May 28, 2011

Selecting for Conformity

Bryan (Selfish Reasons for Having More Children) Caplan writes:
I had an interesting argument with Charles Murray at yesterday's Cato Book Forum.  While he expressed fundamental agreement with my views on nature and nurture, he thought parental marital status was an important exception.  Children of divorce do worse than children whose parents remain married; children of never-married parents do worse than children of divorce.  At least at first, Murray seemed to see these disparities as entirely causal: getting married causes your kids to do better in life; getting divorce causes some (but not all) of that benefit to go away. 
I objected that divorce and single parenthood are not random.  People who divorce are on average more impulsive and quarrelsome.  Single parents are on average more impulsive and less achievement-oriented.  Since these traits are heritable, we'd expect children of divorce and children of single parents to have worse outcomes - even if they were adopted at birth by Ozzie and Harriet.

You can read the whole thing there.

I want to note a social trend, that's reflective of a general theme: that in contemporary society, a lot of the rules for successful living aren't spelled out for people the way they used to be. This means that people who are smarter and/or raised in better social settings and/or naturally inclined toward successful life choices will still pick up the messages, but lots of other people won't. 

This isn't a universal trend -- for example, since the 1980s, the rules about not committing felonies have been made clearer after a disastrous experiment in the 1960s with blurring the message. Prison terms have been lengthened, and a huge fraction of popular entertainment is devoted to sending the message that criminals will get caught. 

In contrast, consider single motherhood and the term "bastard." A century ago, single motherhood was deterred, among other ways, by heaping opprobrium on the children of single mothers. That was cruel, but also pretty effective. Today, the term "bastard" has lost almost all connection with its original meaning. Nice people today would be shocked by the notion that society should discriminate against a child just because his parents weren't married. That's hardly the child's fault, now is it?

In fact, society is now deeply uncomfortable with the notion that we should be impolite to single mothers themselves. Thus, the term "single mother" has expanded strikingly to comprise not just never-married mothers, but also divorced mothers, and even widowed mothers. In most human civilizations, widowed mothers were always given higher regard than never-married mothers, but I see little of that in modern America. I was struck by learning that a Korean immigrant co-worker of my wife's, who was raising two daughters after her husband was killed in a car crash, always referred to herself as a "single mother" rather than as a "widow." Having come to English later than me, she was more aware of au courant Oprah Age terminology.

Not surprisingly, this decline in "preemptive discrimination" to deter single motherhood means we now have far more bastards. On the other hand, we don't see many bastards in the upper reaches of society, outside of celebrity bohemian circles. In fact, upper middle class life is evolving in directions that quietly but effectively discriminate against not just bastards, but also against the children of divorce. 

The extraordinary complication of the modern college admissions game, for example, are best navigated by happy two parent families where mom and dad work together seamlessly to polish Junior's resume. Consider Amy Chua: she seems like a handful, yet she and her husband get along well-enough to stay married, which allows them to bring their huge joint resources of money, energy, education, and connections to bear on getting their amenable oldest daughter into Harvard. 

This trend has disparate impact on the children of broken families, but what are a combination of single moms, deadbeat dads, men with demanding new girlfriends, and widows going to do about it? Form the Losers and Screw-Ups Rights League?

This may have something to do with the vague social trend that many people have noted: that the young people at the top of society today seem pretty happy, well-adjusted, cooperative, and much more conformist than in the recent turbulent past. I suspect that people of ornery and/or impulsive dispositions inherited from their screw-up parents are less likely to make it to the upper reaches of society than in the past. In older times, parents with screw-up inclinations were more likely to be deterred by explicit social pressures against bastardy and divorces. 

The niceness of today's SWPLs probably sets a good (if vague) example for the lower orders, which might have some impact on the decline in crime. On the other hand, this social selection for the children of nice, cooperative couples probably means that the upper middle class is becoming nicer and more cooperative, but also more conformist and more politically correct.

But are we losing any good things that go along with ornery nonconformity, such as creativity and insight?

By the way, if you like either of today's two posts, or are anticipating my upcoming VDARE column on an overlooked reason why Republicans are almost as hostile as Democrats toward noticing the race-IQ nexus,  please consider donating using the Paypal button at the top of the the righthand column above.

May 27, 2011

James Q. Wilson on fall in crime

J.Q. Wilson reviews arguments for explaining the decline in crime in the WSJ. He gives some credence to the lead theory. It would be nice to see the lead theory both more fleshed out and more critiqued. 

