December 1, 2012

Quiz: Can you pick out the "white Hispanic" amidst all the Hispanic Hispanics?

With immigration reform and Puerto Rican statehood much in the news as Republicans ponder how to leave behind their image as racist white men, I thought I'd go through my recent posts to find Hispanic experts in the media who have their finger on the pulse of What Hispanics Want, who know deep in their Latino bones how the masses of la raza feel. It's time for white people to stop ignoring Hispanics just because they look different and lack White Privilege! Fortunately, the press assiduously brings to our attention these fresh new voices with their fresh new kind of face. A gallery:
Aaron Eckhart
Charles Garcia
Author of "Why 'Illegal Immigrant' Is a Slur" for CNN,
and CEO of Garcia Trujillo, a consultancy for marketing to Hispanics
Anne Heche
Cat del Valle Castellanos
Writer and daughter of GOP Hispanic strategist Alex Castellanos
Anderson Cooper
Jorge Ramos
Univision anchorman and crusader for amnesty
Krysten Ritter
Xochitl Hinojosa
Obama Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division Aztec warrior princess / spokesmodel

"Xochitl and Scarlett were roommates in college. Scarlett was Xochitl's big sister in Alpha Sigma Alpha. They have shared so many good memories of Spring Break, boys, sorority life, and drinking wine in Napa Valley, and look forward to the many more memories to come!"
George Stephanopolous
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Pat Buchanan
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Elliott from 30something
David Royston Patterson
Author of "Will Puerto Rico Be America's 51st State?"
William Howard Taft
Luis Munoz Rivera
Puerto Rican statesman and Patterson's grandmother's cousin's father
Guillermo del Toro
Joshua Treviño
GOP activist
Don Johnson
Jorge G. Castaneda
Former Mexican Foreign Secretary, NYU Prof

The Rev. Pat Robertson
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-DR)
Because underpaying Dominicans for "jobs Americans just won't do" is Good for the Economy
Steve Sailer
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
White Hispanic

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL): STEM expert

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Here at iSteve, we strive to keep you up to date on la raza's latest and whitest representatives to surface in the media as immigration experts. Today's surfacee is former nephew-in-law of Fidel Castro and current Republican Congressman from that high tech hub of Hialeah, FL, Mario Diaz-Balart. From the NYT:
House Votes to Ease Visa Limits for Some Foreign Workers 
WASHINGTON — A divided House of Representatives voted Friday to ease visa restrictions for a limited pool of foreign workers, previewing a fight over how far Congress should go in changing the country’s immigration laws. 
The bill the House approved by a vote of 245 to 139 — with just 27 Democrats supporting it — stands little chance of advancing in the Senate, where Democrats have control. And the White House has come out in opposition to the bill, calling it too “narrowly tailored” and incompatible with President Obama’s vision for a more comprehensive approach. 
Looming over the House vote was a stark political reality: Republicans received just a sliver of the Hispanic vote in the elections last month, and the party is divided over how best to improve its standing with such a large and growing demographic. 
Some Republicans are eager to move forward with legislation that would tighten border controls but also start paving a path to citizenship for some of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now in the United States, a move that could help reverse impressions among Hispanics that the party is hostile to immigrants. But many are also wary of the furor that could arise among conservative voters over any perceived softness on those who are here illegally. 
Some leading Republicans have become more vocal about their desire to see immigration legislation pass, albeit in a nuanced fashion. ... 
The House bill, which would provide for 55,000 visas for foreign graduates of American universities who have doctoral and master’s degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, was an attempt to reconcile the concerns within the party. And some Republicans acknowledged its shortcomings. 
“It is not the panacea,” said Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, who represents a stretch of South Florida west of Miami. “It does not solve all the problems. But it takes a huge step.” ...
But some Democrats said Friday that the bill set immigrant groups against one another by deepening demographic divides. 
“That is not America,” said Representative Luis V. Gutierrez of Chicago. “There was no special line for Ph.D.’s and master’s degree holders at Ellis Island.”

A leading expert on immigration on the Democratic side of Congress is Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who looks like Pat Robertson. From VOXXI:
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus rebuffed recent Republican immigration legislation as partisan. Instead, the caucus laid the groundwork for their own principles on immigration reform as a means for dialogue during a press conference with reporters Wednesday. 
The meeting took place days after Republicans in the Senate and House publicized legislation for a DREAM Act version and STEM Visa that would boost high-skilled labor. Already both bills have undergone scrutiny indicating that it would result in a seemingly partisan divide. 
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who has been at the forefront of the immigration debate, explained to VOXXI that the bills being proposed from Republicans are not bipartisan in nature and therefore he rejects it. 
“I don’t like to negotiate in parts,” said Menendez, while relaying his response to piecemeal legislation. “I want to know everything that my colleagues want. And after that start to negotiate.” 
On the Senate side, Menendez said conversations on immigration reform have started individually with members, but not in a collective group. 
That echoed the assertion he relayed to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on the Achieve Act. The Achieve Act, sponsored by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas), follows similar principles as Sen. Marco Rubio, but offers not pathway to citizenship. The Senator went on to note that the problem with the “Achieve Act is that it doesn’t achieve the dream.” 
Menendez reiterated that a pathway to citizenship is non-negotiable. Although he did agree that the Republican efforts are a good starting point from the party’s beliefs in the past. He’s cautiously optimistic.

What, you say that both these gentlemen aren't Mexican, they are Cuban, and Cubans have their own special immigration package, that they aren't even racialist opportunists, they're just individual opportunists propelled forward by the ignorance and madness of the times?

How racist of you.

November 30, 2012

Reservoir Clerks

From an LA Times story on the strike at the giant L.A. / Long Beach port, which handles 40% of America's cargo tonnage:
The small band of strikers that has effectively shut down the nation's busiest shipping complex forced two huge cargo ships to head for other ports Thursday and kept at least three others away, hobbling an economic powerhouse in Southern California. 
The disruption is costing an estimated $1 billion a day at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, on which some 600,000 truckers, dockworkers, trading companies and others depend for their livelihoods. 
"The longer it goes, the more the impacts increase," said Paul Bingham, an economist with infrastructure consulting firm CDM Smith. "Retailers will have stock outages, lost sales for products not delivered. There will be shutdowns in factories, in manufacturing when they run out of parts." 
Despite the union's size — about 800 members of a unit of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union — it has managed to flex big muscles. Unlike almost anywhere else in the nation, union loyalty is strong at the country's ports. Neither the longshoremen nor the truckers are crossing the tiny union's picket lines. 
The strike started at the L.A. port's largest terminal Tuesday and spread Wednesday to 10 of the two ports' 14 cargo terminals. These resemble seaside parking lots where long metal containers are loaded and unloaded with the help of giant cranes. 
The union contends that the dispute is over job security and the transfer of work from higher-paid union members to lower-paid employees in other countries. The 14-employer management group says that no jobs have been outsourced and that the union wants to continue a practice called "featherbedding," or bringing in temporary workers even when there is no work. 
... Maritime unions "have successfully organized one of the most vital links in the supply chain, and it's a tradition they nurture with all of their younger workers," said Nelson Lichtenstein, a UC Santa Barbara history professor and workplace expert. "They have a very strong ideological sense of who they are, and for now they are strong." 
In Los Angeles and Long Beach, the 800 clerical workers have been able to shut down most of the ports because the 10,000-member dockworkers union is honoring the picket lines. Work continues at only four cargo terminals, where the office clerical unit has no workers. 
Stephen Berry, lead negotiator for the shipping lines and cargo terminals, said the clerical workers have been offered a deal that includes "absolute job security," a raise that would take average annual pay to $195,000 from $165,000, 11 weeks' paid vacation and a generous pension increase.

