March 29, 2008

Is AEY Hasidic enough to be eligible for affirmative action?

All the firms intimately or tangentially associated with the Afghan Ammo scandal -- 22-year-old Efraim Diveroli's AEY Inc., his father Michael Diveroli's Worldwide Tactical, and his uncle Bar-Kochba Botach's Botach Tactical -- are listed in federal contractor databases as "disadvantaged" or "minority owned." This implies that the owners must be Hasidic Jews, because only Hasidics, not Orthodox Jews in general, qualify for affirmative action.

Leaving aside the issue of whether Hasidic Jews should qualify for ethnic preferences, which they have since a Reagan Administration decision in 1984, are the Diverolis and Botaches Hasidic enough to list themselves as eligible for affirmative action?

Granted, this entire debate is absurd, but it's fun ... and a lot of taxpayers' money rides on the question of just how hard it is to declare yourself one of those officially privileged "disadvantaged Hasidic Jews."

Congressman Henry Waxman has scheduled hearings into the AEY scandal, but, you know, I have this strange hunch that the hearings, if they ever happen, aren't going to get into any of the fun stuff. The press hasn't yet touched even the most obvious fun stuff, like Efraim being the nephew of Michael Jackson's rabbi or Efraim's mom being being involved in a Michael Jackson fundraising scam. The original NYT article, for example, left the entire ethnic angle out.

The most famous member of the family is Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who appears to be the brother of Efraim's mother, Ateret Diveroli, a mother of five. (Efraim is described as "the eldest of five.") A 2001 article "Who is Shmuley Boteach?" by Benjamin Soskis says:

To understand why Shmuley Boteach is one of the world's most prominent rabbis, you ... simply have to scan the dedication to one of his latest books, Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments. "To Michael," it reads, "who taught me of humility." Michael, of course, is none other than Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, and Boteach manages to slip references to their relationship into most of his interviews and writings. The rabbi is currently co-authoring a parenting book with the blanched superstar and sponsoring a Jackson-led charity dedicated, unbelievably enough, to ensuring that children receive appropriate amounts of affection. ...

Despite Jackson's lesson in humility, he approaches self-promotion with religious fervor. As he told one reporter, his own Eleventh Commandment is "Thou shalt do anything for publicity and recognition."

Shmuley learned his talent for outreach from the experts. Though he had been brought up in a modern Orthodox home in Miami and Los Angeles, as a teen-ager he became increasingly involved in the ultra-Orthodox Lubavitch, or Chabad, movement. Founded in 18th-century Russia as an offshoot of Hasidic Judaism, the Lubavitch are dedicated to making Jewish ritual accessible to even unlearned Jews. When Chabad moved its base to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, after World War II, its emphasis on outreach to secular Jews intensified; ...

When Shmuley was 13, he met the movement's charismatic leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, whom some considered then to be the Messiah and still do today, even after his death seven years ago. The Rebbe, as Schneerson was called, bestowed upon Shmuley a generous blessing—friends joked that perhaps Shmuley was the Messiah—and later dispatched him, at age 22, to Oxford to serve as a religious emissary. ...

As Shmuley's stature on campus grew, his relations with the Lubavitch leadership began to fray. The L'Chaim Society attracted as many non-Jews as Jews—its president one year was an African-American Baptist—and his peers felt Shmuley was spending too much time courting gentiles, thereby diluting outreach efforts and possibly even encouraging intermarriage. Shmuley replied with what would become his signature defense: that broadening the visibility of Judaism to the general public would inevitably, if circuitously, attract Jews. "To get Jews interested in the Jewish world," he later said, "you have to get the non-Jews interested. The Jews will follow what the non-Jews are doing."

Few in the Orthodox Jewish establishment agree. In 1994 Shmuley was officially rejected by Crown Heights after inviting Yitzhak Rabin to speak at L'Chaim against the orders of the Rebbe, who strongly opposed Rabin's land-for-peace position. The penalty was largely symbolic, since Shmuley had become a master fund-raiser (using British parsonage laws to purchase a second home in North London) and was financially independent.

So, this says that the home presided over by Yoav Botach, Shmuley's father and owner of Botach Tactical, where Efraim Diveroli's mom grew up, was "Modern Orthodox" rather than Hasidic. So, how do they qualify for federal affirmative action purposes as Hasidic?

Perhaps Shmuley converted the rest of the family for awhile, but now he's apparently not a Hasidic anymore, so how do these firms keep going on claiming to be Hasidic?

I suspect more federal contractors will be signing up as disadvantaged Hasidics when they realize that the whole beard and hat thing isn't a federal requirement.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

A General Theory of the Afghan Ammo swindle

The AEY Afghan ammo scandal has raised many questions around the blogs about who or what is behind it all. But I think the answer isn't all that mysterious.

Have you ever tried to buy a camera from the ads in the back pages of a camera magazine? There are pages and pages in tiny type offering better deals than you could get from any local store. A friend bought a camera from one once, and it turned out to be a horrible experience. The package showed up very late, was missing essential pieces, and when he called to complain the customer service rep acted hostile and tried to sell him more stuff he didn't want rather than fix his problem. The representatives of the camera shop became highly abusive over the phone.

I asked him what city the shop was located in? Brooklyn.

And what time do they close business on Friday? 2 pm.

Well, there you go ...

There are a whole bunch of Hasidic-run photography dealers in New York City. Some of them, such as B&H (which is jokingly said to stand for "Beards & Hats"), are quite honest and have done very well for themselves over the years.

On a bulletin board on, customer Steve Levine says:

"Interestingly, B&H was the first "Hasidic" owned camera store that decided to treat customers like human beings. In the pre-B&H days, all of the NYC camera stores were nearly impossible to deal with."

Many of them still practice bait-and-switch and other simple con techniques. They hook you in with too-good-to-be-true advertised prices, then proceed to make your life a nightmare as you try to get them to live up to their promises and they try to badger you into buying even more junk. Here, for example, is a voice mail from a customer service rep at one of these firms: "I'm going to break your neck."

When their reputations get too bad, they simply switch to another name and carry on.

Efraim Diveroli's uncle's gun shop in LA, Botach Tactical, is very similar to the NY camera stores of ill-memory. It lowballs prices in its ads, then, when it has got you hooked, proceeds to abuse you. Maybe it has a couple of the items on hand, but if you aren't the first to call in, it puts your order in a queue until it sees if it can negotiate a deal with the manufacturer. You might get your ammo eight months later. In summary, you get what you pay for.

So, Diveroli was just applying the family/ethnic tradition to federal contracts. You put in a low bid, assisted by Diveroli's AEY, Inc. certification as owned by a disadvantaged minority (Hasidic, although Diveroli sounds like a Roman Jewish name -- i.e., not Ashkenazi, which the Hasidim are -- but Diveroli's celebrity uncle Shmuley Boteach was ordained as a Lubavitcher Hasidic rabbi, although he has since broken with them) for affirmative action purposes. If the feds bite on the bait, well, you hustle like hell to come up with something that will make it so that the feds will be more willing to accept the crap you foist on them than dealing with you and your lawyers.

Why the Hasidim?

First, there is the "in-group morality." Some Muslim in Afghanistan loses an eye because his bullet explodes in his gun? Eh ... The taxpayers of America have to shell out more to make up the loss? Eh ...

Second, there is the simple psychological ability to not be distressed about other people's anger, whether justifiable or not. Most people become uncomfortable when people around them become angry and they try to mollify the angry person. (The Japanese are among the world leaders at feeling psychic pain when people around them aren't content.) In contrast, the kind of people who flourish in these kind of bait and switch businesses don't mind other people getting angry at them. They just get angry right back, angrier even. It's fun.

My cocktail party theory of the origins of this stems from Robert Heinlein's famous phrase, "An armed society is a polite society." In most of medieval Europe, you didn't want to get into screaming arguments with acquaintances because they might pull out a sword and run you through. Well, medieval ghettos were largely disarmed, so the verbally hostile weren't excused from the culture and gene pool.

So, the bottom line is that anybody sensible would be cautious before buying from Hasidic-owned businesses that don't specifically have a good reputation, like B&H. Take that super-duper quoted price and add a percentage to account for all the hassles you are letting yourself in for.

But, of course, nobody is supposed to think like that. The media won't print that kind of advice. And the poor federal government isn't supposed to treat Hasidim skeptically, they're officially supposed to bend over backwards for them and treat them like a legally privileged minority!

Update: Of course, in neither of Efraim's two mugshots is he wearing a beard or a hat, so I guess he's Hasidic for federal contracting purposes, but a wild and crazy guy for the ladies.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 28, 2008

AEY's Awful Afghan Ammo: Is it an affirmative action scandal?

This is one of those blog posts where I start writing about one thing and in the middle of it, I discover something I never expected, so the whole thing lurches off in a different direction. I apologize for the lack of pre-planned structure.

In the wake of the NYT's story on 22-year-old high school-dropout Efraim E. Diveroli, who snagged $202,000,000 in U.S. government ammunition contracts in Fiscal Year 2007 to supply bullets to the embattled Afghan government, many people are wondering how the federal government could have handed out such a big contract to some loser who has been arrested twice in his young life: for drunk driving and for beating up a parking valet.

You would think that somebody in our huge federal government might want to do some background checks on the Internet. For example, the only job Diveroli has ever held besides working for his dad Michael Diveroli was working for his uncle Bar-Kochba Botach's weaponry shop, Botach Tactical, in South Central LA. So, what kind of lessons did young Efraim learn working for Botach?

Here, unedited, is just the first page's worth of customer reviews of Botach Tactical on

Botach. Great Prices, Horrible Customer Service.
Shop elsewhere. Poor customer service. NOT WORTH THE AGGRAVATION !
One word "Agonizing"
Please investigate this company on the Internet before purchasing anything!
painfully awful. the WORST customer service you can imagine
Extremely frustrating and disappointing
Worst Customer Sevice Experience EVER.
My order was just forgotten
Cut out the middleman and just flush your money down the toilet.
Worst Shopping Experience Ever!!!
service and trust, I rate them at minus 90
Worst Customer Service Around

But, maybe the Feds aren't supposed to look at Botach Tactical's performance because the firearms dealer has, according to

Certificates: Small Disadvantaged

In other words, Botach Tactical gets affirmative action in government contracting! Indeed, much of its legitimate business is done with law enforcement and military buyers. (Leaders of the South Central LA black community suspect it might also do business with less reputable locals, but that's another story.)

In fact, young Efraim's AEY.Inc is listed in, as Mike Carney at USAToday noticed, as:

Small Disadvantaged Business: Yes

Does that explain how a loser like him got $202 million in contracts?

And why is Efraim Diveroli's ludicrous little company certified as "Disadvantaged?"

Because he's a Hasidic Jew. Or at least he claims to be on this federal form. (Efraim's cousin, Michael Jackson's favorite rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the son of the owner of Botach Tactical, started out as a Lubavitcher Hasidic rabbi although he seems to be more freelance today.)

In fact, I just learned, all Hasidic Jews, such as the Botach/Boteach/Diveroli clan, are eligible for federal ethnic preferences! I had no idea ....

An alert reader pointed out in the comments to an earlier post this old NY Times story:

Reagan Grants Hasidim 'Disadvantaged' Status
New York Times, Jun 29, 1984

They were talking about it in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn yesterday. Bearded men in dark coats under a hot sun, men known for their deep spiritual values, their belief in education and hard work, their pride in self-reliance.

They were all Hasidic Jews, and they were talking about President Reagan's decision, announced Wednesday, to add them to a list of minority groups considered ''disadvantaged'' by the Government.

The list already includes Hispanic people, blacks, Indians and other groups that are considered by the Government to have encountered severe economic problems because of discrimination.

The designation means the Hasidim are able to apply for Federal assistance in running businesses. They will also be eligible for programs that set aside work for minority-group businesses.

Holy cow ... affirmative action?!? Is that why the Syrian Jews of Brooklyn have gotten so rich?

An reviewer of a book about the Hasidic Satmars of Williamsburg notes:

As a result of their low level of education and literacy, Satmar hasidim, to a much greater extent than most Orthodox Jews, fit poorly into the modern economy; professional jobs are of course off limits. According to the author, 1/3 of Williamsburg Hasids have incomes below the poverty line, and the median Jewish income in Williamsburg is one half the median family income in New York City (which in turn is below the median family income for NYC suburbs). In several parts of the book, the author goes out of his way to brag that in 1984, the Satmar were "offically designated a disadvantaged minority" by the U.S. Commerce Department (by which I assume he means that they are eligible for easy access to federal contracts under affirmative action regulations - though the author is not very clear about this). In fact, he states that this decision was "the most significant factor" in "the development of the entreprenurial spirit" among the younger hasidim. Somehow I find it troubling that a community can, by undereducating its members, become voluntarily poor and then gain "affirmative action" protections that were intended for communities that become poor through discrimination.

Here's former NYC mayor Ed Koch's statement of disbelief that the Reagan Administration made Hasidic Jews an official disadvantaged group.

I'm not real clear on just what affirmative action goodies Hasidim are eligible for as a disadvantaged minority -- clearly, they can get help from the Minority Business Development Agency, but I'm not sure what else. If you know, let me know.

Despite, or perhaps because of, their Commitment to Service and Federally-Certified Ethnic Disadvantage, the Botach / Boteach family of LA is wildly wealthy. Luke Ford points out today:

This Week The Botachs Married Off A Daughter At The Century Plaza Hotel

I’m told there were 800 guests for the wedding of the daughter of Shlomo and Dalia Botach. Shlomo is Yoav’s brother. The daughter is [celebrity rabbi] Shmuley Boteach’s cousin.

How do they afford it? The Botachs own much of downtown Los Angeles. They live under the radar in the modest Pico-Robertson neighborhood. They send their kids to Hillel and YULA and get scholarships because of their large families. No one dreams of the vast amounts of money this family accumulated. Yoav (Shmuley Boteach’s father) is the largest owner of warehouses in California. Rumored to be Israelis, their roots are Iranian. [More]

The Century Plaza is the big Hyatt Regency hotel in Century City, right next door to Beverly Hills. Their wedding reception package starts at $132 per guest, so that's six figures right there.

So, this whole story may be another affirmative action scandal, rather like crooked defense contractor Wedtech in the 1980s, whose Italian-American boss qualified as Hispanic because his parents had lived for awhile in Puerto Rico. Clifford D. May wrote in the New York Times in 1987:

One important aspect of the Wedtech case is that the Bronx-based company, which declared bankruptcy late last year, was in a position to benefit greatly from political influence because it was owned by a member of a minority group. Under Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act, such companies may receive Government contracts without going through the process of bidding against competitors, and Wedtech did so to gain most of its $100-million-a-year business.

Wedtech's minority status was based on the fact that its founder, John Mariotta, was Hispanic. Mr. Mariotta -the name is Italian - was born in New York, though his parents came from Puerto Rico.

''This is an issue that troubles me,'' said Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the New York Democrat who has been involved in minority issues for more than a generation. ''After all, there were slave-owning families in Puerto Rico in the 19th century. Do individuals from those families, too, qualify as disadvantaged minority group members?''

In any case, the company somehow kept its privileged status even after it went public in 1983.

The thorniest problem lawmakers face is that in the absence of competitive bidding, a minority-owned company must depend for its contracts on political influence and the subjective perceptions of those with a hold on the Government's purse strings. That, in turn, can open up broad opportunities for corruption.

Of course, what's the real scandal with AEY is that it's not a scandal for Hasidic-owned firms to claim affirmative action breaks.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Theology of Obamaism

Dennis Dale has it explained to him in barroom colloquy.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

How did the Diveroli family qualify for "minority ownership" preferences?

Following up on the story of the 22-year-old international arms dealer Efraim E. Diveroli, whose AEY firm just had its $200-$300 million contract with the U.S. government yanked, I noticed that a company called Worldwide Tactical, managed by Efraim's father Michael Diveroli, operates out of the same address in Miami Beach and has the same fax number. What caught my eye was this line on form for Michael Diveroli's Worldwide Tactical.
Ownership: Minority Owned

So, Diveroli's dad gets ethnic preferences on government contracts? Sweeeeet! (Here's a mugshot of young Efraim, who looks like maybe he's a big fan of fellow Miami Beach denizen Jose Canseco's health and fitness techniques.)

I explained how something like this could happen in a article "What's Spanish for Chutzpah?" which explains how a Polish-born entrepreneur named Liberman got himself declared Hispanic for the purposes of getting tax breaks on buying radio stations. See, the Libermans got tossed out of Spain in 1492, which makes them Hispanics.

But "Diveroli" appears to be an Italian Jewish name. Maybe they got themselves declared "Latinos" because their ancestors spoke some Latin 2000 years ago? Who knows?

Updated: See the comments for a 1984 NYT story on how the Reagan administration declared Hasidic Jews to be a "disadvantaged" minority for purposes of minority business development.

As it turns out, Efraim's AEY is officially listed by the federal government as being owned by an ethnically "disadvantaged" person. And it turns out that the Reagan Administration added "Hasidic Jews" to the list of who is eligible for affirmative action in 1984.

But are the Diverolis Hasidic Ashkenazis? The name sounds Roman Jewish. And is his mother's side of the family Botach / Boteach Hasidic either? Maybe -- that's what Efraim's uncle, the celebrity rabbi Shmuley Boteach was ordained as, but Shmuley's father claims to be an Israeli citizen and the rumor is that their background is Persian Jewish.

So Efraim must claim to be Hasidic in order for AEY to qualify as "disadvantaged." Funny, he doesn't look too Hasidic in this mugshot. I guess he must have lost his hat and beard on the way to the police station after he beat up that parking valet.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 27, 2008

Q. Who are these people? A. You know, it's a funny story ...

With some readers' help, I've done some digging into the cast of characters in that NYT article about the 22-year-old international arms dealer who got a huge contract from the U.S. government to supply ammunition (which turned out to be shoddy) to the Afghan government. I asked the question the NYT wouldn't: "Who are these people?"

The answer turns out to be a wacky story that involves Michael Jackson, Maxine Waters, a reality TV show host, the most hostile retailer ever, and the largest palimony suit in American history. I've added all these new findings to the bottom of my previous post: "More Amazing Adventures of Men with Gold Chains."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Down with Middleclassness! Up with Upper Middleclassness!

One item in Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ's "Black Value System" is "Disavowal of the Pursuit of ‘Middleclassness.’"

Yet, after decades of preaching to his congregation that blacks shouldn't move from the ghetto (where, coincidentally enough, his megachurch is located), the retiring Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. says, in effect, "So long, suckers!"

FOX News has uncovered documents that indicate Wright is about to move to a 10,340-square-foot, four-bedroom home in suburban Chicago, currently under construction in a gated community.

Those must be big bedrooms to have only four in a 10,340 sq. ft. house.

The house and land were apparently paid for by Trinity.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

UPDATED: More amazing adventures of Men with Gold Chains

The NYT has a long article on a Miami Beach company that has gotten a contract worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. government to supply Afghan government forces with ammunition, even though it is supposedly run by a 22-year-old. (Here's CEO Efraim Diveroli's MySpace profile.) Much of the ammo has apparently turned out to be junk scrounged from ex-Soviet, Albanian, or Chinese supplies.

What's not explained in the article is: "Who are these people?"

UPDATE: With lots of help from my alert readers, I've found out more about the clan involved. It's a great story, involving Michael Jackson, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, "America's Rabbi," and America's largest palimony suit.

The NYT article does mention that Diveroli got his start working briefly for his uncle Bar-Kochba Botach's weapons shop, Botach Tactical.

Here's a fun discussion thread entitled " is by far the worst company I have ever dealt with...," where ex-customers of Botach discuss their experiences trying to get Botach to live up to its promises. You've got to give this family of arms dealers credit for courage -- I can see ripping off photographers wanting to buy Nikon cameras cheap, but routinely ripping off the kind of people who want to buy 30-round magazines for their M-16s (the featured item on Botach's website today), well, that takes some brass.

Botach Tactical operates out of an unmarked building in -- where else? -- South Central Los Angeles. From The Wave, LA's black newspaper:

The black community has a gun dealership in it.

Botach Tactical is a state-licensed and city-contracted bulk gun supply business in operation on the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and 43rd Place, it was learned this week.

The gun dealership, owned by Bartochba Botach, was discovered Friday by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, and a group of Crenshaw area residents, who, responding to rumors, went to the unmarked storefront at 3423 W. 43rd Place and demanded entry.

Once inside, the group, which included the congresswoman’s daughter, Karen Titus, and activists Steve Cokely, Sandra Moore and Maurice Griffin, confronted Botach, who admitted to being a gun merchant.

“He said he is an international arms dealer with a government contract and that everything he does at his Crenshaw store is legal,” Moore said. “He told us he has a right to be in there, but we didn’t.

“He said, yeah, he sells guns and ammunition in bulk, but only to law enforcement and the military,” Moore added. “He said he is an Israeli and that he operates the gun business with his family. I asked him why he had to sell them in our community. I was angry, so I told him to go sell them in his own community.”

Moore described the site as the neighborhood’s former pawnshop, stripped of all identifying signage and fortified with thick, double-plated glass. “And dogs,” she said.

“He’s got several vicious dogs on the premises. The guy said he also owns Maverick’s Flat across the street from his gun store and he uses it as a warehouse, so we went over there, too, and I ran into a cop coming out with a box of bullets.”

Waters, Moore and company went directly to the office of their city representative, Councilman Bernard Parks, to report and protest the presence of the gun dealership. Parks spent the next two days researching the business in question and Tuesday reported the following:

Botach Tactical is a gun supply store that has allegedly been operated by Botach for 12 years. Parks said Botach has had other businesses in the community for at least 20 years.

The councilman said Botach has a current valid state license to sell arms and is contracted by the Los Angeles Police Commission to buy and sell guns, ammunition and arms-related materials in bulk through the Internet to police agencies around the country.

Assemblyman Mark Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, who was the area’s city councilman for 12 years before Parks’ election, Tuesday disputed the 12-year operation of the gun dealership at the 43rd Place site.

“It has always been a pawnshop,” Ridley-Thomas said. “When did it turn into a gun store? How did it turn into a gun store? You can’t change the use of a building without proper notification, permits and public hearings.

“Where are the public notification documents?” Ridley-Thomas asked. “This is something the residents would have had to be apprised of in advance and be allowed to respond to before such a business began operating.

“A pawnshop showed up at that location shortly after the [1992] civil unrest and people didn’t like it there. It had always been a controversial site as a pawnshop. How did it shift from a pawnshop to a gun shop, which is something even more controversial?” [More]

In 2006, Luke Ford noticed this LA Daily News story about the SoCal arms dealer who appears to be the great-uncle of Efraim Diveroli and perhaps the father of Bar-Kochba Botach:

Makeup artist to the stars Judith Boteach thought she had found true love when it took four people to carry all of the flowers and jewelry lavished on her the day multimillionaire Yoav Botach proposed marriage.

Boteach said she learned a month after their Orthodox Jewish wedding ceremony that her groom hadn't obtained a California marriage license, but she believed in their future together.

"I loved him," said Boteach. "I trusted him and he kept telling me (the wedding license) wasn't necessary."

But their relationship ended unhappily, with Boteach kicked out of the couple's Beverlywood home in her nightgown. And she is now embroiled in a court battle for half of Botach's fortune - millions of dollars she claims he promised her should the couple ever split.

"This is the largest palimony case in American history," said Robert W. Hirsh, Boteach's attorney, who explained that his client cannot fight for alimony since she and Botach were never legally married.

According to court records, Botach co-owns 144 commercial and other properties in Los Angeles, as well as Botach Tactical, a nationwide distributor of police and military equipment. But Boteach is seeking access to financial documents to determine the defendant's assets. "We would not be surprised if his net worth is $700 million," Hirsh said.

Judith Boteach apparently now runs a Moroccan restaurant, BBC Cafe, in Beverly Hills. An LA Times restaurant review describes her as "Judith Boteach, the charismatic Moroccan American chef and co-owner and her partners Jay and Karine Kaplan and Gabriel Azoulay." I would guess she from Morocco's Jewish community.

Apparently, Yoav Botach is the father of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, author of the bestseller Kosher Sex and host of the Shalom in the Home reality TV show on TLC Network. He calls himself "America's Rabbi" on his website. So, this celebrity rabbi, who was ordained as Lubavitcher Hasidic but has since broken with them, would appear to be the uncle of young arms dealer Efraim Diveroli.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Michael Jackson (yes, that Michael Jackson) started an "infamous" charity in 2000 called Time for Kids that put on a benefit at Carnegie Hall but somehow never got any money to any kids. The money seems to have wound up with Shmuley's L'Chaim Oxford nonprofit, which is supposed to promote Jewish life at Oxford U. But it got into all kinds of legal and tax problems with the British government because it didn't seem to be doing any of that.

The treasurer of the dubious Michael Jackson charity was Shmuley's sister, Ateret Diveroli, who appears to be Efraim's mom.

But, I must say, at this point there are so many Botaches and Boteaches and Yoavs and Bar-Kochbas floating around that I may have well have gotten some of this wrong.

The VP and #2 officer of Diveroli's AEY the firm that got the huge contract from the taxpayers, is 25-year-old licensed masseuse David M. Packouz. He appears to be the son of Rabbi Kalman Packouz (a.k.a., Kenneth M. Packouz) of Miami Beach, author of How to Prevent an Intermarriage. Rabbi Kalman is Executive Director of Aish HaTorah Jerusalem Fund.

There's been a lot of speculation over how young Diveroli got this lucrative contract. One common suggestion is that perhaps he's a big Republican campaign donor.

Yet, the only person mentioned in this posting who has contributed to a Presidential candidate over the last decade, according to, is pawnshop owner turned merchant of death Yoav Botach, who gave $1,000 to John Edwards last year.

Overall, it just sounds like a whole family full of self-starters.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

I've got a dumb question

With fighting in Basra between the Iranian-aligned Shi'ite government (who we're backing) and Mookie Sadr's less-Iranian-aligned Shi'ite militia (who we're fighting), I've got a dumb question that I should know the answer to but I don't:

Who's pocketing Iraq's oil money these days?

About 2 million barrels a day are pumped in the Basra province, so that's roughly $200 million dollars per day or $73 billion per year. That's a lot. Who gets it?

The cover story "Oil for War" by Robert Bryce in the American Conservative says:

"As A.F. Alhajji, energy economist and professor at Ohio Northern University, has said, “whoever controls Iraq’s oil, controls Iraq.” For the last five years, it’s never been exactly clear who controls Iraq’s oil."

I presume that's what the Shiite vs. Shiite fighting in Basra is over, right? I mean, $73 billion per year -- that's a lot of money. Can you imagine what Cortez would have done for $73 billion per year? (Indeed, the U.S. is lucky that some military genius hasn't emerged out of the chaos in Iraq over the last five years, the way the wars of the French Revolution shook things up enough for Bonaparte to appear.)

The Bush Administration has done a tremendous job of boosting Iraq's oil revenues. Unfortunately, that has come about not by boosting production, which is up only modestly, but by seeing the world price of oil more than triple since the invasion.

By the way, the U.S. military is spending almost $1,000,000,000 per week on fuel for Iraq, with most of that going to pay for the 5,500 tanker trucks that deliver fuel to our 3-mpg armor-plated Hummers. We're spending $42 to deliver each gallon of gas to the boys in the field. That's almost the kind of fuel economics you saw with a Saturn V moon rocket.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Obama supporter who can solve his Rev. Wright problem

In my new column, I offer Sen. Obama a free suggestion about how he could relieve his festering Rev. Dr. Wright problem by turning to one of his own supporters for aid. I'm not going to tell you who it is here so that you go read the whole thing.

The Wright problem didn't get any better for Obama today when he came back from vacation with a new and even less plausible spin:

"This is somebody that was preaching three sermons at least a week for 30 years and it got boiled down ... into a half-minute sound clip and just played it over and over and over again, partly because it spoke to some of the racial divisions we have in this country."

Oh, come off it. This is somebody who visited Gadaffi in 1984 and gave Louis Farrakhan his "Lifetime Achievement" award in 2007. This is somebody whose first sermon Obama ever heard, according to his own memoir, included the line, "where white folks' greed runs a world in need." This is somebody who boasted of his church's "black liberation theology" and its similarities to the ideology of 1970s Nicaraguan Marxists.

By the way, how come Hillary gets roasted alive for embellishing an old [non]war story, while Obama's flat-out lie of a couple of weeks ago in response to the toughest question of his campaign -- his lie that he wasn't in church for controversial comments by Wright -- is forgotten, dead and buried under his 5,000 words of thoughtful nuance and nuanced thoughtfulness?

Here's some of the opening of my new column:

At VDARE.COM. we’ve never been in the business of endorsing Presidential candidates. And considering who's left in the running in 2008, we're certainly not going to start now.

But by publishing revelations about one candidate, aren't we tacitly just helping the others?

For example, when Sen. Barack Obama, who has been running largely on his autobiography, makes campaign claims about his relationship with his pastor or his grandmother and I point out that his 1995 autobiography says something very different, I always receive messages denouncing me for being culpable for electing Hillary Clinton and/or John McCain. …

In this view, a presidential campaign is a zero-sum contest. Somebody has to win and everybody else has to lose. So any revelation about Candidate X is seen, not as contribution to the sum total of human knowledge, but as a dirty trick intended to elect Candidate Y or Z.

In contrast, I believe that the more that voters know about the candidates, the better. Of course, I would say that: as a nonfiction writer, that's my professional bias.

Still, I do believe the zero-sum model is simplistic….

For example, for over a year, I've been pointing out that Obama isn't the centrist post racial conciliator he plays on television. His campaign has been as disingenuous as if Ronald Reagan had run for President in 1980, not as a proud conservative, but as a bipartisan middle-of-the-roader.

In truth, Obama is a liberal somewhat to the left of the Democratic median, and with a recent radical background. And slowly, the MainStream Media [MSM] is starting to wake up to the phoniness of Obama's marketing of himself. This week, the New York Times [Obama’s Test: Can a Liberal Be a Unifier?, By Robin Toner, March 25, 2008] and Washington Post [In Obama's New Message, Some Foes See Old Liberalism, By Alec MacGillis, Washington Post, March 26, 2008]have finally gotten around to admitting in major stories that Obama is well to the left of where many imagine him to be.

This slow debunking of Obama might have crucial implications for his Vice Presidential selection. The more people who understand who Obama really is, the more pressure he will be under to pick as a ticket-balancing running mate an anti-Obama, such as Sen. James Webb (D-VA).

Moreover, within a President Obama, there would always be an ongoing struggle between his cautious head and his radical heart. The more a gullible press and public persist in imagining him the equally loving son of a happy biracial home, the more leftist actions his heart will be able to get away with. But the more we are alert to the two sides of this complicated man, the more likely his intelligent prudence would triumph over the passion to prove himself "black enough" that is the remnant of his psychologically-damaging childhood.

For example, the more he is seen, correctly, as a man who chose to devote much of his adult life to pursuing political power in order to take from whites and give to blacks, the more scrutiny a President Obama would receive over seemingly minor questions such as appointments to jobs at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the civil rights section of the Justice Department.

These obscure offices can be tremendously important.


My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 26, 2008

Dog Breeds and Race

Frank Miele has a fun article in on "The K9 Comparison: What Dog Breeds Can Tell Us about Humans." An excerpt:

The classic study was carried out by Daniel G. Freedman for his doctoral dissertation. Freedman spent every day and evening rearing four dog breeds—Beagles, Wire-haired Fox Terriers, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Basenjis—from age two to twelve weeks.

He noticed that as soon as their ears and eyes opened, the breeds differed in behavior. Little Beagles were friendly from the moment they detected him. Shetland Sheepdogs were the most sensitive to a loud voice or the slightest punishment. The Wire-haired Fox Terriers were so tough and aggressive, even as clumsy three-week olds, that Freedman had to wear gloves in playing with them The Basenjis, barkless dogs from central Africa, were aloof and independent….

But what does this have to do with humans? Professor Freedman wrote that

"I had worked with different breeds of dogs and I had been struck by how predictable was the behavior of each breed. A breed of dog is a construct zoologically and genetically equivalent to a race of man. To look at us, my wife and I [Freedman is Jewish; his wife Chinese], my wife and I were clearly of two different breeds. Were some of our behavioral differences determined by breed?"

Freedman and his wife set about designing experiments to test that hypothesis. …

The Freedmans decided to observe the behavior of newborns and infants of different races using the Cambridge Behavioral and Neurological Assessment Scale. Unlike the typical reflex tests performed by pediatricians, these tests, called the Brazelton" after their developer, measure social and emotional behavior.

The Freedmans found that European American and Chinese American newborns reacted differently even though hospital conditions and prenatal care were the same.

White babies started to cry more easily, and once they started, they were more difficult to console. Chinese babies adapted to almost any position in which they were placed. When placed face down in their cribs, they tended to keep their faces buried in the sheets rather than immediately turning to one side, as did the Whites.

In a maneuver called the "defense reaction" by neurologists, the baby's nose was briefly pressed with a cloth, forcing him to breathe with his mouth. Most Caucasian and black babies fight the maneuver by immediately turning away or swiping at the cloth with their hands. Not surprisingly, this is listed in Western pediatric textbooks as the normal, expected response.

But not so the average Chinese babies in the study. They simply lay on their back, breathing from the mouth, "accepting" the cloth without a fight.

There were other more subtle differences. While both Chinese and Caucasian infants would start to cry at about the same point in the examination, especially when they were being undressed, Chinese babies stopped crying immediately, while Caucasian babies quieted only gradually.

The Freedman noted that the film of their finding left audiences awestruck by the group differences.


This study is about four decades old. To keep it from disappearing even further down the memory hole, somebody should contact Dr. Freedman about putting his film on Youtube.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Jeremiah A. Wright's Darker Shade of Pale

The blog "Chris Matthew's Other Leg" offers an Irish analogy providing some perspective on the molding of the tres cafe au lait Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.:
Hugh Leonard Thompson Murphy, known to history as Lennie, was born in The Village in East Belfast in 1952, a fanatically loyalist Protestant area ... Now little Lennie was stuck with that quintessential emblem of Paddydom, his very name. Murphy ( from the Gaelic Ó Murchú) is as Irish as "Danny Boy" and as Catholic as the Rosary.

In the lunatic environment in which he grew up there were widespread suspicions - and suspicions in Belfast, like unexploded bombs, tend to tick away if not swiftly disarmed - that his father William, a mild inoffensive fellow, was a 'Teague' (= Catholic, from the Irish name Tadhg =Thaddeus, Timothy). Hence Lennie, carrier of tainted blood, was called "Murphy the Mick" (Mick = Teague)...

Lennie, the emotional type, as will become clear, reacted by becoming Proddier than the Proddiest of the Prods... His obsessive hatred of Papists galvanized an essentially psychopathic nature and by the age of twenty he was slaughtering innocent Catholics at the head of a bunch of thuggish misfits who over the bloody years came to be known as the Shankill Butchers....

Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama come to mind though not because they are psychopathic killers, let me add. They are perfectly sane and not in the least criminal or violent. They are in fact pillars of their community. But they have something in common with the unlovely Lennie - a need to prove to themselves and the world that they are totally committed to their assigned identities. In an historically divided social environment, such as Belfast, fencing sitting was not a recognized way of achieving prestige in one's community or establishing the basis for a political career. Life in general, especially as regards politics and religion, was a zero sum game. ... Unimpeachable political-religious tribal credentials were necessary because absolute loyalty to and identification with the tribe was the be all and end all. ...

Jeremiah Wright, a generation before Obama, had a similar but more subtle problem that might not occur to whites who see all people of African descent as just black. Black people themselves of course are naturally more discerning. ... As anyone can attest who has seen him in his pulpit against the congregation massed behind him Pastor Wright is extremely light-skinned even to the extent that one can easily discern him actually flushing with passion at the more emotionally charged moments of his sermons, a phenomenon not to be observed with the vast majority of black preachers however riled up they get.

This might seem trivial but in the American context it can have significant psychological effects. (This whole question is explored with great subtlety by Philip Roth in The Human Stain, a true American masterpiece.) The 1960s - the seed-time of so many of today's more florid neuroses - was a period when emerging black activists, understandably enough, over-compensated for the shame historically associated with their race by proclaiming an overweening pride in their blackness or rather Blackness. "Black", they declared, "is beautiful", as indeed in so many ways it is because a socially and morally coherent black community is one of the glories of American civilization.

This radical attitude was a necessary corrective to the marginalization by law and by racial stigmatization which blacks had endured for centuries. However this was the Sixties, so in about 3.2547 seconds everyone involved went OTT and healthy radicalism transmogrified into a rabid fanaticism at the core of which throbbed a racism which was the mirror-image of that which it sought to eradicate.

Within this heady scene young Jeremiah Wright, a middle-class graduate of a white Philadelphia high school, was coming into his own. It is not to be wondered at if he felt a psychological imperative to more than emphatically establish his ethnic authenticity in the face - no pun intended - of the paleness of his own complexion when all the cadres of the cause were sporting chic afros the size of the Super Dome and wearing as a badge of honor the very blackness of which he barely possessed enough to bring a scowl to Bull Connor's unpleasing countenance.

He thus became a Super Black, the ranting, rabble-rousing Moses of an Unchosen People for whom no anti-American (because ipso facto anti-white) delusions, however demonstrably paranoid, were off limits.

So, each riding his own distinct yet not very different demons, the pale black Preacher and the half-white black Politician came together and added their own chapter to the Great Adventure that is America. [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 25, 2008

How to save the world

I keep hearing about how environmentalism is so trendy here in LA, but one obvious way to reduce your carbon footprint is to get over in one of the right hand lanes on the freeway and drive 65 mph instead of your usual 78 mph. Watch your tachometer and you'll see a big difference in your RPMs -- there are rapidly diminishing marginal efficiencies in pushing air out of the way as your speed increases, especially if you have an SUV or other non-aerodynamic vehicle. You can drive 15 miles at 65 mph instead of 78 mph and arrive at the same moment if you leave 2 minutes and 20 seconds earlier.

Funny, though, how you never see anybody trendy-looking in the slow lane. I have to drive one long, steep uphill stretch of freeway a lot lately at midday when there's not much traffic. I've found that if I take it at 62 mph the whole way, the automatic transition won't ever have to downshift and push my RPMs through the roof. I've noticed, though, that I'm sharing the slow lane with more Datsuns than Infinitis. Typically, I go up the mountain behind a dilapidated small pickup truck with a lawnmower in the back, while to the left, hand-detailed Volvos and Priuses zoom past us losers.

As far as I can tell, environmentalism in LA is mostly about shopping, buying stuff white people like to flaunt your social conscience and income, about showing the world that you're living life in the fast lane. Driving slower so you can save money at the pump, in contrast, is seen as just sad.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Hitch on Obama-Wright

In Slate, Christopher Hitchens brags of his prescience:

It's been more than a month since I began warning Sen. Barack Obama that he would become answerable for his revolting choice of a family priest. But never mind that; the astonishing thing is that it's at least 11 months since he himself has known precisely the same thing. "If Barack gets past the primary," said the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to the New York Times in April of last year, "he might have to publicly distance himself from me. I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen." Pause just for a moment, if only to admire the sheer calculating self-confidence of this. Sen. Obama has long known perfectly well, in other words, that he'd one day have to put some daylight between himself and a bigmouth Farrakhan fan. But he felt he needed his South Side Chicago "base" in the meantime. So he coldly decided to double-cross that bridge when he came to it. And now we are all supposed to marvel at the silky success of the maneuver.

You often hear it said, of some political or other opportunist, that he would sell his own grandmother if it would suit his interests. But you seldom, if ever, see this notorious transaction actually being performed, which is why I am slightly surprised that Obama got away with it so easily. (Yet why do I say I am surprised? He still gets away with absolutely everything.)

Looking for a moral equivalent to a professional demagogue who thinks that AIDS and drugs are the result of a conspiracy by the white man, Obama settled on an 85-year-old lady named Madelyn Dunham, who spent a good deal of her youth helping to raise him and who now lives alone and unwell in a condo in Honolulu. It would be interesting to know whether her charismatic grandson made her aware that he was about to touch her with his grace and make her famous in this way. By sheer good fortune, she, too, could be a part of it all and serve her turn in the great enhancement.

This flabbergasting process, made up of glibness and ruthlessness in equal proportions, rolls on unstoppably with a phalanx of reporters and men of the cloth as its accomplices. Look at the accepted choice of words for the ravings of Jeremiah Wright: controversial, incendiary, inflammatory. These are adjectives that might have been—and were—applied to many eloquent speakers of the early civil rights movement. (In the Washington Post, for Good Friday last, the liberal Catholic apologist E.J. Dionne lamely attempted to stretch this very comparison.) But is it "inflammatory" to say that AIDS and drugs are wrecking the black community because the white power structure wishes it? No. Nor is it "controversial." It is wicked and stupid and false to say such a thing. And it not unimportantly negates everything that Obama says he stands for by way of advocating dignity and responsibility over the sick cults of paranoia and victimhood. ...

And what a shame. I assume you all have your copies of The Audacity of Hope in paperback breviary form. If you turn to the chapter entitled "Faith," beginning on Page 195, and read as far as Page 208, I think that even if you don't concur with my reading, you may suspect that I am onto something. In these pages, Sen. Obama is telling us that he doesn't really have any profound religious belief, but that in his early Chicago days he felt he needed to acquire some spiritual "street cred." ...

To have accepted Obama's smooth apologetics is to have lowered one's own pre-existing standards for what might constitute a post-racial or a post-racist future. It is to have put that quite sober and realistic hope, meanwhile, into untrustworthy and unscrupulous hands. And it is to have done this, furthermore, in the service of blind faith. Mark my words: This disappointment is only the first of many that are still to come.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


From Lawrence E. Harrison's article in The National Interest:

FUTURE GENERATIONS may look back on Iraq and immigration as the two great disasters of the Bush presidency. Ironically, for a conservative administration, both of these policy initiatives were rooted in a multicultural view of the world.

Since the 1960s, multiculturalism, the idea that all cultures are essentially equal, has become a dominant feature of the political and intellectual landscape of the West. It has profoundly influenced Iraq War policy, the policy of democracy promotion, international development agendas and immigration policy, with consequences for the cultural composition of societies.

But multiculturalism rests on a frail foundation: Cultural relativism, the notion that no culture is better or worse than any other--it is merely different. That's doubtlessly good advice for cultural anthropologists doing ethnographic studies in the field. If one's goal is full understanding of a value system quite different from one's own, ethnocentrism can seriously distort the quest and the conclusions. But what if the objective is to assess the extent to which a culture nurtures values, attitudes and beliefs that facilitate progress toward democratic governance, social justice and an end to poverty, the goals of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights? The idea that some cultures are more nurturing than others of progress thus defined--and that this assumption can be measured and assessed--challenges the very essence of cultural relativism.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


In Republican Rome, a conquering general returning home would be greeted with a triumphal procession, much like a 20th Century tickertape parade down Broadway. Reputedly, a slave would stand behind the hero and whisper in his ear deflating words about how the general was only mortal and shouldn't let this go to his head.

A papal coronation continues in the same vein. Wikipedia reports:
Traditionally, Papal coronations are thrice interrupted by a monk (some say barefoot) holding a pole to which is affixed a burning piece of flax. After it finishes burning, the monk announces, "Pater sancte, sic transit gloria mundi." This is meant to remind the Pope that, despite the grandeur of the ceremony and the long history of the office, he is a mortal man.

We need similar ceremonies here in America. For about a quarter of a century, America had been on a winning streak and we, the luckiest people in the history of the world, came to believe that our good fortune was our birthright; indeed, that it wasn't luck at all, it was our moral due, so ordinary rules of prudence didn't apply to us.

We see examples of hubris everywhere: Bush and Iraq, Americans treating their homes like lottery tickets, financial institutions thinking they can permanently outsmart the risk-reward tradeoff, Spitzer and his whores, Obama and his minister, the list goes on and on. We can get away with anything.

For a long-term perspective, there's alway Kipling's Gods of the Copybook Headings.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 24, 2008

Marty Peretz's latest boy wonder is back!

When The New Republic had an attack of the vapors over a bunch of politically incorrect witticisms from old Ron Paul newsletters, accusing Rep. Paul of racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism, I pointed out that TNR boss Marty Peretz and his new favorite young man James Kirchick, who is the latest in a long line stretching through Andrew Sullivan to Al Gore, are worthy of some scrutiny, too.

You ought to see what Peretz and Kirchick are up to now in TNR: a profile of some gay porn star / neocon blogger who has caught Kirchick's eye!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Japanese sensitivity

From the NYT:

East and West Part Ways in Test of Facial Expressions


How do you know how someone is feeling? For people in Western societies, it is usually easy: look at the person’s face.

But for people from Japan and other Eastern societies, a new study finds, it may be more complex — having to do not only with evaluating the other person’s face but also with gauging the mood of others who might be around.

The differences may speak to deeply ingrained cultural traits, the authors write, suggesting that Westerners may “see emotions as individual feelings, while Japanese see them as inseparable from the feelings of the group.”

This greater sensitivity of the Japanese to other people's feelings, this greater discomfort when other people are not comfortable, may help explain the relative lack of recognized geniuses in Japanese culture. In the West, for every nice guy genius like Darwin, there at least one total jerk genius like Rousseau. (And, yes, Rousseau was a genius, pioneering several different ways European culture would head.) Self-absorption is a big part of Western culture, but not Japanese culture, but it helps move the West out of mutual comfort zones that the Japanese tend to prefer dwelling in.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

March 23, 2008

Obama reporters go back to the beach

Whenever the winter drags on, political reporters start getting interested in Barack Obama's warm-weather upbringing, so Newsweek now has a long article focusing on his youth: "When Barry Became Barack."

Keith Kakugaa was a close friend of Obama's at the Punahou School. (He appears in "Dreams" as a revised character named "Ray" who may be a composite of more than one Obama friend.)

