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April 2003

 

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Apr-0317:09:08

 

Good news from Baghdad -- We finally exercised a little bit of authority by arresting the joker who was pretending to be mayor. Unfortunately, he's just a pest, while the various Shi'ite mullahs who are grabbing power away from us are threats.

 

Overall, why is the Bush Administration running the occupation like it's the Carter Administration? Why are we acting like pussies? Occupation is like animal training -- if you don't show who's boss right away, you're in for a world of trouble down the road.

 

Machiavelli explained how you take over a city 500 years ago: you smack heads together right away. Then you gradually act nicer. The people you conquered will like you a lot more than if you do it that way than the other way around.

 

We're the United Frigging States of America. We own Iraq. Why are we acting like we're afraid to admit it?

***

 

I haven't commented yet on the Sen. Rick Santorum controversy, but let me point out one thing:

 

One difference between this and the absurd Trent Lott brouhaha was that Lott obviously never meant what he said. He was just blowing smoke up Strom Thurmond's wrinkled old fanny on the unique occasion of Thurmond's 100th birthday/retirement party, as all the Democrats in attendance and reporters who covered it understood perfectly well. It was a completely phony controversy blown up after the fact by a few Clintonistas and some members of the self-righteous right. Now, one of the latter, Andrew Sullivan, is distraught that his allies in the holier-than-thou coalition that got Lott to step down from being Majority Leader (of course, they were dead-set against him resigning his Senate seat because that could have cost the GOP its Senate majority) are not joining him in going after Santorum. Indeed, unlike the Lott Affair, this new incident is a perfectly legitimate policy controversy. Santorum has obviously thought about the issue a lot, spoke carefully, and meant every word he said, as this transcript of the interview shows. Therefore, it's legitimate for Sullivan to argue with Santorum. In contrast, the Lott Imbroglio was just content-free hysteria and bad faith.

***

Link-2003-04-30-17-27-57

 

 

I was discussing the French reputation for surrendering with my son, and we noted that it stems from the French winning one and losing two against the Germans from 1870 to 1940. Now, batting .333 against Germany just isn't all that bad. Also, the French lost more men killed in WWI than America has lost in all its wars combined, the equivalent of modern America suffering 10,000,000 killed in action. (Also, the French are 0-1 against the Vietnamese communists, but so are we. They were beating the Algerian rebels, but then De Gaulle pulled out because occupying an Arab country was bad for France's soul. They've also beaten up a number of 3rd world countries, pushovers like the the Emperor Bokassa in 1979 and bloody brawls like repressing the Madagascar rebellion after WWII.)

***

 

Almost all sides in the college quota debate praise the programs UC Berkeley uses to get more non-Asian minority students to apply. For example, as this LA Times article explains, UC Berkeley flies highly ranked non-Asian minority high school students from Los Angeles to the Bay Area to visit Berkeley. Of course, this is just a zero sum game since it doesn't create larger numbers of qualified non-Asian minorities, it just increases the overall cost of recruiting them. I hadn't realized, though, just what a hamster wheel waste of the California taxpayers' money these programs are until I learned that the main purpose of the Fly to Berkeley program is to keep the kids from enrolling at Berkeley's twin sister school UCLA!

***

 

I watched the first hour of PBS' agitprop "documentary" Race: Power of an Illusion. The funniest part was right at the beginning when the only skeptic allowed on the show, my friend science journalist Jon Entine, author of Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We're Afraid to Talk About It, was given 45 seconds to make some sensible points about race and sports. To refute him, who should appear on the screen to explain that "There is no scientific definition of race" but that noted population geneticist Jim Brown, possibly the greatest football player of all time. Now, as this unretouched photograph from his website proves, Jon is a towering hunk, at least compared to, say, Alan Dershowitz, Woody Allen, or Irving Kristol. But all I could think when I saw Jim Brown putting him down was, "Yes, you are absolutely right, Mr. Brown, sir, there can't possibly be any differences in average size and muscularity between races. Just please don't throw poor Jon off a balcony, Mr. Brown, sir, please?"

***

 

If you want to read an unintentionally hilarious account of how one Angry Young Latina huckster is playing the Race Game to enrich her bank account, check out this wide-eyed NYT article.