I believe that $195,000 figure is including benefits. In any case, being a unionized dockworker is a famously good job in the L.A./Long Beach area. I presume that to get one of these jobs, you need to be connected. For example, from Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, where Vic (Michael Madsen's Mr. Blonde) has just done four years in prison without squealing on his gangster bosses Nice Guy Eddie and Joe. Now, Vic's parole officer is insisting he get a real job instead of going back to pulling stickups for Eddie and Joe:
We can
give you a lot of legitimate jobs.
Put you on the rotation at Long
Beach as a dock worker. 
I don't wanna lift crates. 
You don't hafta .... You
don't really work there. But as
far as the records are concerned,
you do. I call up Matthews, the
foreman, tell him he's got a new
guy. You're on the schedule. You
got a timecard, it's clocked in
and out for you everyday, and you
get a pay check at the end of the
week. And ya know dock workers
don't do too bad. So you can move
into a halfway decent place ...
And if Koons [Vic's parole officer] ever wants to
make a surprise visit, you're gone
that day. That day we sent you to
Tustin. ... Part of your job is goin
different places - and we got
places all over the place. 
(to Vic)
Didn't I tell ya not to worry?
(to Eddie)
Vic was worried. 
Me and you'll drive down to Long
Beach tomorrow. I'll introduce
you to Matthews, tell him what's
going on. 
That's great, guy, thanks a bunch.
When do you think you'll need me
for real work?

This is all part of Sailer's Rule of Unions that unions are strongest for the guys who seemingly need them the least: baseball players, Chicago Symphony musicians, and so forth.

The Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach represents an enormous fixed investment that can't be easily replaced anywhere (although the government of Mexico has been trying to build a competitor for many years now, and the government of Panama is expanding the Canal to siphon off business). Therefore, the Harbor generates huge amounts of wealth and the various parties involved clash over how to divvy it up. The dockworkers are a tough bunch  and when they are not happy, unfortunate things seem to happen. When the workers are unhappy you should probably, you know, watch your step, because accidents can happen. Thus, they get paid well.

You see similar strong unions where there are huge fixed investments that can't easily be moved somewhere else in pursuit of cheaper wages, such as Detroit auto factories and mines.

But the SoCal dock unions have managed to stay within within limits that keep the other players from pulling up stakes and relocating to a different port.

In contrast, the dockworker's union in mid-20th Century San Francisco (led by Harry Bridges) was so larcenous that San Francisco's remarkable natural harbor was bypassed by shippers in favor of the artificial harbor of Los Angeles. Now, containerized shipping makes it harder for stevedores to outright steal cargo, so the customers are more or less willing to pay high wages in L.A., at least until Mexico's new Pacific ports get up to speed.

Public sympathies have turned very anti-union over my lifetime. In fact, I'm not sure they were ever all that pro-union. Strikes are extremely agitating for 3rd parties, partly because they happen on the strikers' schedule, not the bystanders. Presumably, the dock clerks picked the Christmas Rush for a strike precisely because so many businesses across the country are desperate to get deliveries before December 24.

Similarly, if you own a business, you don't want to be in a perfectly competitive market, either. You want to figure out a way to grab a little bit of monopoly power. You want to be Apple not Dell, Microsoft not Digital Resources, Carlos Slim not some unconnected telecom entrepreneur.

I know they teach you all about the wonders of perfectly competitive markets in Econ 101, but, you know what? You don't want to be stuck competing in a perfectly competitive market. You want to be well set up in a defensible corner where you aren't facing perfect competition.

Population Momentum

There's a lot of discussion today about fertility and population growth, but much of it reflects the common presumption that when the Total Fertility Rate drops down the replacement level of about 2.1, then the population stops growing.

Even leaving aside immigration, this is wrong because of the phenomenon of Population Momentum. As I wrote in in 2006
"A population will typically grow for 50-60 years after reaching replacement level fertility, 
"Population momentum" is a little complicated to explain, but try thinking of it from a grandparent's perspective. Imagine two neighbors comparing notes on who has more grandchildren. The one who lives on the north side of the street says, "My children each have two children in their families." 
The neighbor who lives on the south side of the street replies, "So do mine." 
The northern neighbor says, "Then you must have four grandchildren, just like me." 
The southern neighbor laughs, "No, I have eight grandchildren! See, you only had two children, so you have four grandchildren. But I had four children, so I have eight grandchildren."

"Sabermetrics: The Dissertation!"

Bob Ngo, a sociology Ph.D. student at UC Santa Barbara is writing his dissertation on the "Sabermetric Movement in American Baseball." He's blogged a few of his notes about sabermetricians:
By this time, I have completed about 24 interviews. I did about 12 interviews at the SABR conference, and the rest of the interviews have been done over the phone, with my most recent one being last Saturday. They have been all with what I’m calling the “rank and file” of the sabermetrics movement meaning that they are just regular people who aren’t necessarily involved with any professional sports franchises or what I’ve been referring to as the baseball institution.

But, their intellectual heroes like Bill James aren't terribly different in how they think, so the rank and file reflect the movement's leadership reasonably well.
All of them have been very interesting and great conversations to have. They’ve ranged from age 17 to 78. They’re all males, and they’re pretty much all white. I’ll be scouring the world for a female sabermetrician, as well as one of color soon enough, so if anyone can refer one to me, that’d be great. ... 

If you know one, just let Bob know ...
Conceptual Chapter #1 – I asked  my subjects about what they thought about the steroid controversy and not surprisingly, many of us talked about Barry Bonds and what he means to sabermetricians.  In fact, when I would ask about why they would write about particular subjects, a desire to quantify barry bonds came up more than once.  for example, one subject wanted to compare how much more valuable bonds was than ichiro in the year that they both won the MVP awards in their respective leagues.

Sabermetricians hate the fact that elegant slap-hitter Ichiro Suzuki beat out beefy slugger slugger Jason Giambi of the Moneyball A's for the A.L. MVP award in 2001. That Giambi developed a tumor a few years later and almost died, quite possibly from all the weird chemicals he presumably took to become a beefy slugger, apparently remains immaterial to them. The point is that Giambi has an OPS of 1.137 versus Ichiro's .838 and that's all you need to know.

Likewise, that same year Barry Bonds was given the N.L. MVP award for hitting a record 73 homeruns, with 177 walks and an OPS of 1.379: a much more satisfying vote than the Ichiro scandal. The fact that this 36 year old man's skull was visibly changing shape is immaterial. Only the numbers matter!
 now i use the term quantify, but perhaps what they are saying is that they want to be able to “tell the story” of barry bonds.  several disagreed with the general portrayal and analysis of barry bonds.  When I originally conceived of this question, I wanted to get at questions of embodiment, in terms of athlete’s bodies are central to the thinking of most any sports fan, but it really seems that at least for this crowd, the body is of little consequence.  

