August 16, 2008

Sprinters ...

Here's my favorite Olympic sprinting picture: Barcelona in 1992, the 4x100 meter relay, Carl Lewis followed by the Nigerian anchorman and the little Cuban anchorman who looked like Super Mario, all celebrating their medals after they crossed the finish line, not 30 meters before it as Jamaican Usain Bolt did tonight. With the race barely half over, Bolt dropped his arms to his sides like Muhammad Ali, thumped his chest to taunt his Jamaican rival Asafa Powell (and teammate in next Saturday's relay, but who's thinking ahead?), and mugged for the cameras, all before cantering across the finish line, still seven feet ahead of the field in a world record time of 9.69. (Here's the video.)

Sprinters ...

Here's my June post on Usain Bolt and the general topic of doping in Olympic sports, with some interesting comments on runners and swimmers (e.g., Dara Torres) by people who know a lot more than me.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

FYI: My old Olympics articles

In case you're interested, here are some old articles I've written related to the Olympics:

Here's my article on the 2004 Athens Summer Games from The American Conservative.

Why did the gender gap in Olympic running speeds between male and female medalists unexpectedly widen after the 1988 Olympics? My 1997 National Review article explains here.

Here's my 2000 article from on the Sydney Games, including the media-induced psychological pressures that often keep the sports crazy Japanese from performing up to expectations, and the remarkable lack of interest in sports of Indians.

Here's my 2006 article on why Bryant Gumbel doesn't like the Winter Olympics -- too many guys.

Here's my 2000 article on why nationalism and the Olympics go together like bread and butter.

Here's my 2002 article explaining why the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta were notoriously full of organizational snafus, while the 2000 Winter Games in Salt Lake City were a model of efficiency.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

White Africans in the Olympics

One interesting development I've noticed is the growing prominence of whites representing black countries, most notably swimmer Kirsty Coventry, who represents Zimbabwe (she's lived in America since college, although she retains a slight Rhodesian accent -- she pronounces her American college Auburn as OW-burn). She's won seven of Zimbabwe's eight medals in history.

Last night in the men's 100m butterfly famously won by Michael Phelps by 0.01 seconds (i.e., it's a Big Time event), the fifth place finisher, behind world record holder Ian Crocker, was Jason Dunford, a rich white kid whose family is big in the Kenya tourism business.

I've seen other whites representing West Indian and African countries as well. Some of them live in those countries, some are presumably claiming ancestry by descent. It's often easier to get to the Olympics as the sole representative of Tanzania in your sport than by making the British or Australian Olympic team, which is typically limited in number (e.g., a maximum of three from a country in track events).

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

India wins a gold medal!

An Indian won a gold medal in one of those shooting events that nobody cares about (unless he is a pistol shooter who has his right hand blown off by a hand grenade, so he trains himself to shoot left handed and comes back to win two gold medals, then it's pretty cool), causing the billion people of India to notice, hey, there's an Olympics going on!

Why are Indians so underrepresented in sports?

In 2000, I wrote in

Once again, however, the biggest loser in the Olympics was India. For the second straight Games, its one billion people brought home - a single bronze medal.

Indians just don't seem to care about any sports besides cricket. Even in field hockey, a game they ruled through the middle of the 20th Century, they stunk up the place again.

Perhaps Indians are just too cheerful, friendly, and polite to care much about winning at sports. Interestingly, their few sportsmen tend to come from the traditional warrior racial groups like the Sikhs. The British recognized that the Sikhs, along with the East Asian Gurkhas of Nepal, made the finest fighting men in South Asia. Sikhs remain the backbone of independent India's officer corps. Similarly, guys named Singh (i.e. Sikhs) hold about half of India's national track records.

It's long been theorized that militaristic nations should be best at sports, since sport is fundamentally training for and recreation from fighting and hunting. This correlation, however, has proved hard to test since practically every nation on Earth has a pugnacious history. Ancient nations that didn't like war tended to be put to the sword.

The most obvious exceptions: the peoples of India, who have repeatedly been the passive victims of invaders. So perhaps there is something to this old saw after all.

India is a poor country overall, but out of over a billion people, there are at least as many with Australian levels of income as there are Australians, yet the 17 million Australians win one to two orders of magnitude more medals.

Also, most countries allow their overseas diasporas to compete for the ancestral country (e.g., the American born center of the LA Clippers isn't good enough to make the American basketball team, so he's playing for Germany, where his grandparents came from). There are several million prosperous Indians all over the world who could compete for India if they aren't good enough to make, say, the US team.

One member of the 2008 bronze-medal winning US men's gymnastic team is South Asian.

In general, my impression from reading the local sports section's coverage of Southern California high school sports, though, is that South Asians raised in America aren't making much of a splash in youth sports.

They kick ass in the National Spelling Bee, however!

By the way, the only golfer in the world in this decade to knock Tiger Woods off the #1 ranking was Vijay Singh in 2004-2005. Singh is an ethnic Indian (Sikh) from Fiji. He's won more PGA tournaments since he turned 40 than Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer did combined.

Singh is also, by far, the darkest-skinned player on the PGA Tour (much darker than Tiger), yet you almost never ever hear about him in the American press as "breaking racial boundaries," "subverting stereotypes," or otherwise bringing the blessings of diversity to white-bread golf. That just goes to show that race isn't, actually, about skin color, it's about ancestry. And it also shows that Americans aren't interested in race in general, they're just obsessed with black-white questions.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Yao Ming: Successful Eugenics Experiment?

The Olympics are always a festival of human biodiversity, with each sport having its ideal body-type. The Chinese Olympic team flagbearer Yao Ming, the enormously tall Houston Rockets center who memorably led the Chinese in during the Opening Ceremonies next to the tiny hero boy who rescued two classmates buried in the recent earthquake, is the product of a more or less arranged marriage between the centers on the Chinese national men's and women's basketball teams. Colby Cosh points out the 2005 book Operation Yao Ming by Brook Larmer, which begins:

The faint whispers of a genetic conspiracy coursed through the corridors of Shanghai No. 6 Hospital on the evening of Sept. 12, 1980. It was shortly after 7 p.m., and a patient in the maternity ward had just endured an excruciating labor to give birth to a baby boy. An abnormally large baby boy. The doctors and nurses on duty should have anticipated something out of the ordinary. The boy's parents, after all, were retired basketball stars whose marriage the year before had made them the tallest couple in China. The mother, Fang Fengdi, an austere beauty with a pinched smile, measured 1.88 m—more than half a foot taller than the average man in Shanghai. The father, Yao Zhiyuan, was a 2.08-m giant whose body pitched forward in the kind of deferential stoop that comes from a lifetime of ducking under door frames and leaning down to listen to people of more normal dimensions. So imposing was their size that ever since childhood, the two had been known simply as Da Yao and Da Fang—Big Yao and Big Fang.

Still, the medical staff surely had never seen a newborn quite like this: the enormous legs, the broad, squarish cranium, the hands and feet so fully formed that they seemed to belong to a three-year-old. At more than 5 kg, he was nearly double the size of the average Chinese newborn. The name his parents gave him, from a Chinese character that unifies the sun and the moon, was Ming, meaning bright.

News of Yao Ming's birth was quickly relayed across town to the top leaders of the Shanghai Sports Commission. They were not surprised. These men and women had been trying to cultivate a new generation of athletes who would embody the rising power of China. The boy in the maternity ward represented, in many ways, the culmination of their plan.

