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August 2004 Archive
"Israel Has Long Spied on U.S., Say Officials" By Bob Drogin and Greg Miller -- The LA Times reports:
WASHINGTON — Despite its fervent denials, Israel secretly maintains a large and active intelligence-gathering operation in the United States that has long attempted to recruit U.S. officials as spies and to procure classified documents, U.S. government officials said.
FBI and other counterespionage agents, in turn, have covertly followed, bugged and videotaped Israeli diplomats, intelligence officers and others in Washington, New York and elsewhere, the officials said. The FBI routinely watches many diplomats assigned to America.
Officials said FBI surveillance of a senior Israeli diplomat, who was the subject of an FBI inquiry in 1997-98, played a role in the latest probe into possible Israeli spying. The bureau now is investigating whether a Pentagon analyst or pro-Israel lobbyists provided Israel with a highly classified draft policy document...
"There is a huge, aggressive, ongoing set of Israeli activities directed against the United States," said a former intelligence official who was familiar with the latest FBI probe and who recently left government. "Anybody who worked in counterintelligence in a professional capacity will tell you the Israelis are among the most aggressive and active countries targeting the United States."
The former official discounted repeated Israeli denials that the country exceeded acceptable limits to obtain information. "They undertake a wide range of technical operations and human operations," the former official said. "People here as liaison … aggressively pursue classified intelligence from people. The denials are laughable."
Current and former officials involved with Israel at the White House, CIA, State Department and in Congress had similar appraisals, although not all were as harsh in their assessments. A Bush administration official confirmed that Israel ran intelligence operations against the United States. "I don't know of any foreign government that doesn't do collection in Washington," he said.
Another U.S. official familiar with Israeli intelligence said that Israeli espionage efforts were more subtle than aggressive, and typically involved the use of intermediaries.
But a former senior intelligence official, who focused on Middle East issues, said Israel tried to recruit him as a spy in 1991. "I had an Israeli intelligence officer pitch me in Washington at the time of the first Gulf War," he said. "I said, 'No, go away,' and reported it to counterintelligence."
The U.S. officials all insisted on anonymity because classified material was involved and because of the political sensitivity of Israeli relations with Washington. Congress has shown little appetite for vigorous investigations of alleged Israeli spying. ...
Although never previously implicated in a potential espionage case, AIPAC has frequently been a subject of controversy. Its close ties to Israel and its aggressive advocacy of Israeli government positions has drawn criticism that it should be registered as an agent of a foreign country. Others, noting its ability to organize significant backing for or against candidates running for national office, have demanded that it be classified as a political action committee.
"Log Cabin Republicans" -- Apparently, the title of the organization for gay Republicans that was much in the news this week alludes to the charming belief, found among some homosexuals, that Abraham Lincoln used to get the log in his cabin back in his frontier days. Salon noted back in 1999.
"In 1995, just after Bob Dole rejected campaign contributions from the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group, Log Cabin member W. Scott Thompson was quoted in the New York Times as saying that gays should feel welcome in the party, "given that the founder was gay.""
AIDS activist Larry Kramer claimed in 1999 to have proof Lincoln was gay, but little has been heard from him about it since.
For the record, Lincoln fathered four children. In the millions of words of denunciation of Lincoln written during his lifetime, none of his enemies alleged he was homosexual (a charge frequently hurled at the time at Lincoln's predecessor, James Buchanan, but for some reason gays aren't excited about claiming the passive and inept Buchanan).
It's fun to keep a list of some of the unlikely guys (e.g., Sandy Koufax, who has been married twice and currently lives with First Lady's college roommate) whom gays have claimed to be homosexual. My favorite example is that frequent victim of rumors, Met's catcher Mike Piazza. The slugger has lived with about ten different lingerie models over the last decade. I have actually heard the argument made, "Well, that just shows how hard he's working to cover up his being gay." I mean, why else would a man want to sleep with a lot of centerfolds?
Bushllit -- Back in 1978, George W. Bush ran for Congress in West Texas and was beaten by an incumbent who cast scorn on the young preppie's fancy degrees from Yale and Harvard. Bush resolved never to be out-dumbed in a campaign again.
I've never seen a politician make such artful use of a reputation for ignorance that he's worked so hard to achieve. Consider this little gem from his acceptance speech tonight:
"America has done this kind of work before and there have always been doubters. In 1946, 18 months after the fall of Berlin to allied forces, a journalist wrote in the New York Times, 'Germany is a land in an acute stage of economic, political and moral crisis. [European] capitals are frightened. In every [military] headquarters, one meets alarmed officials doing their utmost to deal with the consequences of the occupation policy that they admit has failed.' End quote."
Let me explain what Bush is doing because it's an impressive bit of rhetorical sleight-of-hand. He's trying to give the impression that the occupation of Germany after May 1945 was, like Iraq is today, similarly bedeviled by dozens of attacks per day on American troops, dozens of deaths per month (66 in August in Iraq, up from 48 in June before "sovereignty"), large sections of Germany where America had ceded control to rebels, and so forth. In the past, Rumsfeld and Rice have peddled the line that renegade Nazi officers called "Werewolves" put up an Iraq-style resistance to our occupation. And, hey, Germany turned out okay!
These claims were conclusively shot down. (In reality, the Germans loved being occupied by us, relatively speaking, because the alternative was being occupied by the Red Army, which was gang-raping the women of East Germany. So, the West Germans were very careful to make sure we didn't ever feel like chucking it all and going home.)
So, what Bush is doing ever so elegantly is calling upon the audience's vague memories of the lies spouted by Rumsfeld and Rice to give the impression that there was a persistent violent resistance in postwar Germany. Yet, Bush is not, technically, lying, because the President carefully avoids saying anything directly false. And of course, nobody expects the President to have any historical facts in his head at all, so nobody will think worse of the President's vaunted character for his misleading the public in this instance, because to blame Bush for trying to BS us implies that Mr. Bush knows what he's talking about, and of course, nobody thinks he does.
Bush does this this kind of thing all the time, most notably while he was duping the country into supporting his Iraq Attaq. We all know the impression Bush gave of the danger Saddam posed, but it's hard to find specific quotes where he's directly lying. In contrast, Cheney, whom everybody thinks is much smarter than Bush, has been caught over and over again telling blatant whoppers. So, who's really the dummy?
It's truly an impressive ruse that Bush has perfected of pretending to be the brainless rube to avoid being blamed for all the subtle rhetorical flim-flam he puts over on us.
Nonetheless, not even Bush can come up with an explanation for the Iraq Attaq that doesn't simply radiate contempt for the listener's intelligence:
"In Saddam Hussein, we saw a threat. Members of both political parties, including my opponent and his running mate, saw the threat, and voted to authorize the use of force. We went to the United Nations Security Council, which passed a unanimous resolution demanding the dictator disarm, or face serious consequences. Leaders in the Middle East urged him to comply. After more than a decade of diplomacy, we gave Saddam Hussein another chance, a final chance, to meet his responsibilities to the civilized world. He again refused, and I faced the kind of decision that comes only to the Oval Office, a decision no president would ask for, but must be prepared to make. Do I forget the lessons of September 11th and take the word of a madman, or do I take action to defend our country? Faced with that choice, I will defend America every time."
-- Bush didn't ask for the decision to invade Iraq. Yeah, right. This was his decision all the way. Bush's decision to invade Iraq is about as clean cut an example of Free Will in action as I've ever seen.
-- Bush didn't make the decision to invade Iraq until the very end. Yeah, right. Bush made the decision long, long before.
-- Saddam Hussein refused a final chance to meet his responsibilities. Yeah, right. He disarmed and he let Hans Blix's UN weapons inspectors in to check. We told Blix where to look based on Ahmed Chalabi's info, and every single one came up a dry hole. The UN refused to authorize Bush's Iraq Attaq.
I could go on, but you get the picture -- it's shooting fish in a barrel.
Was Iran, not Iraq, the real threat? My son says that it sounds like we don't need a National Intelligence Czar -- what we need is a National Spellcheck Czar.
Kang vs. Kodos for President: For some reason, right now I'm reminded of the 1996 Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror VII" in which flying saucer aliens Kang and Kodos abduct Presidential candidates Clinton and Dole and impersonate them:
Brockman: Senator Dole, why
should people vote for you instead of President Clinton?
Kent: Kent Brockman here, with Campaign '96: America Flips A Coin. At an appearance this morning, Bill Clinton made some rather cryptic remarks, which aides attributed to an overly tight necktie.
Kodos: I am Clin-Ton. As overlord, all will kneel trembling before me and obey my brutal commands. [crosses arms] End communication.
Marge: Hmm, that's Slick Willie for you, always with the smooth talk.
Announcer: Ladies and Gentlemen, 73-year-old candidate, Bob Dole.
Kang: Abortions for all. [crowd boos] Very well, no abortions for anyone. [crowd boos] Hmm... Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others. [crowd cheers and waves miniature flags]
Later, Kang and Kodos are walking down the streets, holding hands.
Kang: Fooling these Earth voters is easier than expected.
Kodos: Yes. All they want to hear are bland pleasantries embellished by an occasional saxophone solo or infant kiss.
A Democratic National Committee van pulls up, and George Stephanopoulos pokes his head out.
George: Uh, Mr. President, Sir. People are becoming a bit... confused by the way your and your opponent are, well, constantly holding hands.
Kang: We are merely exchanging long protein strings. If you can think of a simpler way, I'd like to hear it.
Springfield holds a Dole-Clinton debate. Clinton is giving the opening speech:
Clin-Ton: My fellow Americans. As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball, but tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward, upward not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.
Kang: The politics of failure have failed. We need to make them work again. Tomorrow, when you are sealed in the voting cubicle, vote for me, Senator Ka... Bob Dole. [applause]
Kodos: I am looking forward to an orderly election tomorrow, which will eliminate the need for a violent blood bath. [applause]
Homer: America, take a good look at your beloved candidates. They're nothing but hideous space reptiles. [unmasks them] [audience gasps in terror]
Kodos: It's true, we are aliens. But what are you going to do about it? It's a two-party system; you have to vote for one of us. [Murmurs from the crowd]
Man1: He's right, this is a two-party system.
Man2: Well, I believe I'll vote for a third-party candidate.
Kang: Go ahead, throw your vote away. [Kang and Kodos laugh out loud] [Ross Perot smashes his "Perot 96" hat]
The next day, Kodos announces the result: "All hail, President Kang." The field in front of the Capitol has now become a working ground where humans are whipped by aliens and used to carry materials to build a giant ray gun. The Simpsons, with chains around their necks, are working too, with Homer and the kids carrying wood, and Marge pushing a wheelbarrow of cinderblocks -- with Maggie on top.
Marge: I don't understand why we have to build a ray gun to aim at a planet I never even heard of.
Homer: Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.
Bush's "decisiveness" in Fallujah and Najaf -- Bush is running for re-election on the grounds that while he may or may not make smart decisions, he does make decisions fast and sticks to them. But has any of his vaunted Trumanesque decisiveness been evident over the last year in Iraq? The Administration's stop-start, infinitely drawn-out responses to uprisings in Fallujah and Najaf make Jimmy Carter look Andrew Jackson. The War Nerd's July column "Fallujah 2: Bush Bushwhacks the Marines" has the details on Bush's indecisiveness over that Sunni city, and the two Najaf spats with Mookie the Shi'ite mullah have followed similar templates.
The truth is that Bush and Rove just want to make the voters forget the war in Iraq. And, the voters might well be willing to go along since it's all very embarrassing.
What in the world happened to Cheney between Bush Administration 1 and Bush Administration 2? He was supposed to be The Man, the hardheaded guy who rode herd on the callow, ignorant President and kept him from doing anything too stupid. Instead, he's been Bush's biggest facilitator. Colin Powell said in the last Bob Woodward book that Cheney changed more from the Bush Sr. to the Bush Jr. administrations than anyone else. Why?
"2002: Bush's Lost Year:" James Fallows reports in The Atlantic (available online only to subscribers):
But the biggest question about the United States—whether its response to 9/11 has made it safer or more vulnerable—can begin to be answered. Over the past two years I have been talking with a group of people at the working level of America's anti-terrorism efforts. Most are in the military, the intelligence agencies, and the diplomatic service; some are in think tanks and nongovernmental agencies. I have come to trust them, because most of them have no partisan ax to grind with the Administration (in the nature of things, soldiers and spies are mainly Republicans), and because they have so far been proved right. In the year before combat started in Iraq, they warned that occupying the country would be far harder than conquering it. As the occupation began, they pointed out the existence of plans and warnings the Administration seemed determined to ignore.
As a political matter, whether the United States is now safer or more vulnerable is of course ferociously controversial. That the war was necessary—and beneficial—is the Bush Administration's central claim. That it was not is the central claim of its critics. But among national-security professionals there is surprisingly little controversy. Except for those in government and in the opinion industries whose job it is to defend the Administration's record, they tend to see America's response to 9/11 as a catastrophe. I have sat through arguments among soldiers and scholars about whether the invasion of Iraq should be considered the worst strategic error in American history—or only the worst since Vietnam. Some of these people argue that the United States had no choice but to fight, given a pre-war consensus among its intelligence agencies that Iraq actually had WMD supplies. Many say that things in Iraq will eventually look much better than they do now. But about the conduct and effect of the war in Iraq one view prevails: it has increased the threats America faces, and has reduced the military, financial, and diplomatic tools with which we can respond.
"Let me tell you my gut feeling," a senior figure at one of America's military-sponsored think tanks told me recently, after we had talked for twenty minutes about details of the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. "If I can be blunt, the Administration is full of s---. In my view we are much, much worse off now than when we went into Iraq. That is not a partisan position. I voted for these guys. But I think they are incompetent, and I have had a very close perspective on what is happening. Certainly in the long run we have harmed ourselves. We are playing to the enemy's political advantage. Whatever tactical victories we may gain along the way, this will prove to be a strategic blunder."...
And here is the startling part. There is no evidence that the President and those closest to him ever talked systematically about the "opportunity costs" and tradeoffs in their decision to invade Iraq. No one has pointed to a meeting, a memo, a full set of discussions, about what America would gain and lose....
Discussions at the top were distorted in yet another way—by an unspoken effect of disagreements over the Middle East. Some connections between Iraq policy and the Israeli-Palestinian dispute are obvious. One pro-war argument was "The road to Jerusalem runs through Baghdad"—that is, once the United States had removed Saddam Hussein and the threat he posed to Israel, it could lean more effectively on Ariel Sharon and the Likud government to accept the right deal. According to this logic, America could also lean more effectively on the Palestinians and their supporters, because of the new strength it would have demonstrated by liberating Iraq. The contrary argument—"The road to Baghdad leads through Jerusalem"—appears to have been raised mainly by Tony Blair. Its point was that if the United States first took a tougher line with Sharon and recognized that the Palestinians, too, had grievances, it would have a much easier time getting allied support and Arab acquiescence for removing Saddam Hussein. There is no evidence that this was ever significantly discussed inside the Administration.
"The groups on either side of the Iraq debate basically didn't trust each other," a former senior official in the Administration told me—and the people "on either side" he was speaking of all worked for George Bush. (He, too, insisted on anonymity because he has ongoing dealings with the government.) "If it wasn't clear why you were saying these skeptical things about invading Iraq, there was naturally the suspicion that you were saying [them] because you opposed the Israeli position. So any argument became suspect." Suspicion ran just as strongly the other way—that officials were steadfast for war because they supported the Israeli position. In this (admittedly oversimplified) schema, the CIA, the State Department, and the uniformed military were the most skeptical of war—and, in the view of war supporters, were also the most critical of Israel. The White House (Bush, Cheney, Rice) and the Defense Department's civilian leadership were the most pro-war—and the most pro-Israel. Objectively, all these people agreed far more than they differed, but their mutual suspicions further muted dissenting views.
Tom Clancy on Paul Wolfowitz: The novelist had this exchange with Deborah Norville on MSNBC (via Raimondo):
NORVILLE: And Paul Wolfowitz.
CLANCY: Is he really on our side?
NORVILLE: You genuinely ask that question? Is he on our side?
CLANCY: I sat in on – I was in the Pentagon in '01 for a red team operation and he came in and briefed us. And after the brief, I just thought, is he really on our side? Sorry.
Olympic Medals, Summer and Winter -- On a per capita basis, the best medal garnering nation has to be little Norway. It did well in the Summer games, winning 6 medals, but five of them gold, which put it #2 behind tiny Bahamas in the golds per capita count for Athens. But in the 2002 Winter Olympics, it won the third highest number of medals in absolute terms with 24 and the second highest number of golds with eleven. Put them together, and Norway has to be the finest all-around performer in the two Olympics.
On the other hand, Argentina could claim it won gold in the two biggest sports in the world, men's basketball and men's soccer (although Olympic soccer doesn't compare to World Cup soccer, but Olympic basketball is a big deal).
Likewise, Ethiopia, Kenya, Jamaica, and Morocco didn't win too many medals but they were almost all in running sports that everybody on earth takes a crack at.
Neocongate: The Bigger Picture: The WaPo reports:
For more than two years, the FBI has been investigating whether classified intelligence has been passed to Israel by the American Israel Political Action Committee, an influential U.S. lobbying group, in a probe that extends beyond the case of Pentagon employee Lawrence A. Franklin, according to senior U.S. officials and other sources.
The counterintelligence probe, which is different from a criminal investigation, focuses on a possible transfer of intelligence more extensive than whether Franklin passed on a draft presidential directive on U.S. policy toward Iran, the sources said. The FBI is examining whether highly classified material from the National Security Agency, which conducts electronic intercepts of communications, were also forwarded to Israel, they said.
What's the highest IQ Olympic sport? I got thinking about this while reading an essay in the WSJ by a Dow Jones junior executive who won a gold medal in the eight man rowing event. The rule of thumb is that the more boring the sport, the smarter the participants.
For example, I only saw a couple of boxing matches (NBC likes more female-friendly sports and they like American winners), but Olympic format boxing (short fights, so lots of action) still has to be one of the most exciting sports of all. But, boxing generally does not attract the major intellects.
Damn right angles everywhere. Reuters (not The Onion) reports:
Speakers at this week's Republican convention make their remarks at a wooden podium that some Jewish groups find offensive because its decorative panels appear to form the shape of a Christian cross. A cross is even more visible in a waist-high gavel stand adjacent to the podium, leading some to question whether the party is trying to send a subtle message to its base among conservative Christians.
"It is the very height of insensitivity for the Republican Party to feature a cross at the center of the podium of this convention," Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, said in a statement. "This wooden cross must be at least three feet (one meter) tall, and it sends a signal of exclusivity loudly and clearly."
Two other Jewish groups interviewed by Reuters expressed similar sentiments...
President Bush's chief political strategist, Karl Rove, told CNN he did not think the podium's decorative woodwork looked like a cross. "My God, where do they come up with this stuff?" he said. "Does it look to you like it's a cross? I don't think so."
"Log Cabin Republicans?" -- What does this name refer to anyway? Whose log? Whose cabin?
GOP Platform: The Fix Was In. Timothy P. Carney reports in NRO on how GOP higher-ups blocked debate on whether to endorse Bush's politically disastrous invite-the-world immigration plan.
By the way, I must thank Mr. Bush and Mr. Rove for saving this blog. I was getting depressed by lack of readership early this year, but the President's immigration plan announcement on January 7 set off an increase in traffic that continues to accelerate.
Schismatic Mormon polygamists hold successful membership drive; hundreds of surplus bachelors driven out. Here's the first news account I've ever read of what happens to left-over bachelors in a polygynist society. As I've pointed out, normally, reporters writing about polygamy, whether in Utah or Africa, interview the patriarch and various of his wives, but the surplus bachelors are never mentioned. The Salt Lake City Tribune reports:
A half-dozen "lost boys" who say they were cast out of their homes on the Utah-Arizona border to reduce competition for wives filed suit Friday against the polygamous church that controls the community. The six allege the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and its leaders systematically - and unlawfully - ousts adolescents and young men for trivial matters or no reason from the sister cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. "The [boys] have been excommunicated pursuant to that policy and practice and have been cut off from family, friends, benefits, business and employment relationships, and purportedly condemned to eternal damnation," their suit says. "They have become 'lost boys' in the world outside the FLDS community."
In the two years he has been at the helm, Jeffs has ordered a steady stream of expulsions, including those of 21 men in January. The wives and children of the outcasts generally are reassigned to other men. Supporters of the church say the oustings are reserved for members who break FLDS tenets and some of the teenage boys were drinking, smoking and carousing. But the lawsuit blames the church's support of polygamy for creating a shortage of suitable brides and prompting the oustings. The greater number of wives taken by older FLDS leaders also has increased the need to get rid of the male surplus, the suit says. It says that while previous leaders had 10 to 12 wives, Jeffs' predecessor and father, Rulon Jeffs, reportedly had 70 wives when he died. The son is rumored to have at least 50 wives, some of them his father's widows. The suit contends that hundreds of boys and young men have been kicked out, most of them poorly educated and with no support from their families. Many end up homeless or suicidal, according to the suit.
Woody Allen on Tamar Jacoby: The immigration-pushing New Yorker has moved over the last decade or so from the socialist Dissent to the neocon Commentary. A reader writes: "I'm reminded of that old Woody Allen joke that if Dissent and Commentary merged, they'd be Dysentery."
UPDATE: Another version of the Woody Allen joke was that he called Commentary a combination of "Commintern and Dysentery"
If France was really our enemy, it would have encouraged us to invade Iraq -- Somehow, when whooping up an Iraq Attaq, the neocons made Republicans forget the existence of nationalism, which has only been the most potent idea in the political history of the last 225 years:
See, the Iraqis, even the most hotheaded youths among them, would like being occupied by us foreigners. Doesn't everybody? Who ever heard of nations trying to throw out their foreign overlords? That's crazy talk. The reason there were over 200 separate countries participating in the new Olympics was because ... well, it was just because. Don't ask why.
The French, for all their sins, did not forget about nationalism. And they tried to do us a huge favor by warning President Bush of what it's like to try to occupy an Arab nation. But, he rejected their wisdom. Paul Starobin reported in The National Journal::
The Algerian uprising [against France from 1954-1962] certainly made a powerful impression on a young man destined for France's highest political office: Jacques Chirac. Conscripted in 1956, at the age of 23, to serve as an officer in the French army, Chirac commanded a platoon in an isolated mountainous region of Algeria. The mission was to keep order. But order proved impossible to keep, with the local population protective of the fellaghas, the armed resistance fighters from the Fronte de Liberation Nationale (FLN). Chirac himself was not wounded in engagements with the guerrillas, but some of his men were, and some were killed. In a speech to the French Military Academy in 1996, he called his time there the most important formative experience of his life.
According to an old friend and adviser, Algeria principally taught Chirac that occupation, even under the best of intentions, is impossible when popular sentiments have turned against the occupier: "His experience is that despite all the goodwill, when you are an occupier, when you are seen [by the local people] as an occupier, the people will want you to get out." And if Chirac was convinced of anything, according to this source, it was that the Americans would ultimately be viewed not as liberators in Iraq but as occupiers. He foresaw a kind of re-enactment of the Algerian tragedy, the source adds, a "vicious circle" in which increasingly violent acts against the occupier are met with an increasingly harsh response -- a cycle that inevitably sours local people against the occupation.
As the French side tells it, this perspective was at the heart of a disagreement between Chirac and Bush at a private talk late last November  in Prague, where U.S. and European leaders were gathered to discuss enlarging NATO. (Although the pair talked on the telephone, this was their main exchange before the war started six months later.) According to a senior French official who reviewed a French handwritten transcript of the meeting, Chirac talked not about the risks of the major combat phase of a military campaign, which the French expected to go quickly, but about the perils of the postwar phase, in particular the dangers of underestimating the force of Arab nationalism and the prevalence of violence in a country that had never known democracy. According to the French source, Bush replied that he expected postwar armed resistance from elements connected to Saddam's Baathist regime -- but thought it unlikely that the population as a whole would come to see the U.S. as occupiers. And Chirac, according to the source, told Bush that history would decide who was right. The White House recently declined to comment on the meeting.
I've been doing some Googling to see if anybody on the pro-war Right ever mentioned the highly informative movie "The Battle of Algiers" (here's my review of the The Battle of Algiers in The American Conservative), which was rereleased last January after the Special Forces generals put on a screening of it in the Pentagon to educate desk warriors in what it's like to try to put down a nationalist guerilla war. All I could find was one paragraph by Mike Potemra in NRO's The Corner commending it. (Good for you, Mike.) I also haven't found any mention on the pro-Iraq Attaq side of Alistair Horne's classic history of the Algerian War, A Savage War of Peace, even though that forms the basis for a famous sub-chapter in Paul Johnson's Modern Times, which I hope every conservative pundit has read.
Dear Republican Convention Speakers: Iraq is not the War on Terror; Iraq is the War in Error -- I just wanted to clear that up. Thank you.
Richard Perle, businessman: From the Washington Post:
A report by a special [Hollinger] board committee singled out director Richard N. Perle, a former Defense Department official, who received $5.4 million in bonuses and compensation. The report said Perle should return the money to the Chicago-based company...
The report said Perle "breached his fiduciary duties" as a member of the board's executive committee, signing documents without evaluating or, sometimes, reading them, including those that allowed Black and Radler to evade audit committee scrutiny. Perle received more than $3 million in bonuses and hundreds of thousands of dollars more in compensation from a Hollinger subsidiary that invested in new media companies during the dot-com boom. The report said Hollinger International put $63.6 million into 11 companies Perle recommended and lost nearly $50 million. "Perle was a faithless fiduciary . . . and . . . should not be allowed to retain any of his Hollinger compensation," the report said.
