January 26, 2013

Obama to go to highest unemployment state to call for more immigration to fill the jobs Americans just can't get

No work has been done on the $4.8 billion Echelon casino
 project on the Strip in Las Vegas in 4 years and 5 months
From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Obama to kick off immigration reform push in Las Vegas 
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will employ Las Vegas as the platform to begin a new push for immigration overhaul that would include a chance at citizenship for millions of undocumented residents, the White House said Friday. 
Obama plans to travel to Southern Nevada on Tuesday to promote an immigration overhaul, a cause that fell by the wayside during his first term. The president has reaffirmed the issue as a priority, and it has picked up bipartisan interest in Congress as well. 
After Obama huddled for a strategy session Friday morning with a half dozen Hispanic lawmakers, the White House said the purpose of the trip was "to redouble the administration's efforts to work with Congress to fix the broken immigration system this year." 
Obama told lawmakers the immigration reform was "a top legislative priority," the White House said. The president renewed a promise to Hispanics to move immigration to the front burner this year, a goal echoed by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate majority leader. 
The choice of Las Vegas to spotlight immigration was hardly unusual, as Hispanics in Nevada have grown to more than a quarter of the state's population, and Latino voters here backed Obama for re-election in November by a 70 percent to 25 percent margin over Mitt Romney. 

Not long ago, the choice of a state with 10.2% unemployment (which ties Nevada with Rhode Island for worst unemployment in the country) to announce a new pro-immigration push would have seemed "unusual" just from a PR standpoint alone. But, in recent years, mainstream discussion of immigration has increasingly dumbed down. These days, mentioning economics in connection with immigration policy is considered way too complicated. Instead, mainstream thinking about immigration policy is conducted solely in tribalist terms. There are lots of unemployed Hispanics in Nevada, so that's where Obama is going to tell the world he wants more of them.
... Details of the Senate proposals remained unclear, but the principles are expected to address a process toward legalizing the status of unauthorized immigrants already in the country, border security, verification measures for employers hiring workers, and ways for more temporary workers to be admitted into the country.

If you mention that Las Vegas has a terrible unemployment problem, such that, for instance, no construction workers have set foot on the site of Echelon Place (the old Stardust casino) in almost 4 and a half years, well, the gears would start turning and finally the all-purpose answer would spit out: that just proves we need more immigration! See, the big problem with America is that there aren't enough idiots to go to Las Vegas and lose their money, so we need to import more. What could possibly go wrong?

What's missing in Del Mar, CA?

I occasionally borrow from an extremely generous friend the cottage behind his house 75 yards off the sand in Del Mar in northern San Diego County. My wife recently pointed out to me two things that are much rarer on the Del Mar beach than most anywhere else in California.

Although the wealth of some of the inhabitants appears to be stratospheric (e.g., sport team owners), most of Del Mar's housing stock was built in the 1970s or early 1980s and thus is not glitzy by 21st Century standards. Several of the better sort of NFL quarterbacks are said to live there. Many of the homes near the beach seem to be inhabited only part time by rich people who own multiple homes. (By the way, security systems are unobtrusive but omnipresent, so don't get any ideas.)

The key that determines Del Mar's sociological make-up is that there is a reef offshore that keeps the surf from getting terribly dangerous, so it's ideal for people looking for a safe beach for their young children or grandchildren. Dogs are free to run off leashes on the northern stretch of Del Mar's beach, just south of the lagoon that leads to the famous horserace track. So, it is about as genteel / respectable as Southern California gets. The Romneys have a house a few miles to the south in La Jolla, and they would fit in in Del Mar: a rich, grandchild-oriented, outdoorsy family.

The public can pay to park and use Del Mar beach, but the daytrippers tend to be people who are sympatico with the locals. So, what are two things you don't see much of on the beach at Del Mar?

1. Pit bulls (instead, lots of retrievers)

2. Tattoos

Is Boston always like this?

I don't spend much time in Boston, but over the decades I've picked up a sense that young white people in that famous city are a little different in attitude, more territorial than the ones in the other cities I've known well (Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and, more marginally, New York and Washington). Last Saturday, I was in Boston's financial district next to Faneuil Hall late at night for the first time in 26 years. I noticed the same edge as in 1986, one I seldom pick up from crowds of young white people drinking in other expensive city centers. The Bostonians give off a proprietary vibe that says, "We own these streets."

Political scientist James Q. Wilson, another nice Catholic boy from SoCal, was struck by that Boston vibe when he arrived at Harvard in the late 1940s. George Will recently wrote about Wilson:
Political scientist James Q. Wilson grew up there; in 1967, the year after the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” he wrote a seminal essay on the political vibrations that produced California’s new governor: “A Guide to Reagan Country.” His conclusion was that Ronald Reagan represented the political culture of a region where social structure nurtured individualism. 
Southern Californians had, Wilson wrote, “no identities except their personal identities, no obvious group affiliations to make possible any reference to them by collective nouns. I never heard the phrase ‘ethnic group’ until I was in graduate school.” 
Eastern teenagers had turf. Their Southern California counterparts had cars, the subject of so many Beach Boys songs (“Little Deuce Coupe,” ‘‘409,” ‘‘Shut Down,” etc.). They hung out in places reached by car and with lots of parking, particularly drive-in restaurants. 
“The Eastern lifestyle,” Wilson wrote, “produced a feeling of territory, the Western lifestyle a feeling of property.” 
The East was defined less by cold weather than social congestion — apartments in ethnic neighborhoods. Southern Californians lived in single-dwelling homes and had almost no public transportation, so their movements within the city were unconfined to set corridors. 
Houses and cars — the “Sunday afternoon drive” was often just to look at others’ homes — strengthened, Wilson wrote, “a very conventional and bourgeois sense of property and responsibility.”

