April 23, 2011

Does the Left ever deny science? I mean, ever?

In a much praised article, Chris Mooney writes in Mother Jones about "The Science of Why We Don't Believe in Science" in which he explains why Republicans hate science. To be fair, he then goes on to ask:
So is there a case study of science denial that largely occupies the political left? Yes: the claim that childhood vaccines are causing an epidemic of autism. Its most famous proponents are an environmentalist (Robert F. Kennedy Jr. [29]) and numerous Hollywood celebrities (most notably Jenny McCarthy [30] and Jim Carrey). The Huffington Post gives a very large megaphone to denialists. And Seth Mnookin [31], author of the new book The Panic Virus [32], notes that if you want to find vaccine deniers, all you need to do is go hang out at Whole Foods.

Right! Autism and vaccines is the example of science denial on the left. What else is there? The hounding of James D. Watson and Larry Summers out of their jobs for politically incorrect statements about the science of intelligence pales in comparison to the actions of noted leftwing intellectuals Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey regarding autism.

Look, the people who are most worked up over the theory that vaccines cause autism are the parents of children with autism. It's not a left wing plot or the failure of leftist ideology. It's a bunch of parents with tragic problems that mainstream science hasn't done a good job of explaining. (Jenny McCarthy has an autistic child and Jim Carrey was her boyfriend for a while.) They latched on to an idea that wasn't terribly implausible at the beginning, which gave them a little hope, or at least some notion of cause and effect. It didn't turn out to be right, but that doesn't have much to do with the Left.

You can't make the same excuses, however, for the most honored commissars of political correctness, such as Stephen Rose and Morris Dees.

John McCain: Making Obama Look Presidential, Since 2008

Remember when John McCain rattled his saber after Georgia attacked Russian-controlled turf in 2008? Aren't you sad he didn't get elected and thus we haven't even come close to getting into a war with Russia?

Well, he's back, pounding the war drums as usual. The AP reports:
BENGHAZI, Libya – U.S. Sen. John McCain called for increased military support for Libya's rebels Friday, including weapons, training and stepped-up airstrikes, in a full-throated endorsement of the opposition in its fight to oust Moammar Gadhafi. ... 
At a news conference in the rebels' stronghold of Benghazi ini eastern Libya, McCain said he did not believe that the United States should send in ground troops, but it should be much more involved in the air campaign and "facilitate" the arming and training of the rebels — much as it armed the mujahedeen who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Upside of Afghanistan: Fall of the Soviet Empire. Downside of Afghanistan: 9/11.

But what's the upside of Libya? Fall of the Libyan Empire?
"We need to urgently step up the NATO air campaign to protect Libyan civilians, especially in Misrata," he said. "We desperately need more close air support and strike assets." 
McCain applauded the Obama administration's decision to use the drones "so we can better identify Gadhafi's forces as they seek to conceal themselves in civilian areas." 
McCain urged the use of combat aircraft more suited for engaging targets in urban areas, such as A-10 Thunderbolts, which are anti-tank planes, and AC-130 gunships, outfitted with heavy weaponry, including cannons, rockets and machine guns.

Death from Above! The only thing that could be more awesome would be to equip the AC-130 gunships with big-ass loudspeakers playing "Highway to Hell" while they turn some Libyan oil refinery into a giant fireball.
... All nations should recognize the opposition's Transitional National Council as the legitimate voice of the Libyan people, McCain said, and provide it with "every appropriate means of assistance," including "command and control support, battlefield intelligence, training and weapons." 
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the administration disagreed with McCain's call for recognition of the rebels' political leadership. "We think it's for the people of Libya to decide who the head of their country is, not for the United States to do that," Carney said aboard Air Force One as President Barack Obama returned to Washington from California. ...
Some in the West have raised the possibility that Islamic militants may be among the rebels, but McCain said he did not see any evidence of that. 
"I have met these brave fighters and they are not al-Qaida," he said. "To the contrary, they are Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation. 
"They are my heroes," he said. 

Some of these heroic rebels have hit speeds upwards of 100 mph while fleeing Gaddafi's crack mercenaries from Burkina Faso. You gotta be brave to drive that fast on those roads.
However, McCain cautioned that the situation could change if there is a deadlock on the battlefield. "I do worry that if there is a stalemate here, that it could open the door to radical Islamic fundamentalism because of the frustration that thousands and thousands of young people would feel as they are deprived from participating in democracy in the united Libya."

Well, that's reassuring.

April 21, 2011

Bahrain v. Libya

Back in the winter, I wrote VDARE columns about, first, Bahrain and then Libya, pointing out how both regimes imported immigrant mercenaries to keep down the people. Since then, the U.S. has started a war with Libya, but the U.S. has looked the other way while Bahrain's government, and Saudi tanks, have violently repressed protests in that Persian Gulf kingdom. 

There are a lot of differences between the countries, but one is that Bahrain's monarchy is much more sophisticated about how to spin the symbolism of the 21st Century Globalist Empire game than is Gaddafi, who thought Berlusconi was a major player to cozy up to. 