The experiment had no code name, but in Shanghai basketball circles it might as well have been called Operation Yao Ming. The wheels had been set in motion more than a quarter-century earlier, when Chairman Mao Zedong exhorted his followers to funnel the nation's most genetically gifted youngsters into the emerging communist sports machine. Two generations of Yao Ming's forebears had been singled out by authorities for their hulking physiques, and his mother and father had both been drafted into the sports system. "We had been looking forward to the arrival of Yao Ming for three generations," says Wang Chongguang, a retired Shanghai coach who played with Yao's father in the 1970s and would coach Yao himself in the '90s. "That's why I thought his name should be Yao Panpan." Long-Awaited Yao....

The responsibility for arranging marriages among the most gifted retired athletes often fell to the coaches. "We had to do a lot of work as matchmakers," says Wang Yongfang, the former sports-institute leader who coached Da Fang early in her career and, after a long stint of hard labor in the countryside, was rehabilitated as the leader of the Shanghai women's team. "These girls spent far more time with the coaches and team leaders than with their own parents. Who else was there to make sure everything was O.K.?"

Before Da Fang even started to look for a husband, Shanghai officials had identified a suitable partner for her: Yao Zhiyuan. Yao, an active player who was two years her junior, was an agreeable man whose ready smile and love of a good quip contrasted sharply with Da Fang's grim demeanor. For several years the two players had eaten in the same cafeteria, lived in the same dormitory and practiced on adjoining courts, but, Da Fang says, "we didn't know each other very well." Shanghai coaches teased the two towering centers that they were made for each other. But it was up to a team leader named Liu Shiyu to make the match. He spoke with the players separately and convinced them that they could "make do" with each other—adding that they had the Communist Party's stamp of approval to do so. Given such high-level interest, how could Da Fang and Da Yao refuse?

The sports community didn't have to wait long for the first offspring of what the press was calling "the first couple of Asia." In the small apartment where Da Fang and Da Yao lived, everyone gathered to see the miracle child—long-awaited Yao.

Of course, another explanation for this matchmaking other than selective breeding might be: Who else was Yao's gigantic mother, Da Fang (Big Fang), who had been a particularly nasty Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution, going to marry?

For further reading, here's my 2003 article "NBA Height Spreading Globally" on where tallness is most frequently found.

Here's my article on the 2004 Athens Summer Games from The American Conservative.

Why did the gender gap in Olympic running speeds between male and female medalists unexpectedly widen after the 1988 Olympics? My 1997 National Review article explains here.

Here's my 2000 article from on the Sydney Games, including the media-induced psychological pressures that often keep the sports crazy Japanese from performing up to expectations, and the remarkable lack of interest in sports of Indians.

Here's my 2006 article on why Bryant Gumbel doesn't like the Winter Olympics -- too many guys.

Here's my 2000 article on why nationalism and the Olympics go together like bread and butter.

Here's my 2002 article
explaining why the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta were notoriously full of organizational snafus, while the 2000 Winter Games in Salt Lake City were a model of efficiency.

By the way, I don't know why all the blank lines between paragraphs on my blog have suddenly disappeared, but, following the success of my strategy for dealing with the recent Sitemeter-Blogger-Firefox imbroglio -- not doing a damn thing other than hoping the problem goes away by itself -- I resolve to do as little as possible to deal with it.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 15, 2008

The Israeli Connection: personal rather than strategic

YnetNews, a bilingual Hebrew-English website, has a useful article on the Israeli Connection in the Russian-Georgian war, emphasizing how personal relationships between the 29-year-old former Israeli Defense Minister of Georgia and Israeli arms merchants helped Israel blunder into a diplomatic disaster without the Israeli government as a whole realizing what it was getting into:

War in Georgia: The Israeli connection

Arie Egozi

The fighting which broke out over the weekend between Russia and Georgia has brought Israel's intensive involvement in the region into the limelight. This involvement includes the sale of advanced weapons to Georgia and the training of the Georgian army's infantry forces.

The Defense Ministry held a special meeting Sunday to discuss the various arms deals held by Israelis in Georgia, but no change in policy has been announced as of yet.

"The subject is closely monitored," said sources in the Defense Ministry. "We are not operating in any way which may counter Israeli interests. We have turned down many requests involving arms sales to Georgia; and the ones which have been approves have been duly scrutinized. So far, we have placed no limitations on the sale of protective measures."

Israel began selling arms to Georgia about seven years ago following an initiative by Georgian citizens who immigrated to Israel and became businesspeople.

"They contacted defense industry officials and arms dealers and told them that Georgia had relatively large budgets and could be interested in purchasing Israeli weapons," says a source involved in arms exports.

The military cooperation between the countries developed swiftly. The fact that Georgia's defense minister, Davit Kezerashvili, is a former Israeli who is fluent in Hebrew contributed to this cooperation.

"His door was always open to the Israelis who came and offered his country arms systems made in Israel," the source said. "Compared to countries in Eastern Europe, the deals in this country were conducted fast, mainly due to the defense minister's personal involvement."

Among the Israelis who took advantage of the opportunity and began doing business in Georgia were former Minister Roni Milo and his brother Shlomo, former director-general of the Military Industries, Brigadier-General (Res.) Gal Hirsch and Major-General (Res.) Yisrael Ziv.

Roni Milo conducted business in Georgia for Elbit Systems and the Military Industries, and with his help Israel's defense industries managed to sell to Georgia remote-piloted vehicles (RPVs), automatic turrets for armored vehicles, antiaircraft systems, communication systems, shells and rockets.

According to Israeli sources, Gal Hirsch gave the Georgian army advice on the establishment of elite units such as Sayeret Matkal and on rearmament, and gave various courses in the fields of combat intelligence and fighting in built-up areas.

'Don't anger the Russians'

The Israelis operating in Georgia attempted to convince the Israeli Aerospace Industries to sell various systems to the Georgian air force, but were turned down. The reason for the refusal was "special" relations created between the Aerospace Industries and Russia in terms of improving fighter jets produced in the former USSR and the fear that selling weapons to Georgia would anger the Russians and prompt them to cancel the deals.

Israelis' activity in Georgia and the deals they struck there were all authorized by the Defense Ministry. Israel viewed Georgia as a friendly state to which there is no reason not to sell arms systems similar to those Israel exports to other countries in the world.

As the tension between Russia and Georgia grew, however, increasing voices were heard in Israel – particularly in the Foreign Ministry – calling on the Defense Ministry to be more selective in the approval of the deals with Georgia for fear that they would anger Russia.

"It was clear that too many unmistakable Israeli systems in the possesion of the Georgian army would be like a red cloth in the face of a raging bull as far as Russia is concerned," explained a source in the defense establishment.

For inctance, the Russians viewed the operation of the Elbit System's RPVs as a real provocation.

"It was clear that the Russians were angry," says a defense establishment source, "and that the interception of three of these RPVs in the past three months was an expression of this anger. Not everyone in Israel understood the sensitive nerve Israel touched when it supplied such an advanced arms system to a country whose relations with Russia are highly tense."

That's pretty much how the world works: not through Conspiracies Carrying Out Grand Strategies, but through Affinity Networks. There is no Inner Party who understands all and has the future all plotted out. There are just a lot of hustlers on the make, guys who have friends who have friends.

The Israeli Connection has turned out to be a disaster for Israel, encouraging Israel's enemies. YNet reports:

In a speech marking the two-year anniversary of the Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah mocked Israel's political and military leadership.