January 25, 2013

Be afraid, be very afraid

From the Washington Post:
Senators nearing agreement on broad immigration reform proposal 
By Rosalind S. Helderman and David Nakamura, Friday, January 25, 9:36 AM 
A working group of senators from both parties is nearing agreement on broad principles for overhauling the nation’s immigration laws, representing the most substantive bipartisan effort toward comprehensive legislation in years. 
The six members have met quietly since the November election, most recently on Wednesday. Congressional aides stressed there is not yet final agreement, but they have eyed next Friday as a target date for a possible public announcement. 
The talks mark the most in-depth negotiations involving members of both parties since a similar effort broke down in 2010 without producing a bill.
“We have basic agreement on many of the core principles,” Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), a member of the group, said this week. “Now we have to draft it. It takes time.” 
“The group we’ve been meeting with — and it’s equal number of Democrats and Republicans — we’re real close,” added Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), another member of the group. 
... “What has been absent in the time [since] he put principles forward is a willingness by Republicans to move forward with comprehensive immigration reform,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday. “He hopes that dynamic has changed and there are indications what was once a bipartisan effort to push forward. . .will again be a bipartisan effort to do so.” 
Past efforts begun amid similarly high hopes have sputtered. But members of both parties increasingly see changes to the nation’s troubled immigration system as an area most likely to draw bipartisan agreement at a time when Congress is deeply divided on gun control, spending and taxes. 
The optimism is spurred by the sense that the political dynamics have shifted markedly since the last two significant bipartisan efforts failed. In 2007, a bill crafted in the Senate died after failing to win support of 60 members despite backing from then-president George W. Bush. Many Republicans, and some centrist Democrats, opposed that effort because it offered a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. 
In 2010, extended negotiations between Schumer and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) broke down without producing legislation. 
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a veteran of the 2007 effort who is part of the current working group, said Republican attitudes have dramatically shifted since the party’s defeat at the polls in November. Obama won more than 70 percent of the vote among Latinos and Asians, and a growing number of GOP leaders believe action on immigration is necessary to expand the party’s appeal to minority groups. ...
Also included in the new Senate group are Schumer, who chairs the key Senate subcommittee where legislative action will begin; Graham; Robert Menendez (D-N.J.); and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Two others, Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), have also been involved in some talks. 
Their timetable would aim for a bill to be written by March or April and potentially considered for final passage in the Senate as early as the summer. Proponents believe adoption in the GOP-held House would be made easier with a strong bipartisan vote in the Senate. 
The working group’s principles would address stricter border control, better employer verification of workers’ immigration status, new visas for temporary agriculture workers and expanding the number of visas available for skilled engineers. They would also include a call to help young people who were brought to the country illegally as children by their parents become citizens and to normalize the status of the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants. 
But obstacles abound. For instance, Rubio has said he believes immigrants who came to the country illegally should be able to earn a work permit. But he has said they should be required to seek citizenship through existing avenues, and only after those who have come to the country legally. 
Democrats and immigration advocates fear that approach could result in wait-times stretching for decades, creating a class of permanent legal residents for whom the benefits of citizenship appear unattainable. They have pushed to create new pathways to citizenship specifically available to those who achieve legal residency as part a reform effort. 
It is not yet clear if the Senate group will endorse a mechanism allowing such people to eventually become citizens — something Obama is expected to champion. Schumer said it would be “relatively detailed,” but would not “get down into the weeds.” 
A source close to Rubio said he joined the group in December at the request of other members only after they agreed their effort would line up with his own principles for reform, which he outlined in an interview with the Wall Street Journal three weeks ago. 
His ideas have since been embraced by conservatives, including some longtime foes of providing legal status to those who have come to the country illegally.
As a possible 2016 presidential contender widely trusted on the right, Rubio’s support could be key to moving the bipartisan effort. 
And while Rubio and other Republicans have said they would prefer to split up a comprehensive immigration proposal into smaller bills that would be voted on separately, the White House will pursue comprehensive legislation that seeks to reform the process in a single bill. 
“I doubt if there will be a macro, comprehensive bill,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who supported the 2007 effort. “Anytime a bill’s more than 500 pages, people start getting suspicious. If it’s 2,000 pages, they go berserk.” 
But in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, Republican Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, strongly supports a single comprehensive bill, writing that “Congress should avoid quick fixes.” 
Schumer said Friday that a single package will be key for passage. “We’ll not get it done in pieces,” he said. “Every time you do a piece, everyone says what about my piece and you get more people opposing it.” ...
“The president needs to lead, and then the Republicans have a choice: Are they going to do what they did in the last term and just be obstructionists?” said Eliseo Medina, secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, which spent millions recruiting new Hispanic voters this year. “Well, that didn’t work too well in November. Do the Republicans want the president not to get the credit? The best way to share the credit is for them to step up and engage and act together with the president. But it’s their choice. ”

The 2013 Amnesty won't be spun in the media like the 1986 Amnesty, which had an element of "Well, let's try this and see if it works." No, the 2013 Amnesty will be portrayed as a milestone in the ongoing surrender of evil white men to the morally superior vibrant new America.

Ta-Nehisi Coates celebrates the second Obama inaugural by denouncing how The Man is holding black folks down

At The Atlantic, the day after the second inaugural of a black President, Ta-Nehisi Coates explains how The Man keeps down the Black Middle Class:
The American Case Against a Black Middle Class 
... Black people have been repeatedly been victimized by the half-assed social contract. It goes back, at least, to Reconstruction.  
5) The half-assed social contract continues to this very day with policies under the present administration, like the bail-out of banks that left the homeowners whom the banks conned underwater. The results of the housing crisis for black people have been devastating. The response is to hector these people about playing video games and watching too much television. Or to tell them they've have "an achievement gap." It is sickening, dishonest, and morally repugnant. 
6) America does not really want a black middle class.

My impression is that what America really wants is a black upper class, full of decorative and symbolic figures to worship from afar: Barack and Michelle, Jay-Z and Beyonce, Chris Brown and Rihanna, etc.

January 24, 2013

Women in combat: James Cameron v. Kathryn Bigelow

If a debate were held on the subject of women in combat between the ex-spouses James Cameron (director of Aliens and Terminator 2) and Kathryn Bigelow (director of K-19, The Hurt Locker, and Zero Dark Thirty), who would be pro and who would be con?

