March 1, 2013

Why no Environmental Impact Statement on "immigration reform?"

The federal government has just released a 2,000 page environmental impact statement on the proposed Keystone pipeline from Canada to the U.S. I haven't quite gotten around to reading it yet, but that reminds me of something: Why shouldn't there be a required environmental impact statement on proposed amnesty and guest workers plans? How can the politicians blithely make changes that will have vast environmental consequences without first submitting an environmental impact statement?

Back in 2010, I estimated the impact of immigration on American and global carbon emissions. After all, pretty much the whole point of moving to America is to live larger and emit more carbon. I came up with immigration to the U.S. from 2005 to 2050 adding about 6% to global carbon emissions, which is a gigantic number.

Perhaps somebody else would come up with a different number, but, that's kind of the point: nobody is looking at this question.

You say that environmental impact statements have no place in immigration policy? Au contraire -- the need to dot ever i on EISs has held up border fence constructions projects for years. Time to apply the same logic to amnesty and guest workers.

Scalia on "perpetuation of racial entitlement"

Christopher Caldwell wrote in 2009:
"One moves swiftly and imperceptibly from a world in which affirmative action can't be ended because its beneficiaries are too weak to a world in which it can't be ended because its beneficiaries are too strong." 

You might think that a black candidate winning back-to-back Presidential elections is evidence that the beneficiaries of affirmative action in voting arrangements are no longer too weak. But only a few wackos like Justice Scalia have drawn that inference. The bulk of respectable opinion has moved unthinkingly to the natural assumption that Obama's power proves that white people are racist losers, so of course the laws must continue to favor blacks over whites, because whites are evil. Didn't you read the election results? If whites weren't evil, they wouldn't be losers, now would they?

The Supreme Court is dealing with this situation with the Voting Rights Act. Back in 1965, this was passed to prevent Southern states from keeping blacks from voting and it rapidly succeeded, creating a powerful black political class to look after their own interests. Nevertheless, Congress has continued to renew the VRA, with additions such as in 1982 the requirement to gerrymander districts to such a black or Hispanic supermajority that they will elect black or Hispanic legislators, no matter how corrupt or comical. (This benefits Republican politicians in various ways, although not the general welfare.)

Much of the law, however, is of the familiar type that I can best explain by a driving analogy. As you drive down the road, you tend to drift left or right and have to constantly correct in the opposite direction to stay on your path. Title 5 of the VRA is like a governor on your steering wheel that blocks corrections to the right. Since the drifting is very small, the overall impact is hard to notice at any point in time, but ultimately all the little racheting to the left puts you on the wrong side of the street, head on into traffic.

In 2006, Congress renewed the VRA 98-0 for 25 years, which will keep some states and districts under federal trusteeship until at least 66 years after the original VRA. And who is going to dare vote against renewing it in 2031? Who will admit then that its time to take the Scarlet Letter off the South, since the evilness of white Southerners is becoming the central myth of our society, a sin that can never be forgiven or forgotten?

That the Voting Rights Act is both a substantive thumb on the scale of elections, and piece of symbolism in the reigning civic religion, worries Justice Scalia, although few others can comprehend his concerns. From the questioning in the Supreme Court:
JUSTICE SCALIA: Indeed, Congress must have  found that the situation was even clearer and the  violations even more evident than originally, because  originally, the vote in the Senate, for example, was something like 79 to 18, and in the 2006 extension, it was 98 to nothing. It must have been even clearer in 2006 that these States were violating the Constitution. Do you think that's true?

MR. REIN: No. I think the Court has to -­ ... 
JUSTICE SCALIA: Or decided that perhaps they'd better not vote against it, that there's nothing, that there's no -- none of their interests in voting against it. ...
JUSTICE SCALIA: That will always be true forever into the future. You could always say, oh, there has been improvement, but the only reason there has been improvement are these extraordinary procedures that deny the States sovereign powers which the Constitution preserves to them. So, since the only reason it's improved is because of these procedures, we must continue those procedures in perpetuity. ... 
JUSTICE SCALIA: Well, maybe it was making that judgment, Mr. Verrilli. But that's -- that's a problem that I have. This Court doesn't like to get involved in -- in racial questions such as this one. It's something that can be left -- left to Congress. The problem here, however, is suggested by the comment I made earlier, that the initial enactment of this legislation in a -- in a time when the need for it was so much more abundantly clear was -- in the Senate, there -- it was double-digits against it. And that was only a 5-year term. Then, it is reenacted 5 years later, again for a 5-year term. Double-digits against it in the Senate. Then it was reenacted for 7 years. Single digits against it. Then enacted for 25 years, 8 Senate votes against it. 
 And this last enactment, not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same. Now, I don't think that's attributable to the
fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It's been written about.

I'm interested in who has written about "perpetuation of racial entitlement" -- obviously, that's what Caldwell is writing about, Sowell has written about the subject, I have -- but I don't see the phrase many places in Google Books.
Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes. 
 I don't think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in
perpetuity unless -- unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution. You have to show, when you are treating different States differently, that there's a good reason for it. 
 That's the -- that's the concern that those of us who -- who have some questions about this statute have. It's -- it's a concern that this is not the kind
of a question you can leave to Congress. There are certain districts in the House that are black districts by law just about now. And even the Virginia Senators,
they have no interest in voting against this. The State government is not their government, and they are going to lose -- they are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act. Even the name of it is wonderful: The
Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future? ... 