"The entire front line of the army's brass stepped down because of the war. Gal Hirsch, who was defeated in Lebanon, went to Georgia and they too lost because of him," laughed Nasrallah.

Hirsch, a brigadier-general in the reserves, served as commander of the IDF's Galilee Division during the war and resigned in its wake. In recent years he consulted the Georgian army on the establishment of elite units and rearmament, and gave various courses in the fields of combat intelligence and fighting in built-up areas.

"Relying on Israeli experts and weapons, Georgia learned why the Israeli generals failed," proclaimed Nasrallah, "what happened in Georgia is a message to all those the Americans are seeking to entangle in dangerous adventures."

A Turkish news source reported that on a visit to Istanbul:

While speaking about a recent conflict between Georgia and Russia, Ahmadinejad once more addressed the United States. "It is not possible for the United States, which even failed to protect its ally Georgia, to attack Iran. The US could not even protect its own ally. US clout in world politics is decreasing. Moreover, it is in a major economic depression," Ahmadinejad said. "We will see that the US empire will crack and eventually collapse. There is nothing that the US can do against Iran," he added.

The Jerusalem Post reports from an Israel Foreign Ministry source, "Israel Fears War Could Hurt Iran Effort" because Russia is now less likely to cooperate with Israel and the U.S. in isolating Iran.

Georgia has turned out to be to Israel what Israel has been to the U.S.: the tail that wags the dog.

None of this was particularly planned; it just grew out of international networks, the kind of international networks that we here in the U.S. are supposed to never, ever notice.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Georgia President Saakashvili: "Both war and peace are in the hands of Israeli Jews."

From Haaretz of Tel Aviv (via Philip Weiss):

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili denied on Wednesday night that Israel has suspended its military aid to the country. "I haven't heard anything about that, and I haven't had time to think about that issue for some days," he told Haaretz.

Saakashvili said he is aware of problems with supplying the pilotless drones that his army ordered from Israeli companies, but not of the stopping of any other shipments of military aid.

"The Israeli weapons have proved very effective," he said at a press conference at his office. When asked whether the Israeli arms played a role in the military successes he claimed the Georgian army had achieved, he joked: "Are you asking me as a representative of Elbit [Elbit is a weapons company trading on the Nasdaq and Tel Aviv stock exchanges] or of Israel Aerospace Industries?"

To a reporter's question about Jews who have fled the fighting and come to Israel, he said: "We have two Israeli cabinet ministers, one deals with war [Defense Minister David Kezerashvili], and the other with negotiations [State Minister for Territorial Integration Temur Yakobashvili], and that is the Israeli involvement here: Both war and peace are in the hands of Israeli Jews."

Yakobashvili is actually not an Israeli citizen.

So, apparently, the 29-year-old Defense Minister of Georgia is an Israeli citizen. That's kind of like John McCain appointing Ephraim Diveroli the Secretary of Defense.
Saakashvili's statements are part of his government's attempt to bring other countries into its war against Russia. During the briefing, Saakashvili noted that he is in constant contact with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney [uh-oh] and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He promised that U.S. warships would be docking in Georgian ports within a few days to make sure they remain open.

Saakashvili tried to project confidence during the interview, but could not completely hide the stress he is under. A few hours earlier, refugees from Gori held a spontaneous demonstration in front of parliament, calling for Saakashvili to resign.

"We will fight to the death until the last Russian soldier leaves Georgian territory," Saakashvili told reporters. "We will never surrender."

He characterized the announcements against him by Russia's government, blaming him for the suffering of the Georgian people, as "typical Nazi propaganda." He accused Russia of ethnic cleansing in the Georgian villages in the north of the country. "If Georgia falls, all of the energy supply routes will be blocked," he said.

Saakashvili told the press conference that he expected Russia's next victims to be the Baltic countries. He accused Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of "trying to take revenge on the United States, but instead of attacking the Sixth Fleet he found himself an easier target."

Georgian minister slams Israeli suspension of aid
Earlier Wednesday, Yakobashvili told Haaretz that Israel has joined in the West's betrayal of Georgia. As the official in charge of bringing Abkhazia and South Ossetia back into the fold, Yakobashvili oversaw negotiations with the Russians to end the fighting there. He warned the world that the situation would escalate into war, but the West ignored him.

"They said the Georgians are exaggerating again," he charged.

A former Zionist leader who speaks fluent Hebrew ...

But, bear in mind, not an Israeli citizen!
... Yakobashvili credited Israeli defense companies with "enabling us to train our army and giving us the possibility to withstand the Russians," but termed the Israeli government's decision to stop arms exports to his country "a disgrace."

He said the West should have responded by "deploying NATO troops to defend Georgia's vital infrastructure," and that "Israel is betraying us, along with the European countries and the United States."

Referring to rioting by Russian militia groups in villages surrounding Gori, Yakobashvili said: "Today there was a Cossack pogrom against the local population. As a Jew that gives me a different feeling."

Yakobashvili blasted Israel's decision to suspend defense aid to Georgia: "Israel did it at the Russians' behest. It aided the terrorists, the Russians. It's a disgrace. I don't know what it received in return, I only see that Hezbollah continues to get Russian arms, and plenty of it."

"Israel should protect the interests it has here," he continued. "There are many Israeli businesspeople who invested money, and a country should protect its citizens' investments."

He ascribed Georgia's feisty military ability to Israeli training, and said that Russian experts had told him "they never believed Georgia has such an army and that they would encounter such resistance."

Yakobashvili claimed the Georgian forces had destroyed Russia's 58th army and downed 17 planes and three helicopters (data unsubstantiated by other sources).

Judging from Yakobashvili's complaints (as opposed to Saakashvili's reassurances), apparently the Israeli Foreign Ministry has decided that it's in Israel's national interest to cut Georgia adrift and make nice with the Russians (although powerful interests within and without the Israel Defense Ministry seem to vociferously disagree). As is frequently the case, however, Israel's most enthusiastic boosters within the U.S. don't want America to follow Israel's sensible policies. Instead, they want the U.S. to fight for Israeli interests that Israel is too smart to fight for itself.

Whenever I write about something like this, I get denounced for being "obsessed" with Israel. People explain to me that that's not the whole story. The real story is Russia's Resurgence or the Threat to Energy Supplies or Democracy Under Siege or all the themes you've seen headlined a hundred times in the American press.

Of course the Israeli Connection is not the whole story. I'm not the Encyclopedia Britannica. My job is to post material that is true, new, significant, and interesting / entertaining, in roughly that order. I look for angles that aren't being given their due weight in the U.S. mainstream media. The Israeli Connection is X percent of the story in the Russian-Georgian war. Whatever X percent is, the share of American media coverage devoted to the Israeli Connection is only a tiny fraction of X percent. Go check out Google News and see how much attention the U.S. establishment press has devoted to the Israeli Connection. (The American Jewish press has been better, as usual).

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

UPDATED: The World's Fastest Man - Round One

As I've often mentioned, the most remarkable streak in sports is in the Olympic men's 100 meter dash. The 100m competition typically starts off with about 80 entrants from around the world. After the first round, the top 40 move on to the quarterfinals, then 16 to the semifinals, and ultimately 8 to the finals.

Over the last six Olympics, 1984 through 2004, all 48 finalists have been men of West African descent.