L.A. Times: "Women in combat? Old news for lady warriors of the big screen"

From the Los Angeles Times:
Women in combat? Old news for lady warriors of the big screen

By Noelene Clark 
January 24, 2013, 3:55 p.m. 
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is lifting the ban on women serving in ground combat units, a landmark decision that will open up some 230,000 military jobs to women. But this is hardly new territory for the ladies of the big screen, where females have been fighting on the front lines for decades. 

The picture gallery includes Meg Ryan in Courage Under Fire and Rihanna in Battleship.
That's not to say these fictional fighters are always on equal footing with their male colleagues. In some films the military heroines spend as much time battling gender barriers as they do fighting the enemy, like Demi Moore's muscled character in "G.I. Jane." ...

In the realm of science fiction, however, there are plenty of films in which nobody bats an eye at women in combat. Take tough-as-nails Pvt. Jenette Vasquez of the Colonial Marines, played by Jenette Goldstein*, in James Cameron's 1986 action thriller "Aliens."

No comment.

* An old buddy of mine had her under contract to star in his butt-kicking babe post-apocalyptic movie around 1989, but it didn't get off the ground. His screenplay was awesome, though: like Road Warrior on motorcycles with Mad Maxine as the heroine.

Anyway, the point is that that the Obama Administration is just acting out a James Cameron fetish of a generation ago. This policy shift would have seemed cool in the 1980s, but now that we finally all understand the nerdy fantasies underlying it, it just seems dorky and lame.

"Track and Battlefield:" Sailer and Seiler on Women in Combat from 1997

It was widely believed in the 1990s that women athletes were "closing the gap" with men athletes. (Look how fast Flo-Jo is!) In turn, this assumption of equalizing athletic performance was used to justify sending women into combat: obviously, prejudices about women warriors not being able to carry their fair share of their platoon's equipment were outdated. 

So, the 12/31/1997 article "Track and Battlefield" in National Review by sports physiologist Stephen Seiler and myself was kind of a bombshell. We demonstrated that, contrary to nearly universal assumptions, the performance gap between male and female runners in the Olympics was widening.  This was because the Fall of the Berlin Wall exposed the East German doping program and the Ben Johnson scandal at the 1988 Olympics slowed Western cheaters. In other words, the narrowing of the gap after 1976 had been largely due to women runners taking artificial male hormones. (This was published, by the way, the year before the McGwire-Sosa home run fiasco.)

Here's the last section of our article:
In conclusion, studying sports' gender gaps offers new perspectives on a host of contemporary issues seemingly far removed from athletics, such as women in the military. Ironically, feminists in sports have successfully campaigned for the funding of thousands of sexually segregated, female-only teams, while feminists in the media and Congress have compelled the Armed Forces (outside of the defiant Marines) to sexually integrate basic training and many operating units, even including some combat teams. 
Who's right? Female college coaches have some powerful reasons for believing that coed competition would badly damage their mission of turning girls into strong, take-charge women. For example, they fear that female athletes would inevitably be sexually harassed. Even more distracting to their mission than the unwanted sexual advances from male teammates, however, would be the wanted ones. This opinion is based on more than just lesbian jealousy: research on single sex vs. coed schools shows that teenage girls are more likely to develop into leaders in all-female groups, whereas in coed settings young females tend to compete with each other in coyly deferring to good-looking guys. Any hard-headed female basketball coach could tell you that merging her team with the school's men's team would simply turn two dedicated squads now focused on beating their respective opponents into one all-consuming soap opera of lust, betrayal, jealousy, and revenge. (Does this remind you of the current state of any superpower's military?) Yet, feminists utterly forget to apply their own hard-earned wisdom to the armed forces: on the whole, deploying young women in cramped quarters alongside young fighting men does not make the women into better warriors, it make them into moms. For example, the Washington Times reports that for every year a coed warship is at sea, the Navy has to airlift out 16% of the female sailors as their pregnancies become advanced. 
Reorganizing the military along the lines of the sexually segregated teams characteristic of contemporary college sports will do much both to more fully use the potential of women in uniform and to quell the endless sexual brouhahas currently bedeviling our coed military. Yet, the crucial issue remains: Should women fight? The main justification feminists give for a coed-izing the military is that lack of combat experience unfairly hampers female officers' chances for promotion. 
We can again turn for guidance to female coaches. The main reason they favor sexual apartheid on the playing fields is that in open competition males would slaughter females. It seems reasonable to conclude the same would happen on the battlefields. This may sound alarmist. After all, running's gender gap is a rather marginal-sounding 1/8th; surely, many women are faster than the average man, and, by the same logic, many would make better soldiers. 
First, though, as economists have long pointed out, competition occurs at the margins: runners don't race against the average Joe, but against other runners. And soldiers fight other soldiers. Second, while the moderate width of track's gender gap is representative of many simple sports that test primarily a single physical skill (the main exceptions are tests of upper body strength like shotputting, where the top men are as much as twice as strong as the top women), in free-flowing multidimensional sports like basketball where many skills must be combined, overall gender gaps tend to be so imposing that after puberty females almost never compete with males. Consider what traits help just in enabling you to dunk a basketball: height, vertical leaping ability, footspeed (to generate horizontal momentum that can be diverted into vertical liftoff), and hand size and hand strength (to dunk one-handed). Not one of these five individual gender gaps is enormous, but they combine to create a huge difference in results: almost everybody in the NBA can dunk compared to almost nobody in the WNBA. Basketball, however, is far more than slam and jam. Throw in the need for massiveness and upper body strength in rebounding and defense, wrist strength in jumpshooting, etc., and multiply all these male advantages together, and the resulting gender gap in basketball ability is so vast that despite the WNBA's state of the art marketing, it's actual product resembles an all white high school boys' game from a few decades ago. 

Strange as it seems today, back in 1997 the media acted as if the WNBA was cool.
Although the unique ease of our Gulf War victory encouraged the fantasy that technology has made fighting almost effortless, the chaos of combat will continue to demand a wide diversity of both physical aptitudes (like being able to hump a load of depleted-uranium ammunition) and mental attitudes (like the urge to kill) that interact to create a huge gender gap in fighting ability. 
While in theory it might be nice if we could accommodate ambitious female officers' need for combat experience by negotiating during wars with our enemies to set up separate all-female battles between our Amazon units and their Amazon units, this is where the analogy with sports finally breaks down: opponents in war don't have to play by the rules ... causing our women to be defeated, captured, raped, and killed. Still, if (as, in effect, so many feminists insist) female officers' right to equal promotion opportunities requires that they be furnished with female cannon fodder, there is one proven formula for narrowing the gender gap to give our enlisted women more of a fighting chance. Feminist logic implies that just as our military once imported ex-Nazi German rocket scientists, it should now import ex-Communist German steroid pushers.

JFK's First 6,000 Days

Anybody remember this 1977 National Lampoon issue based on an alternative history in which Jackie, not Jack, was assassinated on 11/22/1963?

Key events included (as I vaguely recall -- I can't find the contents online, so this is not a quote):
1964 - JFK withdraws U.S. troops from South Vietnam, ensuring America will enjoy peace and prosperity. 
1968 - JFK sends U.S. troops to Northern Ireland to liberate the oppressed Catholic minority, setting off the British-American war of 1968-1973.

I presume P.J. O'Rourke, who is a Prod, came up with that one.

How much did the existence of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish help deflect natural Irish-American competitiveness away from the Belfast conflict (1969-1997) and toward beating USC?

Hawley: "Do [Immigration] Restrictionist Policies Cost Congressional Republicans Votes?"

George Hawley, a political scientist teaching at the U. of Houston, has a trove of research papers on extremely relevant topics. For example:
Issue Voting and Immigration: Do Restrictionist Policies Cost Congressional Republicans Votes?  
Forthcoming in Social Science Quarterly 
Objective: I test the hypothesis that Latino voters were less likely to support Republican incumbents with strong anti-immigration records in the 2006 Congressional elections in comparison to Republicans with less restrictive records. I also test whether non-Hispanic white voters were similarly sensitive to incumbent immigration records when determining vote choice.  
Method: To examine these questions, I created hierarchical models in which incumbent immigration records, individual views on immigration, and an interaction between the two were used to predict vote choice in the 2006 midterm elections. Individual-level data were provided by the 2006 Cooperative Congressional Election Study and incumbent immigration records were provided by NumbersUSA.  
Results: This analysis found little [or] no evidence suggesting that Latino voters are less likely to support Republican incumbents with anti-immigration records. There was evidence suggesting that vote choice among non-Hispanic white was influenced by incumbent records on immigration, but the effect varied according to the respondent’s own views on immigration.  
Conclusion: This study found no evidence that incumbent Republicans could increase their share of the Latino vote by embracing less restrictive immigration policies. In fact, doing so may cost them votes among non-Hispanic whites.

In other words, the conventional wisdom about Hispanics and Republican politicians is wrong.

How to test the Lead-Lowers-IQ theory in the real world

My recent Taki Magazine article considered the strengths and weaknesses of Kevin Drum's Mother Jones article arguing that leaded gasoline caused the 1960s social decay by lowering IQ and impulse control. The issue is not whether or not lead is bad for you. It is. The question is how much should we worry about lead in the soil, in old buildings, in products, and so forth. Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of good real world studies. 

I suggested that one way to test this would be to focus on specific locations with notoriously high levels of lead contamination. For example, here are 13 lead pollution Superfund cleanup sites highlighted by the EPA.

My column elicited the following suggestion from commenter Billyjoe:
To test this, you could track down state dept. or Army records and then compare lead levels in country A (where the brats were posted) with later school results. It's a good group to study because they're randomly assigned to posts or bases and come from same s-e background.

Using Department of Defense schools for studies is an excellent idea, not only because we have a lot of naturally occurring experiments available to us because American children are moved around the globe semi-randomly at the Pentagon's whim, but because the Pentagon also has in its files the I.Q. score of at least one parent of each child in the DoD schools (i.e., the military's AFQT enlistment test is, functionally, a heavily g-loaded IQ test). Having parents' IQ scores is school research utopia. (It's extremely rare in social science research to have a parent's IQ scores -- the only example I can think of offhand is that the NLSY-79 used in The Bell Curve has the AFQT scores for young people in 1980 and now has given IQ tests to several thousand children of the NLSY-79 sample.)

Some DoD schools are in highly urban areas that had a lot of exhaust emissions from leaded gasoline, and others are in extremely empty areas.

Also, this DoD school idea could be combined with my localized-lead-pollution idea. When many military bases were shut down after victory in the Cold War, huge amounts of money were spent studying how badly contaminated each base's soil was with toxins, such as lead. Some of these bases up for closure were in desirable real estate markets, and a big question was how much it would cost to clean up all the scary chemicals the military emitted over the years before people would buy condos there. 

A huge amount of data on how badly contaminated military bases were by lead is available, and a huge amount of information about school performance of children who grew up on various bases are available, too.

If Congress gave the Rand Corporation $10 million to analyze this, we could have a pretty definitive answer.

Hawley: "Home affordability, female marriage rates and vote choice in the 2000 US presidential election"

Here's a recent study in the academic journal "Party Politics" confirming my Affordable Family Formation theory of voting. I've usually worked at the state level, while this paper focuses on the county level:
Home affordability, female marriage rates and vote choice in the 2000 US presidential election: Evidence from US counties
George Hawley 
University of Houston, USA 
George Hawley, Department of Political Science, 447 Phillip Guthrie Hoffman Hall, University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun Road, Houston, TX 77204, USA. 
Email: george.hawley@gmail.com 
This article tests the hypothesis that differences in the housing market can partially explain why some American counties are strongly Republican and others strongly Democratic, and that this phenomenon can be largely attributed to the relationship between home values and marriage rates within counties. Specifically, I test the hypothesis that, in the 2000 election, George W. Bush did comparatively better in counties with relatively affordable single-family homes, even when controlling for other economic, demographic and regional variables. Using county-level data, I test this hypothesis using spatial-lag regression models, and provide further evidence using individual-level survey data. My results indicate a statistically significant relationship between Bush’s percentage of the vote at the county level and the median value of owner-occupied homes, and that at least part of this is explained by the relationship between home values and marriage rates among young women.

"Hebrew-English charter school" - Can anybody decipher this for me?

Dual-language French-English immersion public schools have been popular with Canadian elites ever since Pierre Trudeau instituted affirmative action for bilingual Canadians (such as, to pick a random example, Pierre Trudeau). They've proven effective at keeping out the riff-raff, especially less verbally gifted boys.

Here in the U.S., Mandarin immersion schools have become popular as a way to keep out undesirables. For example, remember when Davis Guggenheim drives his kids past three "bad" schools in the beach town of Venice in Waiting for Superman? One of those school has switched over to dual Mandarin-English immersion, and its demographics have switched from 96% Non-Asian Minorities to virtually no NAMs. (See "Waiting for Supermandarin.") 

But a lot of white people seem to actually believe in Mandarin-English programs not just as NAM-repellent, but that their kids will actually learn to speak Mandarin, which would then let them someday announce, "And I, for one, welcome our new Asiatic overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a fellow Mandarin-speaker, I could be useful ..." And that the Chinese will like you for being able to eavesdrop on them. (Do Chinese like white people who speak perfect Chinese? The Japanese, I've heard, are creeped out by the tiny number of whites who speak Japanese without an accent. The Japanese tend to assume that speaking Japanese is a racial characteristic of the Japanese, and thus Japanese-speaking whites are some kind of hellborn mutant.)

A distant in-law of mine in Washington D.C. has put his kids into a dual-language Spanish-English immersion public school. The original plan said it was to have half American kids, half kids of poor Mexican illegal immigrants. But, somehow or other, there was a slip-up and all the Spanish-speaking kids have turned out to be the children of the cultural attaches at the Ecuadorian embassy or of Argentine economists at the World Bank. They intend to get around to fixing that problem, one of these years. 

From the L.A. Daily News:
Hebrew-English charter school in Van Nuys approved by LAUSD 
By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer 
A proposed Hebrew-English charter school in Van Nuys won the approval Tuesday of the LAUSD board ... 
Lashon Academy plans to open in July near Vanowen Street and Hayvenhurst Avenue, operating a dual-immersion program in English and Hebrew. It initially expects to enroll about 290 students in grades K-2, with a target of 660 youngsters in grades K-6 by the end of the five year charter. 
The charter was approved 6-0, with board member Richard Vladovic absent, despite concerns raised by Tamar Galatzan about opening a language-based school. 
"I'm generally supportive of choice," said Galatzan, who represents the Van Nuys area. "This is a choice that parents should make, and it's called private school." 
Superintendent John Deasy pointed out there are several dual-immersion programs operating in Los Angeles Unified to cater to its diverse population. 
"I'm interested to find out who would attend a Hebrew-English program in Van Nuys," Galatzan said, repeating her worries about "private schools masquerading as public schools."

Like Tamar Galatzan, I'm interested to find out who would attend a Hebrew-English program in Van Nuys.

(By the way, my wife's friends who send their kids to Riverside Elementary School with Tamar Galatzan's kids complain that she acts snooty toward them at parent functions, but then she would be a good bet for someday becoming the first Jewish woman mayor of Los Angeles [assuming that 2013 frontrunner Wendy Greuel doesn't convert to her husband's religion between now and election day]. After a stint with the Anti-Defamation League, she's now both on the Board of Education and is a district attorney. Prosecutor is traditional crimefighting stepping stone job on the way to the mayor's office. She seems to be of the Bloomberg/Emmanuel  centrist Jewish anti-teacher's union wing that has been doing well at winning big city elections recently.)

One initial theory was that the Hebrew-English school would be for Jewish parents who want to skimp on paying for their kids' bar/bat mitzvah tutoring. But the school's lengthy application for charter status emphasizes that it will teach Modern Hebrew. Is that used in bar mitzvahs?

Another idea would be that it's being organized by Ultraorthodox black hatters, who are growing rapidly in numbers in Valley Village just south of Van Nuys. In New York state, as in Israel, it's common for the Ultraorthodox to find ways to get the taxpayers to support them. On the other hand, while it's hard to find pictures of the organizers, they don't appear to be black hatters. Many of the individuals listed in the plan for the school are women, some of them businesswomen, and they don't seem to wear headcovering (although maybe they are wearing those Dolly Parton-like wigs that some sects favor - who knows? This stuff is complicated.)

The term "black hatter" comes Michael Chabon's detective novel The Yiddish Policeman's Union, where the Ultraorthodox are the bad guys.

A third idea is that it's intended to benefit Israelis. The application says that Southern California is the second largest home outside of Israel to speakers of Modern Hebrew (after New York). If you are an Israeli immigrant in L.A., it would be nice to have the taxpayers subsidize your kids keeping up their Hebrew so they can go back and forth and be affluent binationals. Los Angeles and Tel Aviv are similar cities in many ways, with similar real estate prices.

A fourth theory is that it's being organized by strongly Zionist American Jews who want to strengthen ties between America and Israel. An article in the New York Jewish Week reports:
Two more Hebrew charter schools recently won approval to open in the United States. 
This week the Los Angeles Unified School District Board formally approved Lashon Academy Charter School, which will be located in Van Nuys. The school plans to launch with 290 students in grades K-2 and eventually expand through sixth grade; organizers have not yet decided whether to open this year or in 2014. 
Lashon, Hebrew for “tongue” or “language” is one of six approved schools backed by the Hebrew Charter School Center (HCSC), a group funded by a partnership of Jewish philanthropists that includes Michael Steinhardt and Harold Grinspoon. 
Two HCSC schools — Hebrew Language Academy Charter School in Brooklyn and Hatikvah International Academy Charter School in East Brunswick, N.J. — are already in operation, collectively enrolling approximately 500 children. Three more will open this fall, in Manhattan, Washington, D.C., and San Diego. ... 
Hebrew charter schools are tuition-free, publicly funded (but privately supplemented) schools that teach Hebrew; most also teach about Israeli culture and some secular aspects of Jewish culture. By law, they are open to children of all backgrounds and are prohibited from teaching or promoting religion.

Philanthropist Michael Steinhardt is an interesting guy. He's a legend in the hedge fund business, founding his first fund in 1967. According to his autobiography No Bull, his father, Sol Frank Steinhardt (a.k.a., Red McGee) was a mobster affiliated with Meyer Lansky. Steinhardt the elder was the top fence for stolen jewelry in the New York area. But, kind of like Michael Corleone, the son was sent to Wharton to learn a more respectable way of making money. He is a co-founder of Birthright Israel, which sends Jewish youths in America to Israel.

In an interview with Jewish Philanthropy, Steinhardt, an atheist, offers his views on Jewish education:
Michael Steinhardt: Non-Orthodox Jewish Education is a Shandah
Posted on JANUARY 8, 2010 Written by EJP

In a rare personal television interview, Michael Steinhardt, one of world Jewry’s most philanthropic benefactors and a co-founder of Birthright Israel, expresses scathing criticism of non-Orthodox Jewish life in the Diaspora (though Steinhardt sees himself as anything but an Orthodox Jew). 
In conversation with Mark S. Golub, president and executive producer of Shalom TV, Steinhardt expresses his deep disappointment with the traditional Hebrew School system (“can there be a worse term in the American Jewish lexicon than ‘Hebrew School’ – there were six kids in the 20th Century who liked it!”) and characterizes many of the young people he has met through Birthright Israel as “Jewish barbarians” who have never experienced a Shabbat dinner. 
Steinhardt expresses his anger with those described as “wonderful educators” in the Reform and Conservative movements for having done “such a poor job under-educating our next generations” by failing to distinguish Jewish values from Christian values. To Steinhardt, it is virtually impossible now to identify a non-Orthodox Jewish student at any secular university from a non-Jewish student. 
“I think that many of the trends that we have seen – such as the fact that 55-60% of non-Orthodox Jews are marrying ‘out,’ such as the fact that only 15% of total philanthropy of Jews goes to Jewish causes – are reflective of that fact that non-Orthodox Jewish education in America has been, and continues to be, a shandah – an abysmal failure.” 
Steinhardt also has some damning things to say about Jewish leadership in America, feeling that there has been much too much emphasis on the Holocaust – “an event of extraordinary enormity” – and misplaced fears about anti-Semitism in America. 
“Anti-Semitism has always been far more mythical than real in America; it’s as if organizations have to create the bogeyman of anti-Semitism in order to raise money.” As long as the Jewish community is obsessed with the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, these concerns detract “from our ability to think about the Jewish future – because it’s hard to be focused intensively on the Holocaust and, at the same time, to think about what we want to accomplish and what we want to be in the 21st Century.” 
Steinhardt offers his assessment of Diaspora Jewry: “It is a moribund Jewish world, continuously losing its young people, whose tz’daka has dramatically changed where only a small fraction of total philanthropy is going to Jewish causes; interest in Israel is declining; the number of American Jews going to Israel is not growing; where the culmination of Jewish life seems to be (for the young person) the bar mitzvah – and from there it is all downhill.” 
For Steinhardt, the most effective tool in instilling a sense of Jewish identity in young people is for them to visit Israel. “They grow up there. They feel more Jewish there.” 
This is not to say that Steinhardt is without criticism of Israel. “Its politicians are, writ large, awful; its businessmen are of less than glorious quality; and when you walk down Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv and you look around at these people and you say, ‘This is who you admire?’ I often say it’s easier to be a Zionist in Manhattan than it is in Tel Aviv.” 
But for Steinhardt, Israel has always been his great love – and his “substitute for religion.” 
“While the religion of Judaism is so deeply disappointing – its practice, its verbiage, its inability to reflect realistically upon our lives; I could forgive almost anything vis-à-vis Israel. Israel was and still is my Jewish miracle!”

America really needs a Jewish college football team for guys like Steinhardt to root for instead of a foreign country.

Anyway, this got me thinking about the common assumption that Mandarin and English will be the dominant languages of business activity in the 21st Century. Why count out Hebrew?

January 23, 2013

Junior high school v. middle school?

When I was a kid in Los Angeles, the public school system had "junior high schools" for seventh to ninth graders. Today, the same system has "middle schools" for sixth to eighth graders. For example, Millikan in Sherman Oaks, where I went to summer school in the early 1970s, was a junior high school back then, but when my son attended it, it was now a middle school. 

I've never seen an explanation for this change.

Perhaps junior high schools were intended for an earlier age when finishing 9th grade was considered adequate?

I have to say I think the new system may be better. I attended a genteel Catholic school from first to eighth grade and then a Catholic all boys high school, and had a nice time at both. I didn't like summer school at the public junior high school, though. Looking back, the social scene was immaturely sexualized. 

So, it may make sense to take ninth graders, who are feeling their oats, away from being top dogs in junior high school and instead make them the bottom of the pecking order in high school.

High school

In New York, Jennifer Senior has one of the better examples of the current fad for pop-psychology-dressed-up-with-neuroscience-articles: "Why You Never Truly Leave High School: New Science on Its Corrosive, Traumatizing Effects." In discussing the importance of one's high school years, she points out that too much attention has been paid to early childhood by social scientists:
Yet there’s one class of professionals who seem, rather oddly, to have underrated the significance of those years, and it just happens to be the group that studies how we change over the course of our lives: developmental neuroscientists and psychologists. “I cannot emphasize enough the amount of skewing there is,” says Pat Levitt, the scientific director for the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, “in terms of the number of studies that focus on the early years as opposed to adolescence. For years, we had almost a religious belief that all systems developed in the same way, which meant that what happened from zero to 3 really mattered, but whatever happened thereafter was merely tweaking.” 
Zero to 3. For ages, this window dominated the field, and it still does today, in part for reasons of convenience: Birth is the easiest time to capture a large population to study, and, as Levitt points out, “it’s easier to understand something as it’s being put together”—meaning the brain—“than something that’s complex but already formed.” There are good scientific reasons to focus on this time period, too: The sensory systems, like hearing and eyesight, develop very early on. “But the error we made,” says Levitt, “was to say, ‘Oh, that’s how all functions develop, even those that are very complex. Executive function, emotional regulation—all of it must develop in the same way.’ ” That is not turning out to be the case. “If you’re interested in making sure kids learn a lot in school, yes, intervening in early childhood is the time to do it,” says Laurence Steinberg, a developmental psychologist at Temple University and perhaps the country’s foremost researcher on adolescence. “But if you’re interested in how people become who they are, so much is going on in the adolescent years.” 

