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Click here for my new VDARE.com column -- The supposed centerpiece of the War on Terror will go down in history as the War in Error.
National Day of Shame -- One year ago, NASA let the Shuttle astronauts die without even trying to see if there was any danger because, they claimed, nothing could have been done. In contrast, on May 29, 1942, the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, faced with massive repairs on the battle-damaged aircraft carrier Yorktown requiring an estimated 90 days, finished them in 36 hours, allowing the Yorktown to steam off to Midway in time to help win the Pacific War on June 4.
Who's smarter: China or India: Specifically, India invests much more heavily in higher education than China. Is India preparing for the 21st Century while China will be stuck in the 20th? Or will China absolutely dominate the world economy in decades to come? Or are both countries following the right policies for their IQ variance?
UPDATE: A high-caste Indian writes:
Well, I didn't see the U.S. innovate real well while the doomed space shuttle was up in orbit...
Re: WMD -- Who is the Bush Administration science adviser? Has anybody ever heard of him? Does Bush have an informal adviser the way Eisenhower used to call in John von Neumann?
UPDATE: It turns out that the official science advisor for the last three years has been John H. Marburger III, a Democrat. Since Bush is the most postmodern President ever, in that he doesn't believe in truth, just political will, you can see from the science advisor's party registration the high priority Bush places on the job.
Dogmatic? Moi? Recently, on NRO's "The Corner," John Derbyshire quoted "a friend whose intellect I mightily respect" (i.e., me) poking some fun at free trade absolutists. (See below for my polished version of what I told the Derb.) I satirically claimed that in the 19th Century, zero tariffs made America and Germany into industrial powerhouses while Britain's decline from top doghood stemmed from it adapting protectionism in 1846. (Of course, the three countries followed the opposite policies: the growing powers were protectionist while Britain turned to free trade.)
Ramesh Ponnuru answered, "I respect Steve Sailer's intellect too, Derb, but it's sad to see him embracing every bit of paleocon dogma." Huh? I think it says more about the vise-like grip that free trade theory has on many intellects that my jokingly referring to some of the most famous facts of 19th Century economic history is taken as proof that I have been brainwashed out of the True Faith. In reality, I used to be a free trade true believer, but I've learned enough over the years to now understand how much I don't know on the topic, so now I try to avoid prepackaged nostrums.
Former Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson, author of "How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life," jumped in to attack my examples. I particularly admired his alternative explanation of how Bismarckian Germany became an industrial powerhouse: "Industrialization." Now I've often expressed my taste for nearly-tautological explanations, such as "survival of the fittest," but this one might be a tad too tautological even for me.
Robinson then cited a counter-example: "Hong Kong." Well, that's certainly been a fast-growing place and very free trade, but its growth rate hasn't been much faster than those of Singapore, Taiwan, or China, all of which have been less enthusiastic about imports. Hmmhmmh, so if absolute free trade isn't what they have in common, what could Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and China possibly share? It must be something subtle, some common attribute not easily visible to the naked eye. I'll have to ponder this difficult question at length. Perhaps somebody will give me a big grant to study this baffling enigma.
I once was a dogmatic supporter of absolutely free trade, but Ronald Reagan changed my life. As Robinson may have forgotten, Reagan imposed quotas on Japanese car imports in 1981. I opposed Reagan's protectionism at the time, but, to my surprise, this worked out quite well. In response to Reagan's quotas, the Japanese car companies built factories here, and American workers responded by improving their quality and efficiency. In fact, Reagan's violation of free trade ideology changed not just my mind but my life: I since have bought three high quality Hondas built on this side of the Pacific.
By Steve Sailer
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- "PG-13" continued to be the rating of choice for movie studios in 2003, with 60 percent of the films making at least $100 million at the box office bearing the label "Parents Strongly Cautioned: Some material may be inappropriate for children under age 13." Last year, the PG-13 rating wound up on movies both noble ("Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King") and tawdry ("Scary Movie 3," "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," and "Anger Management").
But that raises the question for parents: If the majority of popular movies are now PG-13, does that rating mean much anymore? Is it time to split the PG-13 designation into softer and harder segments? Or do parents need a new system entirely, such as the one debuted recently by PSVratings Inc? As the company's acronym indicates, it rates the Profanity, Sex and Violence in each home video release on a color-coded 1-4 scale.
In the 35 years since Jack Valenti, the soon-to-retire chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, devised the MPAA ratings system, filmmakers and audiences have increasingly converged on the middle-of-the-road PG-13 designation. In the early 1970s, pornographers avidly adopted the adult-only X rating as an advertisement for their wares, leading the MPAA to abandon it. The organization eventually introduced NC-17 (No Children 17 or under) as a replacement for serious films but that failed in the marketplace.
Meanwhile, the G rating increasingly became reserved for the few movies that won't scare toddlers. This year, among the 25 movies making more than $100 million, only one was G rated. Of course, that one was "Finding Nemo," the biggest moneymaker so far. In turn, that has relegated the PG rating to films aimed at elementary school students, such as the "Harry Potter" series. And that drives practically any movie marketed for people who have gone through puberty toward the PG-13 rating as a way to show it's not for fourth graders. According to the MPAA, the number of PG-rated films dropped from 105 in 1996 to 55 in 2001, the last year for which full numbers are available.
The sharpest recent change has been the decline of R-rated films. Irate congressional hearings in September 2000 forced Valenti to pledge that the industry would no longer market R-rated movies to children under 17. The politicians also persuaded the theater owners to at least make an effort to prevent unaccompanied kids from getting into R-rated movies.
In 1999, before the reforms, 10 $100 million films were R rated vs. eight in total over the last three years. [More...]
The Perfect Score debuts today. It's a thinly-budgeted teen movie about six high school students -- the two nice kids who aren't as smart as their Ivy League-ambitious parents think they are, the blue collar good guy who doesn't have the SAT score to follow his girlfriend to the U. of Maryland, the snarky rich girl (Scarlet Johansson doing a Janeane Garofolo impression), the scene-stealing Asian stoner, and the 6'-9" black basketball superstar (real NBA player Darius Miles) who has to meet the NCAA minimum SAT score because he isn't quite ready for the NBA -- who try to break into the Educational Testing Service's headquarters to steal the answers to the SAT. The first 15 minutes of social satire are smart and fun, but the mechanics of the heist are third rate.
It's produced by the guys who created HBO's long running sports agent satire Arli$$, which was one of my favorite comedies of recent years, although it was completely overlooked in the frenzy over the dumber Sex and the City. Arli$$ was crass and cartoonish, but also the most insightful politically incorrect social satire on TV. So, The Perfect Score's commentary on the SAT is strong, as far as it goes.
Interestingly, it ends up being highly pro-SAT. It turns out that the characters' original test scores really were accurate depictions of their academic abilities. In the happy ending, the nice kids go to less elite colleges that are better suited for them than the Ivy League, and the low scoring kid blows off college and gets a job.
Libertarian drug advocate Jacob Sullum predictably argues for legalizing steroid use by athletes.
Sullum simply doesn't understand the logic of competitive drug taking. He's fixated on advocating drugs that people take for pleasure, not as part of an arms (or, in this case, biceps) race.
His idea that, if legalized, athletes would just take a moderate level of doctor-approved steroids is silly. If everybody took exactly the same moderate level of steroids, nobody would get any advantage from taking them. No, the whole point of taking steroids is to take more steroids than the other guys.
Sure, you can't eliminate steroid use, but by testing you can limit it. In the last 16 years, no woman sprinter has come close to the ridiculous records set by Flo-Jo in 1988, back before the Olympics got semi-serious about testing. In contrast, the one big sport without any steroid testing -- baseball -- has seen all sorts of silly marks, like 73 homers in a season.
Even more generally, the conventional libertarian argument made by Sullum -- Got rulebreakers? Legalize them! -- doesn't make much sense in sports because sports are meaningless without rules. There are an infinite number of ways to cheat in sports. For example, if you can't run fast enough to win the 100m dash, you could use a motorcycle. Motorcycle racing is a perfectly fine sports, but it's just a different sport than running. Without rules, no sport exists.
P.S. -- Sullum writes: "If all athletes were allowed to use chemical aids, those who chose to do so would not have an unfair advantage any more than an actress with breast implants does. And just as it is possible to enjoy an actress's performance despite her artificial enhancements..."
What's interesting is how few top actresses have obvious implants. I'm sure many have had a little work done to enhance perkiness -- Susan Sarandon was doing topless scenes in her later 40s in defiance of Newton's Law of Gravity. But the idea is to look realistic in size.
Lots of leading ladies have apparently had no work done at all -- Julia Roberts being a famous example. (Her Erin Brockovich-look was accomplished by taping her up.) If an actress wants to graduate from starlet to star, she'd better not look like a stripper. Remember how Demi Moore flushed her career down the toilet by getting humongo implants in the mid-1990s? Women pay money to see actresses they can identify with, not fantasy figures for men. Further, they punish actresses, like Moore, who raise the competitive bar too high.
WMD: Personally, I believed in them, at least until about June. I assumed the Administration was telling the truth. I never thought, however, that WMD were much of a danger. Iraq couldn't use them to invade a neighbor because it had no air power (that's why Iraq's neighbors were yawning over our war). Nor are massive terrorist attacks a good idea if you have return address like Saddam did.
In contrast, Greg Cochran was telling me in the months leading up the war that his buddies in the nuclear bomb-making business didn't think Saddam was making anything nuclear. He was broke, he couldn't get key parts due to the sanctions, there weren't facilities big enough for the job, his best scientists has skedaddled, and the leftovers were just a bunch of Iraqis (illiteracy rate 60%, IQ upper 80s). Greg was right. But nobody in the establishment talked to the Bomb Boys. They're just a bunch of engineers and physicists. What do they know about how stuff works, compared to some Poli Sci major from Georgetown?
Why I'm a true believer in utterly free trade -- The theory of free trade has never been contradicted by history. For example, as we all know, the tremendous growth of the American economy in the 19th Century was due to Alexander Hamilton's insistence that free trade be the absolute cornerstone of our economic policy. Every schoolboy knows Abraham Lincoln's 1860 campaign slogan: "Free Labor and Free Trade!"
In contrast, Britain's slow, sad decline from its position of economic supremacy after 1846 was due to Prime Minister Peel's betrayal of Britain's traditional free trade policy in favor of protectionism.
Likewise, Bismarck's insistence on zero tariffs enabled outnumbered Germany to almost conquer Europe in WWI using its free trade-nourished industrial might.
And who can forget how contemptuously Ronald Reagan rejected a plan to impose quotas on Japanese car imports to get Toyota and Honda to build car factories in the U.S.?
Oh, wait a minute... Excuse me. Those were the policies of America, Britain, and Germany in the Bizarro reverse world.
[For all those getting ready to write me long explanations of Ricardo's theory of Comparative Advantage -- I already know it. It's a lovely theory and, unlike most, it even works more often than it doesn't. What more can we ask of an idea in this vale of tears?]
Greg Cochran and I are working on campaign slogans for the Karl Rove Amnesty Plan (KRAP). Maybe something Hooverish, along the lines of: "A gardener living in every garage and a car on blocks in every yard!"
Evelyn Waugh's White House -- Now that I think about it, Condi Rice could play Mr. Salter to Bush's Lord Copper -- Mr. Salter's side of the conversation was limited to expressions of assent. When Lord Copper was right, he said "Definitely, Lord Copper"; when he was wrong, "Up to a point." -- and still be precisely truthful at the same time:
"Let me see, Condi, what's the name of the Iraqis who hate us? Is it the Kurds who hate us?"
"Up to a point, Mr. President."
"Or is it the Shi'ites who hate us?"
"Up to a point, Mr. President."
"Or is it the Sunnis?"
"Definitely, Mr. President."
Heck, things have gotten so bad that Karl Rove could be an honest man these days:
"Let me see, Karl, who is it who hates my new guest worker plan? The Hispanics?"
"Up to a point, Mr. President."
"Or is it the the American public as a whole?
"Definitely, Mr. President."
Bush is likely to fall behind Kerry in many polls -- People love a winner and Kerry has won two weeks in a row. Granted, the rivals he has beaten have been underwhelming in quality, but at least not in quantity! In contrast, Bush has floundered all month, dribbling away his Saddam Bounce with his unveiling of the Karl Rove Amnesty Plan (KRAP). The entire history of Bush's approval rating consists of three bounces -- 9/11, the Iraq Attaq, and Saddam-in-the-Hole -- followed by downward drift toward the exact same level of popularity he had on election day in 2000. (Here's Pollkatz's superb graphical timeline of hundreds of approval polls. Unfortunately, he hasn't updated it since 12/29, so the last three weeks of Bush going down the KRAPper aren't visible on it.) Worse, each of Bush's three bounces has been smaller and more quickly dissipated as the public becomes progressively less impressed with his act. He and Rove had better hope the Special Ops boys catch Osama on exactly November 1st, because the next bounce probably won't last long.
What exactly is Condi Rice's job anyway? She doesn't seem to fulfill any of the normal duties of the National Security Advisor, and she seldom seems to make any effort to stand up to the high testosterone boys in the Administration. As far as I can tell, her role is almost wholly feminine. Her job is to salve any boo-boo on George W. Bush's ego so he doesn't have that nightmare. You know the one -- where you dream you're back in college and you suddenly realize you haven't studied one damn thing all semester and now it's the final exam. Well, Condi's job is to keep Bush from suddenly breaking out in a cold sweat over the realization that he hasn't studied one damn thing his entire life and now he's the President of the United States.
Mr. Salter's side of the conversation was limited to expressions of assent. When Lord Copper was right he said "Definitely, Lord Copper"; when he was wrong, "Up to a point."
"Let me see, what's the name of the place I mean? Capital of Japan? Yokohama isn't it?"
"Up to a point, Lord Copper."
"And Hong Kong belongs to us, doesn't it?"
"Definitely, Lord Copper."
Evelyn Waugh, Scoop
An alert reader points out numerous flaws in my notion that Bush could save his Presidency by dumping Dick Cheney, who doesn't look he's fully bounced mentally from his heart operation, from the ticket:
Bush doesn't fire anyone for incompetence. He only fires people for disloyalty. How's he going to fire Cheney?
Okay, so let's say Cheney kicks the bucket. Last time around, Bush asked Cheney to pick someone, and Cheny picked himself. Who's Bush going to turn to this time? And what's the job description?
If Bush is looking primarily for electoral help, he'll want to pick a Midwestern veep. But he sucked up a lot of Midwestern talent into his cabinet, where these guys (Tom Ridge, Tommy Thompson, Spence Abraham) have sunk without a trace.
If he's looking for someone who can "organize" information for him - a big part of Cheney's job description - then probably the best choice is Rice: someone he trusts absolutely, who's absolutely loyal and, as a bonus, doesn't appear to be carrying around her own agenda behind the scenes. But the Christian Right would never accept her, and she's temperamentally unsuited to the campaign trail (kind of like Cheney). [Steve adds: And, the psychic degradation she's endured playing Mr. Salter to Bush's Lord Copper has probably left her too much of a broken shell to be President, herself.]
Who else can he pick? Bill Frist? I'm skeptical. Frist doesn't seem like a Veep type, and he's more valuable to Bush in the Senate. Plus he doesn't need any help in the South. Rudy Giuliani? Should've picked him to head Homeland Security; Rudy'll never be a Veep, and would be totally useless as an organizer of information for Bush. And he'd also be vetoed by the Christian Right. John Ashcroft? We're looking for someone who *helps* the ticket.
Bottom line: I can't think of anyone who's a great fit for the Cheney slot - someone happy to be second-banana and organizing wiz for the President but who's also great on the stump and (from both your perspective and the perspective of key GOP interest groups) right on the issues. The best candidates from an electoral position are either bad temperamental fits with the job or unacceptable to parts of the GOP base or both.
Best Oscar nomination surprise -- The four nods to Brazil's "City of God," which came out a year ago. Here's an excerpt from my review
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 16, 2003 (UPI) -- If you loved Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas" and have been waiting for a similarly smart, stylish, hyperkinetic gangster flick, you're in luck: No, not Scorsese's oddly uninspired "Gangs of New York," but the killer Brazilian import "City of God," which debuts in New York and Los Angeles on Friday. Brazil's nominee for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, "City of God" is so entertaining that it should get a national rollout despite its subtitles.
Like "Gangs of New York," it is set in a Dantesque slum, a Rio de Janeiro housing project overoptimistically named the City of God. The movie, which must feature 75 shootings, will not do wonders for Brazil's tourism industry (though its not quite as stomach-churningly gory as "Gangs")...
Rio is not the best-policed city in the world, with the cops mostly engaged in pocketing bribes to look the other way, except when called upon to beat up urchins pestering rich people. Unfettered by the law, the City of God's youth quickly took up armed robbery, graduating to cocaine dealing in the 1970s, and to mass gang warfare in the early 1980s. Based on Paulo Lins' sprawling autobiographical novel of Dickensian heft, "City of God" tells the interlocking stories of a host of local lads -- some murderers, some nice guys, and some an unstable combination of the two.
Fernando Meirelles, Brazil's snazziest TV commercial director, and his co-director, documentarian Katia Lund, auditioned 2,000 slum kids and trained 106 of act in the movie. While none of these adolescent newcomers gives a performance to rival Daniel Day-Lewis in "Gangs," several acquit themselves at least as well as Leonardo DiCaprio did. To make this panoramic tale comprehensible, screenwriter Bráulio Mantovani employs "Goodfellas"-style narration and lots of documentary tricks, such as repeating scenes to reveal new twists. Meirelles delivers extraordinary cinematic razzle-dazzle for a movie with a $3.3 million budget. This film barrels along for its full 135 minutes.
One advantage "City of God" has over "Goodfellas" and most other prestigious mob movies is a non-criminal hero to identify with. I know I'm weird, but I generally don't like gangster movies, even "The Godfather," because the characters are murderers and I want them all to die in the electric chair. Here, though, the narrator, played by an appealing amateur who looks like a younger, shorter version of Magic Johnson, is too decent to turn to crime. One night he decides to become a stick-up bandit, but ends up chatting amiably with all his intended victims. Eventually, he gets a job at a newspaper photographing the drug war that white journalists can't get in to cover.
After Cheney? -- It's clear by now that Bush's Jan. 7th Amnesty speech wrecked the momentum he had picked up from Saddam's capture. Karl Rove has proven himself closer to mediocrity than genius. I spend one tenth as much time thinking about voters as Rove does, but I've been saying since the beginning of the Administration that coming out in favor of illegal immigration was politically nuts. So, how come I knew that and he didn't? But, where was Dick Cheney in this decision? Isn't he supposed to provide adult supervision?
Rove is not totally incompetent, however. He waited until entrance to the GOP primaries had legally closed to spring the Invite the World plan, so I guess the party is stuck with Bush in November. We're not stuck with Cheney, however. His negatives keep going up as the truth about his vaunted Iraq WMD and Saddam-Osama connection emerges. And he seems to be useless on domestic policy. I thought he'd be the most valuable member of the Administration, but what has he been good for? He doesn't even go to the funerals of foreign potentates.
Cheney was supposed to be Bush's keeper, but he's abused that role to keep good alternatives away from the President's microscopic attention span.
Let's get a new candidate for Veep. But whom? He needs to be both a good campaigner and a competent ventriloquist to Bush's dummy.
Analysis: Shoppers pay hidden big box store costs
By Steve Sailer
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Few retail store formats have proven more popular with Americans than the "big box" store where consumers pushing shopping carts load up on bulk purchases at low prices. Led for years by Wal-Mart, which recorded $33.7 billion in sales in December alone, and taken to an extreme by warehouse clubs, big boxes with their rock-bottom prices have been shouldering aside mom-and-pop outlets, department stores, boutiques, and supermarkets. There's no disputing the unprecedented efficiency of the top chains, yet some of the price reductions have been accomplished by handing hidden costs off to consumers.
Since the long-gone days of the 1920s, when the corner store would take an order over the phone and send a delivery boy around with a crate of groceries, the U.S. retail industry has striven mightily to drive down sticker prices. They've accomplished this in part by passing on an increasing fraction of the costs of the distribution process. The odd thing about this trend is that retailers have become extremely efficient in recent decades at managing the supply chain, while consumers remain amateurs. Just about every task shoppers can do, stores can do cheaper: selecting the best brands, transporting and storing goods, manhandling big crates, avoiding spoilage, and borrowing money cheaply to finance the inventory investment.
Consumers are more likely than retailers to unwittingly buy more food than they can actually consume before it goes bad. "It's amazing what you find out will spoil," a Los Angeles homemaker told United Press International. "Like when my father bought a case of a dozen half-gallon jugs of salsa at Wal-Mart's Sam's Club. It seemed like a terrific deal, but who knew something that spicy would go rank before you could eat it? Of course, it didn't help that everybody in the family was heartily sick of salsa long before they could finish all six gallons."
Once home with their seemingly low-priced loot, shoppers must then take on the costs of storing it all. The business world has moved toward the Japanese Just-In-Time model, but consumers have shifted in the opposite direction of buying long before consumption. For shoppers who are paying 13 percent on their unpaid credit card balances, every additional month before consuming a purchased item adds a little over one percent to the net cost.
Finding space around the house just to warehouse cases of products that won't be consumed for months is not cheap. The separate pantry off the kitchen is coming back in fashion. In very expensive regions where a 2,000-square-foot home costs $400,000, the cost of a 10-foot-by-10-foot storage area would equate to $20,000. [More...]
Excellent article (link now fixed) on the German experience with guest workers:
Cumali Kangal came to Germany 30 years ago [from Turkey] to work in a metal factory, assuming he was staying only temporarily. It wasn't until seven or eight years later that it finally struck him that he really ought to learn the language... People familiar with the German experience say there are lessons for all concerned. Kangal, in addition to recommending that workers learn the language earlier than he did, said the host country should enter the arrangement with open eyes.
If a country needing cheap labor hires another country's least-qualified workers, it will get poorly educated and unsophisticated people ill-equipped to learn the language and assimilate. Though he is a Turk and experiences prejudice "every day," he also said it was not primarily Turkey's elite that had come to Germany. "In some ways," he said, "the prejudice is not wrong."
Lots more good stuff in the article.
New VDARE column at left.
From my review of The Battle of Algiers in The American Conservative:
The legendary 1965 Algerian-Italian film ignores France’s expensive efforts to buy the hearts and minds of the Arabs and Berbers during the 1954-1962 war. Nor does it stress how the Algerian insurgents, to prevent peaceful compromise, mutilated and decapitated moderate Muslims and assassinated liberal Europeans. But what it does show of producer Saadi Yacef's 1956 terror bombings of bistros and discos is horrifying enough. Alistair Horne’s exhaustive 1978 history, A Savage War of Peace, confirms many of the film’s details. (Paul Johnson’s tour de force summary of Horne’s book -- furiously illustrating how a few extremists can launch a vicious cycle of provocation, reprisal, and mass outrage -- climaxes his famous Modern Times.)
In despair, Algiers' civil authorities hand policing over to the paratroopers under Colonel Mathieu. This glamorous character was modeled partly on the redoubtable Jacques Massu, partly on the intellectual colonels like Marcel Bigeard. The latter had recently parachuted gallantly into the doomed fortress of Dien Bien Phu. While an involuntary guest of General Giap, Bigeard studied Mao's theories and then used them in his sophisticated counter-guerilla strategy in Algeria.
The anti-French filmmakers give Mathieu most of the best lines. When challenged at a press conference about torture, he answers with Descartes' logic and Cyrano's panache:
"The problem is: the FLN wants us to leave Algeria and we want to remain … Despite varying shades of opinion, you all agree that we must remain … Therefore, to be precise, I would now like to ask you a question: Should France remain in Algeria? If you answer 'yes,' then you must accept all the necessary consequences."
The paras liquidated the Casbah rebels' leadership in 1957. In Algeria, torture worked. What the film doesn’t show is that in France, though, the public started to lose the stomach for the "necessary consequences." Alarmed that the politicians might throw away their fallen comrades' sacrifices, the paratroopers threatened to drop on Paris in May 1958 unless Gen. Charles de Gaulle became France's strong man.
Once in power, however, that great patriot resolved to cut and run. He had to weather two coup attempts and countless assassination plots, but, minus the Algerian tumor, long-suffering France emerged peaceful, prosperous, and democratic. [More...]
A fascinating parallel between the French experience in Algeria and our Iraq Attaq is how French misperceptions about the causes of Muslim terrorism caused them to invade an irrelevant Arab country. The French government became convinced that the terrorists who were blowing up French civilians in Algeria from 11/1/1954 were linked to the Egyptian dictator Nasser and Nasser was linked to international communism, just as Bush-Cheney argued that the 9/1/11 terrorists were linked to Saddam who was linked to international Muslim fundamentalism. None of these assertions proved terribly true. (The Algerian terrorists were nationalists with no contacts with the Soviets at the time, and they were frustrated with the blowhard Nasser for doing very little to help them.)
So, the French teamed up with the Israelis and the British to invade Egypt in 1956 to seize the Suez Canal. They were winning easily, but President Eisenhower spoke out against the Franco-Anglo-Israeli aggression and made them withdraw.
Also, of historical interest: the NY Review of Books carries a long article on President Kennedy's attempts to use WMD inspections to prevent the Israelis from building nuclear bombs at their French-built reactor at Dimona. The Israelis covered up, lied, and stalled until JFK was dead. LBJ had little interest in non-proliferation and let the matter drop. Israel has never publicly admitted having nuclear weapons.
"In the fall of 1956, France agreed to provide Israel with an 18 MWt research reactor. However, the onset of the Suez Crisis a few weeks later changed the situation dramatically. Following Egypt's closure of the Suez Canal in July, France and Britain had agreed with Israel that the latter should provoke a war with Egypt to provide the European nations with the pretext to send in their troops as peacekeepers to occupy and reopen the canal zone. In the wake of the Suez Crisis, the Soviet Union made a thinly veiled threat against the three nations. This episode not only enhanced the Israeli view that an independent nuclear capability was needed to prevent reliance on potentially unreliable allies, but also led to a sense of debt among French leaders that they had failed to fulfill commitments made to a partner. French premier Guy Mollet is even quoted as saying privately that France "owed" the bomb to Israel.
"On 3 October 1957, France and Israel signed a revised agreement calling for France to build a 24 MWt reactor (although the cooling systems and waste facilities were designed to handle three times that power) and, in protocols that were not committed to paper, a chemical reprocessing plant. This complex was constructed in secret, and outside the IAEA inspection regime, by French and Israeli technicians at Dimona, in the Negev desert.
The FAS estimates the Israeli arsenal currently numbers between 100 and 200 nuclear weapons. Personally, I'm glad that Israel has nuclear weapons, although you can see how it makes our anti-WMD diplomacy more difficult. It's tricky to try to explain to Muslim countries why we think it's perfectly okey-dokey for Israel to have the means to kill tens of millions of Muslims, but that Muslim countries shouldn't have any nukes at all because we think they are all a bunch of potentially crazed towel-heads. But explaining that kind of thing is what our diplomats get paid the big bucks for.
The Politics of the Bush Immigration Plan: A prominent GOP activist who understands the law of supply and demand explains:
(1) Most Latino activist groups/elected officials/opinion leaders are thoroughly integrated components of the liberal/Democratic political coalition, in much the same way that the Christian Right is part of the conservative/Republican coalition. The hatred that liberals/Democrats have for Bush is almost beyond measure, even greater than e.g. the hatred conservatives/Republicans had for Clinton during the Impeachment. Even if Latino activists actually like parts of the Amnesty Proposal, they gladly hold their tongue it if it helps defeat Bush. As far as I can tell, the only Latino groups that the Bush people were able to line up as backing were more the "bought off" or second-tier ones, which carry relatively little weight with Latino voters. Unions and Latino elected officials have much more clout, and I trust that they will fight the plan every step of the way. As an analogy, suppose that Clinton had proposed a bill banning partial-birth abortion at the height of Impeachment. Would that have helped him win the backing of the Christian Right?
(2) There's really no evidence that Bush/Rove/Republicans have any understanding whatsoever of Latinos or their political dynamics. As a very early example, they tried to win the Mexican vote in California and the Southwest by stopping those airforce bombing runs in Puerto Rico. I remember having some good laughs over that with some leading Latino analysts. In a somewhat similar way, Gray Davis followed the recommendations of a few Sacramento Latino activists and politicians on the drivers' license bill, then was shocked when about half the actual Latino voters (and pretty much all the non-Latino voters) opposed him on it.
(3) Also, Bush's plan really is crazy, after all. If we freely allowed every corporation in America to send air-conditioned buses South of the Border with loud-speakers offering $5.25/hour jobs to all takers, I'm not necessarily saying that every single Mexican and Guatamalaan would immediately come to El Norte---probably no more than 20 or 30 million the first year. But even as a very strong advocate of the effectiveness of America's assimilationist "melting pot," coping with such changes in our society does seem like a considerable stretch. I recall Old Deng's quip to Carter after the latter's endless hectoring on "free emigration" from China, that having a considerable surplus of Chinese, he'd be glad to send America as many as requested, but only in even lots of ten million.
(4) As a specific example, for months there's been a bitter and high-profile 70,000 worker strike going on at all major Southern California groceries over management attempts to cut wages and benefits. The unions involved are (I think) substantially immigrant and Latino. Going to those workers and telling them that Bush has proposed allowing their employers to immediately import unlimited numbers of foreign strike-breakers will not make them happy. And any crazed (or bought-off) reconquista-type Chicano Studies professor who tries to persuade them otherwise will be lynched, plain and simple.
(5) I very much agree that the Democratic nominee could gain enormous traction by opposing the Immigration proposal. I don't get the impression that the major candidates have endorsed its specifics, which does leave them considerable room for positioning. And I do agree that a Democrat who makes opposition to the Bush/Rove Proposal a centerpiece of his domestic agenda will be in a very, very strong position for November.
(6) Again, for those of you without extensive contact with Latinos, use the Italian model. In 1940 or 1950, how many working-class Italian votes would a Presidential candidate have won by suggesting that corporations be allowed to import tens of millions of minimum-wage foreign workers from Italy and everywhere else?
Dick Cheney didn't get the memo: The aging Veep seems increasingly lost in his own fantasy world, telling NPR today that there was too an Iraq-al Qaeda link and that we still may find the weapons of mass destruction. I know Cheney was there, but maybe he wasn't listening to his boss read the State of the Union address. As you'll recall, Bush gave up on WMD and instead claimed, hilariously, that there were "dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities" in Iraq. Got it, Dick? Repeat after W.: "Weapons of mass destruction-related program activities."
Cheney must go.
Kevin Michael Grace surfaces: It's always good to see something new from the Waugh-like Ambler. Here he mordantly skewers Reason Magazine's "35 Heroes of Freedom: Celebrating the people who have made the world groovier and groovier since 1968," which includes such tired and tiresome celebrities as Dennis Rodman, Larry Flynt, and Madonna. Worse, Reason often describes its worthy choices as if the intent is to make you embarrassed for both the honoree and the magazine, e.g., Robert Heinlein: "If you don’t grok Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and Time Enough for Love, you just plain can’t grok anything." Yeeesh...
John Edwards: Anybody doing opposition research on Edwards should get a video of his appearance on the "Charlie Rose Show" on the night of 9/11/2001. I've never seen a top professional politician make himself look more inane and lightweight at a crucial moment. The debate between author Tom Clancy and Edwards over whether the U.S. needed to do something in response to 9/11 was jawdropping. Clancy: Yes vs. Edwards: Oh, well, maybe, perhaps we should study the situation ...
I wasn't the only one who noticed Edwards' fiasco. Sam Smith of the "Progressive Review" wrote: "The only bright spot was when Tom Clancy mercilessly quizzed Clinton-in-waiting John Edwards as to what specifically he would do and Edwards could produce nothing but photogenic platitudes."
The show still exists somewhere on videotape. Edwards' enemies could just put it out on the Web and do him serious damage.
Iraq would not be the first Arab democracy: One example of American ignorance is the common statement that our goal is to establish in Iraq "the first democracy in the Arab world," which will launch a positive domino effect. In reality, nearby Lebanon was an independent democracy from 1943 to 1975, with a lovely capital with a free press, major banks and universities, and a booming economy. Beirut was a popular vacation spot. (Can you imagine how much success we would have to have to make Baghdad a popular tourist destination?) And then, after 32 years of elections, began a nearly Hobbesian war of all against all that lasted to 1992 when the Syrians finally assumed control.
They had a clever system whereby the leading group, the Christians, always got the top job, the presidency, the Sunnis got the second highest job, and the Shi'ites the third highest. The idea was to restrict all political rivalries to within each confessional group. It worked nicely for awhile, but it of course failed to build national parties that transcended ethnicity. And, as the demographics changed, the original distribution of power among the groups became increasingly contentious. Eventually, the high birth rate of the backward Shi'ites, the ambitions of the marginalized Druzes, the arrival of the Palestinians from Jordan, the retaliatory Israeli bombing of the PLO in south Lebanon which set off a surge of frightened Shi'ites into Beirut, and other problems fatally undermined the set-up. Rather than Lebanon being the domino that knocked over the non-democratic regimes in the region, Lebanon got flattened by both internal and external pressures.
After 7 years of horror, the Israel's marched to Beirut in 1982, but that didn't solve anything and the Israelis eventually withdrew completely from southern Lebanon after almost two decades. That fallback probably inspired the latest Palestinian intifada, which began in 2000. This does not seem like a promising analogy for the American presence in Iraq: either we stay forever or we encourage the hotheads by pulling out.
The bad news for Iraq is that the Lebanese temporary success was largely driven by the sophisticated, European-oriented Maronite Catholics, and seconded by the moderation of the Sunnis. In Iraq, most of the Assyrian Christians are gone, the Sunnis are the designated bad guys, and the Shi'ites have already obtained a majority of the population. I also have a general feeling that Arabs are less politically rational today than they were in the heyday of Lebanese democracy.
By Steve Sailer
UPI National Correspondent
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush used his State of the Union address as a bully pulpit to denounce steroids in professional sports.
Bush said: "The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football and other sports is dangerous and it sends the wrong message: that there are shortcuts to accomplishment and that performance is more important than character. So tonight I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches and players to take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough and to get rid of steroids now."
The Bush dynasty acted more laxly in their previous encounters with the steroid problem.
Artificial male hormones streaked into notoriety at the 1988 Olympics when 100-meter dash champion Ben Johnson, who was so soaked in steroids his eyes had turned yellow, was dramatically stripped of his gold medal after failing a drug test.
Former President George H. W. Bush signed a bill making steroids a controlled substance in 1990. Shortly afterward, though, he sent a mixed message to America's youth by appointing as chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness the movie muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger, the world's most celebrated self-admitted ex-user of steroids. (Although such drugs were legal when he was using them.) The Hollywood he-man is now the Republican governor of California and a political ally of the current President Bush.
The younger Bush was co-managing general partner of the Texas Rangers from 1989 to 1994, a time when most other major sports were toughening their drug testing in the wake of the Johnson scandal. Yet, Major League Baseball owners refused to institute any tests at all. In the subsequent anything-goes 1990s, ballplayers swelled in musculature, along with home run totals, fan excitement, and revenue.
Finally, in 2002, former Most Valuable Players Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti admitted they had used steroids, shaming baseball into a fairly weak form of mandatory testing.
Last November, the commissioner's office announced that more than 5 percent of ballplayers had flunked its first ever steroid test, a much higher failure rate than even that seen in steroid-plagued sports like track. Also, the tests could not detect the new steroid THG, over which a grand jury subpoenaed star sluggers Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi.
In 1992, Bush's Rangers acquired in a blockbuster trade the ever more massive Canseco, even though he was then probably the most infamous steroid abuser in baseball.
Although Canseco had won the 1988 American League MVP award by being the first player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases, his career as a Ranger is most remembered for one week in May 1993. First, a long fly ball bounced off the outfielder's head for a home run. Three days later, Canseco volunteered to try pitching and blew out his elbow, ending his season.
Last year, after angrily ending a career cut short by injuries, Canseco was jailed when he failed a drug test for steroids, violating his probation stemming from a nightclub brawl he had gotten into alongside his brother Ozzie.
"Canseco was the Typhoid Mary of steroids," one baseball agent told United Press International, alleging that after Canseco joined a team, some of his new teammates would suddenly beef up suspiciously. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reported that Canseco had told book companies to whom he was peddling his idea for a tell-all memoir that he had helped obtain steroids for as-of-yet unnamed players.
When Bush's Rangers traded for Canseco in 1992, he had been the subject of steroid rumors for many years. For example, right after Ben Johnson's disgrace in 1988, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post sportswriter Thomas Boswell accused Canseco of juicing.
Canseco's second World Series appearance in 1989 inspired novelist Anne Lamott to complain in "Operating Instructions," her best-selling diary of her baby Sam's first year of life: "I was explaining to Sam that Jose Canseco shouldn't get to play because of the obvious steroid use, that there is something really wrong with the guy ... It was obvious from Sam's expression that he didn't think much of Canseco."
The evidence was not subtle. When Canseco started in the minor leagues, he was tall and slender, but eventually bulked up to 240 pounds. Tellingly, he possessed the steroid user's equivalent of the portrait of Dorian Gray: his identical twin Ozzie, who stayed skinny and in the minors for years.
Bush signed off on all Rangers trades, such as the Canseco acquisition, but he was not actively involved. Bush's underling, general manager Tom Grieve, told PBS, "George was the front man ... He was the spokesperson. He dealt with the media, he dealt with the fans, and it was obvious to us right from the start that that's what he was made for."
But, now he's the president of the United States and he's talking a tougher line against steroids.
Did you see Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's Alpine ropethrow eyebrows? -- In the rebuttal to the State of the Union, it was hard to concentrate on what the Democratic House leader was saying because her eyebrows had been facelifted about halfway up her forehead.
Here's Bush's State of the Union paragraph on his GWB (Guest-Worker-Bush) plan:
"Tonight I also ask you to reform our immigration laws, so they reflect our values and benefit our economy. I propose a new temporary worker program to match willing foreign workers with willing employers, when no Americans can be found to fill the job. This reform will be good for our economy ? because employers will find needed workers in an honest and orderly system. A temporary worker program will help protect our homeland ? allowing border patrol and law enforcement to focus on true threats to our national security. I oppose amnesty, because it would encourage further illegal immigration, and unfairly reward those who break our laws. My temporary worker program will preserve the citizenship path for those who respect the law, while bringing millions of hardworking men and women out from the shadows of American life."
What do you think? Is he really going to push this or is it just going to remain a rhetorical device?
Thanks God there's no name for this decade: We're already in the fifth year of this decade, and there's no consensus name for it. That's a real blessing for clear thought. There's nothing lazier or stupider than decadethink: "The Eighties were the 'Decade of Greed'" yada yada.
Jocks and Doping: The New York Times Magazine carries a long article on the abuse of steroids, EPO, and (in the future) genetic therapy by top athletes. Almost all the examples of likely dopers (Bonds, Sosa, Flo-Jo, etc. ) will be familiar to my readers, but it's nice to see somebody else talk about it.
New VDARE column at left
Michelle Wow: Last May, I accurately predicted that top lady golfer Annika Sorenstam would miss the cut in the men's Colonial tournament by four strokes. I'm glad I didn't try my hand at forecasting how 14-year-old Hawaiian schoolgirl Michelle Wie would do in last week's men's Sony tournament in Honolulu. I've been writing quite a bit about her (e.g., writing in VDARE last summer: "In fact, girl's high school golf in the U.S. is increasingly dominated by East Asian girls, of whom the six-foot-tall Korean-American 13-year-old Michelle Wie is the most promising"), but I still wouldn't have guessed she would have wound up missing the cut (i.e., to make the cut you have to be in, roughly, the top half of scorers after two of the four rounds) by only one stroke, shooting 72-68.
Think about what she accomplished like this: If she were male, that might be as impressive a performance by a 14-year-old since the great Bobby Jones reached the quarter-finals of the U.S. Amateur in 1916. But as a 14-year-old girl playing against many of the world's best adult men, well, I'm stumped for historical comparisons.
Why I, as a baby boomer, feel shame:
2004: The president says we will go to the moon in eleven years.
1961: The president says we will go to the moon in eight years.
And my father's generation did it using slide rules.
The second half of the Derb's column on "The Immigration Fiasco" is superb.
By Steve Sailer
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- It's been 18 years since the Rev. Martin Luther King's birthday became a federal holiday, and five years since New Hampshire became the 50th state to make it a holiday for state workers. Yet, in 2004, only 29 percent of employers give their staffs the day off with pay, according to a survey of 339 Human Resources executives by publisher BNA Inc.
Surprisingly, few non-black workers seem to mind. Not surprisingly, some blacks feel that this apathy toward King's birthday is a sign of disrespect. Black comedian Chris Rock said, "You gotta be pretty racist to not want a day off from work."
Fortunately, one simple change in the holiday could end this racial divisiveness and unite workers of all colors in demanding a paid holiday honoring King.
The federal holiday currently falls on the third Monday in January. In 2004, that's Jan. 19. It's a great time for a holiday -- if you live in Honolulu or Key West. In many parts of the country, however, mid-January is the worst point of the winter. In Chicago, for instance, the coldest day of the year on average is Jan. 18. North of, say, Florida, the weather makes planning parades, outdoor speeches or picnics quite dicey.
The popularity of the holiday differs by latitude. BNA found that "By region, organizations located in the Southern United States are most likely to designate Jan. 19 as a paid holiday (44 percent), whereas employers in the North Central region are least likely to do so (15 percent)."
Besides, by the middle of January, most employees have had at least four official days off in the preceding seven weeks (New Year's, Christmas and two for Thanksgiving).
Numerous blacks in the private sector, though, wish to honor King. Many do so by using up a vacation day or one of their limited "floating holidays," or by just calling in sick. That the day is turning into an unofficial holiday for black workers but few others poses difficult dilemmas for many managers. Should you risk delays by postponing important meetings that would otherwise be scheduled for the third Monday in January? Or should you go ahead and make crucial decisions with few of your black employees in the room?
The solution to this kind of unintended racial divisiveness is to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s holiday more attractive to everybody. Liberate it from its unimaginative dependence on his birthday. There's plenty of precedent for that. The only other man to have a holiday celebrating his birthday is Jesus Christ...
Instead of commemorating the day when King was born, follow the precedent set by Columbus Day. We don't celebrate Columbus on the day of his birth, but on the anniversary of his greatest feat, reaching the New World on Oct. 12, 1492.
Similarly, we could commemorate what might be King's most memorable achievement: his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963.
If we moved the King holiday to the Monday a week before Labor Day, it would suddenly become hugely popular. Everybody would want to take the last Monday in August off. ... This year Labor Day will be Sept. 6, so the MLK holiday would fall, under this plan, a week earlier -- Aug. 30. This schedule would allow workers to take a 10-day vacation running from Saturday, Aug. 28, through Labor Day, yet use only four vacation days.
Space -- What we need is a truly exciting, but concrete goal for space travel. Let's start looking now for The Big One: a fully habitable planet where millions of our descendents will someday live in the open air under an alien sun. That means: better telescopes to find small earth-sized planets, telescopes located probably in space, but possibly either on the moon or earth. (There have tremendous advances in telescope technology in the last several years, so I won't pretend to know what would be best.) Obviously, we are over a century away from even planning for a trip to the stars, but we might be able to find a habitable planet within a couple of decades. And that would be enormously inspiring. [More...]
The Gift that Keeps on Giving -- That's what the Bush Immigration Plan is for me. Anytime I'm looking around for something to write about, there's always some other bad side effect to reveal.
Today, let's think about the impact of inviting in millions of new temporary workers, most of whom will be immediately eligible for affirmative action. Does that make any sense at all?
Nobody has offered an explanation for why immigrants who chose America, presumably warts and all, should immediately qualify for special treatment at the expense of many native-born citizens; but, then, not many people bothered to ask, either. Americans have just found it more interesting to argue over affirmative action for blacks.
Further, this is an engine for ethnic conflict. The key variable in judging how disruptive reverse discrimination will become is the "racial ratio." This measure refers to how many whites there are to shoulder the cost of preferences relative to each legally protected minority member. As the proportion of whites to other races shrinks rapidly due to the Bush Plan, the higher the cost of preferences rises for each individual white. This would be both bad for whites, obviously, and eventually bad for minorities by stoking white anger.
What exactly are these costs? The direct costs of preferences to whites include being passed over by a college in favor of a less qualified minority applicant; losing a government contract to a higher bidder who is of a favored race or ethnicity; or missing out on a job because a private business imposes a quota on itself to avert a lawsuit from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The 1991 Civil Rights Act placed the burden of proof on private employers, forcing them to show that any statistical deviations from racial and ethnic proportionality in their work forces compared to the local population (including noncitizens) was justified by the strict standard of "business necessity."
When aggregated over the entirety of white Americans, these various preferences impose real costs on real individuals who get turned down in favor of members of less-qualified protected groups --though individuals may never know that they have lost out in this way.
There are other costs to race preferences, of course, notably that they may cast doubt on the qualifications of minority applicants. But these costs have been widely debated, whereas this whites-per-minority concept is rarely used in discussions of race preferences -- even though this racial ratio is directly analogous to the well-known ratio of workers per retiree that is central to debates over the future of Social Security. In the debate over Social Security, moreover, the fact that payers and payees are each other's children and parents alleviates some of the bitterness of the conflict. In contrast, fewer family ties exist to temper racial and ethnic struggles, which is why they are so rightly feared.
The Nixon administration invented racial quotas in 1969 to integrate segregated craft unions. At that time, there were almost eight whites for every black, so the average cost per white of giving a boost to blacks in payback for generations of exploitation during slavery and Jim Crow was relatively small. In the 1970 Census, African-Americans made up 90 percent of the then-recognized minorities, and Americans to this day still tend to think of preferences as applying primarily to blacks.
Today, though, the majority of the beneficiaries of racial/ethnic preferences aren't black. Indeed, the Census Bureau recently reported that Hispanics (38.8 million) now outnumber blacks (38.3 million). Only 42 percent of protected minorities are African-American. There are only 2.2 non-Hispanic whites per minority member.
When the Bush Plan gets done importing tens of millions of more foreigners, the racial ratio will be much worse and the burden of paying for affirmative action that will be shouldered by each white person will be much greater. [More ...]
Oops! -- Another Dick Cheneyism bites the dust:
"Among the documents found with Saddam Hussein when he was captured last month was a directive written to his followers telling them not to join forces with foreign Arab fighters that may be streaming in to Iraqi to fight Americans, Fox News has confirmed... With this document and other evidence, [American] officials have determined that Saddam believed that foreign Arab fighters were eager for a holy war against the West, while his former ruling Baath Party was anxious for its own return to power... critics say the document shows just how thin the relationship between the former regime and Al Qaeda really was. U.S. officials, however, said they stick by previous characterizations of the relationship and meetings between the two groups but concede the document shows Al Qaeda fighters were not the means by which Saddam wanted to fight the U.S.-led coalition."
Do you ever the feeling that the core of support for the Iraq Attaq comes from citizens who get confused about which Arab bad guy was responsible for 9-11 because of all those letters in "O-s-a-m-a" and "S-a-d-d-a-m" that are the same?
UPDATE: Of course, the real hard core of support for the Iraq Attaq are the folks who get Iraq and Iran confused and think the invasion was payback for the Ayatollah taking American hostages back in Jimmy Carter's day.
The neocon platform in a nutshell:
Foreign Policy: Invade the World!
Domestic Policy: Invite the World!
By Steve Sailer
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- By disdainfully describing George W. Bush's behavior during Cabinet meetings as that of a "blind man in a roomful of deaf people," former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has reopened the debate over just how smart the president is. Some objective numbers from Bush's past suggest he is reasonably but not exceptionally intelligent, but questions remain about his curiosity and openness to learning.
The New Yorker magazine revealed in 1999 that Bush scored 1206 on his Scholastic Aptitude Test: 566 Verbal, 640 Math. While there is something crass about focusing upon a future president's exam scores, these numbers possess a blunt honesty lacking in much of the carefully contrived folklore about politicians' brains. Bush's 1206 is a better score than it may seem to younger people because the Educational Testing Service "recentered" (inflated) SAT scoring in the mid-'90s. Bush's score is the equivalent of a 1280 under today's dumbed-up scoring system.
How does Bush's 1206 compare to the general population? ... Linda Gottfredson, co-director of the University of Delaware-Johns Hopkins Project for the Study of Intelligence and Society, told United Press International: "I recently converted Bush's SAT score to an IQ using the high school norms available for his age cohort. Educational Testing Service happened to have done a study of representative high school students within a year or so of when he took the test. I derived an IQ of 125, which is the 95th percentile." In other words, only one out of 20 people would score higher. ...
University of California-Davis psychology professor Dean Keith Simonton has written numerous books using quantitative techniques to assess historical figures, including his 1987 work "Why Presidents Succeed: A Political Psychology of Leadership." Simonton told UPI, "In raw intellect, Bush is about average" for a president.
On the other hand, Simonton didn't see much evidence that Bush tries hard to use the brains he's got. "He has very little intellectual energy or curiosity, relatively few interests, and a dearth of bona fide aesthetic or cultural tastes." Simonton speculated that this could suggest a low level of "openness to experience." Indeed, despite being the scion of an elite family with worldwide contacts, Bush's hobbies appear limited to not much more than running, fishing and baseball. His biographers state, however, that he has paid relentless attention to structuring organizations and assessing the people who could fill them.
Simonton also speculated, "Bush scores extremely low on integrative complexity. ... This is the capacity to look at issues from multiple perspectives and to integrate that diverse outlook into a single coherent viewpoint. ... Bush finds it hard to view the world in other way than his own. That's why he's so hard to engage in a genuine debate. He can say 'I hear you,' but he really can't." [More...]
Is it impossible to cut down on the number of illegal aliens entering America? No. I spent four days on the Mexican border last May, and my report on what could be done is here.
I've been thinking more about Bush's truly wacky plan to allow anyone in the world with a minimum wage job offer to move to America than I have about his amnesty plan for the 8 to 14 million illegal aliens already here. So I didn't mention a massive problem with legalizing the mostly male population of illegals already here. Craig Nelsen of ProjectUSA pointed it out today:
In fact, I wrote a year ago about how the 1986 amnesty is still costing California taxpayers billions. It turns out that the 1986 amnesty for illegals set off a big baby boom among its beneficiaries - inevitably worsening the subsequent crowding in schools and emergency rooms. Laura E. Hill and Hans P. Johnson of the Public Policy Institute of California wrote:
“Between 1987 and 1991, total fertility rates for foreign-born Hispanics [in California] increased from 3.2 to 4.4 [expected babies per woman over her lifetime]. This dramatic rise was the primary force behind the overall increase in the state’s total fertility rate during this period. Were it not for the large increase in fertility among Hispanic immigrants, fertility rates in California would have increased very little between 1987 and 1991.
“Why did total fertility rates increase so dramatically for Hispanic immigrants? First, the composition of the Hispanic immigrant population in California changed as a result of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. In California alone, 1.6 million unauthorized immigrants applied for amnesty (legal immigrant status) under this act. The vast majority were young men, and many were agricultural workers who settled permanently in the United States. Previous research indicates that many of those granted amnesty were joined later by spouses and relatives in the United States... As a result, many young adult Hispanic women came to California during the late 1980s. We also know that unauthorized immigrants tend to have less education than other immigrants and that they are more likely to come from rural areas. Both characteristics are associated with high levels of fertility. As a result, changes in the composition of the Hispanic immigration population probably increased fertility rates.
“Another possible reason for the sudden increase in fertility rates for Hispanic immigrants is also related to IRCA. Because many of those granted amnesty and their spouses had been apart for some time, their reunion in California prompted a “catch-up” effect in the timing of births...”
A big majority of Republicans oppose Bush's Cheap Servants for the Rich Plan -- ABC reports:
"Most Americans oppose President Bush's proposal to offer legal status to illegal immigrants - and if it does happen, two-thirds favor a limited-duration program, not an open-ended one. ... An ABCNEWS poll found 52 percent oppose an amnesty program for illegal immigrants from Mexico; 57 percent oppose one for illegal immigrants from other countries. Both results are roughly the same as when the administration floated the idea 2 ½ years ago. Moreover, in a finding that suggests it will be a difficult political sell, at least twice as many Americans "strongly" oppose the proposal as strongly support it . For Mexicans, 34 percent are strongly opposed, with 17 percent strongly in favor. For other illegal immigrants, 40 percent are strongly opposed to the idea, while 14 percent are strongly in favor... But, in terms of a program for Mexicans, support rises to a majority among nonwhites, 53 percent, compared with 37 percent among whites and a low of 33 percent among white men. Support also is higher in the West (48 percent) than in other regions. Opposition peaks in Bush's own party: Fifty-eight percent of Republicans oppose his immigration proposal for Mexicans, compared with 50 percent of Democrats. For illegal immigrants other than Mexicans, 63 percent of Republicans are opposed."
These numbers are only going to get worse for Bush. Almost nobody yet understands the forward half of the Bush Plan -- opening up the entire American job market to competition from everyone else in the world. But they will.
"In an interview to be published in Rolling Stone magazine, Dean — without specifically mentioning the war in Iraq — said Bush had some type of obsessive need to please his father, who allowed Saddam to remain in power after the 1991Gulf war and lost his bid for re-election. This president is not interested in being a good president," the former Vermont governor said. "He's interested in some complicated psychological situation that he has with his father."
That sounds about right, although it's also a need to outcompete his father. Very complicated. I might try to figure it out, except that George W. Bush's life story is so boring (what the Kennedys are to tawdriness, the Bushes are to tedium) that when I try to think about it, my brain goes to sleep like the president's when Paul O'Neill tried to talk to him about the economy.
John Derbyshire asked why Republicans in Texas are less outraged by Bush's plan than Republicans are in California. Part of it has to do with the difference between Hispanics in the two states. The roots of the Hispanic establishment in San Antonio, for example, go back to the middle class refugees who fled northern Mexico during the 1911-1920 Revolution. A reader writes:
One of the things about Bush's amnesty bill that seems to be going by the wayside is the major difference between the "old" Mexican immigration into Texas and the "new" immigration when people are discussing Texas/California differences in the way Mexican immigrants have assimilated in Texas and not in California. The "old" immigrants to Texas were normally from the far more developed Mexican northeast (Tamaluipas, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon) or Chihuahua, which was hard to tell apart from West Texas and which was not, until recently, that "Mexican". The people found Texas to be similar to Mexico, but better, they assimilated to a large degree, and their kids not only fit in to the odd four part harmony of Texas (the social divisions between black, white, Mexican, and European) but often didn't speak Spanish. I grew up with people like that.
Their parents often did not like Mexico and did like Texas because of the cultural differences -- Texas was far more economically open and white people would treat Mexicans better than Mexicans in Mexico (one of the things that you see and hear from old Mexicans in Texas is how "Christian charity" is actually possible in Texas because people don't see it as foolish and stupid and how doing so in Mexico is crazy because it hold you up as soft-hearted in an environment that invites predation). Some Texans like Mexico better, and lived over the border. In the 1980s, things changed -- the money from the oil and drugs, followed by the oil bust, and the drug boom -- and the increased mobility from the Mexican highway construction in the 1970s and 1980s allowed Mexicans from the deep interior and people from Central America to come to Texas. A lot of these folks were not as ambivalent about Mexico as the people from the northeast -- they were actually quite patriotic and liked Mexico a lot. There was just no work there. When they brought their families up, they made sure to send their children back down a great deal or bring up parents to care for the kids so that they could speak Spanish. They did not assimilate. Their kids did poorly. Up to the 1980s in Texas large non-assimilated pools of Mexican kids had not been an issue, even in the Valley. This was quite new.
Check out "The Illegal-Alien Crime Wave" by Heather MacDonald in the Manhattan Institute's City Journal. How does Heather routinely get all these great quotes out of cops? Well, she's a little blonde cutie/spitfire, who, I imagine wraps, policemen around her little finger. Great stuff.
I've never heard anybody say it out loud in the current outrage, so I will: Bush's Amnesty is nothing less than the abolition of the immigration laws.
The practical effect is quite simply the substitution of this short term worker program for any limits on immigration - at all. Essentially, it's a return to the indentured servitude of the 17th- 18th centuries - the way my ancestors came here from Rhineland-Palatinate in 1743. Maybe in the Bush family they remember that time fondly - back when the landowners would meet the ships out of Rotterdam and excitedly drive away with a new five year slave.
I'm being asked a lot: "What can we do?" Bush waited until the filing deadlines for primary challenges were past before unveiling his "Cheap Servants for the Rich Open Borders" plan. It's not impossible that some manic-depressive billionaire could suddenly jump in the race as an independent, a la Ross Perot in 1992, but that seems awfully unlikely. The Democrats have been running to the left for the last six months. So, prospects look dreary.
One thing that could change for the better is Bush's running mate. I was a big fan of Dick Cheney in the past, but the man is now old and sick and he has been a national embarrassment and a malign influence on the President. The VP job has been particularly influential in the Bush White House because of the President's manifest inadequacies of attention-span, knowledge, and interest in his job. Maybe we could unify behind a younger, more sensible alternative for the number two place on the ballot.
Temporary Guest Workers are even worse than Permanent Guest Workers -- Bush's "Cheap Servants for the Rich" plan to allow into the U.S. anybody with a minimum wage job offer reads like a globalist libertarian's wet dream -- except that he's adamant that after some unspecified numbers of three year terms, each guest worker (and his or her dependents) MUST go home. But when you think about it, that's even more disastrous than permanent guest workers would be. If the goal is to get rid of illegal immigrants by legalizing them, it's self-defeating. Obviously, a large fraction of the temps won't go home. They'll just fade into the underground economy. They'll become illegal immigrants.
Second, is the government really going to round up and deport all these guest workers when their terms are up ... especially because Bush's argument is that we couldn't possibly deport illegal aliens now? The whole electoral point of this plan is to Be Nice to Immigrants, so where is the will going to come from for mass deportations.
Thirds, a couple of 3-year-terms is plenty of time for a temp to become the proud parent of an "anchor baby" (or two or three), a child delivered on American soil and therefore, under the dubious but current interpretation of the 14th Amendment, an instant American citizen, making the parents much harder to deport.
Did Bush think about any of these issues? For the answer, click here.
New VDARE.com column at left.
Nothing drives me crazier than so-called "free-market conservatives" who don't understand the basics of Econ 101. The most notorious example is the mantra "illegals immigrants only take jobs Americans aren't willing to do." You'd flunk your first pop quiz in Econ 101 if you wrote than in your blue book without including the qualifier "at the wage offered."
You'd flunk your second or third pop quiz if you were as oblivious to the existence of "externalities" as, say, George W. Bush or the WSJ Editorial Page. An "externality" is a "an effect of a purchase or use decision by one set of parties on others who did not have a choice and whose interests were not taken into account." For example, a factory upstream from you can increase its profits by dumping its wastes into the river rather than paying to have them disposed of in a safe manner. It imposes the costs on pollution on you without you having a say in it. Not surprisingly, all serious economists endorse legal remedies for the problems of externalities.
Much of the appeal of Bush's massive guest worker plan to employers is that it allows them to foist much of their labor costs off on the taxpayers. A friend outlined a few of the steps that would be necessary to make a guest worker program something other than legalized robbery:
Employers of guest workers should be required to post bonds that would assure:
-- That school districts would be compensated for the cost of schooling any children a guest worker might father (/bring in with him), less the school tax the guest worker can document as having paid (perhaps through a landlord). The federal government offers "impact aid" to school districts/communities where there is a large federal presence (e.g., an Army base) with no tax revenue base to service it. Employers must do the same.
-- That the taxpayers would incur no costs (including Medicaid to pay for a birth) related to any child the guest worker might father (/bring with him). This includes any and all "welfare" costs
-- That the taxpayers would incur no medical costs (including emergency room visits) for medical services rendered to guest workers
-- That victims of any crime the guest worker might commit would be compensated (say up to the state's auto insurance liability standards, because a very likely crime is driving without adequate insurance, though the guest worker would not have to be charged with a crime for the bond company to have to pay off for damages he caused in an auto accident)
-- The employer should be required to show that the guest worker is living in housing that meets their area's density standards (e.g., *not* 4 families to a 2BR/1BA cottage).
-- Employers of guest workers should be required to pay not just the "minimum" wage, but whatever the left-wing activist organization ACORN is agitating for in the area as being a "living wage". (Obviously there cannot be a "shortage" of a kind of worker if supply and demand for labor intersect at less than a "living wage", now can there?) Of course, a "living wage" must be enough so the worker is not eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. [The Earned Income Tax Credit subsidizes the working poor, who are defined as making up to $33,700 annually for a family with at least two children. That's more than three times the minimum wage.]
The advocates of guest workers can hardly claim that the bonds I call for above would be onerously expensive, because they are the same people who claim that immigrants cause no problems in school costs, crime, uninsured driving, welfare, etc.
This is opportunity knocking for you Open Borders guys. Borrow against your home equity to start a bonding company of the kind my proposal requires. You can practically *give* the bonds away, and still will make out, can't you? You guys can form the company with Messers. McCain, Flake and Kolbe, whom I am sure would also want to put their money where their mouths are.
A reader writes: Great point about how bringing illegals into the income tax system might end up costing us more due to the Earned Income Tax Credit. The only new taxes from legalization might be the social security taxes, which may be offset by greater payments to illegals under SS. (Bush, of course, is proposing to pay Social Security to people in Mexico, so even this looks pretty much like a wash.)
The fundamental point about amnesty and taxes is that you can't get blood from a stone. Immigrants with eighth grade educations wind up costing us lots more in social services than they pay in taxes. If we upped our intake of summa cum laude graduates of the Indian Institute of Technology in Bangalore, well, we could milk them, but there's not much we'll ever get out of ex-peasants and much we'll spend on them and their families.
A much admired Republican leader emails me:
"Here are about four issues that I am concerned about as a citizen: 1) government is too big and too intrusive. I would like to see it reduced. 2) race preferences need to be totally eliminated; 3) immigration needs to be brought under control; and 4) the education establishment needs to be reduced and contained."
"With regard to these four issues, I would ask anyone to tell me whether any of them have been improved as a result of the Bush presidency. I think not. Although I could never bring myself to vote for any of the candidates currently running against Bush, I am not convinced that with respect to the issues that are of concern to me, things would be demonstrably worse with any of them serving as president with a Republican-controlled Congress."
By Steve Sailer
UPI National Correspondent
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Initial reactions to President George W. Bush's new immigration initiative focused mostly on the emotional hot button of his call to legalize undocumented aliens. Yet, U.S. workers' wage levels might be affected even more in the long run by Bush's so-far little-discussed plan to open the nation's borders to foreign residents who can obtain a job offer from a U.S. employer.
While some details of the Bush guest worker program remain murky, and any actual legislation would have to be hammered out with Congress, the statements issued so far by the White House imply an open-ended, strikingly libertarian approach to globalizing the U.S. job market.
A fact sheet issued by the White House to accompany the president's speech on Wednesday made clear that the administration envisions bringing into the country a substantial increase in the supply of labor above that provided by current U.S. residents, both legal and presently illegal. The White House complained: "Current immigration law can also hinder companies from finding willing workers. The visas now available do not allow employers to fill jobs in many key sectors of our economy."
Bush announced: "I propose a new temporary worker program that will match willing foreign workers with willing American employers, when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs. This program will offer legal status, as temporary workers, to the millions of undocumented men and women now employed in the United States, and to those in foreign countries who seek to participate in the program and have been offered employment here. ... All who participate in the temporary worker program must have a job, or, if not living in the United States, a job offer."
This importing of foreign workers to fill jobs is seen as a process that will continue even after current illegal aliens are legalized. The fact sheet stated, "In the future, only people outside the U.S. may join the temporary worker program."
The immigration trial balloon lofted by the administration in July 2001 would have restricted potential benefits solely to Mexican nationals, who number somewhat more than 100 million. In contrast, any of the 6-billion-plus humans on Earth appear to be eligible to become temporary workers under the 2004 idea.
Ironically, in this age of cheap jet travel, poor Mexican immigrant job hunters might find themselves undercut by even poorer temporary workers from, say, Bangladesh who may be willing to work for even less. According to U.N. figures, there are several billion people poorer than the average Mexican.
Two "senior administration officials" answered media questions about the plan Tuesday.
The higher-ups explained that the temporary worker program would be "non-sector specific." Unlike most previous guest workers programs, such as the one started during World War II to bring Mexican nationals in to work in the fields while U.S. farm boys were in the military, this one would not be limited to any particular industry or employer. Firms would decide for themselves whether they wanted to initiate the process of importing foreign labor.
Bush did caution, "Employers who extend job offers must first make every reasonable effort to find an American worker for the job at hand." But he also said, "This new system should be clear and efficient, so employers are able to find workers quickly and simply," suggesting that his working definition of "every reasonable effort" will turn out to be less than onerous.
In reality, the key issue is whether firms would be allowed to import foreigners to work for less than Americans would make if the temporary worker plan did not exist.
The president took a libertarian line, enunciating as the second of his immigration proposal's five principles, "If an American employer is offering a job that American citizens are not willing to take, we ought to welcome into our country a person who will fill that job."
The president's claim that there are jobs that Americans just won't do is disputed by many economists, such as Harvard Professor George Borjas, who is one of the best-known immigration specialists. These economists argue that, according to their field's basic law of supply and demand, some citizen will take any job -- if the pay offered is high enough.
To economists such as Borjas, wage levels are largely driven by supply and demand. All else being equal, an increase in the supply of labor, as the administration is requesting, would drive down its price -- namely, workers' wages.
Neither Bush nor the two senior administration officials who briefed the media Tuesday, however, made any suggestion that employers wishing to bring in workers from overseas would be required to first offer wages high enough to attract American workers. The only specific requirement that the senior officials mentioned was that the job offer meet the minimum wage. At the federal minimum of $5.15 per hour, a full-time worker earns $10,712 per year, well under the official poverty line for a family of three of $15,260.
It's logical that the White House didn't announce any other wage protection measures. After all, if employers were to be required to pay the current going rate for U.S. workers, they might as well hire current U.S. workers. So, why then would employers need a massive influx of foreign temporary workers? In other words, rules that would be effective at keeping up the wages of workers would undermine the fundamental goal of this plan.
My favorite putative benefits from the president's amnesty plan: Showing how carefully the Bushies have thought through this whole immigration thing, the two "senior administration officials" who briefed the press on Tuesday announced that when the no longer illegal aliens emerge from the underground economy, "They'll pay sales taxes when they buy things." Hmmmhmmhm... What do they do now? Do they show their Illegal Alien Card to the cashier and get a rebate? Obviously, legalized illegals will continue to pay exactly the same amount of sales tax as they do now.
The other administration poobah said, "As they rent property, they'll pay property taxes." No, they won't. How do I know? Because nobody pays property taxes when they rent. They pay rent to the landlord who pays the property tax.
Do these guys know what they're talking about?
UPDATE: A reader asks: Will legalized illlegals be eligible to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit? That's the negative income tax system under which the working poor wind up getting more money back from the IRS than they paid in in income tax. In other words, we subsidize our working poor, but are we going to now do the same for other countries' working poor? Inquiring minds want to do know?
A teaser from my movie review in the Feb. 2 issue of The American Conservative:
The Pentagon special operations chiefs screened the once-famous 1965 film "The Battle of Algiers" last August, inspiring its timely re-release in selected theatres today in LA, NYC, and DC. Produced by arch-terrorist Saadi Yacef (who played himself) and directed by the Italian Communist Gillo Pontecorvo, this favorite of the old New Left recounts with remarkably dispassionate (if selective) accuracy one of France's many military victories on its road to losing the 1954-1962 Algerian war of independence. Ultimately, the 132-year old settlement of one million "pied noir" Europeans was driven into the sea.
The Pentagon commandos' flier advertised: "How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas . . . Children shoot soldiers at point blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically."
The paratroopers' plan was to track down Yacef's top killers using intensive interrogation (i.e., torture).
Perhaps, though, our soldiers should have shown their civilian overlords "The Battle of Algiers" before the latter blithely decided to occupy an Arab country. For extra verisimilitude, the special ops boys could have strapped Douglas Feith's Office of Special Plans ideologue warriors to their armchairs, pinned their eyelids open, attached electrodes, and applied little jolts of juice to help them remember the movie better.
Even without such stimulation, "The Battle of Algiers" is hard to forget but also hard to enjoy. It's excellent filmmaking and frank history, yet distasteful entertainment because there are no heroes. The rest of the review is in the TAC. It won't be online because the editors want you to pay money for my reviews. Subscribe here.
While crunching the long lost 2002 VNS exit poll data, I discovered a fascinating reverse gender gap: 43% of Asian women voted Republican compared to only 25% of Asian men. The sample size is pretty small, so I'm not sure how seriously to take this, but one possible explanation is Asian male anger toward the GOP as the party of white males, who are seen by some East Asian-American men as depriving them of a chance to marry by dating and marrying Asian women.
As my famous 1997 National Review article Is Love Colorblind? made clear, I've always been highly sympathetic to honest, hard-working East Asian-American guys who have trouble finding a wife due to what they frequently denounce as the "interracial dating disparity." In other words, white men are more likely to date and marry Asian women than Asian men are to marry white women. (Conversely, black men are more likely to marry white women than white men are to marry black women, leaving more black women unmarried, and frequently sore at white women for "stealing their men" as in Waiting to Exhale.) A man needs a mate and it's common down through history for competition for women to cause hard feelings between groups of men.
A young Vietnamese-American sociologist named C.N. Le of the U. of Massachusetts has put together an impressive website called Asian-Nation. He's extracted from the 2000 Census' long form sample of 5% of the population detailed data that answers, possibly for the first time, some frequently asked questions about the marriage gap. Specifically, he looks just at the marriage patterns of Asians raised in the U.S. This has the advantage of leaving out immigrants who were already married when they came here, mail-order brides, and war-brides.
Leaving aside Indian-Americans (who are more reasonably considered Caucasians than East Asians), the gender gap is striking. By my quick and dirty calculations based on his data table, 79% of the white-East Asian interracial married couples in the U.S. feature a white husband and an East Asian wife. (I encourage you to spreadsheet the data yourself. Let me know if I got it wrong.)
The burden that this interracial marriage disparity imposes on East Asian men can be seen in that, according to his data, there are about 70% more married women than married men among East Asians who were born here or immigrated here before they reached 13. It's not quite as bad as that, though, because there are more East Asian women than East Asian men in the U.S., but finding a spouse is still rough on East Asian men in this country, just as it is for black women. (In case you are wondering, in this sample well over 90% of the black-East Asian marriages are between black husbands and East Asian wives.)
Even Maureen Dowd gets it:
"Mr. Rove presumably thinks that he could actually corral California by going soft on illegal immigrants, even though Arnold Schwarzenegger won there after getting tough on illegal immigrants on the hot-button issue of whether they could have driver's licenses."
By Steve Sailer
UPI National Correspondent
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Despite George W. Bush's deep popularity among Republicans, initial reactions among most conservatives to his far-reaching immigration plan ranged from tepid to scathing.
The president outlined his plan Wednesday in a White House announcement. The administration asked Congress to makes immigrations law changes that would give amnesty to current illegal aliens, allow more foreigners in on open-ended "temporary" worker permits and provide more permanent residency green cards. The administration's previous immigration trial balloons had been less liberal. For example, in 2001, the benefits would have been restricted to Mexican nationals. The 2004 plan, however, would open up the traditionally high-wage U.S. job market to the entire human race, with no limit on the number of newcomers allowed in.
Veteran Reaganite Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, D-Calif., spoke admiringly to United Press International of Bush's idealism. "I think the proposal reflects the president's personal compassion for the plight of illegal immigrants," he said.
Rohrabacher rejected the notion that the Bush plan was a cynical attempt to gain votes. "It's not a campaign ploy, it's an act of fairness and compassion," the congressman said. As evidence of the president's sincerity, he argued that the initiative was, in fact, an obvious vote-loser. "I can't see that it would play well at the polls. I personally don't see this a good for GOP," Rohrabacher said. "The proposal being made will keep wages down and that won't be popular with the American voters."
Rohrabacher suggested Bush is "laying down a marker and wants to get us to discuss it. He's shown where he wants us to go. The president is respected. An issue of this magnitude will be debated seriously."
The congressman made clear, however, what he thought of the merits of the proposal. "Unfortunately, it would have a serious impact on the American people. The long-term impact would be very negative," Rohrabacher said.
Carlos Espinosa, press secretary of Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., who heads the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus that strives for tighter controls on immigration, told UPI, "This plan is close to de facto open borders. It's an extremely dangerous idea."
Espinosa called instead for putting the military on the Mexican border. He argued that using unmanned aerial vehicles for patrolling America's southern frontier from on high would provide excellent training for troops destined to police the borders of Iraq to prevent anti-U.S. fighters from slipping in from neighboring countries.
Among conservative pundits, normally a faithful chorus of approval for the president, little enthusiasm was on display. Only a handful, such as David Horowitz, Andrew Sullivan and John Podhoretz, expressed immediate approval.
At the conservative magazine National Review, where support for Bush has normally been staunch, an argument broke out Wednesday among staff writers on National Review's "The Corner" Weblog. Seven journalists attacked Bush's plan and one defended it. British immigrant John Derbyshire blogged in disgust, "There are times when, watching the actions of the Bush administration, I have to grip the arms of my chair, clench my teeth, and mentally repeat 'Afghanistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq, ... ' This is one of those times."
Among the conservative rank-and-file patronizing public Web discussion boards, reactions to the plan were primarily hostile. On FreeRepublic.com, where Bush is normally spoken of in the most glowing terms, 1,530 messages were posted Wednesday in reaction to the president's speech. Many were overtly scornful. One read: "Bush has essentially said that he views this nation as a labor market, not as the home of the American people. It is too bad as I had really admired W. He has placed ambition before the country and I fault him for this. He is just another opportunist."
The Web site Lucianne.com is run by noted anti-Clinton partisan Lucianne Goldberg, who played a historic role in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Bush is wildly popular among the site's regular readers, but their comments on Wednesday were largely acidic. In fact, a large proportion of the defenders of Bush's plan were those who claimed that the president was actually cleverly luring illegal aliens out into plain sight, where they could then be rounded up and deported.
Whether Bush's immigration plan justifies conservatives sitting out the November election, voting for a third-party candidate, or, in the ultimate extremity, voting for the Democratic nominee was vigorously debated online. With all the Democratic candidates having previously called for amnesties, however, Bush's campaign adviser Karl Rove has presumably calculated that outraged conservatives have nowhere else to go in 2004.
Of course, outraged conservatives don't have to go anywhere on Election Day. They can just stay home.
The Bush Open Borders plan -- It's deja vu all over again. I fully analyzed Bush's 2001 amnesty trial balloons in the past (you can find all my old articles on immigration here), so I can't get up much enthusiasm for saying the same things once more, as much as they need saying.
I do want to mention two points. First, I am so, so tired of Republicans lying about "jobs that Americans aren't willing to do." I became a Republican years ago in large part because back in the Seventies, Republicans understood the Law of Supply and Demand better than Democrats. But Bush talks as if he never heard of it. There are no jobs that American's aren't willing to do, if the pay is high enough. There are just jobs that foreigners are willing to do cheaper than Americans.
On an upbeat note, it's clear that conservatives are more hostile to Bush's amnesty in 2004 than they were in 2001, even though loyalty to Bush has otherwise reached comic proportions due to the psychological need to quell nagging doubts about the Iraq Attaq by trumpeting the infallibility of The Great Leader. I think this shows my side has won an awful lot of arguments over immigration in recent years. The let's-increase-immigration folks have taken a terrible intellectual pounding in the years since I got involved in the debate, and I think it's starting to show in the negative reaction among conservatives. (A contributing factor was Bush's betrayal of conservatives in the U. of Michigan affirmative action briefs, which I called immediately on the night the briefs went in, even though most pundits on the right were giving him the benefit of the doubt at the time, and only realized they had been double-crossed by the administration when the ruling came down a half year later.)
So, let me point out why this Bush plan is much worse than the last one. In fact, I am shocked by how extreme this version is, and I'm not shocked by much.
First, even though Bush keeps lying that it's not an amnesty, it of course is. He rationalizes his claim by making up a wholly novel definition of "amnesty:" "I oppose amnesty, placing undocumented workers on the automatic path to citizenship." Of course, that's not at all what the word means. Amnesty means "a general pardon for offenses," which is exactly what he's giving illegal aliens.
Anyway, there will be an increase in green cards, so lots can get on the path to citizenship and voting.
And, the amnesty applies to all illegals, not just Mexicans.
Second, this one includes a "temporary worker" program that is a doozy. The Ayn Rand Institute couldn't have come up with a purer Open Borders scheme.
For one thing, it's not temporary. "The legal status granted by this program will last three years and will be renewable -- but it will have an end." When? Administration officials refuse to say. Obviously, that last clause is just there so they can call it "temporary." But, don't worry: it will have an end ... when the sun explodes in five billion years.
For another, the number of people who can come in and take jobs is unlimited. Think about that...
Finally, the temporary worker program is not limited to 100,000,000 Mexicans. Instead, all six billion people on earth are eligible to get a job in America. That's 6,000,000,000 ... and growing. At least four billion of them would have a higher standard of living if they moved here (of course, the more who move here, the lower their, and our, standard of living will fall). How many would move here? We have open borders with Puerto Rico and one quarter of them moved here before we started paying them welfare to stay home. Let's see, one quarter of the world's four billion poor would be ... one billion shiny new Americans. Blade Runner, here we come.
Am I crazy? According to Rove and Ridge's briefing, all a foreigner needs to do to prove he's eligible to live in America is to get a job here. The Washington Times reported: "When asked during the call how the worker and employer would prove that no Americans desired the job, one of the White House aides present said the fact that the job is open will be assumed to mean that the 'marketplace' had determined that."
As Paul Johnson has pointed out, the key to America's happiness down through the centuries has been that our people have enjoyed, relative to the rest of the world, high wages and low land prices. Why? Because workers have normally been in short supply here. Well, G.W. Bush wants us to kiss all that goodbye. Open the floodgates, America, because here comes the world.
Also, Peter Brimelow dissect the plan here.
The more I study Bush's immigration plan (here's the President's speech), the more radical it appears. Essentially, he is calling for the merging of the American and 3rd World (not just Mexican) job markets, which would obviously have horrendous consequences for the pay of working class American citizens. Here's one of the "principles" Bush enunciated:
"Second, new immigration laws should serve the economic needs of our country. If an American employer is offering a job that American citizens are not willing to take, we ought to welcome into our country a person who will fill that job."
We sure wouldn't want an American employer to do anything craaaazy to try to make American citizens more willing to take the job, like, say, offering higher pay!
The Bush-Rove plan sounds like something out of a nightmare/fantasy of Karl Marx's: the intention is to use the global "reserve army of the unemployed" to grind American working class citizens' pay down to the minimum wage.
Are Bush-Rove nuts? Is the biggest problem facing America really the fact that Americans without college educations make more money than 3rd Worlders with similar skills? I thought that was a good thing about America! Does the Administration want to relaunch an old-fashioned class war? Why do they want to economically assault their own base?
By Steve Sailer
UPI National Correspondent
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush's new immigration initiative is surprisingly more liberal than the trial balloon that he floated in July 2001 suggesting amnesty for some Mexican illegal aliens, and that ran into heavy weather among Republican congressmen even before 9/11...
It raises questions about what political benefits the Republican president's senior adviser Karl Rove hopes to gain by proposing such an expansive plan at a time of relatively high unemployment (5.9 percent in November).
The conventional answer is: "To increased the GOP's share of the crucial Hispanic population of swing voters." The influential Washington Post, for example, has repeatedly cited a 2001 quote from Bush pollster Matthew Dowd claiming, "As a realistic goal, we have to get somewhere between ... 38 (percent) to 40 percent of the Hispanic vote" in 2004, compared to the estimated 35 percent Bush earned in 2000.
As has been universally noted, the importance of Hispanics is growing. In the authoritative Census surveys, the total Latino vote swelled from 3.6 percent in 1988 to 5.4 percent in 2000. That extrapolates out to about 6 percent or slightly higher in 2004.
Thus, if Bush boosts his share of the Hispanic vote from 35 percent to 40 percent, and Hispanics cast six percent of the votes in 2004, then Bush will gain 0.3 percentage points overall.
In contrast, non-Hispanic whites accounted for 81 percent of the vote in 2000 and 82 percent in the midterm 2002 elections. On his way to losing the popular vote in 2000, Bush won 54 percent of the white vote. In contrast, his father easily defeated Michael Dukakis in 1988 by winning the votes of 59 percent of whites. If the younger Bush could raise his white share by 5 points in 2004, his total would go up by a substantial 4 points.
Rove is better with numbers than most journalists, so he has probably done similar calculations showing the importance of white voters.
Rove's biographers James C. Moore and Wayne Slater quoted an illuminating 1985 memo that Rove wrote to his Texas gubernatorial candidate Bill Clements that might shed light on his electoral strategy behind the new amnesty plan: "The purpose of saying you gave teachers a record pay increase is to reassure suburban voters with kids, not to win the votes of teachers. Similarly, emphasizing your appointments of women and minorities will not win you the support of feminists and the leaders of the minority community; but it will bolster your support among Republican primary voters and urban independents."
Similarly, Rove might see boosting immigration as a way to attract moderate white voters who like to think of themselves as tolerant and pro-diversity. [More...]
The new Bush/Rove immigration plan: Are they serious? According to the long transcript on Josh Marshall's site of the conference call by two senior administration officials explaining it, the new proposal sounds like it was designed to be a Christmas present for La Raza and the WSJ: There Shall Be Open Borders, indeed. We get complete amnesty for all undocumented workers and their dependents, a new temporary worker program to bring in more people, and more green cards to make the temporaries permanent.
Republicans sold their souls to The Great Leader over Iraq and now the devil wants his due.
Here's a magisterial depiction of the state of the economy in Japan by Robert Locke in the "Journal of Post-Autistic Economics," which sounds like a bad taste joke (I know too many people with autistic children) but turns out to be a very serious French movement against the neoliberal orthodoxy in economics.
Morris Dees & the Southern Poverty Law Center -- Here's a 2000 article from prestigious Harper's Magazine by Ken Silverstein commenting on a fund-raising letter sent out by Mr. Dees. It makes clear why the vastly lucrative SPLC is widely hated by genuine crusaders for social justice on the left:
THE CHURCH OF MORRIS DEES. Harper's Magazine, Nov, 2000, by Ken Silverstein: How the Southern Poverty Law Center profits from intolerance
Ah, tolerance. Who could be against something so virtuous? And who could object to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Montgomery, Alabama-based group that recently sent out this heartwarming yet mildly terrifying appeal to raise money for its "Teaching Tolerance" program, which prepares educational kits for schoolteachers? Cofounded in 1971 by civil rights lawyer cum direct-marketing millionaire Morris Dees, a leading critic of "hate groups" and a man so beatific that he was the subject of a made-for-TV movie, the SPLC spent much of its early years defending prisoners who faced the death penalty and suing to desegregate all-white institutions like Alabama's highway patrol. That was then. Today, the SPLC spends most of its time--and money--on a relentless fund-raising campaign, peddling memberships in the church of tolerance with all the zeal of a circuit rider passing the collection plate. "He's the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the civil rights movement," renowned anti-death-penalty lawyer Millard Farmer says of Dees, his former associate, "though I don't mean to malign Jim and Tammy Faye." The center earned $44 million last year alone--$27 million from fund-raising and $17 million from stocks and other investments--but spent only $13 million on civil rights programs, making it one of the most profitable charities in the country.
The Ku Klux Klan, the SPLC's most lucrative nemesis, has shrunk from 4 million members in the 1920s to an estimated 2,000 today, as many as 10 percent of whom are thought to be FBI informants. But news of a declining Klan does not make for inclining donations to Morris Dees and Co., which is why the SPLC honors nearly every nationally covered "hate crime" with direct-mail alarums full of nightmarish invocations of "armed Klan paramilitary forces" and "violent neo-Nazi extremists," and why Dees does legal battle almost exclusively with mediagenic villains--like Idaho's arch-Aryan Richard Butler--eager to show off their swastikas for the news cameras. In 1987, Dees won a $7 million judgment against the United Klans of America on behalf of Beulah Mae Donald, whose son was lynched by two Klansmen. The UKA's total assets amounted to a warehouse whose sale netted Mrs. Donald $51,875. According to a groundbreaking series of newspaper stories in the Montgomery Advertiser the SPLC, meanwhile, made $9 million from fund-raising solicitations featuring the case, including one containing a photo of Michael Donald's corpse. Horrifying as such incidents are, hate groups commit almost no violence. More than 95 percent of all "hate crimes," including most of the incidents SPLC letters cite (bombings, church burnings, school shootings), are perpetrated by "lone wolves." Even Timothy McVeigh, subject of one of the most extensive investigations in the FBI's history--and one of the most extensive direct-mail campaigns in the SPLC's--was never credibly linked to any militia organization...
Any good salesman knows that a product's "value" is a highly mutable quality with little relation to actual worth, and Morris Dees--who made millions hawking, by direct mail, such humble commodities as birthday cakes, cookbooks (including Favorite Recipes of American Home Economics Teachers), tractor seat cushions, rat poison, and, in exchange for a mailing list containing 700,000 names, presidential candidate George McGovern--is nothing if not a good salesman. So good in fact that in 1998 the Direct Marketing Association inducted him into its Hall of Fame. "I learned everything I know about hustling from the Baptist Church," Dees has said. "Spending Sundays on those hard benches listening to the preacher pitch salvation--why, it was like getting a Ph.D. in selling." Here, Dr. Dees (the letter's nominal author) masterfully transforms, with a mere flourish of hyperbole, an education kit available "at cost" for $30 on the SPLC website into "a $325 value."
Morris Dees doesn't need your financial support. The SPLC is already the wealthiest civil rights group in America, though this letter quite naturally omits that fact. Other solicitations have been more flagrantly misleading. One pitch, sent out in 1995--when the center had more than $60 million in reserves--informed would-be donors that the "strain on our current operating budget is the greatest in our 25-year history." Back in 1978, when the center had less than $10 million, Dees promised that his organization would quit fund-raising and live off interest as soon as its endowment hit $55 million. But as it approached that figure, the SPLC upped the bar to $100 million, a sum that, one 1989 newsletter promised, would allow the center "to cease the costly and often unreliable task of fundraising." Today, the SPLC's treasury bulges with $120 million, and it spends twice as much on fund-raising--$5.76 million last year--as it does on legal services for victims of civil rights abuses. The American Institute of Philanthropy gives the center one of the worst ratings of any group it monitors, estimating that the SPLC could operate for 4.6 years without making another tax-exempt nickel from its investments or raising another tax-deductible cent from well-meaning "people like you."
Contributors to Teaching Tolerance might be surprised to learn how little of the SPLC's reported educational spending actually goes to education. In response to lobbying by charities, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in 1987 began allowing nonprofits to count part of their fundraising costs as "educational" so long as their solicitations contained an informational component. On average, the SPLC classifies an estimated 47 percent of the fund-raising letters that it sends out every year as educational, including many that do little more than instruct potential donors on the many evils of "militant right-wing extremists" and the many splendid virtues of Morris Dees. According to tax documents, of the $10.8 million in educational spending the SPLC reported in 1999, $4 million went to solicitations. Another $2.4 million paid for stamps.
In the early 1960s, Morris Dees sat on the sidelines honing his direct-marketing skills and practicing law while the civil rights movement engulfed the South. "Morris and I ... shared the overriding purpose of making a pile of money," recalls Dees's business partner, a lawyer named Millard Fuller (not to be confused with Millard Farmer). "We were not particular about how we did it; we just wanted to be independently rich." They were so unparticular, in fact, that in 1961 they defended a man, guilty of beating up a journalist covering the Freedom Riders, whose legal fees were paid by the Klan. ("I felt the anger of a black person for the first time," Dees later wrote of the case. "I vowed then and there that nobody would ever again doubt where I stood.") In 1965, Fuller sold out to Dees, donated the money to charity, and later started Habitat for Humanity. Dees bought a 200-acre estate appointed with tennis courts, a pool, and stables, and, in 1971, founded the SPLC, where his compensation has risen in proportion to fund-raising revenues, from nothing in the early seventies to $273,000 last year. A National Journal survey of salaries paid to the top officers of advocacy groups shows that Dees earned more in 1998 than nearly all of the seventy-eight listed, tens of thousands more than the heads of such groups as the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the Children's Defense Fund. The more money the SPLC receives, the less that goes to other civil rights organizations, many of which, including the NAACP, have struggled to stay out of bankruptcy. Dees's compensation alone amounts to one quarter the annual budget of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, which handles several dozen death-penalty cases a year. "You are a fraud and a conman," the Southern Center's director, Stephen Bright, wrote in a 1996 letter to Dees, and proceeded to list his many reasons for thinking so, which included "your failure to respond to the most desperate needs of the poor and powerless despite your millions upon millions, your fund-raising techniques, the fact that you spend so much, accomplish so little, and promote yourself so shamelessly." Soon the SPLC will move into a new six-story headquarters in downtown Montgomery, just across the street from its current headquarters, a building known locally as the Poverty Palace.
Here's a nice interview of me conducted by Bernard Chapin that appears in Men's News Daily under the title "Nothing Verboten." It gives me a chance to expound my ideas on film criticism. Excerpt:
Ultimately, the entertainment industry is always going to emphasize emotion over logic and knowledge, so those of us who value reason and empiricism are always going to find movies less than wholly satisfactory depictions of the world.
What Hollywood cares about are surfaces. But, to a larger extent than we like to admit, so do the rest of us. Thus, movies provide an important window on human nature.
What movies are actually all about is not partisan politics, but identify politics, although often in subtle ways that nobody else (except Camille Paglia and sometimes Mark Steyn) writes about. And that's precisely because movies prosper by giving us leading characters to identify with. People want to see sexier, braver, smarter, funnier versions of themselves up on screen. That's why you only get to be an enduring star if you primarily appeal to your own sex. You can start off, when you're young and beautiful, by driving the opposite sex wild, but to find loyal fans, eventually you have to draw your own sex into identifying with you.
Here's an example of identity politics in movies that nobody else writes about. In the vast majority of movie love scenes, the leading man is darker in skin tone than the leading lady (check out the "Cold Mountain" ads for a classic example). Poets used to call ladies "the fair sex." Well, it turns out that even though we don't even have a vocabulary for the concept anymore, Hollywood understands that's what audiences (especially women) want to see on screen: the fair sex being wooed by tall, dark, and handsome men. By the way, that's one reason why Nicole Kidman is so much in demand in Hollywood -- she's fairer than any actor. Lots of men are perfectly happy ogling a darker-skinned actress like Tia Carrere, but, for reasons that nobody fully understands, women on the whole prefer to identify with an alabaster beauty like Kidman.
Kwanzaa vs. the Feast of the Epiphany: The taxpayer-subsidized elevation of Kwanzaa to a triumvirate with Christmas and Hanukah in establishment status is particularly strange considering that far more Americans celebrate a fourth winter gift-giving holiday: the Feast of the Epiphany (a.k.a., the Visit of the Magi or the 12th Day of Christmas). The Armenian clan down the block from my house, for example, held a huge Epiphany party last Saturday night. Yet, you hear infinitely more about Kwanzaa than the Epiphany. I guess it's just too damn Christian.
New VDare.com column at left.
Now on newsstands: The Winter issue of the prestigious quarterly The National Interest carries my six page essay on "Revolutionary Nepotism." It won't be on line, so here's a brief excerpt:
America currently confronts foreign policy challenges involving such highly disparate foes, friends, and in-betweens as North Korea, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Morocco, the Congo, and the Philippines. All these countries, however, possess one striking common denominator. Although dynasticism is supposed to have died and been buried by meritocracy, these countries are all led by the children of former heads of state.
As is, of course, the United States, whose president is not just the son of a president, but also the grandson of a senator and brother of a governor.
Americans tend to be willfully blind to the crucial subject of nepotism. We disapprove of it, so we feel we ought not to think about it -- a dangerous illusion as we pursue a more activist foreign policy that brings us in touch with cultures that feel very differently on the topic. The return of family rule shouldn't surprise us. Nepotism and its more formal offspring dynasticism provided the basic organizing principles of politics for much of human history...
Although some dynastic systems institutionalized competition -- most notably, the Ottoman, in which scores of half-brothers would fight to the death -- one of monarchism's subtler appeals was its hint of egalitarianism. Those who inherit their positions don't need to seize them through raw talent or ruthlessness. While some Americans are driven to fury by how George W. Bush seemed to amble into the Oval Office without first displaying any distinctive accomplishments or abilities, many others seem to find it appealing that their President is a regular guy. When he says he only glances at newspapers, they identify with him.
"We may be the least well-equipped nation in the world to manage the kinds of group hatreds that threaten Iraqi society today. Because of our beliefs in the "melting pot" and the United States' own relatively successful -- though halting and incomplete -- history of assimilation, Americans don't always understand the significance of ethnicity, both at home and especially abroad. In Iraq, our obliviousness to the realities of group hatred was on display from the first days of the occupation..."
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