Columbia. For a future politician, he didn't seem to make much of an impression on people at Columbia -- few can remember him. This, I would speculate, was linked to what seems like a long-lasting depressive episode he underwent during his NYC years (1981-1985), which was perhaps linked to the death of his father in 1982. That's a lot of links, but it fits together with the sour tone of the New York section of Dreams From My Father. (This also may have been the period (or, it could have been later in Chicago) when he broke up with a white girl with whom he was on the path to marry because, in effect, she wasn't black. That couldn't have improved his mood much, either.) This rather monastic, asocial period wasn't unproductive for Obama -- he lost weight, stopped drinking, jogged a lot, read Nietzsche, and generally reinvented himself from the mostly cheerful, lightweight kid he had been to the ambitious, cautious, ascetic, hardworking, skillfully manipulative person he is now.

And, contra Cohen, being a black activist, like Obama was, is a very good entryway to being a black politician, which soon became Obama's ambition -- to be mayor of Chicago. People like Richard Cohen don't think about it much because black politicians who start out as black activists typically hit a glass ceiling at the level of Member of the House or mayor of a decaying city -- they can win in districts gerrymandered to produce black legislators or in heavily black cities, but not at the statewide level. Of course, even Cohen should remember one black activist who made it big in D.C. politics: Marion Barry.

For example, Obama lost in the 2000 Democratic House primary to the incumbent Representative, Bobby Rush, who had been a Black Panther. On the Black Enough scale, Black Panther beat Black Activist in the eyes of black voters. In the eyes of white voters, however, the kind of black politicians created by the Voting Rights Acts' gerrymandering to forge majority minority districts are unappealing race men.

So, Obama, realizing he would never be black enough to reach the glass ceiling open to conventional black politicians, then did an about-face in 2001 and re-gerrymandered his state senate district to include a large fraction of white Lakefront Liberals on the North Side. He reconfigured his political ambitions and style to be the black candidate who was White Enough to win the glittering prizes.

Barack Obama's three years as a community organizer are comparable in some ways to Mitt Romney's 2.5 years as an LDS missionary.

KUTV in Salt Lake City reported in 2007:

But [Mitt Romney] credits his path in life, in part, to changes he saw in the nation while he was away on his mission in France -- at the height of unrest throughout the world.

As written in the International Herald Tribune on Wednesday, Romney was called to serve an LDS mission in France between June 1966 and December 1968 -- a time when the United States saw turbulence over the Vietnam War.

While overseas, Romney was not privy to the happenings at home because missionaries are discouraged from reading newspapers, watching television or making telephone calls. According to the article, Romney staunchly defended the Vietnam War while trying to spread the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints -- partly because of his conservative nature and partly because of his patriotic conviction to stand behind the actions of his homeland.

Romney and his companions spent 12 hours a day knocking on doors throughout France, which often led them to defend the Vietnam War. At the time his father, Michigan governor George Romney, was running for the Republican presidential nomination as an anti-war candidate -- a detail unknown to Mitt.

Romney eventually rose to a position of power during the France mission, leading him to oversee a group of 175 people. Peers recall that he constantly vented new ideas to efficiently tune their mission work -- some worked, most didn't.

Romney's personal sacrifices of comfort sound larger than Obama's (no media!), while their performance was similar (strong in a relative sense -- they both climbed the hierarchy -- but weak in an absolute sense -- they didn't accomplish much).

The main difference, of course, is that Obama has constantly milked his community organizing days for electoral advantage while Romney didn't get much of anything from his mission outside of from Mormons. If the general public was aware of it, it probably hurt him. Compared to where John McCain spent 1966-1968, Romney's monastic existence doesn't cut much ice. But even if McCain had just been in the Navy rather than a POW, or even if Romney was just running against Giuliani and Huckabee, this part of Romney's biography wouldn't have done him any good with the voters. They would ask, reasonably enough: "What's in it for us as Americans? You were off promoting your own group -- why should we care?"

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The politics of personal destruction

Personally, I'm all for them, at least when it comes to anybody who wants to be our President or Vice President.

Obama has been all high-minded about the evils of negative campaigning for the last 18 months (out of the purity of the Chicago politician's heart, no doubt, rather than out of any instinct for self-preservation). But as soon as the GOP finally comes up with somebody with comparable charisma, Democrats went into a feeding frenzy of scandal-mongering.

As well they should. A vice president could become president.

Of course, the president is president, so one might think that presidential candidates would be exposed to similar scrutiny, but it doesn't seem to work that way.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 8, 2008

"As Barriers Disappear, Some Gender Gaps Widen"

In the New York Times, John Tierney reports:

When men and women take personality tests, some of the old Mars-Venus stereotypes keep reappearing. On average, women are more cooperative, nurturing, cautious and emotionally responsive. Men tend to be more competitive, assertive, reckless and emotionally flat. Clear differences appear in early childhood and never disappear.