In the book, "Ray" is one of Obama's only black friends at Puhahou School and he's very sensitive to anti-black discrimination. But the real Kakugawa, who appears to be the main (and perhaps only) model for Ray is, as you might guess from his name, half Japanese as well as half black.

He says that Obama, being a dark-skinned kid growing up in a white household, sensed that something was amiss. "He felt that he was not getting a part of who he was, the history," says Kakugawa, who is also of mixed race. He recalls Obama's reading black authors —James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes—looking for clues. Keith didn't know at first that Obama's given name was Barack. "We were in the library and there was a Malcolm X book," Kakugawa tells NEWSWEEK. "He grabbed it and looked at it and he's checking it out, and I said, 'Hold on, man. What you gonna do? Change your name to something Muslim?' He said, 'Well, my name is Barack Obama.' And I said, 'No it isn't.' And we got in an argument about that in the library and they had to tell us, 'Shhh'".

Back in Hawaii in the 1970s, it could seem that everyone was some kind of a minority. The fact that Obama was half-black and half-white didn't matter much to anyone but Obama, Kakugawa says: "He made everything out like it was all racial." On one occasion, Obama thought he'd gotten a bad break on the school basketball team because he was black. But Kakugawa recalls his father's telling the teenager, "No, Barry, it's not because you're black. It's because you missed two shots in a row." (Here, Kakugawa's memory is different from Obama's. The Ray character in the book is the one obsessed with being discriminated against.)

I wouldn't trust Kakugawa's word because he's an ex-con, but what he says is much more in line with what his non-jailbird classmates say than what Obama writes in his autobiography, so the evidence suggests that we should trust the low-life's word over the Presidential candidate's in this case.

There's a reason Obama leaves Ray's mixed heritage out of the book. In general, Hawaii's high degree of racial mixing is an unwelcome complicating factor in the story Obama is conjuring up about himself as a black kid in a white world. It's an easy story for most Americans to understand, but it doesn't make much sense to Obama's Hawaiian friends. Dreams from My Father tries to ignore just how common non-white and mixed race kids were in his privileged social circle at Punahou. I looked at one of Obama's class pictures, and of the 21 children at this expensive private school, at least 7 and perhaps 10 weren't wholly white.

Darin Maurer, another buddy of Obama's in Hawaii, never noticed any internal struggle. The two met in seventh grade, drawn together by a shared interest in basketball. Both Darin and his mother recall Obama as very integrated. Suzanne Maurer recalls that Barry and her white son, who had very curly hair, both sported Afro-style haircuts at one point. Mostly, both Maurers remember how smart Obama was. "He could whip out a paper that was due the next day the night before, while all the other kids were spending weeks writing," recalls Suzanne. Darin remembers some racial tensions in Hawaii at that time—expressed by Native Islanders against both whites and blacks. There were derogatory native words for both races. "I wouldn't be very surprised about any sort of derogatory stuff about a black person," says Darin, a pastor who now lives in Texas. "I knew that's what you had to accept … It wasn't like it was debilitating. It was just a challenge."

Interestingly, Barack Obama Sr. mentioned anti-white discrimination in Hawaii in a newspaper interview when he was a college student there, but the topic doesn't interest Obama Jr. Just as the anti-black beatings he suffered at the hands of Indonesian boys don't show up in his memoir. They just don't fit in his black and white mental universe.

The absence of his father taught Obama the importance of stories. These tales helped him make sense of who he was. (At least two acquaintances in his postgraduation years thought he was on a track to become a writer.) Stories made the murkier aspects of life coherent, or at least gave him confidence—that he could author his own life story, and thus become a master of the tale and not a victim.

As I've frequently noted, Obama is much more interesting than the typical politician, in sizable part because he's a creative artist, perhaps best described as an "identity artist" reminiscent of David Bowie in his ability to mold and change his own persona. For example, here's a wonderful video of Obama giving a 2007 speech to a conference of black clergy, where he has a much different accent and body language: languid, cocky, florid, and Southern. Here, Obama sounds and looks like the preacher who has the biggest church and the biggest Cadillac in Tupelo, Mississippi. (He does a shout-out to Rev. Wright between 1:00 and 2:00 of the 36:00 video).

I like this alternate persona of Obama's quite a bit. I hope he does his 220 pound Baptist minister who loves his BBQ ribs number for visitors to the White House just to freak them out.

(I wonder what other impressions Obama does? Maybe that's the secret part of Obama's diplomatic strategy of personally meeting with rogue foreign leaders. He'll invite Ahmadinejad to a summit conference, then do Borat the whole time they're negotiating. Or invite the Castro Brothers and do Ricky Ricardo: "Fidel, you got some 'splainin' to do!")

Still, it's a little disconcerting to see a potential President of the United States suddenly morphing into a different person. It's too reminiscent of the great 1996 "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Kodos" Simpsons episode where at the Presidential debate, Clinton and Dole rip off their masks to reveal they are the space aliens Kodos and Kang:

Kodos: It's true, we are aliens. But what are you going to do about it? It's a two-party system; you have to vote for one of us.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter to African-Americans: Don't be so black; be more Barack!

Newsweek's liberal columnist Jonathan Alter makes explicit one of the underlying motivations for Obamamania:

While Obama can do much to guide white Americans toward a better racial future and a greater appreciation that poor kids are not, as he says, "someone else's children," his most exciting potential for moral leadership could be in the African-American community.

Remember the 1998 movie "Bulworth," where Warren Beatty plays a U.S. senator suffering a nervous breakdown? When Beatty's character tells astonished black Democrats that it's time for them to "put down the chicken and the malt liquor," it's final proof that Jay Bulworth is crazy and suicidal. But consider what happened late last month in Beaumont, Texas, when I covered Obama speaking before an African-American audience. A woman asked about health care and Obama explained how, for the first time in human history, thousands of obese children, many of them black, were being diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes—a disease that is killing millions and helping bankrupt the health-care system. He told the crowd that kids couldn't keep on "drinking eight sodas a day," then went in Bulworth's direction. "I know some of y'all got that cold Popeye's [chicken] out for breakfast. I know," Obama said with a smile. He continued: "That's why y'all laughing. You can't do that. Children have to have proper nutrition. That affects also how they study, how they learn in school … It's not good enough for you to say to your child, 'Do good in school,' and then when that child comes home, you got the TV set on, you got the radio on, you don't check their homework, there is not a book in the house, you've got the videogame playing." Instead of being jeered, he was cheered wildly.

Obviously, not all black adults and children would suddenly start doing exactly what President Obama tells them. As he said in his Philadelphia speech, he's not naive enough to believe that one politician will transform American attitudes. But it must make at least some difference when Obama tells African-American audiences, as he did this year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, that they need to stop being homophobic and anti-Semitic.

I call this theory, "Don't be so black; be more Barack!"

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer