April 17, 2010

How many serious white girlfriends has Obama had?

As you'll recall, one of the most stylized, fable-like sections of the President's Dreams from My Father is the when Obama describes to his half sister Auma the serious girlfriend he had in New York (where he lived from 1981-1985), whom he dumped because she was white, and not only white but old money WASP. As several commenters have noted, the whole episode sounds like it was lifted from a white ethnic writer like Mario Puzo or Philip Roth.
David Remnick's bestseller The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama doesn't mention the white New York girlfriend -- that's too interesting for Remnick to pursue. Remnick's audience is primarily white women who have a bit of a thing for the President, so a discussion of Obama's disquiet about interracial relationships would be a downer for Remnick's readers.

But Remnick does say about his first Chicago stay (1985-1988):
"Toward the end of his time as an organizer, Obama had a steady girlfriend, a white University of Chicago student who was studying anthropology."

This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, she sounds much like his mom, who got accepted by the U. of Chicago at age 15 back when they took younger students (but she didn't go) and got a Ph.D. in anthropology.

Second, according to his book, he had previously realized in New York that it wouldn't work with a white girl, so why another white girlfriend? (This is assuming that they aren't the same person, whom Obama has melded together for whatever reason). One might think that a 656 page biography might ask those kind of questions, but it doesn't.

Why Michelle isn't amazed by Barack

Reading David Remnick's biography of Barack Obama, The Bridge, I was struck by the contrast between the hosannas offered up by whites after meeting Obama and the more balanced evaluations of blacks who knew him better. Most notably, the President's own wife Michelle has repeatedly tried to explain to worshipful journalists that he's not all that.

On second thought, Michelle's opinion may not be quite fair to Barack since she may have exceptionally high standards in just how charismatic a Presidential candidate is supposed to be. After all, as teen, she worked as a babysitter for a neighborhood man who was much more handsome than Barack, much more eloquent, a much snazzier dresser, and who ran for President twice as much: Jesse Jackson. (The Rev.'s daughter Santita Jackson became Michelle's friend and godmother of one of their children.)

Michelle's personal ties to the Jackson dynasty may have helped her in her educational, legal, and political career, and probably didn't exactly work against her in attracting the interest of a hugely ambitious young politician named Barack Obama.

April 16, 2010

The Iceland Volcano

The ash-cloud from the volcano in Iceland that is shutting down air-travel in parts of Europe reminds me that Ben Franklin may have been the first to theorize that a 1783 Icelandic eruption caused the cool weather and poor harvest in England that year. (Much like the 1991 Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines made the summer of 1992 in Chicago the coolest I experienced, with a notable dust haze in the sky all year). Franklin was in his late 70s at the time. 

As I've mentioned before, Franklin's life story is the most comically upbeat that I am familiar with. He just goes from one triumph to another well into old age. He negotiates the favorable Treaty of Paris settling the Revolutionary War, and then, en passant back to America, discovers the link between volcanoes and climate, maps the Gulf Stream, and invents bifocals.

Capitalist Fronts

What's the story behind SEIU union boss and media darling Andy Stern, the most frequent visitor to the Obama White House, being forced out by his own union? It's remarkable that they let the bad feelings slip out. You would think that all parties concerned would phrase it as, "Now that ObamaCare has passed, Andy Stern has decided that he would like to spend more time with his family."
Stern has long followed a quantity over quality strategy of signing up as dues-paying members huge numbers of poorly paid Hispanics. About once a decade, he wins for them a janitors' strike in one city (LA in the 1990s, Houston in the 2000s), but mostly they seem to do more for Stern's reputation than Stern does for Alberto and Blanca. Stern is committed to continued political promotion of illegal immigration, which just stabs his existing members in the backs.

I don't really understand SEIU's strategy. I sometimes wonder if the are not "capitalist fronts," the opposite of the old "communist fronts." Businesses want more cheap immigrant labor so Andy signs up all the warm bodies and tells them to vote for more cheap labor. 
Makes sense for Andy but I don't understand what's in it for all his Hispanic workers.
There are organizations on the left that are pretty much full time capitalist fronts. If you are a banker, and if ACORN is hassling you about not giving the boss of their local office a job at the bank, and thus marches and screams against you as racist imperiling your purchase of another bank under the Community Reinvestment Act, well, the Greenlining Institute specializes in giving you "regulatory air cover" by saying that, yes, you are fully committed to diversity, according to us, the famous social justice outfit, Greenlining. And then, maybe, you fund some Greenlining activities.

Is SEIU like that? 

Carlos Slim getting his money's worth out of NYT

The New York Times has commissioned a study on immigration, so all you morons out there can stop believing your lying eyes. And don't even think about using advanced concepts like distinguishing between illegal and legal immigrants -- "distinguishing" is the same thing as "discriminating," you racist. Why use your head at all when you can just act smugly dumb about illegal immigration, like the NYT?

The shamelessness of the stupidity of most conventional wisdom about immigration is striking. This NYT article comically illustrates just how obtuse the elite theories are. This article completely writes itself into a corner, but the editors didn't notice that the details are all backward from the lead.
Immigrants in Work Force: Study Belies Image

ST. LOUIS — After a career as a corporate executive with her name in brass on the office door, Amparo Kollman-Moore, an immigrant from Colombia, likes to drive a Jaguar and shop at Saks. “It was a good life,” she said, “a really good ride.”

As a member of this city’s economic elite, Ms. Kollman-Moore is not unusual among immigrants who live in St. Louis. According to a new analysis of census data, more than half of the working immigrants in this metropolitan area hold higher-paying white-collar jobs — as professionals, technicians or administrators — rather than lower-paying blue-collar and service jobs.

Because when you think about immigration in 21st Century America, you think St. Louis! Why pay any attention to, say, Southern California, with its 17 million residents, when we can focus on St. Louis instead?

I've been following the NAEP federal test scores for years, and the state of Missouri almost always has the highest Hispanic scores in the country. (For example, here are the 2009 8th grade math scores for Hispanics. Missouri's Hispanics outscore the Hispanics in any other state in the country by six points, far ahead of the field.

How come? Mostly because there are very few Hispanics in Missouri. They aren't representative. And being unrepresentative is why the NYT wants to use St. Louis to represent its story about immigration rather than Southern California, just as that's why their token Latino immigrant in this story is surnamed, of all things, "Kollman-Moore."

A quick search find that Ms. Ampy Kollman-Moore went to work in 1973 for pharmaceutical manufacturing firm Mallinckrodt Inc., which is headquartered in St. Louis. In 1998, she was appointed President for Latin American Operations. She's an example of the small, mostly random flow of elite immigrants who find their way to St. Louis from the upper classes of Latin America to take corporate or professional jobs, just as elite Danes or elite Egyptians or whatever wind up in America. Ms. Kollman-Moore is, clearly, not an example of mass immigration, much less of mass illegal immigration.
Among American cities, St. Louis is not an exception, the data show. In 14 of the 25 largest metropolitan areas, including Boston, New York and San Francisco, more immigrants are employed in white-collar occupations than in lower-wage work like construction, manufacturing or cleaning.
The data belie a common perception in the nation’s hard-fought debate over immigration — articulated by lawmakers, pundits and advocates on all sides of the issue — that the surge in immigration in the last two decades has overwhelmed the United States with low-wage foreign laborers.

Over all, the analysis showed, the 25 million immigrants who live in the country’s largest metropolitan areas (about two-thirds of all immigrants in the country) are nearly evenly distributed across the job and income spectrum.

“The United States is getting a more varied and economically important flow of immigrants than the public seems to realize,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, director for immigration research at the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonpartisan group in New York that conducted the data analysis for The New York Times.

Sure, if you lump illegal and legal immigrants together. But why take any unskilled legal immigrants?
The findings are significant because Americans’ views of immigration are based largely on the work immigrants do, new research shows.

“Americans, whether they are rich or poor, are much more in favor of high-skilled immigrants,” said Jens Hainmueller, a political scientist at M.I.T. and co-author of a survey of attitudes toward immigration with Michael J. Hiscox, professor of government at Harvard. The survey of 1,600 adults, which examined the reasons for anti-immigration sentiment in the United States, was published in February in American Political Science Review, a peer-reviewed journal.

Americans are inclined to welcome upper-tier immigrants — like Ms. Kollman-Moore — believing they contribute to economic growth without burdening public services, the study found. More than 60 percent of Americans are opposed to allowing more low-skilled foreign laborers, regarding them as more likely to be a drag on the economy.

Those kinds of views, in turn, have informed recent efforts by Congress to remake the immigration system. A measure unveiled last month by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, aims to reshape the legal system to give priority to high-skilled, high-earning immigrants, offering narrower channels for low-wage workers. (A bill in 2007 by the Bush administration tilted even more sharply toward upper-tier immigrants; it failed in Congress.)

Yet while visa bottlenecks persist for high-skilled immigrants, on the whole, the census data show, the current system has brought a range of foreign workers across skill and income levels. The analysis suggests, moreover, that the immigrants played a central role in the cycle of the economic growth of cities over the last two decades.

Yes, but not at all in the way the NYT thinks ...
Cities with thriving immigrant populations — with high-earning and lower-wage workers — tended to be those that prospered the most.

Let's reorder that sentence to make it fit cause and effect better: "Cities that were most prosperous attracted the most immigrants."
“Economic growth in urban areas has been clearly connected with an increase in immigrants’ share of the local labor force,” Mr. Kallick said. 
Surprisingly, the analysis showed, the growing cities were not the ones, like St. Louis, that drew primarily high-earning foreigners. In fact, the St. Louis area had one of the slowest growing economies.


That's only "surprising" if you have cause and effect as backwards as the NYT does. On the whole, immigrants didn't make, say, Phoenix thrive, they were attracted to Phoenix because it was thriving. (Funny, though, Phoenix isn't thriving anymore, despite having all those immigrants hanging around the Home Depot.) In contrast, not many immigrants were attracted to St. Louis because it's a city that has been in relative decline since, roughly, the 1904 World's Fair, when it was the 4th largest city in America. St. Louis is located at the junction of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, which was a great asset in an economy centered around paddlewheel steamboats.
Rather, the fastest economic growth between 1990 and 2008 was in cities like Atlanta, Denver and Phoenix that received large influxes of immigrants with a mix of occupations — including many in lower-paid service and blue-collar jobs.

What is the mortgage default rate in those metropolitan areas? It's above average in Atlanta and Denver and through the roof in Phoenix.
In metropolitan Denver, where the economy doubled between 1990 and 2008, 63 percent of immigrants worked in jobs on the lower end of the pay scale.

Denver “did a great job of attracting people from other places in the world,” said Rich Jones, director of policy and research at the Bell Policy Center, a nonpartisan group in that city that focuses on the impact of economic and fiscal policies in Colorado. 

As for attracting blue-collar Americans from declining Rust Belt cities who would want jobs in construction on Denver's exurbs if they paid well enough to make it worth their while to move, well, Denver didn't do such a hot job. But who cares about their fellow Americans?
“They are coming with a variety of skills,” Mr. Jones said. “They created demand for goods, services and housing that began a dynamic.”

And where does the "dynamic" end? In multiethnic white flight, exurban over-expansion, foreclosures, and the Great Recession.
The figures on jobs and earnings of immigrants in American cities are based on an analysis by the Fiscal Policy Institute of census data for the 25 largest metropolitan areas from 1990 to 2008. The data from 2008 are the most current in-depth census statistics on immigrants’ places of residence and earnings; they also include the first year of the severe recession. The analysis includes legal and illegal immigrants and naturalized citizens.

But let's not publish anything in the NYT distinguishing between illegal and legal immigrants, shall we? All this distinguishing is in such bad taste.
St. Louis is a good vantage point to observe the census analysis play out on the ground — both in the past and, possibly, the future.

Here, a pattern of stalled growth and low immigration prevailed for decades. But more recently a new pattern is emerging: even in the recession, some corners of the metropolitan area are sputtering to life, and new immigrants with a mix of skills are playing a conspicuous part.

“If you look at what feeds the core of many American cities, it’s the arrival of the immigrant groups,” said Anna Crosslin, president of the International Institute of St. Louis, a refugee resettlement and immigrant aid agency here. “Then one generation moves out, and they’re replaced by another generation. We didn’t have that here in St. Louis.”

In other words, St. Louis got stuck with lots of African-Americans, while richer cities like New York were pawning black Americans off on lower rent cities like St. Louis using Section 8 housing vouchers. That's a big part underlying reason for elite immigration enthusiasm -- a hope that immigrants will show up and make American blacks go away. In New York, it's been working. The number of American-born blacks in NYC has been falling since 1979.
In its heyday as a commerce hub in the 1950s, St. Louis was one of the nation’s premier cities. Since then, business has stagnated, the population of the city proper declined by more than half, and immigration to the area has been slow. Today, in the St. Louis metropolitan area, only 111,000 residents are foreign-born, out of 2.3 million total, according to the census data.

Less than 5 percent. Great example you chose here to demonstrate the impact of immigration.
Many immigrants who were drawn here were doctors, researchers and business executives, attracted by the city’s corporate headquarters, universities and medical centers.

Ms. Kollman-Moore, 60, came to St. Louis in the 1970s and rose through the ranks at Mallinckrodt, a medical supply company, to become president of the Latin American division, a $100 million business. She retired when the company was sold in 2000 and is now a consultant and business school professor. She planted a grove of tropical shade trees in the center of the living room in her home on a posh suburban cul-de-sac, a literal reminder of her roots.

“I made a wonderful career out of understanding the cultures of Latin America and the culture of the United States and how to do business in both,” said Ms. Kollman-Moore, a naturalized American.

During the 1990s, a wider variety of foreigners began to settle in the metropolitan area. Bosnians fleeing the Balkan wars have now made this city their largest community in the United States. Sukrija Dzidzovic, 52, publisher of the Bosnian weekly newspaper SabaH, moved the paper here from New York in 2006 to be closer to the core of his readers.

Bosnians run the gamut, from truckers and bakery workers to lawyers and engineers. Many Bosnians hit the ground running here because they came from Europe with savings they had stashed away, Mr. Dzidzovic said. 

I don't even want to think about where the money the Bosnians had stashed away came from.
At one time, Bosnians opened so many businesses on blighted streets that hostile rumors spread that they were receiving secret subsidies from the federal government.

The NYT wouldn't be so crass as to mention which race of people on the "blighted streets" of St. Louis were spreading hostile rumors about Bosnians. Must be all those white racists who live in inner city St. Louis!
Now, appreciative city officials make a point of attending Bosnian celebrations, Mr. Dzidzovic said.

Immigrants from China have also prospered here as entrepreneurs, creating jobs for other immigrants. 

Creating jobs for Americans, especially St. Louis's African-Americans, not so much. 
Sandy Tsai, 59, said she and her husband chose St. Louis to start a business because they noticed it was in the middle of the country. Now their company, Baily, makes egg rolls, noodles and fortune cookies in three local factories that distribute to thousands of Chinese restaurants nationwide. Ms. Tsai said her employees ranged from egg-roll makers earning $8 an hour to laboratory researchers with advanced degrees in food science.

“It’s a good group, a good combination,” Ms. Tsai said. But despite the long hard times in St. Louis, low-wage workers have not always been easy to find, she said, and her business expansion was slowed because of it.

Damn, "low-wage workers have not always been easy to find." What an insoluble problem that poor employer has. There aren't enough Americans in St. Louis who will work for her for $16,000 per year. It's unthinkable that she might -- God forbid! -- trying paying Americans $17,000 per year. So, the government must help her out by letting in more poor foreigners.
Now, those workers have started to arrive in larger numbers. Raúl Rico, 31, said he came here 14 years ago from the Mexican state of Querétaro, the first in his family to settle in St. Louis. Today, between parents, siblings, cousins and their offspring, his local clan numbers 56.


April 15, 2010

Constance Holden, RIP

Constance Holden, 68, veteran writer for Science, America's top scientific journal, was riding her bicycle to the office on Monday, when she was killed by a big National Guard truck setting up to block off a street for the motorcade of dignitaries to Obama's stray nukes summit.

Constance was a consistent voice against the Williams Syndrome-like conventional wisdom on human nature. For example, her July 30, 2004 Science article in time for the Athens Olympics, Peering Under the Hood of Africa's Runners, is the best summary of the science of why men of West African descent dominate sprinting and East Africans standout in distance running.

At the blog of VDARE.com, Kevin Lamb has more on on how she spoke out for IQ realism over the decades.

Stevens' heresy

Ann Coulter's new column points out something that has been lost in all the tributes by the media to the retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. A long time ago, in the government contracting quota case Fullilove, he noted that quotas are essentially reparations, and asked why then are we giving reparations to voluntary immigrants from south of the border?
But on many other issues, such as race discrimination, Stevens swung so far to the left that his earlier opinions would be unrecognizable as having been written by the same man.

In 1978, Stevens was not only in the majority in University of California Regents v. Bakke, but he wrote the opinion holding that the school's race-based admissions program violated Title VII and ordering the university to admit Bakke.

In another case of government race-based classifications, Fullilove v. Klutznick (1980), Stevens ridiculed the idea of race-based "remedies" being applied to every ethnic group under the sun.

Adopting Justice William Rehnquist's view that the specific history of blacks in America makes their claims unique, Stevens wrote: "Quite obviously, the history of discrimination against black citizens in America cannot justify a grant of privileges to Eskimos or Indians." (Remember when you could use terms like "Eskimo" and "Indian" without being accused of a hate crime?)

Unlike blacks, who were "dragged to this country in chains to be sold in slavery," Stevens said "the 'Spanish-speaking' subclass came voluntarily, frequently without invitation, and the Indians, the Eskimos and the Aleuts had an opportunity to exploit America's resources before the ancestors of most American citizens arrived."

Now fast-forward to 2003, when the court considered the race-based admissions policy at the University of Michigan. The school automatically awarded 20 points -- one-fifth of the total points needed for admission -– to every minority, including not only blacks, but also Hispanics, Indians, Eskimos and Aleuts.

This time, affirmative action for Aleuts was just peachy with Stevens, who came up with a ludicrous procedural objection to the lawsuit, basically concluding that no one ever has standing to sue for race discrimination in college admissions. I guess he figured it was time somebody did something about the University of Michigan's long, shameful history of discriminating against Aleuts.

That's quite a change from the Justice Stevens of Fullilove, who compared government affirmative action programs to Nazi policies, saying if the government "is to make a serious effort to define racial classes by criteria that can be administered objectively, it must study precedents such as the First Regulation to the Reich's Citizenship Law of Nov. 14, 1935," translated in Volume 4 of "Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression."

Whatever you think of Stevens' newfound admiration for government racial preferences, it's preposterous to say, as Stevens did, "I really don't think I've changed all that much." 
Here's more from Stevens' 1980 dissent in Fullilove, when he was 60:
Even if we assume that each of the six racial subclasses has suffered its own special injury at some time in our history, [p538] surely it does not necessarily follow that each of those subclasses suffered harm of identical magnitude. Although "the Negro was dragged to this country in chains to be sold in slavery," Bakke, supra, at 387 (opinion of MARSHALL, J.), the "Spanish-speaking" subclass came voluntarily, frequently without invitation, and the Indians, the Eskimos and the Aleuts had an opportunity to exploit America's resources before the ancestors of most American citizens arrived. There is no reason to assume, and nothing in the legislative history suggests, much less demonstrates, that each of the subclasses is equally entitled to reparations from the United States Government. [n8]
At best, the statutory preference is a somewhat perverse form of reparation for the members of the injured classes. For those who are the most disadvantaged within each class are the least likely to receive any benefit from the special privilege even though they are the persons most likely still to be suffering the consequences of the past wrong. [n9] A random [p539] distribution to a favored few is a poor form of compensation for an injury shared by many.

My principal objection to the reparation justification for this legislation, however, cuts more deeply than my concern about its inequitable character. We can never either erase or ignore the history that MR. JUSTICE MARSHAL has recounted. But if that history can justify such a random distribution of benefits on racial lines as that embodied in this statutory scheme, it will serve not merely as a basis for remedial legislation, but rather as a permanent source of justification for grants of special privileges. For if there is no duty to attempt either to measure the recovery by the wrong or to distribute that recovery within the injured class in an evenhanded way, our history will adequately support a legislative preference for almost any ethnic, religious, or racial group with the political strength to negotiate "a piece of the action" for its members.

Although I do not dispute the validity of the assumption that each of the subclasses identified in the Act has suffered a severe wrong at some time in the past, I cannot accept this slapdash statute as a legitimate method of providing classwide relief.

Perhaps some Senator could ask Obama's upcoming nominee what he thinks of the sainted Stevens Fullilove opinion? And, then, when they demur to agree, ask why brand new immigrants should legally benefit from preferences from the moment they arrive, even if they arrived illegally?

And, then, ask was it just to the rest of Americans for immigrants from India to have been reclassified from white to Oriental in 1982 in response to lobbying by immigrant Indian businessmen for special breaks on government contracting.

That would be fun.

April 14, 2010

Professional Wrestling Demographics

Some commenters were struck by the fact that fans of professional wrestling (at least, the ones who admit it on a survey) voted heavily Democratic. I recall that Pat Buchanan's Reform Party campaign in 2000 spent some money on campaign spots on professional wrestling broadcasts, but didn't get much from them.

That reminded me that I've never posted an article I wrote about professional wrestling in 2001, at the apogee of its popularity: I took my sons to a sold out Staples Center in LA with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the front row to bless The Rock / Duane Johnson's launch into a movie career.
Then a bunch of setbacks came along to slow it down (the World Wildlife Fund's lawsuit that made it change its acronym from WWF to WWE, the distraction of Vince McMahon's ill-fated XFL professional football league, the rise of UFC, the defection of The Rock to the movies, and general ennui).
It's old, old stuff, but I'll put it up anyway:

LOS ANGELES, Calif. Aug. 10, 2001 (UPI) -- Los Angeles is a city so divided by complex ethnic suspicions that in June white Republicans allied with black Democrats to prevent the election of a Mexican-American mayor. Yet, this week sixteen thousand Southern Californians of all races and languages gathered peacefully in a multicultural celebration of an institution that finally unites rather than divides this most diverse of American cities: namely, the World Wrestling Federation's "Smackdown!"

The Smackdown! audience in the gleaming Staples Center offered almost a scale model of LA's ethnic composition: about half Hispanic, but with large numbers of whites, blacks, and Southeast Asians. The only groups not well represented were other Asians and Jews.

LA's most celebrated philosopher, Rodney King, once asked, "Why can't we all just get along?" At Smackdown!, everybody got along famously (except the wrestlers). The WWF fans were far better behaved than, say, the notoriously drunken and hostile mob at the 1999 Ryder Cup golf tournament at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

After the headlining match between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kurt Angle had ended in chaos, I became frustrated with how slowly we were all filing out up the stairs. "Hey, can we get a move on up there?" I shouted. Only then did I notice that we were moving haltingly because the people in line ahead of me were politely waiting for a man with a crippled leg to haul himself along with his arms.

Tea Party Demographics

The New York Times gives its biggest headline to the astonishing news that:

Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, and are no more or less afraid of falling into a lower socioeconomic class, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. 

The 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45. 

And I bet, on average, they are, relative to the general public, more into golf than professional wrestling.

April 13, 2010

Politics of Cable Network Audiences

Here's a graph from the marketing research firm National Media Research, Planning, and Placement of how the audiences of cable television networks skew in terms of party (Democrats to the left, Republicans to the right) and likelihood of voting (highest turnout at the top).

The cable network with the most Democratic-leaning audience is Soapnet, while the most Republican audience is that of Fox News. The network with the highest election turnout rates is the Golf Channel (just as golf fans have the highest turnout rates among fans of all sports, as shown in my latest Taki's Magazine column). VH1 viewers have the lowest turnout rates (this is among adults, in case you are wondering).

NMRPP also has created a graph at the top of p. 4 of this report that shows the political leanings across TV (cable and broadcast) of the audiences for various program formats (national news, documentaries, comedies, science fiction, sports, and so forth). When you include broadcast networks, most genres' television audiences skew more Democratic and more apathetic.

Update: TGGP has put up that television format graph here.

"The Politics of Sports Fans"

My new column at Taki's Magazine uses Tiger's loss to Phil at Augusta to introduce new data on The Politics of Sports Fans. It features a spectacular graph (which I found at statistician Andrew Gelman's blog) from a survey of 218,000 American adults' preferences in spectator sports, politics, and civic-participation. NASCAR fans are famously Republican, but which two sports have even more conservative fan bases? Which spectator sport has the most liberal fans? Which sport's fans are most likely to vote? Which least likely?

Old stereotypes are validated and new stereotypes are revealed, which is always fun.

Read it there and comment upon it here.

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

April 12, 2010

Not Clear on the Concept

Adam Liptak of the New York Times is confidently confused in the approved manner:

But Justice Stevens cuts a lone figure on the current court in one demographic category: He is the only Protestant.

His retirement, which was announced on Friday, makes possible something that would have been unimaginable a generation or two ago — a court without a single member of the nation’s majority religion.

“The practical reality of life in America is that religion plays much less of a role in everyday life than it did 50 or 100 years ago,” said Geoffrey R. Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago. Adding a Protestant to the court, he said, would not bring an important element to its discussions.

“These days,” said Lee Epstein, a law professor at Northwestern and an authority on the court, “we’ve moved to other sources of diversity,” including race, gender and ethnicity. ...

It is hard to imagine the court without a black justice, for instance, and it may well turn out that Justice Sonia Sotomayor is sitting in a new “Hispanic seat.” It would surprise no one if President Obama tried to increase the number of women on the court to three. Not so long ago, there was similar casual talk, but of a “Catholic seat” or a “Jewish seat” on the Supreme Court. Today, the court is made up of six Roman Catholics, two Jews and Justice Stevens.

It was not ever thus. Presidents once looked at two main factors in picking justices.

“Historically, religion was huge,” said Professor Epstein of Northwestern. “It was up there with geography as the key factor.”...

The short list of candidates to succeed Justice Stevens includes two Jews, Solicitor General Elena Kagan and Judge Merrick B. Garland of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and one Protestant, Judge Diane P. Wood of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago.

But it is unlikely that religious affiliation will play a meaningful role in the decision making. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said that society is past worrying about a nominee’s religious affiliations.

Is it really that hard to grasp that in this context, terms like "Catholic," "Jew," and "Protestant" are primarily ethnic terms, not religious ones?

Does Justice Ginsburg, for example, keep kosher? Is that what it takes to be religiously Jewish? Who knows?

What everybody does know is that she is ethnically Jewish.

Henry Ford and General Patton believed that they were reincarnated, but that didn't make them ethnically Hindu (at least not in this lifetime). Everybody considers them ethnically Protestant, and rightfully so.

That's not a difficult distinction to comprehend. Obviously, there can be a gray area between ethnicity and religion (they're fuzzy sets), but to ignore the very existence of the concept of ethnicity is to act in a fundamentally obtuse manner.

Once you recognize that "Protestant" is an ethnic category as well as a religious one, however, then a potential lack of Protestant representation on the Supreme Court could be recognized as a question of the Supreme Court's ethnic diversity and ethnic representativeness, issues that are highly fashionable these days.

Sonia Sotomayor, for example, was repeatedly lauded for adding ethnic diversity.

So, why shouldn't a potential lack of Protestant ethnics on the Court be considered a question of ethnic diversity?