Of the 40 survivors of the 2008 first round, there appear to be 3 East Asians (two from Japan and one from China), six Europeans (Poland, Italy Britain, Slovenia, Spain, and Russia), one or two mulattoes (e.g., Brazil), and around 30 blacks of West African descent, including the representative of Norway.

The Japanese can be pretty fast, as baseball player Ichiro Suzuki shows. Japanese runners made up 3 of the 32 semifinalists in the 1996-2000 Olympics.

Judging by the first round times, I'm assuming this streak will continue for a seventh Olympiad.

If I had to guess the man to break this string, it would be 21-year-old Craig Pickering of Milton Keynes, England. The British beat the Americans to win the gold in the 4x100 meter sprint relay in Athens in 2004, showing that they are a legitimate sprinting power, so Pickering even making the British team for the Olympics is impressive. In the first heat, Pickering ran a solid 10.21 to finish third just behind two West Indian stars, former world record holder Asafa Powell and two-time Olympic finalist Kim Collins. That made him the fastest nonblack in the world on Friday. (To be precise about this, you should adjust for wind velocity, which I haven't done.)

But Pickering's year probably won't be 2008. His goal now is to make the semifinals. He'll likely be more of a threat when he's at his 25-year-old peak at the 2012 Games in front of the hometown crowd in London.

Pickering told the Guardian:

"I only get bothered when I'm asked about the race issue. I don't believe I can't run 100m in 9.99 because I'm white.

Of the 364 times that human beings have run under 10.00 seconds, only once was by somebody not of largely or completely West African descent -- Patrick Johnson of Australia, who is half Irish, half Australian Aborigine. (A Pole and a Japanese have run ten flat.)

"And I don't believe black sprinters think that just because of their colour they're automatically going to run under 10 seconds without working hard. But I don't like these questions because I'm scared of saying something that might offend black people - or even white people." ...

The prospect of both Pickering and Aikines-Aryeetey improving markedly between now and the London Olympics needs to be considered in light of Colin Jackson's recent assertion that it would take a miracle for a British athlete to win gold on the track in 2012. "I actually endorse that," Pickering says, while acknowledging that Jackson's formidable record as a world champion hurdler was also forged under Arnold's coaching. "If you look at the current state of British athletics, it is going to need a small miracle. America can produce 10 great new athletes a year. Nine of them might go to American football but the 10th will probably still beat most European athletes. The Americans won't be quaking that I've run 60m in 6.55. Next year in the indoor world championships they'll probably have three athletes running under 6.50 - so in that sense we might need a miracle."

And yet Pickering's strong displays this year are striking especially because, as he points out, "60m is not my best distance. I'm much more suited to the 100m and I'll be 25 in 2012 - which is the perfect age for a sprinter. So who knows?"

UPDATE: Spoiler Alert

Pickering ran the 17th fastest time in the quarterfinals, 10.18, just missing moving on to the semifinals of 16. The only semifinalist not of West African black descent is a Japanese runner, who had, I believe, the slowest time of all the semifinalists, a few hundredths of a second slower than Pickering, but in an easier heat.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 14, 2008

I agree with John McCain

The AP reports:

WASHINGTON -- Barack Obama and John McCain agree on Frank Sinatra.

The two presidential candidates offered widely different top 10 favorite songs to Blender magazine but shared the same appreciation for Ol' Blue Eyes. Obama chose "You'd Be So Easy to Love," while McCain liked "I've Got You Under My Skin."

In the September issue, on sale nationwide Tuesday, the candidates delivered their list.

McCain prefers ABBA's disco classic "Dancing Queen." Obama favors the hip-hop jam "Ready or Not" by the Fugees.

Obama, the Illinois Democrat, chose Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" as his No. 2 pick after the Fugees. Songs "I'm on Fire" by Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stone's "Gimme Shelter" and Nina Simone's "Sinnerman" rounded out his leading five.

Other artists on Obama's list were Kanye West, U2 and Aretha Franklin. The contender also gave a nod to and his Internet sensation, "Yes We Can," which was written for Obama.

ABBA made McCain's list twice. "Take A Chance On Me" came in third among the Arizona Republican's picks. Rocker Roy Orbison's "Blue Bayou" ranked second. Country singer Merle Haggard's "If We Make It Through December" and Dooley Wilson's "As Time Goes By" were in his top five.

McCain also selected songs from the Beach Boys, Louis Armstrong, Neil Diamond and The Platters.

"Dancing Queen" isn't my favorite song of all time, but, man, is it ever great. I recall going to a concert decades ago of some critics' favorite like Peter Tosh or Gang of Four, and when it was over, the concert hall put on "Dancing Queen" as the most Top 40 hit imaginable to clear everybody out pronto. For the next few days, I couldn't remember any songs by the esteemed band I'd seen and I couldn't get "Dancing Queen" out of my head.

Also, Frank Sinatra's version of Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin" is perfection. And I was watching "Casablanca" last year, and after a half hour or so, I was thinking, "This isn't really as good as I remember." Then, boom, they start the song up. "As Time Goes By" makes "Casablanca" "Casablanca."

In contrast, Obama's list seems finicky, pretentious, and political. "Gimme Shelter" is the intellectual's favorite Rolling Stones song, but there are lots of more fun ones, like "Get Off My Cloud," "Let's Spend the Night Together," "Honky-Tonk Women," and (by commenter's reminder) "Brown Sugar." (I don't think Mrs. Obama would approve of that one.) "What's Going On" is nice, but critics rave over it because it's politically leftist, unlike 99.9% of the great songs of the 1964-1971 era.

It's quite funny, actually, how there's so little in the way of leftist lyrics in rock songs from the Sixties and early Seventies. It drives critics crazy. When it comes to politics, you tend to get Lafferite ("Taxman" and "Ball of Confusion") or anti-radical ("Revolution," "Sympathy for the Devil," "Streetfighting Man," "Won't Get Fooled Again," and a bunch of Kinks songs). "Fortunate Son" is a great song, but it's pure redneck populism. Bob Dylan, the critics' hero, actually wrecked the one leftist musical form, folk, first by taking it introspective and away from picket-line singalongs, then dumping it for electric guitar rock.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 13, 2008

Georgia paid $400k to McCain's top foreign policy adviser

You may wonder about why John McCain has been so wild about getting us into a new Cold War with Russia in general, and into what could turn into a shooting war with them over Georgia in particular. I mean, other than the fact that he's John McCain ... The Washington Post reports:

Sen. John McCain's top foreign policy adviser prepped his boss for an April 17 phone call with the president of Georgia and then helped the presumptive Republican presidential nominee prepare a strong statement of support for the fledgling republic.

The day of the call, a lobbying firm partly owned by the adviser, Randy Scheunemann, signed a $200,000 contract to continue providing strategic advice to the Georgian government in Washington.

The McCain campaign said Georgia's lobbying contract with Orion Strategies had no bearing on the candidate's decision to speak with President Mikheil Saakashvili and did not influence his statement. "The Embassy of Georgia requested the call," said campaign spokesman Brian Rogers.

But ethics experts have raised concerns about former lobbyists for foreign governments providing advice to presidential candidates about those same countries. "The question is, who is the client? Is the adviser loyal to income from a foreign client, or is he loyal to the candidate he is working for now?" said James Thurber, a lobbying expert at American University. "It's dangerous if you're getting advice from people who are very close to countries on one side or another of a conflict."

At the time of McCain's call, Scheunemann had formally ceased his own lobbying work for Georgia, according to federal disclosure reports. But he was still part of Orion Strategies, which had only two lobbyists, himself and Mike Mitchell.

