July 20, 2013

NYT: Law of supply and demand applies to immigration

From the New York Times, an article about Los Angeles and immigration:
Being Legal Doesn’t End Poverty 
LOS ANGELES — THOSE pressing for change in the country’s immigration system like to say that creating a path to citizenship will bring the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants “out of the shadows.” It is taken as a given that legal status will help them climb the economic ladder. 
But in this city, and in urban areas across the country, it seems clear that even with full citizenship, many could remain in the shadow economy, earning cash for low-wage jobs. 
Millions of workers in the United States — those who sew clothes, mow lawns, care for children, construct homes, clean offices and serve food — function almost entirely in a cash economy. For undocumented immigrants, working for cash tends to be the most reliable way to earn an income while avoiding any attention from the government. 
Advocates of the immigration bill have used economic mobility as an argument for legalizing the millions already living here. They enthusiastically embraced a Congressional Budget Office report last month that said the Senate’s immigration bill would increase the size of the labor force and lead to greater productivity, which would raise average wages in the long term and have broad economic impact. Last week, business groups continued to pressure House Republicans to consider similar legislation. 
But it is hardly a given that citizenship is a route to better jobs. 
“Having legal status takes away one threat that people held over their workers, but it doesn’t do much more than that,” in the workplace, said Victor Narro, the project director for the Labor Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. 
When the Labor Center studied wage violations in 2009, it found that foreigners in general were more likely than native-born workers to be paid less than the minimum wage and that undocumented immigrants, particularly women, were even worse off. But the study also found that foreign-born workers who were legal residents were almost twice as likely to be paid less than the minimum wage as American-born employees.

By the way, the minimum wage is a bit of a red herring. You probably need two parents each making, say, three times the minimum wage to have a chance of affording to buy a home in immigrant-heavy California. The husband probably needs to get up to about five times the minimum wage to afford kids.

But, the minimum wage is still part of the picture.
 The cash economy is particularly important in California, which has more undocumented immigrants than any other state and the eighth largest economy in the world. The sheer size of the immigrant work force and economy allows business owners to create a norm of paying off the books that would be unthinkable in another time or place, said Ruth Milkman, a labor expert and professor of sociology at the City University of New York Graduate Center. 
“Employers have really gotten into the habit that this is the normal way of doing business,” Professor Milkman said. “They don’t particularly want to change, and nobody is making them do it. The immigration bill certainly doesn’t change much for employers who take the low road.” 
Day laborers, those men standing in front of Home Depots and on street corners looking for whatever work comes their way, are perhaps the most widely recognizable stream of cash workers. Often, these men were mechanics, engineers or even architects and doctors in their home countries.

No, not the last three categories.
The vast majority are undocumented immigrants. But in recent years, with the economy struggling, more of these immigrants have been standing in lots next to citizens, who are equally eager to find work, said Chris Newman, the legal director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. 
“We see people who rotate in and out, they come find work for the day and go to another job at night,” Mr. Newman said. “You lose a foothold in the formal economy and it’s a natural place to go.” 
Last month, the Labor Department reported that there are 2.7 million temp workers, more than ever before. As more large companies rely on temp agencies to fill their ranks, it is possible that more American workers, legally or not, could be treated like day laborers — who can be employed one day and out of a job the next. Mr. Newman repeated something that he has said to himself over and over again amid the debate in Washington: “Immigration laws are malleable, but the law of supply and demand is immutable.”

The way he sees it, as long as there is growing demand for an informal labor market, there will be people to supply that work force.

Or as long as there is a growing number of people to supply that work force, there will be employers offering only low wages. It really does work in both directions. To help our fellow American citizens, it makes sense to push on both the immigration restriction lever and minimum wage lever simultaneously. They work together to make the other more effective.
Jennifer Medina is a national correspondent for The New York Times.

And here's a sushi restaurant on Rodeo Drive that charges about a $500 per diner, but doesn't let kitchen workers take bathroom breaks or get paid overtime:
But by all appearances, there has been no backlash against the restaurant. Jonathan Gold, the influential food critic for The Los Angeles Times, named it the No. 2 restaurant in the city earlier this year, with no mention of the recent controversy.

A white-black coalition on immigration?

In the first half of the 20th Century, one of the deepest fault lines in American politics divided labor unions from manufacturers. They constantly fought over who got the bigger piece of the pie. 

Yet, these political enemies also united to back one major policy: tariffs. They understood that they had a good thing going together here in America, so why let outsiders horn in on the deal? It was in their interest to agree 5% of the time so that when they fought the other 95% of time they'd both come out better off.

This same old-fashioned logic suggests that American whites and American blacks would be wise to unite politically to restrict immigration. Whatever else you can say, on the whole, we've all got a good thing going together here in America, so why let outsiders horn in on the deal? We can get back to fighting over how to divvy up the pie afterwards.

But, this kind of common-sensical single-purpose political alliance seems much harder to pull off these days, when globalist interests control most of the vocabulary on all sides of the fence. Now, it's far more morally respectable for globalists of varying hues to put together an enormously cynical coalition to increase immigration.

Chris Matthews apologizes on behalf of all white people

Not from The Onion:
Chris Matthews apologizes to black co-workers on behalf of 'all white people'

NPR: "'Wringing' Out Personal Bias Is A Daily Exercise"

From NPR:
'Wringing' Out Personal Bias Is A Daily Exercise 
July 20, 2013 7:39 AM

President Obama, in his speech on Friday, said that all of us should do some soul searching. Not a conversation on race organized by politicians, he said. He suggested smaller and more personal places for those conversations — families, churches and workplaces — and he suggested a conversation that each person could have with him or herself: "Am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can?" 
I think that's an important question, or perhaps more of a process, and not an easy one. Like most people who grew to adulthood in the civil rights years, I thought a lot about racism and believed it to be hateful. I admired the heroes of the civil rights movement — it has always been a point of pride with me to remember that I was on the Mall for the March on Washington. It did not occur to me to think of myself as a racist — I believed and still believe that I was not. 
But when I married and moved to Washington, to live in a city that was mostly black, I surprised myself. Every once in a while a random thought would drift into my mind — what is he doing here? Where did she get that dog? Small, mingey * terrible little thoughts, which when I turned them over and looked at them, horrified me. I thought that I'd been giving myself too much credit. 
Obviously I needed some wringing out. 
One of the blessings of our fair city, which can be completely exasperating, filled as it is with argument and ego, is that it also offers its citizens the blessing of living together, in a relatively tolerant atmosphere. Here, wringing bias out of your mind and heart is not theoretical. And that has made it easier. Of course I am not perfect even after all these years. But to paraphrase the president, perhaps a little more perfect.

No comment.

* Okay, I do have a comment on Linda's apparently canine-related use of the obscure term "mingey," which follows the also opaque "Where did she get that dog?"
Web definitions
nip, pinch, bite (of bird); nipping, biting, pinching.

So, maybe Linda had a nipping, biting, perhaps mangy dog? And then it got stolen and now every time she sees a black woman with the same expensive breed, she wonders if the black lady bought it from a stolen dog fence?

Or, did she mean:
Mean and stingy: "you've been mingy with the sunscreen".
Unexpectedly or undesirably small.
stingy - niggardly - miserly - mean - skimpy

Maybe Linda started out saying N-Synonym, but then got worried about getting David Howarded, and just improvised a new word, free association style.

Commenter AMac writes:
Linda Wertheimer lives in Northwest DC -- the nice part. Her Zip Code is XXXXX, which comes in as SuperZip #67 in Charles Murray's ranking of Zip Codes (data here). Median family income is $175,000; people there rank above 99.6% of their fellow Americans by Murray's centile score. George Zimmerman's gated community (or crime-ridden condo complex, if you prefer) is in Zip YYYYY, which Murray ranks in position 12,435 (of 23,948 total). Median family income is $53,400, and 32.8% of Americans live in Zips with worse centile scores. Trayvon Martin's mother lives in Miami Gardens, whose ZZZZZ Zip sits at #15,776. Family income $52,600, centile score 22.1%. 

July 19, 2013

Obama, Trayvon, and Hispapathy

From the NYT:
Obama Takes On Florida Killing and Race in U.S. 
... On Friday, reading an unusually personal, handwritten statement, Mr. Obama summed up his views with a single line: “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” ...
The White House’s original plan — for Mr. Obama to address the verdict in brief interviews on Tuesday with four Spanish-language television networks — was foiled when none of them asked about it.

Hispanic apathy strikes again!

The most underrated force in American life is Latino lethargy.

By the way, Hail dug up a poll reporting Hispanic views on the verdict: closer to white than black views.

Obama: "African-American boys are more violent"

Some interesting bullet points excerpted from President Obama's speech today:
- "African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence."
- "African-American boys are more violent" 
- "Trayvon Martin was probably statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else."

A suggestion for President Obama

After the President's depressed Trayvon Martin speech today, I'm reminded that next month, August 28, 2013, is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. 

Why not use that propitious occasion to declare victory in the long war on Jim Crow and white racism and announce you are bringing the federal troops home?

Obama's statement on Zimmerman-Martin

A downbeat Obama appeared before the press today:
You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son.

Yeah, I know it was kind of cheesy, but Michelle loved that line.

Of course, if I'd married my old girlfriend, Genevieve, our son would have looked more like George Zimmerman, but, then, Genevieve and I never would have allowed our son to live in some crime-ridden exurban sticksville, so that's irrelevant.

Still, I wonder what Genny's up to? I saw in the Times where she married that Egyptian guy, but that couldn't have lasted, could it?
Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.

When I was a preppy at Punahou and a liberal arts major at Oxy, I was quite the badass.
And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that -- that doesn’t go away. 

It used to be Civil War-obsessed white Southerners who said things like, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." Should I cite Faulkner for the literary cred, or is it too uncomfortable?
There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. 

Note to self: include a searing chapter in my post-presidential memoir on that security guard at the State Street Marshall Field's who eyeballed me in a suspicious manner while I was in the scarf section. Leave out the part about her being black. (My agent says an 8-figure advance is possible. Note to self: Find a new agent who will take on the ex-President for the prestige plus a 2.5% commission.)
And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars.

As you'll recall, Zimmerman got out of the car even though the police ordered him not to. But locking yourself in your car is also racist ...
That happens to me, at least before I was a senator.

Have I ever mentioned how fascinating the young me found the ice machine in motels? I did? Hmmhhmm, my next book about me is going to be a struggle. I should have tried to lead a more interesting pre-Presidential life.
There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.
That happens often. 

What the hell is wrong with women anyway? Look at my harpy grandmother, demanding my poor grandfather get up off the couch and drive her to her bank veep job to keep her from being mugged by some black drifter at her bus stop. Did I mention she was an alcoholic? I shouldn't have mentioned that to Maraniss, but nobody read his book anyway, so I can easily get a chapter out of her losing her struggle with the bottle.
And you know, I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. ...
The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case. 
Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact, although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. 

Remember that David Remnick bestseller that was supposed to be about me but was mostly about a bunch of historical context stuff that happened in Selma while I was making sand castles on Waikiki Beach? Maybe I should write my next autobiography like that?
We understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history. 

I could do a series of PBS specials where I visit landmark sites in the history of the civil rights struggle and then talk about my feelings when I first heard about them during class discussions at Punahou. We could do dramatic re-enactments of key scenes in American history like the murder of those four little girls and that classmate wanting to touch my hair. Who should play me at Punahou? Does Will Smith have any more sons?
And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration.

The media doesn't talk about the KKK enough. We need more movies like Django Unchained. (How about Obama Unchained, where I'm finally free of the stifling White House living quarters. Do you realize I have to live with my mother-in-law? On January 21, 2017, I will -- free, free at last -- walk to the bookstore and spend the afternoon browsing in the lit fic section. But will there even be bookstores in 2017? Or will I be condemned to spend the rest of my life like Bill Clinton, checking my iPhone and talking to people?)
And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there

What organization puts these statistics out there anyway?
that show that African-American boys are more violent -- using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain. 

You see, harping on white racism several generations ago is providing "context" for black criminality today, while pointing out the high rate of black criminality today is making "an excuse" for racial profiling. It's really quite simple when you stop and think about it: just ask, "Whose side am I on?" and you are 90% of the way there.

Can you imagine where I'd be if I had never figured that out?
I think the African-American community is also not naive in understanding that statistically somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else. 

Okay, a pre-emptive concession to Limbaugh and Coulter, and the MSNBC crowd won't comprehend that sentence -- their brains turn off when they hear "statistically," and I used it twice -- so it's win-win. You know, if you are a good enough lawyer, you don't have to, exactly, lie.
So -- so folks understand the challenges that exist for African- American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it or -- and that context is being denied.

In other words, there is much frustration that George Zimmerman wasn't railroaded in 2013 for what white people did in 1913, that The Narrative wasn't allowed to overwhelm minor matters such as the rule of law and individual questions of guilt or innocence in the name of context. I can live with that.
And -- and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Yeah, like if Travis Martin had gotten shot by Paul Blarto, condo cop, I never would have heard about this whole fiasco. Of course, as Axelrod kept insisting, we needed massive black turnout in Cleveland, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Miami to win re-election, so it's all for the best, but still, can't we just move on? Can't we get back to talking about Emmett Till, or me, instead of about the present?
... But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do? I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there ...

Like Holder's really going to find out anything new and useful. Every damn thing that's come out in the last 15 months has been unhelpful. Why did I ever get myself into this tarball, anyway? I mean, besides re-election ...
... but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government -- the criminal code. And law enforcement has traditionally done it at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels. 
That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation, we can’t do some things that I think would be productive. So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.

1. Spend more on diversity sensitivity training
Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it’d be productive for the Justice Department -- governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists. ...
So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought bear if state and local governments are receptive. And I think a lot of them would be. And -- and let’s figure out other ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Hey, look, all the reporters are writing down what I just said, as if diversity sensitivity training is some groundbreaking new Nobel-worthy idea I just came up with. If I weren't so bored and depressed, I could have some fun seeing seeing what I could get reporters to write down like I'm Moses come down from the mountain.

2. Stand Your Ground Laws
Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it -- if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations. 
I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the stand your ground laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case. 

But that's not the point, is it? The point is that we need to be talking about what I want to talk about, not some technicalities about what actually happened.
On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see? 
And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?

Zimmerman should have unlocked his doors and driven in the opposite direction.
And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Because what else do we have on our plates at the moment? Do you have some higher priority than Florida laws?

3. Bolster young black male self-esteem
Number three -- and this is a long-term project: We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

Maybe we should try to help young black males get fast food starter jobs instead of just employing illegals at McDonalds? Oh, wait, don't go there ...
You know, I’m not naive about the prospects of some brand-new federal program. 
I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I do recognize that as president, I’ve got some convening power. 
And there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front. And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes

I should have LeBron over. Sweet. You know, I always felt that he got a bad rap over going to Miami. I mean, if Nowitzki didn't have that epic shooting streak in the 2011 playoffs, LBJ would have three straight rings. Oh ... where was I?
and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African-American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that -- and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed -- you know, I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation. And we’re going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that.

Okay, what I'm deep down talking about here is that horrible rap music (why doesn't today's youth like Stevie Wonder, anyway?) teaching black teens stupid lessons about never letting a diss go un-answered, but my NPR audience will never notice this. Hell, Sharpton craps on rap better than I ever could, but nobody pays attention to him when he's telling black people something that would be good for them, so I can't blame him for whipping up this fiasco. (But, I won't forgive him, either.)

4. Don't have a conversation about race, just silently stop noticing patterns.
And then finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. You know, there have been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations.

Diss on Bill and Hill, and Holder, too. Have you noticed that Holder's getting on my nerves?
They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have. 

In other words, how did this whole Martin-Zimmerman conversation work out for my side (I mean, other than the re-election thing)? It turned out to be just every stereotype imaginable come to life. So, let's not discuss any lessons learned from this.
On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s a possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can; am I judging people, as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy. 

"Am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can?" If I say so myself, that one isn't bad! More Congregationalist than Maoist. That will give the post-Puritans something to do with their time.

#5. At least most people these days aren't as racist as my grandmother
And let me just leave you with -- with a final thought, that as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. I doesn’t mean that we’re in a postracial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are.

You'd be surprised how few KKK members there are these days at a $35,000 per year Quaker school.
They’re better than we were on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country. 
And so, you know, we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues, and those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions.

I'm the Divider. I get to use this fiasco, not you. I used it, so let's move on.
But we should also have confidence that kids these days I think have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did, and that along this long, difficult journey, you know, we’re becoming a more perfect union -- not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

Remember how much everybody liked my "Toward a More Perfect Union" speech back in 2008 right after those awkward Rev. Wright tapes got aired? Let's try to recapture that feeling, people!

July 18, 2013

Zimmerman and the cracks in the Obama Coalition

My new VDARE.com article considers the implications of the Zimmerman rhubarb for the politics of immigration policy:
You might think that the violent, mindless rage directed by Democrats at George Zimmerman as the face of white racism (despite his being Hispanic) might get Republicans pondering how to exploit the inherent cracks in the Obama Coalition.

Summer fundraiser

By the way, I've got a VDARE.com article coming out later tonight on what the Zimmerman case illuminates about the politics of immigration. I may not stay up to post it, so, if you do, check over there.

As I've been suggesting for a long time, and as the events of the last week have confirmed, the dominant media mindset consists of large dollops of ignorance, rage, and deviousness. We need a new way of thinking about how the world works based on knowledge, a sense of humor, and honesty. I think that over the years I've got left, I can help forge one.

But I'll need your assistance, intellectual, psychological, and monetary.

So, first, you can make a tax deductible contribution via VDARE by clicking here.

Second, you can make a non-tax deductible contribution by credit card via WePay by clicking here

Third: You can mail a non-tax deductible donation to:

Steve Sailer
P.O Box 4142
Valley Village, CA 91607-4142


GOP must agree to massively more immigration to avoid racially polarizing country

Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker is one of the better political reporters. He's even dared to write some subliminally ironic prose about Obama's road to the White House. But, when it comes to amnesty, he reflects the conventional wisdom in usefully condensed form.

For House Republicans to reject Schumer-Rubio ...
... would intensify one of the less welcome political trends of the past few decades: the racial polarization of the electorate. In a recent paper, the political scientist Alan Abramowitz documented this “growing racial divide” in our system. “The growing dependence of the Democratic Party on nonwhite voters has contributed to the flight of racially and economically conservative white voters to the G.O.P. thereby further increasing the size of the racial divide between the party coalitions,” he noted. He predicted that this racial polarization would continue and deepen. 
The outcome of the immigration debate will decide how much this trend accelerates. Under one rather ominous scenario, House Republicans will kill immigration reform, and Democrats, led by President Obama, will mount a withering attack on the G.O.P. in the Hispanic community, blaming the Party for the bill’s demise. (In an interview with me earlier this year, a senior White House official was explicit that this is what would happen if Republicans scuttled the bill.) ... 
The net result of all this is the opposite of what the R.N.C. had in mind: a Republican strategy to defeat immigration reform, increase its support among whites, and make it harder for some nonwhites to vote. It’s a recipe for a future in which America’s two parties are largely defined by race. The unpleasant conclusion of this debate—and of the Obama years—could be the opposite of where we thought we were headed as a country. Rather than a multiracial future in which both parties compete aggressively for the votes of fast-growing nonwhite populations, Democrats and Republicans could become more cleaved than ever by race. The decision that Republicans make on immigration reform in the coming months will help determine that future.

Okay, but, you know, maybe importing tens of millions of nonwhite foreigners in the first place and then repeatedly boasting about how you'll use them to turn America into a permanent one party state might have something to do with the growing racial divide? I mean, I'm just sayin' ...

Finally, a poll on the Zimmerman verdict

A Huffington Post / YouGov poll of 1,000 adults:
2. If you had been a member of the jury, would you have voted to find George Zimmerman guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter, not guilty, or would you have been unsure? 
Guilty of murder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15%
Guilty of manslaughter . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23%
Found not guilty . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41%
Not sure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21% 
4. In the way they covered the case, would you say the news media were biased in favor of Zimmerman, biased against Zimmerman, or did they not show any bias one way or the other? 
Biased in favor of Zimmerman . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . 12%
Biased against Zimmerman . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48%
Not biased one way or the other . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . 18%
Not sure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22%

The article has additional black-white breakdowns, but no mention of the views of misc., of course. Nobody cares about them, except when it comes to immigration policy.

National Immigration Safety Board needed

Cops standing around flattened baby carriage: not a good sign
NBC 10 Philadelphia reports on a streetrace that killed four pedestrians:
When police led Khusen Akhmedov, shirtless, out of his home in Lancaster on Wednesday, neighbors didn't know he was about to be charged with killing a young mother and three of her children. 
They did know that Akhmedov's car looked like it had been in an accident. 
The same car he boasts about on his Facebook page, an Audi S4, is the car Philadelphia police say was speeding down Roosevelt Boulevard when it raced right into Samara Banks, who was crossing the busy highway with four of her children. Only one survived. 
Court records in Pennsylvania show Akhmedov has nine driving infractions dating back to 2009. ... 
Witnesses told police Akhmedov was speeding on the night of the crash. He and Ahmen Holloman were allegedly racing down the Boulevard when, according to police, Akhmedov lost control of his car, plowing into Samara Banks as she was crossing the street in the Feltonville section of the city with her kids. Banks, 28, died and so did her three youngest children, ages 7 months, 23 months and four years old. Her 5-year-old son survived with bumps and bruises. 
On Akhmedov’s Facebook page, one of the videos posted is of a profanity-laced scene where two cars are seen drag racing on a deserted road. ... 
There are also dozens of photos, including pictures of Akhmedov posing with the Rocky statue

Of course.
, a photo of him with EMTs, posing in front of a fire truck and another photo of him sitting on top of his Audi with a Philadelphia Police sticker visible on the trunk. 
His neighbors on Queen Street in Lancaster assumed that because of the police sticker, Akhmedov worked for law enforcement. That is a stretch from the reality of his day-to-day life, where he faces trial in a federal fraud and conspiracy. 
On his Facebook page, Akhmedov says that he earned a Criminal Law degree from Penn State. According to Penn State spokeswoman Betty Roberts, Khusen A. Akhmedov did attend Penn State for one school year -- from the Fall of 2008 through the Spring semester of 2009 -- but the school has no record of him graduating. 

This just proves we must pass the DREAM Act.
Akhmedovv also mentions that he speaks Russian and Turkish. A friend of the family, who did not want to be named, said Akmedov came to the Lancaster area with his parents in the early 2000s. They chose that area because it has a growing community of Russian immigrants, according to the family friend. 
Akhmedov is accused, along with six other people, of billing the government for millions of dollars in private ambulance runs that were not necessary. Akhmedov was an EMT for the company, according to the federal indictment. 

From Lancaster Online:
Akhmedov moved from Russia to Lancaster with his family almost 10 years ago, and they are now citizens. He is a graduate of McCaskey High School and was planning to marry soon. 
Akhmedov's family are ethnic Meskhetian Turks, a group that has been persecuted for decades.

Meskhetian Turks were residents of Soviet Georgia. The Soviet Union was a finishing school for organized crime and disorganized living, especially in its Caucasus regions.

So, why was the Akhmedov family allowed into the U.S.? Is being a crooked meathead a job Americans just won't do? Was there a Streetracer Shortage? Were patients who didn't actually need ambulance rides to get to their dialysis appointments rotting in the fields? Was it Akhmedov's American Dream to not only play but live Grand Theft Auto? Did the Akhmedovs claim that a lot of people back home really hated them?

Perhaps those folks who knew them had their reasons.

The slow success of Kurdish nationalism

From the NYT on Syria:
The civil war has Balkanized the country, with an array of armed groups controlling different areas. The government retains its grip on the capital and has been solidifying its control over a string of major cities to the north. Rebel groups hold large swaths of land in the country’s north and east, though they are far from unified, with militias competing for resources, imposing their own laws and sometimes turning their guns on one another. The Kurds, Syria’s largest ethnic minority, control their own areas and often fight to keep the rebels out.

The Kurds of the Middle East are famously one of the larger language groups without their own state. Except, they are slowly quietly getting de facto control of parts of their homeland: first in Iraq, now in Syria as it too falls apart. The Kurdish formula in the 21st Century seems to be keep their heads down, don't push too hard for ethnically ambiguous territory, stay out of fights in the capital of your old countries, mind your own business, and be patient.

July 17, 2013

British Open

I like this oddly surrealistic photo by Glyn Kirk of Phil Mickelson and ten greenskeepers, none of whom is looking at the second most famous golfer in the world. It's like a Magritte version of Van Gogh's picture of crows and a wheat field, or maybe a still from an alienated 1960 Euro movie: Last Year at Muirfield. (By the way, the essential weirdness of golf courses has only been exploited in one or two arthouse movies, most notably Lars von Trier's Melancholia.) Or Monty Python's Upper Class Twit of the Year and Race for People with No Sense of Direction skits. Or like when all the Agent Smiths in the Matrix Reloaded fight scene finally lose and then they all get depressed, turn different directions, and walk off (8:30 in the video).

It's interesting that all those greenskeepers aren't watering the not very green fairway. American golfers like a uniform carpet of green grass, but British Open courses are played on the random humps and bumps of sand dunes, where the trouble comes from the ball rolling into trouble. These days, pro golfers only fear two things: wind and gravity. Playing conditions look sensationally fast for an Open.

Muirfield, the home course of the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, is the snobbiest, most formal golf course in Scotland. And yet, like almost all Scottish clubs, it is less private than thousands of American country clubs. Muirfield is open to non-members two mornings per week. If you are interested in private club lore, here's a description of what getting on Muirfield is like for an outsider by a guy who managed to play all the top 100 courses in the world on Golf magazine's list, finally finishing off with Augusta National after about a decade of trying to wheedle an invite.

Zimmerman defense preferred women jurors

Jury selection is a fascinating little field. It's a little bit like casting movies, another business in which some market research is done (lawyers in massive trials will occasionally recruit mock jurors to see how they vote in an upcoming case). But, mostly, it's done based on hunches by charismatic experts / blowhards. 
All-woman jury was a key strategy, Zimmerman defense consultant says 
Yamiche Alcindor 8:40 p.m. EDT July 17, 2013

SANFORD, Fla. -- One of the people instrumental in helping George Zimmerman's defense team pick an all-women jury says that he decided months in advance that a female panel brought the best chance for acquittal. 
Robert Hirschhorn, a jury consultant with more than 28 years experience, told USA TODAY that women are better listeners, less judgmental, and would more easily understand the fear Zimmerman felt when he shot Trayvon Martin. 
"I wanted to make sure we were going to get jurors that would follow what the court of law required not what the court of public opinion wanted," Hirschhorn said. "My number one goal was to get fair jurors that would really be able to listen to the evidence and decide the case on facts and law not emotion." 
Hirschhorn's instincts paid off Saturday when a jury of five white women and one Hispanic woman acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the Feb. 2012 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Hirschhorn got involved in the Zimmerman case in April when Zimmerman defense attorney Don West brought him in. Hirschhorn, who is based in Lewisville, Texas, has worked on several high profile cases including the trial of Enron founder Kenneth Lay, who was convicted of fraud and conspiracy as well as New York millionaire Robert Durst, acquitted of killing and dismembering his elderly neighbor. ...
In doing so, he decided women would be more favorable in getting Zimmerman acquitted and that people with anti-gun stances would have to be eliminated.
... A beginning group of 211 people filled out juror questionnaires, which were then read by lawyers and Circuit Judge Debra Nelson. They chose who would make it to the next round for individual questioning about media exposure to news of the shooting in open court. Later, lawyers went down the list, striking jurors individually. At least six people were dismissed during this phase. 
... In Zimmerman's case, Hirschhorn did two rare things: Hirschhorn didn't recommend lawyers ask for a change of venue and he didn't have Zimmerman's lawyers use all their strikes against jurors. 
"Sanford was the epicenter for this event," Hirschhorn said, explaining what he told lawyers."If we want George to get a fair trial, we want people from his county to decide this case." 
Early on, Hirschhorn thought women would relate to Zimmerman's story better than men and would understand the position Zimmerman found himself in the night of the shooting. 
"I believed in my heart that an all-female jury was the right jury for George," Hirschhorn said. "My experience has been that women are better at listening than men." 
The thinking behind his theory was that women would be less judgmental in a self-defense case where lawyers would be asking them to put themselves in the position Zimmerman found himself when he killed Trayvon. 
Hirschhorn also knew he would need to eliminate potential jurors who held anti-gun views and who were not completely honest with their knowledge of the case and the opinions they had formed. 
"In the typical high profile case, jurors have typically formed an opinion against your client," he said, adding that Zimmerman's case was different. "There was a large segment of the community that was against George.There was a large segment of the community that hadn't formed an opinion that George was guilty. The challenge for me was to find those people that can be fair to George." 
It was also Hirschhorn's job to find out which potential jurors were not being completely honest. That thinking led to the elimination of at least three jurors. Zimmerman defense attorney, Mark O'Mara told Circuit Judge Debra Nelson one older black woman failed to tell the court about a leader of her church being a Trayvon supporter and a younger black woman failed to disclose that she was Facebook friends with a potential witness. The defense also eliminated at least one juror --a white man--who said he had issues with guns.

I did a little bit of work once for Houston trial legend Racehorse Haynes, writing up digests of his notes for a projected autobiography. During jury selection in the 1960s, he always noted if a juror had too many mechanical pencils in his his shirt pocket for his occupation: e.g., an auto mechanic with six different pencils in his pocket protector was trying to give the impression he was an engineer. Racehorse felt they were phonies and he didn't want them on his jury.

Was this scientific? Beats me, but Racehorse gave me a ride in his Turbo Porsche, 0 to 90 mph to 0 in about six blocks, one of the first Turbo Porsches in Houston in the 1970s, so he won a lot of trials.

By the way, has anybody seen any good analytical writing about casting movies and TV shows? Most of what I've seen focuses on pairings of leads like Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy. But I'm more interested in casting with large sample sizes of datapoints, such as witnesses on Law & Order, where they want actors who more or less look like what the public expects the character to look like. Anybody seen anything good on that?

"Michelle Obama Finally Gets Around To Reading ‘Dreams From My Father’"

Michelle Obama Finally Gets Around To Reading ‘Dreams From My Father’ 
WASHINGTON—Saying that she had put it off for a long time and that now was as good a time as any, Michelle Obama told sources Monday she had finally gotten around to reading her husband’s 1995 memoir Dreams From My Father. “I read the first couple chapters back when it came out, but I just couldn’t get through it, and it’s been lying on my dresser ever since,” said the first lady, explaining that she felt obligated to read President Obama’s autobiographical exploration of race and identity in America even though, “to be honest, it’s a little slow.” “The parts about his dad seem a little overwrought, and he spends so much time writing about himself that he comes across a bit narcissistic—who writes a memoir when they’re 33, anyway? I skimmed a lot of it, but I can still pretend I read the whole thing if he asks.” 

The Onion.

NYT: "The Myth of 'Race'"

One way liberals account for their ferocious emotions over race is to proclaim that the object of their obsession doesn't exist.

From the New York Times:
Invitation to a Dialogue: The Myth of ‘Race’ 
Published: July 16, 2013

To the Editor: 
What should we do about “race”? 
Over many decades, those who study genetics have found no biological evidence to support the idea that humans consist of different “races.” Based on such scientific data, Ashley Montagu published “Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race” in 1942. New discoveries have confirmed what he said then. So why, over seven decades after his book, do we keep talking and living as though biological “races” exist? 
Not only are certain “racial” classifications flawed, as suggested in “Has ‘Caucasian’ Lost Its Meaning?” (Sunday Review, July 7); all “racial” classifications are inherently flawed, because they are based on the false idea of “race.” 
The myth of “race” has supported the horrors of slavery, apartheid, segregation, eugenics and the Holocaust. It continues to support racism. We cannot simply ignore the harm this myth has caused and pretend that the myth never existed.
The scientific, democratic and ethical goal should be to eliminate the false idea of “race” completely. But how do we both destroy the myth and remedy the harm it has caused? 
We can begin by mentally changing how we see people. When we look at someone and automatically think about that person’s “race,” we must realize that we are not seeing “race” but instead seeing an arbitrary and harmful societal classification imposed on a continuum of physical differences. 
When we want to ask how someone is classified by the myth, we should always put “race” or “racial” in quotation marks (as I have done here). Such questions still need to be asked, for example, on applications for college or a job, or for the census, for the answers provide the data needed to maintain diversity in education and the workplace and to monitor and remedy the harms the myth has caused and continues to cause. The long-term goal, however, is to make these questions obsolete. 
Boston, July 15, 2013 
The writer is a retired lawyer, former professor of philosophy and the author of books, essays and a blog on democracy, ethics and human rights. 
Editors’ Note: We invite readers to respond by Thursday for the Sunday Dialogue. We plan to publish responses and Mr. Hodge’s rejoinder in the Sunday Review. E-mail: letters@nytimes.com

You know the old joke about how "If Abraham Lincoln were alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave"? Well, the New York Times' genetics reporter Nicholas Wade must be spinning in his office chair.

By the way, a dozen years ago I laid out a simple, useful, damn-near tautological way to define "racial group" that largely fits the philosophy implicit in the federal government's racial categories. But, these days, being reasonable doesn't cut it.

America's 4 races: Blacks, Bad Whites, Good Whites, and misc.

From my new column in Taki's Magazine:
Third, the example of George Zimmerman—a white, black, and Amerindian son of a Peruvian immigrant, what Latin Americans call a pardo—shows once again that, no matter what the Census Bureau’s demographic categories say and no matter how many sermons we hear about how immigration and interracial marriage are propelling us toward a post-racial utopia, in the 21st-century American media mythos there are really only four kinds of people: 
• Blacks
• Bad Whites
• Good Whites
• misc.

Read the whole thing there.

Of course, I'm lifting this from the 1992 Simpsons episode written by George Meyer:
Ned: "Homer, God didn't set your house on fire." 
Rev. Lovejoy: "No, but He was working in the hearts of your friends and neighbors when they came to your aid, be they Christian, Jew, or... miscellaneous." 
Apu: "Hindu! There are 700 million of us." 
Rev. Lovejoy: "Aww, that's super."

Summer's not over, so neither is the iSteve Summer Fundraiser

As you may have noticed lately, America keeps turning more and more into one big iSteve blog post. 

I hope I've assisted your understanding of the way of the world in the 21st Century. I'd like to keep it up. To do that, I need your support, both moral and monetary.

First, you can make a tax deductible contribution via VDARE by clicking here.

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Third: You can mail a non-tax deductible donation to:

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July 16, 2013

Riots v. protests

From the Los Angeles Times
Though demonstrations over the Zimmerman verdict have been mostly peaceful across the U.S., California has stood apart, marked by violence in Los Angeles and Oakland, where officials' and activists' patience were diminishing.

The conventional assumption about riots appears to be that they occur in proportion to the aggrievement of the "community." In contrast, my impression over the last four decades is that they more occur due to "Hey, the cops aren't a worry, let's get free stuff!" 

Thus, I would distinguish between protests and riots.

And I try not to make predictions about when riots happen because they tend to be dependent upon two things happening. A lot of people in the street and the police losing control. The latter tends to be hard to predict.

A key example would be the huge 1992 Los Angeles riot. Was it caused more by the passionate outrage of the community ... or by the LAPD sulking over all the criticism they'd undergone, and thus wimping out when shoplifting at liquor stores at the corner of Florence and Normandie started to explode? I'd lean toward the latter (although I can appreciate arguments for the former).

Since then, riots in North America seem more likely to be associated with sports than with traditional complaints. The big riot in Chicago in June 1992, for example, came as a surprise surprise because the crowds weren't angry, they were ecstatic over Michael Jordan's Bulls winning their second straight NBA title. There hadn't been a riot the year before when the Bulls finally made it to the top, so why the second year? And then, in 1993, there was some looting but the Chicago PD was well prepared with cops on horses.

Thus, if riots are largely the result of cops failing to enforce order, then the increasing professionalization (indeed, militarization, as seen in the Hunt for the Bomb Brothers) of police forces over the last generation, especially since 9/11, has made riots less common.

Obama confesses to racially profiling black youths

Richard Cohen writes in his Washington Post column:
In the meantime, the least we can do is talk honestly about the problem. It does no one any good to merely cite the number of stop-and-frisks involving black males without citing the murder statistics as well. Citing the former and not the latter is an Orwellian exercise in political correctness. It not only censors half of the story but also suggests that racism is the sole reason for the policy. This mindlessness, like racism itself, is repugnant. 
Crime where it intersects with race is given the silent treatment. Everything else is discussed — and if it isn’t, there’s a Dr. Phil or an Oprah saying that it should be. Crime, though, is different. It is, like sex in the Victorian era (or the 1950s), an unmentionable but unmistakable part of life. We all know about it and take appropriate precaution but keep our mouths shut. 
At one time, I thought Barack Obama would bring the problem into the open and remove the racist stigma. Instead, he perpetuated it. In his acclaimed Philadelphia speech on race, he cited his grandmother as “a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed her by on the street.” 
How about the former Barry Obama? When he was a Columbia University student living on the lip of then-dangerous Harlem, did he never have the same fear?

Indeed, as I pointed out in March 2008, following the famous Philadelphia "race speech," the Presidential frontrunner's bestseller Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance includes a passage in a Chicago chapter in which he obliquely confesses to racially profiling black youths:
"That night, well past midnight, a car pulls up in front of my apartment building, carrying a troop of teenage boys and a set of stereo speakers so loud that the floor of my apartment begins to shake. I've learned to ignore such disturbances -- where else do they have to go? I say to myself. But on this particular evening I have someone staying over ...
"'Listen, people, are trying to sleep around here. Why don't y'all take it someplace else?' 
"The four boys inside say nothing, don't even move. The wind wipes away my drowsiness, and I feel suddenly exposed, standing in a pair of shorts on the sidewalk in the middle of the night.... One of them could be Kyle. One of them could be Roy. One of them could be Johnnie."

Kyle, Roy, and Johnnie are all black male characters in Dreams from My Father -- in other words, as Obama's grandfather might say, the fellas in the car are black. Obama then proceeds to make stereotypical assumptions about young black males' violent tendencies:
"I start picturing myself through the eyes of these boys, a figure of random authority, and know the calculations they might now be making, that if one of them can't take me out, the four of them certainly can."

The chapter ends:
"The engine starts, and the car screeches away. I turn back toward my apartment knowing that I've been both stupid and lucky, knowing that I am afraid after all."

Shocking, isn't it?

Let me quote one sentence to show you why so few people ever finish reading Dreams from My Father:
"As I stand there, I find myself thinking that somewhere down the line both guilt and empathy speak to our own buried sense that an order of some sort is required, not the social order that exists, necessarily, but something more fundamental and more demanding; a sense, further, that one has a stake in this order, a wish that, no matter how fluid this order sometimes appears, it will not drain out of the universe."

I think this means that the Ivy Leaguer has just now realized he's on the side of the cops, not on the side of the crooks.

But, of course, unlike his grandmother, Obama is allowed to racially profile blacks.

Because he's black.

Have you noticed how 21st Century ethics are just becoming simpler and simpler?

Zimmerman, Martin, Yglesias, and false stereotypes

By the way, regarding Matthew Yglesias's admission today in Slate that the two criminals who knocked him down with punches as he walked about a mile north of the Supreme Court building were black ... I've often been accused of racial profiling and racist bigotry (which, in today's dominant narrative are assumed to be identical) for assuming that Yglesias's assailants were black. After all, Yglesias's original account of the apparently random attack didn't mention the race of the criminals.

My reasoning was two-fold:

- that nonblack criminals generally don't hang around in black neighborhoods to commit random street crimes like beating up strolling white philosophy majors

- and Yglesias would have said so if they weren't black. 

(Moreover, several months after the assault, he mentioned on his former blog that they were black, confirming my initial surmise, but that blog became hard to search after he moved to Slate.)

Obviously, I was right all along from day one. 

But being right is racist.

That's one of the causes of the current vast eruption of liberal white rage -- out of all the screwed up stuff that happens on the streets of America every year, the mainstream media picked this incident out to put all their chips on in their condemnation of profiling.

But then, it turned out that Zimmerman's suspicions were highly accurate. As one commenter says, Trayvon Martin turned out to be a petty criminal with violent tendencies and an apparent history of burglary.

Now, in defense of the late Trayvon Martin, let me point out that a lot of guys with Martin's bad but not horrible record at age 17 pull out of this downward spiral before, say, they start engaging in drive-by shootings. A lot of 17-year-olds are surly, greedy, and stupid. More than a few of them wise up as they get older, as they discover that their rap music isn't really good advice on how to live. Martin was reasonably well-poised to wake up to the trajectory he was upon: he didn't come from the bottom of society, but from a pretty average African-American family. For example, he had a father who was still involved enough in his life to haul him out of Miami to get him away from his low-life friends during his school suspension.

But, all this just makes the story more tragic.

The Martin-Zimmerman story should be an occasion for national reflection about the perniciousness of today's dominant stereotypes, specifically:

-- White liberals' favorite stereotypes about blacks as the eternal victims of the violent white racists hiding under every bed

-- Black males' favorite stereotypes about themselves as bulletproof tough guys who are morally justified by their victimhood in responding to being dissed with violence.

These two stereotypes have the peculiar disadvantage of being both not true individually (unlike the majority of less socially reputable stereotypes) and interacting with horrible consequences. White liberal hatred for white conservatives and black love of gangsta rap interact very, very badly.

In D.C., blacks imprisoned 56X whites

Of relevance to the next post, back in 2001, I wrote for UPI a re-analysis of data in a new report on imprisonment rates in 1997:
The National Center on Institutions and Alternatives (www.NCIAnet.org), a liberal think tank advocating less imprisonment, has released a new report, "Masking the Divide," that argues that, "The overuse of incarceration is causing severe and potentially irreparable divisions in society."  
... Nationwide in 1997, non-Hispanic whites comprised 34.8 percent of the prisoners, African-Americans 46.9 percent, Hispanics 16.0 percent, and others 2.3 percent. Overall, the study found that 2.6 percent of the African-American adult population was imprisoned in 1997, compared to 1.1 percent of Hispanics, and 0.3 percent of non-Hispanic whites. The report does not break out imprisonment rates for Asian-Americans, but most experts believe Asians tend to be imprisoned the least of all major groups. ....
Interestingly, crunching the data in the report's appendices sheds light on a number of fascinating topics that did not particularly interest the report's sponsors.  
For example, "The Sopranos" television drama has revived New Jersey's reputation as a hotbed of white criminals. Yet, to the extent that a tendency to be law-abiding can be estimated from imprisonment rates, that much-maligned state appears in fact to have the second most law-abiding non-Hispanic white people in America. According to a new report that breaks down imprisonment rates by race and ethnicity, white New Jerseyites trail only the notoriously nice white folks of Minnesota in staying out of prison. 
Some findings confirm common sense -- for example, whites in fast-living Nevada are more than twice as likely to be in prison as whites in the mostly Mormon neighboring state of Utah. 
In contrast, some of the data undermine common myths. Besides polishing the tarnished image of New Jersey's whites, the numbers also reveal the surprising news that politically liberal states, not conservative ones, are likely to have the largest gap between the imprisonment rates of blacks and whites. 
These ratios varied significantly from state to state. While one might expect that the highest proportion of black-to-white imprisonment would occur in politically conservative states, the opposite was true. It was in Democratic-leaning states where blacks had the highest rates of imprisonment relative to whites. 
For instance, the racial gap in the highly liberal, black-dominated District of Columbia was found to be off the charts. In D.C., a black person is 56 times more likely than a white person to be in prison. The next-largest racial disparities were found in liberal mainstays Minnesota (a 31-times higher rate of blacks being in prison) and Wisconsin (22 times higher), followed by New Jersey, Iowa, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Illinois. All of these states voted for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in 2000. 
Of course, it's not uncommon for regions that are highly liberal in terms of national politics to vote for conservatives in local elections. For example, the Democratic Party's liberal bastions of New York City and Los Angeles each elected law-and-order Republican mayors in the mid-1990s, following the crack epidemic crime wave that began in the late 1980s. 
The smallest difference in the black-to-white imprisonment rate was found in liberal Hawaii (only 2.9 to 1). This may have something to do with many members of Hawaii's small African-American community being active or retired members of the U.S. armed forces. 
After Hawaii, though, the next 10 states closest to black-white racial equality in imprisonment rates were all Southern or Western states that voted for George W. Bush. For example, highly conservative Mississippi and South Carolina each imprisoned blacks only six times more often than whites per person, compared to the national average of nine times more often. 
Eighteen of the 20 states with the least disparity between blacks and whites voted for Bush in 2000. These below-average racial ratios are driven in part by the tendency of whites in Republican states to get themselves thrown in prison more often than whites in Democratic states. The highest white imprisonment rates tend to be in old frontier states of the Wild West. 
The most often locked up whites are in Alaska, followed by Oklahoma, Nevada, Arizona and Texas.

Here's La Griffe du Lion in 2006 offering another elegantly reductionist way to explain this pattern.

Matthew Yglesias on his being randomly beaten by blacks

Matthew Yglesias writes in Slate:
Bayes' Theorem For Dummies—Dummies Like Richard Cohen 
Trolling the universe this morning, Richard Cohen wrote a column arguing that it wasn't racist of George Zimmerman to suspect Trayvon Martin of being a criminal because everyone knows that a disproportionate share of violent crimes are in fact committed by young black men. 
I think what Cohen really means to be arguing isn't so much that neither he nor Zimmerman are racists, but that racism is the correct social and political posture. That white people have good reason to fear black men, and that therefore all black men should be put in a subordinate position. But as a logical argument, Cohen here is falling afoul of very poor statistical inference. For example, the vast majority of newspaper op-ed columnists in America are white men just like Richard Cohen. But that doesn't mean it's reasonable to see a white man walking down the street and assume he's a newspaper columnist. If you look specifically at Jewish men, you'll see the stereotype that we are disproportionately represented in the field of political commentary is absolutely accurate. And yet it is still not reasonable to assume that some randomly selected Jewish man is a professional political writer. Even right here on the mean streets of Washington, DC—a city that's legendary for its high rate of punditry—a clear majority of Jewish men are not pundits. It's just a very rare occupation. 

Here are the demographic backgrounds of the a list of the top 50 pundits in America in 2009, a list compiled by The Atlantic.
By the same token, the fact that young black men are disproportionately likely to be involved in violent crime in no way licenses the inference that you should stop random black men on the street and begin treating them like criminals. 
For example, since moving to a majority black city ten years ago it is the case that 100 percent of the people who randomly assaulted me on the street were African-American. And yet that was a single incident on one day out of thousands. The overwhelming preponderance of black men I walk past on the street on a day-to-day basis—even the young ones, even the ones wearing hoodies—aren't committing any violent crimes.

Back on May 15, 2011, I wrote: "Was the beating of Matthew Yglesias a hate crime?"
If I were to start questioning every single black male teenager I come across as a criminal suspect, I would very much be engaged in unreasonable behavior. Now everyone makes mistakes, but the fact that Richard Cohen has been making this mistake in print for over 25 years leads me to think he just doesn't care. He knows most young black men aren't dangerous criminals, but he nonetheless thinks they should all be held under a cloud of preemptive suspicion anyway.

Sportswriter Damon Runyon (source of the great musical "Guys and Dolls") once amended the Book of Ecclesiastes:
"The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's how the smart money bets."

As Neil Diamond warned: They're coming to America

From the Washington Post:
In Mexico, rails are risky crossing for a new wave of Central American migrants

July 15, 2013

Something intelligent and interesting in the news

From the NYT:
Study Finds Spatial Skill Is Early Sign of Creativity 
A gift for spatial reasoning — the kind that may inspire an imaginative child to dismantle a clock or the family refrigerator — may be a greater predictor of future creativity or innovation than math or verbal skills, particularly in math, science and related fields, according to a study published Monday in the journal Psychological Science. 

For example, I have okay two-dimensional reasoning abilities, but I am terrible at three-dimensions. When I was a teen, I was obsessed with golf course architecture and I sketched lots of clever golf holes in 2-D maps (like looking out an airplane window). But, skill at golf course architecture is largely 3-D imagination.
The study looked at the professional success of people who, as 13-year-olds, had taken both the SAT, because they had been flagged as particularly gifted, as well as the Differential Aptitude Test. That exam measures spatial relations skills, the ability to visualize and manipulate two-and three-dimensional objects. While math and verbal scores proved to be an accurate predictor of the students’ later accomplishments, adding spatial ability scores significantly increased the accuracy. 
The researchers, from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, said their findings make a strong case for rewriting standardized tests like the SAT and ACT to focus more on spatial ability, to help identify children who excel in this area and foster their talents. 
“Evidence has been mounting over several decades that spatial ability gives us something that we don’t capture with traditional measures used in educational selection,” said David Lubinski, the lead author of the study and a psychologist at Vanderbilt. “We could be losing some modern-day Edisons and Fords.” 
Following up on a study from the 1970s, Dr. Lubinski and his colleagues tracked the professional progress of 563 students who had scored in the top 0.5 percent on the SAT 30 years ago, when they were 13. At the time, the students had also taken the Differential Aptitude Test. 
Years later, the children who had scored exceptionally high on the SAT also tended to be high achievers — not surprisingly — measured in terms of the scholarly papers they had published and patents that they held. But there was an even higher correlation with success among those who had also scored highest on the spatial relations test, which the researchers judged to be a critical diagnostic for achievement in technology, engineering, math and science. 
Cognitive psychologists have long suspected that spatial ability — sometimes referred to as the “orphan ability” for its tendency to go undetected — is key to success in technical fields.

3-d skills appear to be relative less related to the general factor of intelligence. It's perhaps like how with a personal computer the 3-d processor video card sometimes comes on a separate chip from the CPU.
Earlier studies have shown that students with a high spatial aptitude are not only overrepresented in those fields, but may receive little guidance in high school and underachieve as a result. ...

Because 3-d skills are a little less correlated with g, which correlates pretty well with school achievement, 3-d geniuses on average may be less socialized by school and more eccentric, relatively speaking.
The correlation has “been suspected, but not as well researched” as the predictive power of math skills, said David Geary, a psychologist at the University of Missouri, who was not involved in the study, which was funded by the John Templeton Foundation. The new research is significant, he said, for showing that “high levels of performance in STEM fields” — science, technology, engineering and math — “are not simply related to math abilities.” 
Testing spatial aptitude is not particularly difficult, Dr. Geary added, but is simply not part of standardized testing because it is considered a cognitive function — the realm of I.Q. and intelligence tests — and is not typically a skill taught in school. ...
It is also a competence more associated with men than women. In the current study, boys greatly outnumbered girls, 393 to 170, reflecting the original scores of the students in the ’70s. But the study found no difference in the levels of adult achievement, said Dr. Lubinski, though the women were more likely than the men to work in medicine and the social sciences.

Presumably adding more 3-d questions to college admissions tests would disparately impact blacks and benefit Asians and whites. I don't know what the impact would be on Hispanics.

Jeantel: Trayvon not racist, just homophobic

From a Mediaite summary of a CNN Piers Morgan interview with Rachel Jeantel:
In the second part of his interview with Jeantel, Morgan turned to the “creepy-ass cracker” comment she made and the major impact it had on the tenor of the case. She explained that the term is actually spelled “cracka” and defined it as “people who are acting like they’re police.” She said that if Zimmerman had calmly approached Martin and introduced himself, her friend would have politely said what he was doing there and nothing more would have happened. ... 
Jeantel insisted that Martin was “creeped out” and believed Zimmerman was following him, even worrying that he might be a “rapist.” She asked, “For every boy or every man who’s not that kind of way, seeing a grown man following them, would they be creeped out?”

Consider two slightly different phrases:

"Creepy ass cracka" v. "Crazy ass cracka"

The latter implies a perception of aggressiveness, recklessness, or hostility, while the former implies homosexuality.

I suggested this general possibility back in March 2012:
Let's try thinking like Tom Wolfe: for maximum discomfiture. Here's a possibility that might come out at, say, a trial of George Zimmerman if Crump dares put the girlfriend on the stand and expose her to cross-examination: It's hardly implausible that Trayvon Martin might have worried that this strange man was following him in the dark for homoerotic purposes, and he might have mentioned that concern to his girlfriend over the phone.  
Of course, if he did, he probably wouldn't have used the term "homoerotic purposes."  
What if Trayvon used the (heavens) "3-letter F-word" to describe Zimmerman? What if he said to her, "I'm going to punch that f__ because I hate f___?" 
Chaos in the courtroom ... 
Of course, then we would be treated to learned disquisitions on how gaybashing is actually okay as long as the bashee isn't actually gay; or that what Trayvon actually meant was that he wanted to punch that pedophile and pedophile-bashing is A-OK.

Now, it didn't work out exactly that way in court, but that appears to have been more or less the situation on that sad, SNAFU night in the condo complex.

Paul Blart v. C-Murder.

By the way, how would Trayvon have felt about all the media depictions of him as a child? Pretty upset, I imagine.

William Saletan speaks sense

William Saletan writes in Slate:
The problem at the core of this case wasn’t race or guns. The problem was assumption, misperception, and overreaction. And that cycle hasn’t ended with the verdict. It has escalated. 
I almost joined the frenzy. Yesterday I was going to write that Zimmerman pursued Martin against police instructions and illustrated the perils of racial profiling. But I hadn’t followed the case in detail. So I sat down and watched the closing arguments: nearly seven hours of video in which the prosecution and defense went point by point through the evidence as it had been hashed out at the trial. Based on what I learned from the videos, I did some further reading. 
It turned out I had been wrong about many things. The initial portrait of Zimmerman as a racist wasn’t just exaggerated. It was completely unsubstantiated. It’s a case study in how the same kind of bias that causes racism can cause unwarranted allegations of racism. Some of the people Zimmerman had reported as suspicious were black men, so he was a racist. Members of his family seemed racist, so he was a racist. Everybody knew he was a racist, so his recorded words were misheard as racial slurs, proving again that he was a racist. 
The 911 dispatcher who spoke to Zimmerman on the fatal night didn’t tell him to stay in his car. Zimmerman said he was following a suspicious person, and the dispatcher told him, "We don't need you do to that." Chief prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda conceded in his closing argument that these words were ambiguous. De la Rionda also acknowledged, based on witness and forensic evidence that both men “were scraping and rolling and fighting out there.” He pointed out that the wounds, blood evidence, and DNA didn’t match Zimmerman’s story of being thoroughly restrained and pummeled throughout the fight. But the evidence didn’t fit the portrait of Martin as a sweet-tempered child, either. And the notion that Zimmerman hunted down Martin to accost him made no sense. Zimmerman knew the police were on the way. They arrived only a minute or so after the gunshot. The fight happened in a public area surrounded by townhouses at close range. It was hardly the place or time to start shooting. 
That doesn’t make Zimmerman a hero. It just makes him a reckless fool instead of a murderer.

The holy war against pattern recognition

Another op-ed in the New York Times on the crime of Noticing:
July 15, 2013 
The Truth About Trayvon 
... Lawyers on both sides argued repeatedly that this case was never about race, but only whether prosecutors proved beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman was not simply defending himself when he shot Mr. Martin. And, indeed, race was only whispered in the incomplete invocation that Mr. Zimmerman had “profiled” Mr. Martin. But what this case reveals in its overall shape is precisely what the law is unable to see in its narrow focus on the details. 
The anger felt by so many African-Americans speaks to the simplest of truths: that race and law cannot be cleanly separated. We are tired of hearing that race is a conversation for another day. We are tired of pretending that “reasonable doubt” is not, in every sense of the word, colored. 
Every step Mr. Martin took toward the end of his too-short life was defined by his race. I do not have to believe that Mr. Zimmerman is a hate-filled racist to recognize that he would probably not even have noticed Mr. Martin if he had been a casually dressed white teenager. 
But because Mr. Martin was one of those “punks” who “always get away,” as Mr. Zimmerman characterized him in a call to the police, Mr. Zimmerman felt he was justified in following him. After all, a young black man matched the criminal descriptions, not just in local police reports, but in those most firmly lodged in Mr. Zimmerman’s imagination. 
Whether the law judges Trayvon Martin’s behavior to be reasonable is also deeply colored by race. Imagine that a militant black man, with a history of race-based suspicion and a loaded gun, followed an unarmed white teenager around his neighborhood. The young man is scared, and runs through the streets trying to get away. Unable to elude his black stalker and, perhaps, feeling cornered, he finally holds his ground — only to be shot at point-blank range after a confrontation. 
Would we throw up our hands, unable to conclude what really happened? Would we struggle to find a reasonable doubt about whether the shooter acted in self-defense? A young, white Trayvon Martin would unquestionably be said to have behaved reasonably, while it is unimaginable that a militant, black George Zimmerman would not be viewed as the legal aggressor, and thus guilty of at least manslaughter. ...
We know this, yet every time a case like this offers a chance for the country to tackle the evil of racial discrimination in our criminal law, courts have deliberately silenced our ability to expose it. The Supreme Court has held that even if your race is what makes your actions suspicious to the police, their suspicions are reasonable so long as an officer can later construct a race-neutral narrative. 
Likewise, our death penalty cases have long presaged the Zimmerman verdict, exposing how racial disparities, which make a white life more valuable, do not undermine the constitutionality of the death sentence. And even the most casual observer recognizes the painful racial disparities in our prison population — the new Jim Crow, in the account of the legal scholar Michelle Alexander. Our prisons are full of young, black men for whom guilty beyond a reasonable doubt was easy enough to reach. 
There is no quick answer for the historical use of our criminal law to reinforce and then punish social stereotypes. But pretending that reasonable doubt is a value-free clinical term, as so many people did so readily in the Zimmerman case, only insulates injustice in plain sight. 
Without an honest jurisprudence that is brave enough to tackle the way race infuses our criminal law, Trayvon Martin’s voice will be silenced again. 
What would such a jurisprudence look like? The Supreme Court could hold, for example, that the unjustified use of race by the police in determining “reasonable suspicion” constituted an unreasonable stop, tainting captured evidence. Likewise, in the same way we have started to attack racial disparities in other areas of criminal law, we could consider it a violation of someone’s constitutional rights if, controlling for all else, his race was what determined whether the state executed him. 
I can imagine a jurisprudence that at least begins to use racial disparities as a tool to question the constitutionality of criminal punishment. And above all, I can imagine a jurisprudence that does not pretend, as lawyers for both sides (but no one else) did in the Zimmerman case, that doubts have no color.