The over-emphasis on early years also has to do with the conventional wisdom's hopes for egalitarianism and blank slate social engineering. The younger the child, the harder to measure his capabilities, so the easier it is to theorize that everybody is conceived the same, so All We Have To Do is intervene at 36 months or 24 months or 12 months or 0 months or minus 8 months and 29 days and we can end inequality, especially racial inequality.
Until the Great Depression, the majority of American adolescents didn’t even graduate from high school. ... But these disparate paths did arguably have one virtue in common: They placed adolescent children alongside adults. They were not sequestered as they matured. Now teens live in a biosphere of their own. In their recent book Escaping the Endless Adolescence, psychologists Joseph and Claudia Worrell Allen note that teenagers today spend just 16 hours per week interacting with adults and 60 with their cohort. One century ago, it was almost exactly the reverse. 
Something happens when children spend so much time apart from adult company. They start to generate a culture with independent values and priorities. ... (From the website of the National Home Education Network: “Ironically, one of the reasons many of us have chosen to educate our own is precisely this very issue of socialization! Children spending time with individuals of all ages more closely resembles real life than does a same-age school setting.”) 
In fact, one of the reasons that high schools may produce such peculiar value systems is precisely because the people there have little in common, except their ages. “These are people in a large box without any clear, predetermined way of sorting out status,” says Robert Faris, a sociologist at UC Davis who’s spent a lot of time studying high-school aggression. “There’s no natural connection between them.” Such a situation, in his view, is likely to reward aggression. Absent established hierarchies and power structures (apart from the privileges that naturally accrue from being an upperclassman), kids create them on their own, and what determines those hierarchies is often the crudest common-­denominator stuff—looks, nice clothes, prowess in sports—­rather than the subtleties of personality. “Remember,” says Crosnoe, who spent a year doing research in a 2,200-student high school in Austin, “high schools are big. There has to be some way of sorting people socially. It’d be nice if kids could be captured by all their characteristics. But that’s not realistic.”

The article skims over the central reason that teenage years are so difficult: they are one's introduction to one's value in the sexual marketplace, which is serious, Darwinian business. For many individuals, what they learn comes as a rude shock. 

Some of these differences are innate and permanent, some are situational (smart kids tend to feel their true value can only be recognized by other smart people, which is often somewhat true), and some differences are temporary because kids sexually mature at different rates. 

For example, it's common to see beautiful models/actresses on talk shows, such as Liv Tyler (Arwen in The Lord of the Rings) explaining about how they don't think of themselves as beautiful because they were tomboys who didn't develop or get interested in makeup until after all the other girls, so the self image they retain from adolescence, they claim, is one of gawkiness and lack of sexual sophistication. 

One reason for this is that high-end models need to be tall (Liv Tyler is 5'10"). Puberty tends to shut down growth in height in girls, so fashion models tend to have gone through sexual maturation later than shorter, more buxom girls. But, they get their revenge later in life.

The Harpending-Draper theory from 1982 is that girls from single-parent families tend to sexually mature faster than girls from intact two-parent families. I haven't seen much subsequent research on this, but it could help explain why the white American class system has become so focused around intact families keeping their kids away from the kids of broken families. Two-parent families want their children to grow up in an environment encouraging slow sexual maturation so they'll finish their education before having children of their own. 

Differential rates of sexual maturation help explain why liberal white parents are so averse to sending their children to junior high schools and high schools with large numbers of blacks. The earlier sexual maturation of blacks puts their kids at a disadvantage at a tender age. They especially don't want their sons to develop inferiority complexes that can be hard to shake. 

Thus, the fashion for redshirting one's son so that he doesn't enter first grade until age seven and grows up being bigger, stronger, smarter, and cooler than his younger classmates. The idea is to get him used to being socially dominant as a child so he stays that way as an adult.

In Back to Blood, Tom Wolfe points out that this dominance dynamic emerges well before high school and has massive political implications. Cowardly and long-winded but insightful newspaper editor Edward T. Topping IV, who functions as Wolfe's mouthpiece, explains:
If you ask me, newspaper reporters are created at age six when they first go to school. In the schoolyard boys immediately divide into two types. Immediately! There are those who have the will to be daring and dominate, and those who don’t have it. … But there are boys from the weaker side of the divide who grow up with the same dreams as the stronger … The boy standing before me, John Smith, is one of them. They, too, dream of power, money, fame, and beautiful lovers. Boys like this kid grow up instinctively realizing that language is like … a sword or a gun. Used skillfully, it has the power to … well, not so much achieve things as to tear things down – including people … including the boys who came out on the strong side of the sheerly dividing line. Hey, that’s what liberals are! Ideology? Economics? Social justice? Those are nothing but their prom outfits. Their politics were set for life in the schoolyard at age six. They were the weak, and forever after they resented the strong. That’s why so many journalists are liberals! The very same schoolyard events that pushed them toward the written word … pushed them toward “liberalism.”

Much of modern liberalism consists of people trying to get revenge on the football players they felt inferior to in school. 

Of course, this raises the question: but aren't blacks more likely to be jocks and bullies? So, how do white liberals resolve this conflict?

A. Keep themselves and their kids away from the black masses.

B. Don't think about it and get angry at anybody who does.

C. Vote Obama!

Pentagon to lift more bans on women in combat

The Second Obama Administration gathers steam. It should be quite a ride.