Scheunemann remained with the firm for another month, until May 15, when the McCain campaign imposed a tough new anti-lobbyist policy and he was required to separate himself from the company.

Rogers said Scheunemann "receives no compensation of any type from Orion Strategies and has not since May 15, 2008." Scheunemann declined to be interviewed for this story.

As a private lobbyist trying to influence lawmakers and Bush administration staffers, Scheunemann at times relied on his access to McCain in his work for foreign clients on Capitol Hill. He and his partner reported 71 phone conversations and meetings with McCain and his top advisers since 2004 on behalf of foreign clients, including Georgia, according to forms they filed with the Justice Department.

The contacts often focused on Georgia's aspirations to join NATO and on legislative proposals, including a measure co-sponsored by McCain that supported Georgia's position on South Ossetia, one of the Georgian regions taken over by Russia this weekend.

Another measure lobbied by Orion and co-sponsored by McCain, the NATO Freedom Consolidation Act of 2006, would have authorized a $10 million grant for Georgia.

For months while McCain's presidential campaign was gearing up, Scheunemann held dual roles, advising the candidate on foreign policy while working as Georgia's lobbyist. Between Jan. 1, 2007, and May 15, 2008, the campaign paid Scheunemann nearly $70,000 to provide foreign policy advice. During the same period, the government of Georgia paid his firm $290,000 in lobbying fees.

Since 2004, Orion has collected $800,000 from the government of Georgia.

Since Orion consists of two guys, that's basically $400k that the Republic of Georgia put into the pocket of McCain's top foreign policy adviser.

You know, these ex-Soviet Union folks must snicker at how cheap it is to buy American politicians. The Exile had a column once about how politicians in the ex-Soviet region expect to wind up with hundreds of millions of dollars in London real estate, while American politicians get bought for peanuts (e.g., $90,000 in cold cash in the icebox).

My view is that we should treat Americans who have been registered agents for foreign governments the way we treat mob lawyers -- as a necessary part of the system, but, in return for the money, they permanently disqualify themselves for important roles in government, other than maybe Mayor of Las Vegas. But nobody else seems to think that way.

By the way, this guy Scheunemann was in deep with Ahmad Chalabi, and now he's got a shot at being, what, National Security Adviser? How many times do you have to screw up in Washington before your act wears thin?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

A suggestion

Although George W. Bush and John McCain* disagree with me, I have a hunch it's probably not prudent for the U.S. to enter into a formal military alliance with a country with a 29-year-old defense minister:

Davit Kezerashvili (Georgian: დავით კეზერაშვილი) (born September 22, 1978) is the Georgian Minister of Defence.

* Ah, jeez, now that I went and looked it up, it turns out that Obama says he more or less wants Georgia in NATO too. Obama just said:

"Going forward, the United States and Europe must support the people of Georgia. Beyond immediate humanitarian assistance, we must provide economic assistance, and help rebuild what has been destroyed. I have consistently called for deepening relations between Georgia and transatlantic institutions, including a Membership Action Plan for NATO, and we must continue to press for that deeper relationship."

Georgia's current status visa-vis NATO is at the level of Individual Partnership Action Plan. The Membership Action Plan would be the next level, followed by full membership.

This is a concern about Obama. Unlike Yosemite Sam McCain, Obama doesn't really care much about foreign policy (his whole career was devoted to burrowing inward from the exotic margins), so you'd expect him to be sensible about foreign countries. His cold-blooded yuppie personality should be good for avoiding getting us into absurd situations like this.

And, I suspect he is sensible, deep down. But, he hasn't shown much courage lately in taking on the DC-NY Establishment Axis of Insanity. With his lack of a military record, long history of youthful anti-American radicalism, and his one degree of separation from anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, he seems to feel he has to prove himself unthreatening to the same kind of influential wackos who had such a disastrous impact on GW Bush.

I guess Obama's unstated campaign slogan on foreign policy is going to be:

Less Insane than McCain!

Granted, that is a rather persuasive reason to vote for Obama, but, still, does the difference have to be quite so relative?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Brains: Bigger Is Better, Sort Of

Scientific American has an article, "High Aptitude Minds," by Christian Hoppe and Jelena Stojanovic on the relationship between brain size and IQ:

Most studies show that smarter brains are typically bigger—at least in certain locations. Part of Einstein’s parietal lobe (at the top of the head, behind the ears) was 15 percent wider than the same region was in 35 men of normal cognitive ability, according to a 1999 study by researchers at McMaster University in Ontario. This area is thought to be critical for visual and mathematical thinking. It is also within the constellation of brain regions fingered as important for superior cognition. These neural territories include parts of the parietal and frontal lobes as well as a structure called the anterior cingulate.

But the functional consequences of such enlargement are controversial. In 1883 English anthropologist and polymath Sir Francis Galton dubbed intelligence an inherited feature of an efficiently functioning central nervous system. Since then, neuroscientists have garnered support for this efficiency hypothesis using modern neuroimaging techniques. They found that the brains of brighter people use less energy to solve certain prob­lems than those of people with lower aptitudes do.

In other cases, scientists have observed higher neuronal power consumption in individuals with superior mental capacities. Musical prodigies may also sport an unusually energetic brain [see box on page 67]. That flurry of activity may occur when a task is unusually challenging, some researchers speculate, whereas a gifted mind might be more efficient only when it is pondering a relatively painless puzzle.

Despite the quest to unravel the roots of high IQ, researchers say that people often overestimate the significance of intellectual ability [see “Coaching the Gifted Child,” by Christian Fischer]. Studies show that practice and perseverance contribute more to accomplishment than being smart does.

Size Matters
In humans, brain size correlates, albeit somewhat weakly, with intelligence, at least when researchers control for a person’s sex (male brains are bigger) and age (older brains are smaller). Many modern studies have linked a larger brain, as measured by magnetic resonance imaging, to higher intellect, with total brain volume accounting for about 16 percent of the variance in IQ. But, as Einstein’s brain illustrates, the size of some brain areas may matter for intelligence much more than that of others does.

So, I guess Stephen Jay Gould didn't know what he was talking about. Imagine that!

The article makes a point that I've long noticed with myself. Thinking hard makes my head hot. When I give up thinking about something as too hard, it's usually because of an unpleasant warm sensation in my head.

Starting in the late 1980s, Haier and his colleagues have gathered data that buttress this so-called efficiency hypothesis. The researchers used positron-emission tomography, which measures glucose metabolism of cells, to scan the brains of eight young men while they performed a nonverbal abstract reasoning task for half an hour. They found that the better an individual’s performance on the task, the lower the metabolic rate in widespread areas of the brain, supporting the notion that efficient neural processing may underlie brilliance. And in the 1990s the same group observed the flip side of this phenomenon: higher glucose metabolism in the brains of a small group of subjects who had below-average IQs, suggesting that slower minds operate less economically.

In 2004 I bought a laptop with the new CPU chip that goes to sleep when it's not being used. I chose it specifically to generate less heat because when I was working hard thinking about something, I didn't want my computer working hard too, because the combination of both my brain and my computer's brain going full steam was causing my small office to overheat.

The CPU designers at Intel and AMD are always trying to figure out ways to have their chips think more efficiently in order to avoid generating so much heat. Several years ago, Intel gave up its efforts to crank clock speed up past 4 gigahertz because chips were melting.