Scalia's insights have evoked howls of protest: how dare an evil old white man favor equal treatment under the law. Doesn't he know he's a loser? And what's he talking about?

I think we've seen a real increase in my lifetime in what I call the Argument by Incomprehension: that if you don't understand the argument upon first hearing, then there's no reason to think about it.

More generally, human beings aren't very good at reasoning objectively about anything involving human beings. Instead, our natural reactions are to obsess over:

- Whose side am I on?
- Who is going to win?
- How can I ingratiate myself with the winners by putting the boot in to the losers?

Tomas Hanko 2016!

From The Portugal News:
Portuguese-Americans against being declared Hispanic 
A survey by a Portuguese-American group has so far seen 90 percent of its almost five thousand respondents oppose moves to have people of Portuguese descent declared Hispanic. 
The survey was set up by Palcus, which was created in 1991 by a select group of Portuguese-American professionals who recognised the need to address issues of importance to the Portuguese-American community of the United States.

The questionnaire of Portuguese-Americans resulted after it emerged the US Census Bureau is planning to add Portuguese to the Hispanic designation of ethnicity for the 2020 National Census.

“As there has been much debate about whether or not Portuguese should be considered Hispanic, Palcus is conducting national survey to gauge the overall sentiment of the Portuguese-American community on this issue”, the organisation said in explaining its idea to create a survey. ...

Some notable personalities of Portuguese-descent are actor Tom Hanks (his mother is Portuguese), Keanu Reeves (actor), Katy Perry (singer/song-writer), Steve Perry (lead singer of Journey, who sang ‘Don’t Stop Believing’) and US congressman Tony Coelho.

But, but, how can Tom Hanks's kids not deserve affirmative action?

Pay no attention to ancient rivalries of Hispanics and Lusitanians! The point is to get as many people invested in the racial/ethnic spoils system as possible. Sure, Tom Hanks may seem like a normal American white guy (heck, he may seem like the normal American white guy), but that's just your ethnic insensitivity speaking. No doubt, he has been victimized by our society's pervasive institutional anti-Lusitanianism. Admit it -- you weren't even aware that "anti-Lusitanianism" is a word! That just proves that Tom is a victim, so his descendants unto the 7th generation must be accorded hereditary Hispanic privileges.

The Obama Administration had better fix this quick and declare Tom Hanks Hispanic. Then, Tom would be a great Democratic Presidential nominee against Marco Rubio in 2016.

(By the way, according to a classic article by the Pew Hispanic Center, legally, anybody is Hispanic who feels like saying they are Hispanic.)

The Simple Joys of Serfdom

Millet, Gleaners, 1857
From Politico:
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that Chuck Hagel “almost had tears in his eyes” as he explained to the former Nebraska senator that the expression “Jewish lobby” is rooted in a negative depiction of Jews. 
“He struck me as sincere, and you know, you have to be sitting there at the meeting obviously, but I also told him when he used the word Jewish lobby what it meant to Jewish people,” he added. 
“And I told him what a double standard is. That Jewish people throughout the centuries have suffered a double standard. Everyone could be a farmer except Jewish people."

I can totally relate to complaints about how great-grandpa wasn't invited to join the Los Angeles Country Club, so he had to make do with joining Hillcrest CC instead (Hillcrest had the better dining room, but LACC had the better golf course). But, I'm fascinated by how Sen. Schumer (D-Wall Street, 1600 SAT score, Harvard BA, Harvard JD, youngest New York legislator since Teddy Roosevelt, never lost an election) is hurt that when his ancestors 700 years ago were invited by the nobles to move to Poland they weren't allowed to become serfs, but had to go into finance instead.

February 28, 2013

Did climate change kill off the wooly mammoth?

I've never understood the claim that "climate change" killed off all the megafauna in North America except the bison just as the Indians arrived from Siberia. 

The View from Wilshire Blvd.: tragic baby mammoth
For example, an immense number of skeletons of extinct animals have been dredged up from the La Brea Tar Pits on Wilshire Boulevard next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art: mammoths, mastodons, giant sloths, saber-toothed cats, camels, horses, and dire wolves. They all went extinct about the time that Indians showed up, as the Ice Age ended, allowing the Indians to break through into the main part of North America. I guess you could use it as a euphemism for how the Siberians were locked out of the center of North America by glaciers until "climate change" occurred, but the way it's usually used makes no sense.

During the Ice Age, the climate in Los Angeles was about like it is today in the Monterey Peninsula, 300 miles to the north. So, if the wooly mammoths started to feel uncomfortably warm in Los Angeles, why didn't they just walk to Monterey? They're elephants, right? Same with the camels. I could conceivably imagine giant sloths not being mobile enough to head north, but horses?