Great line: "at least for this crowd, the body is of little consequence."

This reminds me of a general problem I have in dealing with people on the Internet, which is that most people are most comfortable when they ignore vast realms of knowledge. Different people ignore different realms. People with an aesthetic orientation tend to not like logic and numbers, while people who like logic and numbers don't like to think about how things look. Sabermetricians are sports fans who'd rather ignore the physical.

In contrast, while there's are lots and lots of things I don't know, there isn't all that much about which I like to boast that my ignorance makes me a better person than the unignorant.

For example, numbers and pictures can support each other in helping you understand. Here's a picture that had some impact on my thinking 25 years ago. In 1987's world championships in track when Ben Johnson broke the world record in the 100m dash in 9.83 seconds.

The article in Sports Illustrated went on and on about Johnson's brilliant new weightlifting regimen and how it had helped him overtake Carl Lewis (in blue). I could understand why he'd want to have giant leg muscles, but ... What's the deal with his arms?

So, I spent a lot of time over the next decade thinking about track statistics, and, yeah, it turned out that the pictures and the numbers complemented each other to help tell a comprehensible story.
I’m trying to outline an angle of Bonds as the centerpiece of this chapter.  And I think I’m going to go with how sabermetricians contribute to writing the history of baseball.  The official story of Barry Bonds as told by journalists will be about the steroids.  The story told about Barry Bonds by sabermetricians will be a bit different I think. 

The story told about Barry Bonds by sabermetricians will be Aspergery / hero-worshipping lunacy.

Making America more like Mexico is depressing to Mexican fertility

From the Washington Post:
By Tara Bahrampour, Published: November 29 

Tarara Boomdeeay, what a great name ...
The U.S. birthrate plunged last year to a record low, with the decline being led by immigrant women hit hard by the recession, according to a study released Thursday by the Pew Research Center. 
The overall birthrate decreased by 8 percent between 2007 and 2010, with a much bigger drop of 14 percent among foreign-born women. The overall birthrate is at its lowest since 1920, the earliest year with reliable records. The 2011 figures don’t have breakdowns for immigrants yet, but the preliminary findings indicate that they will follow the same trend.
The decline could have far-reaching implications for U.S. economic and social policy. A continuing decrease could challenge long-held assumptions that births to immigrants will help maintain the U.S. population and create the taxpaying workforce needed to support the aging baby-boom generation. 

Not held by me.

Is it really that complicated to imagine that selectivity in admissions/immigration matters in how much taxes the immigrants and their heirs will pay in versus how much social spending they will soak up?

Do what Harvard does, not what Harvard says. Harvard is extremely selective and it has an endowment of $31 billion. In contrast, the huge but only moderately selective Cal State system of 23 campuses has an endowment of $1 billion.
... But after 2007, as the worst recession in decades dried up jobs and economic prospects across the nation, the birthrate for immigrant women plunged. One of the most dramatic drops was among Mexican immigrants — 23 percent. 

From the Pew study:

What nobody gets is that new female immigrants from Latin America tend to have extreme fertility in the years right after settling. Open the doors to more immigration by giving a second amnesty, which even the dimmest foreigners will see as a pattern, and you'll have another baby boom, just like the one in California that followed the 1986 amnesty act that nobody knows about. Further, amnesty allows men to send for women from the Old Country. Finally, amnesty is being framed in the press as, basically, the Surrender Documents of White America, so of course it will stimulate immigration and fertility.

The GOP would have to be stupid to agree to amnesty, so it will probably happen.

This one is interesting:
Wow, 78% illegitimacy rate among African-Americans. A 58% illegitimacy rate among Hispanic-Americans. Fortunately, "Family values don't stop at the Rio Grande," as GW Bush once said, so we're revitalizing America by importing Hispanics from abroad who only have a 50% illegitimacy rate.

And Asian-Americans have a 31% illegitimacy rate compared to 30% for white Americans.


Instead of having Brad Pitt play Billy Beane in Moneyball, I'd have Philip Seymour Hoffman play, uh, Jim Williams in Ballmoney, the tragic story of bearded, pudgy former boilerroom attendant at a canned bean factory who, through immense work, has slowly revolutionized how the smartest fans think about his beloved game. But then, after decades of labor as the ultimate outsider, his statistics start to show that something is going very wrong with the sport. Should he tell the world about the spreading corruption? Or should he keep his mouth shut and not ruin his chances to finally become an insider in the game that has been his life?

Final scene: victory parade for the hulking World Series winners and their acclaimed executive Jim Williams:
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

November 29, 2012

Why Asians vote Democratic (cont.)

From an email:
"What you write about assimilation is important, probably the most important single issue, just impossible to write about openly. Huntington explained this in Who Are We, which was an important influence for me. America has lost the cultural self-confidence to assimilate immigrants. Now because of pro-immigration propaganda they feel you owe them something. 
Hope is not all lost, over the long run there is some appeal to become American, you have an attractive culture. 
Social Issues combined with identity are hugely turning off high IQ secular Asians. If the GOP moderates there is a chance to attract them. 
The most dangerous trend is the aggressive anti-white, anti-American sentiment among successful immigrants as part of expressing one’s own identity. It is palpable among the graduate students I know, sickening."

From another email in this thread:
However, that doesn't explain why a generally well educated, economically successful group (actually several groups) would be more Democratic than Hispanics.

As best I can tell, the shift is cultural. At one time, American society was overtly assimilationist (and proud of it). Immigrants were encouraged (pressured, coerced, etc.) to join the mainstream. Rather than retaining their native cultures, values, and ideas they were told to adopt everything American. Indeed, the American definition of assimilation required the immigrant to give up all things "foreign" other than his religion and his last name (even that had to go in some cases).

This wasn't just an idea from 1900. As recently as 1967, Norman Podhoretz wrote about how Jews could only gain acceptance in elite American circle by giving up their ethnic identity, and becoming ersatz WASPs. ... 
Assimilation didn't make immigrants (or more relevantly their children), Republicans. However, it strongly encourage immigrants to identify with the mainstream of American society. That made them (first and second generation immigrants) open to the ideas and values of the Republicans.

Conversely, American society today is very overtly anti-assimilationist. The new ideology is "diversity" (as in "celebrate diversity") where each person is strongly encouraged to define him or herself in opposition to the mainstream. That makes voting for the left inevitable and inexorable.

And, of course, since most people are conformist, it very much helps that Defining Yourself in Opposition to the Mainstream is the mainstream, as demonstrated by, say, the TV commercials shown during NFL games.

WSJ: "The Racializing of American Politics"

The big money conservative press is starting to get alarmed by all the in-yo-face-white-boy chest-thumping since the election (much of it coming from white boys, of course). Here's another column from the Wall Street Journal, although more naive than Taranto's good one recently.
Henninger: The Racializing of American Politics 
Even the exit polls now force people to put themselves in a racial category. 
... It may be over four decades since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, but whenever America votes today, the exit polls can't move fast enough to divide voters by the color of their skin. Mere moments after the 2012 exit polls were released, a conventional wisdom congealed across the media that the Republican Party was "too white." 
Let us posit that this subject wouldn't have been raised if the bottom hadn't fallen out of the GOP's share of the Hispanic vote. When George W. Bush attracted 40% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, there was no cry that the Republican Party was "too white." The GOP's problem with Hispanics today is a tangle of issues involving the law, labor and assimilation that is hardly reducible to the accusation that the party is too white.

The mainstream media has been assiduously trying for years to racialize Hispanics. Maybe they're succeeding?
In virtually every instance, the idea that the Republican Party is "too white" is dropped with almost no discussion of what exactly that means. The phrase is being pinned like a scarlet "W" on anyone who didn't vote for the Democrats' nominee. It's a you-know-what-we-mean denunciation. Its only meaning is racial. 
... During the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton wrestled over race, first in January when Bill Clinton was accused of racial signaling during the South Carolina primary, and in March when Mrs. Clinton repudiated the late Geraldine Ferraro for referencing Mr. Obama's color. A New York Times report then said Mr. Obama was "puzzled" at this preoccupation with race and sex. It quoted Mr. Obama as saying: "I don't want to deny the role of race and gender in our society. They're there, and they're powerful. But I don't think it's productive."

Race has been damn productive for the career of B. Obama, President of the United States.
A welcome thought. The truth is that no prominent Democrat since Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan has been willing to sustain opposition to this constant racializing of American politics and culture. 
In the famous 2003 Supreme Court decision upholding the University of Michigan's race-based admission policies, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in support: "The Court takes the Law School at its word that it would like nothing better than to find a race-neutral admissions formula and will terminate its use of racial preferences as soon as practicable. The Court expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary." 
In 2008's election, many Republicans and independents voted for Mr. Obama to put a final nail in the coffin of Justice O'Connor's racial anxieties. The millions of them who then cast votes against Mr. Obama in 2012 did so almost wholly because of the status of the economy after four years of his presidency. No matter. They lost in 2012 because they're "too white." 
The Democrats' insistence on pandering to political categories is a dead end for the country.

But, not apparently, for the Democrats.
... No one can beat the Democrats at the politics of social division. Instead, the GOP should tell prospective voters that no matter what their country of origin or happenstance of birth, their success in the U.S. will depend less on celebrating their assigned category than on supporting political policies that expand economic opportunity. A Republican Party that fails to tell that story in a way anyone can grasp is a party that will never escape the box the other side dropped it into on Nov. 7.

Maybe, just maybe, the GOP should, on the rare occasions when it has power, do something about, say, affirmative action. Of maybe it should mention during the Presidential campaign that it will nominate judges skeptical of racial preferences. Who knows? The GOP might even go all crazy and run a TV commercial showing your job application being crumpled up because you are the wrong race? An insane idea, I know, but it did work 22 years ago, so maybe the GOP could try it again?

But, fundamentally, the point is that if you don't want increasingly racialized politics, then you don't want an increasingly racialized electorate. As Nate Silver noted, New Hampshire still has pretty good politics -- "elastic," as he calls them, where people care about the issues more than just the identity of the candidates. But that's because, as Silver more or less admits, the New Hampshire electorate still looks pretty much like it did in Norman Rockwell's Freedom of Speech painting of a New England town meeting, where the main division is by class (the working man is surprising the suit-and-tie crowd with the cogency of his argument), not race.

Education Realist explains charter schools

From Education Realist
The Parental “Diversity” Dilemma 
By educationrealist

... Look at the history of most progressive charters and you’ll find they are initiated by white people who fit into one or more of the following categories: 
- Unnerved by the high percentage of low-achieving, low-income kids at their neighborhood school. 
- Unwilling to risk the lottery system for the good schools in their district. 
- Unable to afford private school, or a house in a homogenous suburb. 
- Unsure their kids are going to be able to compete with the top kids in their neighborhood school (particularly in high school) 
- Unhappy with the public school’s treatment of their idiosyncratic little snowflake. 
These are people who would move to homogeneous environments, but can’t.

I'm more sympathetic to the parents' dilemma. I don't think it's a bad thing for the people who would stay and pay a lot of taxes in a big city to contrive a satisfactory public school education for their kids. At $4 a gallon of gas, there's a lot to be said for making a stand in the city.

But, contrive is the necessary word.
So a bunch of well-off but not super-rich white folks* who don’t want to or can’t move and don’t want to or can’t pay for private school live in a school district in which low-income black/Hispanic kids must be a part of their kids’ school environment. This is not optimal. However, if they can create a charter school and require a bunch of commitments, they can skim the cream off of this population, minimize the impact of low ability kids on their own child’s education, get their kids something close to straight As with far less work than they’d have to do in a public school, congratulate themselves on their tolerance and dedication to diversity, and all for less than the cost of a mid-tier private school. Such a deal. 
Unlike low-achieving, majority URM [Under Represented Minority] charters, which are generally funded with billionaire grant money or for-profit charters, progressive charters are normally started by parents who are willing to fork out $10K or so apiece to get a charter school off the ground for their kids. Then, once they’ve got seed money, off they go in search of a reasonable amount of low income URM kids. 
This kicks off a big hooha with the local school district. First, the charter will never be as “diverse” as the local school district. It will always run considerably behind in URMs. Then, the local school districts will accuse the charter of creaming just the motivated students, of URM attrition, of creating rules and expectations that are tough for the low-income (read Hispanic/black) parents to follow. Then there’s the yearly squabble as the local school district points out that the charters are pulling the public schools’ top achieving low income Hispanic/African American kids whilst leaving behind low incentive kids, special ed kids, English language learners, thus lowering the district school scores, while the charters congratulate themselves for their diversity, tolerance, humanity, generosity and high test scores. The local school district will often reject the charter’s extension, only to be overridden by lawsuits or the state. All done ostensibly in the name of good intentions and diversity, all done actually in the name of minimizing their own kids’ exposure to the lower achieving, poorly behaved low income blacks and Hispanics. (Of course, if the charter’s in a rich enough district, then they don’t even have to worry about finding URMs.) 
Am I painting this in the worst possible light? Probably, but it’s not all that pretty. Using taxpayer dollars for upscale liberals (they are, usually, liberals) who don’t want their kids in the overly “diverse” local schools or have a little snowflake who just isn’t good enough to compete in a more competitive public school

Say you've got a 95 IQ daughter and you want her to go to school with kids with average IQs of 105 instead of 85.

I sent my kids to a private school that took in a lot of students like that. The students at this Lutheran school were quite good in grades 1 to 5, but then suddenly in grade 6 the class size increased and the average brightness of the kids dropped. But, there weren't any major behavioral problems, and the parents were super nice. It turned out that the new families were ones where the kid had been in public elementary school for 1 to 5. But with puberty looming, there was a scramble for places in more elite public middle schools. The less bright kids lost out, so their parents paid to put them in this private school for grades 6 to 8. Socially it was fine: a bunch of people with moderate amounts of money. But academically, things slowed down.

So, for my second son, my wife found a public middle school with an elite Science Academy program taught by a charismatic guy who'd come quite close to making it as an sci-fi action hero (when Kurt Russell cut my son's teacher's head off and then blew his head up with an atomic bomb at the climax of Stargate, my son said, "No sequel for Mr. L.") And she talked the parents of his two best friends into pulling them out of the private school and going to Norm Isaacs' public middle school for 6 to 8, which saved me a lot of money.
gaming the system and using their own dollars to bootstrap a plan to qualify for state and federal dollars? If you’re going to do it, then own it. We can argue about whether or not it’s appropriate to create charters for entirely low income populations, schools that skim the motivated kids without any disabilities or sped problems from the local public schools overloaded with all that and more and then take those kids and mercilessly beat information into them in the hopes of moving them to a better-educated life and middle class jobs. But at least, there, we are working with kids who have no other options, who are being funded largely by grants from billionaires who want to pat themselves on the back for helping the little people. 
None of this means that the teachers aren’t hardworking and dedicated and that some low income kids are getting a much safer education than they otherwise would. (In high school, however, it does mean that the kids are all getting much, much better grades than they would be getting in their local comprehensive high schools, which gives them a huge advantage in college admissions.) 
The eduformers have started to notice these progressive, “diverse” charters, as well as gentrifying urban schools, which spring from the same motivations. Mike Petrilli** has a book out (What, you didn’t know? You must not be on his Twitter feed.) celebrating the parents who seek out this choice for their kids, despite their concerns about performance and their own little snowflakes’ educations. Why, Petrilli himself suffered through the “diverse schools dilemma”. His own local school in Takoma Park had a student body in which THIRTY FIVE PERCENT of the students qualified for free lunch! I mean, that school almost qualified for Title I! Oh, the humanity. So you can see why Petrilli felt the need to write a book celebrating the parents who brave these schools full of the great illiterate unwashed, and showing them how to find schools that only looked bad on the outside, but weren’t, you know, actually bad. 
In fairness, Petrilli, like all educational policy folks, is fixated on elementary and middle schools, which are far more segregated than high schools. So 35% probably seems like a rilly rilly high number to him. But I can list at least five high schools in my general vicinity that have are 65% free-reduced lunch and 65% ELL (mostly Hispanic) with a 30% population of white students, ranging from working class to well-off, a situation that’s becoming increasingly common in many suburbs. So Petrilli’s intro has already spotlighted him as a dilettante. I mean, gosh. 35%!!! 
But Petrilli as a eduform policy wonk has been focused on pulling in whites to the reform movement for a while—in fact, I’m deeply skeptical that he ever really researched the issue for his own kids, given how neatly this book ties in with his clear policy goals. In his summary of takeaways from the 2012 election, #1 on his list is “don’t piss off the suburbs”. (And of course, Petrilli didn’t take any of his own advice, running away from the scarily “diverse” Takoma Park in favor of uprooting his family to an expensive house in the suburbs and sending his kids to lily white Wood Acres Elementary, a school he tsks tsks in the intro for being over 90% white. Really, who hands out book deals to people like this?) 
So call me uncharitable, but I figure Petrilli and other eduformers are pushing “diversity” as a means of gently tempting house-poor or other economically stretched white folks into seeking out charters in order to further undercut public schools, while also reassuring the suburbs that the reform movement won’t drill and kill their kids to test heaven. 
Of course, the real “dilemma” is one I wrote about earlier: 
….why are charter schools growing like weeds? 
I offer this up as opinion/assertion, without a lot of evidence to back me: most parents know intuitively that bad teachers aren’t a huge problem. What they care about, from top to bottom of the income scale, is environment. Suburban white parents don’t want poor black and Hispanic kids around. Poor black and Hispanic parents don’t want bad kids around. (Yes, this means suburban parents see poor kids as mostly bad kids.) Asian parents don’t want white kids around, much less black or Hispanic….So charters become a way for parents to sculpt their school environments. White parents stuck in majority/minority districts start progressive charters that brag about their minority population but are really a way to keep the brown kids limited to the well-behaved ones. Low income black and Hispanic parents want safe schools. Many of them apply for charter school lotteries because they know charters can kick out the “bad kids” without fear of lawsuits. But they still blame the “bad kids”, not the teachers, which is why they might send their kids to charter schools while still ejecting Adrian Fenty for Michelle Rhee’s sins. 
As I’ve mentioned before, education reformers are now pushing suburban charters with strong academic focus, which are nothing more than tracking for parents who can’t get their public schools to do it for them. 
And so the dilemma Petrilli and others write about involving both progressive charters and “gentrifying” public schools: how can white middle to upper class parents who can no longer afford to move to a homogeneous district sculpt the schools they want while minimizing the impact of the undesirable students?
Clearly, step one is for the parents to publicly congratulate themselves. They’re not avoiding diversity, they’re seeking it out! (They just don’t mention the part about controlling it.) 
And then, wait patiently for step two: Eventually, all but the best low income students will either behave badly enough or get tired of the rules and leave the charter schools for the required-to-take-them comprehensives, and eventually, gentrification will be complete and all the low income students, good and bad, will go off to an exurb somewhere. 
So all they have to do is cope until that happy day, and avoid the lawsuits. Tiptoe tentatively around the cultural issues in the meantime. If you want to worry, worry that you bet on the wrong neighborhood and that gentrification won’t take hold. 
That’s the diversity dilemma, in a nut shell: a white parents strategy to minimize the impact of low income low ability students on their kids without the expense of a private school or a new house. If the economy or the housing market picks up, expect the trend to fade. Sorry, eduformers, but by and large, white folks like big high schools and full-service middle schools. 
Anyway. Russo touches on another point directly: the upper middle class white funded charters are, in almost every case, progressive. They hire their teachers from straight from top-ranked ed schools, all of them thoroughly steeped in the tea of social justice, heterogeneous classrooms, complex instruction, and Freire. Teachers dedicated to closing the achievement gap not by drill and kill, but by shrinking the range by pulling the top-end in sharply. Not, to put it mildly, teachers who will provide an academically rigorous education. 
What this means in practice is that progressive charters (and, probably, the gentrified publics) do not have a high-achieving white population–particularly at the high school level. The parents who start progressive charters are more likely to have idiosyncratic kids who would be labelled weird in their public school. 
Others, like the parents of Emily Jones in Waiting for Superman, are worried their kids wouldn’t track into the top group in their local suburban high school, and thus be stuck with the lower achieving kids. Still others just know their kids won’t work terribly hard and will get weaker grades at the local high school than they would at a progressive charter where they’d be the top students (and where, of course, they will be donating quite a bit of money for that sort of consideration). Parents with high achievers are either going to seek out academic charters (which are rare) or leave their kids in the comprehensive high school, where they are able to compete and perform at the top level. 
You can see this reality reflected in the research on charter schools, with one of its key findings: Study charter schools’ impacts on student achievement were inversely related to students’ income levels. 
Yep. Drill and kill works great for low ability kids, but heterogeneous complex instruction is a lousy way to teach a mixed ability classroom without many high achievers. 
But that’s predictable, isn’t it? After all, progressive charters are a hybrid of the worst of both sides of the education debate. Progressive instruction and goals, social justice crap given full rein, all in an organizational structure designed to pull off exactly the sort of kids who wouldn’t benefit from it, courtesy of the reform movement.

Nate Silver in 2009 v. a proto-Mommy Blogger in 1989: Who was more right about baseball steroids?

Mark McGwire & Sammy Sosa, 1998
Nate Silver, whose book I review here, is approaching the totemic status of Charles Darwin as a signifier of Science, Honesty, and the Triumph of the Democrats. This isn't his fault, but it's hard to avoid playing to the crowd of worshippers. Here, for example, is Silver's latest work of self-congratulation for Democrats: In Silicon Valley, Technology Talent Gap Threatens G.O.P. Campaigns. So, it's worth documenting this former professional baseball forecaster's strikingly terrible track record at noticing the biggest thing happening to baseball statistics in his lifetime: performance enhancing drugs. 

I've always been interested in the effects of steroids since they are artificial male hormones and thus hugely relevant to the debate over feminism and whether sex differences are biological or cultural. Thus, I wrote a 1997 article for National Review called Track and Battlefield that reviewed track statistics for insights into the debate over Coed Combat. In it, I sketched out the history of steroids' impact on track statistics ... five years before Silver started writing about baseball statistics. I'd been following the impact of steroids on track and on baseball since the 1980s. The main difference between the sports was that track tested and occasionally caught cheaters, while baseball didn't test. My article came out the year before Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa made a travesty of baseball statistics and five years before Silver started publishing on the talent of ballplayers.

For example, here was the cover of the 1998 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year issue. And this is what SI burbled:
"As is our custom late each fall, we at Sports Illustrated sat down to discuss nominations for the Sportsman of the ... No, we didn't discuss. We didn't even sit down. It was automatic. It was unanimous. It was the easiest selection in our history. It couldn't be one Sportsman of the Year. It had to be two. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. All in favor, say aye. All opposed, report back to your coma." 
"McGwire and Sosa gave America a summer that won't be forgotten: a summer of stroke and counterstroke, of packed houses and curtain calls, of rivals embracing and gloves in the bleachers and adults turned into kids -- the Summer of Long Balls and Love. It wasn't just the lengths they went to with bats in their hands. It was also that they went to such lengths to conduct the great home run race with dignity and sportsmanship, with a sense of joy and openness. Never have two men chased legends and each other that hard and that long or invited so much of America onto their backs for the ride."

In October 1998, Stephen Jay Gould had written a similar article in the Wall Street Journal: "A Happy Mystery to Ponder: Why So Many Homers?" I sent the famed science writer and Harvard professor a fax explaining that McGwire had already been caught back in August with a steroid precursor called Androstenedione in his locker, and that McGwire and Sosa were both obvious juicers. But, for some reason, he did not respond.

So, the impact of steroids was a big, big deal in American culture long before Silver got involved professionally writing about baseball statistics. Yet, he didn't seem to have much to say about steroids online until positive test results for performance-enhancing drugs started to leak out after a few years of Silver being in the business of forecasting performance. And, even then, for the next five years Silver kept being creatively but consistently wrong about the impact of steroids.

In May 2009, 21 years after Tom Boswell accused Jose Canseco of using steroids, slugger Manny Ramirez, who had finished the 2008 season by hitting an improbable .396, got caught by a drug test and suspended for 50 games. In response, Silver wrote in Baseball Prospectus about how surprised he and the whole sabermetrics community were:
In fact, Ramirez was frequently taken to be the counter-example, the guy who, come hell or high water, absolutely was not on steroids. He was so much of a freak that we assumed his hitting talents must have been freakish too -- God-given ability, and not the result of any sort of chemical intervention.

The problem for Silver with a superstar like Ramirez getting caught was that it shot a hole in the theory Silver had been promoting ever since positive tests started being leaked to the media in the mid-2000s: that the real juicers were the scrubs, not the superstars putting up all the seemingly ridiculous statistics:
The typical steroid user might not be the prima donna slugger who endorses Budweiser between innings but the "hardworking late bloomer" who is struggling to maintain his spot in the lineup or is trying to leverage a good season into a big free-agent contract. Certainly these players might have more economic incentive to enhance their performance, as compared to their counterparts who have already signed multiyear, guaranteed major league contracts.

Hence, Silver predicted in 2005 after having to respond to positive test results:
There is clearly something going on--but it is not producing the sort of predictable impacts that everyone expects. Nor, because of the complexity of the underlying chemistry, are we likely to see substantial changes in the game's statistics resulting from efforts to curtail use of these substances. 

Well, Silver turned out to be really wrong: offensive statistics have cratered since then due to drug testing.

In contrast, the impact of steroids on superstar Jose Canseco, the "Typhoid Mary of steroids," was obvious back in the 1980s to novelist Anne Lamott. That the Oakland A’s were up to no good during the 1989 World Series was so blatant that it even featured in the bestseller Operation Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by proto-mommy blogger Anne Lamott:
I was explaining to [my baby] Sam that Jose Canseco shouldn't get to play because of the obvious steroid use, that there is something really wrong with the guy ... It was obvious from Sam's expression that he didn't think much of Canseco.

Why could a lady novelist taking care of her first-born notice what Nate Silver wouldn't?

She wasn't being paid to not notice.

November 28, 2012

Golf course architecture as the WASP art form

Click picture to see more of the Pacific
While the world of architecture increasingly evolves toward in-your-face buildings designed by starchitects like Thom Mayne, the high end of the world of golf course architecture has been evolving in the opposite direction, toward WASP understatement. The most prestigious new golf course of the 2010s, for example, is Old Macdonald, the fourth course at Bandon Dunes on the coast of southern Oregon. It's a tribute by golf designers Tom Doak and Jim Urbina to the first great American golf architect, Charles Blair Macdonald, who built the National Golf Links of America in the Hamptons a century ago.

I haven't played Old Macdonald (although I have played the NGLA four times).  I have to admit to being fairly baffled by pictures of this new course, which looks at first glance more like a rumpled sheep ranch that a $275 per round (high season) resort golf course. (Here's an in-depth guide to the course.)
In contrast, here's the 17th, the Garden of Eden hole, at Shadow Creek outside Las Vegas, which may have been the high point of trends in golf architecture 20-25 years ago. At Shadow Creek, you can see where you are supposed to hit the ball at a glance, in contrast to Old Macdonald which (like St. Andrews) seems featureless at first glance and extraordinarily complex upon careful study.

Shadow Creek was designed by Tom Fazio, one of the first golf architects whose names end in a vowel, with a lot of good advice from casino magnate Steve Wynn, whose expertise in showmanship and pacing was a revelation for golf course architects. They dug a 60 foot deep hole in the desert of more than half a square mile, then reproduced a fantasy  version of the the Sand Hills of North Carolina. Today, in contrast, the emphasis is on finding the perfect piece of golf land (i.e., sand dunes), no matter how remote, and then routing upon it a course that looks like no dirt was moved in creating it.

London School blog

James Thompson, a veteran psychologist at University College London, has started a blog called Psychological Comments.