A bigger brain would have a harder time shedding heat, simply because there is more brain to generate heat and there's more distance from the center of the brain to the outside. So, that's one reason (among many) why humans don't look like super-intelligent alien invaders from sci-fi movies.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 12, 2008

Why did Ivins recently call his counselor from 2000?

A point that's often overlooked in the anthrax case is that mad scientist Bruce Ivins had at least two counselors over the years who were disturbed enough by what he said during therapy sessions to alert the authorities that he was likely to murder somebody.

His 2008 counselor, who led a group therapy session for substance abusers, had to get a judge to issue a restraining order against Ivins after he threatened to murder her, along with his colleagues at work. This poor woman has had her dirty laundry aired all over the Internet by people trying to discredit her. Of course, Ivins made threats in front of his therapy group, so if you don't believe the group leader, you could just ask the other members of the group. But, I guess, the theory then would be that they are all drunks and pill-poppers too, so you can't believe them either ... or something.

Tellingly, Ivins' therapist in 2000 went to the cops, too, because Ivins had told her he intended to poison a young woman if she lost a soccer match. Fortunately, her team won.

That's like Anton Chigur demanding the that gas station clerk in "No Country for Old Men" flip a coin to see if he lives or dies. It's just not sane.

For me, that evidence that he was homicidally loony many years before the FBI had ever heard of him is, more than anything else, what caused me to change my evaluation of the case against Ivins from Plausible to Highly Probable. When a suspect kills himself, that's usually a sign of guilt. Perhaps, though, the FBI badgered an innocent man into suicidal depression?

But, it now turns out that Ivins had boasted about much of the modus operandi of the 2001 attacks in 2000 -- poisoning people and taking long drives to anonymously mail things without anybody noticing.

Moreover, it appears that the FBI was not in contact with his 2000 counselor until this summer. Evidently, they had settled upon him as the main suspect before talking to his 2000 counselor.

Strangely enough, it was Ivins himself who set in motion the surfacing of his 2000 therapist. Why did he do it? The Washington Post reported on August 7 about his 2000 counselor, who has had the good sense to stay anonymous and not endure the kind of abuse to which his 2008 counselor has been subjected:

The counselor had not heard from Ivins for years until he called out of the blue about two months ago. Politely, "he asked whether I remembered him," she said. And he asked whether she could give him his records for his attorney.

When FBI agents called her late last month [July] -- near the day [July 29, 2008] Ivins swallowed a lethal dose of Tylenol -- she replied, "In all my 25 years of counseling, there is only one client the FBI would call me about."

So, why did Ivins' attorney want Ivins' psychiatric records from 2000?

The only rational explanation that I can come up with is that his attorney was considering, with Ivins' cooperation, a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity plea in the anthrax terrorism case.

Ivins would have been crazy not to plead insanity!

Judging from what we've seen of Ivins emails, you could make a decent argument that he was close to legally insane in 2000. My vague impression is that he wasn't quite as crazy in 2001, perhaps due to the medication he'd been prescribed: I haven't heard about as many deranged emails from 2001 as from 2000.

In summary, we should have a national commission to investigate the anthrax terrorism. Put on it non-politicians who could master the genetics and the criminal investigation -- Henry Harpending, Vincent Bugliosi, Richard Posner, people of that caliber. My guess would be that Ivins will turn out to be the killer.

By the way, Science has a helpful article on the genetic side of the FBI's case.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Ossetians

One of the endless problems of nationalism is finding low friction borders for nations. Oceans clearly work the best, but what else can be used?

At first glance, rivers look like they'd make good borders because they are line-shaped and they are moderately defensible in case of war. In reality, though, navigable rivers typically run through the heart of a nation (the Nile, the Mississippi, the Thames, the Volga, the Yellow, the Ganges, etc.). Indeed, nations are most likely to rise up along both banks of a mighty river.

Mountain ranges, such as the Pyrenees dividing France and Spain, seem more promising. They are military defensible and they reduce cultural and economic interchange, so the people living in the flat lands on either side of a big range tend to see themselves as different peoples.

The problem tends to be, however, that few mountain ranges are uninhabited. The mountaineers generally are often ornery folk who don't like being shoved around by flatlanders, and they live on both sides of the border. The Pashtuns who live on both sides of the Khyber Pass are the classic example. What could be a more logical place to draw the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan than the rugged mountains pierced by the famously narrow Khyber Pass? Yet, that logical border seems nonsensical to the millions of Pashtuns who live in the region and pay no attention to that line.

Similarly, the ridgeline of the Greater Caucasus mountains makes a perfectly sensible border between Russia and Georgia, except to the Ossetian-speaking peoples who live in those mountains, both north and south of the border.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

UPDATED: You heard it here first

From New York magazine (via NRO):

In October, Obama’s former pastor, Wright, will publish a new book and hit the road to promote it, an occasion that might well place the topic of Obama’s blackness (along with his patriotism and his candor about what he heard in the pews in all those years at Trinity Church) squarely at the center of the national debate. How Obama handles that moment may determine whether he becomes the next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

As I blogged here on April 2:

So, I don't expect we've heard the last from Rev. Wright. All summer, he's going to be sitting in his new mansion on the golf course in the gated community in 93% white suburban Tinley Park brooding on how Obama has betrayed him, and what he's going to do about it.

He'll think of something.

For example, last November 2, he invented the Jeremiah Wright Trumpeter Lifetime Achievement Award and gave it to Louis Farrakhan at a big bash at the Chicago Hyatt Regency, but it took the white media ten weeks to even notice what a black man had done. This year, there are all sorts of people he could give his award to on, say, Saturday night November 1st. And I bet this year it won't take ten weeks before the white press talks about it!

Or maybe somebody else will think of something for Wright to do. If you were a literary agent, say, wouldn't you want to sign Wright up for a quickie bestseller, with a release date targeted at, say, 10/1/08? Hustle your best ghostwriter out to Tinley Park and get Wright's memoirs and views on current issues slapped together by the Fourth of July. Make that deadline and you could have it on the bookshelves five weeks before Election Day!

No, I don't think we've heard the last from Rev. Wright.

Update: Now, Rev. Dr. Wright's daughter says that isn't true. She asserts her father is in an electronically inaccessible region of Ghana and will issue a statement when emerges from "email hell."

I must say, the news Rev. Wright is currently hanging out with Dr. Livingstone and Mr. Kurtz makes Obama look much more Presidential than did the endless Obama-Wright psychodrama of last spring. As I blogged on April 29:

One little-mentioned aspect of Barack Obama's on-going fiasco involving his spiritual mentor is that it makes him look feckless.

Rev. Wright has been a problem Obama knew he was going to have for, roughly, ever. But what has he done about it, besides giving a 5,000 word speech? Did he switch to a Washington D.C. church when he was elected to the Senate in 2005? Did he persuade Trinity to stop selling Wright's sermons on DVD? Did he provide any sort of narrative about the evolving ideological differences between the young and mature Barack Obamas?

In contrast, do you remember how in February 2004, Democratic frontrunner John Kerry was rocked by rumors that he was having an adulterous affair with a young woman? You probably don't remember because, although for about a day it looked like it might derail Kerry's victory march through the primaries, the story quickly went away -- when the young lady went away, leaving the country.

Problem dealt with.

I have no idea if the rumors about Kerry were true or if the girl's timely departure from America was a coincidence or what. But, let's assume the worst about Kerry: he wrote a big check from the allowance his wife gives him to his mistress in return for making herself scarce. What can you then say about Kerry?