Of course, when people use the word "diverse" they actually mean, as Orwell might say: But some nominees are more diverse than others. Ethnic diversity for me but not for thee. But, when talking about the Supreme Court, it's hard to come up with a validation for this bias that sounds just.

So, we see a lot of Liptak's type of strategic muddleheadedness to confuse onlookers. It's another version of the old "Einstein was Jewish / Trotsky wasn't Jewish" muddle in which Einstein, a good guy, is Jewish because he was ethnically Jewish, but Trotsky, a bad guy, wasn't Jewish because he wasn't religiously Jewish. It's logically okay to make either argument (although not both), but, obviously, you need to note the distinction between ethnicity and religion and grasp that others might have logical reasons for not agreeing with your categorizations.

Is this really that hard?

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

The cure for race realism discovered: Williams syndrome!

From Yahoo News, a summary of a paper in Current Biology:
Individuals with Rare Disorder Have No Racial Biases
Robin Nixon

Never has a human population been found that has no racial stereotypes. Not in other cultures or far-flung countries. Nor among tiny tots or people with various psychological conditions.

Until now.

Children with Williams syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that makes them lack normal social anxiety, have no racial biases.

Well, a lack of social anxiety is not the only characteristic of Williams syndrome. From Wikipedia:

The most common symptoms of Williams syndrome are mental retardation, heart defects, and unusual facial features. ... Individuals with Williams syndrome are highly verbal and overly sociable (having what had previously been described as a "cocktail party" type personality), but lack common sense ...

"Highly Verbal But Lack Common Sense" would pretty much describe most propounders of the conventional wisdom about race.

A 2007 NYT Magazine article on Williams syndrome reported:

These deficits generally erase about 35 points from whatever I.Q. the person would have inherited without the deletion. Since the average I.Q. is 100, this leaves most people with Williams with I.Q.’s in the 60s. Though some can hold simple jobs, they require assistance managing their lives....

The low I.Q., however, ignores two traits that define Williams more distinctly than do its deficits: an exuberant gregariousness and near-normal language skills.

Political correctness, in effect, demands that our intellectual discourse aspire towards Williams syndrome.

From the news report:

They do, however, traffic in gender stereotypes, said study researcher Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg of the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

Normally, children show clear preferences for their own ethnic group by the age of three, if not sooner, other research has shown.

Actually, the interesting thing is that toddlers tend to develop an insight into race that is generally lost by grown-up intellectuals when writing about race: race is about who your Mommy and Daddy are, topics that are deeply interesting to children (and to all humans), but aren't recognized in conventional discourse about race.

In Race in the Making, the liberal U. of Michigan anthropology professor Lawrence A. Hirschfeld sums up the finding of his research on children.

As comforting as this view may be, children, I will show in this book, are more than aware of diversity; they are driven by endogenous curiosity to uncover it. Children, I will also show, do not believe race to be a superficial quality of the world. Multicultural curricula aside, few people believe that race is only skin deep. Certainly few 3-year-olds do. They believe that race is an intrinsic, immutable, and essential aspect of a person's identity. Moreover, they seem to come to this conclusion on their own. They do not need to be taught that race is a deep property, they know it themselves already.

For example, if you show preschoolers drawings of people and ask them to match the children with their mommies, on average they will correctly tell you that the skinny white child belongs to the fat white mommy, while the fat black child belongs to the skinny black mommy (or vice-versa). They consider race a better predictor of family relationship than body shape.

From the news report:

And, indeed, the children in this study without Williams syndrome reliably assigned good traits, such as friendliness, to pictures of people the same race as themselves. When asked something negative, such as "which is the naughty boy," they overwhelmingly pointed to the other race.

Children with Williams syndrome, however, were equally likely to point to the white or black child as naughty or friendly.

While this study was done with white children, other research has shown that blacks and people of other races also think more highly of their own, Meyer-Lindenberg told LiveScience.

Williams syndrome is caused by a gene deletion known to affect the brain as well as other organs. As a result, people with Williams syndrome are "hypersocial," Meyer-Lindenberg told . They do not experience the jitters and inhibitions the rest of us feel.

"The whole concept [of social anxiety] would be foreign to them," he said.

They will put themselves at great peril to help someone and despite their skills at empathy, are unable to process social danger signals. As a result, they are at increased risk for rape and physical attack.


Nature or nurture?

While the first human population to demonstrate race-neutrality is missing critical genes, "we are not saying that this is all biologically-based and you can't do anything about it," Meyer-Lindenberg said.

"Just because there is a genetic way to knock the system out, does not mean the system itself is 100 percent genetic," he said.

The study does show, however, that racism requires social fear. "If social fear was culturally reduced, racial stereotypes could also be reduced," Meyer-Lindenberg said.

Despite their lack of racial bias, children with Williams syndrome hold gender stereotypes just as strongly as normal children, the study found. That is, 99 percent of the 40 children studied pointed to pictures of girls when asked who played with dolls and chose boys when asked, say, who likes toy cars.

The fact that Williams syndrome kids think of men and women differently, but not blacks and whites, shows that sex stereotypes are not caused by social anxiety, Meyer-Lindenberg said.

This may be because we learn about gender within "safe" home environments, while a different race is usually a sign of someone outside our immediate kin. (Studies to test this explanation, such as with racially-mixed families, have not yet been done.)

Racial biases are likely rooted in a general fear of others, while gender stereotypes may arise from sweeping generalizations, Meyer-Lindenberg said. "You watch mother make the meals, so you generalize this to everyone female."

Perhaps, but another explanation for why people with Williams syndrome would be unable to notice racial patterns is because they are mentally retarded.

Sex is simply more obvious than race. Very young children typically notice differences in sex before they begin to notice differences in race. People with Williams syndrome are typically verbally facile but oblivious to the obvious.