The most plausible explanation of the mass extinctions in North America about 11,000 years ago was given by Jared Diamond a couple of decades ago in The Third Chimpanzee:
THE UNITED STATES DEVOTES TWO NATIONAL HOLIDAYS, COLUMBUS Day and Thanksgiving Day, to celebrating dramatic moments in the European "discovery" of the New World. No holidays commemorate the much earlier discovery by Indians. Yet archaeological excavations suggest that, in drama, that earlier discovery dwarfs the adventures of Christopher Columbus and of the Plymouth Pilgrims. Within perhaps as little as a thousand years of finding a way through an Arctic ice sheet to cross the present Canada-U.S. border, Indians had swept down to the tip of Patagonia and populated two productive and unexplored continents. The Indians' march southward was the greatest range expansion in the history of Homo sapiens. Nothing remotely like it can ever happen again on our planet. 
       The sweep southward was marked by another drama. When Indian hunters arrived, they found the Americas teeming with big mammals that are now extinct: elephantlike mammoths and mastodonts, ground sloths weighing up to three tons, armadillolike glypt-odonts weighing up to one ton, bear-sized beavers, and sabertooth cats, plus American lions, cheetahs, camels, horses, and many others. Had those beasts survived, today's tourists in Yellowstone National Park would be watching mammoths and lions along with the bears and bison. The question of what happened at that moment of hunters-meet-beasts is still highly controversial among archaeologists and paleontologists. According to the interpretation that seems most plausible to me, the outcome was a "blitzkrieg" in which the beasts were quickly exterminated — possibly within a mere ten years at any given site. ...
We are all too familiar with the blitzkriegs by which modern European hunters nearly exterminated bison, whales, seals, and many other large animals. Recent archaeological discoveries on many oceanic islands have shown that such blitzkriegs were an outcome whenever earlier hunters reached a land with animals naive to humans. Since the collision between humans and large naïve animals has always ended in an extermination spasm, how could it have been otherwise when Clovis hunters entered a naive New World?

THIS END, though, would hardly have been foreseen by the first hunters to arrive at Edmonton. It must have been a dramatic moment when, after entering the ice-free corridor from an overpopulated, overhunted Alaska, they emerged to see herds of tame mammoths, camels, and other beasts. In front of them stretched the Great Plains to the horizon. As they began to explore, they must soon have realized (unlike Christopher Columbus and the Plymouth Pilgrims) that there were no people at all in front of them, and that they had truly arrived first in a fertile land. Those Edmonton Pilgrims, too, had cause to celebrate a Thanksgiving Day. 

But now we are told that Jared Diamond is some kind of horrible racist, so we can't listen to him anymore.

Or I could imagine that the Indians brought diseases with them, or another species like dogs or rats, maybe with some kind of plague fleas. Or maybe they set giant fires.

The last mammoths survived until about 1650 BC on Wrangel Island, in the Arctic Ocean, northwest of the Bering Strait:
Instead, Dalen and the rest of the team believes some drastic change must have occurred on Wrangel Island to kill off the mammoths, and there are two likely culprits: humans and climate. Archaeological evidence suggests that humans reached Wrangel Island at roughly the same time the last mammoths vanished, but there's no evidence yet to indicate that they ever hunted the mammoths. The more likely answer is climate change, which as a side effect might well have made it easier for humans to reach the island to serve as witnesses to the mammoths' final days.

Uh, sure. Who can't imagine the Siberians standing around saying, like an NPR announcer, "Oh, the tragedy of these  mammoths, but thankfully they survived just long enough for us to see them so we can treasure their memories."

Okay, some sort of climate change could have wiped out this population of 500 to 1000 mammoths that were stuck on an island the size of Delaware because they had nowhere else to go. But, this amazing coincidence that whenever humans show up anywhere, the mammoths die out at about the same time seems a bit unlikely. It's kind of like blaming the near extinction of the bison in the late 19th Century on some change in the weather rather than on Buffalo Bill and his colleagues.

But Native Americans are into, like, you know, ecology, so they couldn't have just hunted down the mammoths, right?

If the human newcomers in North America and Wrangel Island had been white men, would there be much controversy over whether or not they were responsible for the extinctions? 

A reader's suggestion

A reader kindly offers this idea for a header for the blog. I like it a lot, although I probably won't use it as a permanent header.

The Red and the Blue

Here's a graph of the 50 states with the length of the bars equal to the percentage of the population that is nonwhite as of the 2010 Census. States that went for Obama in 2012 are in blue, while states won by Romney are in red. (Romney's share of the two-party vote appears following the name of each state.)

Perhaps surprisingly, when you graph it out state by state, the red-blue divide isn’t all that clear. At the top of the chart are the whitest states, Maine and Vermont, which Romney lost in landslides, then West Virginia (which Romney won), New Hampshire (Obama), North Dakota (Romney), and Iowa (Obama). Not much of a pattern.

Overall, though, you can see a little more Republican red toward the top in the whiter states and a little more Democratic blue toward the bottom in the least white states. 

I put this graph up here to show that this is the kind of hodge-podge you normally see when you graph a single factor that impacts voting at the state level. The world is a very complicated place, so it's hard to come up with any one factor that sorts the blue states from the red states.

Except ... take a look at this graph.

Googling "Senator from Boeing" v. "Senator from Mossad"

An interesting question brought up by the Chuck Hagel brouhaha is: "How strong is the military-industrial complex?" Was all that Republican virulence against former Republican Senator Hagel just pork-barrel politics?

As an offshoot of the military-industrial complex (to use the term introduced by Dwight Eisenhower in his farewell address as President), I'd say: Pretty strong! Simply counting the number of my relatives, in-laws, friends, and neighbors who have been employed by the military aerospace industry alone, it's obvious that the military-industrial complex is a major lobby. 

On the other hand, it's not invincible. Aerospace spending, for example, was cut way back under Nixon and then again under the elder Bush. 

Most notably, you can joke about the military-industrial complex. For example, four decades ago my cousin was a staffer for Senator Henry M. Jackson (D-WA) (working along with the future prominent neocon Ben Wattenberg). 