***

 

More on the argument put forward in the current PBS documentary "Race: Power of an Illusion" that, supposedly:

 

"In a virtual "walk" from the equator to northern Europe, we see that visual characteristics vary gradually and continuously from one population to the next. There are no boundaries, so how can we draw a line between where one race ends and another begins?"

 

First, that's mostly not true. The Sahara is so vast and unpopulated that as you move north from oasis to oasis hundreds of miles apart, the average person is significantly different-looking than in the last settlement. Even if you go up the Nile, there's a sharp break near Aswan.

 

Second, even if it was true, so what? Two readers wrote in to point out that the same thing could be said about language. One said:

 

"Is there such a thing as 'language?'

 

There are all sorts of variations between dialects as you go through regions, and often on a linguistic "continuum," so that for example, as you travel from Italy north to France, you gradually go from standard Italian in Florence to "French-like" Piedmontese in Turin to "Italian-like" French in Provence up through other transitional dialects to Parisian French. Thanks to the work of the late Joseph H. Greenberg and other linguists, we are now aware of "language universals" in human speech, as well as diachronic and "glotto-chronological" data that show remote genetic relationships between languages as disparate as Gaelic, Swedish and Spanish on one end of the world, and Samoyed (Nenets), Mongolian, Japanese, Chukchi, Gilyak (Nivkh)---even the Amerindian languages!---on the other end of the world. 

 

"Ultimately, there's nothing surprising about this, because just as the evidence tends to show (but not indisputably) a common African origin for the human species, an emerging opinion in linguistics is that human language is about as old as the human species, and that there really may have been a time when, as Genesis 11:1 claims, "the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech" (there's dispute about that, too). So far though, I'm unaware that any linguist has argued as a result of these developments that there are no useful distinctions between languages, much less that Italian is the "same language" as French because both of them get over 90% of their vocabulary from a common Latin source."

 

Third, another reader pointed out the same is true for the contents of the male bovine's gastro-intestinal tract: there are no sharp boundaries, but there is definitely a difference between what goes in one end and what comes out the other. (Of course, you might say the same is true for the PBS documentary scripting process: in goes fodder and out comes B.S.)

***

 

Two cheers for Halliburton, Bechtel, and the big oil companies cashing in on Iraq -- 1. These guys know how to get things done. 2. They have experience in in the Middle East. 

 

A big problem facing the New American Empire is that the vast majority of Americans have no knowledge or interest in the Middle East. Most of those who do care about the Middle East do so only because they have relatives and co-ethnics involved in disputes over there, so they aren't exactly fonts of disinterested advice. In contrast, the British Empire had lots of ultra-talented people (Sir Richard Burton, Chinese Gordon, T.E. Lawrence, etc.) who were fascinated by the hot regions, perhaps because British weather is so gloomy. Americans who love sun and deserts, however, can satisfy their needs more simply by moving to Arizona.

 

One group of average Americans with a pragmatic interest in the Middle East that isn't biased by ethnic concerns, however, are the big oil and construction companies' engineers and managers. I went to college at Rice U. in Houston with a lot of engineering students who later did hitches in OPEC countries, and I'd trust their judgment about how to get things done in Iraq at least as much as that of the assembled intellectuals at the American Enterprise Institute.

***

 

By the way, remember when the American Enterprise Institute was the cautious, pragmatic, slightly dull conservative thinktank, the Republican equivalent of the Brookings Institution, and the Heritage Foundation was the home to the ideologues and adventurers? What happened?

***

 

John Derbyshire's new book "Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann & the Greatest Unsolved Problem" is out. Unlike the other two new popular books on this topic, Derb promises (threatens?) to give you all the math.

***

 

Classic Onionesque WSJ Editorial Page headline:

 

"Let the Market Preserve Art

What were all those antiquities doing in Iraq anyway?"

***

 

Coming this week on PBS: "Race: Power of an Illusion:" According to its website, the 3 part documentary asks the question:

 

"In a virtual "walk" from the equator to northern Europe, we see that visual characteristics vary gradually and continuously from one population to the next. There are no boundaries, so how can we draw a line between where one race ends and another begins?"

 

Well, if you walked from the equator to Northern Europe, you would see that the visual characteristics of the terrain mostly vary gradually and continuously from one type to another as well, from rain forest to woodland to savannah to desert and so forth. There are no boundaries, so how can we draw a line between where one kind ends and another begins? Yet, categories like rain forest and desert are very useful, even if there are seldom sharp boundaries.

 

Of course, if you actually tried to walk from the equator to northern Europe, you would probably die in a fever swamp, succumbt of thirst in the Sahara, drown in the Mediterranean, or freeze in the Alps, which is why most people at the north end of this hellish trek aren't very closely related genealogically to people at the south end. Indeed, has any single individual ever walked from the Congo River to Lapland? It would be the kind of feat that gets you on the cover of National Geographic.

***

 

From the NYT: "Despite Birth Bonuses, Zoroastrians in India Fade." My UPI article on the same subject from last year: "Feature: Parsis face success, survival"

***

 

Some recent Washington Post headlines:

 

U.S. Planners Surprised by Strength of Iraqi Shiites

 

Shiite Leader Denounces U.S.
Concerns about Iran's influence grow as Iraqi Shiites demand U.S. exit.

 

Fleischer Warns Iran Not to Interfere

 

Shiites Reclaim Tradition  |  Photos

 

Kut's Untouchable 'Mayor'

Marines standoff with Shiite leader prompts anti-American sentiments.

 

If you want a brief overview of the Shi'ite situation, you can read this Q&A from the Council of Foreign Relations. Personally, I got about 1/3rd through it before my head started to throb.

 

Do you ever get the impression that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld never really had a clue what they were getting us into? Just asking...

***

 

Feature: Few atheists in US foxholes

United Press International - Apr 21, 2003

By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, April 21 (UPI) -- The old saying "There are no atheists in foxholes" turns out to be virtually correct ...

***

 

Video of the Week: Real Women Have Curves

United Press International - 5 minutes ago

By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, April 22 (UPI) -- "Real Women Have Curves" is a Mexican-American comedy-drama that proved a hit at ...

***

 

The WSJ Editorial Page defends the looting of the Baghdad museum: "Saddam stole Iraq's history. Looters may have wanted it back... In short, Iraqis laid waste to the museum in Baghdad because it had become the symbol of a hated regime." 

 

One of the features of the contemporary neoconservative temperament that most irritates people of a wide variety of views is the compulsion to win every single goddam argument, no matter how ridiculous the contortions they have to put themselves through to do it. Where's the sense of proportion? Why not just say: "Yeah, we screwed up on this looting thing, but you have to put it in perspective, and the net effects of the war looks good overall." That "conservatives" are mouthing excuses for rioting that Jesse Jackson would be ashamed to use is a disgrace.

***

 

Film of the Week: 'A Mighty Wind' by Steve Sailer

"A Mighty Wind" is another fake show biz documentary in the lineage sired by the immortal "This Is Spinal Tap." Christopher Guest, who starred in that 1984 comedy as Nigel Tufnel, a thick as a brick heavy metal guitarist, revived its semi-improvised format for his 1996 community theater spoof "Waiting for Guffman" and 2000's shaggy dog show satire "Best in Show."

***

 

Video of the Week: 'Spirited Away' by Steve Sailer 

In 1997, animator Hayao Miyazaki, the George Lucas of Japan, broke his nation''s box office record with "Princess Mononoke," a "Lord of the Rings"-style adventure epic. After "Titanic" beat his mark, Miyazaki came out of retirement to retake the top spot with 2001''s "Spirited Away," an intensely Japanese reimagining of the basic "Alice in Wonderland" dreamworld plot -- or, perhaps more accurately, non-plot.

***

 

Theodore Dalrymple, reflecting on his period as a doctor in colonial Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), makes an important point about what went wrong, which may contain a lesson for our attempts to remake the Middle East:

 

Unlike in South Africa, where salaries were paid according to a racial hierarchy (whites first, Indians and coloured second, Africans last), salaries in Rhodesia were equal for blacks and whites doing the same job, so that a black junior doctor received the same salary as mine. But there remained a vast gulf in our standards of living, the significance of which at first escaped me; but it was crucial in explaining the disasters that befell the newly independent countries that enjoyed what Byron called, and eagerly anticipated as, the first dance of freedom.

 

The young black doctors who earned the same salary as we whites could not achieve the same standard of living for a very simple reason: they had an immense number of social obligations to fulfill. They were expected to provide for an ever expanding circle of family members (some of whom may have invested in their education) and people from their village, tribe, and province. An income that allowed a white to live like a lord because of a lack of such obligations scarcely raised a black above the level of his family. Mere equality of salary, therefore, was quite insufficient to procure for them the standard of living that they saw the whites had and that it was only human nature for them to desire—and believe themselves entitled to, on account of the superior talent that had allowed them to raise themselves above their fellows. In fact, a salary a thousand times as great would hardly have been sufficient to procure it: for their social obligations increased pari passu with their incomes.

 

These obligations also explain the fact, often disdainfully remarked upon by former colonials, that when Africans moved into the beautiful and well-appointed villas of their former colonial masters, the houses swiftly degenerated into a species of superior, more spacious slum. Just as African doctors were perfectly equal to their medical tasks, technically speaking, so the degeneration of colonial villas had nothing to do with the intellectual inability of Africans to maintain them. Rather, the fortunate inheritor of such a villa was soon overwhelmed by relatives and others who had a social claim upon him. They brought even their goats with them; and one goat can undo in an afternoon what it has taken decades to establish.

 

It is easy to see why a civil service, controlled and manned in its upper reaches by whites, could remain efficient and uncorrupt but could not long do so when manned by Africans who were supposed to follow the same rules and procedures. The same is true, of course, for every other administrative activity, public or private. The thick network of social obligations explains why, while it would have been out of the question to bribe most Rhodesian bureaucrats, yet in only a few years it would have been out of the question not to try to bribe most Zimbabwean ones, whose relatives would have condemned them for failing to obtain on their behalf all the advantages their official opportunities might provide. ...

 

These considerations help to explain the paradox that strikes so many visitors to Africa: the evident decency, kindness, and dignity of the ordinary people, and the fathomless iniquity, dishonesty, and ruthlessness of the politicians and administrators.

 

There are some big differences between the African and Iraqi models of social organization, but extended families are extremely important in both.

***

 

Oops -- Keith B. Richburg, the respected foreign correspondent and author of Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa, writes in the WaPo:

 

"BASRA, Iraq -- There was nothing resembling a popular uprising against the Iraqi militiamen who controlled this city during its 13-day siege by British forces. Life continued largely as normal in many neighborhoods, with police directing traffic and residents doing their best to avoid fighting. Doctors at local hospitals treated scores of civilians wounded by British artillery and U.S. bombs during the siege, despite briefing-room claims of pinpoint accuracy. Many others were killed. These conclusions about life under siege emerge from a week of interviews in Basra and they differ in many ways from accounts offered by military and other sources before the city's fall. Reports of large numbers of Basra residents being forced to take up arms and militiamen firing from behind human shields were similarly not borne out in the interviews. People expressed more dismay at the looting and general lawlessness that followed the British entry into the city on April 6 than at the behavior of the Iraqi militiamen."

 

This is consistent with the then-puzzling reports of the behavior of Basraites during the "soft siege" maintained by the British. They hoped to depopulate Basra before storming it by allowing civilians to leave. Lots left Basra every day, but many simply returned to the city for the night.

 

Arabs are extremely focused on preservation of their family property and despise street crime (there's very little in most Arab cities), so Rumsfeld's remarkable impression of Ramsey Clark excusing the 1968 ghetto riots is going to do the cause of freedom and democracy no end of harm in the Middle East. We should have declared martial law and shot a few dozen looters.

***

 

The Syrian brouhaha -- Over the last few weeks, the Administration has tried out various complaints against Iraq's neighbor Syria, most centered around Syria not controlling its border with Iraq. (Michael Ledeen gleefully outlines here why our Iraqi adventure means the U.S. must now overthrow Syria, Iran, and reopen Lebanon's civil war, whether the Lebanese want to go back to daily artillery exchanges in Beirut or not.) It's easy to be cynical about the White House's demands that Syria do what the U.S. doesn't do with its own Mexican border. Clearly, as we've seen over the last week of looting and chaos, the Pentagon is naturally better at killing people and breaking things than at converting Middle Eastern countries into new New Hampshires, so it's only natural for them to want to distract from their problems reordering Iraq by doing something easy like conquering Syria.

 

Still, the Syrian (and Iranian) border issues should be viewed empathetically. All land conquerors run into this Problem of the Frontier. You conquer Country A (e.g., Iraq), but you immediately start worrying about whether or not you can hang on to it as long as unconquered Countries B (e.g., Syria) and C (Iran) are nearby, providing bad examples of independence and riling up their cousins in your new land. So, you conquer B and C to protect your hold on A, only to find that now Countries D (Saudi Arabia), E (Egypt), and F (Pakistan) are causing trouble in your new holdings B (Syria) and C (Iran). So, you conquer them, only to find that G (Germany), H (Turkey), I (Russia), and J (China) are now funding revolts in your possessions and therefore must be dealt with severely. And so on and on, war ad infinitum. This is essentially the bloody history of the Muscovite Empire over the last 500 years, as I outlined here.

***

 

Colby Cosh wonders why Mike Weir is only the second left-handed player to win a major championship ever. Actually, left-handed Ben Hogan won nine majors, but he did it playing right-handed. Johnny Miller is a lefty who won two majors playing right-handed. Almost everybody starts playing golf using borrowed clubs, so most people begin with right-handed clubs and stick to it.

 

The golf swing being two-handed, there doesn't seem to be any particular advantage which way you swing. That's why, oddly enough, the other player to win a major left-handed (Bob Charles who captured the 1963 British Open) was a natural right-hander, as is the best player not to have won a major, the lefty-swinging but righty-living Phil Mickelson. (Weir is ambidextrous - he writes right-handed but throws balls left-handed.)

***

 

his isn't about Tiger Woods' 75 in the final round of the Masters today:

1. Analysis: Decline of the black golf pro by Steve Sailer by Steve Sailer

The controversy over the male-only membership policy of the Augusta National Golf Club, host of this week's Masters Tournament, is often seen as a replay of the disputes over the racial integration of golf. Yet, after civil rights triumphs, the history of blacks in golf has followed a path few foresaw.

 

This, however, does discuss new Masters champion Mike Weir's very modern relationship with his caddie: 

2. Analysis: Decline of the black caddie by Steve Sailer

Few images make modern Americans more uncomfortable than that of a white golfer strolling down a fairway with his black caddie trudging behind him. But most of the black caddies are gone, and their decline has crippled black advancement in tournament golf.

***

 

From The Simpsons:

 

Newscaster Kent Brockman: "What started out as a traditional soccer riot has quickly escalated into a city-wide orgy of destruction. Reacting swiftly, Mayor Quimby declared "mob rule", meaning for the next several years, it's every family for themselves..."

 

It certainly seems novel for a conqueror not to declare temporary martial law, but instead to publicly announce a hands-off policy, and merely encourage the locals to form vigilante committees to restore order themselves. Obviously, we don't want to anger Iraqis by shooting looters ourselves, but that raises several questions:

 

Are we setting the wrong precedent by showing we are too sensitive to put down disorder? The LAPD showed lots of restraint at the corner of Florence and Normandie in 1992, and a tenth of LA went up in flames. Will we just have to shoot lots more rioters next time? Machiavelli famously advised that when engaged in regime change, you kill everybody you have to kill immediately. The survivors are much more likely to forgive you if you get the slaughter over with than if you drag out the process of killing troublemakers.

 

Rumsfeld said: "Freedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things." Are we giving Arabs all over the Middle East the impression that "freedom" is a synonym for "anarchy"?

 

Are we alienating the middle class property owners by not protecting their property?

 

Will the vigilante committees now forming give up power later without a fight? 

 

Clearly, I have no idea what the right thing to do is. At times, vigilantism has actually set the stage for responsible self-rule, as in San Francisco in the 1850s. Maybe that's the best way to find Iraq's natural leaders. But there was almost no extended family structure in Gold Rush California to carry on long term feuds growing out of the era of lawlessness. Iraq is different.