Here's a question I have about Williams syndrome. Say you would have had a 140 IQ without it, but you were born with genetic defect, so you have a 105 IQ and not a lick of sense. But you are really good at laying out a spiel of words. Is Williams syndrome just too all-around debilitating for you to ever amount to much in the world?

Or, could there be, say, a prominent media figure who suffers from Williams syndrome?

If so, who would your candidate be?

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

The Boredom of Barack

A recurrent theme in David Remnick's biography of Obama, The Bridge, is The Boredom of Barack: He was bored as president of the Harvard Law Review, bored as a civil rights lawyer, bored as a law school lecturer, bored as a state senator, and bored as a U.S. Senator. The one thing that really interests him is writing about himself. (Well, that and power and praise.)

Remnick quotes Obama's long-time Chicago political ally Valerie Jarrett recalling Obama's 1990s in Chicago (p. 274):
"... I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. ... So what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that they had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy." Jarrett was quite sure that one of the few things that truly engaged him fully before going to the White House was writing Dreams from My Father. "He's been bored to death his whole life," she said.

Later, after Obama got elected to the U.S. Senate [p. 444]:
The truth was, David Axelrod told me, "Barack hated being a senator." Washington was a grander stage than Springfield, but the frustrations of being a rookie in a minority party were familiar. Obama could barely conceal his frustration with the torpid pace of the Senate. His aides could sense his frustration and so could his colleagues. "He was so bored being a senator," one Senate aide said. ...

His friend and law colleague Judd Miner said, "The reality was that during his first two years in the U.S. Senate, I think, he was struggling; it wasn't nearly as stimulating as he expected." ...

The one project that did engage Obama fully was work on The Audacity of Hope. He procrastinated for a long time and then, facing his deadline, wrote nearly a chapter a week.

His second book, a polemical memoir / campaign kickoff book, has nine chapters, an epilogue, and a prologue. So, apparently, Obama devoted about three months to writing the book while also serving as Senator. In comparison, his first book took several years, some of it full time.

In other words, it's safe to conclude that he had a lot of help from staffers and others on his second book. You can compare it to Sen. Jim Webb's recent book, A Time to Fight, which is much less polished than Obama's Audacity. Webb has a considerable track record as a novelist, but you get the sense that he felt the taxpayers were paying him to be a Senator, not a writer, so, in contrast to Obama, Webb didn't put his best efforts nor those of his staff into his book.
This was not your average senator writing a book," one aide said. "His whole soul went into it, so it meant that there was less of him to go around elsewhere. In the office, he was distracted. He wasn't thrilled to be living the life of a senator, even on the best of days. The job was too small for him -- because his mind was on systemic change, not on votes.

"So he was punching the clock during the day then coming alive at night to write the book," the aide went on. "The book was about a mortgage and cashing in on the success of the first book. And the book was a way to think through who he was what he stood for."

The funny thing, of course, is that for all of his acolytes' claims that Obama is bored because his mind is always on higher, intellectual things, he seems to spend a huge amount of time doing the same things George W. Bush did: watching ESPN SportsCenter, exercising, and playing golf.

There is very little evidence in his life of systematic grappling with ideas beyond developing the ability to restate each side's current position in an eloquent fashion so that people will shut up and not keep repeating themselves to him as if he doesn't get it or as if he'll change his mind.

Dreams is a literary work, with a sense of style but quite weak analytic content. Audacity is a polished but shallow positioning of himself for the 2008 election. He avoided debate with colleagues at the U. of Chicago. What else has he written? A few dozen op-ed columns for his local newspaper when he was a state senator.

The overall picture is of a facile, not particularly hard working egoist whose chief intellectual and aesthetic interest is himself.

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

April 11, 2010

Obama's Supreme Court choice

It's natural to assume that Barack Obama, former president of the Harvard Law Review and lecturer at the U. of Chicago Law School, must be obsessing over his opportunity to make another Supreme Court nomination.

Yet, he’s not really as interested in the courts as everybody expects him to be. According to David Remnick’s new biography of him, The Bridge, when he was president of the Harvard Law Review, he considered the Law Review, not unreasonably, kind of a joke -- why are students editing professors? And, he never published a law article in all the years he was employed by the U. of Chicago Law School.

To Obama, the judicial branch lacks the capabilities to administer the kind of things he wants done, so he doesn’t invest much political capital there.

As Obama explained in a radio talk in 2001, the judicial branch isn’t well organized to oversee wealth redistribution. To accomplish that requires executive and legislative power.

From Obama's 2001 radio transcript:
But the supreme court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of basic issues of political and economic justice in this society and to that extent as radical as people try to characterize the warren court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the constitution, at least as it has been interpreted and the warren court interpreted it generally in the same way that the constitution is a document of negative liberties-- says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal gov’t can’t do to you but it doesn’t say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted; and I think one of the tragedies of the civil rights movement was that the civil rights movement became so court-focused, I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and organizing activities on the ground that are able to bring about the coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change and in some ways we still suffer from that.” …

This interview shows Obama the law professor and politician saying that to bring redistribution of wealth, it’s less effective to be, say, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court than it is to be, say, President of the United States.

Obama’s statement seems perfectly plausible: he’s spent years studying and teaching Constitutional law, but he, personally, decided that his ambitions required elective rather than judicial power.

"You know, maybe I am showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor, but you know I am not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. You know, the institution just isn't structured that way. Just look at very rare examples where during the desegregation era the court was willing to, for example, order, you know, changes that cost money to local school district and the court was very uncomfortable with it."

This is presumably a reference to Kansas City, where a judge ordered a billion dollars extra spending on heavily black schools. Not surprisingly, it didn’t do much for test scores.