Back then, Sen. Jackson was irreverently known as the "Senator from Boeing" for his staunch support of the military-industrial complex and a hawkish foreign policy. If you enter "Senator from Boeing" into Google in quotes, even though Jackson died way back in 1983, you get 172,000 pages. (Some of them refer to Jackson's state of Washington successors in the U.S. Senate). 

Heck, if you enter "whore for Boeing," you get 3,550 pages.

Analogously, I've long thought of a certain current Republican Senator as the "Senator from Mossad" because I assume that the Israeli intelligence agency has a thick dossier on him, and that they've managed to let him know about its existence.

So, I just now tried Googling "Senator from Mossad" to see how many other people have come up with that same joke about him (or, for that matter, any other member of the U.S. Senate):
Information No results found for "Senator from Mossad".

Certain things are just not a laughing matter!

The ultimate graph for understanding the 2012 election

Click here to see the single most extraordinary chart explaining the results of the recent Presidential election.

Volunteer Auxiliary Thought Police are out again

From Fox News Latino:
Bloomberg Businessweek Apologizes After Controversial Cover Draws Fire 
By Victor Garcia 
Published February 28, 2013 
Bloomberg Businessweek was forced to apologize after a controversial cover drew the ire of minority groups. 
In last week's issue, the weekly magazine had a cover about the housing bubble that featured a money-filled, two-story house inhabited by two Latinos and two African-Americans. The cartoons look like they’re racist caricatures from the early 1900s greedily grabbing money, critics say. 
The Columbia Journalism Review was taken aback by the imagery, writing a blistering piece that said the cover was “not okay.” 
"It’s hard to imagine how this one made it through the editorial process," Ryan Chittum wrote for the CJR. 
In a statement to Fox New Latino, Bloomberg Businessweek said they wish they had chosen a different cover.  
"Our cover illustration last week got strong reactions, which we regret," the statement said. "Our intention was not to incite or offend. If we had to do it over again we'd do it differently." 
The illustrator who was commissioned to do the cover, Andrés Guzmán, was born in Peru.

Here's this R. Crumb-like caricaturtist's blog and Tumblr account. Guzman's art isn't really to my taste, but I can see why Bloomberg employs him.

Oh, wait ... my mistake! These pictures above are not Guzman's, they are the 2002 mural "Stepping into the American Dream" that the Bush Administration commissioned Miami painter Xavier Cortada to paint during George W. Bush's White House Conference on Increasing Minority Homeownership, which kicked off the Housing Bubble.

From a 2002 Housing and Urban Development press release:
WASHINGTON – Miami-based Cuban-American artist Xavier Cortada today unveiled his mural, Stepping into the American Dream, in a ceremony hosted by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez. 
Cortada painted the mural at the White House Conference on Minority Homeownership, held on October 15 in Washington, DC. The painting illustrates the Blueprint for the American Dream Partnership, a collaborative effort of the Bush Administration and members of the housing industry to meet the President’s goal of 5.5 million new minority homeowners by the year 2010. 

Here's the offending cover:
Of course, the reason the Racism Sniffers are out in force is the nagging thought in the back of the head that, uh-oh, the Sand State (CA, AZ, NV, FL) Housing Bubble of 2003-2006  and subsequent Bust did involve a whole lot of borrowing by minorities. Indeed, the people behind the Housing Bubble, such as George W. Bush, Angelo Mozilo, and Henry Cisneros, constantly trumpeted that the way to fight racial inequality was to undermine traditional credit standards. Here, for example, is Countrywide Financial's January 2005 press release in which Mozilo and Cisneros promise a trillion dollars in minority and lower income lending. A trillion here, a trillion there ...

Chuck Hagel and a sense of humor

In contrast to Bryan Caplan's advice to the GOP to make itself more popular by bending over backward to mollify the sensitivities of newcomers, the state of Israel, and Israel hobbyists in the U.S., follow a strategy of constant strident self-assertion.

As the Hagel debate showed, the essential problem for the GOP is this: You know how T. Boone Pickens has spent a couple of hundred million dollars building his alma mater, Oklahoma State, into a college football powerhouse? Does T. Boone Pickens want to negotiate peace on the football field, to sit down with Oklahoma's backers and call the whole game off? Of course not. What would be the fun of that? He wants to WIN. 

Well, a lot of the big money behind the GOP (and behind the Democrats, too -- e.g., Hillary's main money man Haim Saban) feels toward Israel the way Pickens feels toward the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Pickens doesn't want peace on the football field, he wants victory. Similarly, much of the big money and the big media don't really want peace in the Middle East. They want their favorite country to win, to crush its foes, or, at minimum, for the game of nations to go on and on to give them something to talk about. It's their hobby. It's a perfectly natural male rooting urge. 

But, here's the GOP's problem: You can't mention this. You can joke about Pickens's obsession with OK St. winning, but you can't joke about, say, Sheldon Adelson's obsession with his wife's native country crushing their foes. 

Poor Chuck Hagel vaguely alluded skeptically to this massive phenomenon a couple of times over the last couple of decades, and got roasted alive for it to, as Voltaire would say, "encourage the others."

The problem is that what goes unsaid, eventually goes unthought, enstupefying the Party.

So, the first thing Republicans need is the freedom to joke about the neocons' infatuation with Israel.

Is that too much to ask?

At present, yes.

Should the GOP be more beta?

Bryan Caplan articulates the conventional wisdom: the GOP doesn't win South Asian voters because it doesn't bow down enough to South Asians. For example, Republican leaders should put the kibosh on anybody associated with the Republican Party who doesn't feel fully respectful toward "arranged marriages."

I suggest the opposite is more true. As Ben Franklin pointed out, the way to get people to like you more is not to do them favors (which just makes them resent your ability to do them favors), but to get them to do you favors. Bryan, however, assumes that self-assertion in politics to be a risky strategy, and that it's better for political parties to try to get what they want by being nice.

February 27, 2013

Elites and population growth

Following up my Taki's column on how slowly elite communities and institutions are allowed to grow in numbers of residents or participants, I want to mention how hard it is even to Google this topic for colleges. I tried a variety of phrases plausibly referring to expansion of undergraduate numbers, but couldn't find any combination that referred to more than a trickle of examples. It's just not a topic that's broadly discussed, so we lack a general term for it.

I came upon the following article about Pomona College in Claremont, CA, east of Los Angeles. USNWR ranks it #4 among liberal arts colleges in the U.S. It is said to be the richest liberal arts college in the country in terms of endowment per student. Here's a 2012 article from the student newspaper on the faculty debate over whether or not to dare increase the student body by a total of 3% over the next ten years.
Pomona Faculty Debates Increasing Size of Student Body 
Pomona College faculty weighed in on whether or not to increase the size of the student body at a forum in Frank Dining Hall's Blue Room Tuesday. ... 
“It is a natural time to ask the question, because the College has to be looking about ten years down the road [for land use regulatory reasons] and considering all of the possible directions it might go,” he wrote.     
The college is considering an increase of approximately 50 total students, or 12-15 in each year, Lindholm wrote. Pomona currently has an enrollment of approximately 1,560 students.  ...  
According to data provided by Fass, Pomona has a larger endowment per student than other liberal arts colleges. Pomona’s $954,201 endowment per student is almost 16 percent higher than second place Swarthmore College's $824,590 per student.       
Some professors, however, are not so confident the college can handle the additional students, especially given current over-enrollment in popular departments.     
“I don’t find the argument that we have a moral imperative to share the Pomona experience with 50 more students convincing,” Mathematics Professor Erica Flapan wrote in an e-mail to TSL. Flapan opposes increasing the student body.     
“Increasing the student body by 50 students could have a negative impact on departments that are already heavily enrolled,” Flapan wrote. “It’s hard to predict the exact impact that 50 more students would have, so why risk it?”     

Having looked at a lot of data over the last week, my overall impression is that the "revealed preference" of American elites is for their own personal communities to grow, but at a barely perceptible rate, not more than 0.5% per year and often well under that. There are exceptions -- e.g., periods of early growth in numbers -- but there is little evidence that elites tolerate rapid growth in numbers for long in their own daily lives.

Shrinkage is rarer, but not unknown. For example, Mayor Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, Henry Kravis, Sean Connery, and Tom Brokaw belong to Deepdale Golf Club in New York's suburbs. But the surviving members have generally preferred to not replace old members as they died off, so by the 1990s, Deepdale was down to about ten rounds of golf per day.

That didn't stop Mayor Bloomberg for citing golf courses as needing illegal immigrants. From 2006:
Bloomberg: Illegal immigrants help golfers 
NEW YORK, April 1 (UPI) -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says golf fairways would suffer if illegal immigrants were returned to their native country. 
"You and I are beneficiaries of these jobs," Bloomberg told his WABC-AM radio co-host, John Gambling. "You and I both play golf; who takes care of the greens and the fairways in your golf course?" 
However, Robert Heaney, general manager of Deepdale Golf Club -- a Long Island course where Bloomberg often plays -- told The New York Daily News that no illegal immigrants work at the club.

Here's something interesting:
In 2001, when he first ran for mayor, Mr. Bloomberg quit the Century Country Club in Purchase, which is predominately white. He maintains memberships at the Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, the Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, the Saint Andrews Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson and the Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda.

The Century Country Club is Jewish. I was under the impression that Century is the club Bill Clinton joined after his Presidency when he found out that Winged Foot and Westchester would force him to wait the usual decade or so on their waiting lists. But, I don't see evidence for that now, just a notation that Clinton now belongs to Trump National (owned by you know who).

Electing Rubio President to apologize for America's long history of anti-Hispanic racism

Sen. Marco Rubio and Mr. Lucille Ball

Lesbians and domestic disputes

Lesbian-feminists have long made an industry out of leading women's Fight against Domestic Violence, but you also seem to stumble across police blotter items like this fairly often:

From the AP:
Holdsclaw Indicted on Aggravated Assault Charge

ATLANTA (AP) — Prosecutors say former WNBA player and Olympic gold medalist Chamique (shuh-MEE'-kwuh) Holdsclaw is being indicted in a November 2012 shooting. 
Fulton County District Attorney's spokeswoman Yvette Jones said Wednesday that a six-count indictment charges the 35-year-old with aggravated assault, criminal damage and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. 
Holdsclaw was arrested after an argument with former Tulsa Shock player Jennifer Lacy, who told police she was Holdsclaw's ex-girlfriend. The two were also Atlanta Dream teammates in 2009. Police say Holdsclaw broke the windows to Lacy's car and shot at it. No one was injured. 

Is there much quantitative evidence for this impression that the cops get called in disproportionately over lesbian domestic disputes? And, if there is, why?