What about popular culture? Are there movies today that portray criminals as sympathetic characters? The heist film -- The Town, Fast Five, Oceans 11, or Inception -- remains alive. But the heists in contemporary films are so complicated, require so much planning, training, and teamwork to pull off, that they send the message that you might as well become a second unit movie director. A lot of heist movies these days are actually metaphors about making movies -- Inception, most obviously -- and movies these days are ridiculously complicated to make. 

Moreover, movies promote themselves with "The Making of" documentaries about how complicated they are to make. How many young people have watched The Making of Inception documentary about how many hundreds of experts had to work together to make a movie about expert criminals?

It must be quite daunting for young would-be criminals to be told over and over again by their favorite movies that only by organizing superbly can they become successful criminals.

It's like the flip side of the CIS crime shows on TV that have taught a generation that cops have giant computer monitors that will instantly display the faintest clue that will prove the perp guilty. Heist movies teach the lesson that if you want to outsmart all that CIS technology, you'd better belong to a gang of genius criminals, each of whom is the master of some arcane field of knowhow.

I can imagine that a lot of 13-year-olds would think it cool to join a gang like that, but they don't know any gangs like that. They look around at the gang members they know, like their cousin Jesus, and most of them seem like doomed idiots.

My impression is that popular culture today has gotten rather authoritarian or militaristic. Cops used to be portrayed as big dumb Irishmen, easy to outwit. But now, they're portrayed as practically Seal Team 6, with lots of cool weapons and training. Authority has most of the glamor these days, while criminals seem like losers.

IMF after DSK: Afro-Asian boss to break Euro monopoly?

Here's a story in the Washington Post about a groundswell of support in NY-DC for a particular non-European candidate to head the IMF that is pretty funny if you Get The Joke. (But who does, these days?)

See, since the post-WWII era, America and Europe have had a deal: the head of the World Bank is always an American and the head of the International Monetary Fund is always a European. For example, the current head of the World Bank is Robert Zoellick, and the previous one was Paul Wolfowitz. The only possible exception to this rule was the World bank leader before Wolfowitz, Sir James Wolfensohn. He became an American citizen in 1980 to be eligible for the job, but went back to Australian citizenship in 2010.

Not surprisingly, American interests have been hinting that what with the European IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn getting caught raping Third Worlders not just metaphorically, but literally, it's time to break this outdated European monopoly on the IMF. This doesn't have anything to do with America trying to take power away from Europe. It's all about diversity and social justice!

In fact, Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal have come up with the perfect diversity candidate. He's African by birth (in what's now Zambia, although it was called something very different then), Asian by current employment, and he apparently holds citizenships in both the New World (well, to be precise, the U.S.) and the Old World (you'll never, ever guess where).

You can read all about the New York financial press's diversity fusion candidate here.

Where would colleges find underexploited talent?

David Leonhardt writes in the NYT about how wonderful it is that Amherst, a super small  liberal arts college, has increased its share of Pell Grant winners (bottom half of income distribution) from 13% to 22%. 
Mr. Marx says Amherst does put a thumb on the scale to give poor students more credit for a given SAT score. Not everyone will love that policy. “Spots at these places are precious,” he notes. But I find it tough to argue that a 1,300 score for most graduates of Phillips Exeter Academy — or most children of Amherst alumni — is as impressive as a 1,250 for someone from McDowell County, W.Va., or the South Bronx.

My impression is that the thumb on the scale to get students from the South Bronx and to a somewhat lesser extent from a coal mining district of West Virginia is bigger normally than 50 points. A 1300 isn't likely to get you into Amherst. The reality is that there are very very few South Bronx kids with what it takes to be competitive at Amherst, so schools like Amherst get into bidding wars with each other over them already. The more Amherst tries to drive up its share of Pell Grant winners from the South Bronx, the more Swarthmore's goes does.

About a decade ago, the press got worked up over how Caltech had only zero or one black student in its freshman class. "Look how many blacks MIT has!" It never occurred to the pundits that if Caltech were harangued into getting more black students, they'd just wind up spending a fortune to take some away from MIT. Nobody ever gets that. The assumption is that Caltech should merely create more Caltech-type black high school seniors.

In contrast, I think the most underexploited center of potential talent are kids from broken families, especially boys, who don't have two parents to prod them to jump through all the hoops that the multi-year college admissions brownie-point collecting process requires. 

Panhandling 7

Yet another day pleasing to my ego and bank account. Thanks. 

Granted, returns are slowly diminishing, but not all that fast, so here I am asking for your help again.

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"Holistic" college admissions

Mickey Kaus writes at the Daily Caller:
But when you think about it, a non-college world in which high school graduates acquired the skills they wanted on the web or in ad hoc classes and proved their worth by performing well in actual jobs might be a preferable form of meritocracy. a) There would be no “signaling” of status for life, the way an Ivy League degree now signals status for life. The elite wouldn’t necessarily be getting Ivy League degrees; b) post-high school life would become a mad scramble for skills in which luck would inevitably play a greater role. That’s a good thing if it prevents people from concluding that richer = better. More than ever, richer might just = luckier; c)  A skill-by-skill scramble would value a multiplicity of discrete talents–are you a good computer programmer? a painter? a musician? writer?–instead of one general talent (“smarts”). You wouldn’t need to be well-rounded to join the elite. You’d just have to be good at something. It’s harder to insinuate that a programmer is better than a musician or writer the way it’s currently possible to  insinuate that a high-SAT Yale grad is better than someone whose scores could only get him into a state school. …

This is an interesting point: that the kind of "holistic" college admissions that the Supreme Court endorsed in its 2003 pro-affirmative action ruling in Grutter claims to evaluate everybody in some overall "holistic" sense that, in effect, says some people are better overall than other people. The purpose of the Supreme Courts' call for holistic admissions was to fuzz up the margin so nobody could be certain than affirmative action was being practiced. But holistic admissions, by their stated goal of analyzing all aspects of the applicants, suggest that people can be ranked holistically (i.e. overall).

In contrast, consider Caltech, which doesn't do much affirmative action and doesn't really care that much about qualifications outside of test scores, grades, and evidence of extreme science or engineering talent / desire. I went to high school with one kid who got into Caltech and my younger son went to school with one kid who got into Caltech. Both of these Caltech-bound kids were extremely Aspergery to the point of autism. The reaction of other kids to these guys getting into Caltech was: "Hey, that's cool! You must have really high test scores! (I'm still glad I'm not you.") 

On the other hand, Harvard trumpets that it has holistic admissions, and most students take away the implied lesson that those who get into Harvard are just overall better than you are. 

Middle-aged Syracuse grad Aaron Sorkin's screenplay for The Social Network was supposed to be about what a flawed individual Harvard's Mark Zuckerberg is, but every high school student I talked to about the movie was of the opinion that they wished they were as awesome as Mark Zuckerberg.

May 26, 2011

Choose your parents wisely

Here's the abstract of an academic article by Joshua Kjerulf Dubrow and jimi adams that shows that, as usual, family helps:
The popular image of the African American National Basketball Association (NBA) player as rising from the ‘ghetto’ to international fame and fortune misleads academics and publics alike. This false image is fueled, in part, by critical shortcomings in empirical research on the relationship between race, sport, and occupational mobility: these studies have not adequately examined differences in social class and family structure backgrounds across, and especially within, racial groups. To address this problem, we empirically investigate how the intersection of race, social class and family structure background influences entry into the NBA. Information on social class and family structure background for a subpopulation of NBA players (N = 155) comes from 245 articles published in local, regional and national newspapers between 1994 and 2004. We find that, after accounting for methodological problems common in newspaper data, most NBA players come from relatively advantaged social origins and African Americans from disadvantaged social origins have lower odds of being in the NBA than African American and white players from relatively advantaged origins.

I was nodding my head until that last bit. Watching Dirk Nowitzki dominate on the sports highlights gets me to wondering once again: how come there are more top white basketball players from foreign countries (e.g., Nowitzki, Nash, the Gasols, Ginobili, etc.) than from the U.S.? Sure, there are more tall white guys abroad, but Germany isn't exactly hoops crazy. 

Top white American basketball players do seem to come from wealthy basketball families fairly often: Kevin Love's dad was in the NBA and Kiki Vandeweghe's dad was an NBA player who became the Lakers' team doctor. But, it seems as if white fathers today who aren't ex-basketball stars are more likely to groom their tall, athletic sons to be quarterbacks rather than basketball players. I remember back in the late 1960s how amazed NFL fans were that Roman Gabriel, at 6'5" had become a quarterback rather than a basketball player. Times have changed. (By the way, Gabriel's father was from the Philippines. His mother was Irish.)

Clearly, one reason for this finding about blacks is that jail wrecks the careers of a fair number of athletic blacks from underclass backgrounds. It would be interesting to look at arrest and prison statistics on height and race to see if being very tall helps a black guy be less likely to stay out of jail because he's being helped along toward a basketball career. My prediction would be that a lower percentage of very tall black men are in prison than in the total black population. 

A few years ago, I made up a list of the top 10 centers in NBA history, and most seemed pretty smart. Center is the position where sheer height matters most, yet having something on the ball must also help. Of the top 10 centers, only Moses Malone, with his almost incomprehensible rural Southern accent, was clearly from the least advantaged part of society. Patrick Ewing was pretty taciturn too, but a lot of other top centers, such as Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, were famously good interviews. David Robinson scored 1320 on the SAT (old style) and Kareem 1130.

Also, I suspect that having an outstandingly athletic son can sometimes keep fathers from straying too far, thus keeping the kid at a higher social level because his family is intact.

The small number of top players from Africa are mostly from the top of their societies: Olajuwon's dad was rich, Mutumbo's dad was a high school principal, and Luol Deng's dad was a cabinet minister in the Sudan. The late Manute Bol was a herdsman, however.

Bloomberg View versus iSteve

Michael Bloomberg, ninth richest man in America and mayor of New York, has debuted his expensive new online opinion magazine: Bloomberg View. For example, here are its five latest op-eds


I haven't actually read any of these, so maybe Bloomberg View will turn out to be more fun than it looks. Still, here's my question: 

Which is more interesting: Bloomberg View or iSteve

Francis Fukuyama’s History of the World: Part I

My long review of Francis Fukuyama's The Origins of Political Order is now in the July 2011 print edition of The American Conservative. Subscribers can read it online. (You can subscribe here.) Here's the opening:
Whenever prominent national security intellectual Francis “The End of History” Fukuyama publishes another book (which is often), it’s always amusing to wisecrack about how current events show that history has not, indeed, ended. For example, the first half of what Fukuyama intends to be his magnum opus, The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution, landed with a thump on my doorstep the week America plunged into war with Libya. As I write, Americans are astounded by Osama bin Laden being found in the heart of Pakistan’s deep state. 
It’s hard to resist making jokes at Fukuyama’s expense, even ones as tired as the non-end of history, because of his self-promoting egotism. For example, this doorstop book is, we are informed: first, an extension both forward and backward in time of his late mentor Samuel P. Huntington’s 1968 landmark, Political Order in Changing Societies; second, Fukuyama’s version of Jared Diamond’s 1997 bestselling History and Theory of Everything, Guns, Germs, and Steel; and, third, a revolutionary work that introduces to political science the cutting edge Darwinian insights of 1960s-1970s sociobiologists. (While Mel Brooks’s History of the World: Part I began with cavemen, Fukuyama’s starts with chimpanzees.)  
This is not to imply that The Origins of Political Order is a bad book. It’s a very good one, just not as boggling as Fukuyama imagines. Instead, Origins is quite sensible: it traces the historic evolution of what he defines as a good state: one that is strong, accountable, and under the rule of law. Unfortunately, it’s also shallow.  
A clue to Fukuyama’s astonishing productivity—Who can type that fast?—might be found in his Wikipedia photograph, which shows him wearing a headset microphone. The less-than-magisterial prose style of Origins sometimes sounds as if Fukuyama had dictated it at some haste into Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software. For instance, p. 10 of Origins reads like Jane Austen on crack:
"It concerns the difficulties of creating and maintaining effective political institutions, governments that are simultaneously powerful, rule bound, and accountable. This might seem like an obvious point that any fourth grader would acknowledge, and yet on further reflection it is a truth that many intelligent people fail to understand." 

Good grief, more Twitter

Five days ago I announced I finaly had a Twitter account where you could sign up to be a follower (subscriber?) of me at 

and receive twits (tweets?) of the title and link to my latest blog post. It occurs to me, now, that some of you might not want to be publicly identified as a follower of Steve_Sailer. So, I've started a second Twitter account that will provide the exact same content, but the name is anodyne. Just click here:

When you get there, click on the Orange button on the right that reads "Sign up and follow ..."

By the way, is "follower" the right word with Twitter? "Acolyte?" "Cultist?" I can never remember. You know, when I think back on it, I'm quite amazed that I was a professional, full-time PC guy in 1986-87, with three PC technicians working for me. Not only was I fairly good at it, I liked new technology back then. In 1986, I would have known exactly whether I was sending out twits or tweets. Today, that past life seems as bizarre to me as if I had once been a world-class knitter. 

I had a dream one night in the 1990s that I had once won an Olympic gold medal. When somebody challenged me in the dream, I explained that I had won my gold medal at the 1984 L.A. Summer Games in the Plunge for Distance, an obscure but still extant Olympic swimming / diving event in which the eight finalists stand on the edge of the pool and dive in and the one who goes farthest before having to take a breath wins. "You haven't heard about it," I explained persuasively, "because they don't put it on TV. And, yeah, maybe since it's not on TV it doesn't get the very best athletes, so that's how I stood a chance. But it's still a real Olympic event and I won it!"

(In reality, the Plunge for Distance was last part of the Olympics at the 1904 St. Louis Games. Here's a 1917 New York Times article that begins, "Several attempts have been made to induce the A.A.U. and college authorities to abolish the plunge for distance as a standard or championship event in water sports, on the plea that it is a type of contest requiring neither athletic ability, nor especial skill of any kind," which is what I like about it.)

Anyway, my point is that if you look at how incompetent I am with computers now, my dream about me having once been an Olympic gold medalist makes more sense than the reality that I was once a pretty handy computer guy. 

Life is pretty short, I suppose, like everybody says it is. But, sometimes, when I look back at all the weird twists in my life, it can seem enjoyably long.

Anyway, you can make sure to never miss having these kind of rambling reminiscences twooted to you by going to one of the above links and signing up to be my Tweeter disciple.

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May 25, 2011

Panhandling 6

It turns out that the way to get people to give you money is to ask them to give you money. I asked again last night, and my readers were once again very generous. That really makes my day. 

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My old articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

“Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding"

From the NYT:
Parties See Obama’s Israel Policy as Wedge for 2012 
WASHINGTON — Few issues in American politics are as bipartisan as support for Israel. Yet the question of whether President Obama is supportive enough is behind some of the most partisan maneuvering since the Middle East ally was born six decades ago, and that angling has potential ramifications for the 2012 elections. 
The visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the past week captured just how aggressively Republicans are stoking doubts about Mr. Obama. Republican Congressional leaders and presidential aspirants lavished praise on Mr. Netanyahu as quickly as they had condemned Mr. Obama for proposing that Israel’s 1967 borders, with mutually agreed land swaps, should be a basis for negotiating peace with the Palestinians. 
Republicans do not suggest that they can soon break the Democratic Party’s long hold on the loyalty of Jewish-American voters; Mr. Obama got nearly 8 of 10 such voters in 2008. But what Republicans do see is the potential in 2012 to diminish the millions of dollars, volunteer activism and ultimately the votes that Mr. Obama and his party typically get from American Jews — support that is disproportionate to their numbers.

And that's not counting unpaid media: of the traditional big 4 newspapers, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and LA Times, are all Jewish-owned. Jews make up about half of the Atlantic 50 list of most influential pundits.
While Jewish Americans are just 2 percent of the electorate nationally, they are “strategically concentrated,” as Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster, put it, in several swing states that are critical in presidential elections. Those states include Florida — which in 2000 illustrated the potentially decisive power of one state — Ohio and Nevada. 
A test of Mr. Obama’s support will come June 20, when he will hold a fund-raiser for about 80 Jewish donors at a private dinner. 
John R. Bolton, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations and a possible Republican presidential candidate, argues that because of administration proposals, Republicans will be able to make gains not only among American Jews but also among evangelicals who are supportive of Israel on biblical grounds, and other voters. 
Mr. Bolton said that he was on a cruise sponsored by the conservative magazine Weekly Standard last week in the Mediterranean, and that most of the people on the ship “reacted very strongly against” Mr. Obama’s speech outlining his Mideast vision. “As a Republican,” he said, “you can use this to show how radical the president’s policies are on a whole range of issues.” 
The depth of Democrats’ worries was evident from the competition to out-applaud Republicans on Tuesday during Mr. Netanyahu’s speech to a joint meeting of Congress

How many standing ovations did Netanyahu get from Congress? 20? 29? That reminds me of a story in Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago:
At the conclusion of the conference, a tribute to Comrade Stalin was called for. Of course, everyone stood up (just as everyone had leaped to his feet during the conference at every mention of his name). ... For three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, the stormy applause, rising to an ovation, continued. But palms were getting sore and raised arms were already aching. ... 
However, who would dare to be the first to stop? … After all, NKVD men were standing in the hall applauding and watching to see who would quit first! And in the obscure, small hall, unknown to the leader, the applause went on – six, seven, eight minutes! ... They couldn’t stop now till they collapsed with heart attacks! ... 
The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers!  
Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved! 
... That same night the factory director was arrested. They easily pasted ten years on him on the pretext of something quite different. But after he had signed Form 206, the final document of the interrogation, his interrogator reminded him: 
“Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding."

It has been widely noted that VP and President of the Senate Joe Biden merely rubbed his knuckles pensively after Netanyahu's statement that Jerusalem must be the united capital of Israel, while everyone else in the room cheered as if Beyonce had just finished singing "Single Ladies."
Yet it is the Republican Party’s close identification with evangelical Christians in recent years that is perhaps its biggest hurdle to winning over significant numbers of Jewish voters and donors. On issues that are crucial to the conservative Republican base — like opposition to abortion, gay rights, liberalized immigration and much government spending — most American Jews are on the other side, and strongly so. ...