Neocongate and Jonathan Pollard -- One of the funnier defenses of Neocongate is that Israel would never ever dare spy on the U.S. because it learned its lesson in the Jonathan Pollard case of the mid-1980s. Pollard was a cokehead who sold, by his estimate, 360 cubic feet of secret documents to Israel in return for a promise of $540,000 over ten years. Much of the information, such as on how America tracked Soviet subs, was only valuable to the Soviet Union, and -- surprise! -- it ended up in Moscow. Reagan administration officials, such as the late CIA director William Casey, believe the Israeli government traded the American secrets to the Soviets. Other have tried to argue that Soviet agents within the Israeli government obtained the information.
Pollard was sentenced to life in prison. Investigators believe, by the way, based on the extreme specificity of the Israeli requests to Pollard to steal particular materials, that there was at least one more Israeli spy in the U.S. government.
Yet, from the public record, there's little evidence that the Pollard case put much of a dent in Israeli chutzpah, because winning Pollard's release has been a high priority of the Israeli government ever since. A 2001 editorial entitled "Let Pollard Go" in the Conrad Black-owned neocon Jerusalem Post noted:
In recent years, the Pollard issue has brought together a unique constellation of figures calling for clemency. Legal luminaries, such as Alan Dershowitz and Irwin Cotler, have been outspoken in their support for releasing Pollard, and the issue has cut across ideological and political boundaries here. Last year, in an unusual joint letter, [Likud leader] Binyamin Netanyahu and [Labour leader] Ehud Barak wrote: "Concerning Mr. Pollard, the people of Israel and virtually all its political parties stand as one."
Though upon Pollard's arrest, Israel initially sought to distance itself from the affair, claiming that it was conducted as a "rogue operation," the past decade has seen a dramatic shift in that position. In November 1995, Israel granted Pollard citizenship, while in May 1998, the Netanyahu government issued a statement recognizing Pollard as an Israeli agent and accepting full responsibility for him. All prime ministers from Yitzhak Rabin onward have appealed to successive American administrations to grant clemency, but none of these efforts have borne fruit. The closest Pollard came to being released was a promise made by Bill Clinton to Netanyahu at the Wye summit in the fall of 1998 that in exchange for signing the deal, Netanyahu would be able to take Pollard back home in freedom. Unfortunately, at the last minute, Clinton reneged.
What happened was that America's intelligence heads went ape when they heard Clinton had promised to release Pollard. They went public with the damage Pollard did (Seymour Hersh printed the details in the New Yorker) and Clinton backed down.
By the way, somebody ought to give Hersh the Presidential Medal of Freedom one of these years, although I suspect we'll need a new President for that to happen.
UPDATE: A reader writes:
The most relevant aspect of the Pollard case is that the Israelis denied that he had been spying for them, until they no longer could. This is why no one should believe the current Israeli denials of spying on the United States.
"Napoleon Dynamite" -- My 15-year-old reports that all the kids back at school are talking about this micro-budget Mormon-made comedy, which just enjoyed its biggest weekend yet even though it's been out since mid-June. It's up to $22 million on a $400,000 production budget, and who knows where it will stop. In The American Conservative (have you subscribed yet?), I wrote back in late Spring:
At the screening I attended, Hollywood's Bright Young Mormons were out in force as the theatre resounded with the lovely laughter of wholesome-looking starlets from the Great Basin. The twenty-something crowd found the small town misadventures and eventual triumph of an ornery high school geek (voted "Most Likely to Find Sasquatch") a cartoonish but redolent delight. This mild, PG-rated film is winning bellylaughs from gentiles under-25 too, so the studio is now rolling it out to 1,200 theatres.
Personally, I didn't find the movie terribly funny, which made me feel downright wizened to realize that I'm too over-the-hill to get the jokes that are slaying all the Mormon hipsters...
One of the less remarked demographic trends is that the makers of "Napoleon Dynamite" represent the future. As coastal sophisticates fail to reproduce themselves, an ever-increasing percentage of young white people come from conservative, religious backgrounds. Mormon Utah has by far the highest birthrate, of course, but in the 2000 election, the 19 states with the highest white fertility all voted for Bush, while nine of the ten states at the bottom of the white birthrate list voted for Gore.
By the way, upcoming in The American Conservative (available Friday night to Electronic Edition subscribers) is my review of the important Chinese movie Hero and my Olympics wrap-up (including new content!).
Neocongate and the AIPAC: Juan Cole has an apt quote from Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, who is retiring after 38 years in the U.S. Senate (and thus is able to speak honestly) that helps explain why any scandal involving the American Israel Political Action Committee is unlikely to go anywhere. Hollings said:
"You can't have an Israel policy other than what AIPAC gives you around here. I have followed them mostly in the main, but I have also resisted signing certain letters from time to time, to give the poor President a chance. I can tell you no President takes office--I don't care whether it is a Republican or a Democrat--that all of a sudden AIPAC will tell him exactly what the policy is, and Senators and members of Congress ought to sign letters. I read those carefully and I have joined in most of them. On some I have held back."
Sen. Hollings was of course denounced as an anti-Semite for saying this. But, since he's retiring, AIPAC can't unleash its fundraising firepower on him in the next election. What AIPAC does, pour encourager les autres, is periodically pick out a member of Congress who dissents from the AIPAC line and floods his primary or general election opponent with support, thus ending his career.
Olympic medals wrap-up: The biggest improvement was turned in by Japan, which climbed from 18 total medals (5 gold) in 2000 to 37 (16 gold) in 2004. I've been saying for some time that the bad Japanese performances in recent Olympics were primarily psychological -- the Japanese media put too much pressure on the athletes who feel like they will shame the nation if they lose. As I blogged two weeks ago: "I predicted in VDARE, however, that eventually Japan would win something big and get its national confidence back. That may be happening, following the inspiring early victory of the Japanese men's gymnastics team." So, it looks like Japan may finally have got the monkey off its back.
Everybody wants to use Olympic medals as a proxy for who is coming up in the real world, but did anybody predict mature, comfortable, aging Japan would be the hot country in 2004?
Otherwise, stability ruled. The US went up from 97 to 103 total medals but down from 40 to 35 golds. Russia went up from 88 to 92 medals (truly an extraordinary number considering the state Russia is in -- and if you reassembled the USSR and added in the medals won by Ukraine and Belarus, it would be way ahead of the USA), China up from 59 to 63, Australia down from 58 to 49 (no home field advantage anymore), Germany down from 56 to 48, France down from 38 to 33, Cuba down from 29 to 27, Britain up from 28 to 30, Greece up from 13 to 16, Canada down from 14 to 12, Spain up from 11 to 19. Pretty ho-hum stuff if you are looking for trends.
I must say that I am impressed by how India, despite its improving economy, has continued to remain incredibly awful at winning Olympic medals. For the third Summer Games in a row, this country of one billion people won just one medal. Granted, this time it was a silver, up from bronzes in 1996 and 2000, but still... Personally, I like the idea that there's a big part of the world that is different enough from the rest that they won't ever care enough about any sport other than cricket to try hard enough to win anything. But I suspect that's just a fond hope and eventually India will hop on the sports bandwagon with the rest of the world.
"New Magazines for Black Men Proudly Redefine the Pinup" says NYT:
In the pages of King, a bimonthly men's magazine for the rims, bling and sneakers set, one thing is prized more than a taut waistline and a pretty face, shapely legs or a perky bosom: a large behind. "That's what our readers have come to expect from us," said Datwon Thomas, King's editor since it began publishing three years ago. "They want to see the thick girls, the girls with " Mr. Thomas, a 29-year-old married father of two, stammered here, searching for a description that would work in the pages of a family newspaper, "with, you know, a big backside."
Legacy Admissions -- Defenders of racial preferences constantly cite breaks given to children of alumni when applying to college. A friend writes:
My experience as an associate provost for a decade at a private university was that the legacy admissions program was a ruse to trick highly qualified students into applying. If the students were not up to admissions standard, we turned them down with the implication that the (fictitious) legacy preference just wasn’t enough to get them over the top. If we admitted them, they tended to be grateful for the extra (and still fictitious) boost.
I don’t offer this as a justification for such programs and I don’t know how common it is, but it would explain Larry’s observation about legacy students scoring higher on SATs than non-legacies. “Family tradition” is just a marketing ploy, and it should not come as a surprise that it best approach caveat emptor.
Given the mischief that the defenders of racial preferences have been able to create by means of misleading references to legacy admissions, I would just as soon take them off the table.
Don't expect Neocongate to get very far: What hasn't been discussed much is that the American Israel Political Action Committee is being accused of espionage for giving the secrets from Doug Feith's Pentagon policy shop to Israel. But AIPAC is a heavyweight lobby -- In Fortune Magazine's 1997 listing of the Power 25, it came in as the #2 most powerful pressure group in all of Washington.
Who's going to mess with AIPAC?
Moreover, it's quite possible that one of the guilty parties released this leak to shortcircuit the investigation before it got to higher-ups.
New VDARE.com column: Opening the black box of IQ and the Wealth of Nations.
Running by Race: Here was my count of the top 100 times ever as of 1997 by different length races (men only, not including 110m and 400m hurdles):
No doubt much has changed since then, and there were a number of people I couldn't identify back then before Google Images makes it easy to take a gander at all top track runners. Also some of the columns don't sum to 100% because I left out a row for Other East Africans, such as Burundians.
But the 2004 Olympics reflect the same general trends, suggesting that different racial groups are better at different length events. That this conclusion is considered rather scandalous says a lot about the healthiness of contemporary intellectual discourse.
Neocongate and Jewish-Americans: It's important to keep in mind that the great majority of American Jews are American patriots with non-extreme views. For example, as I wrote at the beginning of the Iraq Attaq:
A poll by the American Jewish Committee at the beginning of January  found that 59 percent of Jews supported an Iraq attack -- about the same level as other polls found for the population at large.
The problem, as we are seeing with the revelations coming out of the Pentagon, lies with a small coterie that's by no means all Jewish, but that has ties of such strength to Israel that their judgment is impaired by their dual loyalty, yet they are protected from direct criticism by their ability to slur their critics as "anti-Semites."
Surprise American wins silver in Olympic marathon: Mebrahtom Keflezighi is from Eritrea, next to Ethiopia. His is one of those inspiring stories about an immigrant born in a abject poverty who leaves his hut-based life and comes to America and achieves the American Dream. Unfortunately, the Keflezighi story won't inspire American runners who weren't born in African huts, since they'll just see it as more evidence that they weren't born with the genetic right stuff.
The nice thing about the marathon is that, like the 800m, almost everybody from around the world has a chance to win. The bad thing is that who does win seems pretty close to random, with few people winning consistently enough for the event to develop enough interesting storylines over the years. The event is just so hard that the best anybody can do is peak once in the spring for the Boston marathon and once in the fall for the New York (or other) marathon. Falling awkwardly in between seasons, the Olympic marathon tends to generate so many surprise winners that there's no surprise when somebody obscure wins.
In contrast, last night's 5000m was a classic because the new Ethiopian world recordholder Kenenisa Bekele, the heir to the great Gebrsellaise who had dominated the 5000m for almost a decade, was being challenged by the legendary 1500m man Hicham El-Gerrouj. The two superstars ended up sprinting for the finish line, with El-Gerrouj pulling away to equal Paavo Nurmi's 1924 accomplishment of doubling in the 1500 and 5000. The 5k and 10k tend to generate that kind of human drama more than the 42k marathon.
Neocongate: Trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together -- Juan Cole (whose wife is from Pakistan - it's a little distasteful but in this case it's important to lay everybody's biases on the table) tries to synthesize the Israeli-spy-in-the-Pentagon story. I certainly can't vouch for it, but it is interesting:
is my take on the Lawrence
Franklin espionage scandal in the Pentagon.
Okay, did you get all that? Me neither. You are probably saying, "I don't like conspiracy theories." I don't either. But, being a supporter of republican self-government by the people, I especially don't like conspiracy realities. And a lot of evidence points toward Michael Ledeen as a man who has devoted much energy over the years toward turning conspiracy theories into realities.
Neocongate: George Washington foresaw it all: In his Farewell Address, George Washington explained the dangers of today's neoconservatism with prophetic clarity. Here's just an excerpt from a topic that clearly concerned the father of our country deeply:
"Sympathy for the favorite [foreign] nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification... Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests."
I can't imagine a more persuasive character reference: The Boston Globe reports on the suspected neocon spy:
Entifadh K. Qanbar, a senior aide to [Ahmed] Chalabi, said yesterday: ''I know Mr. [Larry] Franklin, and I think he is a person of great integrity and a very hard worker with great values and a patriotic American."
The Washington Monthly's long-awaited muckracking article on meddlesome Michael Ledeen's attempt to set up a second Iran-Contra with his old compadre from the first Iran-Contra, shadowy arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar, and the help of Larry Franklin and Harold Rhode is off to a slow start here. Can't say yet whether it will amount to much.
"The worst are full of passionate intensity" - Yeats. Long-time loose cannon and all-around international man of mystery Michael Ledeen's name keeps coming up in relation to the Israeli espionage story. The NRO Contributing Editor has quite a history, as Jim Lobe recounted:
When The Washington Post published a list of the people whom Karl Rove, President George W Bush's closest advisor, regularly consults for advice outside the administration, foreign policy veterans were shocked when Michael Ledeen popped up as the only full-time international affairs analyst. "The two met after Bush's election," the Post reported cheerfully, quoting Ledeen about Rove's request that "any time you have a good idea, tell me". "More than once, Ledeen has seen his ideas, faxed to Rove, become official policy or rhetoric," noted the newspaper.
"When I saw that, I couldn't believe it," said one retired senior diplomat. "But then again, with this administration, it seemed frighteningly plausible."...
To Ledeen, whose own contacts with the mullahs in the Iran-Contra affair 15 years ago remain the source of some mystery, Iran is "the mother of modern terrorism". And terrorism has been Ledeen's bread and butter since at least the late 1970s, when he consulted for Italian military intelligence, which in turn enabled him to expose Billy Carter's dealings with the Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya to the great satisfaction of Republicans, who were revving up their campaign against Billy's brother, then president Jimmy Carter.
Ledeen's right-wing Italian connections - including alleged ties to the P-2 Masonic Lodge that rocked Italy in the early 1980s - have long been a source of speculation and intrigue, but he returned to Washington in 1981 as "anti-terrorism" advisor to the new secretary of state, Al Haig.
In the mid-1980s, when Ledeen was working for the National Security Council, he tangled with the CIA again over his efforts with Israeli spy David Kimche to gain the release of US hostages in Beirut through an Iranian arms dealer, Manucher Ghorbanifar, in the opening stages of what would become the Iran-Contra affair.
But Ghorbanifar did not come through. Despite Ledeen's assessment of the middleman as "one of the most honest, educated, honorable men I have ever known", he flunked four lie detector tests administered by the CIA, which had long warned that the Iranian "should be regarded as an intelligence fabricator and a nuisance".
Ledeen has been no less prolific in his organizational work, although, besides AEI - where he works with fellow foreign policy neo-cons Perle, former United Nations ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Joshua Muravchik and Reuel Marc Gerecht - his main institutional forum over the past 25 years has been the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs (JINSA), an activist group that promotes a strategic alliance between the United States and Israel.
He has also served on the board of the US Committee for a Free Lebanon and has taken an organizing role in CDI. His co-founder there, Amitay, also works for JINSA.
He is also close to key figures in the administration, particularly Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith, whose pro-Likud politics he largely shares; Vice President Dick Cheney's powerful chief of staff, I Lewis Libby; and Elliott Abrams, the director for the Near East on the National Security Council. To that list can now apparently be added Rove, who is as close to Bush as it is possible to get.
For Ledeen, Iraq was only the beginning of the broader struggle against the "terror masters". "As soon as we land in Iraq, we're going to face the whole terrorist network," he told an interviewer in March. "Iran, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia are the big four, and then there's Libya."
In his spare time, he communes with the shade of the late CIA counterintelligence director James Jesus Angleton. He's promised Angleton's views on the Israeli espionage case soon. I can hardly wait.
Hey, I gotta question: You know how the forged Niger yellowcake documents seemed to have an Italian connection? You wouldn't think that a certain Italian-speaking neocon ... Nah, couldn't be...
Japanese 4th in the Men's 4x400 sprint relay -- Nobody believes me when I say the Japanese have fast sprinters, but they were beaten only by the all-black teams from Britain, USA, and Jamaica.
Lots of good races tonight, with Morocco's Hicham El-Gerrouj equaling Paavo Nurmi's 1924 feat of winning the 1500 and the 5000 in the same Olympics by beating the little Ethiopian world record holder. (Although the Flying Finn had less than an hour's rest between the two finals.) El-Gerrouj is the hero of the T&F competition, like Michael Phelps was in swimming.
Unlike El-Gerrouj, world record holder Wilson Kipketer of Denmark (actually, Kenya), the world's most elegant strider, was denied again in the 800 by the Russian's incredible come from behind kick, reminiscent of American Dave Wottle coming from last place to catch the Soviet half-miler at the tape in 1972. As I said below, the men's 800m is the best track event these days because so many different racial groups have a chance at winning, unlike, say, the 100m or the 10,000m. (The marathon is also largely wide open, with the East Africans having a small advantage but everybody except the West Africans having a shot, but I've never been a big fan of the marathon -- it's too long and it beats up the runners too much so they can't compete any more often than heavyweight boxers.)
The half-Jamaican half-English runner Kelly Holmes, already the 800m champ, added the women's 1500 with an exciting closing kick.
"We don't need no steeeenking spies! The U.S. tells us its secrets for free:" The neocon Jerusalem Post writes:
Sources in Jerusalem said that it is illogical to believe that Israel would be running moles in Washington for two reasons: First, because the Israeli diplomatic and security establishment is still traumatized by the Pollard Affair, and would not risk jeopardizing intimate ties with the US by repeating any such measures. Secondly, the relationship with the US is so strong, and the ties so close, that Israel could get highly sensitive material through regular diplomatic channels.
Larry Franklin, Fall Guy? Do you ever get the feeling that this whole Pentagon Israeli spy scandal is being stage managed, with little-known Larry Franklin -- who is a middle level schmo (and a gentile, to boot) who apparently commutes to his job at the Pentagon all the way from West Virginia -- being set up to take a mild rap and thus distract attention away from the big boys?
I dunno, but I'm starting to feel like the old shell game is going on. Maybe this story is going to get so complex that the public will lose interest. That's what the Salinas regime down in Mexico did to diffuse public interest in the assassination of the leading candidate for President in 1994. So many different theories were intentionally leaked that the public gave up.
It will be interesting to see if the Democrats raise a stink. Somehow, I doubt it.
Josh Marshall, who has a long-promised story coming out shortly, hints that the real story is about Iran.
One possibility: The Israelis never thought of Iraq as a major threat to them, not compared to Iran and Syria. But, having the U.S. get involved in a shooting war in Iraq raises the likelihood of border incidents or infiltration problems with Iran or Syria, and thus of the U.S. eventually going to war with Israel's real enemies.
A reader theorizes:
As Michael Ledeen is focused on Iran, and as Rosen claims that Franklin was passing info on Iran's intrusion into Iraq, could the Iraq Attack have really been about Iran all along? Could the Neos have really been so stupid as not to realize that in dumping over the Sunni dominance of Iraq that the Iranian influence would increase in Iraq? Did they plan to use the US presence in Iraq to influence or attack or pressure Iran? Did they just hope the mess would require further US intervention and long term major military presence in that region?
It sure seems as if the Neos want to get closer to the Shias even though the Sunnis seem less threatening overall. Yea, Bin Laden is a Sunni and the Saudis have the big bucks which can support PLO terrorists. But of course, the PLO terrorists aren't a big threat to the USA, whereas increasing Iranian influence in Iraq could present problems for the USA. So, the Neocon policy on its face doesn't favor US interests, and the possible motivations behind it don't either. I know this isn't news, but I'm just trying to figure out what the real motivations and policy goals of the Neos are because I can't believe they actually think "democracy" is either possible there or even if it is, that the masses would support a pro-US or pro-Israel policy. So, whatever the Neos are really up to, its worse than it appears to be on the surface. Or they are really really dumb.
Napoleon said something about never assuming conspiracy when stupidity is a sufficient explanation. But, Feith and Friends are old pals of somebody who definitely isn't stupid, as attested by his U. of Chicago Ph.D. in the mathematics of knot theory, the Shi'ite embezzler Ahmed Chalabi. One should never count him out, or assume you understand what he has cooking.
One example from the recent past: John Dizard reported in "How Ahmed Chalabi Conned the Neocons" in Salon:
"Ahmed Chalabi is a treacherous, spineless turncoat," says L. Marc Zell, a former law partner of Douglas Feith, now the undersecretary of defense for policy, and a former friend and supporter of Chalabi and his aspirations to lead Iraq. "He had one set of friends before he was in power, and now he's got another." ... Zell, a Jerusalem attorney, continues to be a partner in the firm that Feith left in 2001 to take the Pentagon job. He also helped Ahmed Chalabi's nephew Salem set up a new law office in Baghdad in late 2003... Zell outlines what Chalabi was promising the neocons before the Iraq war: "He said he would end Iraq's boycott of trade with Israel, and would allow Israeli companies to do business there. He said [the new Iraqi government] would agree to rebuild the pipeline from Mosul [in the northern Iraqi oil fields] to Haifa [the Israeli port, and the location of a major refinery]."
Presumably, Feith could defend himself by saying that all the disasters he has inflicted on America (here's Slate's list in an article entitled, "What has the Pentagon's third man done wrong? Everything") were due to his truly believing that what was good for Israel was also somehow good for America. In Feith's case, I particularly looking forward to his defense attorneys calling as a witness Gen. Tommy Franks and asking him to repeat his assessment of Feith's intelligence: "the f***ing stupidest guy on the face of the earth."
WASHINGTON - An FBI probe into the handling of highly classified material by Pentagon civilians is broader than previously reported, and goes well beyond allegations that a single mid-level analyst gave a top-secret Iran policy document to Israel, three sources familiar with the investigation said Saturday. The probe, which has been going on for more than two years, also has focused on other civilians in the Secretary of Defense's office, said the sources, who spoke on condition they not be identified, but who have first-hand knowledge of the subject.
In addition, one said, FBI investigators in recent weeks have conducted interviews to determine whether Pentagon officials gave highly classified U.S. intelligence to a leading Iraqi exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, which may in turn have passed it on to Iran. INC leader Ahmed Chalabi has denied his group was involved in any wrongdoing.
The linkage, if any, between the two leak investigations, remains unclear. But they both center on the office of Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, the Pentagon's No. 3 official. Feith's office, which oversees policy matters, has been the source of numerous controversies over the last three years. His office had close ties to Chalabi and was responsible for post-war Iraq planning that the administration has now acknowledged was inadequate. Before the war, Feith and his aides pushed the now-discredited theory that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was in league with al-Qaida.
No one is known to have been charged with any wrongdoing in the current investigation. Officials cautioned that it could result in charges of mishandling classified information, rather than the more serious charge of espionage.
The Israeli government on Saturday strenuously denied it had spied on the United States, its main benefactor on the global scene.
"Serving Two Flags:" As background for the Israeli spy in the Pentagon scandal, here's a striking article on one of the roots of Bush Administration foreign policy: The lefty scandal sheet Counterpunch ran a surprisingly sober article by Stephen Green on all the internal scandals that neocons like Michael Ledeen and Richard Perle got themselves into with their superiors in the Reagan and Bush I administrations over their dual loyalty.
Aren't there enough people in this country whose only loyalty is to America? Why do we have to put people with long track records of loyalty to a foreign power in the Defense Department? If we have to give them government jobs, couldn't they go work in HUD?
Nobody wants to be considered an anti-Humpite: A friend comments: "It's like in Heinlein's The Puppetmasters where the alien invaders try to take over the country by putting parasitical jellyfish-like controllers between the shoulder blades of Washington officials, and the only way you can tell who is working for the other side is because they have a slight hump under their suits. Except, in our case, nobody wants to mention the humps because they are afraid of being called an anti-Humpite. And when you point out the humps, they say, like Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein, "What hump?"
Australian Olympic Medals: A reader points out that before the Aussies dislocate their shoulders patting themselves on the back for winning so many medals at the Summer Games, they should take a look at how many they win in the Winter Games.
I do vaguely recall an Australian winning a speed-skating gold recently -- all the other skaters wiped each other out in one of those classic speedskating trainwrecks in the last turn, but the Aussie was so far behind he was left untouched and glided past all the wreckage to victory.
Ever wonder if Alan Greenspan isn't getting a tad old for his high-pressure job? Colby Cosh has the details:
In an unexpected coda to his pivotal Friday speech about the U.S. government's longterm budget commitments, Federal Reserve Grand Imperial Wizard Alan Greenspan, 102, stood upright on bionically enhanced legs and told an aging conference that he wished to "die with dignity--immediately."
"I was already tired of this job under Bush Senior," recalled Greenspan, who was originally appointed Fed chieftain by President William Howard Taft. "I've tried to refuse re-appointments but the Secret Service keeps threatening my family members. Now I ache for the sweet balm of death."
As a consequence of Greenspan's indispensability, he now lives under 24-hour Secret Service supervision at a heavily guarded compound whose location is undisclosed. A meagre, porridgy diet is prepared for him by a team of extropian nutritionists, and his collapsing physical body is sustained by constant cellular and orthotic upgrades. The RAND Corporation estimated on Greenspan's 100th birthday that he already consisted of less than 15% original organic tissue.
The irony of his lonely cyborg existence is apparently not lost on Greenspan, who has outlived nine wives and dozens of concubines. He fended off handlers with powerful mechanical arms Friday as they attempted to cut his remarks short. "I've been saying for decades that the entitlements of the aged will eventually bankrupt the treasury," Greenspan shouted hoarsely over the whir of servomotors. "Little did I anticipate that 6.1% of the federal budget would one day be used to trap me, personally, in the stinking, besotted world of the living like a housefly."
"Damn you all," he added, smashing a marble conference table to dust. "Damn you all to hell!" The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 38 points, or 0.4%, on word of the outburst.