Well, one thing you can say is that he had a problem and he dealt with it. All else being equal, I'd rather have a President who had a problem and dealt with it than a President who had a problem and failed to deal with it.

Wright should not have been an unsolvable problem for Obama. Wright likes the spotlight, but he also likes other things. (He drives a Porsche, for example).

So, Wright likes money. Obama has friends with money. Right there, you have the makings of a deal. (The payoff didn't have to be crass -- just that in return for Wright maintaining a low profile all year, in December 2008 Obama's supporters would start up a charitable foundation for Rev. to run. Obama could have asked Bill and Hill for advice on the fine points of foundations.)

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Conspiracies vs. Networks

The term "conspiracy theory" has become a most effective pejorative, useful in dismissing both actual conspiracy theories and the way the world actually works, which is through networks.

For example, why did the low budget film "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" make $200 million at the U.S. box office? Was it a conspiracy? Well, sure, there were well-paid professionals meeting together regularly to try to make it a hit, but there are for all movies, few of which succeed on the same scale. No, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was a hit because of network effects -- good word of mouth.

Something similar is true for political issues, but fewer people have strong opinions, especially on foreign policy. Take the Russia-Georgia war, for example. I consider myself reasonably well informed, but the only Georgia I know anything about is the one you can take the midnight train to.

So, people get their opinions from other people who they trust who get their opinions from other people they trust etc. etc. It doesn't take many people to start these ripples.

And they have an important effect. The American press was slow to acknowledge last week that Georgia actually started the current war with Russia, partly due, perhaps, to the absurdity of the idea of a tiny country escalating a dispute with a huge one, partly due to pro-Georgian bias.

Network effects are inevitable. It's not a conspiracy, although, as always, there are paid promoters involved (for example, John McCain's top foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann was a lobbyist for the country of Georgia).

Fortunately, we're allowed to mention those kind of network ties in polite society. What we aren't supposed to draw attention to is something that has increasingly popped up in American foreign policy over the years: the American-Israeli-ex-Soviet Union triangle.

The Israeli media has been full of stories on the close ties between at least one faction in Israel and the government of Georgia. Here's an article by the Jewish pro-Israel writer David Bedein on the subject from today's Philadelphia Evening Bulletin:

Israel Linked To Georgia Security
By: David Bedein , The Bulletin

Jerusalem - The two largest suppliers to Georgia are the United States and France. Israel may not be Georgia's main arms supplier, but the scope of defense deals between the two countries stands at $200 million.

The Soldiers Are Georgian, The Arms Israeli

The Georgian army may be incapable of bearing up against an army the size of Russia's, but it certainly presents a challenge. Over the years, the security companies run by senior IDF officers, including Maj. Gen. Israel Ziv and Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch, have been training the Georgian army's infantry battalions. These battalions use Israeli night vision equipment, arms, communications and intelligence equipment and over their heads constantly hover Israeli drones and aircraft upgraded by Israel.

Ronnie Milo, the former mayor of Tel Aviv, is also behind the deals with Georgia.

"The phenomenon of a small country standing up to Russian might is not their invention," Mr. Milo said, refusing to comment on the performance of the arms he sold. "We faced that situation for many years, and no one wanted to help us because they were afraid of the Russians and of the Arabs."

At the end of 2003, a group of young idealists, led by Mikhail Saakashvili, who was elected to the government and has a pro-Western policy, rose to power in Georgia. Mr. Saakashvili is interested in having his country join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which also led to the conflict with Russia. As part of his efforts to join NATO, Mr. Saakashvili expanded his army to approximately 26,000 soldiers and worked to turn it into a Western-style, sophisticated army. This led to an increase in security exports from Israel amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Approximately two years ago, Georgia drew up an "urgent shopping list" that included dozens of millions of bullets, pilotless aircraft, night-vision equipment, mortar shells, rockets and more. Fears of a Russian response closed many doors throughout the world, but as stated, the Israeli Defense Ministry decided to allow the security companies to sell to them.

With the mediation of Ronnie Milo and his brother Shlomo (a former director-general of Israel Military Industries), who represented Elbit Systems, Su-25 ground-attack fighters were upgraded and 18 Skylark mini-drones and five Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicles were sold.

However, Israel Military Industries' main and most sensitive deal was the sale of Lynx mobile rocket systems. The rockets can strike within a range of dozens of miles.

At the end of 2007, Brig. Gen. Hirsch, one of the owners of the Defensive Shield company, arrived in Georgia in order to train infantry troops. Dozens of instructors arrived there in order to train infantry troops as part of the cooperation deal that was signed with the company that Brig. Gen. Hirsch owns.

After the scope of Israel's involvement became clear to the Russians, they sent a letter to Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni asking that arms supplies to Georgia be discontinued.

Georgian Defense Minister Went To High School In Israel

The Georgian defense minister, Davit Kezerashvili, 30 [Huh? A 30 year old defense minister?], is a Jew who once lived in Israel. Mr. Kezerashvili was born in Georgia. As a boy, he immigrated to Israel, lived with his grandmother in Holon and even went to Kugel High School in the city.

His parents followed him to Israel. Two years later, he returned on his own to Tbilisi. His parents remained in Israel and returned to Georgia just four years ago.

Mr. Kezerashvili studied international relations at Tbilisi University. He served as the aid to Mikhail Saakashvili when the latter was appointed the head of Parliament. Mr. Kezerashvili managed to get himself appointed defense minister when Mr. Saakashvili became president.

Mr. Kezerashvili devoted a great deal of effort in preparing Georgia for a possible future conflict with Russia, and he was helped by Israeli security experts.

In an interview that was given by Defense Minister Kezerashvili's father a year ago to the Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot, he said that his son had a warm spot in his heart for Israel. "He has a lot of friends to this day in Israel, and he's maintained good relations with them," said the father.

Yakobashvilli: 'Israel Ought To Be Proud Of Itself'

"The Israelis ought to be proud of the fact that Georgian soldiers received Israeli education and training and are fighting like I don't know what," said another Georgian cabinet minister, Temur Yakobashvili, in an interview with the Israeli media.

Mr. Yakobashvili is a Hebrew-speaking Jew. "Now we have a battle with great Russia," he said, "and our hope is to receive assistance from the White House, because alone Georgia won't be able to endure. It's important that everywhere in the world people understand that what is happening in Georgia now is going to affect world order. This isn't only Georgia's business but the business of the entire region."

One Georgian MP yesterday called not only for American help but also for Israel to help Georgia stop the Russian assault. Yesterday, a short while after the Georgian parliament declared a war situation, MP Lasha Zhvania said: "We won't be able to stop the Russian aggression by military force only. We need help from the UN and from our friends as well, first and foremost the United States and Israel. Today it is a danger to Georgia; tomorrow it will be a danger to all the democratic countries in the region and in the entire world." ...

Israel Foreign Ministry: Halt Arms Sales To Georgia

According to the Israeli Haaretz newspaper, the Israel Foreign Ministry has recommended a complete halt to the sale of arms and any security-related equipment to Georgia in light of the recent fighting with Russian forces in the Caucasus. This would be a further tightening of an arms boycott on Tbilisi around a year after a decision had been made in Jerusalem to limit exports to Georgia only to defensive equipment.

Israel is concerned that Russia would choose to retaliate against Jerusalem for continued military support of Georgia by lifting restrictions on its arms transfers to Iran and Arab states.

"Israel needs to be very careful and sensitive these days," a senior foreign ministry source told Haaretz. "The Russians are selling many arms to Iran and Syria and there is no need to offer them an excuse to sell even more advanced weapons."

Israel is particularly interested in the transfer of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles from Russia to Iran.

Profiles Of Israelis Helping The Georgia Defense Industries

* Maj. Gen. (res.) Yisrael Ziv, aged 61

Military Background: Served as the commander of the Paratroopers Brigade's elite reconnaissance unit during the first Lebanon War. He was the commander of the Paratroopers Brigade and the commander of the Gaza Division between 2000 and 2005.

Current Employment: Mr. Ziv is the CEO of a security consulting firm.

In Georgia: Mr. Ziv has been active in the past number of years exporting weaponry, mainly to South America. He served as a security consultant in Georgia, often in conjunction with others.

* Roni Milo, aged 59

Background: A former MK, cabinet minister and mayor of Tel Aviv.

Current Employment: Mr. Milo is a businessman.

In Georgia: Mr. Milo has been working in Georgia with his brother Shlomo, a former IAF pilot and CEO of the Israel Military Industries. He served as a mediator for Elbit Systems and the military industries. Mr. Milo succeeded in promoting a number of relatively small business deals. He tried this past year to promote the sale of 200 Merkava tanks to Georgia, but the deal was prohibited by Israel.

* Brig. Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch, aged 44.

Military Background: This leading officer was forced to retire from the IDF in the wake of the criticism he received for his performance during the Second Lebanon War as the commander of the Galilee Division.

Current Employment: Brig. Gen. Hirsch is one of the owners of Defensive Shield, a security consulting firm.

In Georgia: According to sources in Israel, Brig. Gen. Hirsch helped the Georgians establish elite units akin to elite Israeli units.

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site is

As I said, this isn't so much a conspiracy as a network. It's not at all clear what the Israeli government's position is on Georgia -- the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry appear to be squabbling over which side Israel should be on. Haaretz reported:
In a move which drew heavy criticism from defense officials, Israel's Foreign Ministry over the weekend recommended complete cessation of the sale of weapons and security-related equipment to Georgia in light of the fighting between its troops and the Russian Army. "The Foreign Ministry's approach demonstrates a naively simplistic view and a lack of understanding of the complex world of the security deals which Israel is conducting with foreign partners," a defense official told Haaretz on condition of anonymity.

But, it is clear, that some Israelis have strong interests in Georgia, and those Israelis have lots of connections in the U.S. So, say some American pundit knows a guy through their kids' soccer team who knows a lot about Georgia, and he heard it from his brother-in-law in Israel whose next-door neighbor is in business with the Georgian government -- you know, that kind of thing.

The American pundit doesn't even know that the info he's been hearing about Georgia is financially biased. And he has an inherited hatred for Russian nationalists, so he is inclined by childhood indoctrination to believe whatever spiel he's hearing about plucky little Georgia standing up to the new Czar in the Kremlin.

These network biases are natural. What is unnatural is that we Americans have unilaterally disarmed our national immune system against people yanking our chains. We aren't supposed to ever notice the pattern. When we hear this kind of propaganda, we aren't allowed to laugh and say, "Oh, man, this isn't another one of those Israeli weapons deals again, now is it?"

And of course we absolutely aren't allowed to mention what a large fraction of American pundits, reporters, editors, owners, and advertisers are Jewish.

Once again, this is not an example of Jewish conspiracy, but of Jewish networks and neuroses.

What American needs are a sense of humor about Jewish networks and neuroses and their impact on American foreign policy, but that's not permitted.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 11, 2008

More good news

Philip Giraldi, the American Conservative's intelligence gossip columnist writes:

"Reports that Russia has moved SS21 medium range missiles close to the front armed with tactical nuclear weapons have been hard to find in the US media. The Russian General Staff believes that it can only offset the huge advantage that the US and NATO have in precision guided weapons by using battlefield nukes if attacked by western forces."

Obviously, this isn't going to go to that. But aren't you glad Bush's plan to have Georgia join NATO got vetoed by those wimpy Europeans? Look how overconfident the Georgians got just from having an informal alliance with us.

By the way, right after General William Odom died earlier this year, I read his book The Collapse of the Soviet Army. It was quite illuminating on why the Soviet Army was so elephantine in 1985: 5,300,000 personnel and 53,000 tanks. You might think that they would have decided that nuclear weapons had changed war fundamentally, making giant armies irrelevant, but that overlooks the role of ideology in the Soviet Union. Since Lenin and Marx didn't say anything about nuclear weapons, well, then, the Clausewitzian verities still applied. Nuclear weapons were just a quantitatively more destructive version of cannonballs and artillery shells, so the Soviet Union just needed enough tanks to lose tens of thousands to tactical nukes and still reach the Atlantic.

Khrushchev didn't really believe that nuclear weapons hadn't changed anything, but ideology continued to have a huge effect on how the Soviets organized and armed the Army.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Disputed borderlands - auction them off

Reading various commentaries on the Russia-Georgia war over South Ossetia, I'm struck by all the American pundits who have such strong opinions on whether this little dot of land should belong to one country or the other.

While it's fun to argue over rights, in situations where a separatist province has long enjoyed de facto autonomy, such as South Ossetia or Taiwan, the best thing is usually to do nothing. The formula dreamed up by Nixon, Kissinger, and Chou for Taiwan in 1972 is logically absurd, but it has worked for 36 years, so why fix what isn't broken?

On the other hand, if it's assumed something has to be done about a disputed territory, the optimal way to settle it is often via a mutual auction. If both Russia and Georgia want South Ossetia, they should put their money where there mouths are. Auction off South Ossetia with the highest bidder paying that sum to the loser of the auction.

It's a lot better than war.disputes.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

August 10, 2008

Circular logic

Here's part of my new column:

Trying to think about the causes of the mortgage meltdown is reminiscent of the infinitely recursive children's song Yon Yonson, which was memorably featured in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five :

"My name is Yon Yonson / I live in Wisconsin / I work in a lumber mill there / The people I meet / When I walk down the street / They ask me my name and I say: / My name is Yon Yonson / I live in Wisconsin..."

Similarly, in trying to explain this decade's socioeconomic logic, you end up with thought processes like this:

Q. Why did we need so many illegal immigrants?
A. To build all those McMansions out in the distant exurbs.
Q. Yes, but why did so many Americans want to move to the exurbs?
A. To escape all the illegal aliens flooding their neighborhoods and schools.
Q. Okay, so then why did we need so many illegal aliens?
A. To build all those McMansions out in the distant exurbs.

Etcetera etcetera ...

Everything just spins around and around, like those chrome wheel rims, those insanely expensive hubcaps that were the signature useless extravagance of this decade. Neely Tucker wrote in the Washington Post in 2005:

"Today rims are a $3.1 billion industry that stands at the revolving heart of two American obsessions: automobiles and finding ever more expensive ways to buy things you already have and don't need."

Some economist should calculate what proportion of all the money spent on blinged-out rims came out of home equity loans taken out on houses bubbling up in nominal value.

Similarly, it's hard for most people to grasp the interrelatedness of multiculturalism and greed in fostering the housing bubble. "Diversity" gave the big guys an excuse for doing what they had always wanted to do: debauch credit standards and take the money and run, leaving the mess to be cleaned up by taxpayers (through direct bailouts) and savers (through Fed-created inflation eating away their capital).


My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer