November 23, 2013

America's future will be extremely confusing to journalists

The national press is getting itself worked up over a story of "racial profiling" out of Miami Gardens, FL. Below is a representative example out of Slate, but you can read much the same thing at NPR ("Miami-Area Police Force Accused Of Rampant Racial Profiling"), USA Today ("Miami-area police agency charged with racial profiling"), NY Daily News, the Atlantic, etc.
How "Zero Tolerance" Policing Helped Bad Cops in Florida Create a Civil Rights Nightmare

By Justin Peters

The Miami Herald has published a stunning, maddening story about alleged persistent police harassment of blacks in the city of Miami Gardens, Fla. (You should read the entire Herald story; it will raise your blood pressure and ruin your weekend, but you should still read it.) For years, police would come to a convenience store in a transitional neighborhood and hassle black customers and employees in the name of proactive crime prevention—regularly citing and arresting men for loitering or trespassing, even when they weren’t. 
One man, an employee of the store, was “stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years,” with almost all of these incidents happening on store premises. He was arrested 62 times for trespassing, and, again, these were arrests for being on the grounds of the store where he was employed.

You know, I think by the 61st arrest, much less the 62nd, it's not racial profiling anymore in the sense of being statistical. By then, it's gotta be kind of personal.
These incidents and others were recorded by video cameras installed by the store’s owner for the express purpose of documenting police misconduct: 
The videos show, among other things, cops stopping citizens, questioning them, aggressively searching them and arresting them for trespassing when they have permission to be on the premises; officers conducting searches of [storeowner Alex] Saleh’s business without search warrants or permission; using what appears to be excessive force on subjects who are clearly not resisting arrest and filing inaccurate police reports in connection with the arrests. 
How does something like this happen? Blame it on endemic racism, yes, and on bad apples in the police department—but also blame it on a short-sighted local crime-reduction policy that, in retrospect, was always, always ripe for abuse. The convenience store incidents began when police convinced the store’s owner to enroll in the department’s “Zero Tolerance Zone” program. In Miami Gardens, when a shop becomes a Zero Tolerance Zone, the owner signs an affidavit authorizing the police to enter the premises when the owner is absent and question, eject, and/or arrest all those whom they suspect of being up to no good. 
The website of the Miami Gardens Police Department notes that the program is “designed to reduce the number of individuals who are sometimes seen trespassing and loitering on private property without legitimate business.”

The fact that Miami Gardens police kept arresting that one particular employee even after it was very clear that he worked at the store is baffling, and obviously indicates that more was going on here than simple overzealousness. But the alleged police misbehavior is rooted in the idea that cities can keep their streets safer by keeping poor black men off of them, and that it's up to an individual cop’s discretion to determine what sort of behavior is and is not appropriate.
The “Zero Tolerance Zone” initiative sounds similar to the controversial stop-and-frisk programs that have been deployed in New York and other cities, where police officers are encouraged to routinely stop and question people on slim grounds—“suspicious behavior” is a favorite excuse—in hopes of seizing guns and drugs and stopping crime before it starts. ... . Inevitably, the people being stopped and questioned are minority residents of crime-ridden areas—police have no incentive to deploy these tactics in rich white neighborhoods with minimal street crime. ... 
This all comes down to the goddamn stupid, silly, racist “broken windows” theory of crime prevention that encourages police to treat the symptoms in hopes of curing the disease. ... As a long-term crime-prevention strategy, broken windows is intellectually bankrupt; as a short-term strategy, it is a recipe for civil rights abuses. If the allegations are true, the Miami Gardens story makes this all painfully clear.

I haven't actually been to Miami Gardens, so I have no idea what's going on at Mr. Saleh's 207 Quick Stop store, but I found this comment after the original Miami Herald article from somebody calling himself Abdur Rahman who uses a picture of Malcolm X as his commenting avatar:
"That store is a hangout for dope sellers and people who do not get up and go to work everyday. It is unsafe. A man was killed in the parking lot a just the other day. Most of us have kids and we tell our kids over and over to stay away from that store. If you want to be a thug or run a thug hangout, then don't get mad at the police."

Other suggestions have included that the cops are padding their arrest statistics, that the mayor must own the rival quickie mart next door, or that the owner got behind on his weekly payoff.

Something I've noticed about the modern media is that almost nobody actually believes in the "changing face of America" and all that. Sure, everybody talks about it, but nobody believes it's really happening. Instead, it is assumed, everywhere will always have a white majority.

Thus, of course a place called "Miami Gardens" is going to be majority white. Why would anyone doubt it? And even if you sort of wonder whether "Miami Gardens" really looks like Bedford Falls, well, how can you check?

I mean, what's a journalist supposed to do before writing an article about Miami Gardens, FL? Put on his fedora and take the street car down to the Carnegie Library to look up in a dusty Census book what the demographics of Miami Gardens, FL are? Who has time for that?

Oh, wait, sorry, you can now type "Miami Gardens demographics" into a search engine and it will take you right to the exact paragraph in the Wikipedia article on the 2010 Census.

It turns out that Miami Gardens is 2.6% non-Hispanic white, 22% Hispanic, and it's 76% black. The municipality, which was only incorporated in 2003, is the largest black majority city in Florida.

Let me give some general advice: if you come across a story about local government that seems kind of screwy, go look up the demographics.

Here are pictures of the Miami Gardens leadership:
Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert
Incoming City Manager Cameron Benson
Matthew Boyd
Paul Miller
Tiffany Britton
And here's a picture of storeowner Alex Saleh who is filing the civil rights lawsuit against Miami Gardens:
Alex Saleh, civil rights plaintiff
The future of America is shaping up in Florida: it will be diverse, full of interest, and extremely confusing to journalists.

Immigration "Reform" turned out to be a Paper Jaguar

The massive push of 2013 by much of the Establishment for the Schumer-Rubio immigration bill was a classic Hi-Lo Teamup against the middle, in which various elites cover their naked pursuit of their self-interest with the fig leaf that they are doing it to liberate some minority from discrimination, given near 100% air cover by the media. It's one of those recurrent patterns that's really obvious once you notice it (subprime catastrophe, anyone?), but you aren't supposed to notice it.

In The Atlantic, Molly Ball (kind of like MoneyBall, but not), is puzzled: all the Good People (e.g., the more PR-savvy billionaires, the diversicrats, etc.) were for Schumer-Rubio, and yet the Bad People somehow managed to live to fight another day.
What Happened to Immigration Reform? 
A powerful, well-organized coalition did everything it could, with no results. Now advocates are preparing to shift from lobbying to revenge. 
MOLLY BALL NOV 22 2013, 7:00 AM ET

Last week, John Boehner was having breakfast at his customary spot on Capitol Hill, Pete’s Diner, when he was approached by two teenage girls with a video camera. Clad in a baseball cap and fleece pullover, the speaker nervously fiddled with his ear as the pair told him of their undocumented immigrant parents’ fear of deportation. “I’m trying to find a way to get this thing done,” he told them. “It’s, as you know, not easy. It’s not going to be an easy path forward, but I’ve made it clear since the day after the election that it’s time to get this done.” 
Just a few hours later, Boehner, now wearing a suit, addressed reporters in the Capitol. On immigration, his tone was rather less encouraging. “The idea that we’re going to take up a 1,300-page bill that no one had ever read, which is what the Senate did, is not going to happen in the House,” he said. “And frankly, I’ll make clear we have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill.”

For the broad, well-organized coalition of immigration-reform activists, that statement was a stunning blow. If Boehner keeps that pledge, he will have rendered moot the months of wheeling and dealing it took to get a massive, bipartisan bill through the Senate in June, forcing the upper chamber to start from scratch even if the House manages to get its act together and pass its own bill or group of bills—a prospect that appears increasingly unlikely. 
That Boehner could make encouraging noises when confronted by activists, then pour cold water on immigration's legislative prospects, neatly summarized the plight of the reformers, many of whom are coming to grips with the possibility that their efforts, despite politicians' apparent receptiveness, have come to naught. The reformers' official line remains one of optimism that the House will act, perhaps even before the end of 2013. But many activists have already begun to take a more aggressive tack, arguing that lobbying is over—it’s time for revenge. 
“We can’t force them to get to yes, but we can make them pay a price for getting to no,” said Frank Sharry. An immigration-reform advocate for decades, Sharry heads America’s Voice, the reform coalition’s main clearinghouse. He holds out hope that legislation could still pass the House in the waning days of 2013, he told me, but he and others are preparing to move into a new gear once the calendar flips—one in which their focus will shift to punishing House Republicans. “If this Congress isn’t going to pass immigration reform, let’s elect a Congress that will,” Sharry said. 
It is an emotionally wrenching juncture for a movement that, until recently, was riding high. “The reason there’s such a sadness is that we got very close,” said Joshua Culling, a conservative policy strategist who worked on immigration for Americans for Tax Reform [Grover Norquist's organization]. “The momentum for the better part of a year was on our side.”
Conservative commentators like Sean Hannity backed comprehensive reform; the Republican National Committee came out in favor; the Senate Gang of Eight successfully completed its work. The reform coalition, comprising tech executives and evangelical pastors, unions and human-rights groups, agriculture and law enforcement, libertarians and bleeding-heart liberals, kept Democrats largely united while winning over large swaths of the conservative movement. They kept up a blitz of grassroots pressure while their opposition was barely seen. 
And yet their incremental successes have failed, so far, to add up to the big goal: getting a law passed. ...  
The diverse coalition of immigration activists has managed to remain remarkably unified and even to grow over the past year. Their disappointment is grave. “On the left, you have a bunch of ‘Dreamers’ and undocumented folks who think of themselves as Americans and are still technically criminals,” Culling said. “On the right, you have people who care about the [Republican] Party and feel like this was our one opportunity” to change the way voters perceive the GOP. “Everyone was on board the week after the election, and we pissed it away again.” ... 
The carrot didn’t work, so it’s time for the stick. Sharry estimates there are five to 10 Republicans in the House who could be defeated if the Latino vote goes strongly enough against them—not enough to hand the House to Democrats, who are currently 17 seats from the majority, but enough to send a message. For most of the year, advocates, even those on the left, have sought to give Republican members room to maneuver rather than going on the attack. But that’s changing as the shift to campaign mode begins. 
Earlier this month, unions and immigrant-rights groups teamed up on what they termed an “escalation,” a batch of tough Spanish-language television ads in the districts of nine GOP congressmen. ..., the advocacy group founded by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg with the help of both Republican and Democratic strategists, has begun to take a tougher tack, switching from the supportive ads the group previously ran to spots that seek to remind politicians of their promises. ... 
Meanwhile, activists are stepping up pressure on the White House to unilaterally halt deportations. ...
At any given time, the immigration-reform community is engaged in a dizzying flurry of activism.

No, they are not. I've barely witnessed anything in the real world over the last year. For example, remember the massive Mayday demonstrations of illegal aliens in 2006? Well, the Mayday rallies in favor of the Schumer-Rubio bill in 2013 were flops.
For whatever reason, activists' herculean efforts appear to have run aground.

Herculean? This stuff is astroturf activism. It's a paper jaguar.

November 22, 2013

Latest Girl Power icon to surface in media promoting women in STEM is hot babe with great hair

Debbie Sterling, CEO of GoldieBlox
From the NYT:
Ad Takes Off Online: Less Doll, More Awl 
Who said girls want to dress in pink and play with dolls, especially when they could be building Rube Goldberg machines instead? 
That is the message of a video that has gone viral, viewed more than 6.4 million times since it was posted Monday on YouTube — an ad for GoldieBlox, a start-up toy company that sells games and books to encourage girls to become engineers. 
In the ad, three girls are bored watching princesses in pink on TV. So they grab a tool kit, goggles and hard hats and set to work building a machine that sends pink teacups and baby dolls flying through the house, using umbrellas, ladders and, of course, GoldieBlox toys. 
The ad has become a hot topic of conversation on social media, generating discussion about a much broader issue: the dearth of women in the technology and engineering fields, where just a quarter of technical jobs are held by women. 
“I’ve been so excited to watch this wave,” said Rachel Sklar, an advocate for women in technology and co-founder of, a digital media company for women. “It really does highlight that this gap is not that little girls aren’t interested in it, it really is a function of ‘you can’t be what you can’t see.’” 
Cindy Gallop, who started the United States branch of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, the advertising agency, said the ad also illustrated how advertising created by and for women and girls is powerful because women share so frequently on social media and control most purchases. Yet ad agencies are predominantly men, she said, and the men in ads are generally heroic and funny while women are sidekicks or homemakers. 
“I tell marketers and the ad industry, ‘When you want a video to go viral, this is what you do, you talk to women and girls and you talk to them in the right kind of way,’” Ms. Gallop said. “This ad is the absolute paradigm.” 
The ad is set to the tune of “Girls” by the Beastie Boys, a decidedly anti-feminist ballad with lyrics that the ad’s creators rewrote. 
The Beastie Boys sang, “Girls to do the dishes/Girls to clean up my room/Girls to do the laundry/Girls and in the bathroom/Girls, that’s all I really want is girls.” 
One of the actresses in the ad sings: “Girls build a spaceship/Girls code the new app/Girls that grow up knowing/That they can engineer that/Girls, that’s all we really need is girls/To bring us up to speed it’s girls/Our opportunity is girls/Don’t underestimate girls.” 
“I thought back to my childhood with the princesses and the ponies and wondered why construction toys and math and science kits are for boys,” Debbie Sterling, founder and chief executive of GoldieBlox, said in an interview. “We wanted to create a cultural shift and close the gender gap and fill some of these jobs that are growing at the speed of light.” 
In 2010, women earned just 18 percent of computer science degrees, down from 37 percent in 1985, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology. Analysts say the low numbers are partly because girls are not encouraged to pursue science as often or as enthusiastically as boys. 
Ms. Sterling started the company two years ago, after graduating with a degree in product design from the mechanical engineering department at Stanford, where she was disappointed that there were not more women in her classes. She then worked in design and marketing. 
Brett Doar
... Brett Doar, an artist who specializes in making machines, created the Rube Goldberg machine.

Have you ever noticed that basically everything you are supposed to believe in these days -- feminism, diversity, etc. -- turns out in practice to just be another way for hot babes, rich guys, super salesmen, cunning financiers, telegenic self-promoters, and charismatic politicians to get even more money and power?

Perhaps old National Lampooners are penning Israel's new immigration rules?

You may be wondering where old National Lampoon writers can find work today. After all, they seem far too hostile and crass to be employed by such contemporary venues of non-inappropriate humor as The Onion

Fortunately, there remain jobs open to men of their personalities, such as writing Israel's immigration regulations. From The Guardian:
Israel to stop issuing birth certificates to babies born to foreigners 
Israel says it is not obliged to issue documentation and wants to stop foreigners using birth certificates to stay in country 
Israel is to stop issuing birth certificates to babies born to foreigners – a move targeted at migrants but will also encompass diplomats and other international workers. The absence of official documentation is likely to cause major problems when applying for passports and other identity papers. 
The plan was disclosed in state papers filed to the high court on Monday in response to a challenge to an existing policy of refusing to include the father's name in foreigners' birth certificates. As part of this policy, Israel also insists that only the mother's family name may be documented as the baby's last name. 
The Israeli government says it has no legal obligation to issue official birth certificates to foreigners, and intends to stop doing so to prevent foreigners using such documentation to claim the right to stay in the country. Instead, foreigners will be given hospital-issued birth notices, which are currently hand-written in Hebrew.

A reader explains:
Israel is no longer issuing birth certificates for ... "illegal infiltrators" as they call them in Hebrew. Even further, they are not listing the names of the purported fathers without DNA proof of fatherhood (at the alien woman's expense!).  
Thus, the wetback women, gentile servant girls and prostitutes who are imported to service the Israelis cannot use a bit of Jewish sperm to get impregnated and then stay in Israel as mothers of a half-Israeli (but not Jewish, since the mother isn't Jewish) child.   
As a lawyer, I really like the "handwritten" part. Sure, the hospital may have to give SOME kind of evidence under international law, but it doesn't have to RECORD the evidence in any sort of Israeli-maintained eternal electronic database as they do for Jews. If a mother cannot provide proof that SHE is an Israeli citizen then all she gets is a handwritten birth note.  
So the Israelis do the bare minimum to meet international law, yet any effort to USE the "certificate" (in Israel or elsewhere) can be immediately challenged:  
"Ma'am, all you have shown me is a piece of paper. I can't even read the handwriting. You say it was written by some hospital clerk in Tel Aviv, but they have no record of ever writing it. Unless you can come up with something better, or get this note authenticated by the appropriate Israeli authorities, I am afraid I am going to have to deny you benefits and deny a passport to this child you have with you." 
Or this: 
"Ma'am, you say you want to sue Mr. Moses Moskowitz for child support? You will need some proof that he is the father. Do you have a birth certificate? No? Just this little scribbled piece of paper that you say the hospital gave you? That's it? No DNA test results? Ma'am, you cannot sue anyone based on nothing more than illegible scribbles and an illegible signature on a piece of paper!" 
Now compare this to the State of California. In California, any woman giving birth can apply for money, name whoever she wants as the father (California requires she give a name), and the state will add her to the welfare rolls.  
The state then mails an official notice to a man matching the name she gave, thereby notifying him that he has two months to challenge her statements in court.  
If he doesn't respond in the two months, he is legally deemed the father and to have voluntarily waived his right to challenge paternity.  
[He did have Two ... Whole ... Months, after all!] 
California then steps in to collect money directly from him to offset the cash they give the mother. 

The Onion's hard-hitting satire of the Obama Administration

Reading through a 1970s issue of National Lampoon raises the question of the change in political satire. The most direct contemporary comparison for National Lampoon is The Onion, so let's look at all the Obama Administration-related headlines on The Onion's homepage on 11/22/13:

How JFK would have liked to handle civil rights

"Pert 'n' perky, statuesque Angie Davis is more than meets the eye. 'Neath that natural "do" there beats a brain as big as all outdoors, which is where Angie, an assistant Poli Sci instructor at Lompoc Community College in California likes to spend her leisure time, surfing, sunbathing, or just plain walking."

Grand Fifth JFK Inaugural Edition, National Lampoon, February 1977
One of the subtleties of that 1977 National Lampoon edition celebrating JFK's fifth term is that it's willing to be a little dull to get across various metajokes. The overarching gag is that if Jackie Kennedy had been the one martyred in Dallas, Jack would have settled into the Irish politician's pattern of staying in power for roughly ever (e.g., Eamon de Valera, Richard J. Daley in Chicago, or James Curley, who was mayor of Boston on and off from 1914 to 1950); but JFK would have pulled this off by mobilizing the puerile energies of white baby boomers, rather like Chairman Mao's cult of personality did during his Cultural Revolution.

A subsidiary joke is that an all-powerful JFK would have handled the civil rights problem in America the way his fellow Irish Democrat Mayor Daley did in Chicago: by appointing every black with any ambition to a salaried government job, albeit a vaguely demeaning one. Thus, the following rather dry "People" page (click to enlarge) from a 1977 issue of government-sponsored Tar magazine ($0.75 or 3 federal magazine stamps) announcing various civil rights leaders being promoted from positions within the HOP federal agency to marginally higher-paying posts at SKIP and JUMP. For example, rather than being a controversial UCLA professor, Angela Davis is happy to have a paying job at Lompoc Junior College.

(By the way, the female energies that became feminism in our timeline are, in JFK's alternate universe, devoted to the worship of Presidential priapism.)

The other meta-joke on the page is that the Kennedy Administration has nationalized and merged the entertainment and sports industries, so that James Earl Jones, fresh off winning an Oscar for the Camelot-style musical The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass!, will now run back punts for the Oakland Raiders, filling a gap in the roster opened up when linebacker Richard Roundtree of Shaft fame was sold to the St. Louis Cardinals. Also, after PFC Cassius Clay became the last American soldier killed in Vietnam, the amenable Floyd Patterson was reappointed heavyweight champion, a title he has now held for 15 years by only fighting "welterweights and Japanese."

In contrast, JFK drafted the hardcore blacks like Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Seale into his new Black Berets and set them to pacifying the ghettos:
They organized hot breakfast programs, hot lunch programs, hot car programs -- anything that would help. They ruthlessly enforced urban removal and community security. They engineered long, persuasive talks with landlords, merchants, cops -- anyone who wouldn't help. They moved hard and fast to save the ghetto from itself. Sure, there were protests -- from friend and foe alike. And there were casualties, as there are in any war. ... 
Since then, thanks to tough, aggressive business practices perfected in the service of their country, [Cleaver and Seale] have become millionaires many times over.

(Sounds like South Africa today.)

The only radical civil rights policy affecting suburban whites is "familial desegregation," which has taken 1,000 white children from their parents in places like Shaker Heights and handed them to black families in Watts. But, that is specifically the brainstorm of JFK's idiot brother Teddy (whom National Lampoon endorsed for President in 1980 on the grounds that President EMK would surely provide four years of Lampoon-worthy material that wrote itself).

And there are hints that Jack and Bobby (chairman of the Semi-Unofficial Committee of One, which deals with "life and death matters of national security") use Teddy's program primarily to take Jewish children hostage, perhaps to quell "Jewish dissent against the war for the Irish homeland" and to ensure that the "American press" will never again be "unduly dominated by Jews," according to Kennedy (formerly Look) magazine.

(By the way, I don't see much evidence that managing editor P.J. O'Rourke was relatively more involved in this issue than in others. This particular issue's editor was Tony Hendra, a former teenage monk who had done comedy with John Cleese and Graham Chapman at Cambridge.)

By the way, can you imagine The Onion today coming within an order of magnitude of what National Lampoon was doing three dozen years ago? It's not just a matter of The Onion's lack of courage, it's a matter of a decline in intellectual ability. The Lampoon issue takes on the difficult challenge of imagining how an Irish wardheeler with a veneer of media sophistication, an intuitive understanding of which way the wind was blowing, would have dealt with The Sixties. What has The Onion contributed at all to understanding the Obama Phenomenon?

The Megaphone in Action: NYT still at it over Dallas murdering JFK

From the front of, this exercise in shamelessness:
Dallas Mourns a Day It Cannot Escape
Thousands joined to honor President John F. Kennedy in a tribute leaders hoped would also help heal a city long stigmatized by his death.
DALLAS — This Texas city, long scarred by the guilt and shame of being the place President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, stood in silent tribute on Friday. ... 
It is a day that has forever haunted Dallas, and Friday’s ceremony was as much about moving on as it was about remembering. Never before has Dallas marked the assassination with such a large, costly event. 
John Angle, 23, a senior at Southern Methodist University, who was at the plaza Friday, said the city — though a far different place now — was still seeking redemption. 
“I think this is Dallas’s day to try to redeem itself to the world,” Mr. Angle said. ...
Few cities in the United States have lived under the kind of stigma that has marked Dallas for half a century. Labeled the City of Hate after the assassination, Dallas had been a hub of right-wing, anti-Kennedy extremists who attacked visiting public figures before the president’s visit. 

Next up: three articles in the NYT on how Manhattan murdered John Lennon.* Oh, wait, no, that's not going to happen ...

P.S., the Washington Post has been less hallucinatory, but today it follows the NYT's lead, too:
In 1963, the roots of a political extremism 
Bill Minutaglio 
ESSAY | A University of Texas professor describes a Dallas that was seething with hostility and suspicion toward the president.

* Now that I think about it, a man inspired to kill by Holden Caulfield did have a fair amount to do with Manhattan's culture, as did the next big assassination attempt two months later by a man inspired to try to kill by Scorsese's Taxi Driver.

Cancer-sniffing dogs

The notion of using dogs to sniff out undetected cases of cancer in humans has been around for a long time. If you can find a tumor early, there's a higher chance of removing it surgically and putting and end it to it before it spreads.

It hardly seems implausible. When I had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1996, I developed such terrible bad breath that other people noticed something was wrong with me. Six rounds of chemotherapy later, my halitosis (along with my hair) was gone.

It's easy to find anecdotal evidence online from owners who swear Old Fido became agitated months before the oncologist discovered a tumor. That raises the question of whether dogs could be trained to notice cancer in strangers or if what they are noticing is changes in the smell of beloved owners.

From the NYT, a story about an organic chemist at the U. of Pennsylvania attempting to invent a mechanical bloodhound, as it were, to sniff out ovarian cancer, a particularly hard-to-detect cancer. 
What Does Cancer Smell Like? 
Cancer cells, though they don’t alter human metabolism overall, can have altered metabolisms themselves. That means the substances they release could differ from those generated by healthy cells. This idea has been around for decades, but only very recently have biochemical and sensor technology advanced to the point where we can develop portable, hand-held sniffing machines. 
Electronic noses have the potential to detect even very small amounts of molecules — but they need to be programmed to look for specific signs wafting up from patient samples. ...
A work in progress, the electronic nose is, for now, an example of how modern medicine can look for answers in unusual places. The impetus that finally pushed Preti and his team to seriously investigate the possibility of cancer detection by smell traces its roots to a dog. In 1989, a letter published in The Lancet reported that a woman had come into the doctor’s office to have a mole looked at. She hadn’t noticed it until her collie-Doberman mix began to sniff the spot intently — even through her pants — and tried to bite it off when she wore shorts. The mole turned out to be an early-stage malignant melanoma, inspiring researchers to test whether dogs, whose smell machinery is at least 10,000 times as sensitive as ours, can tell healthy samples from cancerous ones. 
The results from the dog tests have been inconclusive, but to Preti, who has mulled the idea that hidden cancers could be detected from smell molecules since the 1970s, they suggested that there was a real possibility for a new diagnostic. “We think that they’re present very early in the carcinoma process,” Preti said of the scents. “The main question is: Can we be as sensitive as the dogs in picking these things up?”

Here's an article about the three puppies (two Labradors and a Springer Spaniel) at Penn who are being trained to detect ovarian cancer to help calibrate the mechanical nose.

While I'm all in favor of robot noses catching up with dog noses, why not also try to breed dogs to get even better at cancer-sniffing than they already are? (We're talking about fighting cancer, after all. Dog breeding isn't all that cheap, but the idea of testing 100 dogs, finding the best male and female, mating them, and continuing on from there in the usual manner (lots of inbreeding) isn't all that expensive compared to the hundreds of billions invested in fighting cancer in other fashions. 

Maybe there are reasons that wouldn't work. Perhaps all the possibilities in canine DNA have already been exploited. 

But, mostly, the idea of breeding dogs for functional reasons doesn't seem to come up much these days. I read through a lot of public comments on the topic of cancer-sniffing dogs, and breeding just doesn't occur to people.

The general issue seems to be that people these days conceive of dog breeding in terms of looks rather than function. There are some dog breeders who make a fair amount of money breeding and training excellent gun dogs, but they are more in the business of brands than breeds. 

Breeding today reflects the Spirit of the Age: Breed is only skin deep, you know. They're all the same on the inside. All that matters is looks.

I'm sure that livestock breeding continues apace to come up with cows that produce more milk and the like. But dog breeding has always been an amateur and semi-pro activity. Back in the Darwin-Galton age, it produced an unbelievable profusion of dogs for different functions. (Let me make clear that Darwin's and Galton's intellectual achievements were more the product of living in an age fascinated by the scientific breeding of animals than the progenitors of that age.)

It's an interesting example of how the zeitgeist can cripple a seemingly unrelated field.

Why they shouldn't let four-year-olds testify in court

Fifty years ago, I arrived at my friend Danny Rich's house after kindergarten.

"The President has been shot," he said.

"No," I corrected Danny, "The President has been shocked." I can recall my feeling of complete conviction on the matter. 

The evening before, my father had warned me that it was dangerous to stick a fork into an electrical outlet because I would get shocked. I don't recall ever wanting to stick a fork into a wall plug before, but since I had been told not to, I had been thinking a lot about doing it. So, of course President Kennedy had put a fork in an electrical socket. He was the President. He could do whatever he wanted and nobody could tell him "No." 

As I explained to Danny what had really happened, I could see a clear picture in my mind's eye of the President, with his big head of dark hair, down on all fours, sticking a fork into a White House electrical socket. In fact, I can remember it vividly today.

Was the President, you might ask, wearing pajamas with feet in them? Probably, but I wouldn't swear to that under oath.

November 21, 2013

Grantland: How not to talk about Brazilian soccer beheadings

In 1978, my father and I went to a soccer game at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium, which I knew about from the Guinness Book of World Records because 199,854 paying spectators had crowded in to watch Brazil lose the 1950 World Cup final match to Uruguay. (Maracana has been upgraded at vast expense to host the World Cup final next year.)

The Maracana Moat, RIP
Neither my father nor I had paid much attention to the threat of crime. We'd been traipsing all over Rio that day, walking through a favela in the early morning, taking city buses all over. When we wound up in the Maracana neighborhood, I suggested seeing if there was a soccer game at the famous stadium. Sure enough, Santos (Pele's old team) was visiting from Sao Paulo and their late afternoon game was just about to start. We paid $0.55 each, which got us below-field standing room next to the deep moat that discouraged spectators from expressing their disenchantment by storming the field and lynching the ref.

The sun went down while we were watching the game, so as a rare gesture toward prudence, we decided to take a cab back to our hotel at the beach. But, when we came out we found that there were no cabs around. Cabbies weren't crazy enough to go to the Maracana neighborhood after dark in 1978.

I was starting to get a little concerned, when a four-foot tall bodybuilder walked up and told us that American tourists shouldn't be wandering around here after dark. The short but extremely muscular Brazilian said he was a tour guide for a large group of Germans and we should ride back to Copacabana Beach on his bus. So, we got on with all his German clients.

On the bus ride, our rescuer asked where we were from and when we said Los Angeles, he said, "You'll probably think me a freak, but I've always wanted to visit Muscle Beach in Venice." This was 1978 when the ideal had been for several years to look like Bruce Dern. I was going to tell him that my impression was that in L.A. weightlifting was becoming big, very big, but I never said it -- maybe I got tripped up trying to remember how to pronounce the name of that guy, you know, the one with all the muscles and all the consonants in his name, S, w, z, n, r, etc. -- and ever since, I've felt bad that I couldn't reassure this very nice fellow that he wasn't a weirdo, he was on the cusp of the Next Big Thing.

A lot of things have changed since 1978, and I'm sure that when Maracana hosts the 2014 World Cup final, Steps Will Have Been Taken to make sure that tourists are perfectly safe. But what about all the other cities in Brazil where matches will be held?

But, don't even think about it. Thinking is bad.

ESPN gave sportswriter Bill Simmons his own magazine, Grantland, because Simmons, as one of my commenters once said, is a master at reproducing in text the feel of what a really good discussion about sports with your college buddies is like.  

But, Grantland publishes a lot of non-Simmons articles that sound like they were written by authors whom nobody would want to be buddies with. For example,
A Yellow Card 
As the 2014 World Cup looms, how should we talk about the problems in Brazil? 
By Brian Phillips 

So far in Brazil in 2013, there have been two soccer-related decapitations, which apparently might remind people that Brazil will host the World Cup next year, and the movie City of God was filmed in Rio, and, oh, yeah, there's a lot of crime in Brazil.

But, remember, Noticing Is Bad.
... How do you feel, hearing these stories? I don't mean how do you think you're supposed to feel; I mean how do you feel, in fact? Are you intrigued? Disturbed? Sad? Curious? Titillated, in the way that horrifying real-life stories can sometimes leave you titillated? You don't have to answer. Just think about it. 
Two points make a trend. Here are two gruesome stories about soccer-related beheadings in Brazil. On the surface, they have little in common. One is — best guess — about gangs sending a message. The other is about a local conflict that warped into mass insanity. But, well, 2014 is a World Cup year, and Brazil, you might have heard, will be hosting. The second decapitation story had barely hit the wire before a portion of the Western media lined up the horrors and drew the only logical conclusion: Tourists must be in danger. 
Of course, they couldn't just come out and say so. There's an art to these things. "Beheadings raise concern of violence in Brazil," USA Today announced in a headline.1 CNN declared that "experts say" (they don't quote any) that the concerns thus raised "might make fans think twice about bringing their families to Brazil." Bleacher Report furthered the mystery experts' speculations on the raised concerns, arguing that the violence "may" affect "the type of tourist that decides to come to Brazil to witness football's greatest tournament, with families unlikely to take young children." "How will this affect the World Cup?" was the golden thematic arch bridging countless articles about a story that's only indirectly tied to the World Cup at all, and after reading enough of them, you could almost appreciate the dead-soul directness of this Buzzfeedy link bait–shriek from PolicyMic, posted after the Pio XII decapitation: "This Horrific Video Will Completely Change Your View of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil."2 
This is all, of course, code language, and it's not especially subtle code language. 
It's a code that pops up again and again when a developing or newly industrialized country hosts the World Cup. The code works on three, possibly four, levels, and it makes me want to throw my desk through a brick wall, so I'll try to be as precise as possible about the various sleights of late-colonialist hand I think I can trace here. 
Take the following sentence; it's from USA Today, because of course it is, but it could be from anywhere. It goes: "The news of a second decapitation this year in Brazil has raised questions about whether such heinous crimes may deter foreign visitors considering a trip for next summer's FIFA World Cup." What is this sentence trying to do, apart from draw the brightest, straightest line between "the news of a second decapitation" and "next summer's FIFA World Cup"? Is it really aiming to tell you that Questions have been Raised about World Cup attendance? 
3 Maybe; but I submit that in this instance, the surface level of the code — "questions raised" — is just slippery journalistic-ethics-ese for "Hey, if you go to the World Cup you might get your head chopped off." That's the second level, the primal fear bit. It's not safe down there. Those people are crazy. And note that we've been led to this level by a turn of phrase insinuating the possibility of a World Cup disaster — ostensibly because of attendance problems ("deter foreign visitors"), but what you're actually imagining at this point is a bloodbath ("heinous crimes"). You're being invited to construct a fantasy in which several hundred thousand tourists less well-advised than USA Today readers like you make the trip down to Brazil and are slaughtered in their replica kits. That's the third level. Blood-spattered Wayne Rooney jerseys strewn throughout the streets.4 
And I'm sorry, but that's not the only fantasy you're being invited to construct.
The top level of the code is the one in which you feel yourself to exist within a protective bubble of law and security, outside which all is madness. Here in this Holiday Inn Express in Lincoln, Nebraska, you are safe; in South America, life is cheap. That is not simply a fleeting implication, my friends, that is a media strategy and a worldview, and it is not one in which you are encouraged to regard all your fellow humans as equals. 
Sidebar here: Murders involving decapitation are vanishingly rare in the United States (they are vanishingly rare everywhere), but they happen. In 2012, a New Jersey woman cut off her son's head and put it in the freezer before stabbing herself to death. In 2013, a 49-year-old school nurse was found headless in a South Florida sugar cane field. Two points make a trend. Concerns have been broached about whether Germans will still come to Disney World.

Of course, foreigners interested in visiting America destinations other than Disney World are concerned about crime Here's the Washington Post's summary of the French government's warnings to their nationals about where to avoid in the U.S.: "16 American cities foreign governments warn their citizens about," including this alert for visitors to Washington DC: "Le quartier Anacostia n’est pas recommandable de jour comme de nuit."

Second, two points do suggest which way the probability distribution might be shifted. The fact that this guy can't find two beheadings in the U.S. in this decade that are tied together thematically the way Brazil's soccer decapitations are suggests that decapitations aren't really a Thing in contemporary America, the way beheadings are a Thing are in, say, contemporary Mexico. (Of course, in Brazil, everything is related to soccer.)

The reality of course is that all these lectures about "How to Talk" aren't going to change the fact that, according to Wikipedia's list of the 50 cities in the world with the worst murder rates, Brazil has 13 of them. To put that in perspective, the U.S. holds down four positions in the Top 50, and if I gave you six or seven guesses, you'd probably get all four right: New Orleans, Detroit, St. Louis, and Baltimore. (Talk about stereotypes ...)

The return of the Hyperboreans

Greg Cochran writes at West Hunter about the new Nature article genetically linking American Indians and Europeans:
The way in which this seems to have happened in Europe is rather interesting: first you have the old Mesolithic hunters. They are then largely replaced by farmers from the Levant, some settling the southern coast of Europe and others moving up along the Danube - genetically  similar to modern Sardinians.   
A new wave [Indo-Europeans, surely] mostly replaces those farmers, and this new wave has a fair amount of ancestry from a group very similar to those original Mesolithic hunters.  So the amount of Mesolithic hunter ancestry among Europeans first goes way down and then goes up again. 
The return of the native strikes back. 
Those Mesolithic hunter-gatherers aren’t exactly a lost race, since they had plenty of descendants, but it seems that there are no longer any unmixed examples – although we really need to check out the Lapps. 
The problem is, they need a name.  “Ancestral North Eurasians” just doesn’t sing.  Neither does “Ancient Siberians”.  Personally, I like “Hyperboreans.”

As did the ancient Greeks, Nietzsche, and Robert E. Howard.

"Knockout Game" v. "Polar Bear Hunting"

The seemingly synonymous phrases for black-on-white random hate attacks on pedestrians, "Knockout Game" and  "Polar Bear Hunting," have both been around for awhile. I've tended to use them interchangeably. Yet, it turns out they are wildly different in popularity with the news media. From Google News:
"knockout game"
About 33,500 results (0.40 seconds) 
"polar bear hunting"
10 results (0.23 seconds) 

Knockout Game: What not to notice

Recently, Jewish leaders in New York have called attention to the pattern of black youths engaging in violent hate crimes against visibly Jewish people walking down the street in Brooklyn, such as a 78-year-old lady. This is finally bringing respectable media attention to the long-running phenomenon of Polar Bear Hunting or Knockout Game: random black hate crimes against whites without even bothering to steal anything, as happened to Matthew Yglesias in 2011.

Fortunately, NYC's NPR station is here to tell us what not to notice:
The Brian Lehrer Show 
Is the News Media Over-Hyping "The Knockout Game?" 
Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dr. Butts
"The Knockout Game" is a phenomenon where teens assault strangers by trying to knock them out with one punch. Is this a new trend? Is the media making it worse? Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at CUNY assesses the patterns behind this story and how it's being addressed by the media. 
What We Learned  
It's All About the Video - Jeffrey Butts says while this is not a new phenomenon, it's getting attention now because there are videos. 
Are These Hate Crimes? - Butts says this is way too early to be attributing this to hate crime. Victims are wide-ranging.  
For Teens, This May Not Seem Like Big Deal - Butts suggested that for teens, if violence is a normal thing in your life, punching someone may seem like a minor infraction, and that the media attention is partly responsible for spreading this meme.  
Does Race Matter? - Several listeners called in to suggest that these crimes seem to racially motivated and mainly a black on white thing. Butts says, "In any kind of criminal behavior,  people tend to focus on the race and ethnicity of both the victim and the perpetrator. I think it's just inappropriate to draw inferences from a few cases or even from a dominant pattern because that encourages you to think about this as a racial behavior. I think it's more about the age of the perpetrators; it's probably more about social class."

Hitchens on Ed West's "The Diversity Illusion"

Peter Hitchens blogs in the Mail on Sunday:
A Review of 'The Diversity Illusion' by Ed West 
... There’s also this very important point (p.158): 
‘The universalist idea of the nation being a collection of people with ‘similar value’ or interests is itself less liberal than the traditional nation state. Clubs made up of people sharing similar interests are voluntary associations where membership depend on like-minded views.

‘But most people do not choose their nations, any more than they choose their families, and where they do, as in the United States, the society has to exert strong pressure to integrate. England’s self-image as a land of eccentrics may be rather exaggerated, but not entirely so; that being English meant not having to conform along political, cultural and religious lines was a strength derived from its traditional homogeneity. The bond of the nation, irrational though it was, was strong enough to make people submit to the will of the common good without the need for authoritarianism.

‘Vastly diverse countries, in contrast, must force that submission on the people, whether through legislation, illiberal policing or other areas of greater state intervention’.

Or social pressures to conform.

For example, consider a well-loved age of eccentricity and rapid change in culture and fashion: Britain in the 1960s, the era of John Lennon, John Cleese, Carnaby Street, Mrs. Peel, Austin Powers, and so forth. By the logic of modern diversity worship, this entire era couldn't have happened since Britain wasn't terribly diverse. How could Paul McCartney learn to sing like Little Richard without massive immigration of Little Richard's relatives? (And of course once Little Richard's relatives show up in large numbers, then it wouldn't be fair of McCartney to steal Little Richard's style, would it?)

Yet, it happened.

Thus, I'm not terribly surprised when rich Sixties Survivors in Britain show the gumption to speak up against mass immigration, whether for economic or cultural reasons:

- Roger Daltrey of the Who's recent denunciation of the Labour Party for selling out his old mates' jobs.

John Cleese saying "London is no longer an English city. That's how it got the Olympics."

Hitchens goes on:
And of course, who better-placed to construct a ‘benevolent’ new authoritarianism than the new Left, whose belief in their own goodness authorises them to do things which they would fight if others did them?

The connection between open borders and authoritarianism is a fascinating one, which I had until recently seen as a simple practical connection. West explains why it is so much more than that, and why an increasingly diverse society is likely also to be a narrower and more repressive one.

... The book is often mordant,   (for instance , on p.149) ‘All the arguments for multiculturalism- that people feel safer, more comfortable among people of the same group, and that they need their own cultural identity – are arguments against immigration, since English people must also feel the same. If people categorised as “White Britons” are not afforded that indulgence because they are a majority, do they attain it when they become a minority?’.

It is unusual in understanding the nature of the modern left, as so very few conservatives even begin to do. Because it is written by a child of the modern anti-racist age who has no colonial guilt, and was rightly brought up to believe that racial prejudice was a grave wickedness, is far less coy about the subject that the various liberal epiphanies on the same topic.

Please read it. It will, at the very least, help you to think about this important subject.  

What changed on 11/22/63

As I wrote last year in Taki's Magazine:
One counterintuitive reason for the tumult of the mid-to-late 60s [that followed JFK's assassination] was the evaporation of the long-simmering Protestant-Catholic divide which had provided a stable multigenerational anchor for social tensions. 
The instant enshrinement of the martyred Catholic president in the pantheon of American heroes did much to mollify Catholic resentments over being considered fringe Americans. (Back then, being thought a normal American was praise, not denigration.) Meanwhile, the enthusiastic adoption by Catholic women of oral contraceptives (which the FDA approved in 1960) reassured Protestants that they weren’t going to lose the War of the Cradle to the Vatican. 
In turn, this closure of the biggest fissure in the white majority opened a space for the Generation Gap. People need divisions around which to organize themselves, and in that mostly racially and ethnically homogeneous era, age differences briefly became central. (In more diverse cultures, such as 21st-century America, people cleave more to their kin.) 
Of course, one racial gap was crucial to the story of the 60s. The assassination of the domestically cautious JFK put the ambitious LBJ into power with a mandate to push through civil rights and welfare programs to punish the right-wing racists who had murdered Kennedy. Chief Justice Earl Warren expressed the hopes and dreams of the Establishment when he declaimed on 11/22/63, “A great and good President has suffered martyrdom as a result of the hatred and bitterness that has [sic] been injected into the life of our nation by bigots….” 
It turned out that JFK had been murdered by a communist who had defected to the Soviet Union. When Jackie Kennedy learned the unwelcome truth, she lamented, “He didn’t even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights. It had to be some silly little communist. It robs his death of any meaning.” 
But that wasn’t a popular realization, so everybody who was anybody mostly ignored Lee Harvey Oswald and went on acting as if it had been Strom Thurmond up in the Texas Book Depository with the mail-order rifle. 
President Johnson announced his Great Society in May 1964 and signed the Civil Rights Act in July. The era’s first black riot followed a couple of weeks later. LBJ won by a landslide in November, and vast riots ensued in Watts in 1965 and Detroit in 1967. 

November 20, 2013

The Conspiracy Theories of 2013

Much of the appeal of conspiracy theories is that they tend to be more complicated than the truth, thus allowing you to show off that you are the smartest guy in the room. For example, I would imagine that Oliver Stone felt pretty proud of himself after creating a state-of-the-art three-hour movie showing that JFK was assassinated by a conspiracy of both the entire military-industrial complex and a clique of eccentric French Quarter homosexuals, including Joe Pesci in an apricot-colored toupee as a defrocked monk upon whom the military-industrial complex's vast plot depends. (I probably shouldn't have to warn you about Joe Pesci clips by now, but Joe's language is NSFW).

They said it couldn't be done, but Ollie did it!

Similarly, consider today's popular conspiracy theories about American social realities. For example, what's the explanation for the high crime rate and low intellectual achievement rate seen among African-Americans? 

The less than scintillating Occam's Razor answer is simply: Well, that seems to be kind of how blacks on average are.

Visible Invisible Knapsack
I mean, after all, it's been like that for a long time, it's like that everywhere in America, and it's like that most places in the world. Billions and trillions of dollars have been spent to Close the Gap, but, year after year, nothing much happens.

But, what's the fun of that

Instead, the rewards come for people who dream up Invisible Knapsacks * and Stereotype Threat and White Privilege, all controlled by the shadowy White Male Power Structure. Concocting the most baroquely implausible conspiracy theory proves you are the smartest guy in the room.
By the way, I don't get the Invisible Knapsack metaphor. I assumed it was saying that blacks were weighted down by invisible knapsacks on their backs (just think of how high LeBron could jump without that invisible knapsack holding him down). But, my assumption appears to be backward -- the invisible knapsack instead lifts whites people up because it contains an anti-gravity device. Or something. To be honest, I'm not really clear on the concept. But, whatever it is, it seems to be popular.

CBC: The g Factor glass isn't half full, it's half empty!

From the Canadian Broadcasting Company last year:
IQ myth debunked by Canadian researchers 
Human intelligence consists of different components, researchers say 
Dec 19, 2012  
A study from researchers at Western University say that there is little evidence for the concept of general intelligence. Instead, human intelligence is made up of multiple and distinct components. 
An individual's IQ score — long-held as the standard measure of human intelligence — is not a valid way of assessing brainpower, say Canadian researchers. 
A team from Western University is debunking the concept of general intelligence, saying that there is no single component that can account for how a person performs various mental and cognitive tasks.  
Instead, human intelligence is made up of multiple and distinct components, each of which must be looked at independently. 
'We have shown categorically that you cannot sum up the difference between people in terms of one number.' 
The study, published today in the journal Neuron, included the largest online intelligence survey on record, which recruited more than 100,000 participants. 
... The results showed that how people performed at the tests could only be explained with at least three distinct components: short-term memory, reasoning and verbal ability. 
No single measure, such as an intelligence quotient, or IQ score, could account for how well, or how poorly, people did.
IQ test: Which way's table tilted?
The concept of a general intelligence factor dates back to at least 1904, when psychologist Charles Spearman suggested that there was a correlation between seemingly unrelated tasks, such as memorization, reading and performing arithmetic. 
He called this link the 'g' factor, or general factor, and proposed that is accounted for an individual's performance across different mental tasks. Various intelligence tests, using a wide variety of methods, were developed throughout the 20th century as a way to evaluate children, students, military recruits and even potential hires. ...
"We have shown categorically that you cannot sum up the difference between people in terms of one number, and that is really what is important here," said Owen, adding that further tests still need to be done.

Democrats ponder how best to help GOP stab American workers in the back

Five times in this century, Republican special interests, such as plantation owners, have pushed for amnesty to reward past illegal immigrants and to encourage future ones. One big problem the Republican brain trust has repeatedly faced, however, is that the word "amnesty" polls poorly among law-abiding American citizens. So, they've preferred hand-waving words like "reform" to hide their amnesty plan.

Why they come here
But, that, automatically opens the door to the Democrats redefining the essence of the "reform" as a "pathway to citizenship," a bit of high-minded sounding rhetoric that polls well.

Clearly, illegal immigrants come here because they love the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Coincidentally, "pathway to citizenship" has the advantage of increasing the number of Democratic voters in the middle run. 

After more than year of Democrats advising Republicans that putting illegal aliens on the path to citizenship was -- would we lie to you? -- in the best electoral interests of GOP politicians, enough Republican House members have apparently put their foot down to kill the chances of the Path to Citizenship passing in the next six weeks. 

But the future is long. So, now, Democrats are talking about amnesty without a path to citizenship (at least not in this bill). After all, now they tell us, illegal aliens don't care about being American citizens. They just want to live here. So, the Democrats are now falling back on Plan B: amnesty with helotry. This would drive an even bigger wedge between the interests of GOP politicians and the interests of voters, so it could be a slam dunk in Congress.

From the NYT:
Illegal Immigrants Divided Over the Importance of Citizenship 
Glendy Martínez is waiting anxiously to see if Congress will ever pass legislation to allow immigrants like her without papers to stay in the country legally. But frankly, she says, she does not care if it will include any promise of citizenship. 
With the earnings from her job in a Houston hair salon, Ms. Martínez, 30, is supporting one child born in Texas and three others she left behind in her home country, Nicaragua. 
“So many people back there depend on those of us who are here,” she said. “It would be such a help if we could work in peace and go back sometimes to see our children.” 
As President Obama looks for a way to salvage a broad overhaul of the immigration system, he opened the door this week to a piecemeal series of smaller bills as a way of getting past the objections of the Republican-run House, which refused to take up the comprehensive measure that the Senate passed in June. 
But as far as Ms. Martínez and many other immigrants are concerned, one of House Republicans’ sharpest disagreements with the Senate and the White House — over a path to citizenship for those here illegally — should not be that hard to resolve. 
“For many undocumented people, citizenship is not a priority,” said Oscar A. Chacon, executive director of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, a network of immigrant organizations that includes many foreigners here without papers. “What they really care about is a solution that allows them to overcome their greatest vulnerabilities.” 
The Senate bill includes a 13-year pathway for 11.7 million illegal immigrants that ends with a chance to naturalize. President Obama and other supporters of that measure insist that any alternative would create a disenfranchised underclass. Many House Republicans reject the Senate path as rewarding immigrants who broke the law. But a growing number of Republicans say they remain ready to work on immigration and could consider legalization, if it did not involve any direct route to citizenship. 
For foreigners like Ms. Martínez — those who cannot get a driver’s license in most states and live with gnawing worries about being fired or deported — that would be enough. They aspire to become Americans but would easily settle for less if they could work and drive legally, and visit relatives outside the United States. ...
In the House, several dozen conservatives reject any legalization, calling it amnesty for outlaws. 

Only controversial (i.e., crazy) people call it "amnesty." But if it's not going to be a "a path to citizenship" anymore, and we're all agreed to never ever call it "amnesty," what do we call it?
But Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and other House leaders continue to urge Republicans to show they can fix an immigration system that is broken. Many Republicans say legalization, along with tough border and workplace enforcement, is the only practical way to deal with unauthorized immigrants who have settled in the country. 
Mr. Boehner said the House will take up the issues next year in smaller bills framed by principles being devised by the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia. Mr. Goodlatte has said that he wants to “find the appropriate legal status for unlawful immigrants,” but that he would not grant them any special path to becoming Americans. Mr. Obama on Tuesday told The Wall Street Journal in an interview conducted before business executives, “If they want to chop that thing up into five pies, as long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like.” 
Republicans point to low rates of naturalization among some legal immigrants — 36 percent among Mexicans who are eligible, according to the Pew Research Center — to say that citizenship is not vital for those groups. Some Republicans also worry that by offering citizenship, they could be creating millions of future Democratic voters. 
Several Republicans are trying to come up proposals their caucus could accept. Mr. Goodlatte and the majority leader, Representative Eric Cantor, also from Virginia, have been working on a bill with a path to citizenship limited to young undocumented immigrants. 
Representative Darrell Issa of California, the powerful chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he had been writing a hybrid bill that would give illegal immigrants a six-year provisional status, allowing those with family ties here to naturalize eventually through regular channels, and creating a long-term guest worker program for others.

Thanks, Darrell.
Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida is proposing earned citizenship for a broader group. And three Republicans have signed on to a bill by House Democrats with a pathway mirroring the Senate’s. 
Speaking on Tuesday to Hispanic evangelicals in Washington, Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, a Democrat from Illinois who is an ardent defender of a broad overhaul, urged supporters to be ready to compromise with Republicans and accept legalization only for some immigrants to protect them from deportation.

Well, if Rep. Gutierrez is for it, it's gotta be good.
Among Latinos, a growing electorate that both parties want to court, sentiment is strong. In a recent national survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, 67 percent of Latinos said immigrants here illegally should be allowed to become citizens if they met certain requirements, while 17 percent said they should only become legal residents.

So, the Democrats can just use it as a way to keep stirring up racial animus: "Those evil old white men don't think you are good enough to become American citizens!" etcetera etcetera You might think that Republicans would eventually catch on, but, evidently, this gag never gets old.