Plenty of surveys have been done over the years of the views of women in the military on this question. Enlisted women have been overwhelmingly against this change, although some of the most ambitious women officers see restrictions on women in combat as an impediment to promotion.

Since the early 1990s, the Pentagon has tried to put the kibosh on active duty personnel speaking frankly about sex role questions. We saw in the 2003 Saving Private Lynch fraud how hard the military wants to promote the myth of the buttkicking babe.

Fortunately, law professor Kingsley Browne assembled a huge amount of evidence in his 2007 book Co-ed Combat derived from both studies and, crucially, soldiers' anonymous online discussion groups to find out what was really going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I try to keep an eye out for dogs that don't bark. A pretty big dog at the moment is film director Kathryn Bigelow, who has made two movies about 21st Century combat, The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. I watched both movies with an eye out for Bigelow's views on women in combat, and didn't see anything suggesting she thinks sending women into combat is a dandy idea. Indeed, the emphasis in Zero Dark Thirty on the huge amount of heavy gear contemporary American warriors lug into battle subtly suggests that the percentage of women who could shoulder a fair share of their platoon's burden is negligible.

But, so what? It's not like any of this matters in a practical sense. If more co-ed combat degrades American military performance, it's not like the Axis is going to win WWII, it's that a few more brave Americans will get killed in some inconclusive puttering around in Mali or wherever.

This kind of thing is like gay marriage: a symbolic war on the realities of biology.

January 22, 2013

Sailer: "Did Heavy Metal Brain Damage Cause the 1960s?"

In my Taki's Magazine column, I consider progressive Kevin Drum's idea that lead pollution caused the 1960s:
As part of my continuing series on the causes of the 60s, let’s consider Kevin Drum’s revival (”America’s Real Criminal Element: Lead”) in Mother Jones magazine of the recurrent theory that lead poisoning leads to the decline of civilization. 
... Ironically, Drum stands the dominant narrative about the 60s on its head. Instead of the 60s representing enlightened emancipation from the shackles of 50s conformist culture, Drum finds the 60s, with their rising rates of crime and illegitimate births, to be the result of brain damage.

Another New York area idea: Secret highways for the genteel

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, I took numerous East Coast business trips involving flying in and out of La Guardia or JFK and driving to visit offices in suburban New Jersey, suburban Connecticut, and Waltham outside of Boston. The most grueling portion of the trip tended to be driving I-95 along the coast of Connecticut, with all the 18-wheelers and the potholes they cause.

Because I'm a complete hick from the sticks, it was only a few years ago that I finally was apprised of the existence of an alternative to I-95 for driving from Manhattan into the best places in Connecticut. On a cross-country road trip, I was gearing up for what I was sure would be a stressful, spine-jarring drive from Manhattan out past La Guardia to my wife's aunt's house in the classy suburb of Trumbull, CT. But then our hostess called with detailed instructions on the Easy Route. 

I was baffled by the notion that such a thing as an easy route could exist in the Greater New York area, and at first insisted we just take I-95 like I'd always done. Yet, sure enough, taking the West Side highway, then various parkways through Westchester County, and on to the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut turned out to be a lovely experience. 

Opened in 1938, the four lane Merritt Parkway runs parallel to I-95 a few miles inland through deep forests. Trucks are banned, so the road surface is perfect. Speed limits are never higher than 55, so the route is avoided by the young or aggressive. 

It's like freeway travel was envisioned in the Futurama display at the 1939 World's Fair. It's the only highway I've ever been on that felt like it should have a dress code: Gentlemen should wear coats, ties, and homburg hats, while ladies would accessorize with a simple string of pearls, but nothing excessive. It's the physical embodiment of the secret message of Mad Men: Our parents had it better.

Obama Adviser / Desperate Housewife

A rather curious article from last week's Wall Street Journal that only makes sense if you already understand both how desperate the rich and powerful in America are to get in touch with the Mexican-American leadership ... and how there isn't any Mexican-American leadership, and barely any Mexican-American celebrities:
Eva Longoria's Next Role: Hispanic Activist in Washington


Eva Longoria emerged in 2012 as President Obama's secret weapon in securing the Hispanic vote. Now the Hollywood star is starting in earnest her transition from celebrity to political activist. WSJ's Monica Langley sat down with Ms. Longoria for an interview. 
When Barack Obama takes the presidential oath of office on Monday, he will be joined on the platform by Supreme Court justices, former presidents—and one of the "Desperate Housewives." 
Actress Eva Longoria, the 37-year-old star of the hit television show and twice Maxim magazine's Hottest Woman of the Year, is taking on a challenging new role as a Hispanic activist and power player in Washington, D.C. One of her primary aims is to make the case that "Latinos aren't a drain on the economy or criminals crossing the border," she says. "Most are hardworking people who are America's emerging market."

Eva Longoria emerged in 2012 as President Obama's secret weapon in securing the Hispanic vote. Now the Hollywood star is starting in earnest her transition from celebrity to political activist. 
Ms. Longoria is the most prominent among Latino leaders who are gaining political sway from the 2012 election, in which the Hispanic vote was a critical force in delivering victory to Mr. Obama. A co-chair of his campaign, she stumped for him at rallies across the country and was one of the largest "bundlers," or fundraisers, while hosting star-studded events raising millions of dollars. 
Her role reaches beyond fundraising and speechmaking, however, and into policy and strategy.

Why not?
She helped urge Mr. Obama to make a key change in immigration policy last year, and she is teaming with business to explore investments in housing and retail developments in Hispanic communities.

What could possibly go wrong?
Along the way she has developed a rapport with the president and his advisers. She is now planning meetings this weekend with the capital's elite, including private receptions at the White House and vice president's residence and a bipartisan brunch she is co-hosting at a Georgetown eatery this weekend with Mark McKinnon, a former strategist for George W. Bush and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain. There, she plans to begin a Republican outreach by meeting with Colin Powell, the former secretary of state, and other attendees including Grover Norquist.