Mr. Netanyahu on Monday experienced first-hand the tension arising from that complaint among Democrats, and Republicans’ rejection of it, in a private meeting he held with representatives of the National Jewish Democratic Council and the Republican Jewish Coalition to underscore American Jews’ bipartisan consensus on Israel. 
A partisan argument ensued after Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, whom Mr. Obama recently named as chairman of the Democratic Party, suggested they agree not to make support for Israel an election issue. Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican group, objected, accusing her of proposing a “gag order.”

The Next Best Thing to Bibi 2012

It's widely noted that the GOP field of Presidential candidates seems a little weak. They are especially lacking in Identity Politics Oomph. For example, polls have long revealed more pervasive bigotry against the idea of a Mormon President than against most better known victim groups, but nobody in the media cares about promoting Mitt Romney to make a statement against anti-Mormonism. Similarly, nobody in the press cares that Tim Pawlenty would be the first half-Polish President.

The Democrats have their We Shall Overcome Mythopoetic Narrative Candidate locked in. Maybe, in the GOP's struggle to have the press less in the tank for Obama in 2012 than in 2008, the Republicans need their equivalent of comparable Media Narrative Firepower. With legalistic technicalities slowing the potential candidacy of the GOP leadership's current favorite, Bibi Netanyahu, attention will likely turn toward the next best thing. From Wikipedia:
Eric Ivan Cantor (born June 6, 1963) is the U.S. Representative for Virginia's 7th congressional district, serving since 2001. A member of the Republican Party, he became House Majority Leader when the 112th Congress convened on January 3, 2011. He previously served as House Minority Whip from 2009 to 2011. 
... Cantor is the only Jewish Republican currently serving in Congress. 
Cantor was born in Richmond, Virginia. His father owned a real estate firm and was the state treasurer for Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign. .. Cantor was a member of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity while at [George Washington] and received his Bachelor of Arts in 1985. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from William & Mary Law School in 1988, and received a Master of Science degree from Columbia University in 1989. ... 
In 2002–only a few weeks after winning a second term–Roy Blunt appointed Cantor Chief Deputy Republican Whip, the highest appointed position in the Republican caucus. 
.... On November 19, 2008, Cantor was unanimously elected Republican Whip for the 111th Congress, after serving as deputy whip for six years under Blunt. ... Cantor became the Majority Leader when the 112th Congress took office on January 3, 2011. ... 
Cantor is a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Republican National Committee. He is one of the Republican Party's top fundraisers, having raised over $30 million for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). He is also one of the three founding members of the GOP Young Guns Program. ... 
... He supports strong United States-Israel relations. ... He opposed a Congressionally-approved three-year package of US$400 million in aid for the Palestinian Authority in 2000 and has also introduced legislation to end aid to Palestinians. 
In May 2008, Cantor said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a "constant sore" but rather "a constant reminder of the greatness of America", and following Barack Obama's election as President in November 2008, Cantor stated that a “stronger U.S.-Israel relationship” remains a top priority for him and that he would be “very outspoken” if Obama "did anything to undermine those ties." Shortly after the 2010 midterm elections, Cantor met privately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, just before Netanyahu was to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. According to Cantor's office, he "stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration" and "made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States." Cantor was criticized for engaging in foreign policy; one basis for the criticism was that in 2007, after Nancy Pelosi met with the President of Syria, Cantor himself had raised the possibility "that her recent diplomatic overtures ran afoul of the Logan Act, which makes it a felony for any American 'without authority of the United States' to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States." ... 
In August 2008 news reports surfaced that Cantor was being considered as John McCain's Vice Presidential running mate, with McCain's representatives seeking documents from Cantor as part of its vetting process. However, in May 2009, a source who claimed affiliation with the McCain campaign denied those reports, calling them "a complete and total joke", and blaming "Cantor’s PR people" for being responsible for the false reports. 
Cantor met his wife, Diana Marcy Fine, on a blind date; they were married in 1989. They have three children: Evan, Jenna, and Michael. 
Diana Cantor is a lawyer and certified public accountant. She founded, and from 1996 until 2008 was executive director of, the Virginia College Savings Plan (an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia). She was also chairman of the board of the College Savings Plans Network. Mrs. Cantor is a Managing Director in a division of Emigrant Bank, a subsidiary of New York Private Bank & Trust Corp. 

It's hard to see how Eric Cantor is any less qualified to be the First Jewish President than Barack Obama was to be the First Black President.

Steele on Obama

Shelby Steele writes in the WSJ on the central issue of the 2012 election:
What gives Mr. Obama a cultural charisma that most Republicans cannot have? First, he represents a truly inspiring American exceptionalism: He is the first black in the entire history of Western civilization to lead a Western nation—and the most powerful nation in the world at that. And so not only is he the most powerful black man in recorded history, but he reached this apex only through the good offices of the great American democracy. 
Thus his presidency flatters America to a degree that no white Republican can hope to compete with. He literally validates the American democratic experiment, if not the broader Enlightenment that gave birth to it. 
He is also an extraordinary personification of the American Dream: Even someone from a race associated with slavery can rise to the presidency. 

The Obama lineage was associated with slavery in the sense that they sold slaves to the Arabs, but who cares about details?
Whatever disenchantment may surround the man, there is a distinct national pride in having elected him. 
All of this adds up to a powerful racial impressionism that works against today's field of Republican candidates. This is the impressionism that framed Sen. John McCain in 2008 as a political and cultural redundancy—yet another older white male presuming to lead the nation. 
The point is that anyone who runs against Mr. Obama will be seen through the filter of this racial impressionism, in which white skin is redundant and dark skin is fresh and exceptional. 
This is the new cultural charisma that the president has introduced into American politics. Today this charisma is not as strong for Mr. Obama. The mere man and the actual president has not lived up to his billing as a historical breakthrough. Still, the Republican field is framed and—as the polls show—diminished by his mere presence in office, which makes America the most socially evolved nation in the world. Moreover, the mainstream media coddle Mr. Obama—the man—out of its identification with his exceptionalism. 
Conversely, the media hold the president's exceptionalism against Republicans. Here is Barack Obama, evidence of a new and progressive America. Here are the Republicans, a cast of largely white males, looking peculiarly unevolved. ... 
How can the GOP combat the president's cultural charisma? It will have to make vivid the yawning gulf between Obama the flattering icon and Obama the confused and often overwhelmed president. Applaud the exceptionalism he represents, but deny him the right to ride on it as a kind of affirmative action. 
A president who is both Democratic and black effectively gives the infamous race card to the entire left: Attack our president and you are a racist. To thwart this, Republicans will have to break through the barrier of political correctness. 
Mr. McCain let himself be intimidated by Obama's cultural charisma, threatening to fire any staff member who even used the candidate's middle name.

Okay, but for America to not re-elect Obama would be tantamount to recognizing him as a guy who rode affirmative action to the top, with a massive push from the press, then proved inadequate. That's not a narrative the media is going to like. The media will actively work to prevent that from happening. 

Let's look back in history for examples of one-term black leaders. The most obvious is David Dinkins, first black mayor of the media capital of New York. His election was of some symbolic importance, too.

Yet, why did Dinkins fail of re-election? There were a number of reasons, but the key, almost certainly, was the black anti-Semitic riot in Crown Heights that Dinkins didn't seem to take seriously. Since then, New York voters haven't elected a Democratic candidate mayor in the last five mayoral elections. Dinkins' term has largely been dropped down the media memory hole. You almost never read in the press about how white racism stole a second term from Dinkins. This major historical event in the recent past of the capital of the world is just not the kind of thing it's appropriate to mention in New York media circles. They are in favor of blacks succeeding in politics in general, but not as mayor of where they live.

This can help explain the Republican enthusiasm this week for the notion they can somehow ride Bibi Netanyahu's coattails in 2012 and thus turn Obama into Dinkins.

How exactly would that work in a world where Bibi really can't run for President?

I dunno.

I noticed that two days ago, Rep. Eric Cantor was telling Rep. Paul Ryan to get into the Presidential race:
Count House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) as one top Republican who’d like to see Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) jump into the presidential race.

But after yesterday's disastrous special election defeat for Republicans in upstate New York fought in large part over Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare, Ryan's luster has dimmed. So, why not reverse the polarity and have Ryan tell Cantor to jump in the race?

A proposal to Bibi

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu: 

Congratulations on your triumphal tour of Washington D.C. You have emerged as the de facto leader of anti-Obama sentiment in America.

In return for all that America has done for you, may I ask, in all seriousness, that you do a favor for America?

Namely, please come to America again and deliver a high profile speech and slide show explaining the rapid construction and strong success of Israel's border security fence. Point out that a properly made border fence has been shown to deter not only drug smugglers and illegal immigrants, but even suicide bombers. Then, compare Israel's success at rapidly securing its borders to the American government's dithering and ineffectualness at constructing its own border security fence. Please point out that this kind of defeatism and corruption is unworthy of Israel's ally. You could conclude by offering to send Israeli experts to the American border to advise Americans on how to build the American fence.

Thank you very much.