February 26, 2013

Rapid Population Growth for U.S., Not for Us

Part of Stanford University's 12 square mile campus in the heart of Silicon Valley
From my column in Taki's Magazine:
With immigration policy back in the news, I’m reminded that when I was a lad 40 years ago, the cutting-edge wisdom was that rapid population growth was a major problem. ... 
Sure, the doomsayers’ prophecies were overblown, but the notion that moderation in the size of the population has its advantages has hardly been debunked. Nevertheless, the conventional wisdom has simply flipped 180 degrees. That an increase in the quantity of residents isn’t an unalloyed good for Americans is now widely sneered at as some crackpot theory that only hippies on acid would countenance. Everybody knows that a bigger population is Good for the Economy. ... 
And yet the experts enlightening us about the wonders of a bigger populace don’t seem to be in any hurry for their own communities and colleges to grow. From checking the statistics of elite institutions, you might almost get the impression that the “revealed preference” of people who are good at getting what they want is for very slow population growth.

Read the whole thing there.

My article surveys the rates of growth in the undergraduate student bodies of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, and Stanford (with its 8,180 acre campus in the heart of Silicon Valley), as well as the population growth rates in Beverly Hills, Greenwich, Cambridge, Manhattan, Palm Beach, Evanston, Hyde Park, Portland, Buckhead, University Park, Scottsdale, and Provo.

This is another illustration of my long-running theme that the rich and powerful aren't just hypocritical, they're also pretty smart about their own self-interest, and the rest of us can learn larger lessons from how they treat themselves.

Rubio Fever = Neoconquistadorism

Cutting taxes and spending, Cuba, Israel, and not one but two names that end in vowels: What more could Mexican-American voters want in a Presidential candidate?

Why don't the English eat horses?

Whistlejacket, by George Stubbs, 1762
The current European scandal over horse meat showing up in Ikea's cheap Swedish meatballs is felt most queasily in Britain, the traditional center of not eating horses. The horsemeat taboo landscape is complicated:
Horse is commonly eaten in many countries in Europe and Asia.[14][15][16] It is not a generally available food in some English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, the US,[17] and English Canada. It is also taboo in Argentina, [18] Brazil, Israel, and among the Romani people, as well as Jewish people the world over. Horse meat is not generally eaten in Spain (except in the north), although the country exports horses both "on the hoof and on the hook" (i.e., live animals and slaughtered meat) for the French and Italian market. Horse meat is consumed in some North American and Latin American countries, and is illegal in some countries. For example, the Food Standards Code of Australia and New Zealand definition of 'meat' does not include horse.[19] In Tonga, horse meat is eaten nationally, and Tongan emigrees living in the United States, New Zealand and Australia have retained the taste for it, claiming Christian missionaries originally introduced it to them.[20] In the past, horse has been eaten by Persians, Turks, some hanafi Egyptians, and Tatars; but it has never been eaten in the Maghreb.

Yet, the central thread is that the English-speaking peoples don't think much of eating horses. 

Why not? 

I'd guess that it's because England has always been a relatively rich country, allowing the English to develop a more than purely utilitarian relationships with their horses. For example, modern thoroughbred racing emerged in 18th Century England. 

I'm not sure if Whistlejacket is a direct ancestor to any current racehorses, but some of his ancestors, such as the Byerley Turk, had many descendants competing in last year's Kentucky Derby. The genealogy of thoroughbreds is better understood than the genealogy of most people, and this helps get people to think of horses as individuals. 

The French painter Gericault painted numerous horse and racecourse scenes, but only after  visiting England. In Paris, the Jockey Club was frequented by Anglophiles. In Anna Karenina's horse-racing scene, the assembled Russian toffs remark that horse racing is central to the British ascendancy.

Poll: Only 24% of Hispanic voters favorable toward Rubio

I recently asked if anybody has checked whether Hispanic voters, the majority of whom are of Mexican background, actually like Senator Marco Rubio (R-CUBA). 

A reader points me to this December survey by Public Policy Polling of 700 registered voters, showing approval ratings for potential 2016 candidates. Among the 90 or so Hispanic voters surveyed, only 24% were favorable toward Rubio, while 42% said they were were unfavorable. (34% were not sure.) 

Rand Paul did slightly better among Hispanics, 28-39, as did Paul Ryan (42-48) and Mike Huckabee (33-39). Rick Santorum, at 24-41, edged out Rubio. Jeb Bush, the Great Brown Hope-in-Law, was at 32-49. To Hispanics, the big man among potential GOP candidates was Chris Christie at 52-22.

Caveat: tiny sample size. 

But still, is there any polling evidence that Rubio Fiebre is anything other than a collective delusion among white Republicans?

February 25, 2013

"How to Make a Bacon Cocktail"

From KCRW, the NPR flagship of Los Angeles:
How to Make a Bacon Cocktail

This just reminds me of how bad I am at intuiting what will strike other people as cool in the future.

A couple of decades ago, historian Paul Johnson argued that since Anglo-Americans had stopped eating dogs and horses, the next thing would be to stop eating pigs, which are notably more intelligent than, say, chickens or turkeys. Granted, pigs don't have the people-pleasing personalities of dogs, horses, or cats, but they are reasonably smart and share certain personality traits with us (e.g., take a dog to the beach and he runs and runs; take a pig to the beach and he lies down). 

This struck me as not unreasonable, and something that I, personally, would do (not eat pork, I mean -- I already don't run on the beach), if only pigs weren't so tasty. So, ever since, I've felt a little bit guilty while eating delicious pork. 

I also figured back then that NPR-listening foodies would by now have taken up this cause, with bacon being relegated to a class marker of fast-food customers.

As usual, I was all wrong. Bacon is currently in; not just with fast-food fans, but with NPR foodies as well, who are infusing bacon into all manner of things, some of which sound pretty gross to me.

A lot of successful people got to where they are because they figured out one thing ahead of most other people (e.g., Bacon cocktails are going to be big!) and then used their new eminence to cling to positions even as they aged out of the zone in which they could intuit the next big thing.

In contrast, my proven track record of lacking a sixth sense about what's going to be the Next Big Thing just encourages me to redouble my efforts to understand factually How Things Work right now. I've learned a huge amount about how the world works because I'm like a blind man who has to hone his hearing to make up for his missing fifth sense.

Enquiring Minds Want to Know

Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn)
Presumably to celebrate the arrival of the NBA in the Brooklyn, New York assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) dressed up for a Halloween-style Purim party as an NBA player, complete with Afro wig and dark makeup. "“I can’t imagine anyone getting offended," he responded to the deluge of criticism.

The New York Daily News reported in a follow-up:
"In hindsight, I should have picked something else. It never crossed my mind for a split second that I was doing something wrong. It was as innocent as something can be," said Hikind, who drew heavy condemnation for wearing an Afro-style wig and having a makeup artist darken his skin for his basketball-player getup. 
"People in the community were dressed up as Arabs. What was that about?" asked Hikind, an Orthodox Jew who's known for his impassioned critiques of anything he thinks smacks of the slightest anti-Semitism, according to our Reuven Blau, who was on scene for the presser outside the longtime lawmaker's home.

Among the things Assemblyman Hikind has been strenuously offended by in the past is The Passion of the Christ, against which he led a protest outside of Fox headquarters (what Fox had to do with that self-financed movie is not immediately apparent).

The New York Times editorial board members were among those upset with Assemblyman Hikind (for the NBA costume, not for protesting the Mel Gibson movie, although that likely goes without saying).

To avoid such unpleasantness in the future, perhaps the New York Times editorial board should publish a cross-tabulated list broken down into three categories:

A. Which demographic groups are A-Okay for anybody to parody

B. Which demographic groups can never be parodied by anybody, and

C. By far the longest section: which groups can be parodied by some people but not by others. This can be very finely calibrated. For example, Assemblyman Hikind is a Democrat and Jewish (good), but an Orthodox Jew opposed to gay marriage (bad). In contrast, Saturday Night Live put Fred Armisen in blackface for years to do President Obama, with virtually no protests. Was this because Armisen is a little bit Japanese? Or was it because SNL could never think of anything funny to say about Obama?

I would find the NYT's Who-Whom list fascinating reading. 

Or is the entire point that if you need such a list, you aren't the Right Sort of Person?

February 24, 2013

The Big Unsort: Bradbury, California

Looking around for the richest municipality in America, I stumbled upon one candidate: the tiny town of Bradbury, CA, which sounds like it ought to have its own soap opera: "Dallas" as directed by David Lynch. 

Bradbury, population 1000+ is mostly two gated communities in Southern California's San Gabriel Valley, in the foothills beneath Mount Baldy.

Bill Bishop's 2008 book The Big Sort documented the trend that Americans are sorting themselves out geographically by social class. But Bradbury seems to consist of people who are filthy rich (one Bradbury home is on sale for $79 million), like riding horses, and haven't been rubbed smooth by modern America's class-formation process: drag racers,  televangelists, civil rights entrepreneurs, hamburger heiresses, Saudi princes, Dominican sluggers of uncertain age, racehorse trainers, Chinese exiles, jockeys, Caltech geniuses, and faith healers.

Here's an augmented version of Wikipedia's list of prominent Bradburyians:
  • Yang Rong, billionaire Chinese automotive tycoon, formerly third richest businessman in China before his hasty departure [13]
  • Peter Popoff, televangelist and faith healer exposed by James Randi, now focusing on African American market[14]
  • Babe Dahlgren (deceased), baseball player, replaced Lou Gehrig after 2,130 straight games at first base for the Yankees[14]
  • Mickey Thompson (deceased), drag race driver, murdered at his estate in Bradbury in 1988; 19 years later his business partner was convicted[14]

Stan Williams is the winner of the 2000 Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology. I think Richard Feynman would have liked this place.

They just don't make Academy Awards shows like they used to

The greatest moment in Oscar history.

And the greatest Oscar speech:
Raquel Welch: And the winner is...  
Phil Donahue: Uh, Raquel, just a second…  
Raquel Welch: Now what?  
Phil Donahue: …I just had a thought. This show is being seen all over the world. I was thinking, if we could all just send good thoughts, transmit them through these cameras here, to the elected leader of China, Wing Wa Woo Tong, so that they might finally be nice. Thank you.  
Raquel Welch: And the winner is...  
Phil Donahue: Uh Raquel, so many go to bed hungry in this nation, yet cat food is full of tuna! I can't help but think each time I go to the zoo and see those porpoises, crammed into those tiny tanks, what a waste that is. Butcher half of them now! That's hundreds of pounds of dolphin meat that can be fed to our cats, freeing up that tuna for our nation's hungry.  
Raquel Welch: And the winner is...  
Phil Donahue: Uh, so many are cold, shivering in the night, so I say, take those cats, and skin them! Use their fur to keep hundreds warm!  

Sci-fi movies as the epitome of their moment

As I mentioned earlier, although it may take a number of years to notice, nothing looks more like the present than movies set in the future. 

For example, is there any movie more redolent of America during the George W. Bush Era than Idiocracy?

In Brooklyn, White People Problems v. Nonwhite People Problems

Two NYT articles that came out the same day make an irresistible comparison.

The New York Times devotes ample coverage to the Brooklyn versions of what comedian Louis CK would scoff at as White People Problems, such as getting your child into the right enrichment programs in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods:
For City Parents, a Waiting List for Nearly Everything 
The first parent lined up at 4 a.m. on a Sunday, when the only other people around were out just long enough to stumble from warm taxis through sobering 19-degree air into their homes. 
Twenty minutes later, other parents showed up and a line began to form down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. One father kept a list so that anyone searching for a thawing hot coffee could do so without losing a place in the line. He abandoned that project as more and more people trickled in and the end of the line was no longer visible from the front. 
Some parents stood, shimmying and hopping to keep warm. A few line veterans brought chairs and buried themselves under blankets. It was too dark to read, so they chatted about things like schools or children, and they poked fun at one another for being there. Every few minutes, someone would check his watch and express the hope that Carmelo the Science Fellow would open his doors early for his annual summer camp registration. 
If waiting in line in the predawn of a January morning for science camp registration sounds crazy, you do not have a New York City child born after 2004. For those children and their parents, especially in the neighborhoods of brownstone Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan and the Upper West Side, not getting into activities, classes, sports teams — and even local schools — has become a way of life. If every generation must have its own designation, call theirs Generation Waiting List. 
Looking for a spot in a public prekindergarten program in Lower Manhattan? Put your name on the waiting list. 
Ballet for 3-year-olds at the Mark Morris Dance Group in Fort Greene, Brooklyn? The class is full, but they do have a waiting list. ... 
Besides population density, social mobility drives the waiting lists in certain neighborhoods, said Tamara Mose Brown, a sociologist who teaches at Brooklyn College. It is no longer a given that people who came to the city from the suburbs as single adults will return to them when they have families, she said. Those who stay tend to settle in neighborhoods where people are similarly educated and share like values. They want their children to experience the diversity and spontaneity of the city, but they also want to control the youngsters’ exposure to those things by keeping them within a neighborhood bubble. 
The more people bump into one another, the more ingrained a family becomes into a community and the more information will be exchanged about classes, or public schools. Those connections create cultural capital that helps families socially advance in their worlds. But it also puts them into competition for the limited number of slots for the most highly sought-after activities.

And then there are the Brooklyn versions of Nonwhite People Problems, as seen in this popular video from a not rapidly gentrifying neighborhood:
In Fracas on Train, Parolee Found That Hitting Back Was a Risky Option
In an encounter that was caught on a cell phone camera, Charles Bunn said he was attacked by two teenaged girls, one of whom said she was pregnant. 
“You could have at least said, ‘Excuse me.’ ”
And with those eight words, it was on.
The No. 3 train had pulled into the Utica Avenue stop in Brooklyn that afternoon, Jan. 24, and several passengers rushed to board the waiting No. 4 train, among them a 55-year-old man and two teenage girls. On this, everyone agrees. 
The man, Charles Bunn, said one of the girls bumped into him. He was annoyed, and after he took his seat and saw the two girls sitting across from him, he spoke those eight words. 
As Mr. Bunn tells it, the friend of the girl who bumped him stood up and screamed to her that she didn’t have to say anything, and then turned on Mr. Bunn. 
“They both jumped up, and then I jumped up, and that’s when the tussle started,” he said. 
A few moments later, someone else on the train started recording the fight on a cellphone. The video, which made its way online, shows the two girls raining punches on Mr. Bunn, while he crouched with his coat pulled over his head, unable to swing. The coat was yanked away, and Mr. Bunn threw a few punches of his own that he said did not connect. It is hard to tell on the video. “I was swinging just to back them off,” he said. 
Another man broke up the fracas, and one of the girls, Chantelis Solano, 18, sat down, clearly flustered on the video. She stripped off her coat and yelled something that sounded, on the video, an awful lot like the word “pregnant.” 
Mr. Bunn seemed to answer, incredulously, “You’re pregnant?” 
It was true. “I had just found out,” Ms. Solano said later in an interview. She and her friend were traveling to the Bronx for a sonogram, she said. And yet, even after the fight had been broken up, she stood and baited Mr. Bunn, saying, “C’mon,” and “Try me.” He did not respond. 
All three got off the train at Franklin Avenue. The girls, shouting and cursing, pursued Mr. Bunn as he walked away. Everyone agreed there were more punches, and Mr. Bunn dropped some papers. He picked them up and walked away, the girls following him. The train, and the person filming the fight, departed. 
The last thing Mr. Bunn needed was to get caught hitting someone, especially a girl. “I have to suck up a lot of things now,” he said later. “I’m amazed I didn’t do what I wanted to do.” 
He had been released from prison just a month earlier, his fourth time behind bars upstate. He had two bad habits. One was cocaine. The other was walking out of the flagship Macy’s department store with merchandise he had not paid for.  
Police officers saw the end of the scuffle on the platform and arrested the girls. Mr. Bunn was treated for scratches and cuts at a hospital. “My pride was shot,” he said. “They’re girls.” 
Ms. Solano said she spent a couple of days in jail. She and her friend, Shaquana Rhem, have been charged with assault, harassment and, for striking Mr. Bunn with a purse, possession of a weapon. It was not Ms. Solano’s first time; she has a pending case involving an assault in Westchester County two years ago, she said.

I don't think Louis CK quite grasps how, in America, White People Problems are interrelated with Nonwhite People Problems.