Lots of good dirt on the folks in Feith's bailiwick by Richard Sale of UPI. Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin went to Europe to meet an Iran-Contra figure in a meeting set up by Iran-Contra figure (and NRO Contributing Editor) Michael Ledeen:
According to one federal law enforcement official, Rhode and Luti and other OSP officials have been frequently mentioned in FBI interviews, "chiefly the nature and extent of his contacts with Israel," according to federal law enforcement officials... A former very senior CIA official told United Press International that Rhode recently had his security clearances lifted.
In an e-mail to UPI, Rhode denied this. "I have never had my security clearances revoked or canceled."
At least three former CIA officials told UPI that in 1998 Rhode had his clearances suspended, based on allegations he had given classified information to Israel.
In the same e-mail, Rhode denied this as well, adding: "Nor have I been informed that I am under any type of investigation."
Two former senior U.S. intelligence officials also stated that Rhode is on administrative leave.
However, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Conway said answering the question about whether or not Rhode is on administrative leave would violate the privacy act and therefore had no comment...
According to one former senior U.S. intelligence official who maintained excellent contacts with serving U.S. intelligence officials in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, "Rhode practically lived out of (Ahmad) Chalabi's office." This same source quoted the intelligence official with the CPA as saying, "Rhode was observed by CIA operatives as being constantly on his cell phone to Israel," and that the information that the intelligence officials overheard him passing to Israel was "mind-boggling," this source said. It dealt with U.S. plans, military deployments, political projects, discussion of Iraq assets, and a host of other sensitive topics, the former senior U.S. intelligence official said.
Israeli Spy -- Maybe Larry Franklin is being set up so the public believes there was only one spy in the Pentagon: Laura Rosen writes:
With so many people in Feith's office and in the Vice President's office extremely sympathetic to Israel, it's hard to believe the Israelis needed the documents Franklin was providing. Or put another way: Franklin may have the misfortune of being one of the only officials in Feith's office who would need to use AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] to pass information to the Israelis.
Today, she writes:
Here's my latest thought on this: As I understand, Franklin wasn't motivated to pass the information to Aipac to give it to the Israelis. He wanted our own government to act. He wanted to get it to the NSC and the White House. I'm not joking. From what I understand from my sources, Franklin was desperately trying to get the US government to act on this intelligence. AIPAC was just a tool for getting influence in Washington and the White House.
This idea is even more alarming than the simple notion of a traitor in the Pentagon -- the idea that Elliot Abrams pays more attention to Israel's lobby than to the official channels of the American government. What you're saying is kind of like the idea that if a mid-level bureaucrat in 1945 wanted to get a message through to Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White, his best conduit was to give it to the Communist Party USA for delivery. True, I guess, but, holy cow...
But that's the whole point. The thing about Feith's office that is a pattern again and again is that its officials do not abide by normal reporting and policymaking channels. They freelance, they back channel, they stovepipe, they advocate; their sense of urgency is such, that they consider themselves well meaning advocates of a higher good perhaps [one can argue that, but I think that is how they by and large see themselves]; but the result is pure rogue op. Why they seem baffled when they get in trouble is truly beyond me. It's like they don't realize they have official jobs or something, like they think they are still at a think tank or NGO.
You seem to be saying that Franklin is being set up as the fall guy to make the public think there was only one Israeli spy in Feith's operation, whereas the entire OSP was more or less in bed with the Likud Party. This sounds like when poor Harry Truman took over in 1945 and found that a small but important fraction of his Administration was, in pursuit of an ideology they considered to be a higher good, more loyal to a foreign state than to America. It's time to clean house.
Enough with traitors, back to the fun and games: China and India enjoyed their greatest moments in track and field history when tall Xiang Liu blazed to China's first men's T&F gold medal by tying the world record in the 110 m high hurdles; and India's women qualified for the finals of the 4x400m relay by finishing third in their semifinal. Granted, India's accomplishment wasn't exactly a world record, but by India's standards (abysmal), this is a very big deal. Actually, making the 4x400 relays finals, the ultimate women's T&F event of the Olympics, is a big deal for anybody other than sure-things America, Russia, and Jamaica. (India's hope for an individual medal, lady long jumper Anju Bobby George, finished 6th. But, heck, she almost equaled the 5th place finisher, somebody named Marion Jones.)
Why I follow track & field -- A WaPo article points out that the overall Olympic medal totals by country closely correlate with national GNP. What they don't mention is that the one sport where that's clearly not true is T&F. So far, the US leads with 21 T&F medals, followed by Russia 15, but then come Ethiopia 6, Kenya 6, Greece 5, Cuba 5, and Jamaica 4. And how about golds for Cameroon (ladies' triple jump) and tiny Bahamas (women's 400m)? Really, only the pole vault and high jump seem too expensive for poor countries (those mats aren't cheap.) In T&F, 34 different countries have won medals with still quite a few events to go.
Laura Rozen's amusing rationalization: She fingers Larry Franklin, who reports to Bill Luti in Doug Feith's fiefdom, as the Israeli spy, but says he wasn't trying to spy for Israel. He just wanted to alert higher ups in the administration about what Iran was up to and the best way to do that was to give the secret documents to the America-Israel Political Action Committee because, apparently, the chief Israel lobby has more pull with White House chief Middle East adviser Elliot Abrams than do the official government channels. And, then, apparently, the Israel lobby -- and how could Franklin have ever anticipated this? -- also gave the secret documents to the Israeli government. And they weren't even all that secret, anyway, I mean, all the Israel government had to do was ask and higher-ups would have given them the papers anyway.
What a way to run the government!
But the events in this absurd story that Rozin swallowed supposedly happened in July, yet other reports say the FBI investigation of the Israeli mole has been going on for a year, so she sounds like she's being spun like a top.
By the way, sources say the case against the spy is a "slam-dunk" (although that might be a bitter joke on what George Tenet told Bush about WMDs in Iraq).
Anyway, expect lots more attempts at muddying the waters.
Who leaked the story about the Israeli spy in the Pentagon? A reader writes:
MSNBC's Pete Williams on TV, says that he doesn't know who CBS's source for this story is, but that the FBI or Justice Administration sources he talked to are unhappy with this leak. This suggests once again that this leak was made by targets or allies of the targets to short circuit this investigation. Larry Johnson former State Dept. official laid it on the line on MSNBC TV as well, linking the "real reason" for the invasion of Iraq as the desire to secure Israel's future. Johnson also brought up the possibility of connections of the "moles" to the NSC as well and a possible connection to the forged Niger uranium documents.
Pat [Buchanan] suggests that this leak was a deliberate effort to undermine the investigation... Larry Johnson also stated that he's been hearing about this spy issue apparently for months.
It's getting complicated...
Let's Play "Guess the Israeli Spy"
The NYT describes the traitor in Doug Feith's Pentagon office as a "desk officer," and reports:
The Pentagon analyst who officials said is under suspicion was one of two department officials who traveled to Paris for a secret meeting with Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms dealer who had been a central figure in the Iran-contra affair. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld confirmed last year that the secret meeting had occurred, but he defended it as an appropriate diplomatic effort. He said the talks went nowhere. It was not immediately clear whether the espionage investigation was directly related to the secret meeting with Mr. Ghorbanifar. Nor was there immediate evidence of whether money had changed hands in exchange for classified information.
Through the wonders of Google, we can find out that two men were involved. MSNBC reported last year:
What was international man of mystery Manucher Ghorbanifar up to when he met with top Pentagon experts on Iran? In a NEWSWEEK interview in Paris last month, Ghorbanifar, a former Iranian spy who helped launch the Iran-contra affair, says one of the things he discussed with Defense officials Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin at meetings in Rome in December 2001 (and in Paris last June with only Rhode) was regime change in Iran.
There's a fascinating National Review connection via that International Man of Mystery and NRO Contributing Editor Michael Ledeen, along with frequent NRO contributor Michael Rubin. Newsday reported in 2003:
By Knut Royce and Timothy Phelps in Washington
August 9, 2003
Pentagon hard-liners pressing for change of government in Iran have held secret, unauthorised meetings in Paris with an arms dealer who was a main figure in the Iran-Contra scandal.
Administration officials said at least two Pentagon officials working for the Undersecretary of Defence for Policy, Douglas Feith, have held "several" meetings with Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Iranian middleman in United States arms-for-hostage shipments to Iran in the mid-1980s.
The officials who disclosed the secret meetings said the talks with Mr Ghorbanifar were not authorised by the White House and appeared to be aimed at undercutting sensitive negotiations with Iran's Government.
A senior Administration official said the US Government had learned about the unauthorised talks by accident.
The senior official and another Administration source said the ultimate objective of Mr Feith and a group of neo-conservative civilians inside the Pentagon is change of government in Iran.
The immediate objective appeared to be to "antagonise Iran so that they get frustrated and then by their reactions harden US policy against them".
The official confirmed that the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, complained directly to the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, several days ago about Mr Feith conducting missions that went against US policy.
A spokesman for Mr Feith's Near East, South Asia and Special Plans office, which sources said played a key role in contacts with Mr Ghorbanifar contacts, ignored an emailed inquiry about the talks.
The senior Administration official identified two of the defence officials who met Mr Ghorbanifar as Harold Rhode, Mr Feith's top Middle East specialist, and Larry Franklin, a Defence Intelligence Agency analyst on loan to the undersecretary's office.
Mr Rhode recently acted as a liaison between Mr Feith's office, which drafted much of the Administration's post-Iraq planning, and Ahmed Chalabi, a former Iraqi exilegroomed for leadership by the Pentagon.
Mr Rhode is a protege of Michael Ledeen, who was a National Security Council consultant in the mid 1980s when he introduced Mr Ghorbanifar to Oliver North, a NSC aide, and others in the opening stages of the Iran-Contra affair.
It is understood Mr Ledeen reopened the Ghorbanifar channel with Mr Feith's staff.
Mr Ledeen, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who backs change of government in Iran, would neither confirm nor deny that he arranged meetings with Mr Ghorbanifar.
"I'm not going to comment on any private meetings with any private people," he said. "It's nobody's business."
Mr Ghorbanifar, who is said to live in Paris, was a link man to Tehran in the Iran-Contra scandal, in which Reagan administration officials diverted cash from secret sales of arms to Iran to bankroll Nicaraguan guerillas at a time when such aid was forbidden by Congress.
The senior Administration official said he was puzzled by the resurfacing of Mr Ghorbanifar after so many years. "It would be amazing if anybody in government hadn't learnt the lessons of last time around," he said.
Mother Jones reported:
Rhode, along with Michael Rubin, a former AEI staffer who is also now at the Pentagon, was a ubiquitous presence at AEI conferences on Iraq over the past two years, and the two Pentagon officials seemed almost to be serving as stage managers for the AEI events, often sitting in the front row and speaking in stage whispers to panelists and AEI officials.
This is not evidence of treason on the part of Ledeen and/or Rubin, but you have to wonder why National Review risks its good name by publishing so many articles by those two?
Here are some more clues from Newsday:
BY TIMOTHY M. PHELPS AND KNUT ROYCE WASHINGTON BUREAU
August 28, 2004
WASHINGTON -- The FBI is investigating at least one mid-level Pentagon official on charges of spying for Israel, possibly as part of a larger probe, according to government sources.
Officials said the target was an aide to number three Pentagon boss Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy, who set up his own intelligence operation that was closely linked to now-discredited Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi.
According to one intelligence source, a warrant has been issued for a person in Feith's intelligence operation who allegedly passed Pentagon secrets about Iran to a pro-Israel lobby group in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which then passed it on to Israel.
The group said Friday night it was cooperating in the probe.
But according to one senior government source, the investigation has been ongoing for over a year and has also focused on other officials in Feith's operation who may have passed other information on to Israel.
State Department officials were questioned by federal investigators last year about allegations that Pentagon officials working for Feith passed detailed plans for the U.S. attack on Iraq to Israel, the source said.
Feith himself has close business and political ties to Israel. His former law firm, Feith and Zell, had an office in Israel and represented Israeli defense contractors and other businesses. He wrote articles in the 1990s criticizing former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not abrogating the Oslo peace accords.
Here's the March 2003 Organization Chart for Doug Feith's office in the Pentagon. A couple of cautions: I can't promise the traitor is high enough up to show up on this (but the spy is described as "fairly senior"), or whether he started after this point.
Amazing Stuff I Didn't Know: Here's part of the transcript of a five part FoxNews special report on Israeli spying on the U.S. The report is no longer on the FoxNews website, but lots of people saved it before it was yanked:
BRIT HUME, HOST: Last time we reported on an Israeli-based company called Amdocs Ltd. that generates the computerized records and billing data for nearly every phone call made in America. As Carl Cameron reported, U.S. investigators digging into the 9/11 terrorist attacks fear that suspects may have been tipped off to what they were doing by information leaking out of Amdocs.
In tonight's report, we learn that the concern about phone security extends to another company, founded in Israel, that provides the technology that the U.S. government uses for electronic eavesdropping. Here is Carl Cameron's third report.
CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The company is Comverse Infosys, a subsidiary of an Israeli-run private telecommunications firm, with offices throughout the U.S. It provides wiretapping equipment for law enforcement. Here's how wiretapping works in the U.S.
Every time you make a call, it passes through the nation's elaborate network of switchers and routers run by the phone companies. Custom computers and software, made by companies like Comverse, are tied into that network to intercept, record and store the wiretapped calls, and at the same time transmit them to investigators.
The manufacturers have continuing access to the computers so they can service them and keep them free of glitches. This process was authorized by the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA. Senior government officials have now told Fox News that while CALEA made wiretapping easier, it has led to a system that is seriously vulnerable to compromise, and may have undermined the whole wiretapping system.
Indeed, Fox News has learned that Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller were both warned Oct. 18 in a hand-delivered letter from 15 local, state and federal law enforcement officials, who complained that "law enforcement's current electronic surveillance capabilities are less effective today than they were at the time CALEA was enacted."
Congress insists the equipment it installs is secure. But the complaint about this system is that the wiretap computer programs made by Comverse have, in effect, a back door through which wiretaps themselves can be intercepted by unauthorized parties.
Adding to the suspicions is the fact that in Israel, Comverse works closely with the Israeli government, and under special programs, gets reimbursed for up to 50 percent of its research and development costs by the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade. But investigators within the DEA, INS and FBI have all told Fox News that to pursue or even suggest Israeli spying through Comverse is considered career suicide.
And sources say that while various F.B.I. inquiries into Comverse have been conducted over the years, they've been halted before the actual equipment has ever been thoroughly tested for leaks. A 1999 F.C.C. document indicates several government agencies expressed deep concerns that too many unauthorized non-law enforcement personnel can access the wiretap system. And the FBI's own nondescript office in Chantilly, Virginia that actually oversees the CALEA wiretapping program, is among the most agitated about the threat.
But there is a bitter turf war internally at F.B.I. It is the FBI's office in Quantico, Virginia, that has jurisdiction over awarding contracts and buying intercept equipment. And for years, they've thrown much of the business to Comverse. A handful of former U.S. law enforcement officials involved in awarding Comverse government contracts over the years now work for the company.
Numerous sources say some of those individuals were asked to leave government service under what knowledgeable sources call "troublesome circumstances" that remain under administrative review within the Justice Department.
And what troubles investigators most, particularly in New York, in the counter terrorism investigation of the World Trade Center attack, is that on a number of cases, suspects that they had sought to wiretap and survey immediately changed their telecommunications processes. They started acting much differently as soon as those supposedly secret wiretaps went into place - Brit.
HUME: Carl, is there any reason to suspect in this instance that the Israeli government is involved?
CAMERON: No, there's not. But there are growing instincts in an awful lot of law enforcement officials in a variety of agencies who suspect that it had begun compiling evidence, and a highly classified investigation into that possibility - Brit.
HUME: All right, Carl. Thanks very much.
This news about an Israeli mole in the Pentagon comes out late Friday afternoon in late August, the deadest point of the weekly news cycle. I wonder why? It's a good time to flush a story down the memory hole, but it could also be that story never would have come out at all if the government official in charge of keeping it quiet hadn't gone on vacation.
Israeli mole in the DOD -- Just in time for Pat Buchanan's new book tour:
CBS News has learned that the FBI has a full-fledged espionage investigation under way and is about to -- in FBI terminology -- "roll up" someone agents believe has been spying not for an enemy, but for Israel from within the office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon. 60 Minutes Correspondent Lesley Stahl reports the FBI believes it has "solid" evidence that the suspected mole supplied Israel with classified materials that include secret White House policy deliberations on Iran.
At the heart of the investigation are two people who work at The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington. The FBI investigation, headed up by Dave Szady, has involved wiretaps, undercover surveillance and photography that CBS News was told document the passing of classified information from the mole, to the men at AIPAC, and on to the Israelis.
CBS sources say that last year the suspected spy, described as a trusted analyst at the Pentagon, turned over a presidential directive on U.S. policy toward Iran while it was, "in the draft phase when U.S. policy-makers were still debating the policy." This put the Israelis, according to one source, "inside the decision-making loop" so they could "try to influence the outcome." The case raises another concern among investigators: Did Israel also use the analyst to try to influence U.S. policy on the war in Iraq?
With ties to top Pentagon officials Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, the analyst was assigned to a unit within the Defense Department tasked with helping develop the Pentagon's Iraq policy.
I'm shocked, shocked to hear of such goings-ons. Who could have imagined such things?
Update: MSNBC reports that the Israeli spy works in the office of -- trust me, you'll never guess this in a million years -- Douglas Feith! Who woulda thunk it?
US Basketball team loses in semifinalss to Argentina. Let the recriminations begin!
John Kerry's War Record -- I didn't see much of the Democratic Convention, but my impression is that Kerry ran on his military record, with his supporters cheering him on for masterminding the Inchon landing far behind North Korean lines. Oh, excuse me, that was MacArthur's backers at the 1952 GOP convention. Sorry. No, Kerry was nominated for organizing D-Day. Or was that Eisenhower? Wait a minute, it's all coming back to me -- General Kerry broke the spine of the Confederacy by taking Vicksburg. Hmmhmm... Defeated Santa Anna at Buena Vista? Crossed the Delaware and beat the Hessians? Damn. Somebody please remind me. What exactly did he do that we're supposed to elect him President for doing?
Race at the Races: Jeremy Wariner's victory in the 400m earlier this week was widely celebrated in the press for "shattering stereotypes" that blacks are better sprinters than whites.
But that raises the question: Where do these stereotypes come from? Google searches show that until Wariner's victory, the predominance of black champions in the sprints was almost never mentioned in the press. For example, I can't find any evidence that any of the hundreds of news sources covered by Google News have bothered yet to mention to their readers that all eight finalists in last Sunday's men's 100 meter dash were black for the sixth Olympics in a row -- a remarkable statistic of far greater sociological significance than any exceptions that ultimately prove the rule.
So, how did the public ever come to believe this deplorable stereotype that blacks are better sprinters, since the press refused to tell them about it? The only possible explanation is: The public believes its lying eyes! Americans must be turning on their TVs and noticing what they see, rather than closing their eyes to heretical inputs like they are supposed to.
In contrast to virtually all other members of the Fourth Estate, my view is that the duty of the media is not to shatter stereotypes but to inculcate in the public ever more accurate stereotypes. We're all supposed to "celebrate diversity" but we're not supposed to notice that different kinds of people tend to be good at different kinds of things. Olympic running is a superb illustration of this principle, because different racial groups are good at different length races. Isn't it a wonderful thing that the human race has evolved a wide diversity of talents? So, why can't grown-ups discuss it in print?
So, let me use the results of the shorter races in this Olympics to illustrate the three general principles of the influence of race on sprinting. The shorter races consist of three or four rounds of elimination heats that eventually produce eight-person finals. Let's look at how many people not of West African descent made the finals by type of race.
Red means a non-West African won gold. For example, Wariner was the one non-West African in men's 400m sprint, and he won the gold. (Kelly Holmes, the British winner of the women's 800m, has a Jamaican father and English mother, so she's kind of pink in this table.)
The historic pattern, which held up quite well in 2004, is that the shortest, least technical, male race (the 100m) is the most West African-dominated. This year, in fact, West African-descended men held all 16 places in the semifinals (although that is historically unusual).
The West African monopoly recedes as
- (1) the distances get longer; or
- (2) as the race gets more complicated due to hurdles and thus less of a pure test of speed (also, there are more accidents and randomness in hurdles; or
- (3) as women replace men.
Thus, for example, the women's 400m hurdles, which differs from the men's 100m dash on all three dimensions, had six whites in the finals.
Even leaving aside the 800m for the moment, you can see these factors at work in 2004:
- (1) In the four 400m races, nonblacks made up 12 of the 48 finalists versus 7 of the 48 in the 100/110m races.
- (2) In the four hurdles, nonblacks made up 13 of the 48 finalists versus 6 of the 48 finals in the equivalent flat races.
- (3) In the male races from 100m-400m, nonblacks made up 6 of the 48 versus 16 of the 48 in the equivalent female races.
The sharpest break, at least for men, comes between 400m and 800m. The 400m is a pure sprint where runners stay in their lanes and run almost as hard as they can the whole way. In the 800m, like the distances races, runners can use different strategies -- some go out fast, other close hard with a finishing sprint.
Indeed, the men's 800m race is probably the most globally competitive of all running events because most of the important racial groups have a chance to win. For example, the 1996 800m finalists consisted, in order of finish, of a Norwegian, a black South African, a Kenyan, a Cuban, a German, a Kenyan, a black American (Johnny Gray), and a Moroccan.
Among men, East Africans, South Africans, and Northwest Africans are heavily represented in the 800m. These groups aren't as common among top women 800m runners because these are not feminist-oriented societies. Women either aren't supposed to be out of the house or they are supposed to be out in the fields.
Is Japan breaking out of its athletic slump? -- From 1960-1984, Japan was a solid medal producer at the Olympics, but since then its athletes have tended to crumble under the incredible pressure exerted by the Japanese media to win one for the nation. A friend who lives in Japan wrote:
"When Japanese athletes compete in the Olympics they feel they are representing, not only their country, but also their race and all its members. When a Japanese is leading in a race the announcer's voice becomes flushed with emotion. When interviewed after competition, swimmers and judo-ists say they can't remember what happened, so great was their emotion. In fact in the moments leading up to a competition, Japanese seem almost paralyzed by nervousness. They are not competing for themselves, but for their coach, their team, their family, and everyone. If they win, it was not because of their own effort, but because of everyone's support. Their greatest emotion then is relief from the relentless pressure. If they lose, they have let everyone down. They cannot be good sportsmen and congratulate their opponents with a smile because their minds are elsewhere thinking about how they will apologize to their supporters."
I predicted in VDARE, however, that eventually Japan would win something big and get its national confidence back. That may be happening, following the inspiring early victory of the Japanese men's gymnastics team. Japan is currently in 6th place in total medals. Last time, they ended up in 14th.
The Giuliani Cult -- I'm told that David Frum endorsed ex-NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani for the 2008 GOP Presidential nomination in the WSJ. I think that understanding the roots of Giuliani Fever can also explain a lot about the origins of the foreign policy madness of the last couple of years.
Political history shows that the mayor of New York City has about the same chance of being elected President as the governor of Guam. New York City's just too exotic a place for a mayor to be elected even governor of New York state, as Ed Koch showed back at the height of his popularity when he got whupped in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
If you'll recall, on September 10, 2001, Rudy Giuliani was the lame-duck mayor of NYC whose tawdry personal life had propelled Hilary Clinton into the U.S. Senate. What did he do since then to turn himself into Presidential Timber in the neocons' eyes?
He gave good press conference.
That's it. He didn't actually do anything more or less than you would expect of a competent public servant in cleaning up after a disaster, but while on TV he appeared cool, calm, and collected. That's not much in objective terms, but during a week when lots of people in the attacked media centers of New York City and Washington D.C. were profoundly frazzled and looking desperately for some hero to place their faith in, Giuliani was there, and thus turned out to be the beneficiary of this primitive hero worship cult.
Similarly, if you want to fully grasp why the civilians in the Pentagon subsequently did so many far more crazy things that put Giuliani on a pedestal, like hero-worship Ahmed Chalabi, and why the op-edsters at the WSJ beat the drums so loudly for them, you have to realize how close many of them came to dying on September 11. The Pentagon itself was rammed that day, and WSJ's headquarters in the World Financial Center was just outside the destruction zone. Much of the neocon establishment has been suffering post-traumatic stress disorder ever since.
They need a rest in a low tension environment, far from the levers of power and influence.
UPDATE: A reader suggests as a rest stop: "Club Fed."
USA beats undefeated Spain 102-94 in men's basketball quarterfinals. As I predicted below following USA's 94-90 loss to Lithuania, Team USA has a good chance of winning the gold medal if they can continue to improve as much as they did between their 19 point loss to lowly Puerto Rico and their 4 point loss to strong Lithuania. Obviously, they have far and away the most physical talent, and that can make up for a lot of sins in basketball.
Hopefully, though, NBA players, present and future, have already gotten the message that their style of play and attitude stink and need to change. A culture where basketball players imitate rappers imitating crack dealers isn't cutting it anymore. It would be unfortunate if coming back to win the gold medal would postpone that needed day of reckoning.
Try to be more discreet, Shawn -- After blazing through the 200m semifinal with the fastest time, young American sprinter Shawn Crawford [who went on to win the 200m] was interviewed on NBC. He chose to appear bare-chested, showing off upper body musculature seldom seen outside of superhero comic books. He has a perfect "inverted pyramid" torso. That's not proof he's on the juice, but you'd think he'd try not to attract suspicion. Of course, one of the common side effects of being on steroids is the kind of reckless egotism that makes you want to preen your magnificent muscles in front of the world.
By the way, a lot of people ask me: Why do sprinters do benchpresses and other upper body weightlifting? Doesn't that just add extra pounds that the leg muscles must propel down the track?
Before Ben Johnson's emergence as a record-setter in 1987-1988, it seemed obvious that upper body musculature was of little benefit to runners. (And, of course, it still is for distance runners, most of whom look like concentration camp survivors.) But as Benoid became more top-heavy, he got faster. It turns out that upper body strength allows runners to come up faster off the starting blocks and reach top speed quicker. Johnson became the fastest starter in the world, allowing him to outrun Carl Lewis for 100m, who had the highest maximum speed (which is why Lewis was so great in the 200m and as anchorman in the relay, where he could get a running start).
Jerry Seinfeld on the Olympics: From "I'm Telling You for the Last Time:"
I enjoy any sporting event where nations get involved, I find that the most exciting. The Olympics is really my favorite sporting event, although I think I have a problem with that silver medal. I think if I was an Olympic athlete I would rather come in last than win the silver, if you think about it. You know, you win the gold, you feel good. You win the bronze, you think "well, at least I got something". But you win that silver, that's like:
- "Congratulations, you... almost won."
-"Of all the losers, you came in first of that group".
-"You're the Number One loser".
- "No one lost ahead of you".
And they don't lose by much, you know, these short races, 3 hundredths of a second, 2 hundredths of a second. I don't know how they live with that the rest of their lives. People ask:
"Wow, congratulations, silver medal ... Did you trip? Did you not hear the gun go off? Tell us what happened."
"It's a hundredth of a second [you lost by]; What was the difference in the margin there? What was it?"
"Well, it was like [trying to orally express the shortest measurable length of time] from now... from now, [stuttering instantaneously] n-now, now, n-now, n-n-now, n, n, eh. That was it. It was it, eh, oh.
"I trained, I worked out, I exercised my entire life, I never had a date, I never had a drink, I never had a beer, I was doing push-ups since I was a fetus... I flew half way around the world, everybody I knew in my whole life was there, the guy shot off the gun and then [instantly] oh!".
And they always have that photo-finish, you know the photo-finish is always [pushes face one inch forward] "Greatest guy in the world! ... [Pulls face back one inch] "Never heard of him". You know, the guy's gotta be thinking, "If I had a pimple, I would had won".
For once, just 15 minutes of fame: In 1968, Andy Warhol said that in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes ... and Andy has been famous for saying it ever since, even though it has proven deeply false. The reality turned out to be that celebrities became ever more tenacious at clinging to their fame for unconscionable lengths of time.
A nice aspect of the Olympics, however, is that it elevates all sorts of people to a genuine 15 minutes of fame. For a moment, everybody cares about that nice girl with the ponytail who won a medal in that ... thing ... you know, the event where you jump up and down. Yeah, that one.
And then everybody forgets about her ... until four years later when we find out she's making a gutty comeback from plantar warts, and we all care again ... for another 15 minutes. I like that.
Of course, the athletes don't want to go back to obscurity. They want to turn their 15 minutes of fame into an entire lifetime of celebrity, like 1976 decathlon gold medalist Bruce Jenner. (He likes to joke that on his deathbed, he's going to hold an auction between Coke and Pepsi over who gets to put their logo on his coffin.) But, 99.8% of them can't, thank God.
India's gold medal contender: India is incredibly bad at just about all Olympic sports (cricket isn't in the Olympics), even field hockey where they used to rule. (So far, it has won one silver medal overall, an improvement over the last two Olympics when it won one bronze in each.) However, they do have a legitimate medal contender in a legitimate event: Anju Bobby George has qualified for the women's long jump final, a perfectly respectable event that has been contested since 1948 and has been won by such luminaries as Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Heike Drechsler. She won the bronze medal at last year's world championship.
UPDATE: A reader says this girl from Kerala is probably a Christian (there's an ancient Christian community in southwest India, reputedly founded by the apostle Doubting Thomas). Christian girls are much more free to expose their legs to view in athletics than Hindu, Muslim, or Sikh girls.
China wins lots of gold medals, although they tend to be mostly in either purely Asian sports (badminton and ping-pong), obscure quasi-sports (shooting), or steroid-susceptible sports that only a lesbian gym teacher or a Communist sports commissar could love (women's weightlifting and women's wrestling). Okay, they also do extremely well in diving, which, while not a huge sport, is a welcome tradition during the Olympics. But they only got one gold in each of the two big sports of the first week, swimming (which gives out 32 gold medals) and gymnastics (14 golds).
In track and field, China set some astonishing women's world records in distance running at the 1993 and 1997 national games that are some of the more suspect marks on the books, although one Chinese woman runner did win a gold in Atlanta. This year, however, they have a definite gold medal possibility in the men's 110 meter hurdles in handsome, young Xiang Liu, especially now that American star Allen Johnson took a tumble in a qualifying heat. The Chinese men haven't won a gold medal in track & field since the high jump in 1984, but this young fellow looks quite capable of winning it all.
Black lady sprinters -- Because they don't work out many hours per week, top sprinters generally have lots of time on their hands to work on their personalities. With males sprinters, the results usually aren't too pleasing, as they tend toward megalomania, but female sprinters are often a delight. I've always liked black lady sprinters -- so athletic, yet so feminine, with their crazy-long fingernails like Gail Devers and the late Florence Griffith-Joyner and the extra pound or so of jewelry they insist on wearing. Sometimes women runners can be scary-looking, like Ana Guevara or old Jarmila Krachtilova, but almost never with black girls. Even filled to the gills with steroids in 1988, Flo-Jo remained a delightful personality, a comic-book superheroine come to life.
Allyson Felix, the 18 year old who won the silver medal in the women's 200m tonight, behind Jamaica's Veronica Campbell (22.06), looks well set to become America's new track sweetheart. Interestingly, Felix declared herself a pro after graduating from high school at 17, yet she attends USC anyway, even though she can't compete for USC, to get her teaching degree. That's rare. I don't see an drug worries with her. She's particularly slender for a sprinter. Her coach, Pat Connolly, coached 1984 100m gold medalist Evelyn Ashford, who is often considered the best clean woman sprinter in history.
No surprise: Kenyans go 1-2-3 in their best event, the 3000m steeplechase, with a Kenyan running for Qatar in 4th place. Excluding the Olympics they boycotted in 1976 and 1980, Kenya has now won eight straight steeplechases, going back through 1968. (Here's my 2000 article on why Kenyans are such great distance runners.)
The 3000 meter distance appears to be the sweet spot for Kenyans, midway in their strong suit from 800 to 10,000 meters. Plus, they don't get much competition at 3000m from their archrival Ethiopians, who are at their best from 5000m through the marathon. Northwest Africans like El-Gerrouj and Morceli seem to concentrate at 1500m. (See my 1997 National Review article "Track and Battlefield" for a graph showing the different strengths of Kenyans vs. West Africans.)
The great Moroccan miler Hicham El-Gerrouj finally wins the 1500m gold medal in an exciting duel with Bernard Lagat of Kenya, who passed him on the final straightaway, but then the skinny Mahgrebian fought back to win. He collapsed in tears after winning the gold after 7 years on top of his business.
I mentioned below my suspicion that mixed race people, like Daley Thompson and Dan O'Brien, might be particularly good at the 10 event decathlon. That theory is hard to test, but the surprise silver medalist this year turned out to be Brian Clay of Hawaii, who is half-black, half-Japanese. Perhaps not surprisingly, he sounded just like Tiger Woods during his TV interview.
One important question is whether these Olympics are cleaner in terms of doping than other years' Games. Don't go by the number of athletes caught -- the fewer athletes caught, the dirtier the Olympics are. I'm only familiar enough with track times to make an estimate, but these seem pretty reasonable compared to other Olympics. For example, nobody came close to breaking 49 seconds in the women's 400m tonight, won by Tonique Darling. Sub-49 second times were seen in every Olympic women's 400m final from 1980 through 1996. Nobody so far is running absurd Flo-Jo type times. I wouldn't expect many new world records, except in newish women's events, such as pole vaulting.
How to forecast impact of genetic alterations: Nicholas Kristof writes in the New York Times:
Perhaps the most important and complex decision in the history of our species is approaching: in what ways should we improve our genetic endowment? Yet we are neither focused on this question nor adequately schooled to resolve it. So we desperately need greater scientific literacy, and it's past time for a post-Sputnik style revitalization of science education, especially genetics, to help us figure out if we want our descendants to belong to the same species as we do.
I pointed out back in 1999 that the most feasible way to anticipate the future social impact of increasing genetic diversity through biotechnology is to study the current social impact of existing genetic diversity. Unfortunately, that is largely verboten at present. There's very little money for research and scientists in the field can be investigated by the police for their troubles in many countries. (Here's a 1999 speech I gave on this topic.)
For example, the Olympics provide a lot of data on human biodiversity, but nobody wants to talk about it... Except me, and I won't shut up about it.
Dan Seligman on Quotas in Forbes:
"If you're in the people-selection business-in, say, a personnel or college admissions department-your job assignment can trigger a certain amount of cognitive dissonance, that being the mental disarray that comes from simultaneously holding two contradictory positions. You are expected to select on merit but also to produce some neat racial balance in the hiring (or admission) pool. Your employer, that is, wants to have it both ways. How do you cope?"
Seligman explains why several much-touted alternatives to simple meritocracy, such as the Texas 10% Solution and "banding" don't work.
I'm always fascinated by the vast numbers of journalists -- other than Seligman -- who just don't get that they are being conned. They simply seem to lack the ability to think critically about selection processes, at least about selection processes affecting other people. I'm trying to remember at what age I would have been able to figure out that these were scams. I took three levels of statistics and some intensive MBA school courses in statistical modeling for marketing and finance. Does it take that much education? Or would I have been able to figure out that somebody was blowing smoke when I was 16? I just don't remember.
Griffe on the Sprinting Gap: Back in 2000, the mysterious statistician La Griffe du Lion took a quick pass at the men's 100m statistics and estimated a 0.82 standard deviation difference in short sprinting ability between blacks and whites.
Nearly two months after the establishment of a sovereign Iraqi government, the violent attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces show no sign of flagging. A USA TODAY database and analysis of unclassified U.S. government security reports, show attacks against U.S. and allied forces have averaged 49 a day since the hand-over of sovereignty June 28, compared with 52 a day in the four weeks leading up to the transfer...
While most attention has been focused on the showdown in Najaf between followers of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the new Iraqi government, data show the insurgency is a stubborn and continuing phenomenon throughout the country. “If we have the political will and stamina to stay, I could see this going on for 10 years,” says Randolph Gangle, a retired officer who heads the Marine Corps' Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities in Quantico, Va...
Attacks are concentrated in the “Sunni Triangle” area north and west of Baghdad and in Shiite Muslim strongholds in Najaf and other southern cities. But violence is common in almost every part of the country, with the exception of Kurdish-controlled areas in the north. There were 880 attacks reported in Baghdad, a city of about 5 million, in June and July. They represented about 30% of the total attacks. In Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, 244 attacks were reported during the same period...
The fight against the Iraqi insurgency differs from other guerrilla wars. There is no single cause driving the fighters, nor is there a unified leadership. Making the situation even more complex, the insurgency includes multiple groups with differing goals and motives. Sometimes they fight together; other times they fight among themselves. ... That diversity makes quashing the violence difficult. There is no way to attack the nerve center of Iraq's multifaceted insurgency.... “It is not classical guerrilla warfare in the sense there is no one in charge of it,” Brown says. “There is no pressure point. … There is no rebel leader that you would find in a Central American guerrilla war.”
In other breaking news, either John Kerry or George W. Bush will be elected President this fall*. Hmmhmmhm ... the real world is depressing. I guess I'll go back to thinking about the Olympics.
* Don't blame me, I'm voting for Kodos.
World's Fastest Men -- Why so Anglophone? After the 1996 Games, David Wallechinsky wrote in his indispensable Complete Book of the Summer Olympics:
"Although every finalist [in the 100 meter dash] in the last four Olympics has been black, historically, the major division in this event has been not racial but linguistic. Since the modern Olympics were first held in 1896, 22 of 24 winners at 100 meters have been from English-speaking countries, as have 60 of 72 medalists."
With two more Olympic 100m dashes in the history book, the totals are now 24 of 26 gold medalists and either 65 or 66 of 78 medalists, depending on how you classify Sunday's silver medalist, Francis Obikwelu, a Nigerian running for Portugal.
The early domination of the 100 by Anglophones, as illustrated in the movie Chariots of Fire about the 1924 British Olympic team, is obvious: Victorian public school boys re-invented track and field based on the Greek models they read about in their Classics-centric classes.
But, the concept of the 100 was so simple that soon just about everybody in the world was trying it. Unlike the marathon, which requires a whole lot of media huffing and puffing to get people to push themselves to the brink of death to run 26 miles, sprinting short distances to see who is fastest is universal and spontaneous among children.
So, why has the 100m stayed so Anglophone, even as the color of the top men changed completely? Of the 48 finalist spots over the last six Olympics, the non-Anglophones have consisted of only one Brazilian, one Haitian-French Canadian (Bruny Surin), and, arguably, the hard to categorize Obikwelu.
For complicated sports like women's gymnastics, it's easy to understand why it's hard for newcomers to the sport to dislodge the Romanians. But, sprinting just isn't that complicated. Yes, technique is important to shave those 100ths of a second off, but innate talent matters probably more in the men's 100m than in any other event in the entire Olympics in any sport. It's not like swimming where some of the strokes, such as the butterfly, weren't even invented until the middle of the last century, so precise coaching is crucial. Everybody knows, more or less, how to run. And when one country makes a big effort to master techniques, like the Japanese did in the late 1920s or the Soviet did in producing Valery Borzov's gold medal in 1972, other countries catch up quickly. In 1976, for example, Borzov, the product of the Soviet sports-industrial complex, was replaced as gold medalist by Hasely Crawford from happy-go-lucky Trinidad.
In general, Anglophone blacks are most dominant at low-technique events like the 100m, 400m, and long jump, as opposed to their higher-technique counterparts, the 110m high hurdles, the 400m intermediate hurdles, and the triple jump. (By the way, a Chinese guy has the second fast time in the world this year in the 110m hurdles.) This is not the pattern you would expect if Anglophone blacks were winning based on mastery of intricate techniques that can only be passed down culturally.
So, while cultural continuity is no doubt important, I've got a new complementary explanation for why Anglophone New World blacks are so dominant in the 100m over Spanish and Portuguese speaking blacks: the Iberian acceptance of mestizaje vs. the more racist English disapproval of miscegenation.
The 100m is a one dimensional sport where one skill is rewarded. For Darwinian reasons that we don't fully understand, this skill evolved to its global peak in West Africa.
Thus, top 100m men tend to be not just kind-of sort-of black in a Barack Obama sort of way, but really African-looking. While there are a number of sports, like the decathlon, where being of mixed race heritage may be of help (e.g., 1980 and 1984 gold medalist Daley Thompson and 1996 gold medalist Dan O'Brien have black fathers and white mothers), the 100m is not one of them.
The slave trade spread West Africans to the New World. But population genetics studies show a sizable difference in what happened next. In the Spanish and Portuguese colonies, black and white genes tended to spread out across the population, but in the English-speaking world they tended to bunch up toward one pole or the other. Sure, there was lots of inter-breeding, but the one-drop rule in the Anglophone world, combined with restrictions on interracial marriage, had a little-understood impact: by defining a half white-half black person as socially black, it drove them toward marrying another black person rather than a white person. Thus, socially defined black people tended to not be more than half-white.
Thus, the first genetic study I've seen to address this suggests that only 10% of self-identified African-Americans are more than 50% white. In contrast, blacks in Mexico were almost completely absorbed into the general population.
Thus, in the English-speaking countries, black genes tend to be more concentrated in particular individuals.
One other population genetic aspect that could be important is that North American blacks tended to come almost solely from West Africa, while South American blacks were drawn from a wider sphere of Africa, going all the way around to East Africa. Lots of Brazilians slaves came from Portugal's East African colony of Mozambique. The weakness of Brazilians as sprinters may have to do with A The really fast runners go into soccer. and B. Even the blackest Brazilians aren't as West African as Anglophone blacks -- they may have more East African ancestors. (East Africans tend to be best at longer distances from 400m through the marathon, depending on their tribe, but none have ever been world class world-class at 100m or even 200m.) That may help explain the fact that a dark-skinned Brazilian man set the marathon record back in the 1990s.
Jeremy Wariner (44.00) leads American sweep of 400m -- A reader writes
Looking at Wariner, I say he’s got at least a few percent west african genes. I have no evidence to back it up but looking at his face, his body, his bone structure, he doesn’t seem to me to be all western European.
Could be. Tens of millions of white Americans are a little bit black. On the other hand, there could be a couple of other things going on.
First: To be a really fast sprinter, even a long sprinter like Wariner, you need to be built along West African lines -- e.g., thin calves relative to the rest of your body and a very low body fat percentage. There may also be more subtle differences, such as in how muscles and tendons connect -- Wariner has the loosest walk imaginable for a white guy. So, even if you aren't at all black by genealogy, you are still going to have to have a number of genes more commonly found in blacks than whites
Second, until Wariner opens his mouth and displays his plain white Texas accent, a lot of his personal affect is black -- the gold necklace, for example (although he reminds me most of Eminem). Well, if you were in a black dominated business like sprinting or rapping, you'd either absorb the mannerisms of or consciously emulate the best in your field, who are black. So, acting black can make you appear more innately black. The British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen gets away with this -- his Ali G character acts outrageously black, causing people to reinterpret Cohen's Jewish looks as mixed race white-black.
Why don't American distance runners run as fast as they once did? It appears to be an instructive interaction of nature and nurture.
The decline has been absolute, not just relative to the rest of the world. From 1965 through 1967, three American high school boys (Jim Ryun [now a GOP Congressman from Kansas], Marty Liquori, and Tim Danielson) ran the mile in under four minutes. It didn't happen again until Alan Webb did it in 2001. I suspect that what took the air out of the American middle distance balloon was Kenyan Kip Keino beating Ryun at Mexico City in the 1500m in 1968. This was at high altitude, where Keino was at home, so it didn't seem so bad at first, but then the Kenyans just kept on winning. A huge boom in recreational distance running started in America in 1972 when Frank Shorter won the Olympic Marathon, but it didn't lead to a new generation of world-class runners. The top endurance talent must have gone into mountain climbing or triathlons or bicycle racing or something else where they didn't have to compete with the Kenyans.
A reader writes:
When I was in high school I ran cross country and trained very hard for two years, managing to secure a spot at the bottom of the varsity team. A freshman named Abraham moved into the area and he hailed from Nairobi. He was about 5'10" and 130 lbs- all legs. He was not a runner in Africa, he played soccer. He didn't run to school-on the contrary his parents were rich so he got a ride. Within one month of arrival with almost no training he was state champ of Virginia in the 5K, beating 18-year olds who had been 'working hard' for years, but simply didn't have the physical makeup to compete with a prime Kenyan specimen. And Virginia had a lot of very good distance runners that year.
Something similar might have happened in the 400m, where white Americans just disappeared. A white American, Mike Larrabee won the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in a fine 45.15. But at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, three black guys won in insane times, led by Lee Evans with a 43.86 (better than Wariner's time) that stood up until the mid-1980s. They then capped the Mexico City Olympics by setting a world record in the 4x400m relay that stood for over 20 years.
As I point out below, the longer the race, the less dominant African-Americans become. The big break is between 400m and 800m, but whites still have a fair shot at 400m, unlike 100m, where blacks have filled the last 48 spots in the the finals going back six Olympics.
Other black guys set unbelievable records at the '68 Games: Jimmy Hines 9.95 in the 100m, Tommie Smith 19.83 in the 200m, and, most famously, Bob Beamon broke the world record in the long jump by two feet, going 29'-2. (the latter two are better than anybody has done in the world this year before the Olympics). Of course, all these performances were boosted by the thin air at 7,300 feet altitude, but these sprint marks must have been terribly intimidating to fast young white boys, who decided to go do something else.
Internationally, white guys stayed marginally competitive in the 400m, with Cuba's Alberto "The Big Horse" Juantorena winning in 1976 with a tremendous 44.26, Australia's Darren Clark finishing fourth in both 1984 and 1988, and Britain's Roger Black winning a silver medal in 1996. But in America, top white quarter-milers almost disappeared, emerging only in the last couple of years with Wariner, Andrew Rock (on the Olympic relay squad) who ran for a Div. 3 school because nobody would give a white 400m man a college scholarship, and a couple of decent performers at the U. of Minnesota. It's a cliche that U.S. Olympic Trials in the sprints are harder than the Olympics, and there is some truth to that.
In the U.S., it doesn't make a lot of sense for a young fellow to specialize in the 400m unless he projects out ten years down the road to be a potential gold medalist. If you don't have at least an outside shot at developing into a gold medalist, you probably won't ever make the national team as an individual, or even as a relay runner. It makes more sense to keep your options open and think about trying something else where the national competition is less stiff.
In contrast, if you are, say, a Pole or a German, you don't have to look like a future gold medalist to still picture a fun future for yourself as a 400m man: traveling the world representing your country, winning medals in European championships, running in the finals of the 4x400 relay in the Olympic stadium on global TV, maybe even winning a medal if Jamaica drops the baton. Occasionally, one of those nonblacks from another country who stays in the event past his youth blossoms into a true world-class contender. But, even if he doesn't, he can still have an enjoyable career beating a lot of other non-blacks in his home country.
In contrast, non-black 400m men in the U.S. generally wind up being also-rans, so that (rationally) discourages non-blacks from making an all-out effort in the 400m. Sure, they're listening to a stereotype, but it's also rational behavior for different groups to specialize in different specialties. Would you tell your son to choose the event where he's more likely to fail just to prove an ideological point?
We may see more white long sprinters in the future in America, however, because African-Americans have lost most of their interest in track as their culture revolves more and more around basketball and football. African-Americans still do very well in sprinting (going 1-3-4 in the 100m on Sunday night), but six months from now I bet that fewer than 10% of all African-Americans will be able to name the black guy who won the race (Justin Gatlin) or the black guy who holds the record (Tim Montgomery-9.78).
Black colleges made track their spring sport instead of baseball way back in the early part of the last century because it was objective. If a black student ran a 9.6 hundred yard dash, you couldn't say he only did it because the competition was weak. Thus blacks were well-represented on the Olympic squad by 1928 and dominant at sprints by 1932. At some point, however, blacks started to lose interest in track. Today, track fans are typically European or Japanese nerds who love numbers. It's just not that fun a sport to follow unless you like to keep a lot of numbers in your head.
Sprinting is probably the easiest sport, by far, to excel at if you have the natural talent -- to prepare for winning four gold medals at the 1984 LA Olympics, Carl Lewis only worked out eight hours per week. You always hear that the reason the 100m dash is dominated by blacks is because only poor people would do all the brutal work it takes to win, but that's just flapdoodle. Sprinting doesn't require endurance. Even the long sprints don't take much work: to win the 200m and 400m in 1996, Michael Johnson admitted to working out less than 12 hours per week.
Sprinting isn't big money, but it is easy money, so it will always attract those with God-given speed, but African-American athletes with other talents will probably avoid track. Back in the late 1960s, O.J. Simpson and the rest of the USC football team spent their springs running track, setting a world record in the sprint relay in the process, but these days, they'd be working out for football year round.
Francis Fukuyama almost names names: In his National Interest article dumping on fellow neocon Charles Krauthammer's defense of the Iraq Attaq, Fukuyama asks:
Does the fact that an "enemy" poses a mortal threat to another free country but not to us qualify it as our "enemy?" Is Hamas, an Islamist group which clearly poses an existential threat to Israel, our enemy as well? Is Syria? And if these are our enemies, why should we choose to fight them in preference to threats to free countries closer to home like the FARC or ELN, which threaten democracy in Colombia, or Hugo Chavez in Venezuela? What makes something "central" in this global war? Was Iraq central to the war against radical Islamism?
The George P. Bush Watch: The AP reports:
MEXICO CITY - President Bush's nephew, campaigning for overseas votes in Mexico on Saturday, called the federal policy of arming U.S. Border Patrol agents with plastic pellet guns "reprehensible."
Speaking in a mix of English and sometimes-halting Spanish, George P. Bush said his uncle was not to blame for the gun policy, which has angered Mexicans. He instead blamed it on "some local INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) guy who's trying to be tough, act macho."
"If there has been American approval for this policy, that is reprehensible," Bush said of the guns, essentially paintball projectiles filled with chile powder. "It's kind of barbarous."
The pellet guns, which were approved at the federal level, have been used on a trial basis since 2001 in California and Arizona. The U.S. Border Patrol fired the pepper-balls in 81 instances in 2002-03 and reported no deaths or severe injuries.
President Bush's Hispanic nephew - he's the grandson of migrant worker Jose Maria Garnica - is in Mexico on a week-long visit to drum up support for his uncle among the estimated 1 million Americans living there.
The younger Bush, whose father is Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and mother, Columba, is originally from Mexico, acknowledged at a news conference that the war in Iraq is not popular in Mexico but defended the military action, saying "we're almost done with it."
He also acknowledged that "there are some people in our (Republican) party who don't see the benefits of immigration," but promised that President Bush was a proponent of immigration reform.
Technological change is slowing down: Journalists are constantly telling us that daily life is changing faster and faster (here's a scenario about what daily life will be like in 2014 that I find dubious), but that seems incorrect. Living as I do in the same neighborhood as where I grew up, I can see that the old place looks about the same after four decades. I'm currently watching my tenth Summer Olympics on television, and life really isn't that much different than in 1968. Computers and the Internet have replaced typewriters and going to the library, but for people who aren't professional writers, that's not such a big deal. We've got cellphones now, but that hardly compares to getting a telephone in the first place. The really massive changes in everyday living are driven by transportation technology and that is almost exactly the same as in 1968.
The generations that experienced truly profound change lived during the 19th and early 20th Centuries, which may explain why so many of their popular idea, such as Marxism and Freudianism, seem so hysterical to us today. For example, once I visited in central Illinois, New Salem, where Abraham Lincoln lived in the 1830s in a log cabin with almost a medieval standard of living, and Springfield, where he lived in the 1850s in a house not all that much different from many I'd considered buying. Now, that was change.
Ulcers, past and present: One of the truly massive changes was the invention of antibiotics, which greatly reduced the chance of dying quickly and randomly.
Anthony Daniels (a.k.a., "Theodore Dalrymple") describes his father's lifelong battle with ulcers and the medical care of his ulcers which almost killed him. Ulcers were almost universally believed to be psychosomatically-caused, even though a few heretics had pointed to bacterial infections. Finally, in the early 1980s, two Australian researchers pointed to the Helicobacter pylori germ as the cause. To prevent this insight from disappearing down the memory hole, Dr. Barry Marshall drank a solution of H. pylori, giving himself gastric ulcers, which he promptly cured with antibiotics.
Since then, germs have been discovered to be the cause of many diseases. When is Marshall going to get his Nobel Prize?
In the 1990s, Greg Cochran and Paul Ewald pointed out that basic natural selection logic suggests that germs, not genes, should be the cause of most common diseases, since genes that cut down on Darwinian fitness tend to drive themselves out of existence, while germs can evolved new offenses as fast as we evolve new defenses. Although far more is spent looking for killer genes than for killer germs right now, not much progress is being made being your genes don't exist to kill you. In contrast, germs take (in effect) a more disinterested view of your health. Their Darwinian fitness is all that matters to them, not yours. Here's a major paper by Cochran and Ewald.
New VDARE.com column at left...
World's Fastest Man: Congratulations to Justin Gatlin, winner of the very close, quite fast 100 meter dash in Athens. I had picked his pal Shawn Crawford to win, but Gatlin delivered.
Pos Athlete Country Mark 1 Gatlin Justin USA 9.85 2 Obikwelu Francis POR 9.86 3 Greene Maurice USA 9.87 4 Crawford Shawn USA 9.89 5 Powell Asafa JAM 9.94 6 Collins Kim SKN 10.00 7 Thompson Obadele BAR 10.10 Zakari Aziz GHA DNF
100m dash times had been trending upward since about 1998, when drug testing became particularly fierce, so this impressive list of times, with a record four under 9.90 (and only a moderate 0.6 meters per second tailwind) is most impressive for the 21st Century. It will be interesting to see if everybody gets through their drug tests.
Lots of people put down track and field for its drug problems, but baseball fans should realize that the only reason the big majority of the famous sluggers of the last decade weren't caught was because baseball had no testing at all until this year, and the current regime is awfully beatable (and scores of players still failed). In contrast, runners must notify the authorities where they'll be at all times, and testers can show up at their door on any day and demand a sample.
The final consisted of three African-Americans, three West Indians (BAR is Barbados and SKN is St. Kitts & Nevis), and two West Africans. (GHA is Ghana and silver medalist Francis Obikwelu is a Nigerian who now competes for Portugal.)
Over the last six Olympics, the 48 100m finalists have consisted of 15 African-Americans, 11 West Indians, 7 West Africans (not counting Obikwelu), 7 black Britons, 6 black Canadians, 1 black Brazilian, and 1 black Nigerian-Portuguese.
Running Patterns -- Back in 1997, I put together a graph showing which distances various ethnic groups are best at. I looked at the top 100 times ever for men in each of 10 different distances from 100 meters to the marathon (42,000 meters).
Men of West African descent accounted for 315 of these top 1000 times in late 1997. Thirty two percent of Western blacks top times came in the 100m, a total of 91% in the 100m-400m sprints, another 9% in the 800m, and they had no top 100 times in races from 1500m to the marathon. In other words, blacks monopolize the 100m, and almost monopolize the 200m, and, to a slightly lesser extent the 400m (Go Jeremy Wariner!), then fall off quickly after that, being competitive in the 800m, and only occasionally making a noise in the 1500m.
In contrast, Ethiopians reached the top 100 times only in the 5000, 10,000, and marathon. Mexicans and East Asians were even more shifted toward excellence only in the very long distances (although the rise of Mexican 400m specialist woman Ana Guevera is of interest).
The famous Kenyans are at their best in the 3000m steeplechase, and are very strong from 800m (and occasionally competitive at 400m) through 10,000m. Although they are famous marathoners (42,000m), they face more competition at that length. For example, East Asians, such as yesterday's woman's marathon winner, are competitive at the marathon but not at medium distances.
Northwest Africans are very strong from 1500m up.
Whites of European descents are pretty good at most distances from 800m up, and are sometimes competitive at 400m (for example, the silver medalist in 1996 was Roger Black, a white Englishman), and even 200m. Pietro Mennea's long-lived world record in the 200, from 1979 to 1996, was a fluke caused by the thin air in Mexico City where he ran 19.72, but, more impressively, he still made four straight 200m Olympic finals from 1972 through 1984. (Kostas Kenteris of Greece won the 200m in 2000, but his refusal to show up for drug-testing at this Olympics casts that victory in doubt.)
The new AP article about white 400m star Jeremy Wariner "Sprinter's speed isn't Black or White issue" confuses the sizable difference between 100m and 400m. Whites definitely have a chance at 400m, but the black monopolization of the 100m is just getting stronger. Also, just like in the modern NBA, European whites have done better in the 400m than the American whites over the last several decades. This probably stems from intimidation, causing American white runners to move up to 800m and 1500m, or go play soccer or try the triathlon.
Charles Krauthammer Violates Godwin's Extension, Automatically Loses Argument: In a NYT article about how Francis Fukuyama attacked Charles Krauthammer's defense of the Iraq Attaq, Krauthammer, sounding like the proverbial desperate/annoying Usenet debater, dragged in Hitler, thereby automatically losing the argument:
Most of all, though, Fukuyama argued that Mr. Krauthammer and other supporters of the war mischaracterized Iraq and Islamic radicals as an immediate threat to the existence of the United States, a claim that justified immediate intervention. The Soviet Union arguably threatened the existence of the United States, Mr. Fukuyama argues, but Iraq never did. ...
"To think that the threat to the United States from Islamic radicalism is not existential is absurd," Krauthammer said, comparing Al Qaeda today to Hitler in 1936, when he occupied the Rhineland. Hitler did not have the means then to overrun Europe, but Mr. Krauthammer said, "he soon acquired the means."
First, Al Qaeda wasn't in Saddam's Iraq.
Second, I know this is horribly racist of me to point this out, but Iraqis aren't Germans. When the nonverbal Progressive Matrices IQ test was standardized by Abul-Hubb on teens and adults in Iraq in 1968, both cohorts averaged 87, and no objective evidence about what Iraqis have accomplished says that's unrealistic. (In contrast, across seven IQ studies, Germans averaged 102). It's hard to conquer the world with 23 million people when over half of them are illiterate.
I realize the Neocon Final Argument for starting a stupid war is that to not have invaded Iraq would have exposed us to criticism for being racially prejudiced against Iraqis, but that's a risk I would have taken.
The Chinese on the Chinese: The International Herald Tribune reports:
By Sunday evening, China had 22 golds to the United States' 20, and trailed only the United States in the total count, 46 to 54 - a stirring achievement for a country that treats big international sports contests as rites of passage from a past of poverty and national humiliation. But Chinese sports fans and officials said they were tempering their pride with the recognition that China might lag in the second week of the Olympics, when the track and field events, in which China has generally been weaker, are decided...
Chinese sports fans yearn for China to succeed in the "mainstream" Olympic sports like running and cycling, as well as China's traditional strengths like shooting, diving and table tennis.
But many here, including sports officials, believe that on the field Chinese athletes compete against not only the wealth and experience of their Western rivals, but also what they regard as their superior genes. "It seems congenital inadequacies - human genetic differences - mean Chinese athletes are at a disadvantage in many sports, especially basketball, volleyball and football," said a commentary in the Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily. Tian Maijiu, the sports psychologist, also said that China's "Eastern genetic stock" was a handicap in many Olympics sports, but he added that this handicap was not insurmountable.
China has 1.3 billion people. "That's bad for economic development," Maijiu said, "but it also gives us a lot of room to pick out the best athletes and nurture them, so basketball may not be our strength, but we can still pick out a Yao Ming, or more Yao Mings." Yao Ming is the 2.26-meter tall, or 7-foot-5, star of China's basketball squad.
China's rise in the medal count has become a barometer of the country's rising international status. "The Olympics provide a stage to China to show it's a great power," said Fan Hong, a historian of Chinese sports at Britain's De Montfort University. "Participation in the Olympics has always been a political issue, not a purely athletic issue."
The War Nerd is back from his long summer vacation.
The Caucasus may be the part of the world that's hardest for Americans to understand, because over there every inch of land is marked off with its own language and basketweaving traditions. We're just the opposite, which is why it's so hard for us to get. In the US you can drive a thousand miles without seeing one thing different. No matter how far you go, it's the same Interstate landscape, like you're in a stuck video game: crops, offramp, Denny's, Mickey D's, AM/PM Minimart, more crops, offramp. You cheer up when you come across a car crash because at least it's a little variety.
The Caucasus doesn't have an Interstate. If it did, you'd pay a toll in blood every single mile. The Caucasus is a crazy maze of mountain valleys, every damn one marked off as the property of one tribe or another. Step across some imaginary line and you're walking into a blood feud that's been going since the last Ice Age. This is feudin' country that makes Appalachia look like Haight-Ashberry.
NBC's mistake -- The network announced several times that Malia Metella of France became tonight the first black woman to win an Olympic swimming medal when she won the silver in the 50m freestyle sprint. Actually, as I remember from watching TV in 1976, Enith Brigitha of Curacao in the Netherland Antilles won two bronzes in Montreal, a particularly good performance considering how many medals were monopolized by the jacked-up East Germans at that notorious swim meet. If you remove the East Germans like Kornelia Ender, whom we now know from sworn court testimony were being treated like mad scientists' guinea pigs by the East German chemical-industrial-sports complex, Brigitha would have won a gold, a silver, and a bronze. Here's a link with pictures of Enith.
By the way, Shirley Babashoff deserved to win five gold medals in 1976, instead of the one she actually took home.
Lithuania 94 - USA 90: The much derided American basketball team played its best game, with some good defense. If they continue to improve at this pace, they just might pull out the gold medal next week. On the other hand, African-Americans just can't shoot the ball from the outside anymore. Guys, you have to go practice by yourself to become good jumpshooters. You can't do it if you never want to be apart from your posse.
In any case, this game should be a wake-up call, not just to African-American basketball culture, but to male African-American culture in general. Over the last dozen years, American basketball culture has gone from being a productive mix of black and white to being completely hip-hop, with disastrous results.
It's all over in Athens -- I don't like to give away Olympic results because you might be intending to watch tape-delayed coverage on TV. But here's something they won't tell you on TV. After the quarterfinals in the men's 100m, the 16 semifinalists in the world's fastest man competition are all of West African descent (a couple of the 16 appear to be of mixed black-white background). This means that for the sixth Olympics in a row, none of the eight finalists will be from the 90+% of the world that is not descended from West Africa. That's 0 for 48 going back through 1984. The fastest non-black in the second round was Shingo Suetsugu of Japan (10.19), who was the second fastest non-qualifier.
Track Starts -- America's first white sprint star in 40 years, young 400m favorite Jeremy Wariner, dominated in his first preliminary race, practically walking in the last 15 meters and still winning. It's nice to see a sprinter whose upper body isn't absurdly overdeveloped.
At age 44, regal Merlene Ottey, the Jamaican now running for Slovenia (!), tied for second fastest time (11.14) in the first round of the women's 100 meters out of 64 entrants. In the afternoon, she made it into Saturday's semifinals (with an 11.24). In seven Olympics going back to 1980, the queenly Ottey has won eight medals, but never a gold medal because running preliminary rounds seems to wear her down more than the other great women. Ottey was at her best running one race per week at invitational track meets. UPDATE: Ottey missed advancing to the Finals by 0.03 seconds, finishing fifth in her semifinal.
Lots of 100m action on Saturday with the women's finals in the evening and the first two rounds for the men. You can follow the results at the IAAF site. In the first of four rounds of the race to be the world's fastest man, American Shawn Crawford led all qualifiers with a 10.02. All the big names, even 36 year old Namibian great Frankie Fredericks (10.12), made it through except aging Trinidadian Ato Boldon. Men of West African descent have filled all eight 100 meter finalist spots in each of the last five Olympics. Among non-blacks, Japanese veteran Asahara Nobuharu (best time ever 10.02) won a heat, although in a slow 10.33, but into the wind. Slovenian Matic Osovnikar (this time a real Slovenian) led non-blacks with a 10.15. The only non-black ever to run under 10.00 seconds, Australia's Patrick Johnson (half Irish-half Aborigine), was a no-show.
Two Ethiopians won the men's 10,000m, followed by an Eritrean, an Ugandan, and Ethiopian old-timer Haile Gebrselassie in fifth. The general difference between Ethiopia and its famous neighbor to the South, Kenya, is that Ethiopia has fewer top runners, but gets more production, consistency, and career length per capita out of their stars. Kenya, in contrast, has a lot of quick burnouts. A lot of Kenyan farm boys make enough running in Europe for a couple of years to go home and buy a farm. Gebrselassie, on the other hand, a gold medalist in 1996 and 2000 has managed his career so impressively that he is often talked about as a future president of Ethiopia.
Good for Greece -- We're a week into the Olympics and none of the predicted disasters have happened yet. It's starting to look like the Greeks pulled it off at the last moment. Good for them.
Sex discrimination suits against Wal-Mart and Costco: A reader writes:
statistical bias evidence of prejudice?
---- --- -
Total 113 3
Must be some good tort actions there against Sweden/Norway. (Also, the Fields medals in math were 10 0 for 2002, 1998, 1994.)
He also recommends that somebody might want to look at recent patents given out by the US Patent Office for evidence of actionable bias. Hey, if John Edwards' old colleagues get a pipeline into the EEOC and the Justice Dept., there could be a goldmine in this kind of exercise.
Michael Phelps: The Human Boogieboard -- The great American swimmer must be a fantastic bodysurfer because his torso is so elongated it resembles a surfboard. And, of course, he can swim so fast that he should be able to catch all the waves, whereas I miss 90% of the waves I try to bodysurf because I can't get to the perfect position on time.
IQ and the Wealth of Nations -- At last, the Detailed Data Table! You're probably familiar by now with my review of this century's most talked about but least written about book of underground social science: Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen's IQ and the Wealth of Nations.
The heart of the book is Appendix 1, which describes each of the approximately 172 national IQ studies that Lynn and Vanhanen found in the professional literature, giving mean scores for 81 different countries. The summary listing of mean IQ scores per country has been available on the web for some time. (Here, on Lynn's website, is an earlier version of his list. And here are other copies of the summary list: wordIQ, sq.4mg, Griffe, Nuenke.)
Unfortunately, everything on the web heretofore made Lynn and Vanhanen's results look like a black box. This has two bad effects.
First, If you want, on political grounds, to reject their findings without due consideration, it makes it easy because there's no persuasive evidence for where the summary results comes from.
The second and contrasting problem is that too many people take every number in the summary table equally on faith. For example, L&V's estimate of Colombia's mean IQ as 89 is barely more than guesswork. They have a single study of exactly 50 teenage white boys, who averaged an (adjusted) 95, then they concoct an estimate for the whole country based on an almanac's description of the racial makeup of the country using scores for mestizos found in other countries. That's not illogical, but it's not much more.
On the other hand, their estimate of 107 for the highest scoring country, Hong Kong, appears to be quite solid. They have five studies, three with sample sizes of 4,500 or more, with average adjusted scores of 103, 110, 109, 107, 107 on a scale where the U.S. is 98.
To open up the black box, I've entered virtually all the information in Appendix 1 on each IQ study into a web page.
You can copy the data into an Excel spreadsheet if you want and conduct your own analyses.
Just by eyeballing the data, you can see that there is a relatively high degree of internal consistency within countries (and even within broader regions). There are three studies for Switzerland and they came out to 101, 99, and 102. Sometimes the competing studies disagree significantly (e.g., 14 points apart for the two Polish studies and 13 points apart for the two Portuguese studies), but those kind of divergences are rare.
The very low scores seen in sub-Saharan Africa are often criticized by those with little familiarity with the subject, but the 31 studies cited are depressingly similar: one mean of 80, two in the 75-79 range, and 28 below 75.
Lynn and Vanhanen adjust reported scores to account for the internationally rising scores of the Flynn Effect. This makes scores more internally consistent with other scores from the same country. On the other hand, there's not much evidence for the kind of convergence of low and high scoring countries that is so widely assumed by those who hope the Flynn Effect will bring global IQ equality. Eleven studies come from before 1950 and 16 from the 1950s, including quite a few from 3rd World countries, yet there's little evidence of change of rank order over the decades.
In summary, I invite you to browse through this important data.
"Bright Young Things," debuting 8/20 in NYC, is Stephen Fry's adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies. Here's an excerpt from my review in The American Conservative, which should be available to electronic subscribers late Friday, 8/20:
Vile Bodies gives me a pain every time I reread it. It's the prototypical second novel. A young novelist mines his entire quarter century or so of life for his successful first book (in Waugh's case, the delightful Decline and Fall). Then, when it's time to write another, he finds he doesn't have any new experiences to draw upon other than all those snazzy but soul-sapping parties he's attended since he first surfaced in the media.
Waugh's version is particularly sick-making, as the daft debutante Agatha Runcible would say in the cafe society argot that became a fad when Vile Bodies hit the 1930 bestseller list. Waugh's bride, the "She-Evelyn," cuckolded him while he was off writing the first draft. Then an agnostic, without the consolations of the Catholicism to which he would convert the following year, Waugh's rage embittered his revisions.
Vile Bodies is also Waugh's most experimental novel, an attempt to further the modernist trend toward showing rather than telling that he detected in the otherwise incommensurable works of the two-fisted Ernest Hemingway and the limp-wristed Ronald Firbank. With long swaths of dialogue separated by brief, uninflected narration, Vile Bodies reads like a screenplay, and nobody reads screenplays if they don't have to.
Nonetheless, the brilliance of Waugh's ear for spoken idioms has made Vile Bodies a steady seller for three quarters of a century. Those conversations help make watching "Bright Young Things" far more satisfying than reading Vile Bodies. Although Fry's ensemble comedy (which opens August 20th in New York) is rather slight, no film rendition of a major novelist's work has been this much more fun than the original book since Bogie and Bacall steamed up Hemingway's embarrassing To Have and Have Not.
Happy Ending in Claremont Hate Hoax:
A Claremont McKenna College psychology professor was convicted Wednesday of falsely reporting her car was vandalized and spray-painted with racist and anti-Semitic slurs while she was speaking at a campus forum on racial tolerance. Kerri Dunn, 39, of Redlands was convicted of one misdemeanor count of filing a false police report and two felony counts of attempted insurance fraud. She faces up to 31/2 years in prison when she is sentenced Sept. 17. Her attorney, Gary S. Lincenberg, issued a statement saying Dunn would appeal the attempted insurance fraud convictions.
I'm no legal expert, but I think Dunn may a have a good chance of getting the second part of her conviction, the felony attempted insurance fraud convictions, overturned on appeal because while she certainly contemplated insurance fraud (she called her insurance company and asked questions about filing a claim), I'm not convinced she actually attempted it. In any case, it's good to see surprisingly expeditious justice done on the filing a false police report crime .
Are rightist Hindus on America's side? My Brahmin in Britain says, surprisingly enough, no:
It is important to understand that in the real world the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. So although Hindu fundamentalists in India harbour the greatest misgivings about Muslims anywhere (including Arab Muslims who often fund radical Islamic schools in India and especially in Kashmir and much of Pakistan), they also do not like the United States. Their opinions on the United States range from hate to outright dislike to indifference. But they certainly aren't friends of the United States as the Tories in Britain have always been. [Well, since about 1880.]
The main reason for it is colonialism and the Colonial memory. British racial arrogance left a psychological impact in India and after independence Nehru tried to move the country as far away from any block that included the British. Which is why the entire "Non-Aligned movement" thing started in India. While Hindu nationalists aren't admirers of Nehru or the Congress, their way of looking at the west is largely the same. In their minds not a lot has changed since the 1950s. The west is basically full of Racial arrogance and Imperial hubris. And with America having dislodged Britain as the world's greatest power, America is seen in a similar light as the British in an earlier generation. Anti-Americanism is very strong in India. This expresses itself in numerous ways on the Hindu Nationalist Right - from rallies by Farm lobbies against American agri-business Companies, to railing against American Television (which is a perfectly sensible!), to generally distrusting anything American - this is so even among people who have children living and working in America and doing extremely well.
The other bizarre thing is this idea that floats around India that an Indian in America is a "second class citizen". I have tried often to dig a little deeper as to why they would think that. But there's usually no answer. Its like the law of gravity. You're not supposed to examine anything about it - its just so well known that you accept it as the truth. Some of this is due to envy - people from India who want to live and make money in America but cannot are envious of those that do. So their usual response upon encountering such people is the self-assurance that "At least I live with self-respect in my own country. He makes more money than me but he is treated as a second class citizen".
Its actually quite amusing. And its also bizarre because every time anyone of Indian origin wins recognition in the West, the newspapers go to town over it. So deep in their hearts there is a great craving for recognition by the west - if the West recognises you, that is the final judgement upon your abilities as an individual. It does not matter that Salman Rushdie produces filth in the name of literature - the west recognises him and that is all that really matters. Its like discussions I have with my friends about Amartya Sen. They worship the ground he walks on because he has the ear of Tony Blair and Englishmen(!!) have heaped praise and respect on him. Its irrelevant that from the perspective of economics his real contributions have no value and that his economic theories belong to the rusting rhetoric of the 1960s.
The political reality is that you will never have an Indian-American alliance that would be similar to the Anglo-American alliance. America is either disliked or even simply hated in much of India and no politician likes admiring the United States. Bush virtually begged the Indian Government several times for Troops for Iraq and one could understand his motivation - India has a very large Army and they would have altered the numerical balance enormously. But Vajpayee, probably the most pro-western Prime Minister in Indian history gave the cold shoulder. Although this was a smart thing to do, I believe his decision was based less upon the stupidity of the war and more upon the normal Indian reaction to all things American.
Ashkenazi IQ -- Ashkenazi Jews suffer from a number of genetic disease that their erstwhile neighbors in Eastern Europe don't. Ashkenazis also average higher on IQ tests than other white ancestral groups (which appears to have been one of the driving forces in the history of the 20th Century). Is there a connection? Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending argue there is in this important paper, which offers a Darwinian explanation for both phenomena.
Suspicious thought -- Maybe the real reason gymnasts Paul and Morgan Hamm deny being identical twins is because they actually are pulling a "Parent Trap"-style scam, with Paul specializing in only three apparati and Morgan in the other three, giving them a huge advantage over the other gymnasts in the All-Around competition who must master all six. (Presumably, there is also a shadowy Hamm triplet who sits in the stands and pretends to be Morgan.)
Bush cracks down on non-Mexican border-crossers -- Worried by reports that Arabs are sneaking into the U.S. from Mexico, the Administration has announced it will actually extradite non-Mexicans caught sneaking in from Mexico. But what about all those border-hoppers who don't get caught? As I reported from Arizona last year, the fence along much of the Mexican border is four feet high. You could get over it or under in it in five minutes, tops. If the Administration is truly serious about keeping Arabs out, it will have to take steps, such as building non-joke fences, that will keep Mexican illegals out, too. Wait a minute ... call Karl Rove! Gosh, not only would that be good for the country, but it would be good for Bush's dead-in-the-water campaign.
Why are our Presidential candidates so bad? Are Bush and Kerry the best this country of 293 million can do? After the election, this country needs a serious discussion of how to get better candidates for President. There are two semi-contradictory theories. The first is that campaigning for President is such a drawn-out nightmare -- all those months pretending to care about ethanol subsidies in Iowa junior high school auditoriums -- that no first rate man would subject himself to such an ordeal. The second is that the primaries are over too soon -- Kerry wrapped it up way back in February and Bush had no opposition at all -- so the public doesn't get a chance to think about who could do better.
Are the tumbling Hamm twins identical or fraternal? Slate reports that the men's all around gold medal gymnast Paul Hamm and his twin Morgan say they are fraternal (two different genomes) when most viewers think they are identical (two copies of the same genome). (You can't tell for sure without a DNA test.)
Fraternal twins who are mistaken by their parents or identical and vice-versa provide another good nature vs. nurture test. Generally speaking, they turn out like what they really are (highly alike if identical, moderately alike if fraternal), not what their parents tell them they are.
More on Fareed Zakaria: A reader writes:
"Fareed Zakaria is an educated Indian Muslim. I get the feeling that he has a real guilt complex about all Muslims being labeled "fanatics" after 9-11. Therefore, he must show that there are Moderate Muslims too and he is one of them - a good amalgam of East and West. But to show that he is moderate he must be accepted by the doyens of respectable opinion. This means that he must support some of the things that they support. And since making war on Iraq was a darling project of the "respectable" American media, to oppose it would have sounded like a position driven purely out of dislike for the "opponents" of his co-religionists (i.e. the West and he cannot hate the west because he is a "moderate" Muslim). So it is natural for him to support the war because both Liberals and Neo-cons were pro-war and there is (at least in the US) no other "respectable" position left. But now with the war having gone badly wrong, it is time for explanations. And this is his pathetic explanation."
Thanks. I assumed he was a Hindu. I can see now how being a Muslim put him in a tough spot and how he'd therefore want to find the exact center of respectable opinion and stick closely to it. But what's the excuse of all the non-Muslim conventional wisdom worshippers?
UPDATE: A reader points out Zakaria is a wine-drinking Muslim married to an infidel. What kind of Muslim is he? (My kind of Muslim, actually...)
The initial reader clears up something I hadn't known:
Actually Hindus in India have been dead against the War. I cant think of a single major politician who supported it or suggested that we support it.
It would seem logical for radical Hindu Nationalists to support the war and some of the nuttier elements suggested in the beginning that it was only a matter of glee to see some Muslims get blown up by Tanks and warplanes. But when the war started India had a Hindu Nationalist government and stayed completely out of the war. Vajpayee even tried to talk the US into some sort of settlement to avoid this conflict.
Hindu Nationalists believe that the main terrorist threat emanates from Pakistan and not Iraq. And certainly before the fall of Saddam Hussein this was absolutely true. But for Frum, Perle, Wolfowitz, Cheney and the rest of the gang Iraq has always been the focal point of American wrath - terrorists or no terrorists.
I'd rather be wrong than racist proclaims former Iraq Attaq advocate Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek: "Perhaps Iraq would have been a disaster no matter what. But there's a thinly veiled racism behind such views, implying that Iraqis are savages genetically disposed to produce chaos and anarchy."
Okay, let me see if I've got this straight. We had to occupy Iraq to prove to the Iraqis we weren't biased against them? Think how much more they'd hate us if we hadn't conquered them!
Personally, I demonstrated before the war that there was indeed a genetic-based predisposition among Iraqis toward clan-based conflict (which is a traditional hallmark of savagery) rather than the broad cooperation necessary for nation-building. Why? Because of their high rate of inbreeding due to half their people marrying their first or second cousins. Nepotism makes so much sense to them that they don't much trust nonrelatives.
I guess that makes me a bad person compared to Zakaria. I bet the families of all the people pointlessly killed in the war he backed appreciate his moral superiority.
The Stick vs. the Bunny Hop: My wife and I are watching the contest to crown the world's top pixies (a.k.a., Olympic women's gymnastics, just as the Winter Olympics' figure skating crowns the Princess of the World), and the announcers start braying that some girl with one of those wonderful Romanian names like Oana Ban didn't "stick" her landing. My wife says, "But the bunnyhop landing looks much more graceful than those awkward, painful, arm-waving sticks." I point out to her that we've had this exact discussion about the superiority of the bunny hop precisely six times, once every four years when we watch gymnastics. We first held this conversation in 1984 when Mary Lou Retton needed a perfect 10.00 on her final vault to beat Ecaterina Szabo's Romanian team for the team gold medal. Mary Lou clearly bunny hopped the landing but they gave her the 10 anyway. "And well they should," said my wife, and she will say it again in 2008.
Question: Do African-Americans really like Obama? After weeks of adulation from whites about how wonderful that nice young Barack Obama is, especially compared to that awful Al Sharpton, I'm wondering what real African-Americans think of this attempt by white people to pick the leader of black America for them. Especially considering that it's so obvious why whites like Obama: he's not very black, by both nature and nurture. (His stepfather is Indonesian, for crissake.) The man is an exotic, not an African-American.
Darryl "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins explains what's wrong with the US Olympic BBall Team: Here's a great article by Charley Rosen on FoxSports consisting of an interview with Darryl Dawkins, who was the funniest player in the NBA, but has matured into a good minor league coach:
Darryl Dawkins has never worried about being politically correct. Ever since he made headlines in 1975 when he became the first schoolboy to be drafted into the NBA (Philadelphia — fifth pick overall), Dawkins was never shy about speaking his mind.
According to Dawkins, the outcome of the upcoming Olympic basketball tournament hinges on a subject no one else dares to fully address — the racial components that define basketball as we know it. "The game is the same," says Dawkins. "The object is for the good guys to score and to keep the bad guys from scoring. But there's a big difference between black basketball and white basketball."
Growing up poor (but happy) near Orlando, Fla., Dawkins learned the former before he learned the latter. "Black basketball is much more individualistic," he says. "With so many other opportunities closed to young black kids, the basketball court in the playground or the schoolyard is one of the few places where they can assert themselves in a positive way. So if somebody makes you look bad with a shake-and-bake move, then you've got to come right back at him with something better, something more stylish. And if someone fouls you hard, you've got to foul him even harder. It's all about honor, pride, and establishing yourself as a man."
Once the black game moves indoors and becomes more organized, the pressure to establish bona fides increases. "Now you're talking about high school hoops," says Dawkins. "So if you're not scoring beaucoup points, if your picture isn't in the papers, if you don't have a trophy, then you ain't the man and you ain't nothing. Being second-best is just as bad as being last. And if a teammate hits nine shots in a row, the black attitude is, 'Screw him. Now it's my turn to get it on.'"
If young black players usually cherish untrammeled creativity, white hooplings mostly value more team-oriented concepts. "White basketball means passing the hell out of the ball," says Dawkins. "White guys are more willing to do something when somebody else has the ball — setting picks, boxing out, cutting just to clear a space for a teammate, making the pass that leads to an assist pass. In white basketball, there's a more of a sense of discipline, of running set plays and only taking wide open shots. If a guy gets hot, he'll get the ball until he cools off."
Why is white basketball so structured and team-oriented?
"Because the white culture places more of a premium on winning," Dawkins believes, "and less on self-indulgent preening and chest-beating. That's because there are so many other situations in the white culture where a young kid can express himself."...
" The black game by itself ," he says, " is too chaotic and much too selfish. No one player is good enough to beat five opponents on a consistent basis. The black style also creates animosities among the players because everybody ends up arguing about who's shooting too much and who's not shooting enough ."
But the white game also has its drawbacks: "It can get too predictable and even too cautious because guys can be afraid to take risks and make mistakes."
Dawkins believes that the best NBA teams combine the best of both. "In basketball and in civilian life," Dawkins says, "freedom without structure winds up being chaotic and destructive. Only when it operates within a system can freedom create something worthwhile."
And, according to Dawkins, this is the most difficult task at hand for Larry Brown. "Only Tim Duncan and Carlos Boozer are willing to play white basketball. All the other guys on Team USA really want to go off on their own.
"Unless Brown can bleach some of the selfish funk from their game, they'll be lucky to win the bronze."
Dawkins goes on to cite the famous 1977 playoff finals where his Philadelphia team with Dr. J., George McGinnis, and World B. Free, got outplayed by a more white team led by Bill Walton. After that point, you started to see blacks play better defense, which led to the high quality basketball of the later 80s and early 90s, but eventually the offense collapsed.
Have athletes hit their peaks? The NYT writes:
"In more than two-thirds of track and field events, in fact, the gold- medal performances in 1988 would have been good enough to win again in 2000. Just one result from 1976, by contrast, would have won in 1988, among the 32 events in which comparisons are possible..."
But of course, as I pointed out in "Track and Battlefield" in 1997, the 1988 Olympics were the peak doping Olympics, with East Germany pushing the envelope and North Americans like Ben Johnson and Florence Griffith-Joyner coming up hard from behind. Then the Berlin Wall came down and tougher drug testing was put in place.
The article fails to mention another major driving force in the improvement of track times during the 20th Century - the broadening of the demographic base of the sport, especially the inclusion of particularly talented racial groups such as West Africans in sprints and East African highlanders in the distance events. I would hardly be surprised if more such unexpected breakthroughs occurred in the future. Considering that one tribe of about 3 million people, the Kalenjin of Kenya, win about 3/8ths of the distance running medals, it would not be astonishing if, say, a New Guinea tribes emerges in the future to dominate the triple jump, or whatever.
On the other hand, track and field is not a particularly dynamic sport at present in terms of expanding the number of athletes that compete in it. African-Americans aren't very interested in it anymore, although they continue to win a fair number of medals at it on sheer talent. White American schoolboys back in the 1960s used to be very excited about running the middle distances, but that has faded as more white kids with strong endurance go into soccer.
In general, though, running is a sport where good technique is fairly natural, which is why all those Kenyan farmboys with little high tech coaching keep winning medals. Swimming is less natural, and the various strokes more recent (the butterfly, for example, is a heretical version of the breaststroke invented in the middle of the 20th Century), so coaching helps more, which is one reason why more world records get set more often. We're still figuring out the perfect ways to swim.
Congratulations to the Japanese men's gymnastic team for their gold medal in a sport they dominated from 1960 through 1976. They won in a most impressive way, finishing off the event with complete confidence. This may help the Japanese nation start to shake off the sporting slump it has endured in recent decades. The omnipresent Japanese media puts enormous pressure on its athletic contenders not so much to win as to not shame the nation by continuing the slump. Because the Japanese are particularly sensitive to others' emotions, this pressure has undermined countless Japanese athletes, and thus turns into a vicious cycle.
Also congrats to the American men's gymnastics team for a silver medal, its first since the glorious summer of 1984. This is particularly impressive considering how badly collegiate men's gymnastics has been hammered by Title IX.
Whither the Jewish vote? A new poll conducted by a Democratic organization of 817 Jewish voters shows Kerry leading Bush 75-22. There are lots of methodological questions about this poll, and the 2002 House vote among Jews was slightly more Republican (29%) than the House vote in 2000 (22%), but if accurate, it does raise the question of what could Republicans do to win the Jewish vote, short of dissolving the party. This suggests the limit to the current Likudnik-Evangelical alliance. The problem is that most American Jews feel an emotion aversion toward enthusiastic Christians (like, oh, say, George W. Bush) that is hard for them to overcome on rational grounds, even when they know that born-agains tend to be strongly pro-Israel.
You saw a lot of examples of this back during the "Passion of the Christ" brouhaha when even machiavellian neocons like Charles Krauthammer couldn't resist denouncing the most popular movie in America as "Gibson's blood libel." You'd think that the neocons would have taken one look at the box office returns and decided that if their political allies on the right really like this film, they ought to just lay low about it until it blows over. But, no...
When is a man in his prime? Having won the PGA major championship yesterday for his fifth victory of the year, Vijay Singh is now finally on top of the golf world at the age of 41, an incredible rise for a golfer from Fiji who was once a club pro on Borneo(!). Golfers can, although they generally don't, reach their peaks at much later ages than most other athletes. Today, Jay Haas was selected for the Ryder Cup team for the first time ... at the age of 50. Todd Hamilton failed seven times to qualify for the PGA Tour, so he played in Japan. Last year at age 37, he suddenly got good and won four times in Japan. He debuted in America at age 38, won the Honda in the Spring, then the British Open in July. (On the other hand, lots of good golfers peak early: Arnold Palmer's last major victory came age 34 and Tom Watson's at age 33.)
In contrast, baseball players peak at age 27, at least up through the 1980s, although I wouldn't be surprised to see that have gone up one or two years since as conditioning has become more scientific.
I've long wanted to write an Esquire type article on "When is a man in his prime" that reviews peak ages for different careers. For example, architecture would peak very late. What have you noticed about peak ages?
Neocons: the Energizer Bunnies of punditry. The new Commentary contains an article called "World War IV" by the septuagenarian Norman Podhoretz that is 38 pages long! This helps explain why neocons have risen to a level of influence far about their demonstrated level of competence. If you'd had as disastrous a track record as Mr. Podhoretz has had over the last two years, you'd probably be embarrassed or depressed or bored with the whole subject. Heck, I get bored all the time with subjects I've been proven right about. But when a true-blue neocon is wrong, he just pounds the table longer and louder. You've got to hand it to them. They, demonstrably, don't know what they are talking about, but they just keep on talking anyway, and you can go along way with that kind of psychological resilience.
Finally, a Director's Commentary on DVD that tells you what directors actually do. Over at 2Blowhards, Michael Blowhard discovers a DVD commentary where the director explains the craft side of what his job is all about.
Q. How do we stop Arab Muslim terrorists from blowing up America? A. Don't let them in America.
When they land at JFK, send them back. Yes, this means we'll have to ethnically profile Arab Muslims and discriminate against a lot of foreigners who don't want to commit mass murder in Allah's name just to keep out the few who do, but the Bush Administration has already tried the alternative strategy -- conquering some randomly-chosen Arab country and hoping that will somehow make Arabs love us -- but it doesn't seem to be working out so hot.
Thither the Asian Vote -- While the press has been chattering about the possibility of the GOP picking up the Hispanic vote, the Asian vote has been fleeing to the Democrats. The Hispanic electorate is bigger (5.3% in the 2002 election), but not overwhelmingly bigger than the Asian electorate (2.1%). But while the Hispanic vote is consistently, boringly Democratic from election to election, the Asian vote has switched sides with almost no one noticing. In the 1992 Presidential election, Asians gave Bush 41 55%, Perot 15%, and Clinton only 30%. By the 2002 House elections, GOP candidates only got 34%. The newspapers always quote GOP pollster Matthew Dowd about how Bush must add 3 to 5 percentage points among Hispanics to stand a chance in 2004, but this GOP collapse among Asians over the last decades is bigger than that in effect.
This pro-Democratic trend among Asians, who are more affluent and middle-class than Hispanics, raises serious questions for Republican immigration-optimists like Michael Barone, questions they've largely dodged.
A reader suggests:
To the extent that the next generation views itself as a monolithic "Asian-American" bloc [rather than as Japanese-Americans, Korean-Americans, etc.], it's inevitably going to tilt to the Democrats. Why? Because the only meaning such an "identity" can have is in the context of the "diversity" ideology that serves Democratic Party interests. So the GOP should probably respond in part by playing *ethnic* politics against the Democrat *racial* politics. Why should Vietnamese vote the way the Chinese tell them, after all? Doesn't make much sense to me.
Do people look less different now? A reader writes that his wife, while "watching the Olympic foreplay last night: "The people don't look as DIFFERENT as they used to. I remember seeing the opening ceremony when I was a kid, at the movies. The people from various countries all looked so DIFFERENT. Now they've been globalized."
It's quite possible that facial expressions are becoming standardized: not active expressions like smiles and frowns, which are fairly similar all over the world (this has been tested), but the neutral, default expressions, which can differ over place and time. This is something that actors are experts on -- for example, Tom Hanks nails the Eastern European expression in "The Terminal." A reader writes:
In between my two prolonged stays in China (i.e. 1983 vs. 2001) I noticed many fewer of what the Chinese call "class struggle faces" (jieji douzheng lian) -- a stern, sour aspect favored especially by women. It's a default mode, not an occasional expression.
Someone should write a book about gait. Simon Leys, back in the seventies, had a lot of fun with what he called "the Peking duck walk" -- the rocking, hands-behind-back, toes-out gait favored by senior ChiCom cadres (and old-style Mandarins too, I think).
Malcolm Muggeridge, watching the U.S. troops marching through Paris at Liberation in 1944, noted the GIs peculiar hip-rolling gait, a thing I also remember noticing about Americans as a child.
There is also a "Mediterranean saunter," seen especially among middle-aged Italian males.
South Asians scurry a lot.
I suppose Arabs must have a characteristic gait -- they have a characteristic everything else -- but hard to spot under the robes...
On the other hand, people also try to look different from everybody else. African-Americans will invent a new way of walking as soon as too many wiggers figure out how to do the old one.
UPDATE: A reader writes:
It's my belief that gait among men is influenced by whatever sport is most popular or dominant in their nation or perhaps social group, even among those men who do not play that sport.
The "Mediterreanean saunter" you speak of among Italians is, I think, now replaced by a gait that is far more general among European men today: it's the "soccer walk", shoulders slanted backwards, hips out, feet moving in a rolling way that resembles the jogging run of soccer players.
American men do the "football walk", head down, shoulders forward. I don't think I've noticed the "hip-rolling" your correspondent points out.
Canadian men? Heaven help us Canadian women, they do the hockey shuffle.
Left shoulder and right hip forward, then reverse, feet sliding as
heavily along the floor or street as if they were skating. Although
French Canadian men tend to be more graceful...
New VDARE.com column at left -- By the way, in case you want to write Barone and ask him if he'll put up $1,000 in a bet with me or shut up about the Hispanic vote reaching 9% this fall, here's the other email address I have for him.
"Alien vs. Predator" bites big chunk of weekend box office, even though everybody who saw it says it's bad. Young males just like the whole X vs. Y concept.
I took my boys instead to see "Julius Caesar" for free. (It has probably the easiest Shakespearean verbiage for first-timers to understand, while "Romeo and Juliet," which schools often inflict on kids, is perhaps the hardest to make sense of.) On the way home, my 11-year-old wanted to know if Shakespeare ever wrote a sequel called "Julius Caesar vs. Alexander the Great"? I told him Shakespeare wrote a sequel called "Antony and Cleopatra," but my son didn't want to see it because he doesn't like kissing stuff, just fighting stuff.
McGreevey, Mossad, and/or Israeli Mafia? Justin Raimondo provides more background on Golan Cipel, the longtime Israeli government employee who met the apparently besotted Gov. McGreevey in Israel in 2000 and soon got access to a lot of U.S. security details by being appointed anti-terrorism czar of New Jersey (over the rather more qualified Louis Freeh, former FBI boss). Nothing conclusive in Raimondo's round-up, but intriguing because so many of the murkier scandals these days revolve around a Jerusalem-New York/DC-Moscow axis.
Remember Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich, who had been paying post-Soviet criminals to strip Russian factories and sell him the parts as scrap metal? The big players in getting Rich pardoned included Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Anti-Defamation League supremo Al Foxman, and Rich's lawyer Scooter Libby, who is now Republican VP Cheney's chief of staff. But nobody in the mainstream media wants to touch this stuff. Would you want Al Foxman denouncing you as an anti-Semite? The Forward, the New York City Jewish newspaper, usually provides the best coverage of these kind of scandals, but I don't see anything in it yet about McGreevey and Cipel.
Latest Cochranism: "Our declaring Iraq 'sovereign' on June 30 had about as much concrete effect as if we had declared Iraq 'transcendent.'" -- Greg Cochran.
Update on the Churchill plagiarism nonscandal -- In 1987, Sen. Joe Biden's Presidential campaign collapsed when it was noted that he had plagiarized a speech given by the British Labor Party leader. Yet, as I pointed out below, Winston Churchill's famously incantatory "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds" speech in 1940 appears to have been based on Clemenceau's "I shall fight before Paris, I shall fight behind Paris" 1917 oration.
A reader points out that Churchill was familiar with Clemenceau's speech:
Churchill quoted Clemenceau's defiant and apparently well-remembered words directly to Marshal Petain during the final meeting between British and French leaders on June 11, 1940 during the collapse of France, at which the British were urging the French to hang in there, somehow. Then, "The Marshal replied very quietly and with dignity that in those days he had a mass of maneuver of upwards of sixty divisions; now there was none."*
So, when Churchill adapted and paraphrased the Clemenceau speech a week earlier (June 4), he was likely deliberately using rhetoric that would be remembered by both Frenchmen and Englishmen with sharp memories of WW I.
So, Churchill was not only trying to borrow a successful speech, he was specifically trying to also rally the original audience for the original speech by updating a remembered formula. As I said below, good for him.
The Parade of Nations: I always enjoy watching the 200 or so teams march in during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. What a lot of different kinds of people there are in this world! Friday night my son and I got out the big floor-mounted globe I received for Christmas and we looked up where Palau, Seychelles, and Turkmenistan are as their athletes marched by. Since the countries entered the stadium in Greek alphabetical order (which to this non-fraternity boy is equivalent to random order), it was always a pleasant surprise who'd come next.
Up through about 1965, there were many books, such as famed anthropologist Carleton Coon's bestseller "Living Races of Man," that offered picture galleries of what people from different countries look like. Now that we all worship diversity, however, we aren't allowed to notice human biodiversity, so such books are available only from used book vendors such as alibris.com. Fortunately, they can't censor the Olympics' Parade of Nations.
Did Churchill plagiarize his most famous speech? In 1940, Winston Churchill immortally told Parliament:
... "we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."
I just noticed that in a similarly desperate situation, during the great German offensive in the spring of 1918, French premier Georges Clemenceau orated:
"I shall fight before Paris, I shall fight behind Paris. The Germans may take Paris but that will not stop me from carrying on the war. We shall fight on the Loire, we shall fight on the Garonne, we shall fight even in the Pyrenees. And should we be driven off the Pyrenees, we shall continue the war from the sea. But as for asking for peace, never!"
You have to hand the palm for eloquence to Churchill's version, at least compared to this translation of Clemenceau's effort (from Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty, The New York Times Man in Moscow by S.J. Taylor). But it would seem at least 50-50 that Churchill either recalled Clemenceau's speech from memory, or had consulted it directly -- it would be sensible in the circumstances to have your staff look up defiant back-against-the-wall speeches of the past. When your nation's survival is at stake, future quibbles about plagiarism are irrelevant. It's your moral duty to borrow the best.
An Important and Lively Article by J. Philippe Rushton in VDARE.com: "Solving The African IQ Conundrum: 'Winning Personality' Masks Low Scores" -- It's not widely understood that it's the much reviled "IQ Hawks," led by Arthur Jensen, who have articulated the only persuasive case of exactly how IQ tests are racially biased: Blacks clearly have more social smarts on average than their IQ test scores would suggest. It's inherent in the nature of standardized testing that improvisational (and thus unstandardized) abilities won't register fully. (Here's my review of Jensen's last major book, which emphasizes this. On the other hand, IQ tests are not racially biased in predicting most levels of accomplishment related to abstract, impersonal thinking.)
Rushton, who has been spending a lot of time in the last half dozen years in South Africa, writes:
"... the low African IQ of 70 remains hard for many to accept. One reason for the disbelief: Africans — and African Americans [who average 85] — display high levels of social competence. They are outgoing, talkative, sociable, warm, and friendly. Psychometrically speaking, they score high on the Extraversion personality dimension. They are also much less anxious, shy, and fearful than Whites—they are low in the Neuroticism dimension. This combination of high Extraversion and low Neuroticism results in a socially dominant personality profile.
It is this "winning personality" among Blacks, I believe, that makes it hard for so many to accept the validity of their failing tests of abstract reasoning ability.
A typical academic story comes from professors who, on first exposure to African students, express their delight in the high levels of classroom performance. The students are described as engaged, offering lively opinions, and giving a clear impression of brightness. Only when the students took objectively measured essay or multiple-choice examinations did it become painfully obvious to even the most well-wishing faculty members that their grasp of abstract material failed to live up to their classroom rhetoric.
Millions around the world delighted in the badinage between Muhammad Ali, perhaps the greatest boxer of all time, who failed the IQ test for his military induction physical, and TV sports announcer Howard Cosell.
"I’m gonna whoop him Howard. You just watch!" Cosell responded, "You’re feeling very truculent today, Muhammad." Without batting an eye (or opening a dictionary) Ali uttered one of his trademark retorts, "Truculent? If that’s good, I’m it!"
Asked on the CBS news program Face the Nation, "Muhammad, you say you’d never throw a fight, but what about that IQ test?" Ali shot back, "I told you I was the greatest, not the smartest!"
Ali was, of course, one of the most fun personalities of the 20th Century. Despite coming from an artsy, middle class home, he was also, more or less, illiterate. I've seen him say that his biggest regret was not learning how to read. While he was still young and witty, he scored an IQ of 78 on the military's entrance exam. (I think that should have disqualified Ali from being drafted under the law which excludes the military from taking the bottom 10%, so I don't know why he had to become a draft dodger. Perhaps Defense Secretary Robert MacNamara's notorious program for inducting very low scorers was in operation at the time.)
He denied intentionally trying to score low, and Gerald Early, a prominent black studies professor and editor of the "Muhammad Ali Reader," commented, "He hadn't a single idea in his head, really ... I think the score was an honest reflection of Ali's mental abilities." Yet, Early notes correctly, "He was intuitive, glib, richly gregarious, and intensely creative, like an artist."
What I am suggesting then, is that Blacks have a self-assured "bright" talkative, personality, which leads many people to over-estimate their abstract reasoning ability. East Asians provide a "compare and contrast" case study with people under-estimating their IQ because of their quietness and otherwise "subdued" personality profile. East Asians who average higher than Whites on IQ tests (107 versus 100) have often been described to me as seeming "dull and uncreative" compared to Whites, achieving what they do only through unimaginative rote learning, imitation, and memorization.
The relative restraint of East Asians contrasted with the noisiness of Africans is apparent to anyone visiting their home continents. When the New York Yankees played the first game of the 2004 baseball season before a packed stadium in Tokyo, Japan, the announcers noted how very much quieter the crowd was than those at games in the U.S.
A couple of Olympics ago, I suggested in a major article "Great Black Hopes" in National Review that black men should look for careers that rewarded personality rather than just book smarts. It's still worth a look.
Crimethink in Finland: Thank God and James Madison for the First Amendment here in America that allows us to discuss important issues like the above without fear of arrest. In contrast, Professor Tatu Vanhanen, co-author of IQ and the Wealth of Nations with Richard Lynn, has come under police investigation for ... giving an interview outlining the contents of their highly interesting 2002 book, which lists the estimated IQs of 81 countries based on 168 published IQ studies and shows there is a quite high correlation (r=0.73) between national IQ and per capita income. Professor Vanhanen is the father of Finland's Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen.
Likewise, Rushton spent nine months under investigation by police in Ontario.
NJ Gov. Jim McGreevey Scandal -- This guy's a real piece of work. Two wives and a kid by each, apparently to maintain his political facade, and an Israeli boyfriend he appointed New Jersey's anti-terrorism czar even though the guy was just a PR flack (McGreevey lied about his qualifications) and wasn't even an American citizen. And he was already known as Gov. McGreedy for various financial scandals.
It all came undone when the boyfriend threatened to sue him for sexual harassment. And McGreevey ran on the slogan "Straight Talk"! (Gordon Bishop pointed out the hypocrisy of McGreevey's slogan years ago.)
Whither the Asian vote? The Derb considers the Asian-Pacific Islander electorate on NRO. Bush got only 41% of the Asian vote in 2000, while GOP House candidates fell all the way down to 34% in 2002. That's a huge decline in center-right voting by Asian-Americans since 1992, when Bush 41 picked up 55% and Perot 15%. Does anybody know why the fast-growing Asian vote is moving hard to the left?
Workaholic Monkeys: Over at Future Pundit and Gene Expression, the boys are very excited about the report that scientists have genetically engineered workaholic monkeys. Normally, a monkey's attitude toward those tasks scientists dream up for them is to do the minimum, but knock out one of their genes and they just can't do enough drudge work.
Will scientists be able to allow us humans to become natural-born workaholics? Who knows? Who cares? Why do I want to work even harder? What I want to know is when I can buy a troop of bioengineered supermonkeys to fold my laundry.
(By the way, in case you were wondering how many monkeys it would take to write this blog, a recent experiment investigated that.)
Neocons defend Mookie's ally -- It's amusing watching neocons defend Ahmad Chalabi, the ally of Muqtada Sadr, whose militias are fighting American boys in the streets of Najaf and Sadr City right now. The Chalabster is currently "vacationing" in Axis of Evil-member Iran.
The WSJ editorialized:
"It's hard to see how the weekend arrest warrants for Ahmed Chalabi and his nephew Salem Chalabi advance the rule of law and the cause of justice in Iraq. If nothing else, they raise the question of judicial priorities. Moqtada al Sadr, after all, remains on the loose."
Of course, as the LA Times reported a couple of weeks ago, the ever-ambitious Chalabi is reinventing himself by "reaching out to Iraq's most prominent anti-American Shiite cleric, Muqtada Sadr." So, Mookie and Ahmad are increasingly a package deal.
Christopher Hitchens, fresh from praising that "prophetic moralist" Trotsky, issues a content-free defense of Chalabi's financial probity in Slate. Most interesting is the last paragraph, where the normally bloodthirsty Hitch suddenly turns all squishy-soft about the U.S. fighting back against Mookie's latest offensive.
"As I write, the Allawi government in Baghdad is trying, with American support, a version of an "iron fist" policy in the Shiite cities of the south. ("Like all weak governments," as Disraeli once said in another connection, "it resorts to strong measures.") Chalabi, who has spent much of this year in Najaf, thinks that this is extremely unwise. We shall be testing all these propositions, and more, as the months go by."
Why has old blood-and-thunder Hitch suddenly gone wimpy about us putting down Mookie's latest uprising? Presumably because Hitch's close personal friend Chalabi is in bed with Mookie.
Hitch's bravest line: "But I will say that I have a slight instinct for a bogus story." Yeah, okay, Hitch, uhmmmm, then how come you didn't notice that Chalabi's WMD story was bogus?
And in NRO, Michael Rubin issues another of his patented Chalabi-uber-alles essays. There's no mention of Chalabi's connection to Mookie.
Obviously, Allawi is out to boost his popularity by smacking around his even less popular distant cousin Ahmad. These are all bad people in Iraqi politics trying to do bad things to each other, but at least Allwai's side isn't trying to kill American soldiers (at present), unlike Chalabi's side. A lot of the American neocons are more loyal to Chalabi than they are to America.
Debra Dickerson on race: Reading angry anti-white black conservative Debra Dickerson's self-contorted Slate article "Racist Like Me: Why am I the only honest bigot?" is like watching that Monty Python segment where Graham Chapman wrestles himself:
MC (Michael Palin): "A five round heavyweight contest, three falls, two submissions or a knock-out to decide the winner, between, in the red corner, Colin "Bomber" Harris [Bomber (Graham Chapman) climbs into the ring] and, in the red corner, Colin "Bomber" Harris." [The bell rings. Graham begins his stunningly beautiful ... self-wrestling routine.]
Wrestling Commentator (John Cleese): "Here comes Bomber now, circling round, looking for an opening. He's wrestled himself many times in the past, this boy, so he knows practically all his own moves by now. And he's going for the double hand lock. He's got it. Here's the head squeeze. And the Albanian head lock. He's going for the throw. He's got the throw. And now he's working on the left leg, this is an old weakness of his. Oh, but he caught himself beautifully there, with the, er, the flying Welshman, and now it's the half Nelson... But he didn't like that! He did not like that one little bit... and Bomber's angry now. Bomber is really angry with himself now. And there's a forearm chop and he's gone for the double overhead nostril. Now this is painful, but he caught himself beautifully, a really lovely move there. Now he's going for the fall. The shoulders have to be on the mat for three seconds. No, he's twisting out of that ... He looks groggy, and he's caught himself with two beautiful forearm smashes and he's out. I think Bomber's out!"
Referee [raising the arm of the inert Bomber] "The winner!"
Wrestling Commentator "Yes, he's won."
Hastert: Carpetbagging eccentric Alan Keyes preferred by Illinois GOP establishment to illegal immigration foe who finished second in primary:
Aurora dairy owner Jim Oberweis' hard-line stance against illegal immigration, one that clashed with programs proposed by President George Bush, made him unsuitable for the nod to replace Ryan, [Speaker of the House Dennis] Hastert said. Oberweis finished second in the March GOP primary. "Oberweis wanted to get on the ticket, but, again, I think there were some flaws in that campaign," Hastert said. "If he ever wants a future, I think it's probably good for him to sit out a time, for his own good." But, Hastert said, the Oberweis name, already identified in the Fox Valley with home-delivered dairy products, could still appear on future ballots. "Jim's got a lot of great qualities and has done a lot of good things for the community and I think he could have a good political future," Hastert said. "But he probably ought to sit this election out." [via Mark Krikorian in NRO's The Corner.]
Movies that are better than the book -- There have been plenty of crime and western genre novels that have been turned into superior movies, but what about books of high literary ambition? Readers suggest:
"To Have and Have Not." Some people like the novel, but I found it like a long entry in the Bad Hemingway Prose Style contest. The movie, with Bogie, Bacall, and Hawks is a favorite.
"From Here to Eternity." James Jones made a noble effort to portray barracks life and the Pearl Harbor attack from the grunt's viewpoint, but he didn't have the talent of Hem or Tolstoy. But the movie contains memorable acting by at least seven players and great directing.
"Deliverance" by James Dickey vs. the film with Burt Reynolds.
"A Handful of Dust" -- Evelyn Waugh's 1934 tragedy of manners made into a 1988 film with Alec Guinness as the monstrous Mr. Todd. [I think most would consider the book better, although the movie's not at all bad.]
"Brideshead Revisited" -- Waugh's florid 1945 novel mini-seriesized at enormous length (12 hours) with a great cast, highlighted by John Gielgud as Jeremy Irons' passive-aggressive eccentric father.
"The Grapes of Wrath" made for a better movie than novel. Then again, John Steinbeck wrote his novel aware that it would be made into a movie. They even shot the last scene in the book, where Rose breast feeds a starving man. Thankfully, they left that out of the movie and got a far better ending with Ma Joad's speech.
"The Third Man" film starring Orson Welles probably beats the novel by Graham Greene.
"Elmer Gantry." The book is a tiresome amalgam of anti-religious clichés and sledgehammer "irony" (the evil preacher gets his best sermon from the writings of 19th-century atheist Robert Ingersoll). The movie, with Burt Lancaster in top form, is dynamite. I think Sinclair Lewis is a terrible writer (It Can't Happen Here is virtually unreadable), but he is in the canon for some reason.
"The Hours." No, really. If I were forced to choose one or the other, I'd rather spend two hours in agony than 240 pages (that's two weeks for this slow reader). [Here's Sailer's review.]
"2001" -- Not really an adaptation because Arthur C. Clarke's novel and Stanley Kubrick's novel were brainstormed simultaneously (the basic premise came from a previously published Clarke short story). The book was released first because, well, this is Stanley Kubrick we're talking about: The movie took years to be completed.
John Huston was the guy who could do it-- not always better, but at least AS GOOD:
- "The Man Who Would Be King: I am a huge admirer of the unfashionable Kipling, but this one actually may be the better for "opening up" the story. Also has Sean Connery and Michael Caine, of course. This is one of my all time favorites-- look at those four names! [Here's Sailer's review from September 2001, in which I used the movie to explain why we'd beat the Taliban fairly easily, but subsequent nation-building wouldn't work.]"
- "Wise Blood:" could anyone else film Flannery O'Connor?
- "The Dead:" or Joyce? Again, maybe better than the story.
[On the other hand, Huston's three greatest movies with Bogie -- "Maltese Falcon," "Treasure of Sierra Madre," and "African Queen" -- are all based on popular middlebrow novels.]
"To Kill a Mockingbird"
"The Last Picture Show" and "Texasville." Larry McMurtry is a great no-nonsense writer, but I think "Picture Show" turns a conventional-but-entertaining novel into a kind of existential masterpiece with its stark black-and-white photography; "Texasville" goes the opposite route, fleshing out a great farce with bold colors and a honky-tony soundtrack. [McMurtry might adapt as well as any working novelist: he also wrote Oscar Best Picture "Terms of Endearment" and top miniseries "Lonesome Dove."]
"Bridge on the River Kwai"
Passage to India"
"A Room with a View:" certainly the view was better, and some of the character acting.
and Prejudice" - the final scene with Emma Thompson especially. [Is
the movie really that good?]
"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" [Hmmhm? I didn't see the movie but the book is a masterpiece of comic prose style]
"Village of the Damned." My favorite movie as a child. OK--I had issues, but I really dug those long haired, innocent looking blondes with English accents and such power. They must have been the opening act for Beatlemania.
Not a novel adaptation, but certainly "My Fair Lady" delivers far more than Shaw's play "Pygmalion."
Here's the American Film Institute's 100 Greatest Films list. Undisputed literary classics on the list are scare: the 1939 "Wuthering Heights," "Dr. Zhivago" (although in the translation I read, it didn't quite seem like a masterpiece), and probably "Clockwork Orange." Then there's some marginal classics, such as "All Quiet on the Western Front," "Frankenstein," "Grapes of Wrath," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "From Here to Eternity," and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,"
Here's the Modern Library's Top 100 novels of the 20th century. The only overlaps between the two lists are "Grapes of Wrath," "Maltese Falcon" (I question how that can be considered a better literary novel "The Big Sleep" or "Farewell My Lovely"), "From Here to Eternity," and "Clockwork Orange." Most of the top 100 list have been adapted into movies, but without a high degree of success.
Latin America's Cul-de-sac of Creativity Revisited: A reader writes: "In Salvador Madariaga's 'The Rise of the Spanish American Empire' - like Charles Murray's, a great book to poke around in - he deals with the same data three ways:"
1) River, Egypt. "No comment is needed save that anti-Spanish prejudice dies hard in the Anglo Saxon world."
2) Capitalism: "The English, though on the surface more self-seeking, were in depth more socially-minded; the Spaniards, though in appearance more statesmanlike and creative, more intent on 'ennobling' cities and setting up kingdoms, were more self-centred. The Englishman, with his dividends, socialized his adventures, gain, booty; the Spaniard, with his hospitals, foundations, cathedrals, colleges and marquisates raised a foundation to his own self, fouinded a house. The Spaniard's ambition was that of a prince; the Englishman's that of a capitalist. The Spaniard's urge was upward; the Englishman's forward."
3) Admits it. So? "For ultimately, if Spain was unable to react more intelligently to the challenge of wealth, the reason must be found in two permanent features of the Spanish character: a tendency to idleness, and a tendency to neglect technique. No one claims that Spain is hopelessly inadequate in technical matters or hopelessly given to idleness. The fact remains that, all things considered, and for reasons later to be analysed, the Spaniard tends to idleness and to neglect of craftmanship to a greater extent than other western nations, and to a greater extent than is healthy folr a nation at the head of a vast empire. At every turn in her history we see technical affairs in the hands of strangers. Medicine, for instance, was nearly always Jewish; and the skilled trades, more often than not, Moorish."
"It was not, contrary to what is generally believed, that Spain decayed in some way or other. On the contrary. When she fell from the first line of political power, her talent was, if anything. keener than ever, more attentive than ever to the immediate challenge of present day life. What happened was that the general level of technique and activity required for political and naval power rose above what the Spanish character could at the time supply, and Spain dropped out of the list of great powers because she ceased to be abreast with the others in the struggle of man with nature."
"But measure events by standards other than political and economic; think of a whole continent effectively assimilated to European civilization and life, without sacrificing the native population in the process nor leaving it outside of it, so far as it depended on the newcomers; of an absorption intoi the ways of Europe which enabled European forms of life to pass into the hands of peoples as far from Europe as the Aztecs of Mexico, the Incas of Peru and even the Tagalog of the Phillipines (the only truly Europeanized Asiatics, by the way); consider that, as early as the sixteenth century, the Indies had already contibuted to our Atlantic world a school of painting in Cuzco, and a dance, the Chaconne, which Bach thought worthy of his music; gauge the depth, color, richness of the spiritual tradition Spain has left from Manila to Santo Domingo and from California to Tierra del Fuego; bear in mind that in the United States the scanty remains fo Spanish civilization, a gate here and an arch there and the square cloister of a mission yonder, are treasured and starred in travel books, that New Orleans is proud of her Spanish air and that Spanish buildings grace the whole continent and that the language remains alive with the ways of thinking it breeds and that the whole people who speak it learn the value of leisure and the sense of passive resistance to that insidious enemy, the State, particularly the good State - and, well, was it so bad?"
PGA Championship at the extraordinary Whistling Straits golf course -- The fourth major championship of golf begins Thursday at a spectacular venue never before seen in tournament golf: Whistling Straits on the shore of Lake Michigan. If you are interested in golf course architecture (and isn't everybody? Well, almost everybody? Anybody?), here's my review from when the course opened in 1999.
Who runs this chain of phony high schools? Bart Simpson? The LA Times reports:
A chain of alternative high schools accused of selling phony diplomas has taught thousands of immigrants that ...
• There are 53 states in the United States. In addition to the "original" 50 states, the union has added Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. But the flag has not yet been updated to reflect the addition of the last three states.
• There are four branches of government. They are the legislative, judicial, executive and "administrative" branches. Asked about the fourth branch by investigators, one teacher responded that "not much is heard about it because it works behind the scenes." The Treasury Department is part of the "administrative" branch.
• There are two houses of Congress: the Senate for Democrats and the House for Republicans.
• World War II occurred from 1938 to 1942.
• One question in the workbook says: "Read the book 'Death of a Traveling Salesman' and write a commentary."
One guess what's the hair color of George P. Bush's bride -- The President's politically ambitious mestizo nephew got hitched over the weekend. Click here for a picture of the happy couple, but better put on your shades first.
My 2000 article "How Latino Intermarriage Breeds Inequality: The Hispanic influx into California seems to be simply recreating the racial hierarchy of Latin America." explained how, via these kind of marriages, the most hard-charging young mestizo men get absorbed into Latin America's white ruling class in a couple of generations, and how that process is spreading to America.
The Decadence and Rebirth of the East: Something that has largely been forgotten in recent years is that most of the major civilizations of the non-Western world saw their high cultures reach states of stasis or decadence even before the European imperialist surge began in earnest. The one exception was Japan, which was enjoying a cultural golden age when the West came knocking. Not surprisingly, dynamic Japan withstood the European onslaught by far the best.
Although I don't think any serious qualitative historian would disagree with this assertion, we can quantify this by looking at the number of "significant figures" by century as tabulated from standard scholarly sources by Charles Murray in Human Accomplishment. (For an explanation and analysis of Murray's methodology, see my review in The American Conservative. And here are reviews by Dennis Dutton and John Derbyshire.) Murray set aside eight cultural categories just for non-Westerners, and included a number of non-Western scientists and mathematicians, for a total of 601 non-Western significant figures who flourished (i.e., reached age 40) up through 1949.
Murray has been subjected to much pro forma slander for being supposedly biased against the rest of the world, but I would challenge any non-specialist to recognize more than a few dozen names out of these 601. If anything, he bent over backwards to include non-Westerners (Murray is a former Buddhist and has two half-Asian children). In any case, most of these individuals made the list by competing against their fellow countrymen in categories like Arabic Literature or Japanese Painting, so cultural bias isn't an issue for this analysis of mine.
The Arab World averaged 9.13 significant figures per century from the 500s through the 1200s, but then merely 1.25 per century from the 1300s through the 1800s. (The catastrophic Mongol incursion of the 1200s is often blamed for this, in part.)
India's most productive century was the 600s, when 14 important creators or discoverers flourished, but only an average of 2.6 per century were seen during the 1100s through the 1500s, and from the year 1600 through 1899, there was but a single significant Indian figure who reached his prime (defined as age 40, or as the year of death for the tragic good-die-young types).
China's best century was the 1000s, with 25 big names, and it enjoyed a fine 1600s with 22, but in the 1700's, before significant European inroads, fell off to 8, and the 1800s, when European depredations became increasingly severe, dropped down to 3.
In contrast, Japan was on an upward trend, peaking with 27 bigshots in the isolationist 1700s and enjoying its second most artistically dynamic century in the 1800s with 25.
In all of these civilizations, the Westernizing first half of the 20th Century was far more productive than the preceding era. In the Arab World 13 significant figures flourished from 1900-1949, in India 16, in China 21, and in Japan an impressive 46.
Expect to read lots more about outsourcing in the near future:
Financial news and information provider Reuters Group PLC plans to outsource as many as 20 editorial jobs to India from more expensive newsgathering locations around the world, a company spokeswoman said Monday. Reuters will hire up to 40 journalists to staff a new newsroom in the Indian city of Bangalore to take over these editorial duties and to expand output for the company's news service. They will focus primarily on providing greater information about small and medium-sized companies that are publicly traded in the United States...
The reason you hear so much about outsourcing white collar jobs to India and so little about blue-collar jobs disappearing to China is because journalists' relatives and friends are overwhelmingly white collar. But, now, journalists' jobs are themselves at risk!
Film adaptations that are better than the book -- For my next movie review in The American Conservative, I'm writing about an upcoming film that's quite a bit more enjoyable than the famous author's novel it's based on. I can think of a number of movies that are better than the middle-brow author's original book, such as The Godfather, but it seems that most of the time when somebody adapts a prestige novel, it comes out worse. What are your nominations for movies that turn out better than their high-lit source novels? E-mail me.
Calling all Italian Navy fans -- My apologies for saying it was "negligible," when it actually featured six battleships at the start of WWII, two brand new. (And, let's not forget, an impressive array of admirals, averaging two for every ship!) What I meant was that it was bottled up in the Mediterranean by the British at Gibraltar, possessed no aircraft carriers, and was damaged at Taranto: i.e., it was no threat to America.
By the way, here's John Derbyshire's call for having himself interned (in case of war between the U.S. and China, where his father-in-law is a Communist Party member).
New VDARE.com column at left ...
How come the Mexican flags are a lot bigger than the American flags on the Spanish-language version of the official Bush-Cheney website?
Feith-based initiative: The 9/11 report points out that #3 man in the Pentagon Douglas Feith wrote a curious memo right after 9/11:
""[T]he author expressed disappointment at the limited options immediately available in Afghanistan and the lack of ground options. The author suggested instead hitting terrorists outside the Middle East in the initial offensive, perhaps deliberately selecting a non-al Qaeda target like Iraq. Since U.S. attacks were expected in Afghanistan, an American attack in South America or Southeast Asia might be a surprise to the terrorists."
Yes, Doug, if we'd gone and blown up, say, Machu Picchu or bombed the Hyatt in Bali, that definitely would have the surprised the heck out of the terrorists. But, really, if maximum surprise was the goal, wouldn't it have been even quicker to follow Jonah Goldberg's suggestion and blow up the CN Tower in Toronto? Or why not flatten Mount Rushmore? That would have left Osama downright baffled.
Anyway, you can read Dougie attempt to rationalize bombing South America here, But he never explains what targets he wanted to attack -- the Sugarloaf gondola ride? All that ugly modern architecture in Brasilia? The Valparaiso funicular? Pele's house?
Why is this man still employed?
GOP Convention: Minorities delegates overrepresented by factor of two -- A press release from the Republican National Committee trumpets:
"The Republican National Committee recently completed certification of the 2,509 delegates and 2,344 alternate delegates who will make up the most diverse Republican delegation in the party's history. In 2004, minorities make up 17 percent of total delegates and women make up 44 percent. In 2000, minorities made up 10 percent of total delegates and women made up 36 percent. In 1996, minorities made up 6.3 percent of total delegates and women made up 33 percent. ... Unlike the Democrat's quota system, the Republican Party's open process has garnered a percentage increase 4 times greater than the percentage of minorities at the Democratic Convention since 2000."
What the RNC forgot to mention was that only 8 percent of voters for GOP candidates in 2002's House elections were minorities, down from 10 percent in 2000. (And almost certainly the minority percentage of committed GOP volunteers -- the people from whom delegates are normally chosen -- is less than even that.) So, minority Republican faces will be twice as prevalent at the GOP convention as they are in the voting booth.
Did Christianity kill classical intellectual life? Or was it already moribund? To approach this hoary question objectively, here are the numbers of creators and discoverers by century from Charles Murray's "Human Accomplishment" database. These are "significant figures" of the West by date of "flourishing" (which I'm dismayed to report is age 40). People who were significant figures in multiple fields, like Aristotle, are counted multiple times. The medieval centuries include seven Muslims and two Oriental Jew.
Interestingly, the Enlightenment was a period of relatively slow growth. The increase in significant figures shot upwards faster in the more Christian and romantic 1800s than in the more deistic and rationalistic 1700s.
Bush says he's against "legacy" admissions: Something that isn't often noticed about legacy admissions is that they are much less valuable than racial preference admissions because they aren't portable. For example, I'm a graduate of Rice in Houston and my wife is a graduate of Northwestern in Evanston, IL, so our kids might get some preference if they applied to those two particular colleges. (That's assuming we'd get any preference even though we don't donate much to the colleges, and that's a massive assumption. It might be more honest to call these "donor" preferences.) But we live a couple of time zones away, so the odds that they will really want to go most of all to either Rice or Northwestern are small. In contrast, if they were black, Hispanic, or American Indian, they'd be granted preferences at practically every college in the U.S. with the exceptions of, maybe, Cal Tech and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. That's a big difference.
Also, it's hard to get a sense of how big a break legacy admissions entails. The Bell Curve reported that at Harvard, legacies averaged a modest 36 points lower than others on the SAT. (The black gap at Harvard was 95 points, but that's the lowest of any of the 26 elite colleges in TBC's study because the very best black students particularly flock to Harvard. The average black-white gap at the 26 top schools was 171 points or just a little under a standard deviation.)
But at other colleges, legacies average better than the average. They may still be benefiting from discrimination, however, if the average legacy applicant is superior to the average applicant, which seems plausible. After all, kids who have a parent who went to an elite college grow up with many benefits of nature and nurture, such as larger vocabularies in use during dinner table conversations. So, without legacy preferences, legacy students might be even more above average.
The main reason for legacy preferences is to encourage alumni giving. In summary, it's hard to get excited about legacies, one way or another.
New "Racial Reality" blog: There's a new anthropology blog devoted to debunking Afrocentrists, Nordicists, and others. One posting indicates that the Muslim conquest of Spain didn't seem to leave much of a mark on the Y-chromosomes of modern Spaniards.
Amiability of Polynesian and Eskimo women: A reader writes:
Your observations on the past "friendliness" of Polynesian women doesn't mention the reason. Polynesians are of course isolated on small islands. This gives rise to a heightened degree of incest. And so sea-going males are seen as a valuable new source of non-corrupting DNA. As you say, these new males are blown away by their new status. Especially since sailors back then were usually neer-do-wells. A lot of them were impressed into service off the streets because they were too drunk to resist.
Here in Alaska we see something similar. Tiny Native villages are strewn all over Alaska. The reason for this shotgun pattern is to take advantage of game animals. Get too large a village and the game disappears quick so they spread themselves out. The problem with this pattern is that it is more prone to incest. Therefore, newcomers are greeted by the women with open arms.
It's an interesting theory. On the other hand, the genetic problems caused by inbreeding tend to burn themselves out in a small population, given enough time, due to natural selection. For example, the famous small herd of wild white cattle of Chillingham, England have been confined to a walled-in square mile nature preserve for 300 years. (Might that have inspired a certain movie?) They are highly uniform genetically from inbreeding, but are in robust health.
Still, this idea could offer a possible solution to the paradox raised by John Derbyshire in his review of the wonderful book An African in Greenland, which was composed by the West African travel writer Tété-Michel Kpomassie, who fell in love as a boy with a book about the Arctic and then went and lived among the Eskimos. Kpomassie found the promiscuity of the Inuit shocking, which is confounding to the theory that cold climates encourage monogamy. Others dispute whether this was a traditional trait of the Eskimos or just an outgrowth of welfare state decadence.
Thinking about cold weather in the dog days of August: Why in populations with mixed ancestry does the male line more often come from the north? A reader at the U. of Utah calls my attention to this paper:
Winter temperature as a constraint to the migration of preindustrial peoples. John M. Whiting, John A. Sodergren, Stephen M. Stigler, American Anthropologist, June 1982
Main conclusions: 1. Based on the distribution of language phyla, the 10 degree centigrade (50 degree Fahrenheit) isotherm has been a major barrier to migration. (The isotherm is two lines going around the globe, one north and one south of the equator, at which the mean temperature in the coldest month is 10 degrees C.) Plenty of language families stretch a long ways longitudinally on either side of the isotherm. Not many cross it. (Indo-European, with its extension into Iran and India, is one of the exceptions.)
2.When language phyla *do* straddle the barrier, it's much commoner for cold-centered phyla to have warm-ward extensions than the reverse, indicating that migrations from high to low latitudes are more common than the reverse. The authors propose a technological explanation, drawing on earlier research on climate, clothing, and infant care: "It is easier for people who wear two layers of clothing to take one off when they move into a warmer climate than it is for single-layer people to produce a second layer when they move to a colder climate. Similarly it is much easier for cold-adapted people to substitute a shawl for a cradle as a device for carrying infants than it is for warm-adapted people to learn to make a cradle." Obviously this doesn't apply when people get clothing and cradles in stores instead of making their own.
The reader also points out that the famous Polynesian expansion left the opposite genetic signature from what we see elsewhere: as the Polynesians expanded through inhabited islands, before reaching the empty islands of central Pacific, they picked up male line DNA from the locals.