Steve Sailer

'Room for Debate" (but not for Jared Taylor)

On May 22, the NYT ran one of their "Room for Debate" symposiums, this one on "Is Anti-White Bias a Problem?"


Notice anybody missing? Oh, yeah, the guy, Jared Taylor, who has a brand new book out on precisely this topic: White Identity: Racial Consciousness in the 21st Century. It's quite likely, indeed, that the NYT's topic was inspired in part or indirectly by Taylor's book, which I reviewed 7 days earlier. (A lot of topics I bring up get quickly laundered into the high end blogosphere by Matthew Yglesias, among others.)

But, evidently, there's no room for debate when it comes to Jared Taylor.

2012 Bibi Bandwagon gains momentum

Akiva Eldar writes in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz about Bibi Netanyahu's triumphant address (two dozen standing ovations) to the U.S. Congress:
Sara Netanyahu once said during a family gathering that if her husband had run for president of the United States, he would easily be elected (assuming, of course, that he were legally allowed to run). Indeed, in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address before both houses of Congress on Tuesday, he made impressive use of all the gimmicks of an experienced and sharp-tongued American politician. ... 
Netanyahu proved that he has no Israeli equal when it comes to plucking the strings of American patriotism, of guilt feelings over the Holocaust, and most of all, of the wish of Congress members to preserve their close ties with the large Jewish organizations.

Old joke:
Q: Why doesn’t Israel apply to become the 51st state?
A: Because then they’d have only two senators.

Poor Obama figured he could take a gentle swipe at Bibi, thought he could articulate American policy without clearing every jot and tittle with Bibi beforehand, because Bibi is the equivalent of a Republican in Israel, so the President would at least have the Democrats in America on his side out of sheer partisanship. He didn't realize that in the U.S. Congress, "Politics stops at the border (of Israel)."

In The American Conservative, Pat Buchanan feels sorry for his President:
Not since Nikita Khrushchev berated Dwight Eisenhower over Gary Powers’ U-2 spy flight over Russia only weeks earlier has an American president been subjected to a dressing down like the one Barack Obama received from Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday. 
With this crucial difference. Khrushchev ranted behind closed doors... Obama, however, was lectured like some schoolboy in the Oval Office in front of the national press and a worldwide TV audience. 
And two days later, he trooped over to the Israeli lobby AIPAC to walk back what he had said that had so infuriated Netanyahu. “Bibi” then purred that he was “pleased” with the clarification. Diplomatic oil is now being poured over the troubled waters, but this humiliation will not be forgotten. 
What did Obama do to draw this public rebuke? In his Thursday speech on the Arab Spring and Middle East peace, Obama declared: “We believe the borders of Israel should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. … Israel must be able to defend itself — by itself — against any threat.” 
Ignoring Obama’s call for “mutually agreed swaps” of land to guarantee secure and defensible borders for Israel, Netanyahu, warning the president against a peace “based on illusions,” acted as though Obama had called for an Israel withdrawal to the armistice line of 1967. 
This was absurd. All Obama was saying was what three Israeli prime ministers — Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert — have all recognized.  ...
Undeniably, Netanyahu won the smack-down. The president was humiliated in the Oval Office, and in his trip to AIPAC’s woodshed he spoke of the future peace negotiations ending just as Israelis desire and demand. ...
The one explanation that makes sense is that Netanyahu sees Obama as more sympathetic to the Palestinians and less so to Israel than any president since Jimmy Carter, and he, Netanyahu, would like to see Obama replaced by someone more like the born-again pro-Israel Christian George W. Bush. 
And indeed, the Republicans and the right, Mitt Romney in the lead, accusing Obama of “throwing Israel under the bus,” seized on the issue and, almost universally, have taken Netanyahu’s side.

Personally, I don't think the West Bank is very important. I received this great gift a number of Christmases ago, an extra-large free-standing globe for my office. But even on this globe, I can barely find the West Bank. If the Israelis want to push around the Palestinians, well, I don't really care much. I roused myself enough to write a two part review of Jimmy Carter's book Palestine Peace not Apartheid for Taki's Magazine in 2007 (Part 1 and Part 2), but I haven't had much to say since then because it's not my country.

What I do care about is what all this says about my own country.
"Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. … Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite [foreign nation] are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests."
—George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796

Here's the irony. The GOP is, more or less, the party of WGPs -- White Gentile People, the heart of the nation. But, normal, natural national feelings among WGPs have been so demonized over the years that they've adopted a foreign nationalist politician, Bibi Netanyahu, as their proxy so they can enjoy nationalism by proxy.

Bibi's quite a guy. He just isn't my guy.

But what are the Democrats in Congress' excuses?