"It was hard to manage. It was hard to figure out. You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues. You know, in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that is essentially is administrative and take a lot of time, the court is not very good at it and politically it is hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard. So I think that -- although you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally, you know I think any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts -- I think that as a practical matter that our institutions are just poorly equipped to do it. …"

So, Obama is saying that he is for “bringing about economic change through the courts” in theory, in practice the courts don’t have the administrative staff and power to do it. Instead, Obama’s goal of “redistribution of wealth” should be achieved through the legislative and executive branches.
"Typically, the court can be more or less generous in interpreting actions and initiatives taken, but in terms of funding of abortions and Medicare and Medicaid, the court it not initiating those funding streams. Essentially, what the court is saying is at some point this is a legitimate prohibition or this is not, and I think those are very important battles that need to be fought and I think they have a redistributive aspect to them."

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

Obama and Reparations

One of the more interesting anecdotes in David Remnick's interminable new biography of Barack Obama's "story of race and inheritance," The Bridge, comes from Obama’s class at the University of Chicago Law School on “Race, Racism, and the Law:”
“’But there was a moment when he let his guard down,’ one former student recalled. ‘He told us what he thought about reparations. He agreed entirely with the theory of reparations. But in practice he didn’t think it was really workable. … as the complexities emerged—who is black, how far back do you go, what about recent immigrants still feeling racism, do they have a claim—finally, he said, ‘That is why it’s unworkable.’’”

Of course, the exact same questions also apply to affirmative action—which Obama finds wonderfully “workable.”

Obama’s student recalled:
“You could tell that he thought he had let the cat out of the bag and felt uncomfortable. To agree with reparations in theory means we go past apology and say we can actually change the dynamics of the country …”

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

"The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama"

An excerpt from my new VDARE.com column:

Barack Obama is the most powerful man in America. And David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, is one of the most powerful figures in American journalism.

Not surprisingly, reviewers of Remnick’s new Presidential biography/doorstop, The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama, have generally prostrated themselves before Remnick with the same shamelessness as the editor has prostrated himself before the politician in these 656 pages of humorless hagiography.

A biography of Santa Claus would be more hard-hitting than The Bridge, which confirms in exhaustive detail that, yes, Obama's life is, indeed, "a story of race and inheritance." Remnick, who is certainly a bright fellow, just makes himself seem obtuse as he constantly offers the most insipid rationalizations available of the outsized role that race has played in Obama’s choices. Political correctness makes you stupid.

The Bridge stands as a self-emasculated monument to the insidious costs of Access Journalism. Yes, Remnick scored a lot of interviews. The Bridge, for examples, ends with Remnick reverently interviewing his subject in the Oval Office about the meaning of his being in the Oval Office.

Yet, for what shall it profit a writer, if he shall gain the whole world of access, and lose his own soul?

When you could speak truth to power, what does it say about you that you choose to speak spin for power? ...

Despite Obama’s hopeless struggle with being black enough relative to other black politicians, he was a natural at exploiting white people’s vast reservoir of good will toward blacks—and desire to feel superior over other whites—for his own personal advancement. He was the one they’d been waiting for. As Eric Zorn, the liberal Chicago Tribune columnist, said about Obama’s campaigning among whites in 2004:
“Obama was somehow all about validating you. … He was radiating the sense that ‘You’re the kind of guy who can accept a black guy as a senator.’ He made people feel better about themselves for liking him.”

Read the whole thing.

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

North American Union -- It's back!

From the Dallas Morning News:

Immigration reform is either right around the corner or may be postponed once again to next year by Congress and the White House, depending on whom you ask.

But one thing is clear for former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge G. Castañeda: It could prove to be a key factor in helping the U.S. move out of the current financial crisis.

"The U.S. is seeking a reorientation of its manufacturing base, and it's not easy to do without cheaper labor and the Mexican industrial base," he said Wednesday.

Castañeda will head to North Texas next week to talk at the University of Texas at Arlington about his latest book, Ex Mex: From Migrants to Immigrants, and about the mutual need in the U.S. and Mexico for immigration reform. He will deliver this year's Center for Mexican American Studies Distinguished Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the UTA library.

Castañeda remains bullish about the prospects of enacting immigration reform sometime during President Barack Obama's administration, despite all the heated and polarizing rhetoric surrounding the issue.

"I don't put much stock in those [anti-immigration] voices," he said. "Obama wouldn't have been elected and health care reform wouldn't have passed if they were the majority."

He believes immigration reform is a crucial component not only in reviving our economy, but also in creating a North American community, similar to the European Union.

It's not a new idea – former Mexican President Vicente Fox mentioned the idea of a free flow of labor and trade on a visit to Dallas in 2000. And the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations issued a trinational report in 2005 in which it proposed the creation of a North American community involving the U.S., Mexico and Canada for enhanced security and prosperity.

Castañeda's vision for this broader relationship goes beyond the North American Free Trade Agreement and involves a free flow of labor and energy, security provisions, integration of currencies, and greater social cohesion.

"NAFTA has run out of steam, and it is not generating jobs in Mexico," he said. "The U.S. and Mexico are further apart in economic development today, and the gap is getting bigger. We cannot leave it to the market alone to solve our issues."

The world's richest man lives in Mexico. Maybe, you Mexican officials should look into how exactly that happened.

The idea of a North American Union modeled on the European Union, with tariff walls around the continent, is something Mexico needs to take up with higher authority: i.e., Beijing. I don't think, however, that America's chief creditor will approve. Maybe it would have been a good idea two decades ago, but that horse left the barn a long time ago.

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