Downes Syndrome

New York Times editorials about how Racist Republicans must agree to More Immigrants Now are mostly written by Lawrence Downes.

But how diverse is he? In general, the New York Times Editorial Board is a lot less diverse than you might naively imagine from its rhetoric. (Pictures here.) Here's Downes' Description:

LAWRENCE DOWNES | Immigration | Veterans Issues
Lawrence Downes, who joined the editorial board in 2004, has worked for The New York Times since 1993. He served on the National desk as enterprise editor and as deputy political editor during the 2000 presidential campaign. From 1998 to 2000, Mr. Downes was a weekend editor on the Metro desk and, before that, deputy weekend editor and copy editor. Mr. Downes was a copy editor at Newsday from 1992 to 1993 and at the Chicago Sun-Times from 1989 to 1992. Mr. Downes received a B.A. degree in English from Fordham University in 1986. He also attended the University of Missouri School of Journalism from 1987 to 1989.

Now, if you told me that one of Downes' grandmothers came from a nice family in Manila or Bogota, I could readily imagine that being true. After all, he's no Jorge Ramos or even David Royston Patterson.

But, still ... 

Think of the pressure on Downes. He has a comfy gig arguing for the elite conventional wisdom in favor of the displacement of American workers by foreigners, but what about displacing him with somebody a little more visibly vibrant? 

Call it Downes Syndrome: You'd better be virulently bullying in demanding the crushing of the American worker in the name of fighting racism, or they may come for your job, too.

Harvard / Yale degrees among Presidential candidates

Ron Unz's article on elite college admissions reminds me that they seem to be doing something right in terms of polishing up their brand names, which have never been glossier. For example, consider the Harvard or Yale degrees of the Presidential nominees of the two parties since 1900. 

From 1900 through 1984, I count 9 Harvard or Yale degrees  for 44 nominees, or 0.20 per candidate (and 5 of the 9 are members of the Roosevelt family).

From 1988 through 2012, I count 15 Harvard or Yale degrees for 14 nominees, or 1.07 per candidate. That's a lot!

1900: 0
1904: 1 (TR Harvard BA)
1908: 1 (Taft Yale BA)
1912: 1 (Taft, not counting TR's 3rd party run)
1916: 0
1920: 0
1924: 0
1928: 0 (Al Smith never went to high school)
1932: 1 (FDR Harvard BA)
1936: 1 (FDR Harvard BA)
1940: 1 (FDR Harvard BA)
1944: 1 (FDR Harvard BA)
1948: 0
1952: 0 (Stevenson dropped out of HLS)
1956: 0 
1960: 1 (JFK Harvard BA)
1964: 0
1968: 0
1972: 0
1976: 1 (Ford YLS)
1980: 0
1984: 0
1988: 2 (Bush Y BA, Dukakis HLS)
1992: 2 (Bush Y BA, Clinton YLS)
1996: 1 (Clinton YLS)
2000: 3 (Gore H BA, Bush Y BA HBS)
2004: 3 (Bush Y BA HBS, Kerry Y BA)
2008: 1 (Obama HLS)
2012: 3 (Obama HLS, Romney HBS HLS)

Counting by ancestral background: Mandatory for some, forbidden for others?

Over at Marginal Revolution, economist Tyler Cowen links to Ron Unz's The Myth of American Meritocracy, saying:
There is a new and stimulating piece by Ron Unz, in The American Conservative.  The article covers plenty of ground, but I took away two main points.  The first is that there is massive and quite unjustified bias against Asian and Asian-American students in the U.S. admissions process.  Yes, I already thought that but it turns out it is much worse than I had thought.  Yet many people support this aspect of our current admissions systems, either directly or indirectly.
The second point is the claim that Jewish academic achievement in America is collapsing at the top end, in relative terms at least.
For reasons which are possibly irrational on my end, but perhaps not totally irrational, I am not entirely comfortable with the religious and ethnic and racial “counting” methods applied in this piece (blame me for mood affiliation if you wish). Still, it is an interesting read and after some internal debate I thought I would pass it along, albeit with caveats.

I’d like to hear more from Tyler about why he had to struggle with his comfort level. After all, he is in a quantitative field, and vast amounts of quantitative analyses are published annually based on data collected about race and ethnicity. On the other hand, almost nothing quantitative is published in the mainstream about what is, arguably, the most influential ethnic, racial and/or religious group in 21st Century America.

On the other other hand, Jewish publications and organizations keep close tabs on quantitative measures of Jewish accomplishment. For example, the venerable Jewish Telegraph Agency estimated in 2009 that about 35% of the Forbes 400 were Jewish. (Here's a more careful count of the ethnicity of the 400 richest people in America.)

Similarly, in the 1995 book Jews and the New American Scene, the prominent social scientist Seymour Martin Lipset, a Senior Scholar of the Wilstein Institute for Jewish Policy Studies, and Earl Raab, Director of the Perlmutter Institute for Jewish Advocacy at Brandeis University, pointed out:
“During the last three decades, Jews have made up 50% of the top two hundred intellectuals, 40 percent of American Nobel Prize Winners in science and economics, 20 percent of professors at the leading universities, 21 percent of high level civil servants, 40 percent of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington, 26% of the reporters, editors, and executives of the major print and broadcast media, 59 percent of the directors, writers, and producers of the fifty top-grossing motion pictures from 1965 to 1982, and 58 percent of directors, writers, and producers in two or more primetime television series.” [pp 26-27]

Finally, would Tyler have linked to Unz’s article about Jewish achievement if Unz wasn’t Jewish?

"Myth of American Meritocracy" now online

In the December issue of The American Conservative:
The Myth of American Meritocracy 
How corrupt are Ivy League admissions? 
by Ron Unz

"Shut up, you losers," he explained

From the NYT Editorial Page Editor's blog, the NYT's chief immigration reporter responds to the proposed compromise to increase STEM visas while cutting random diversity visas:
A Bad Start on Immigration Reform 
Representative Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is offering a new version of an old immigration bill that’s due to be voted on this week. It’s being touted by supporters as a signal that the Republican Party understands the election message sent by voters – particular Latinos and Asians – in favor of immigration reform. 
Don’t be fooled. The resurrected STEM Jobs Act is a tweaked version of a bad bill that died earlier this year in the House, and it’s bad for the same reasons as before. The bill increases visas for immigrants skilled in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — by eliminating another visa category entirely: the “diversity” visas set aside for people from countries with relatively low immigration rates to the United States. 
Here’s the math: add 55,000 new visas for immigrants with advanced STEM degrees. Take away 55,000 diversity visas. A zero-sum game, in pro-immigrant disguise. 
... If the Republicans are going to offer real immigration reform, they will have to do better than this.

We, on the winning side, don't have to justify our demands with reasons or evidence or appeals to the common good. You have to provide terms of your final surrender that we deem acceptable.

You can read the whole thing and see that Downes doesn't feel it necessary to offer any defense of the diversity visa lottery. His subtle, carefully reasoned position is

More Immigrants Now.