From Israel's leading newspaper, Haaretz, a story on the lady who has been Bahrain's ambassador to Washington for the last three years:
Meet Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo, Bahrain's Jewish U.S. ambassador

Preemptive anti-anti-Semitism

For almost two weeks, the most popular story on the Washington Post website has been "Why Beck Lost It" by columnist Dana Milbank about Fox News' firing of meal ticket Glenn Beck. 
And, most ominously, he began to traffic regularly in anti-Semitic themes. 
This vile turn for Beck reached its logical extreme two weeks ago, when he devoted his entire show to a conspiracy theory about various bankers, including the Rothschilds, to create the Federal Reserve. To make this case, Beck hosted the conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin, who has publicly argued that the anti-Semitic tract “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” “accurately describes much of what is happening in our world today.” 
Griffin’s Web site dabbles in a variety of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, including his view that “present-day political Zionists are promoting the New World Order.” 
A month earlier, Beck, on his radio program, had described Reform rabbis as “generally political in nature,” adding: “It’s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way.” 
A few months before that, he had attacked the Jewish billionaire George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, as a “puppet master” and read descriptions of him as an “unscrupulous profiteer” who “sucks the blood from people.” Beck falsely called Soros “a collaborator” with Nazis who “saw people into the gas chambers.” 
Fox deserves credit for finally putting an end to this.

An end to what? Reread the paragraphs above and look for any meat to Milbank's anti-Semitic libel of Beck.

If Dana Milbank's explanation is correct, Beck was fired at least partly out of preemptive anti-anti-Semitism. At minimum, Milbank's explanation appears to be highly popular with readers of the Washington Post and not terribly controversial.

As I pointed out back in January, forces were already gathering to snuff Beck's voice out.

The problem with Beck was not that he is anti-Semitic (he's highly pro-Semitic), but because he's an autodidact. He reads books, and then he gets up and rambles about what he's learned as he tries to connect together his new knowledge.

The problem with Beck was that he was a potential loose cannon. And we can't have that.

Mama Obama

The NYT Magazine has an excerpt from a new book by Janny Scott about Barack Obama's mother in Indonesia. It's pretty similar to the equivalent chapter in my book on Obama. It mentions that Ann Dunham was only 17 when she was impregnated, which is very rare in the press. But the excerpt doesn't mention that her subsequent marriage was polygamous. I guess there's only so much that respectable readers can be expected to put up with.

I had pointed out that Obama had been exposed to racism in Indonesia, which he completely failed to mention in his memoir (while exaggerating the anti-black behavior he'd been exposed to at his prep school in Hawaii). But this new book makes clear the relentlessness of the anti-black racism and even violence little Barry had to put up with in Jakarta:
After lunch, the group took a walk, with Barry running ahead. A flock of Indonesian children began lobbing rocks in his direction. They ducked behind a wall and shouted racial epithets. He seemed unfazed, dancing around as though playing dodge ball “with unseen players,” Bryant said. Ann did not react. Assuming she must not have understood the words, Bryant offered to intervene. “No, he’s O.K.,” Ann said. “He’s used to it.” 
“We were floored that she’d bring a half-black child to Indonesia, knowing the disrespect they have for blacks,” Bryant said. ... 
Occasionally, she took Barry to work. Joseph Sigit, an Indonesian who worked as the office manager at the time, told me, “Our staff here sometimes made a joke of him because he looked different — the color of his skin.” 
Joked with him — or about him? I asked. 
“With and about him,” Sigit said, with no evident embarrassment.

As I pointed out in my book, the missing piece of the puzzle in Dreams from My Father is Asians. Compared to the average American, Obama had vastly more contact growing up with Asians -- in Indonesia, Hawaii, California, New York, and even in Kenya on his visit, where his half-sister resentfully calls his attention to the Indian dominance of commerce in Nairobi. But, his book is just about the usual black and white stuff that his white readers would expect. He never, ever reports learning anything about blacks or whites from the existence of Asians. 

Without thinking about a third group, it's hard to think intelligently about blacks and whites. This is what I call the midget-giant epistemological problem. In 2003, I wrote in VDARE:
One day in 1981, I was standing in front of UCLA's Royce Hall, when I noticed two young men walking toward me across the huge open quad. "Hey!" I said to myself. "There's something you don't see very often at UCLA. That tiny fellow talking to the normal-sized guy is a genuine midget." Then, another young man walked up to the pair. "Wow! Now there are two midgets with that regular guy," I thought. "What are the odds of that?" 
Highly unlikely, I suddenly realized, as I underwent one of those gestalt snaps, like where the vase in the picture suddenly becomes two faces in profile. Now that there were three people, it became clear to me that the two "midgets" were six-footers and the "normal-sized guy" was 7'-3" 290-pound Bruin basketball center Mark Eaton (who later became a league-leading shot blocker for the Utah Jazz). 
When I think about race, I'm frequently reminded of that lesson I learned in the difficulty of accurately comparing X to Y without a Z to provide perspective.

The elegant but intellectually vacuous Dreams panders to American X/Y thinking, despite all of Obama's experiences with perspective-granting Zs.

I did, however, like the President's gracious tribute in the article to his maternal grandmother, whom he had so coldly slandered -- while she was still alive -- for reasons of political expedience in his famous race speech to ward off questions about his relationship with Rev. Wright:
“She was a very strong person in her own way,” Obama said, when I asked about Ann’s limitations as a mother. “Resilient, able to bounce back from setbacks, persistent — the fact that she ended up finishing her dissertation. But despite all those strengths, she was not a well-organized person. And that disorganization, you know, spilled over. Had it not been for my grandparents, I think, providing some sort of safety net financially, being able to take me and my sister on at certain spots, I think my mother would have had to make some different decisions. And I think that sometimes she took for granted that, ‘Well, it’ll all work out, and it’ll be fine.’ But the fact is, it might not always have been fine, had it not been for my grandmother. . . . Had she not been there to provide that floor, I think our young lives could have been much more chaotic than they were.”

April 20, 2011

National Latino Museum Needs Creative Financing

From the New York Times:
National Latino Museum Plan Faces Fight
A move to create a new Smithsonian museum is running into a crowded National Mall and lack of will to pay for it. 
Seven years after opening its National Museum of the American Indian, and four years before the scheduled unveiling of its museum of African-American history, the Smithsonian Institution is being urged to create another ethnic museum on the National Mall, this one to recognize the history and contributions of Latino Americans. 
A federal commission has spent two years asking Latinos what they would want in such a museum, and next month the commission will report its findings to Congress, which would have to approve a new museum. 
Though the creation of such an institution has support from members of Congress, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and celebrities like Eva Longoria

What about Evan Longoria? They should get him involved, too.

Looking up the museum's official website, I see that the other celebrity on-board is Emilio Estefan, who is not Charlie Sheen's brother Emilio Estevez, who was in Repo Man. Instead, he's singer Gloria Estefan's husband. And he's Lebanese.

And the third-ranking celebrity involved, after Longoria and Estefan, is Henry Munoz III, who doesn't appear to have his own Wikipedia page.

As I pointed out last week in my Fernandomania column for Taki's Magazine, here we are in 2011 and the most famous of the 35,000,000 Mexican-Americans appears to be Eva Longoria. That's really weird when you stop to think about it. Is Desperate Housewives even on the air anymore? That's like if the guy who played Joey on Friends was the most famous Italian-American.
building it faces significant obstacles, including budget pressures, and a feeling among some in Washington that the Smithsonian should stop spinning off new specialty museums and concentrate on improving the ones it already has. 
“I don’t want a situation,” said Representative Jim Moran, a Democrat from Virginia, “where whites go to the original museum, African-Americans go to the African-American museum, Indians go to the Indian museum, Hispanics go to the Latino American museum. That’s not America.”

Would Hispanics go to the Latino American museum? They go to a lot of movies, but they don't go to see Latino movies much. How many Latinos are starring in Fast Five? To juice up the box office for the latest Fast and Furious movie, they didn't add a Mexican hero, they added a Samoan/black guy, The Rock. Are Hispanics really going to flood to a museum? Is anybody else?
In Washington, where politics infects all matters, there is wide acknowledgment that the 50 million Latinos who live in this country have become an increasingly important constituency. But even supporters of the museum acknowledge it faces a battle.

I suspect "boredom" is what it's really facing. The media constantly tries to prod Latinos into racial anger by telling them somebody wants to have a "fight" and a "battle" with them, but, on the whole, apathy reigns on all sides, except among Hispanic ethnic lobbyists:
“The atmosphere is not friendly at all,” said Estuardo V. Rodriguez Jr., a lobbyist with the Raben Group who has worked pro bono on the museum proposal, citing the economic pressures and what he described as anti-immigrant sentiment. 
The idea for a Smithsonian Latino museum was born in the mid-1990s when a task force said the Smithsonian had largely ignored Latinos in its exhibitions and should create at least one museum to correct that imbalance. 
The panel’s report, entitled “Willful Neglect,” found, for example, that only 2 of the 470 people featured in the “notable Americans” section of the National Portrait Gallery were Latino.

As opposed to 2011, when we can all instantly name countless Latino "notable Americans," like Emilio Estefan and Henry Munoz III.
There are dozens of other museums across the country that focus on the heritage or culture of Latinos, whose population in the United States grew by 43 percent over the last decade, according to 2010 Census figures. But supporters of the national museum say it is imperative that there be a similar presence in the nation’s capital. 
While the commission is not expected to make specific proposals about content, the museum would probably try to cover a wide swath of history, from the role of the Spanish conquistadors to the work of Latinos in the labor and civil-rights movements. It would include culture, from popular music to visual arts, and would try to feature people and traditions from all Hispanic countries. 

My heart's racing already. Where can I buy tickets?
Lisa Navarrete, a spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza, a Latino advocacy organization, said it was unfortunate that Latino children who now travel to the Mall cannot see “their community and history and legacy reflected.” 

Think of the children!
She said that a museum that accomplishes that is particularly crucial now because discussions of immigration issues have created a “toxic” environment for Latinos. “It’s even more important to show other Americans that our roots go back centuries on this continent,” she said. 
Though legislation to authorize a Latino museum commission, known formally as the National Museum of the American Latino Commission, was first introduced in 2003 by Representative Xavier Becerra, a Democrat of California, it did not pass until 2008, as part of an omnibus budget bill. 

A fitting year.
The economy and the balance of power in Congress have changed much since that vote, with Republicans now holding a 49-vote majority in the House of Representatives.
Federal money for the museum would not appear to be an option, members of Congress say, as it was for the African-American and Indian museums. The National Museum of African American History and Culture has a $500 million price tag, half of which is being paid by the federal government. The government paid for two-thirds of the Indian museum.

I'm sure that Mexican-Americans would be happy to reach into their pockets and pay for it on their own, just like all the other charitable institutions Mexican-Americans have built, such as, uh, well, let me get back to you on this one. As Gregory Rodriguez, a columnist for the L.A. Times, explained:
In Los Angeles, home to more Mexicans than any other city in the U.S., there is not one ethnic Mexican hospital, college, cemetery, or broad-based charity.

When it comes to self-organizing for pro-social purposes, Mexicans are in a class by themselves.
Opposition to the Latino museum at this point is muted, and with the commission not yet having presented its report, few in Congress beyond the group of ardent supporters have focused on the issue. 
Representative Jack Kingston, a Republican of Georgia, said in an interview that he supported a Latino museum as long as it was not financed with federal money, and as long as he was assured that the museum would not become “an interest group’s platform to advance political agendas.”

I guess that means he's against it, because it will cost the taxpayers a lot of money and it will promote a leftist agenda. Those are givens.

Actually, this Latino museum just need some creative financing ingenuity. The tremendous trio of Henry Gonzales, Angelo Mozilo, and George W. Bush should be appointed to devise a mortgage for the Latino Museum. With zero down and no documents required, the museum's own mortgage, along with the subsequent default notices, could then serve as educational exhibits helping explain the Latino role in the Recent Unpleasantness in the mortgage market.

Speakin' of Stereotypes

This is one of the most valuable logos in all of college sports. This logo, which debuted in 1965, has got it all: a drunken, pugnacious, wearin'-of-the-green leprechaun puttin' his dukes up. (Do Irish-Americans drop their terminal "G's"? Guess so, judging from this ...) It's even got subtle cultural signifiers like St. Brendan's haircut. The only things missing are red hair (which wouldn't fit ND uniforms' green, gold, and blue color scheme) and a knocked-over barstool.

Man devotes life to proving Malcolm Gladwell right

From the St. Petersburg Times:
Can a complete novice become a golf pro with 10,000 hours of practice?
By Michael Kruse, Times Staff Writer  
On his 30th birthday, June 27, 2009, Dan [McLaughlin] had decided to quit his job to become a professional golfer. 
He had almost no experience and even less interest in the sport. 
What he really wanted to do was test the 10,000-hour theory he read about in the Malcolm Gladwell bestseller Outliers. That, Gladwell wrote, is the amount of time it takes to get really good at anything — "the magic number of greatness." 
The idea appealed to Dan. His 9-to-5 job as a commercial photographer had become unfulfilling. He didn't want just to pay his bills. He wanted to make a change. 
Could he stop being one thing and start being another? Could he, an average man, 5 feet 9 and 155 pounds, become a pro golfer, just by trying? Dan's not doing an experiment. He is the experiment. 
The Dan Plan will take six hours a day, six days a week, for six years. He is keeping diligent records of his practice and progress. People who study expertise say no one has done quite what Dan is doing right now. ... 
Here's how they have Dan trying to learn golf: He couldn't putt from 3 feet until he was good enough at putting from 1 foot. He couldn't putt from 5 feet until he was good enough putting from 3 feet. He's working away from the hole. He didn't get off the green for five months. A putter was the only club in his bag. 
Everybody asks him what he shoots for a round. He has no idea. His next drive will be his first. 
In his month in Florida, he worked as far as 50 yards away from the hole. He might — might — have a full set of clubs a year from now.

Of course, if he practices for 10,000 hours and doesn't become a successful touring pro, that won't prove Gladwell wrong, that will just prove this guy Didn't Practice Right. The 10,000 Hour Rule is unfalsifiable.

Hypocrisy in a good cause?

David Bornstein writes in the New York Times in "A Better Way to Teach Math:"
Is it possible to eliminate the bell curve in math class? 
Imagine if someone at a dinner party casually announced, “I’m illiterate.” It would never happen, of course; the shame would be too great. But it’s not unusual to hear a successful adult say, “I can’t do math.” That’s because we think of math ability as something we’re born with, as if there’s a “math gene” that you either inherit or you don’t. 
School experiences appear to bear this out. In every math class I’ve taken, there have been slow kids, average kids and whiz kids. It never occurred to me that this hierarchy might be avoidable. No doubt, math comes more easily to some people than to others. But the question is: Can we improve the methods we use to teach math in schools — so that everyone develops proficiency? 
Looking at current math achievement levels in the United States, this goal might seem out of reach. But the experience of some educators in Canada and England, using a curriculum called Jump Math, suggests that we seriously underestimate the potential of most students and teachers. 
“Almost every kid — and I mean virtually every kid — can learn math at a very high level, to the point where they could do university level math courses,” explains John Mighton, the founder of Jump Math, a nonprofit organization whose curriculum is in use in classrooms serving 65,000 children from grades one through eight, and by 20,000 children at home. “If you ask why that’s not happening, it’s because very early in school many kids get the idea that they’re not in the smart group, especially in math. We kind of force a choice on them: to decide that either they’re dumb or math is dumb.” 
Children come into school with differences in background knowledge, confidence, ability to stay on task and, in the case of math, quickness. In school, those advantages can get multiplied rather than evened out. One reason, says Mighton, is that teaching methods are not aligned with what cognitive science tells us about the brain and how learning happens. 
In particular, math teachers often fail to make sufficient allowances for the limitations of working memory and the fact that we all need extensive practice to gain mastery in just about anything. Children who struggle in math usually have difficulty remembering math facts, handling word problems and doing multi-step arithmetic (pdf). Despite the widespread support for “problem-based” or “discovery-based” learning, studies indicate that current teaching approaches underestimate the amount of explicit guidance, “scaffolding” and practice children need to consolidate new concepts. Asking children to make their own discoveries before they solidify the basics is like asking them to compose songs on guitar before they can form a C chord. ... 
Take the example of positive and negative integers, which confuse many kids. Given a seemingly straightforward question like, “What is -7 + 5?”, many will end up guessing. One way to break it down, explains Mighton, would be to say: “Imagine you’re playing a game for money and you lost seven dollars and gained five. Don’t give me a number. Just tell me: Is that a good day or a bad day?” 
Separating this step from the calculation makes it easier for kids to understand what the numbers mean. Teachers tell me that when they begin using Jump they are surprised to discover that what they were teaching as one step may contain as many as seven micro steps. Breaking things down this finely allows a teacher to identify the specific point at which a student may need help. “No step is too small to ignore,” Mighton says. “Math is like a ladder. If you miss a step, sometimes you can’t go on. And then you start losing your confidence and then the hierarchies develop. It’s all interconnected.”

In other words, the secret to better math education is to Have the slow kids go slower. Don't introduce the Pythagorean Theorem to everybody in second grade, as is common lately. Instead, make the not so bright kids chant their times tables until they're burned into their memories. Use educational tricks on the dumb kids like "Imagine you’re playing a game for money and you lost seven dollars and gained five. Don’t give me a number. Is that a good day or a bad day?" that would put smarter kids to sleep.

Of course, these methods would be disastrous for the smarter kids, so the bottom-line macro implication is: Track, track, track.

(A second order implication is that individual tutoring, which tends to work better than less labor-intensive ways of teaching math, should be handed off to computers that can customize each lesson and quiz for the individual student. On the other hand, notice that Steve Jobs's Apple products were heavily aimed at the educational market 30 years ago, but almost ignore schools today. Most educational software in 2011, sadly, comes from small firms that deserve to be small.)

Of course, all this subversive wisdom about not ignoring cognitive differences has to be phrased as being part of the Holy War on Charles Murray.

I suppose this kind of subterfuge is, on the whole, better than the current orthodoxy, which is to accelerate everybody in math to avoid the soft bigotry of low expectations, which leads to lots of kids who could have mastered arithmetic counting on their fingers as they fail algebra. Arithmetic really, really matters in real life: arithmetic skills are an important hurdle in determining who moves up from carpenter's helper to carpenter and from carpenter to contractor. But elementary and middle schools put less relative emphasis arithmetic today and more on "rigorous" math because Studies Have Shown that kids who aced Algebra I in 7th grade are more likely to graduate from college. (It might also be useful to teach more people how to Think About Statistics.)

Still, the need to lie all the time, especially about bell curves, means that practically nobody in the Education Biz ever learns any broadly applicable lessons even from success stories. How many readers of this story will figure out the real message? Two percent? Check the comments on the NYT and see what percentage of readers motivated enough to write a comment got the secret, coded Big Picture message.

April 19, 2011

"The Conspirator"

From my movie review in Taki's Magazine:
Robert Redford’s courtroom drama The Conspirator castigates the 1865 trial by a military tribunal of Confederate partisan Mary Surratt for her murky role in John Wilkes Booth’s plot to murder Abraham Lincoln. Redford obviously intends his movie as a parable denouncing George W. Bush’s employment of military tribunals instead of jury trials for Guantanamo Bay prisoners. 
... Still, The Conspirator is of considerable interest, both for its cast’s quality and because the 74-year-old Redford seems to have no idea how unfashionable his view of post-Civil War history has become since he arrived on the New York stage in the late 1950s. The Conspirator reflects the anti-Republican prejudice endemic in history textbooks when Redford was in school. To imply that 21st-century Republicans are deluded by Islamophobia, Redford argues that 1865’s Republicans were crazed by Confederophobia. ... 
Everyone says history is written by the victors, but it’s actually written by the historiographers. For the first century after 1865, white Southerners wrote most Civil War histories and almost all the accounts of the subsequent Reconstruction. Their anger over the postwar military occupation was transmitted in two vastly popular movies: 1915’s The Birth of a Nation and 1939’s Gone with the Wind. After FDR’s 1932 victory, white Southerners made up a large fraction of the New Deal coalition. Hence, the liberal Democrats who wrote most mid-century history books pandered to the South’s view of Reconstruction as a grave injustice. 
Only with the rise of blacks in the late 1960s did Reconstruction come under scrutiny. Redford’s movie, set entirely in Washington, DC in 1865, features only one line spoken by an African-American.

Read the whole thing there.

Germany Asserts Itself

The Serious People are extremely mad at Germany for not plunging precipitously into war in Libya for the second time in 70 years.

Daniel Larison rounds up some representative comments. For instance, Roger Cohen writes in the New York Times:
We stand at a high point in French postwar diplomacy and a nadir in German. ... Germany often conveys the sense that it now resents the agents of its postwar rehabilitation — the European Union and NATO.

Timothy Garton Ash, a columnist for the lefty Guardian, is hopping mad:
But how could Germany not support a UN resolution backed by its principal European partners, the United States and the Arab League? ... A word that springs unbidden to my mind is Dolchstoss (stab in the back).

How could Germany not go along with starting an unprovoked war alongside France, Britain, the U.S. and a few small Arab countries? I dunno ... Because Germany is a sovereign nation and doesn't have to start a war if it doesn't want to? Because Germany is a republic, and its voters would have punished any Chancellor who did that? Because the Germans thought it sounded like a bad idea? Because the guys starting the wars didn't have a plausible plan for how they would win? Because Germany manufactures BMWs, not Renaults, Jaguars, Chryslers, or camels? Because Germany's attitude toward War in the Desert is Been There, Done That? Because Germans don't take Bernard-Henri Levi seriously enough?

Keep in mind that my title, a play on Thilo Sarrazin's book Germany Abolishes Itself, is a joke. The Serious People are mad at Germany not for asserting itself, but for refusing to be involved in starting a war. When Obama and Co. decided to attack, the Germans were preoccupied with what the Japanese nuclear meltdown meant for Germany's many nuclear power plants. Should they scrap all their nuke plants and replace them with renewable energy? The Germans felt more like spending money on windmills than on bombs. Bad, bad Germans ...

The joke is that even Germany at its Greeniest Weeniest enrages the Serious People, which would be pretty funny if it weren't also kind of serious.

A Dog Bites Man Story

From the AP:
A murder charge against the woman who falsely accused three Duke lacrosse players of raping her is but the latest problem for a woman friends say is still haunted by the stigma of the lacrosse case. 
Crystal Mangum, 32, was indicted Monday on a charge of first-degree murder and two counts of larceny. She has been in jail since April 3, when police charged her with assault in the stabbing of her boyfriend Reginald Daye, 46. He died after nearly two weeks at a hospital. 

As for the poor bastard Ms. Mangum is alleged to have stabbed to death this month, well, his problems are over, so let's get right back to Crystal's troubles.
Friends said Mangum has never recovered from the stigma brought by the lacrosse case and has been involved in a string of questionable relationships in an attempt to provide stability for her children. 
Mangum, who is black, falsely accused the white lacrosse players of raping her at a 2006 party for which she was hired to perform as a stripper. The case heightened long-standing tensions in Durham about race, class and the privileged status of college athletes. ...

Okay, most of this article sounds like it was written by Oprah's friend Gayle, but the last line almost makes up for the rest:
Even when Daye's nephew talked to a 911 dispatcher after the stabbing, he referenced the notoriety Mangum still carries. 
"It's Crystal Mangum. THE Crystal Mangum," said the nephew, whose name was removed from a publicly-released version of the emergency call. "I told him she was trouble from the damn beginning."

I think the AP Style Guide should recommend that all news stories try to end with a quote from somebody who sounds like Chris Rock's grandfather. Maybe the NYT should have talked to the nephew before running two dozen stories based on the assumption that Crystal Mangum was obviously telling the truth about the Great White Defendants.

April 18, 2011

A prediction

Over the last few decades, our society has made impressive progress on solving one of the two main hurdles -- crime and schools -- to raising a middle class family in dense urban neighborhood. We reduced the crime rate through a variety of means, the most obvious of which has been by throwing a huge number of guys in jail, most of them minorities. 

In 1974, Harvard political scientist James Q. Wilson published a little book called Thinking About Crime in which he said that the best way to fight crime is lock more criminals up for longer periods. You see, he explained, when they're in prison, they can't victimize people who aren't in prison. This concept was very controversial at the time. Wilson's plan to fight crime by locking up criminals would obviously inflict disparate impact discrimination upon minorities, and that was just inconceivable to most advanced thinkers in 1974. 

Eventually, however, that's exactly what we started doing. And, in the long run, it worked. 

Today, you aren't supposed to remember this or think about it, but very few people are much bothered by it. Between 1981 and the early 1990s, I had my car windows smashed four or five times by criminals. I bought a new car in 1988 without a radio so that the bastards wouldn't smash my windows to steal it. So my wife bought a $10 transistor radio so she could listen to tinny-sounding music while she was driving. And they smashed my window and stole her radio and fenced it for about a buck. 

But I haven't had that happen to me since the mid-1990s. Why not? Well, for one reason is that a lot of these bastards got caught and locked up. Some of the criminals who did this to me may well be still in prison for other stuff they did.

Guess what? I sure don't miss that aspect of The Old Days: walking to my car and finding its windows smashed. Most people don't.

What about schools? How will today's well-educated young white urbanites figure out a way to educate their kids in public schools in urban neighborhoods? 

I don't know, but I suspect the SWPLs will eventually solve this problem. There is simply too much talent that wants to live downtown and, eventually, raise their kids there for this problem to go unsolved forever. I suspect the solutions will turn out to be about as racially insensitive as the solutions for crime turned out to be. 

My guess is that smart white urbanites will figure out ways to keep most non-Asian minority children out of their own kids' urban public schools. Sure, it sounds inconceivable today, but the real estate is so valuable that tomorrow's SWPLs will figure out ways to do it. 

And, at some point, they'll just do it

After it's done, it will be considered in as bad taste for any uncouth person to point out that the reason Ansel Jr.'s public high school school in the city in 2031 is almost all white or Asian is because white people pushed through reforms that had massive disparate impact on blacks and Hispanics as it is considered uncouth today to point out that Park Slope or Silver Lake or wherever is now full of white people because white people a few decades ago pushed through reforms that locked up lots of black and Hispanic people. 

But, it will happen.

Words of Wisdom

Jonathan V. Last reviews Bryan Caplan's Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids in the WSJ: 
In study after study, researchers find that parents are consistently less happy than non-parents. ... Mr. Caplan bravely acknowledges this problem but is never able to say clearly what, exactly, the benefits of parenthood really are. Kids, he says, are "ridiculously cute" and "playful," and "they look like you." And in any case, everyone loves grandchildren. Maybe. Maybe not. Your mileage may vary. 
It would be better for all of us if Americans had more children than they currently do. (The average college- educated woman today has just 1.7 babies over the course of her life, which is not enough to sustain America's population in the long run.) But the fundamental challenge for natalists of any stripe is building a convincing rationale for why otherwise contented adults should atomize their lives to bring children into the world. And here "Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids" falters. The best argument for children isn't that they will make you happy or your life fun but that parenthood provides purpose for a well-lived life. Selfishness, in the end, is not sufficient.

Peter Robinson objects here. Last replies here.

"Will Women Marry Down?"

Kay Hymnowitz writes in The Daily Caller:
Still, the biggest reason we probably won’t see a lot more college-educated women walking down the aisle with their plumber is one we don’t like to say out loud: they want to have smart kids. Educated men and women are drawn to spouses they think will help them produce the children likely to thrive in the contemporary knowledge-based economy. That means high IQ, ambitious, and organized kids who will do their homework and take a lot of AP courses. The preference for alpha kids is the reason there is a luxury market for Ivy League egg and sperm donors. It also explains why, though we don’t have solid research distinguishing between elite and State U mating choices, Ms. Harvard will probably not accept a proposal from Mr. Florida State. The economist Greg Mankiw has quipped that “Harvard is probably the world’s most elite dating agency.” A glance at the New York Times nuptial pages suggests he’s right. 
In this respect, homogamy, at least educational homogamy, has a profound social downside; it increases economic inequality. Educated couples pass on the smarts and habits to their children that lead to good jobs and nice homes with lots of enriching activities for the grandkids, while the children and grandkids of less-educated men and women remain behind. 
Americans don’t like to think of themselves as class conscious. But marriage brings out the snob in the most democratic man or woman — for better or worse.

Marriage (and, thus, reproduction) is important enough to bring out the snob in everybody.

Point 'n' Sputter

From the New York Times:
The Anti-Immigration CrusaderBy JASON DePARLE 
WASHINGTON — Three decades ago, a middle-aged doctor sat outside his northern Michigan home and saw a patch of endangered paradise. 
A beekeeper and amateur naturalist of prodigious energy, John Tanton had spent two decades planting trees, cleaning creeks and suing developers, but population growth put ever more pressure on the land. Though fertility rates had fallen, he saw a new threat emerging: soaring rates of immigration. 
Time and again, Dr. Tanton urged liberal colleagues in groups like Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club to seek immigration restraints, only to meet blank looks and awkward silences. 
“I finally concluded that if anything was going to happen, I would have to do it myself,” he said. 
Improbably, he did. From the resort town of Petoskey, Mich., Dr. Tanton helped start all three major national groups fighting to reduce immigration, legal and illegal, and molded one of the most powerful grass-roots forces in politics. The immigration-control movement surged to new influence in last fall’s elections and now holds near veto power over efforts to legalize any of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. 
One group that Dr. Tanton nurtured, Numbers USA, doomed President George W. Bush’s legalization plan four years ago by overwhelming Congress with protest calls. Another, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, helped draft the Arizona law last year to give the police new power to identify and detain illegal immigrants. 
A third organization, the Center for Immigration Studies, joined the others in December in defeating the Dream Act, which sought to legalize some people brought to the United States illegally as children. 
Rarely has one person done so much to structure a major cause, or done it so far from the public eye. Dr. Tanton has raised millions of dollars, groomed protégés and bequeathed institutions, all while running an ophthalmology practice nearly 800 miles from Capitol Hill. 
“He is the most influential unknown man in America,” said Linda Chavez, a former aide to President Ronald Reagan who once led a Tanton group that promoted English-only laws.

After this promising opening, you might expect the article to move on to using Tanton's fascinating experience as a modern day Jefferson Smith as the lens through which to examine one of the bizarre developments of the last quarter century: the emasculation of the environmental movement by pro-immigrationist interests. For example, you might expect the NYT to cite the brand new Census data to show that Tanton's fears are coming true and then ask: Why have groups like the Sierra Club dropped their traditional insistence on immigration restriction, despite the huge impact immigration-driven population growth has had on, say, America's (and thus the world's) carbon emissions? [Answer here at VDARE, not in NYT for some reason.]

Well, you might expect that if you'd been living on Mars for the last few decades. Instead, the article immediately turns into the usual exercise in point-and-sputter guilt by association:
While Dr. Tanton’s influence has been extraordinary, so has his evolution — from apostle of centrist restraint to ally of angry populists and a man who increasingly saw immigration through a racial lens.

Etcetera, etcetera ...

Really, doesn't the childishness of contemporary thinking just wear you down? Junior high school girls  engage in more principled thinking than the Who? Whom? that is the standard assumption of the conventional wisdom on immigration.

Stop the Presses! Skinny Kenyan Guy Wins Boston Marathon

From the NYT:
Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya ran the fastest marathon ever Monday in capturing the 115th Boston Marathon. Taking advantage of ideal weather conditions — a brisk tailwind and cool temperatures — Mutai finished the hilly, 26.2-mile course in 2 hours 3 minutes 2 seconds, edging his countryman Moses Mosop by four seconds.

Here's my article from 2000,  Kenyan Runners: Nurture or Nature?

Out of the last 20 Boston Marathons, Kenyan men have won 17, Ethiopians two, and a South Korean one. And the marathon isn't really the Kenyans' best distance. They seem to be most dominant at about an order of magnitude shorter, such as 3000 meters. On the other hand, the Kenyans specialize in the Boston Marathon -- it's their Olympic marathoning team trial in Olympic years, so just looking at the Boston results gives an exaggerated view of Kenyan dominance of marathoning. The true Kenyan superiority is at middle-long distances, not the marathon.

April 17, 2011

"Was Obama Stampeded into War?"

Patrick J. Buchanan writes in The American Conservative:
On March 26, over a week after [Obama] ordered the strikes on Libya, hitting tanks, anti-aircraft, radar sites, troops and Gadhafi’s own compound in Tripoli, 600 miles away from Benghazi, Obama told the nation he had acted to prevent a “bloodbath” in Benghazi. “We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi — a city nearly the size of Charlotte — could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.” 
White House Middle East expert Dennis Ross reportedly told foreign policy experts: “We were looking at ‘Srebrenica on steroids’ — the real or imminent possibility that up to 100,000 people could be massacred, and everyone would blame us for it.”

By the way, until leaving in 2009 to join the Obama Administration, Dennis Ross was chairman of the Israeli government's Jewish People Policy Planning Institute. I doubt if that fact is terribly relevant to America's latest war, but it is fascinating how the very existence of the JPPPI, much less the JPPPI's highly interesting publications, is almost never even acknowledged in the U.S. press. As far as I can tell, I'm the only American journalist to review JPPPI's 2010 book, 2030: Alternative Futures for the Jewish People
A hundred thousand massacred! And our fault? But that is seven times the body count of Katyn, one of the Stalinist horrors of World War II. Was Benghazi truly about to realize the fate that befell Carthage at the hands of Scipio Africanus, at the close of the Third Punic War? How did the White House come to believe in such a scenario? 
In this low-scale war, the cities of Zwara, Ras Lanuf, Brega, and Ajdabiya have changed hands, some several times. Misrata, the only rebel-held city in the west, has been under siege for seven weeks. Yet in none of these towns has anything like the massacre in the Ivory Coast taken place, let alone Srebrenica. The Guardian’s Saturday report read, “Fierce fighting in Ajdabiya saw at least eight people killed.” 
True, on March 17, Gadhafi said he would show “no mercy.” But as [Stephen] Chapman notes, he was referring to “traitors” who resisted him to the end. And Gadhafi added, “We have left the way open to them.” 
“Escape. Let those who escape go forever.” Gadhafi went on to pledge that “whoever hands over his weapons, stays at home without any weapons, whatever he did previously, he will be pardoned, protected.” 
Perhaps Gadhafi is lying. But there is, as yet, no evidence of any such slaughter in any town his forces have captured. Nor do the paltry forces Gadhafi has mustered to recapture the east — Ajdabiya was attacked by several dozen Toyota trucks — seem capable of putting a city of 700,000 to the sword. 

If the U.S. hadn't started the war a month ago, the most likely thing that would have happened is that the core group of rebels would have done what they had been doing for the previous week: jump in their cars and flee on down the road from Benghazi to the next city (probably Darnah).

Now, what would have happened to the regular folks who stayed in Benghazi? Well, down through history, bad things often happen to the residents of a city after a long siege, even when the man in charge wants them to be treated well, as Gaddafi claimed to do. But, President Obama's rationalization for his starting his war immediately, without any public debate, was that there wouldn't have been a long siege of Benghazi, that it would have fallen within a day or two. 

As for the hard-core rebels, well, there are two possibilities: Kaddafi would have come after them, so they would have fled from Darnah to Tobruk, and from Tobruk they would have headed for the Egyptian border, becoming the problem of the new "democratic" government of Egypt. Or Kaddafi would have bogged down in Benghazi, his supply lines hugely long.

Why so few immigrants from Brazil?

Tyler Cowen wants to know. I offer some answers.