Matrilineality and the origin of Polynesian Y chromosomes, Per Hage, Jeff Marck, Current Anthropology, December 2003
Genghis Khan in Central Asia and the Aryans in India are cases of invading peoples spreading their Y chromosomes more than their mitochondrial DNA. But Polynesian ancestors seem to be a reverse case: newcomers to a territory picking up a lot of Y chromosomes from the old-timers, while hanging on to their mtDNA (and their language and culture). Specifically, we know that farmers speaking languages in the Austronesian family spread south from Taiwan through island Southeast Asia, and on into western Melanesia. There they founded the Lapita culture (speaking Proto-Oceanic) and interacted with already resident Melanesians (who were physically and genetically distinct, closer to modern New Guineans) before some of them sailed off to colonize Polynesia. (Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel" has a good summary of all this.) Strikingly, Polynesians today show a strong Taiwanese aboriginal connection in their mtDNA, while their Y DNA is more Melanesian.
The ancestral Lapita social structure was probably matrilocal, and matrilineal not patrilineal, and apparently women in Lapita matrilineages commonly picked up Y chromosomes from relationships with Melanesian outsiders while passing on Austronesian language and culture pretty much intact to the next generation. A north to south migration, in other words, but the reverse of the more familiar pattern with Y and mt DNA.
When the sailors on the HMS Bounty arrived in Tahiti thousands of years later, they discovered to their delight that Polynesians were still open to, shall we say, injections of Y-chromosomes from outsiders, which is a big reason the sailors were in such a famously foul mood when Captain Bligh forced them back on board to head home to England.
Indeed, in the best scene in the recent Mormon movie "The Other Side of Paradise" about a stripling missionary from BYU in Tonga, a local beauty throws herself at the straight-arrow American. He fends her off, but later, the girl's mother angrily upbraids him for not impregnating her daughter. He doesn't have to marry her, the Tongan matriarch explains; just give her "a half-white baby." The missionary, raised in a religion that hold fathers to a rigorous standard of child support, is flummoxed by the tropical assumption that a dad's main duty is to provide genes rather than support.
Now, that's diversity.
North vs. South: Why do population geneticists often find that in groups where the family trees in the direct male and direct female lines tend to go back to different regions, the direct male ancestors tend to have come from north of the direct female ancestors?
One reader suggests there is just more land in the north, so this question is just like asking why do big countries win the World Cup in soccer more often that little countries. But I can't tell if this geographic assertion is true or not. Clearly, at 45 degrees north, a greater percentage of the world's surface is land than at the equator, but the earth is much farther around at the equator.
The Decline of the WSJ Op-Ed Page:
THE WHITE STUFF? After a 30-year career at National Public Radio, Bob Edwards found himself sacked as host of its syndicated news show "Morning Edition." In an interview with Talkers Magazine, Mr. Edwards gave a surprising answer when asked what kind of people listen to NPR. "Bright people," he replied. "People of all economic strata. It's a whiter audience than we would like and we're trying to fix that." Now substitute "GOP Chairman Ed Gillespie" for Bob Edwards and "Republican Party" for National Public Radio and think what the reaction would be to a statement that could be read to imply that white people are somehow brighter. --- WSJ Op-Ed Page, 8/6
Pretty sad that much of what appears on the Op-Ed page these days consists of lame efforts to catch liberals at being not politically correct enough.
Which makes it all the more rare when WSJ Op-Ed page prints something interesting, like Sally Satel's new piece on the race gap in health care.
Russia: From Vodka Lane to Beer Street -- When I was in Moscow in 2001, I noticed that the younger generation preferred beer to vodka, which seemed like an improvement, considering how many years vodka guzzling takes off the Russian male lifespan. But, "For many Russians, beer is seen as little more than a soft drink, which is why it is not uncommon for people to drink beer in the morning." Unfortunately, the NYT article about Russians drinking beer doesn't say whether they are drinking less vodka as they drink more beer.
Tom Cruise in "Collateral" -- Click here for my quick comments from last week.
The NYT's new hire as film critic, Manohla Darghis gets off to a bad start, giving this competent but silly picture a rave, and unloads this doozie:
... "Collateral" is very much the product of a distinct vision, one as eager to push technological limits (the film was shot with the most advanced video cameras) as to upend the usual studio white-hero/black-villain formula. For the director, such casting isn't a sop to political correctness, but a reflection of his city's demographics.
Taken logically, that seems to imply that LA has particularly evil white people and particularly noble blacks. As a white Angeleno, I guess I could see the exceptionally- evil- white- people part, but saintly black Angelenos appear to be in short supply too.
Anyway, logic isn't her main concern: Question for NYT's esteemed critic: What planet are you watching movies on? What "white-hero/black-villain" formula? Manohla should go tell Morgan Freeman about all the villain roles available to black actors because he's been complaining for years that he can't get a role as a bad guy. "After a while I feel like I'm boring the world to death," says Freeman of his usual Embodiment of Dignified Goodness roles. But, of course, she would know better than he would, wouldn't she? After all, she is a film critic for the New York Times.
Whatever happened to Saddam's doubles? Back before the war, we all heard that Saddam had a bunch of doubles who stood in for him in dangerous situations. Then we conquered Iraq (sort of), and we haven't heard anything more about them. Granted, about half the middle aged men in Iraq look like Saddam more or less, but were there ever any doubles? Or was this just more propaganda we were fed? Did somebody tell Douglas Feith about Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star and he decided to feed it to some gullible reporters. Whatever happened?
And did we ever find out if Saddam really tried to kill the Bush family in Kuwait in 1993?
The general lesson appears to be that an aggressive foreign policy requires more lying to the American public, even over bizarre little items, than we ought to be comfortable with.
Speaking of Making Money -- I haven't heard from Michael Barone in the many weeks since I challenged him to a bet:
I hereby declare that, in the tradition of the famous bet between Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich, I will wager $1,000 that the Hispanic share of the 2004 Presidential vote—according to the November 2004 Census Bureau survey—will be closer to my prediction of 6.1 percent than to Barone's prediction of 8.5%. Mr. Barone can reach me here.
You can email him at MichaelBarone@MichaelBarone.com to ask him if he'll put up or shut up.
First Ever iSteve.com Panhandling Week!
The Internet Age is a reader's dream, but it can also be a writer's nightmare because it is so hard to get paid in an age when everybody expects "content" to magically appear for free. Moreover, my blogging and more formal articles are never going to support a lucrative amount of advertising since my natural audience is quite elite. (As Fry explained on Futurama, the economics of mass media are: "Clever things make people feel stupid and unexpected things make them feel scared.") So, I'm coming to you, my friends, hat in hand. Please don't make me have to get another real job! Corporate America might not survive a second go-round with me.
The two donation buttons above provide you with an instant opportunity to become a patron of the arts and letters (a.k.a., to give me money). Donating to this pixel stained wretch is fast and easy. Click the big Amazon button if you have an Amazon account or the little PayPal button if you have a PayPal account or neither if you have neither. Your credit card is secure at both, and your privacy is protected at Amazon.com -- i.e., your name doesn't appear on donations that go through Amazon, but can appear to me on donations that go through PayPal. Also, for some reason, there is a $50 limit per donation on Amazon ... but not on PayPal, so go ahead, knock yourself out. Foreign currencies accepted on both.
Or you can E-mail me, and I'll give you my address, and then you can send me a check.
You might be interested in how big a cut the two services both take. It's quite reasonable: 2.9% of the total and a 30 cents fixed fee per donation. This has some implications that are fascinating (well, to me). For example, if you donate $1.00, then Amazon/Paypal keeps almost one-third of it, or 32.9 cents. I only get 67.1 cents. Well, that would be pretty pointless, wouldn't it? I mean, you aren't feeling generous toward Amazon/Paypal, now are you? Yet, if you kick in only a buck, they keep a hulking third of it.
A much more efficient solution is to (drumroll, please) give me more money. If, for instance, you donate $10.00, then I get to keep a full $9.41. That's a lot better! If you are into optimal efficiency, however, consider this: I get to keep 96.8% of a $100 gift! Yet, if you gave me a $1,000,000, I'd only get to pocket 97.1%, so that's barely more efficient.
On the other hand, if you really want to give me a megabuck, there's no need to mention it to Amazon/Paypal -- I'll just come over to your house and pick it up directly, and mow your lawn for you while I'm there.
Interesting Unconfirmed Factoid: "12% of Mexican legislators/rulers from Syrian or Arab origin." I wonder if this is true? Salma Hayek and Shakira are half Arab, and the richest man in Mexico (and all Latin America) is Carlos Slim, whose parents came from Lebanon. This assertion comes from an Orthodox Archbishop, so it's probably biased, but it might suggest another reason why Bush couldn't get Mexico to vote for his Iraq Attaq in the UN.
Cold Weather Theory? In recent years, there have been a number of population genetic studies comparing the origins of the Y-chromosome (which is inherited, like surnames, down the pure male line from paternal grandfather to father to son) and mitochondrial DNA (which is inherited down the female line from maternal grandmother to mother to child) for a particular population. Where there is a divergence between the geographic origins of the male and female lines, the male line of ancestors tended to come from north of the female line of ancestors.
For example, this has been found among mixed race African-Americans (where the male line is much more likely to come from Europe than the female line is to come from Europe), Mexicans (Spaniards and indigenous), South Asians ("aryan" invaders and indigenous), Ethiopians (Arabs and blacks), inland Asians (Mongolians and others -- Genghis Khan is the direct male ancestor of about 16 million living men), and even Icelanders (Viking fathers and Scotch or Irish mothers who had been taken by raiders).
It would be useful to find as many examples as possible and see if my observation really does pan out. In contrast, for example, I would expect that in France, the Roman Legions might have left more of a mark on the Y-chromosome than on the mtDNA. And, of course, there are major problems of categorization for Latin American Indians -- they live in southern latitudes but they were descended from Siberians.
UPDATE: Here are some suggested exceptions from a reader:
Ashkenazi Jews (males came from the Levant, females from local European populations) [I'm not sure the magnitude of this has been established]
Eastern Russia (The Genghis ancestry you cite tracks north of Mongolia as well as South, if I recall correctly) [Not too the same extent]
Eastern Europe (Muslims and Ottoman Empire left a genetic mark in the area)
possibly Finland too (apparent Mongolian influence).
Perhaps the Arab conquest of Persia and the Moorish conquest of Spain would have the same impact, but I haven't seen data yet on it.
Assuming this does appear to be a general pattern, it would be interesting to know why. There's an erratic tendency for colder weather people to be larger than warmer weather people, so that might have something to do with it because size is something of a secondary sexual trait for men. But it's safe to say that northern males haven't always outcompeted southern males in the mating game based on their ladykilling sexiness.
For example, after white Americans gave up their political ascendancy over black Americans after WWII, the historic pattern reversed. Now, in the modern laissez-faire mating market, black men are several times more likely to impregnate white women than white men are to impregnate black women.
A much more general theory is that northerners have tended to create more organizational power. Northerners tended to be better at conquest, so they got their hands on more women. I suspect this had to do with being better at blending entrepreneurialism and cooperativeness among northerners, and perhaps of emotional "cold-bloodedness." Or, perhaps lower crop yields in the north encourage northerners to become raiders, as seen with the Vikings.
Best Legs of 2004: A movie with word of mouth good enough for it to enjoy a long run in the theatres is said to have "legs." I calculate legs by dividing the total revenue by the first weekend revenue. Back in the previous millennium, a popular sleeper like "There's Something About Mary" or "The Sixth Sense" might earn about ten times it's opening weekend take over the course of its theatrical career. Nowadays, few widely released movies exceed the 5.0 ratio, in part because there's no longer any shortage of screens. One might also be forgiven for suspecting that the movies have gotten worse too.
So far in 2004, the best legs among any movie that opened in more than 800 theatres belongs to the unheralded romance drama "The Notebook," which was directed by my old high school classmate Nick Cassavetes. Through last weekend, which was its sixth, its total take of $69.3 million is 5.1 times its opening weekend of $13.5 million.
In second place is "Fahrenheit 9/11" with a 4.6 ratio ($110.5 / 23.9). It's still making money, although it's fallen behind "The Notebook," which came out the same week. In third at 4.4, even though it opened huge with $83.8 in its first Friday-Sunday weekend, is "The Passion of the Christ" with a final box office of $370.3 million. (I reiterate that, in any objective sense, "The Passion" is the one towering cinematic achievement of the first seven months of the year.)
In fourth is the excellent Charlie Kaufman-scripted, Jim Carrey-starring art movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Then, "Shrek 2," "The Terminal" (which skewed older in its audience. and middle aged people don't feel the need to rush out to movies), "Spider-Man 2," which is still making sizable money, "Ella Enchanted" (which had a terrible opening weekend but recovered somewhat), and the hit "DodgeBall."
Down at the bottom of the list was something called "Club Dread" with a "Gigli"-level 1.6.
Among the legsless summer blockbusters were "Van Helsing" (2.3), "The Chronicles of Riddick" (2.4), the latest "Harry Potter" (2.6 after four weekends, and now down to 17th place), "The Day After Tomorrow" (2.7), and "Troy" (2.8, but it did quite well overseas, with its total take approaching $500 million).
Critical favorite "Kill Bill, Vol. 2" did not distinguish itself with a 2.6 ratio.
In summary, "The Passion" aside, it's been a crummy year for Hollywood movies.
More on the Cast-Iron Cathedral -- In response to my suggestion that Frank Gehry's planned Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem will be the ugliest building in the world, Jerry Pournelle replies: "The ugliest building in North America is in Santa Rosalia at the bottom of the old grada del muerte down to the Sea of Cortez on the east side of Baja California about in the middle. It is a cast iron cathedral, designed as a prefabricated building by Eiffel, and sent over and built about 1890 or so. It has to be seen to be believed."
It was originally designed for a location in Africa where the highest aesthetic priority was being inedible to termites. In the pictures, it looks more clunky than intentionally grating, like Gerhy's mock-up.
A reader demurs:
"The cathedral at Santa Rosalia doesn't compare for ugliness because it is set in a very ugly town, filled with old mine tailings, abandoned smelters and out-of-place French architecture. And its scale is not overpowering. It's a small town church."
Another reader nominates the newest big city cathedral:
For me, the most hideous building in California is Roger Cardinal Mahony's new Catholic Cathedral of L.A., which critics have dubbed the Rog Mahal or the Taj Mahony. It's especially hideous because it's supposed to be a house of God.
The interior is calm and elegant, but the abrasive exterior truly is awful. It looks like a particularly complicated municipal jail. It's a hyper-intellectualized, deconstructed version of California's Spanish Mission style. Why not just build in the beloved Mission style itself, especially when the average member of the Los Angeles flock is not exactly au courant on European deconstructionist theory?
In contrast, here's my parish church, a lovely, traditional Mediterranean-style building erected 45 years ago during the worst of the Modernist Architecture era. The principal donors, Bing Crosby and Delores Hope (wife of Bob Hope), deserve much of the credit for withstanding the noxious spirit of that age and insisting on a time-tested style.
Vast generalization coming up: An Australian reader writes:
The Caucasian West's biggest intellectual advantage seems to reside in the critical rational culture method of formulating and testing hypotheses. This is a destructive form of creativity and does not sit well with the particular and consensual Asian mind set.
A Western intellectual is initially ambitious in his attempt to generalise all particular facts inside a universal law of some sort.
Then subsequently, he is the subject of an aggressive attempt to criticise this theory on the basis of its:
- internal logico-consistency - external empirico-corroborability
The polar case of this attitude are the Jewish intellectuals, with one building a vast theoretical system and then having his mates queue up to tear it down.
The Asian East's seem to be less inclined towards positing universal laws and even less inclined to want to challenge authority with critical demonstrations or refutations.
What do you think?
Oops -- For obvious reasons, it's not easy to be the education writer for the Washington Post, but Jay Mathews seems more enthusiastic about being disingenuous than is good for his soul, or for the bodies of his most gullible readers' children. Today he hypes the book: "Debunking the Middle-Class Myth: Why Diverse Schools Are Good For All Kids."
The author, Eileen Gale Kugler, is ... the parent of two children who attended Annandale High School in Fairfax County, one of the most successful diverse schools in the country. Annandale's student body is 37 percent non-Hispanic white, 25 percent Hispanic, 21 percent Asian and 15 percent Black. Thirty four percent of the students are poor enough to qualify for federally subsidized lunches.
The first sentence of Kugler's book is: "I am a middle-class white woman." She knows all about the misinformation that rules in neighborhoods where people such as she and I tend to live. Kugler's Northern Virginia neighborhood experienced a typical demographic switch in the 1980s and 1990s when more low-income minorities, including many children from foreign countries, suddenly appeared in the local public schools.
"As often happens when minority populations increase, some homeowners left the neighborhood for 'whiter' pastures," she said. "Negative stereotypes about the recent immigrants were whispered over backyard fences and around the neighborhood pools. Older residents decried the changes to their school, which no longer looked like it did when their children attended."
Kugler knew that great teaching was still going on at Annandale High, and her children were thriving -- not in spite of, but because of the diversity. "Learning comes alive," Kugler said, "when wisdom is shared not only by competent teachers and textbooks, but also by fellow students with life experiences and cultures that illuminate whole new worlds."
Unfortunately for Matthews tribute to Annadale H.S., back on June 28th, his own WaPo ran a long article entitled "In N.Va. Gang, A Brutal Sense Of Belonging: Machete Attack Suspect Lured by Group's Culture." Reporter Mary Beth Sheridan's article began, memorably enough:
It was the hands Lt. Jason Jenkins would remember.
The victim was lying on the sidewalk in front of an Alexandria apartment complex, his hands flailing in the cool night air. Jenkins had expected some kind of trouble when he got the call -- "Man down on Edsall Road" -- but not this.
It was a 16-year-old boy, waving his hands. "He was very upset. Just begging us to save his life. Saying, 'Please, save my hands,' " recalled Jenkins, a paramedic.
Jenkins looked at the hands. They were bloody.
He looked harder.
The fingers were gone. Chopped off with a machete.
"It's definitely the most inhumane act of violence I've ever run," said Jenkins, a 10-year veteran of paramedic work.
On May 13, three days after the machete attack, police swarmed into the apartment of a Salvadoran family in Annandale and snapped handcuffs on Hayner R. Flores.
Young Hayner was a prize exhibit of diversity at, you guessed it, Annadale H.S.
And here's a news story from last December: "Annandale, Va. - Extra security is on hand at Annandale High School, after a student was stabbed in the neck."
By the way, here is an amusing 1998 Christopher Caldwell story about the Clinton Advisory Board on Race's visit to Annadale and Ms. Kugler's obnoxious role.
Here's the website for a 12th grade sociology class at Annadale on race and ethnicity. Check out the cartoon at the top.
A friend writes:
Mathews' article is hilarious. I live in one of the upper middle class neighborhoods in the Annandale High School district. I know of exactly of one family in the neighborhood that has kids at Annandale High. The rest send their kids to private school; have kids so bright that they are in Thomas Jefferson (the magnet school for math and science); or have finagled transfers to another high school in the public school system. In other words, anyone able to prevent their kids from attending Annandale generally does so. I imagine this is because they believe Matthews is smoking something.
This fingerectomy story may have a long-run impact on the national debate on immigration, which has largely been stifled by DC and NYC media elites. One cause is because, in the past, Washington D.C.'s suburbs attracted particularly upscale immigrants, which is one of the reasons why there is such a massive disconnect between the public's attitudes on immigration and the policy elite's attitudes. Your typical pundit who lives near the Beltway in Virginia (if he's a Republican) or Maryland (if he's a Democrat) developed, by looking around his own delightful neighborhood, a highly skewed sense of the kind of people immigrating to America.
This was particularly true because the D.C. area traditionally attracted the most educationally elite African immigrants. Pundits and lobbyists would compare them, favorably, to D.C.'s huge African-American underclass, and become hardened in their pro-immigration attitudes. By praising African immigrants in print, pundits could surreptitiously express their anger at American blacks while protecting themselves from charges of racism.
Well, that utopian era is coming to an end in the D.C. suburbs as the region's immigrant population slowly regresses to the national mean. Hispanic gang violence (see Heather MacDonald's City Journal article), as this Machete Finger Chop story shows, is spreading rapidly in the area. The current set of pundits will no doubt take years to adjust to this new reality, but change is coming. (Of course, it would come faster if we got a new set of pundits!)
"America's Most Literate Cities" are, in descending order, Minneapolis, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Madison, Cincinnati, DC, Denver, Boston, Portland, and San Francisco according to a new study that relies on 22 fairly reasonable measures. Common denominators are that these tend to be fairly cold-weather cities, prosperous (except Pittsburgh, which used to be thriving), typically with a mostly white population. Most of these cities were established either by descendents of Puritans or descendents of Pennsylvanians (to use Fischer's four part division of WASP ethnicity in Albion's Seed).
America's Least Literate Cities are, from bottom up, El Paso, Hialeah, Corpus Christi, Santa Ana, San Antonio, Anaheim, Long Beach (CA), Arlington (TX, definitely not Arlington VA), Fresno, Garland (TX), Detroit, and Los Angeles (where all your pop culture comes from). Most of these are warm weather cities with large Hispanic, or sometimes black, populations.
Obviously, illegal immigration is making the country less literate. I was in a meeting of conservatives recently when one said he couldn't understand how conservative talk show host Michael Medved (who used to be a screenwriter in LA) could be so enthusiastic about illegal immigration. I responded, "Simple. He moved to Seattle."
Italy routs US 95-78 in Olympic B-Ball warm-up: A lot has gone severely wrong with American basketball since the Dream Team of 1992. They play Dirk Nowitzki's German team in the next exhibition.
Almost Good Enough for Genghis -- We've all heard that Genghis Khan (and Conan the Barbarian) remarked: "The greatest pleasure is to vanquish your enemies and chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth and see those dear to them bathed in tears, to ride their horses and clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters." But, the context of his quote is also interesting: his lieutenants had been discussing what is the greatest pleasure life affords. Their consensus: falconry.
Yet, there's something even more spectacular than falconry, yet short of laying waste to Samarkand: hunting for wolves and foxes with golden eagles. Stephen J. Bodio's new book Eagle Dreams: Searching for Legends in Wild Mongolia documents this ancient sport. (Reviewed by the Derb in the Washington Times here.) Check out these photos (click on the two thumbnails in the top left corner).
The Slave Reparations debate: "Black people who live to be 65 will receive an average of over $46,000 more in benefits that what they will pay in taxes. This is relevant to the slave reparations debate because $46,000 is right around the figures that black leaders have been asking for in reparations. In addition to receiving direct government benefits in the form of cash blacks receive the same indirect government benefits such as highways and bridges that whites pay $651 a year for. What also jumps out from these figures is how much Asians are paying, more than twice what Whites pay." -- From a site called Success and Culture.
Remember Bush's insurmountable lead in fundraising? It seems to have been surmounted. I suspect that a part of this surprising development was that the conservative base -- us true believers, not the corporate johns -- put away their checkbooks after Bush announced his Open Borders/Amnesty plan in January.
Democracy in action in Tijuana -- Everybody is in favor of democracy, but a lot of the time the wrong guy wins. And that looks like what happened in the important city of Tijuana, where the very, very wrong guy is ahead in counting. I give Presidente Vincente Fox a hard time some times, but his party isn't a freak show like the second and third generation of the old ruling PRI turned into in recent years.
And now, they're baaaaack! The WaPo reports.
With 89 percent of the vote counted in Tijuana, gambling magnate Jorge Hank Rhon of the [former ruling] PRI had a 1 percentage point lead over Jorge Ramos of [Presidente] Fox's National Action Party. Hank Rhon came back from a double-digit deficit in opinion polls by spending heavily and treating would-be voters to parties on the grounds of his Tijuana racetrack. The father of 18 children and owner of a large private zoo, Hank Rhon has estimated his wealth at about $500 million, part of it inherited from his late father, PRI patriarch Carlos Hank Gonzalez, and part built on profits from a nationwide network of sports bookmaking operations. In 1988, two of his security guards were convicted of killing a Tijuana journalist who had reported on corruption and had investigated Hank Rhon for the crusading weekly Zeta. Fox's party has held the Tijuana mayor's office for 15 years. It is a now a key battleground in the PRI's efforts to regain power.
The Hank family (founded by self-made billionaire civil servant Carlos Hank Gonzales, who memorably said, "A politician who is poor is a poor politician"), like the Hussein family, has two sons. The other son Carlos Hank Rohn, who is a major donor to Bush and a lot of Democrats via his Laredo National Bank, is the Qusay Hussein of the Hanks, a competent Michael Corleone-type who has chosen the dark side. This guy Jorge Hank Rohn, however, is the Uday Hussein of the Hanks, a genuine defective.
For a summary of the current state of affairs in Mexican national politics, here is an account from the New York Review of Books.
Museum of Tolerance ... for Ugly Buildings? When completed, will this Frank Gehry-designed Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem be the most hideous-looking building in the world?
I used to live in the ugliest building in Houston, but at least I enjoyed a good view looking down upon traditional, time-tested architecture (and I didn't have to look at my dorm). But, nobody is even going to live in Gehry's museum...
A reader responds:
The hideousness is deliberate of course. Why do you think it's about tolerance? Tolerance is about having no standards, no allegiances, no attachments. What could better express that than a monstrously hideous building, just as the way people look and dress today expresses a culture in which everything is accepted and nothing normative is respected, particularly beauty, which suggests something higher than the self. By worshiping that building (and today's liberals literally worship Gerhy's buildings), they reject the very idea of any truth higher than the self. All selves must be equally respected.
IQs by States -- Real Numbers
New VDARE.com column at left on Jorge Ramos' book The Latino Wave: How Hispanics Will Elect the Next American President.
A reader writes:
I am a Venezuelan born American citizen that has lived in the US for over 23 years. In those years I have seen Univision and Telemundo networks evolve from all inclusive pro American networks to purely pro Mexican. I can tell you the Mexican brainwashing in those stations have reached such a degree, many Americans of Latino origins, including myself, have turn away from them in total disgust. That is why I would like to suggest a change in the term you use to describe what people like Jorge Ramos are promoting, perhaps in this case 'Mexicanization' instead of 'Latinoization' would be a far more accurate and fair term to use.
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