My review of Nate Silver's "The Signal and the Noise" in Taki's

From my book review in Taki's Magazine:
Nate Silver is most famous for steadily predicting Barack Obama’s reelection (which, as you may have heard, happened). Yet his new bestseller The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don’t is a fine all-around introduction to the science and art of forecasting, with interesting examples drawn from many fields. 
For example: You know those ten-day weather forecasts? Predicting the first week has gotten reasonably reliable, but the ninth and tenth days, Silver reports, are useless. They may even be negatively correlated with what actually transpires. 
The Signal and the Noise starts weakly with the oft-told cautionary tale of how credit-rating agencies such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s missed the subprime mortgage bubble. Fortunately, it improves as the author turns to topics with which he has more personal familiarity, such as sports, gambling, and sports gambling. 
Indeed, The Signal and the Noise is one of the better Frequent Flyer books of recent years.

Read the whole thing there.

November 27, 2012

WSJ: "Most-Racial America: Antiwhite bigotry goes mainstream"

Something I haven't been able to bring myself to do is make a list of the vast outpouring of animus toward white men since the election. Of course, this orgy of insults has nothing to do with the unfair strength of white men, and everything to do with their weakness and fairness.

James Taranto, WSJ editorial page editor, inspects a representative example of this rhetoric in the Wall Street Journal:
Most-Racial America 
Antiwhite bigotry goes mainstream.

... At issue is a Nov. 19 letter to the President Obama, written by Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina and signed by 97 House Republicans, which declares that the signatories are "deeply troubled" that the president is considering nominating Rice secretary of state, and that they "strongly oppose" such a nomination. 
"Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public in the Benghazi matter," the letter states. We noted Tuesday with some amusement that Rep. Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat and member of the Congressional Black Caucus, was claiming that "incompetent" was the latest code word for "black." 
The Post focuses on the critics rather than their choice of words. Here's the passage that outrages Jacobson: "Could it be, as members of the Congressional Black Caucus are charging, that the signatories of the letter are targeting Ms. Rice because she is an African American woman? The signatories deny that, and we can't know their hearts. What we do know is that more than 80 of the signatories are white males, and nearly half are from states of the former Confederacy."

Rep. Jeff Duncan is suspiciously pale, according to the Washington Post. 
Let's examine this argument carefully. The Post acknowledges that "we can't know their hearts." But it finds a (literally) prima facie reason to suspect them of invidious motives: Almost all of them are persons of pallor. The Post is casting aspersions on Duncan and his colleagues based explicitly on the color of their skin. And it is accusing them of racism! 
A couple of other items related to race and politics caught our attention over the Thanksgiving weekend. First, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., an Illinois Democrat and CBC member, resigned from Congress "amid federal ethics investigations and a diagnosis of mental illness," as the Chicago Tribune reports. That sets up a special election to fill the vacancy: 
Some Democrats quickly offered to broker a nominee to avoid several African-American contenders splitting the vote in the heavily Democratic and majority black 2nd Congressional District, which could allow a white candidate to win.
This passes with neither editorial comment nor a disapproving quote. It's hard to imagine the same absence of reaction if a group of pols offered "to broker a nominee" with the goal of preventing a black candidate from winning a white-majority district. 
Then there's the email from the Obama campaign--yeah, they're still coming, though at a slower pace than before the election--inviting supporters to take a survey. Among the questions: "Which constituency groups do you identify yourself with? Select all that apply." 
There are 22 boxes you can check off. Some are ideological ("Environmentalists" and perhaps "Labor"), some occupational ("Educators," "Healthcare professionals"), some regional ("Americans abroad," "Rural Americans"). There's a box for "Women" but none for men, though there's a separate "Gender" question, which hilariously has three options: "Male," "Female" and "Other/no answer." Touré will no doubt soon inveigh against the "otherization" of the Gender No. 3. 
What caught our attention were the ethnic categories: "African Americans," "Arab-Americans," "Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders," Jewish Americans," "Latinos" and "Native Americans" (the last, of course, refers to American Indians, not natural-born citizens). 
Notice anything missing? 
One explanation for the absence of a "white" or "European-American" category (or, alternatively, several dozen specific European ethnicities) could be that whites tend to vote Republican, and the campaign is interested in Democratic-leaning voting blocs. But several other of the Obama survey categories lean toward the GOP, too: "People of faith," "Rural Americans," "Seniors," "Small business owners" and "Veterans/military families." Counterpart groups that are Democratic-leaning or swing-voting are missing from the list, too, including nonbelievers, urban and suburban dwellers, and the middle-aged (though there are categories for both "Young professionals" and "Youth"). 
The reason for the absence of a "Whites" category is that white identity politics is all but nonexistent in America today. That wasn't always the case, of course: For a century after the Civil War, Southern white supremacists were an important part of the Democratic Party coalition. They were defeated and discredited in the 1960s, and the Democrats, still the party of identity politics, switched their focus to various nonwhite minorities. 
Obama's re-election was a triumph for this new identity politics--but the Post's nasty editorial hints at a reason to think this form of politics may have long-term costs for both the party and the country. 
The trouble with a diverse coalition based on ethnic or racial identity is that solidarity within each group can easily produce conflicts among the groups. Permissive immigration policies, for example, may be good for Hispanics and Asians but bad for blacks. Racial preferences in college admissions help blacks and Hispanics at the expense of Asians. 
One way of holding together such a disparate coalition is by delivering prosperity, so that everyone can feel he's doing well. Failing that, another way is by identifying a common adversary--such as the "white male." During Obama's first term, the demonization of the "white male" was common among left-liberal commentators, especially MSNBC types. The Post has now lent its considerably more mainstream institutional voice to this form of bigotry. 
This seems likely to weaken the taboo against white identity politics. Whites who are not old enough to remember the pre-civil-rights era--Rep. Duncan, for instance, was born in 1966--have every reason to feel aggrieved by being targeted in this way. 
The danger to Democrats is that they still need white votes. According to this year's exit polls, Obama won re-election while receiving only 39% of the white vote. But that's higher than Mitt Romney's percentage among blacks (6%), Latinos (27%), Asian-Americans (26%) or "Other" (38%). It's true that Republicans suffer electorally for the perception that they are hostile to minorities, but Democrats also stand to suffer for being hostile to whites. 
The danger for the country is that a racially polarized electorate will produce a hostile, balkanized culture. In 2008 Obama held out the hope of a postracial America. His re-election raises the possibility of a most-racial America.

Well said. But, notice, that as a white guy writing for white guys, Taranto can't help but say that the problem with the current orgy of demonization of white guys is that it's bad for everybody, not that it's bad for white guys.

Presumably, Taranto of the WSJ has been reading me for a long time. But he's kind of new to writing about this. So, he may figure that his nicely balance appeal to fairness and the public weal might persuade Democrats to moderate their course by frightening them that they are inciting a white backlash. But, I suspect they will have a succinct yet far-reaching reply:

"Shut up, you loser."

Why compromise when you can have it all? Control of the political process and control of the discourse?

What do you think Jorge Ramos, Univision's anchorman, will say to himself when reading this? "Hey, Taranto, your job is to promote 'There shall be open borders' and get my taxes cut. If I was worried about the natives I wouldn't insult them so much. So, get back to work and no more mouthing off, or I'll call you a racist for asking for equality and fairness."