June 11, 2009

Logic and Luck

The root of Obama's Sotomayor Problem is this: Having decided for political reasons that he wanted a female Hispanic who was liberal on affirmative action and not too old and had plausible credentials, Obama then ran into a reality that is unpleasant but was logically inevitable: There just aren't that many Wise Latinas (whether self-proclaimed or not) out there. After all, if there were, then they wouldn't need affirmative action to avoid the "cultural biases" that cause disparate impact, now would they? If there were lots and lots of very smart Latinas, then they wouldn't be an aggrieved interest group demanding that the Supreme Court continue to protect their special legal privileges.

So, that left Obama with exactly one name: Sonia Sotomayor, Esq.

But, it turns out, she doesn't have the kind of oily personality that allowed Obama to slip-slide through a 20 month Presidential campaign with only a few brief snags during the Rev. Wright contretemps. Nor, does being a Puerto Rican give her the kind of anti-skepticism race card Kryptonite that Obama's claim to being an African American gave him. Finally, in the worst bit of bad luck, she had gotten the Ricci case, which puts the issue of affirmative action on the kind of personality basis that average Americans can understand.

Of course, I presume, she'll wind up on the Supreme Court anyway, but it has been a bit of an eye-opener for the naive.

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

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think this is the third coming of Harriet Miers. No. 2 was Sarah Palin.

James Kabala said...

I don't know if the Sotomayor = Miers idea (which Steve did not invent) makes much sense. Sotomayor is clearly qualified on paper; in fact her on-paper qualifications are (as has been said before) pretty similar to those of Samuel Alito. Whether she is really intelligent (let alone "wise") is a separate and (barring release of her test scores) more subjective question, but Miers was not qualified even on paper.

Any thoughts on Sotomayor's dissent in Pappas v. Giuliani, in which she wrote in dissent that a (white) NYPD clerical employee could not be fired for expressing racist views?

ed said...

Why would you need her test scores? She certainly has a paper trail of opinions, isn't that more relevant?

Comparing her to Miers is insulting. She wouldn't be my choice, but she's "qualified" on paper.

Half Sigma said...

Obama was only going to nominate liberal justices.

If he chooses to nominate someone who's not quite as smart as the conservative Justices, then so much the better for conservatives.

But it should be pointed out that the smartest Hispanic appellate judge in the United States is smart enough. You don't graduate summa cum laude from Princeton by being a dummy.

Furthermore, she's replacing Souter, who was a legal mediocrity. He did nothing notable at Harvard such as serve on Law Review. He contributed nothing to legal scholarship before his nomination, which is why Bush picked him.

Anonymous said...

Half Sigma said:
"You don't graduate summa cum laude from Princeton by being a dummy."

True, but if you're a real hard worker (who can also intimidate your university by suing them) majoring in what is effectively "ethnic studies," you don't have to be a genius either.

Steven J. Gould back from the grave said...

Steve, I don't understand how this fits with your racial theories. Sotomayor and many other Hispanics look Caucasian or near Caucasian. Shouldn't there be many smart ones, according to your perspective on human biodiversity?

ben tillman said...

Why would you need her test scores? She certainly has a paper trail of opinions, isn't that more relevant?

Her clerks may have written them.

Mr. Anon said...

"Of course, I presume, she'll wind up on the Supreme Court anyway, but it has been a bit of an eye-opener for the naive."

Steve, and just about anyone who has read his blog or has even heard of him, are not naive. Neither are the politically astute on the other side of the ideological spectrum. Most voters don't care about judicial policy, don't know who is on the bench, aren't aware of recent supreme court decisions like Kelo, and do not vote strategically.

Candidates (and by extension, judges) are mostly picked by people who don't pay attention to politics until inside of a month before the election. That is one of the reasons why we have been, are, and will continue to be, screwed.

Roger Chaillet said...

"Sotomyaor is clearly qualified on paper."

That's about as far as it goes.

One of my family members attended a state university for undergraduate work in engineering, and a prestigious private university for graduate work in engineering. He was a teaching assistant while in grad school. He said that the private university would not flunk out bad students that he hat tutored (no mention of race) because 1. Their SATs confirmed they were smart, and 2. The private university did not want to lose the thousands of dollars in tuition each time a student quit or got canned.

And this is only part of the reason why a moron like Sotomayor could not flunk out of Princeton.

It would look bad. And might even be prima facie evidence to the Department of Education that "discrimination" was involved.

No one wants to admit that frauds and parasites like Sotomayor are really frauds and parasites. So, Sotomayor, Michelle O., et al, benefit from social promotions the whole time they are in "prestigious" institutions like Princeton.

That's why Sotomayor was told to read "The Troll Under the Bridge" and that's why Michelle O's senior thesis does not appear to have one complete, coherent, grammatically correct sentence in it.

Because they really are morons, though no one - outside of the likes of Steve Sailer and Pat Buchanan - has the guts to admit it.

wake up said...

ever since the opening on scotus became known obama has been explicit that the key criteria for his nominee would be a racial victimology worldview...... he was explicit in his desire..

all discussion of iq or genuinely qualified lawyerly credentials is irrelevant...... it's not necessary to nominate a lawyer to scotus...... a president can nominate a dog catcher to scotus .......and it's not required that the nominee be high iq...

in the next eight years watch obama replace all the white post-modern liberals on scotus with minorities who are openly anti-white leftists.....this is the instiutionalization and final legitimization of an openly anti-white legal framework for the society .......with no expiration date in thirty years as imagined and voiced by the moron sandra day o'connor when scotus signed off on the michigan college quota case......

Simon said...

"Steve, I don't understand how this fits with your racial theories. Sotomayor and many other Hispanics look Caucasian or near Caucasian. Shouldn't there be many smart ones, according to your perspective on human biodiversity?"

'Looking white' doesn't make you smart. And Caucasians as a whole have a median IQ close to the global median, ca 90.

*European* median IQ outside the Balkans though is 10 points higher, ca 100.

You can check estimated median Latin American IQs by googling 'IQ and the Wealth of Nations' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_IQ - mostly in the high 80s, with Uruguay & Argentina at 96 being basically European. Colombia 89, Brazil 87, Mexico 87, Cuba 85 (rather low), and Puerto Rico 84.

dorkus malorkus said...

"it has been a bit of an eye-opener for the naive"

Just saw a rerun of 30 Rock tonight, the main character's(Tina Fey)boyfriend says, "I took the firefighter's exam and failed it. I think it's biased against the Irish."

The writers probably don't even realize they are satirizing the whole notion of culturally biased testing. Proper reasoning is not human beings strong suit, even high SAT, Ivy League grads. And the rest of the population's naivete is inviolable except when their direct personal interests are threatened.

Anonymous said...

There just aren't that many Wise Latinas.

Surely all Latinas are wise?

Anonymous said...

If there were lots and lots of very smart Latinas, then they wouldn't be an aggrieved interest group demanding that the Supreme Court continue to protect their special legal privileges.
With all due respect, that is complete BS. Aggrieved interest groups demanding special privileges is a fully entrenched industry. Having lots and lots of smart members of that interest group around would only make matters worse. We can only thank the stars that Obama chose a dim bulb for this SC opening.

James Kabala said...

When I said she was qualified on paper, I was referring to her years on the Appeals Court (as opposed to Harriet Miers who had only a few years as Bush's personal lawyer to recommend her). I have no idea what Miers's grades or test scores were; they might have been good for all I know.

I am not an apologist for Sotomayor and would probably not vote for her if I were a Senator, but these hyperbolic arguments against her make the opposition look foolish. We've moved from "summa cum laude doesn't prove she's smart" (which I agree is true; sometimes people manage to glide through on hard work and the good luck/sly planning to take easy courses) to "she was a moron who probably really deserved to flunk" (for which there is no evidence whatsoever; do you think all Hispanics graduate summa cum laude?).

From what I've seen of Michelle Obama's thesis (I admit I had neither the time nor the inclination to read the whole thing), there were two major grammatical problems with it: she had the strange idea that "thank you" should be hyphenated (a small point, but she did it over and over again), and like many students, white and black, she seemed very confused about when to use a comma vs. when to use a semicolon. The idea that it was incoherent is simply false. Whether the content was worthwhile is a different matter, of course.

Here is a typical sentence: "Thus, Carmichael and Hamilton define separationism as a necessary stage for the development of the Black community before this group integrates into the 'open society.'" Dubious politics (yes, Carmichael is just who you think it is), perfectly coherent expression.

Anonymous said...

"in the next eight years watch obama replace all the white post-modern liberals on scotus with minorities who are openly anti-white leftists.."

Not necessarily a bad outocme. After all, he's going to nominate liberal judges regardless. Better minorities than white sellouts.

Anonymous said...

"No one wants to admit that frauds and parasites like Sotomayor are really frauds and parasites. So, Sotomayor, Michelle O., et al, benefit from social promotions the whole time they are in "prestigious" institutions like Princeton."

Look, I dislike Sotomayor's views and the motivations for nominating her as much as anyone. Don't compare her to Michelle Obama, though. She doesn't hate "White America" to nearly the extent Mme Obama does. She is definitely more intelligent than Obama's wife. She's probably more intelligent than Obama himself.

No, she's not a genius, nor was she the best legal mind available, as liberal news outlets would have us believe. But she's not a "dunce" or a "moron" either. Affirmative action or not, the smartest Latina is still the smartest Latina. And there's no reason to believe that the smartest Latina cannot be fairly intelligent.

Besides, if somehow Sotomayor fails the confirmation, the alternatives will be far worse.

Stephen J. Gould back from the grave said...

"'Looking white' doesn't make you smart. And Caucasians as a whole have a median IQ close to the global median, ca 90.

*European* median IQ outside the Balkans though is 10 points higher, ca 100."

According to how I read Steve's racial theory, if you have any relatively large group of white people (such as light-skinned Hispanics), you can expect that a decent percentage of them will be "smart" or be able to engage in cognitively demanding tasks like jurisprudence. Genes are really what matter. Culture and social structure have little influence on social mobility.

It should also be noted light skinned Hispanics tend to have European, non-Balkan ancestry, e.g. from Iberia, Italy, Germany, etc.

Stephen J. Gould back from the grave said...

"'Looking white' doesn't make you smart. And Caucasians as a whole have a median IQ close to the global median, ca 90.

*European* median IQ outside the Balkans though is 10 points higher, ca 100."

These facts you point out seems to go against the "race realist" position. If I'm not mistaken, the very white Serbians have an average IQ of 89, which is very similar to the IQ which African Americans now have. There are indeed large gaps in IQ within "partially inbred extended families."

Anonymous said...

You don't graduate summa cum laude from Princeton by being a dummy.

More precisely, you don't *usually* graduate summa from Princeton by being a dummy.

But if you take classes where getting an A+ means reciting leftist agitprop rather than solving differential equations, it's not that hard.

Sotomayor is a moron. Her videos, writings, and tests all point in one direction.

James Kabala said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Stephen J. Gould back from the grave said:
"These facts you point out seems to go against the "race realist" position. If I'm not mistaken, the very white Serbians have an average IQ of 89, which is very similar to the IQ which African Americans now have. There are indeed large gaps in IQ within "partially inbred extended families.""

Just like the original Gould, you're constructing a straw man. All that 'race realists' believe is that different biogeographical ancestral gene pools have somewhat differing frequencies of genes that influence traits like g or time preference. It really isn't about external appearance. It's about what selective pressures their ancestors faced re these traits and the fact that these traits are, to some degree, heritable so natural selection can act on them. There's no reason to believe that two similar looking European populations couldn't develop different average genetically influenced behavioral characteristics due to natural selection over the course of time and not diverge in appearance if appearance is not being selected for.

For instance, if the advent of large, well organized civilizations created conditions where jobs in which success has a high g-elasticity (e.g., managerial, technical, financial, mercantile) had high pay-offs in resources and allowed successful practitioners (through higher reproduction rates and/or lower death rates) to leave a higher than average number of offspring (greater fitness), one would expect genes leading to higher g to become more common in the breeding population. (This is the basis of Cochran and Harpending's theory on how the elevated average level of g arose among the Ashkenazim and there's no reason it couldn't have occurred to some extent in other populations.) Also, if some cultural conditions like greater state stability meant that property was less likely to be stolen or confiscated, there would be potentially greater rewards to having a lower time preference and thereby being more predisposed to saving and lending for interest. Genes influencing this trait could also become more common in a population in a matter similar to theat proposed by Cochran and Harpending for intelligence (e.g., see Gregory Clarke's work).

Now, perhaps the conditions that prevailed in Medieval and Early Modern Britain and Western and Central Europe were somewhat different than in the Balkans re the relative rewards of having high g or low time preference. Over centuries and millennia, don't you think this could lead to real differences between populations in these traits?

FeministX said...

I'm not sure how things were decades ago, but today a person that gets into Princeton and Yale law based on AA is still smart enough to go to a lower Ivy or a lower T14 school. An AA Yale admit might be equal to merit based Columbia- good enough for the Supreme Court. This is no Miers here. It's unfortunate for people like Sotomayor who probably really could have become qualified for the Supreme Court based on hard work and merit and perhaps some general sympathy for the difficult circumstances of their upbringing (poverty is hard on anyone). People like Buchanan can always claim that people like Michelle Obama and Sotomayor don't deserve their place in society when realistically they could have achieved about as much even if they had slightly worse educational credentials.

ben tillman said...

Steve, I don't understand how this fits with your racial theories. Sotomayor and many other Hispanics look Caucasian or near Caucasian.

Those are some thick beer goggles you're wearing....

James Kabala said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ben tillman said...

From what I've seen of Michelle Obama's thesis (I admit I had neither the time nor the inclination to read the whole thing), there were two major grammatical problems with it: she had the strange idea that "thank you" should be hyphenated (a small point, but she did it over and over again)....

It should be hyphenated, when it's a noun.

ben tillman said...

Affirmative action or not, the smartest Latina is still the smartest Latina. And there's no reason to believe that the smartest Latina cannot be fairly intelligent.

But there's no reason to believe she's the "smartest Latina." In fact, I know a grand total of one "Latina" from Puerto Rico, and that one "Latina" (who is a med student at Baylor) belies your claim. Even if you're limiting your claim to "Latina" judges or lawyers, how can you conclude she's the smartest?

ben tillman said...

I'm not sure how things were decades ago, but today a person that gets into Princeton and Yale law based on AA is still smart enough to go to a lower Ivy or a lower T14 school. An AA Yale admit might be equal to merit based Columbia- good enough for the Supreme Court.

Lunacy. An "AA Yale admit" (law school) has academic qualifications that would put him in the middle of the pack at Baylor or Texas Tech. And you're seriously underestimating Columbia.

Udolpho.com said...

Good grief. This woman claims her test scores aren't that hot because the tests were culturally biased. Go ahead and carry water for her, but it's clear she's a mediocrity on par with Ginsburg or O'Connor. (Cue effusive replies which mark O'Connor out as a genius of the court.)

James Kabala said...

"Thank-you" wasn't always used as a noun. It was very odd and was much commented on here at the time.

Who is carrying water for anyone? All I'm saying is that there's a pretty big gap between "genius" and "moron," most people fall in that gap, and even affirmative action is unlikely to lift someone all the way to an A who really deserves an F (unless, as I said, one thinks all minority students receive summa cum laude, which is clearly false. Indeed, don't we often show the folly of affirmative action by noting how AA admits often have inferior grades? Those aren't all science or math majors.)

If we actually knew what the test scores were, things would be a lot easier. Were they something like 1250, or were they more like 1050? If they were in the 800s or lower (unlikely, but I will apologize if they are), then words like "moron" can start being thrown around.

Quite likely she is rather mediocre, as many Supreme Court justices of both sexes have been in the past (although yes, O'Connor did graduate third in her class at Stanford Law. Does that prove she's actually smart? Who knows? She was a bad justice, and that's what really matters.)

Good to see Udolpho is still around, though.

headache said...

You're touching on an interesting phenomenon of the Marxist push for forced equality: It generates mediocrity which then leads to the self-destruction of those institutions which were occupied by same Marxists. Good examples: Fall of the Soviet block, Zimbabwe, increasingly South Africa and AA US. This is even happening in the socialist party in Germany which is illogically self-destructing, just as the world financial crisis (acronym anybody?) should have saved it.

Lucius Vorenus said...

To those of you who believe that Sotomayor is even [fully] literate to begin with: May I assume that you have yet to read Heather MacDonald's note from the other day? Or e.g. Ben Tillman's post on this board from a couple of days ago?

I mean, good grief, just a few weeks ago, the EDITED were screaming at the tops of their lungs that she wasn't exactly the brightest bulb in the pack [I think they might be worried that she is susceptible to coming under Scalia's influence - at least to the extent that she is an ostensible Catholic].

PS: For an analysis of Michelle LaVaughn Robinson's Princeton thesis, see Spengler.

PPS: Would you guys PLEASE stop dissing Sarah Palin?

She ad-libbed her entire RNC nominating speech from memory after her teleprompter went down.

Obama, by contrast, can't tie his own shoelaces without Axelrod [or Ayers] guiding him through it step by step.

Steiner said...

Consider the precursor elements of the political justification for the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor:

1. The civil rights agenda and in particular racial preferences extend to people who are not descended from slaves brought to America;

2. The civil rights agenda includes explicit preferences for women, even though they were not shipped over as a group in chains to America

3. These people include "Hispanics"

4. Included in the definition of Hispanics are people from Puerto Rico, therefore "pan-Hispanicism" is in effect, and Mexican-Americans, for example, are expected to accept Sotomayor as one of their own;

5. Included with people from Puerto Rico are individuals who were born and raised in the United States (no 14th Amendment logic here!), whose parents happen to have been born in Puerto Rico

The Republicans could object to any one of these assumptions and cut off the prevailing argument that opposition to Sotomayor's nomination is inconsistent with America's politics of racial reconciliation, but they haven't. If they don't, then the next nominee will be an Asian, or a homosexual, or a Middle Easterner, or what have you, and the liberal politics of this individual will go through unopposed because it will be impermissible to deny the nominee from yet another putatively unrepresented but deserving group.

Ronduck said...

I don't know if I'm the only one to point this out, but if Sotomayor is confirmed to the High Court then it will have six Catholic justices, and two Jewish ones. For all of the effort that Evangelicals have made as the foot soldiers of the party the get no representation on the highest body in one of our three branches of government.

If you don't believe me go the wiki page for the Supreme Court and click on each judge's names to see his religion.

Right now the court breaks down as 5 Catholics (including Clarence Thomas), two Protestants, and two Jews. With one of the Protestants retiring right now, potentially to be replaced by Sotomayor.

SOme may say that conservative Protestants don't have the brain power to serve on the court, but CP's run the military, the oil industry and the fastest growing region of the country: Dixie.

DAJ said...

PPS: Would you guys PLEASE stop dissing Sarah Palin?

She ad-libbed her entire RNC nominating speech from memory after her teleprompter went down.


Again, another exhibit of Lucius' failure to use his microscope of scrutiny evenly. With Obama and Sotomayor, any evidence that counters their perceived intelligence is indisputably damning (no publication as Law Review editor, mysterious parallels in diction and syntax between Dreams from My Father and Fugitive, senior thesis on an obscure Hispanic, etc.), whereas all supporting evidence is cavalierly dismissed (magna at HLS with blind grading, summa at Princeton, Law Review membership, etc.).

He applies the converse with a fertile, white conservative like Sarah Palin (despite multiple transfers among mediocre colleges and increasingly softer majors, her claim to high intelligence is undeniable as per Lucius).

The glaring bias is unfortunate. It distracts from the otherwise insightful analysis in many of his posts.

Lucius Vorenus said...

This is not the right time or place to be talking Sarah Palin, but trust me, she is as smart as a whip.

You should have seen her understated sarcasm [as a 20-something-ish sportsbabe] in the old Anchorage television tapes [before the commies who owned the station demanded that the tapes be taken off the web] - the chick is a natural.

PS: And I am getting sick and tired of the astroturfing of Sarah all over the web by you Romney people [and all the rest of you RINO commies] - I see it almost everywhere I go.

It makes me so dadgum angry I could NEVER pull the lever for Romney.

DAJ said...

Again, another exhibit of Lucius' failure to use his microscope of scrutiny evenly.

In light of the intense grammar checking that is being used to discredit Sotomayor's speeches and writings, I feel obligated to admit to this incomplete sentence of mine. The sentence should have been, "Again, the above excerpt is another exhibit...."

By the way, did any of you parse the past works of Alito and Roberts for grammatical mistakes?

ben tillman said...

"Thank-you" wasn't always used as a noun. It was very odd and was much commented on here at the time.

How in the world would you work "thank you" into a college thesis?

James Kabala said...

I don't what's motivated Mr. "Tillman," of all people, to step forward as Mrs. Obama's defender, especially since I was sort of defending her to begin with, but here is an answer to him:

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2008/02/michelle-obamas-thesis-unblockaded.html