April 28, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 26, 2007

Rudy Giuliani's 1073 SAT score

A reader writes:

Rudy enrolled at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in 1957, an exclusive Catholic prep school. They accepted two kids from each parish.

From "Rudy: An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Giuliani" by Wayne Barrett on page 34:

"After seven semesters at Bishop Loughlin, Rudy's grade average of 84.8 earned him a ranking of 130, putting him in the class's second quintile. His report cards for those years show columns of mostly B's and C's, a few A's and one D. He scored a 65 in chemistry, a 74 in Latin and a 92 in American history. His combined College Board scores, 569 in verbal and 504 in math, were twenty-seven points shy of 1100, and quite ordinary."

Wayne Barrett is a writer at the Village Voice and professor at the Columbia School of Journalism, if you want to check with the source.

Here's his academic history: "He attended Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, Manhattan College in the Bronx, and New York University Law School, graduating magna cum laude."

In comparison, George W. Bush scored 1206 and Al Gore 1330 on the SAT. All these scores are under the tougher pre-1995 scoring system. Add 70 or 80 points to get the equivalent under the current scores. Does anybody know what John McCain scored to get into Annapolis as the son and grandson of admirals?

It's striking that more than a few men considered Presidential Timber wouldn't have gotten a callback if they had applied to join, say, the Navy SEALs. It's not that a fairly high IQ is so utterly crucial to being a good SEAL, but it does improve the odds. There are many men who want to be SEALs, and plenty of them have reasonably high IQs, so it's no-brainer for the Navy to weigh IQ in the mix of qualifications.

Being Presdient, in contrast, does not generally require the physical ability to infiltrate an enemy harbor and silently kill sentries, so one might expect that IQ would be even more important in the Chief Executive job than in being a scuba commando.

Certainly, "intangibles" can make up for a modest IQ in a President, but are we so sure we are good at evaluating the intangibles of politicians? How good a job did we do with George W. Bush? And he wasn't some nobody from nowhere. He was the son of a President. Many important people had met him during the twelve years his father had held the two highest offices in the land, and few had thought him a worthy successor. We knew that his own parents considered him inferior to his own brother Jeb. And yet, the Republican Establishment got behind him in 1999, drinking Karl Rove's Kool-Aid that his intangibles would somehow make up for Bush's tangible deficiencies.

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

The Messiah of the Midway and Me

Although I wasn't the first journalist to notice the contradiction between Barack Obama's recent campaign image that implies that he is the living embodiment of racial reconciliation versus his racial-animus infused autobiography, I suspect that one of the less obvious reasons I was able to read it for what it is was because, not being a political horserace junkie, I came to the book with fresh eyes. I had never seen his famous 2004 Democratic Convention speech until after I'd read the book, and still haven't watched his 2007 campaign kickoff stemwinder. Life is too short to spend much of it watching politicians orate. So, most other journalists simply assumed that the 1995 book must have supported Obama's carefully honed image of 2004 onward, and, in the rare cases where they actually started reading it and noticed that it didn't, they simply assumed that it must document a massive change of heart by the end of Obama's endless pages of self-obsessed prose, which they, of course, being bigshot journalists, never quite had time to reach.

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

St. Barack and his moneybags

Sen. Obama's hometown Chicago Sun-Times has been running investigative reports into the closer-than-realized ties between that knight without reproach and his sleazy slumlord patron Tony Rezko, who seems to have sent a lot of money Obama's way over the years: First, Second, Third, and a commentary. Does this mean that the idea of all that is pure and holy being embodied in a Chicago politician was ridiculous from the beginning?

Why, yes, it does mean that ...

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

I don't get suites

Practically every new lodging facility built in this decade appears to have standardized on offering long suites rather than just bedrooms. But, they forget to put a wall and a door between the two rooms, leaving them a studio apartment rendering them largely useless for two people to engage in serious sleeping and working simultaneously. Why not put up a door and turn them into small one bedroom apartments? In general, people tend to find large spaces, such as lofts, cool on first impression -- What a great place for a party! -- but lousy to actually live in.

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

Persian Jews or Jewish Persians?

Beverly Hills has become increasingly Persian (Iranian immigrant) over the last 30 years (40% of public school students in this ritziest of all suburbs are Persians), while remaining highly Jewish. How? Because a large fraction of the Persian immigrants are Jews, which seems highly contradictory to most of us, but apparently doesn't to the Jewish Persians. I was talking recently to a witty man standing outside a snazzy Jewish wedding presided over by a rabbi. He had stepped out to calm his colicky infant daughter, and had lots of amusing jokes to make about "Persian weddings," which indeed do look a bit like that instantly-famous "South Park" parody of "300," in which the patrons of the Les Bos bar fight to defend their lesbian bar from being acquired and turned into a Persian nightclub by designer sunglasses-wearing Persians armed with gold curtain rods and other stuff "only a Persian would think was cool."

I was struck that they self-identified as Persians rather than Jews, even though there are lots of advantages in Southern California to being considered Jewish rather than Iranian.

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

April 24, 2007

The male-female looks gap:

Typically, in Western cultures where women put a lot of effort into their looks (e.g., Italy), men do too. Italian men don't spend as much time shopping and grooming themselves as Italian women do, but they spend more time than, say, Norwegian men do, just as Norwegian women spend less time on their nails and such as do Italian women. So, there tends to be a correlation between male and female cosmetic investments.

In the U.S. over the last decade or so, however, this pattern has broken down (with the exception of the tiny number of metrosexuals ... who, so far as I can tell, barely exist outside of Manhattan -- I sure don't see them in LA, and if they aren't in LA, where are they?). At the higher end of the social scale, young women seem to be investing steadily more in their looks, with plastic surgery increasing steadily. On the other hand, have American males ever invested less effort in how they dress? They can't be bothered to tuck in their t-shirts.

I'm not sure if this is terribly liberating -- it may just mean that young women are more attracted to innate alpha maleness than before, since they don't have many other clues other than, say, dominant body language.

On the other hand, lower down the social scale, men aren't as prone to obesity as women, so this trend reverses itself.

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

April 22, 2007

Cho wasn't the only violence-obsessed hack writer in his classroom

From my new VDARE.com column:

Ever since South Korean immigrant Cho Seung-hui gunned down 32 people at Virginia Tech, there has been much comment that the university should have realized just from his two hate-filled and inept plays that the senior English major was a dangerous creep who needed to be taken away.

For a playwrighting class, Cho penned Mr. Brownstone and Richard McBeef (which, despite the Macbethian title, is a Hamlet-knock off about a young hero's lethal conflict with the new stepfather who murdered his real father). Richard McBeef includes such sterling dialogue as:

"I hate him. Must kill Dick. Must kill Dick. Dick must die. Kill Dick."

Many have asked: "How could the English Department not recognize the horrific implications of these works?"

That might seem like a puzzling question, however, to someone familiar with the poetic oeuvre of one of Cho's own teachers, Virginia Tech's "Univerity Distinguished Professor" of English and Black Studies, Nikki Giovanni.

Among the most celebrated figures of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and recipient of 21 honorary degrees, Giovanni has published poems strikingly similar to Cho's plays in both vileness and incompetence. For example:

The True Import of Present Dialog, Black vs. Negro
by Nikki Giovanni

Can you kill
Can you kill
Can a ni**er kill
Can a ni**er kill a honkie
Can a ni**er kill the Man
Can you kill ni**er
Huh? Ni**er can you
Do you know how to draw blood
Can you poison
Can you stab-a-Jew
Can you kill huh? Ni**er
Can you kill
Can you run a protestant down with your
‘68 El Dorado
(that’s all they’re good for anyway)
Can you kill
Can you piss on a blond head
Can you cut it off
Can you kill
A ni**er can die
We ain’t got to prove we can die
We got to prove we can kill

Ironically, the author of these lines was asked to deliver the closing remarks at Virginia Tech's convocation memorializing the 32 slaughtered by Cho. For some reason, Giovanni didn't read aloud The True Import.


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

Yezidis slaughtered in Iraq: For years, to illustrate how little Americans know about the Iraq we've chosen to meddle in, I've been forecasting since 2003 that we'll all be learning more about, for example, the Yezidis: a religious group left over from the ancient Cult of the Angels that worships seven archangels, including Lucifer, whom they believe is just the victim of bad PR. And for years I've been wrong.

But, in the Middle East, all bad things come to he who waits:

In the northern Iraq attack, armed men stopped the bus as it was carrying workers from a textile factory in Mosul to their hometown of Bashika, which has a mixed population of Christians and Yazidis - a primarily Kurdish sect that worships an angel figure considered to be the devil by some Muslims and Christians.

The gunmen checked the passengers' identification cards, then asked all Christians to get off the bus, police Brig. Mohammed al-Wagga said. With the Yazidis still inside, the gunmen drove them to eastern Mosul, where they were lined up along a wall and shot to death, al-Wagga said.

After the killings, hundreds of angry chanting Yazidis took to the streets of Bashika in protest. Shops were shuttered and many Muslim residents closed themselves in their homes, fearing reprisal attacks. Police set up additional checkpoints across the city.

Bashika is about 80 percent Yazidi, 15 percent Christian and five percent Muslim.

Abdul-Karim Khalaf, a police spokesman for Ninevah province, said the executions were in response to the killing two weeks ago of a Yazidi woman who had recently converted to Islam after she fell in love with a Muslim and ran off with him. Her relatives had disapproved of the match and dragged her back to Bashika, where she was stoned to death, he said.

Do you ever get the impression that Americans and Iraqis aren't really on the same wavelength? That maybe we didn't exactly know what we were doing when we invaded Iraq to turn it into MacArthur's Japan?

On the other hand, some have argued that a bargain with Lucifer might offer the simplest explanation of George W. Bush's Presidency. Still, as Thrasymachus points out, conclusive physical evidence for such a theory is lacking. In The American Conservative, Gregory Cochran offers a more down-to-earth explanation.

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