***

 

Highly organized modern nation-states like Germany and Japan can be a lot of work to conquer, but you at least have the satisfaction of knowing that after you've rolled into the capital city, you will fully have the populace's attention. Premodern non-nation-states like Afghanistan (and perhaps like Iraq), in contrast, are much easier to conquer, but they can also be oddly frustrating in that it sometimes seems like it's hard to get the locals' undivided attention for very long. They often seem less interested in you than in resuming their age-old feuds with each other.

***

 

Film of the Week: 'Anger Management' by Steve Sailer

The important thing to know about "Anger Management," the sure-fire comedy hit starring Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson, is that it's more of a Sandler movie than a Nicholson movie.

***

 

Commentary: Questions for postwar polls - United Press International - 23 minutes ago - By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, April 8 (UPI) -- American public opinion over the past three weeks has followed patterns familiar from earlier wars.

***

 

Film of the Week: 'Phone Booth' - United Press International - Apr 4, 2003 - By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, April 4 (UPI) -- Spring may have sprung, but this remains a dark season for moviegoers.

***

 

Video of the Week: 'Harry Potter' - United Press International - Apr 7, 2003 - By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, April 7 (UPI) -- On Thursday, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," the second of the hugely popular series.

***

 

Commentary: Saving Private Lynch - United Press International - Apr 4, 2003 - By Steve Sailer. LOS ANGELES, April 4 (UPI) -- No event in the entire war has electrified Americans like the daring rescue of the young soldier Pfc. Jessica Lynch.

***

 

NYT: "Prison Rates Among Blacks Reach a Peak, Report Finds

 

"An estimated 12 percent of African-American men ages 20 to 34 are in jail or prison, according to a report released yesterday by the Justice Department. The proportion of young black men who are incarcerated has been rising in recent years, and this is the highest rate ever measured, said Allen J. Beck, the chief prison demographer for the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the statistical arm of the Justice Department. By comparison, 1.6 percent of white men in the same age group are incarcerated. The report found that the number of people in United States jails and prisons exceeded 2 million for the first time last year, rising to 2,019,234."

***

 

Friday, 4/6: Here's a UPI exclusive on what really happened during the war-opening decapitation strike on Saddam.

***

 

Something I forgot to factor in when I wrote a couple of months ago about the higher propensity of African-American to enlist but their lower propensity to sign up for combat roles is that this is at least partly driven by the the much higher percentage of women among black recruits. Does anybody have percentages for just male enlistees? I suspect the races are more equal on that measure.

*** 

 

Columnist Michael Kelly (an intense hawk) was killed in a Humvee accident in Iraq. I extend my deepest condolences to his family. For those who only knew Kelly from his columns, UPI runs an appreciation by Jonathan Chait of the real man.

 

As I've said before, as a middle-aged family man who is currently embedded in my home office in Studio City, I am extremely impressed by the bravery of the many middle-aged family man journalists who are out on the battlefield.

***

 

Thursday: Richard Lynn reports a new study that finds that American Jews have an average verbal IQ of 107.5. "

 

"The results provide seven points of interest. First, they confirm the previous studies showing that American Jews have a higher average verbal intelligence level than non-Jewish whites. Second, the 7.5 IQ point Jewish advantage is rather less than that generally proposed and found in the studies reviewed in the introduction finding that Jews have verbal IQs in the range of 110–113 but is closely similar to the figure of 107.8 obtained in the Bachman study which is arguably the most satisfactory of the previous studies in terms of the size and representativeness of the sample."

***

 

Wednesday: The much-reported warm welcome of American troops into Najaf was fueled by some sizable cash payments to tribal chieftans, according to Martin Walker of UPI. " 

 

"The most important duty of a tribal chief is knowing when to switch sides," one British official with knowledge of the undercover operation told United Press International. "In Najaf, the al-Jaburi tribe understood that Saddam Hussein's time was over. "Afghanistan was the model for the operation, where a handful of CIA agents spent $70 millions to buy ? or perhaps rent ? the loyalties of Afghan tribal chiefs in the campaign against the Taliban in the fall of 2001.

***

 

One fundamental problem facing African-Americans is that a larger fraction of black babies are born prematurely and/or are of low birthweight. This doesn't seem to be particularly related to low income, since Mexican-American babies do very well. Alleviating this problem would do infinitely more to help the black race than any affirmative action program. Here's the abstract of a longer study:

 

ABSTRACT: Differentials between blacks and whites in birth weights and prematurity and stillbirth rates have been persistent over the entire twentieth century. Differences in prematurity rates explain a large proportion of the black-white gap in birth weights both among babies attended by Johns Hopkins physicians in the early twentieth century and babies in the 1988 National Maternal and Infant Health Survey. In the early twentieth century untreated syphilis was the primary observable explaining differences in black-white prematurity and stillbirth rates. Today the primary observable explaining differences in prematurity rates is the low marriage rate of black women.Maternal birth weight accounts for 5-8 percent of the gap in black-white birth weights in the recent data, suggesting a role for intergenerational factors. The Johns Hopkins data also illustrate the value of breast-feeding in the early twentieth century - black babies fared better than white babies in terms of mortality and weight gain during the first ten days of life spent in the hospital largely because they were more likely to be breast-fed.

***

 

Did you ever see comedienne Wanda Sykes' bit on the Chris Rock Show during the Lewinsky scandal, in which she plays the "Asst. Nightshift Manager of the White House Mailroom"? Wanda, who is kind of the black Roseanne Barr, angrily denounces Clinton as a racist: "When he gonna hit on no black gal? I run into him in the White House pantry at 3am and he never hit on me! He be racist!" I bet she's working on a similar bit about the lack of a rescue mission for the poor burly black woman who was also taken prisoner.

***

 

Tuesday, April 1 (but no joke): The WaPo reports:

 

That [Supreme Court] discussion [of the college admission quota case] gave way to what seemed to be O'Connor's most significant expression of concern about the Michigan policies. She noted that all previous affirmative action programs that the court has upheld were for a "fixed time period . . . you could see an end to it." In contrast, she said, Michigan seems to be advocating something open-ended.

"I don't think the court should conclude this is permanent," [U. of Michigan mouthpiece] Mahoney answered, noting that educational institutions could conclude that there is no longer a need to use race-conscious admissions when minorities catch up with whites in grades and test scores, or when "we reach a point in society where the experience of being a minority no longer makes such a fundamental difference in their lives."

 

Perhaps sensing an opportunity to reinforce O'Connor's doubts, Scalia raised the same point later with John Payton, another lawyer for Michigan. "When does all of this come to an end?" Scalia asked simply.

 

Payton acknowledged that "it was a surprise" that the gap between white and minority achievement has persisted so long after Bakke, creating what universities still consider a need for affirmative action 25 years later, but he added: "We're confident this is going to last for a finite period of time."

 

As indeed he should be -- after all, astronomers believe the sun will explode within five billion years.

***

 

Commentary: Iraq, history and the polls by Steve Sailer

If the war were to bog down, would the American public grow dovish? At least as likely, judging from the Korean and Vietnam wars, is that large sections of the populace would grow more hawkish, demanding more troops and more ferocious rules of engagement.

***

 

Pretty 19-year-old girl soldier rescued from captivity by special forces operation -- The Israelis used women as combat soldiers in 1947, but took them off the front lines for the second half of the war in 1948. One problem they found was that the male soldiers would take excessive risks to protect them.

***

 

I guess from this Boston Globe article that we've got enough precision bombs and cruise missiles left to win this war and keep the North Koreans deterred (we're burning through our JDAMs but have 100,000 old-fashioned laser-guided bombs), but keep your fingers crossed.

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The striking thing is that Saddam is probably dead or incapacitated, yet we are still facing tough resistance.

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The insufficient forces that we started the war with are not going to make us lose, but they may have cost us a chance to win quickly. Rumsfeld may have deprived himself of rapid victory by not having anything to re-enforce the successes of the first three days.

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Monday, March 31: Let me see if I've got this straight: The neocons hate the Arabs but they convinced themselves that the Arabs would love us.

***

 

The SARS epidemic: Please wash you hands often and buy alcohol gel hand sanitizer.

***

 

 

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