What’s not clear is the origin of these differences. Evolutionary psychologists contend that these are innate traits inherited from ancient hunters and gatherers. Another school of psychologists asserts that both sexes’ personalities have been shaped by traditional social roles, and that personality differences will shrink as women spend less time nurturing children and more time in jobs outside the home.

To test these hypotheses, a series of research teams have repeatedly analyzed personality tests taken by men and women in more than 60 countries around the world. For evolutionary psychologists, the bad news is that the size of the gender gap in personality varies among cultures. For social-role psychologists, the bad news is that the variation is going in the wrong direction. It looks as if personality differences between men and women are smaller in traditional cultures like India’s or Zimbabwe’s than in the Netherlands or the United States. A husband and a stay-at-home wife in a patriarchal Botswanan clan seem to be more alike than a working couple in Denmark or France. The more Venus and Mars have equal rights and similar jobs, the more their personalities seem to diverge.

These findings are so counterintuitive that some researchers have argued they must be because of cross-cultural problems with the personality tests. But after crunching new data from 40,000 men and women on six continents, David P. Schmitt and his colleagues conclude that the trends are real. Dr. Schmitt, a psychologist at Bradley University in Illinois and the director of the International Sexuality Description Project, suggests that as wealthy modern societies level external barriers between women and men, some ancient internal differences are being revived.

The biggest changes recorded by the researchers involve the personalities of men, not women. Men in traditional agricultural societies and poorer countries seem more cautious and anxious, less assertive and less competitive than men in the most progressive and rich countries of Europe and North America.

To explain these differences, Dr. Schmitt and his collaborators from Austria and Estonia point to the hardships of life in poorer countries. They note that in some other species, environmental stress tends to disproportionately affect the larger sex and mute costly secondary sexual characteristics (like male birds’ displays of plumage). And, they say, there are examples of stress muting biological sex differences in humans. For instance, the average disparity in height between men and women isn’t as pronounced in poor countries as it is in rich countries, because boys’ growth is disproportionately stunted by stresses like malnutrition and disease.

For my upcoming review of the remake of "The Women" with Meg Ryan, Annette Bening and the traditional all-female cast, I rented the 1939 George Cukor-directed original (based on the play by Clare Booth Luce), which is so good that my wife watched it three times over the weekend. It's the story of Park Avenue society ladies who can afford to indulge in every rococo frill of femininity. When all the ladies who lunch end up at a dude ranch in Reno for six weeks so they can qualify as Nevada residents and get quick divorces, their cook is a tough old cowgirl (played by Marjorie Main, who went on to star in the lucrative "Ma and Pa Kettle" comedies about a clan of hicks) who thinks the ultrafeminine New York women are silly and spoiled.

Ma and Pa Kettle both got a heap of farm chores to do, and don't have time, energy, or money to waste on, say, tiny purse dogs or playing Grand Theft Auto, so they might be more similar in important ways than a wealthy couple.

“In some ways modern progressive cultures are returning us psychologically to our hunter-gatherer roots,” he argues. “That means high sociopolitical gender equality over all, but with men and women expressing predisposed interests in different domains. Removing the stresses of traditional agricultural societies could allow men’s, and to a lesser extent women’s, more ‘natural’ personality traits to emerge.”

I'm not a big fan of self-reported cross-cultural personality tests because you're always seeing oddities, such as Danes and Swedes showing up at opposite ends on some personality trait. What Freud called the narcissism of small differences can have a big impact on these tests, where people compare themselves to other people they know, not to people around the world. Moreover, the problems of translating text about emotions can throw monkey wrenches into the results.

Fortunately, there is some objective data on ... track and field! (And you were looking forward to a 3 year and 11 month respite until the next Olympics.)

But he notes that there’s already an intriguing trend reported for one trait — competitiveness — based on direct measures of male and female runners.

Competitive running makes a good case study because, to mix athletic metaphors, it has offered a level playing field to women the past two decades in the United States. Similar numbers of males and females run on high school and college teams and in road races. Female runners have been competing for equal shares of prize money and receiving nearly 50 percent more scholarship aid from Division I colleges than their male counterparts, according to the N.C.A.A.

But these social changes have not shrunk a gender gap among runners analyzed by Robert Deaner, a psychologist at Colgate University, who classifies runners as relatively fast if they keep close to the pace of the world’s best runners of their own sex. When Dr. Deaner looks at, say, the top 40 finishers of each sex in a race, he typically finds two to four times as many relatively fast male runners as relatively fast female runners.

This large gender gap has persisted for two decades in all kinds of races — high school and college meets, elite and nonelite road races — and it jibes with other studies reporting that male runners train harder and are more motivated by competition, Dr. Deaner says. This enduring “sex difference in competitiveness,” he concludes, “must be considered a genuine failure for the sociocultural conditions hypothesis” that the personality gap will shrink as new roles open for women.

In other words, while there are quite a few women who like to compete and win, there aren't as many women as men who will repeatedly compete, lose, and compete some more. Women who are good but not great athletes tend to go do something else, while more men will continue to bang their heads against the wall out of an urge to compete.

(This gender gap is actually even bigger than the track results show because American male distance runners can't really compete with Kenyan men on the world class level, but there are fewer Kenyan women running, so American women would have more of a chance than American men at the 800m to 10000m distances.)

Clare Booth Luce said it well (hat tip to Christina Hoff Sommers):

"It is time to leave the question of the role of women in society up to Mother Nature--a difficult lady to fool. You have only to give women the same opportunities as men, and you will soon find out what is or is not in their nature. What is in women's nature to do they will do, and you won't be able to stop them. But you will also find, and so will they, that what is not in their nature, even if they are given every opportunity, they will not do, and you won't be able to make them do it."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Obama's community organizing

From my Sunday night VDARE column:

At the Republican convention, VP nominee Sarah Palin famously observed:

"I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities."

This wisecrack evidently got under the skin of Senator Barack Obama. In Obama Suddenly Riled, [San Francisco Chronicle, September 4, 2008] Carolyn Lochhead reported:

"Sen. Barack Obama ditched his normal languid cool today, punching back at Gov. Sarah Palin as he spoke with reporters in York, Pa, hotly defending his work as a community organizer… Obama's hackles were clearly raised by Palin's dismissal of his community organizing …"

The Obama message team then told us over and over about the unemployed steelworkers Obama had moved to Chicago to help.

Palin's crack was funny. But it shows that, as I predicted in February, GOP nominee John McCain is choosing to fight the election with one hand tied behind his back. Even his VP candidate isn't allowed to ask why Obama wanted to be a "community organizer". Which "community" did this post-racial transcender of ethnic divisions want to organize?

Like most questions about Obama's life, the answers about his community organizing revolve around a single word: race.

As Obama wrote in his 1995 autobiography Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance:

"In 1983, I decided to become a community organizer. … That’s what I’ll do, I’ll organize black folks."

The Obama campaign's recurrent “steelworker” shtick is supposed to make you think Obama moved to Chicago to help guys named Kowalski. But the last thing Obama wanted to do in 1985 was help anybody with a Central European name.

Chicago in 1985 was site of the abrasive "Council Wars" between the leader of the white majority among Chicago's aldermen, the Croatian-American Fast Eddie Vrdolyak, and Obama's idol, the black mayor Harold Washington. This was the most blatant white vs. black conflict in the country at the time—which helped make Chicago attractive to the young mixed-race man from ethnically laid-back Hawaii. Obama had long been looking for a more racially hostile environment where he could finally prove he was “black enough”.

Ultimately, he didn't help any steelworkers, black or white. The Southtown Star reported on August 24:

"And none of the laid-off steelworkers Obama talks about in stump speeches, the people he was brought to Chicago to help, could be found for this article, despite repeated requests to the campaign."

So what is an Obama-style "community organizer?"

You're not some local Scoutmaster or the lady who organizes the annual block party or some other local citizen.

It means a radical racial activist who, in Tom Wolfe's immortal phrase, "mau-maus the flak catchers"—intimidates bureaucrats into giving your ethnicity a bigger slice of the pie. It means, more than anything else, that you organize political protests for more handouts from the taxpayers (even though dependence upon those handouts is one reason the community is so disorganized.)

It's kind of like being the neighborhood fence who encourages the local heroin addicts to steal hubcaps so they can shoot more smack.

The famous black University of Chicago sociologist William Julius Wilson published a book on four South Side of Chicago districts, There Goes the Neighborhood, which I reviewed here in February. A key finding of his study: poor, disorganized neighborhoods had no shortage of Obama-like paid organizers. For example, in the Little Village neighborhood, which is mostly Mexican illegal immigrants:

“There was a vast array of paid service providers in the neighborhood. … There was a school for at-risk youth, and clubs … for youth not particularly at risk.”

Wilson goes on to list some of the other taxpayer-supported programs: programs for pregnant women, for parents, for AIDS patients, for people who don’t yet have AIDS, for sick people, for the mentally ill, for gang-prevention, for seniors, for high school graduates, for high school dropouts, and for people who never went to high school and want to learn English so they can vote.

In contrast, Wilson found, Chicago neighborhoods that don't need all this taxpayer and foundation-funded help because they self-organize—with picnics, parades, church festivals, and rapid graffiti clean-up—largely do so in order to keep property values up…and outsiders of other races out. ...

Embarrassing fact: Obama didn't actually live in any of the communities he putatively organized. Instead, he has spent 23 years living in the sliver of the South Side that's so well organized by a rich institution that it has its own private police force. Obama has lived in Hyde Park and South Kenwood, within the privileged residential bubble between 39th St. and 64th St. that is patrolled by the large, well-funded and hard-nosed University of Chicago Police Dept.

A friend wrote:

"You are missing an angle. Obama lives in South Kenwood. That is policed by the University of Chicago police. There is a fierce and drastic difference between neighborhoods within and outside the University of Chicago Police boundary. When I was a student there, it was apparent … they were only dimly aware of things like Miranda or the presumption of innocence (for anyone, that is, other than students, faculty, black women, and black men dressed like Barack Obama—geez, I wonder who that leaves?). The University of Chicago wouldn't last a semester without them."

Ironically, Obama was a civil rights lawyer and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School…

Read the rest here.

By the way, James Taranto published a similarly-themed piece in the Wall Street Journal today.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Was Rev. Wright mentioned during Republican convention?

Question: How many speakers at the Republican convention last week mentioned Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.?

I did text searches on the speeches by McCain, Palin, Giuliani, Lieberman, Romney, and Steele (the main black speaker) and didn't find any mentions of "Wright," "pastor," "minister," "church," or "Trinity."

As a commenter suggested, you might think that keynote speaker Rudy Giuliani could have had some fun with Wright's comment, as reported by Newsday last March:

From the Wright-written eulogy for scholar Asa Hilliard in the Dec. 2007 edition of the Trumpet magazine [published by Wright's daughter]: "(Jesus') enemies had their opinion about Him... The Italians for the most part looked down their garlic noses at the Galileans."

After calling Jesus's crucifixion "a public lynching Italian style" executed in "Apartheid Rome," he goes on to claim that white supremacists run the U.S. government:

"The government runs everything from the White House to the schoolhouse, from the Capitol to the Klan, white supremacy is clearly in charge ..."

Senator Obama gave $53,000 to Rev. Wright's church in 2005-2007.

But, no, all is forgiven and forgotten, apparently ...

The only mention in the press of this curious absence of Rev. Wright's name from the GOP convention I could find was a Madison, WI religion columnist who noted:

"I was fascinated during the Republican convention this past week that for all the attacks on Obama, the furor from last spring over Jeremiah Wright seemed to have been taken off the table. I imagine that was done in part because of the racial subtext of that furor ..."

And exactly how much credit are the Republicans getting for their forebearance in not going after the juiciest target? Zero. They are being denounced for making a joke about community organizers!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Inequality of Spending

The news that the government has officially taken over mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reminds me of a popular argument in recent years among libertarian pundits and economists, to the effect that:

"Well, sure, inequality in income and, especially, in wealth is increasing ... But, that's okay because inequality in spending isn't up as much. Have you seen the rims these bozos are buying these days?"

Okay, but how exactly was increased spending on flat-lining earning power ever supposed to be sustainable?

This was all just a new wrinkle on the now-discredited wage inflation policies seen in countries like Argentina, Italy, and Britain in the 1960s and 1970s. Back then, the workers would complain to the government that their wages were too low, so the government would order the employers to pay them more. The employers would then complain to the government that they couldn't pay their loan obligations, so the government would print up more money. The resulting inflation would make financial and business planning harder, discouraging saving and long-term investments, so the economy would stagnate.

One lesson the elites took away from this sorry episode was that rising wages were A Bad Thing. Thus, today you constantly read newspaper articles that simply assume that illegal immigration keeping wages down is A Good Thing.

Yet, the fundamental problem remained. So, over the last two decades, a new, unspoken solution policy evolved:

1. Keep wages down.

But if labor can't afford to buy more stuff, they'll complain, and capital will suffer as well because they can't sell their goods to labor. So, the second part of the strategy was:

2. Keep spending up.

How can you do this? Easy -- get lots of people to borrow more! Cut out the middleman (the employer). Instead of leaning on the employers to pay higher wages, the government has been leaning on lenders to lend more money to homebuyers and homeowners. And, this is politically easy to achieve, because while employers begrudge paying wages, lenders like to lend. It's what they do! It's easy and fun to create money through fractional reserve banking by just assuming that you are more likely to get paid back than you actually are.

Of course, eventually this house of cards had to come down, but the taxpayers and savers will be there to bail the lenders, borrowers, and spenders out.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer