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October 1-15, 2004 Archive



Why is Mary Cheney a lesbian? One of the more unusual moments in the 3rd Presidential debate came when Bob Schieffer asked: "Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?"


Bush gave a reasonable answer: "You know, Bob, I don't know. I just don't know."


Kerry replied, "We're all God's children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as."


Much controversy has ensued over what Kerry's motivations were in bringing up the fact that tough guy Veep Cheney has a lesbian daughter, but certainly the subject was fair game since Mary Cheney's career is being a Professional Lesbian Republican, doing outreach to lesbians first for the conservative Coors Beer company and now for her father's campaign. 


I haven't talked to Mary Cheney, but the first thing to point out is that, contra Kerry's assumption, many more lesbians than gay men are likely to attribute their sexual orientation to either a conscious political choice ("striking a blow against the patriarchy," etc.) or as the product of social conditioning. As I wrote in my 1994 National Review article "Why Lesbians Aren't Gay:"


The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, and the newsweeklies have been trumpeting, despite the highly preliminary nature of the findings, evidence that homosexuality has biological roots. Generally overlooked, however, is that most of the research was performed on gay male subjects by gay male scientists and then hyped by gay male publicists. Going largely unreported is the lesbian population's profound ambivalence about this half-scientific, half-political crusade. (For example, an attack on the theory that lesbianism has biological causes is one of the main themes of Lillian Faderman's fine history of American lesbians, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers.) This media reticence is noteworthy, considering that the press otherwise so assiduously keeps us informed of the views of the lesbian-dominated National Organization for Women on child-rearing, marriage, beauty, men and, of course, What the Women of America Want -- subjects upon which lesbians might be presumed to have rather less expertise to offer than on the question of why they are lesbians.


Many lesbian-feminists deny that their sexual orientation is biologically rooted, attributing it instead to what they perceive as our culture's decision to socialize males to be domineering. They may claim this simply to avoid contradicting feminist theory, which is, well, "biophobic." (Yes, I know that this trendy practice of insinuating that those who disagree with you politically must suffer from a mental disorder is reminiscent of the imprisoning of Soviet dissidents in psychiatric hospitals, but, hey, once you get the hang of it, it's kind of fun.) On the other hand, the lesbian-feminists might be right and the gay researcher/activists wrong about the nature of homosexuality. Or, homosexuality might not have a single nature: at minimum, there could be a fundamental difference between lesbians and gays.


To learn more about Mary Cheney, I went to Google A different mary cheneyImages and pulled up a page of pictures of "Mary Cheney." My eye instantly alighted on this snapshot at left, but that turned out to be just what lesbian feminists would call my Male Gaze at work. The Mary Cheney I looked at first was some other Mary Cheney, a (I would definitely venture to guess) straight Mary Cheney, or, perhaps more descriptively, a curvaceous Mary Cheney.

Dick Cheney's daughter Mary

No, the Mary Cheney who is the Vice-President's daughter turns out to be this rather androgynous-looking creature at right, whom, at first glance, I had vaguely assumed was Troubled Former Child Actor Macaulay CulkinNot Mary Cheney, although wearing less lip gloss than usual. 


For comparison purposes, I've added a small picture of Elizabeth Cheney, Mary'sElizabeth Cheney, mom of three heterosexual sister who has three children. As you can see, you wouldn't have any trouble guessing which Cheney daughter is lesbian and which is straight.) 


This all raises a number of difficult questions, such as, if the Vice President's daughter caught men's eyes as often as the Mary Cheney who caught my eye did, would she still be a lesbian? In contrast, for gay men, this question doesn't seem very relevant. You never hear of a man deciding to be gay because women didn't find him good-looking enough.


This opens up a whole lot of chicken or egg questions. Clearly, the average lesbian is less visually attractive than the average heterosexual woman, but is that because lesbians work less at being attractive because they don't have to compete on looks as much because women are less picky about their mate's looks? Or do lesbians not want to try to make themselves look attractive because that's a feminine thing to do and they tend to be more masculine in persona? Or are lesbians, on average, simply less feminine looking because of hormonal differences? Or are they just less attractive looking overall, rather than specifically less feminine-looking, and find they can attract a better mate in the lesbian market than in the heterosexual market? 


I don't know. I just don't know.


Of course, Mary Cheney is the daughter of not just Dick but also of Lynne Cheney, whose 1981 novel Sisters (click here for long excerpts, although let me warn you that the Second Lady's prose style is awfully eye-glazing) includes these ripely Sapphic passages:


The women who embraced in the wagon were Adam and Eve crossing a dark cathedral stage -- no, Eve and Eve, loving one another as they would not be able to once they ate of the fruit and knew themselves as they truly were. She felt curiously moved, curiously envious of them. She had never to this moment thought Eden a particularly attractive paradise, based as it was on naiveté, but she saw that the women in the cart had a passionate, loving intimacy forever closed to her. How strong it made them. What comfort it gave...


The young woman was heavily powdered, but quite attractive, a curvesome creature, rounded at bosom and cheek. When she smiled, even her teeth seemed puffed and rounded, like tiny ivory pillows...


Let us go away together, away from the anger and imperatives of men. We shall find ourselves a secluded bower where they dare not venture. There will be only the two of us, and we shall linger through long afternoons of sweet retirement. In the evenings I shall read to you while you work your cross-stitch in the firelight. And then we shall go to bed, our bed, my dearest girl.


This may explain a little about Dick's grouchy mood.



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"Humankind cannot stand very much reality" -- The Derb on the 10th Anniversary of The Bell Curve in NRO. A reader calls it: "Beautifully written, cogent, very precise, lucid and remarkably moderate."


Jerry Pournelle writes about the tenth anniversary of The Bell Curve here. By the way, one of Jerry's Ph.D.'s is in psychology (his specialty was in the testing of individual differences, such as for Air Force pilot selection). His other Ph.D. is in political science. In Germany, they'd refer to him as Dr. Dr. Capt. Pournelle (he was a teenage artillery officer in the Korean war).


Something I'd add to my recent VDARE.com article on The Bell Curve is that the demonization of IQ by the media has made it almost impossible to bring attention to bear on potential environmental interventions that look like they could narrow the white-black IQ gap.

For example, I have been arguing in VDARE.com since 2000 that promoting breastfeeding among African-American women (who currently nurse at only about half the rate of white American women) looks like, based on the best current studies of the impact of nursing on IQ, that it could eliminate about ten percent of the white-black IQ gap:


The science isn't bulletproof on this yet, but it could be within ten years for a relatively small sum. If this breastfeeding raises IQ (or, alternatively, adding better nutrients to infant formula raises IQ) theory pans out, a public service promotional campaign to encourage black women to nurse their babies could be carried out for, say, half a billion dollars. (There are no fundamental reasons why black women nurse at so much lower rates -- it's just a matter of fashion.) If this could eliminate 10% of the white-black IQ gap this way, it's hard to imagine a better use of tax dollars.

Similarly, the recent report by the UN on how to raise the IQ of poor countries (by putting iron in flour and iodine in salt as was done in the industrial world a few generations ago) got almost no attention in the American media because of the embargo on talking about IQ. I wrote about it at length on VDARE.com:


More generally, the one standard deviation difference in average IQ seen between African-Americans (average IQ 85), who are no more than about 20% white, and sub-Saharan black Africans Africans (70) strongly suggests that the huge environmental differences in nutrition, health, intellectual stimulation, and so forth between life in Africa and life in America are largely to blame, as I argued here:


Most generally of all, the current ban on high IQ elites discussing the implications of IQ does not, as is so often assumed, work for the benefit of low IQ people. On the contrary, it allows the high IQ elite of America to make arrangements most suited for itself and gives it the perfect excuse to ignore the interests of the left half of the bell curve. (See my 5-part series on "How to Help the Left Half of the Bell Curve" for details.)


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The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004, edited by Steven Pinker and Tim Folger, is now on sale. This anthology features my article from the January 13, 2003 issue of The American Conservative: "Cousin Marriage Conundrum." An excerpt:

Many prominent neoconservatives are calling on America not only to conquer Iraq (and perhaps more Muslim nations after that), but also to rebuild Iraqi society in order to jumpstart the democratization of the Middle East. Yet, Americans know so little about the Middle East that few of us are even aware of one of one of the building blocks of Arab Muslim cultures -- cousin marriage. Not surprisingly, we are almost utterly innocent of any understanding of how much the high degree of inbreeding in Iraq could interfere with our nation building ambitions.

In Iraq, as in much of the region, nearly half of all married couples are first or second cousins to each other. A 1986 study of 4,500 married hospital patients and staff in Baghdad found that 46% were wed to a first or second cousin, while a smaller 1989 survey found 53% were "consanguineously" married. The most prominent example of an Iraqi first cousin marriage is that of Saddam Hussein and his first wife Sajida.

By fostering intense family loyalties and strong nepotistic urges, inbreeding makes the development of civil society more difficult. Many Americans have heard by now that Iraq is composed of three ethnic groups -- the Kurds of the north, the Sunnis of the center, and the Shi'ites of the south. Clearly, these ethnic rivalries would complicate the task of ruling reforming Iraq. But that's just a top-down summary of Iraq's ethnic make-up. Each of those three ethnic groups is divisible into smaller and smaller tribes, clans, and inbred extended families -- each with their own alliances, rivals, and feuds. And the engine at the bottom of these bedeviling social divisions is the oft-ignored institution of cousin marriage.

The fractiousness and tribalism of Middle Eastern countries have frequently been remarked. In 1931, King Feisal of Iraq described his subjects as "devoid of any patriotic idea, ? connected by no common tie, giving ear to evil; prone to anarchy, and perpetually ready to rise against any government whatever." The clannishness, corruption, and coups frequently observed in countries such as Iraq appears to be in tied to the high rates of inbreeding.

Muslim countries are usually known for warm, devoted extended family relationships, but also for weak patriotism. In the U.S., where individualism is so strong, many assume that "family values" and civic virtues such as sacrificing for the good of society always go together. But, in Islamic countries, loyalty to extended (as opposed to nuclear) families is often at war with loyalty to nation. Civic virtues, military effectiveness, and economic performance all suffer.

Commentator Randall Parker wrote, 

"Consanguinity [cousin marriage] is the biggest underappreciated factor in Western analyses of Middle Eastern politics. Most Western political theorists seem blind to the importance of pre-ideological kinship-based political bonds in large part because those bonds are not derived from abstract Western ideological models of how societies and political systems should be organized. Extended families that are incredibly tightly bound are really the enemy of civil society because the alliances of family override any consideration of fairness to people in the larger society. Yet, this obvious fact is missing from 99% of the discussions about what is wrong with the Middle East. How can we transform Iraq into a modern liberal democracy if every government worker sees a government job as a route to helping out his clan at the expense of other clans?"



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The EZ Way to Look Presidential: Stand on a stage with George W. Bush for 4.5 hours. Remember how just two weeks ago everybody thought Kerry was a dismal nominee, and now he seems pretty darn Presidential. How'd he do that? The answer would seem to be that he spent 270 minutes in close proximity to the blinky, erratic, petulant little man who happens to be President.




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Is Victor Davis Hanson abandoning neocon utopianism? Lawrence Auster writes:


... It may be a mistake to place too much stress on his apparent abandonment of the universal democracy ideology, as perhaps I did in my recent item on him. Nevertheless, the reversal in his rhetoric is stunning. Last April Hanson said that what we are fighting for in this war is a “free and tolerant mankind.” But now he’s saying that if Muslim countries give us trouble, we should rain down destruction on them and not worry about rebuilding or democratizing them afterward.


Meanwhile, The Derb wants to make clear he never was a Wolfowitzian on Iraq. In reply to my posting a reader's email, John Derbyshire emailed me:

I appreciate your reader's having visited my website, but object to being called "a Steyn-like case on Iraq." For one thing, I don't know anything like as much as Mark -- he's actually BEEN to Iraq, for example. For another, there are traditional Wilson-Jackson factions among us slavering warmongers. I suspect MS of wavering towards Wilsonianism, while I myself am a firm Jacksonite.

Here, in fact, is the lad himself, writing in the 10/2 Spectator

"The American Right, on the other hand, is supposed to be split from top to toe between 'neocons' and 'paleocons', the latter being the isolationist Right and the former being sinister Jewish intellectuals who've turned the Bush administration into an arm of Israeli foreign policy. One problem for those who see conservatism in terms of this epic struggle is that one side doesn't exist. The 'paleocons' boil down to a handful of anti-war conservatives, the most prominent being Pat Buchanan, who in the 2000 presidential election got 0.42 per cent of the vote. He's no BNP [British National Party, immigration-restrictionist], never mind Ukip [United Kingdom Independence Party, anti-EU]. The real divide is between the neocons (for want of a better term) and the 'assertive nationalists' - that's to say, those who think we ought to bomb rogue states, smash their regimes and rebuild them as democratic societies, and those who think we ought to bomb rogue states, smash their regimes, and then leave them to stew in their own juices, with a reminder that if the next thug is foolish enough to catch Washington's eye, then (as Arnie says) 'Ah'll be back!' This difference can seem like a big deal - those who think we need to win their hearts and minds vs those who think they're mostly heartless and mindless, so who cares? But in truth it's only a difference of degree."

Color me "assertive nationalist." I don't give a damn about the Iraqis, and doubt they can be civilized; I just want the Middle East Muslims to know that if they vex us, we'll come and smash their stuff and kill their leaders. Which is a thing I believe they need to know, and which we shall have to teach them several times over before the lesson sinks in.



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Bush to Mexicans: "Come on in!" -- Recalling his disastrous "Bring 'em on!" challenge to Iraqi insurgents, in the Third Presidential Debate Mr. Bush encouraged poorly paid Mexicans to illegally immigrate to America:


"If you can make 50 cents in the heart of Mexico, for example, or make $5 here in America, $5.15, you're going to come here if you're worth your salt, if you want to put food on the table for your families."


Presumably, Mexicans who don't violate our immigration laws aren't worth their salt in the President's eyes.



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The Three Faces of George: A reader writes:

I thought Bush was a disaster in Debate 1, terrific in D2, and now I turn on D3 and what am I seeing? He's keeping his face in this odd attitude, almost staring wide eyed at Kerry while Kerry is speaking, smiling excessively and inappropriately, seeming very untogether. It made me nervous watching him. Meanwhile Kerry seemed solemn and presidential. I couldn't stand watching it--three debates, three Bushes!--and turned it off after 35 minutes. However, after midnight, I watched it on C-SPAN and Bush seemed to get somewhat better in the later part of the debate.

But remember, in three debates in 2000 we had three Bushes (or maybe 2 1/2 Bushes) and three Gores. That's 5 1/2 candidates in three debates. This year we have 4 candidates in three debates. So 2000 was even more of a harrowing psychodrama than this year.

And what do you think of Kerry's facial expressions--those weird smiles while he was listening to Bush, the way he keeps bunching up his mouth, it was bizarre. But I think I know where this comes from. His advisors said he has to try to seem nice, not so disdainful. So he made a concerted effort to have a polite smile, courteous on his face while Bush was speaking. Actually this is kind of appealing. But all those other things he kept doing with his mouth were weird. And what about the way he keeps sticking his tongue out. How come his advisors don't tell him to stop that?

Maybe he thinks it makes him look like Michael Jordan?



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Bush as LBJ: Jeremy Lott beat me to the comparison that Bush in 2004 is a lot like Lyndon Johnson would have been in 1968 if he'd stuck it out and run on his record of land war in Asia and increased domestic spending.


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Sen. Fritz Hollings, age 82, on everything: After seven terms, Hollings is retiring, so he's free to speak his mind. The Washington Post reports

But it doesn't take much to get that tart tongue going. Just ask him to rate the eight presidents -- from Johnson to Bush -- he's worked with.

"Well, it's easy to rate who's the most inadequate," he says. "And that's the present president. Jesus! He doesn't want to be president. He just likes the politics. He likes to get elected. He likes Air Force One. He starts out nearly every day with a fundraiser. He appears at some police station or some fortified something with policemen and firemen. You know, you gotta get the right pictures for the 7 o'clock news. Then he comes in and works out and sees a movie and goes to sleep. And he allows Condoleezza and Cheney and Rumsfeld to run things."

After that, Hollings is warmed up, and he proceeds to offer a variety of candid opinions.

The war in Iraq: "People say they didn't have an exit plan. Well, hell's bells, they didn't have an entry plan! And it's one big quagmire."...

"The black church is the stability of the African American community," he says. "There isn't any question about that. And they're all fine and I work with 'em, but they expect the money to get out the vote. . . . I can tell you of one race -- the minister is now dead. This is 20-odd years ago. He kept saying, 'I gotta get the money. I gotta get $10,000.' I got a friend to give him the $10,000 to get the black ministers to get the vote out. And, by God, [Republicans] came around after us and said, 'I know you need a steeple on that church -- here's $15,000, just don't hurt me tomorrow.' And that minister went up to Anderson, S.C., because his aunt got very sick and he had to go. And the Republicans took that [precinct]. . . .

He rips into George W. Bush again, scoffing at the president's plan to bring democracy to the Arab world.

"You can't force-feed democracy," he says... "But to walk into a place where religion is stronger than freedom -- they're not looking for freedom, they're looking for religion. Five times a day, they're down on their knees, man. You can't find that in America. You can't get 'em to go on their knees on Sunday -- "



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Sen. Fritz Hollings, age 82, on everything: After seven terms, Hollings is retiring, so he's free to speak his mind. The Washington Post reports

But it doesn't take much to get that tart tongue going. Just ask him to rate the eight presidents -- from Johnson to Bush -- he's worked with.

"Well, it's easy to rate who's the most inadequate," he says. "And that's the present president. Jesus! He doesn't want to be president. He just likes the politics. He likes to get elected. He likes Air Force One. He starts out nearly every day with a fundraiser. He appears at some police station or some fortified something with policemen and firemen. You know, you gotta get the right pictures for the 7 o'clock news. Then he comes in and works out and sees a movie and goes to sleep. And he allows Condoleezza and Cheney and Rumsfeld to run things."

After that, Hollings is warmed up, and he proceeds to offer a variety of candid opinions.

The war in Iraq: "People say they didn't have an exit plan. Well, hell's bells, they didn't have an entry plan! And it's one big quagmire."...

"The black church is the stability of the African American community," he says. "There isn't any question about that. And they're all fine and I work with 'em, but they expect the money to get out the vote. . . . I can tell you of one race -- the minister is now dead. This is 20-odd years ago. He kept saying, 'I gotta get the money. I gotta get $10,000.' I got a friend to give him the $10,000 to get the black ministers to get the vote out. And, by God, [Republicans] came around after us and said, 'I know you need a steeple on that church -- here's $15,000, just don't hurt me tomorrow.' And that minister went up to Anderson, S.C., because his aunt got very sick and he had to go. And the Republicans took that [precinct]. . . .

He rips into George W. Bush again, scoffing at the president's plan to bring democracy to the Arab world.

"You can't force-feed democracy," he says... "But to walk into a place where religion is stronger than freedom -- they're not looking for freedom, they're looking for religion. Five times a day, they're down on their knees, man. You can't find that in America. You can't get 'em to go on their knees on Sunday -- "


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Reaction to my article on The Bell Curve: One of the two or three most distinguished social scientists in America wrote to me:


Your commentary was a wonderful reprise of The Bell Curve. Dick [Herrnstein] was one of my closest friends, and you captured him beautifully. The book is a masterpiece.



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I review three movies in the new American Conservative, available this weekend to electronic subscribers:


In October, three films about stage actors debut. Annette Bening plays a leading lady of the 1930s West End in "Being Julia;" Billy Crudup portrays the last youth to appear as Desdemona before King Charles II legalized actresses in the 1660s in "Stage Beauty;" and Trey Parker of "South Park" notoriety provides the voice of the "best actor on Broadway," who uses his thespian skills to infiltrate terrorist gangs in the R-rated marionette movie "Team America: World Police."...


In the puppet picture "Team America: World Police," young Gary Johnston is slaying Broadway audiences in "Lease: The Musical" with his show stopping protest number "Everybody's Got AIDS." A top-secret anti-terrorist commando squad recruits him to worm his way into a Chechen operation buying WMDs in Cairo. He succeeds, but his comrades, while in hot pursuit, accidentally blow up the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid. When Alec Baldwin, head of the Film Actors Guild, protests Team America's destructiveness, North Korea's sinister (but Elmer Fudd-like) Kim Jong Il invites the lefty members of F.A.G. to a Pyongyang "peace" conference to further his fiendish plot.


While quite funny, be aware that "Team America's" language is brutally filthy because the "South Park" guys graphically spell out the buried meanings of common obscenities, which originated in those bad old days of predatory bisexuality that poor Ned Kynaston of "Stage Beauty" endured. Don't be fooled by the puppets: keep your kids away.



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The Essential Problem with this whole benighted election is that the incumbent has put together a record rather resembling Lyndon Baines Johnson's in 1968, but his challenger is, by nature, even farther to the left. Kerry realizes there is a gaping opening to the right of Bush, so he makes feints toward traditional conservatism on foreign policy, the deficit, and immigration, but his heart just isn't in it.



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3rd Debate: [Updates continuously added below, including transcript of the immigration question] 


The same John Kerry always shows up at all the debates, which is boring but reassuring. With Bush, you never know who is going to show up tonight. I haven't quite been able to put my finger on who tonight's Bush is (Casual Bush? Snickering Bush? Blinky Bush?), but he's different from the last two Bushes at the previous debates: Church Lady Bush and Overcaffeinated Rottweiler Bush. Maybe tonight was the best of the Bushes, but, still, it's disconcerting to live in a country where the President seems to be auditioning for the lead in a remake of the old Sally Field split personality TV movie "Sybil."


- I really wish Bush would not smirk while talking about partial birth abortion.


- Kerry made a joke about the President lecturing him on fiscal responsibility is like Tony Soprano lecturing him on law and order, but you couldn't tell it was a joke until the joke was over. In contrast, Bush always appears on the verge of making a joke but he almost never says anything funny. Can't he afford a jokewriter?


- So, is there going to be an immigration question tonight? Probably not -- after all, the debate is being held in Arizona where nobody is concerned about immigration.


- Yes! The moderator says, "I got more email about this issue than any other this week -- immigration." Surprise, surprise.


Bush wants a "temporary worker card" "that allows a willing worker and a willing employer to mate up" for "$5 dollars an hour, $5.15." That makes it sound like Bush is fighting to lower the costs of the white slave trade:


"My fellow Americans, it has come to my attention that Eastern Europe -- the Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Russia, Lithuania -- is full of nubile young ladies with wheat colored hair, willing workers who want to mate up with you willing American employers for $5 dollars an hour, $5.15, but our antiquated immigration laws are keeping these willing workers out of our country, forcing you to pay 30, even 40 dollars per hour to mate up with sullen, lazy native-born workers who probably aren't even natural blondes. I say, we must issue these ash blonde beauties temporary worker cards so they can mate up with you. But only temporary cards, so we can kick their skanky butts out when they get old and wrinkly. And may God bless America."


Kerry says "we should crack down on illegal hiring." Obviously, Kerry didn't want to emphasize immigration -- he wasted half his time responding to an earlier Bush riposte on taxes. But, in his short rebuttal, even Kerry managed to get to the right of Bush on immigration.


Four thousand people a day are coming across the border.

The fact is that we now have people from the Middle East, allegedly, coming across the border.

And we're not doing what we ought to do in terms of the technology. We have iris-identification technology. We have thumbprint, fingerprint technology today. We can know who the people are, that they're really the people they say they are when the cross the border.

We could speed it up. There are huge delays.

The fact is our borders are not as secure as they ought to be, and I'll make them secure.


It can't help Bush with his base to be to the left of Kerry on the issue that attracts the most emails.


- A reader writes:


Ok, I just rewatched the debate. That the immigration question was the most asked seemed to surprise Bush a good deal. He was visibly taken aback. He seemed to understand amnesty was unpopular because he tried to say Kerry was for that. But he doesn't seem to grasp that most regard his plan AS amnesty.


Kerry didn't get it at all because he finished up an earlier point before moving into the immigration question. He also seemed unconcerned with Bush's attack and didn't even deny he was for amnesty.


What Bush is doing is defining "amnesty" not in the normal sense of the word -- as forgiving lawbreakers for their crimes and allowing them to continue to reap the benefits of their lawbreaking -- but in a special sense aimed solely at Republican Congressman who don't want Democratic-leaning illegal immigrants to get the right to vote. He's defining amnesty as giving citizenship to illegals. (Of course, their children born in America get citizenship under the current, but dubious, interpretation of the 14th Amendment, so in the long run it doesn't make much difference -- the Democrats still benefit.) 


But what Bush is proposing is much more monstrous, and I use that term with all due respect, than just giving current illegals amnesty. He's proposing virtual Open Borders in which anybody in the world who can get a job offer at, as Bush made explicit, $5.15 per hour, can move to America, "so long as there's not an American willing to do that job" -- i.e., not willing to do that job at $5.15 per hour ($10,712 per year). Bush's plan would reduce the standard wage for tens of millions of jobs to $5.15 per hour.


Kerry, in contrast, wants current illegals to be put on track to become voters because they will mostly vote Democratic. On the other hand, he's never said he wants anything resembling Bush's Open Borders plan for the rest of the world to move to America.


- All this talk about someday training 125,000 Iraqis -- there must be a million men in Iraq under age 40 with military training. Not terribly good training, but how good is our training going to be with the language barriers and all the other problem we're having? No, the problem is making them want to die for Allawi and for America. That's a real challenge.


- Bush danced around on affirmative action and said nothing. Kerry is for it. Kerry wants to energize his African-American base, but Bush did a good job staying to the right of Kerry, where most Americans are. Compare that to immigration where a Republican candidate ought to find it easy to box Kerry in as a leftwing extremist on immigration, but Bush ended up making Kerry look like the sensible moderate. 


- Schieffer said, "Mr. President, when you were going to invade Iraq, you were asked if you had checked with your father, but you said, 'I checked with a Higher Authority.'"


My son asked, "Cheney?"


- I never want to hear about Pell Grants again.


- Why is Tom Brokaw wearing bright olive green pants with a blue suit coat, blue shirt, and blue tie? I don't have much fashion sense, but I know enough not to wear that combination to a Presidential Debate. Is his Inner Preppie emerging at an inopportune moment?


When Bush was asked what he would say to an unemployed worker whose job went overseas, he said he's fixing grade school education.


Here's the Washington Post's transcript of the immigration exchange:

SCHIEFFER: Let's go to a new question, Mr. President. I got more e-mail this week on this question than any other question. And it is about immigration.

I'm told that at least 8,000 people cross our borders illegally every day. Some people believe this is a security issue, as you know. Some believe it's an economic issue. Some see it as a human-rights issue. How do you see it? And what we need to do about it?

BUSH: I see it as a serious problem. I see it as a security issue, I see it as an economic issue, and I see it as a human-rights issue.

We're increasing the border security of the United States. We've got 1,000 more Border Patrol agents on the southern border.

We're using new equipment. We're using unmanned vehicles to spot people coming across.

And we'll continue to do so over the next four years. It's a subject I'm very familiar with. After all, I was a border governor for a while.

Many people are coming to this country for economic reasons. They're coming here to work. If you can make 50 cents in the heart of Mexico, for example, or make $5 here in America, $5.15, you're going to come here if you're worth your salt, if you want to put food on the table for your families. And that's what's happening.

And so in order to take pressure off the borders, in order to make the borders more secure, I believe there ought to be a temporary worker card that allows a willing worker and a willing employer to mate up, so long as there's not an American willing to do that job, to join up in order to be able to fulfill the employers' needs.

That has the benefit of making sure our employers aren't breaking the law as they try to fill their workforce needs. It makes sure that the people coming across the border are humanely treated, that they're not kept in the shadows of our society, that they're able to go back and forth to see their families. See, the card, it'll have a period of time attached to it.

It also means it takes pressure off the border. If somebody is coming here to work with a card, it means they're not going to have to sneak across the border. It means our border patrol will be more likely to be able to focus on doing their job.

Now, it's very important for our citizens to also know that I don't believe we ought to have amnesty. I don't think we ought to reward illegal behavior. There are plenty of people standing in line to become a citizen. And we ought not to crowd these people ahead of them in line.

If they want to become a citizen, they can stand in line, too.

And here is where my opponent and I differ. In September 2003, he supported amnesty for illegal aliens.

SCHIEFFER: Time's up.


KERRY: Let me just answer one part of the last question quickly, and then I'll come to immigration.

The American middle class family isn't making it right now, Bob. And what the president said about the tax cuts has been wiped out by the increase in health care, the increase in gasoline, the increase in tuitions, the increase in prescription drugs.

The fact is, the take home pay of a typical American family as a share of national income is lower than it's been since 1929. And the take home pay of the richest .1 percent of Americans is the highest it's been since 1928.

Under President Bush, the middle class has seen their tax burden go up and the wealthiest's tax burden has gone down. Now that's wrong.

Now with respect to immigration reform, the president broke his promise on immigration reform. He said he would reform it. Four years later he is now promising another plan.

Here's what I'll do: Number one, the borders are more leaking today than they were before 9/11. The fact is, we haven't done what we need to do to toughen up our borders, and I will.

Secondly, we need a guest-worker program, but if it's all we have, it's not going to solve the problem.

The second thing we need is to crack down on illegal hiring. It's against the law in the United States to hire people illegally, and we ought to be enforcing that law properly.

And thirdly, we need an earned-legalization program for people who have been here for a long time, stayed out of trouble, got a job, paid their taxes, and their kids are American. We got to start moving them toward full citizenship, out of the shadows.

SCHIEFFER: Do you want to respond, Mr. President?

BUSH: Well, to say that the borders are not as protected as they were prior to September the 11th shows he doesn't know the borders. They're much better protected today than they were when I was the governor of Texas.

We have much more manpower and much more equipment there.

He just doesn't understand how the borders work, evidently, to say that. That is an outrageous claim.

And we'll continue to protect our borders. We're continuing to increase manpower and equipment.


KERRY: Four thousand people a day are coming across the border.

The fact is that we now have people from the Middle East, allegedly, coming across the border.

And we're not doing what we ought to do in terms of the technology. We have iris-identification technology. We have thumbprint, fingerprint technology today. We can know who the people are, that they're really the people they say they are when the cross the border.

We could speed it up. There are huge delays.

The fact is our borders are not as secure as they ought to be, and I'll make them secure.


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Jacques Derrida, RIP: A computer engineer named Chip Morningstar provides the single best guide to deconstructionism in "How To Deconstruct Almost Anything: My Postmodern Adventure."  

Deconstruction, in particular, is a fairly formulaic process that hardly merits the commotion that it has generated. However, like hack writers or television producers, academics will use a formula if it does the job and they are not held to any higher standard (though perhaps Derrida can legitimately claim some credit for originality in inventing the formula in the first place). Just to clear up the mystery, here is the formula, step-by-step:

Step 1 -- Select a work to be deconstructed. This is called a "text" and is generally a piece of text, though it need not be. … You want to pick your text with an eye to the opportunities it will give you to be clever and convoluted, rather than whether the text has anything important to say or there is anything important to say about it. .. The text can be of any length, from the complete works of Louis L'Amour to a single sentence. For example, let's deconstruct the phrase, "John F. Kennedy was not a homosexual."

Step 2 -- Decide what the text says. This can be whatever you want, although of course in the case of a text which actually consists of text it is easier if you pick something that it really does say. This is called "reading". I will read our example phrase as saying that John F. Kennedy was not a homosexual.

Step 3 -- Identify within the reading a distinction of some sort. … It is a convention of the genre to choose a duality, such as man/woman, good/evil, earth/sky, chocolate/vanilla, etc. In the case of our example, the obvious duality to pick is homosexual/heterosexual, though a really clever person might be able to find something else.

Step 4 -- Convert your chosen distinction into a "hierarchical opposition" by asserting that the text claims or presumes a particular primacy, superiority, privilege or importance to one side or the other of the distinction. Since it's pretty much arbitrary, you don't have to give a justification for this assertion unless you feel like it. Programmers and computer scientists may find the concept of a hierarchy consisting of only two elements to be a bit odd, but this appears to be an established tradition in literary criticism. Continuing our example, we can claim homophobia on the part of the society in which this sentence was uttered and therefore assert that it presumes superiority of heterosexuality over homosexuality.

Step 5 -- Derive another reading of the text, one in which it is interpreted as referring to itself. In particular, find a way to read it as a statement which contradicts or undermines either the original reading or the ordering of the hierarchical opposition (which amounts to the same thing). This is really the tricky part and is the key to the whole exercise. Pulling this off successfully may require a variety of techniques, though you get more style points for some techniques than for others. Fortunately, you have a wide range of intellectual tools at your disposal, which the rules allow you to use in literary criticism even though they would be frowned upon in engineering or the sciences. These include appeals to authority (you can even cite obscure authorities that nobody has heard of), reasoning from etymology, reasoning from puns, and a variety of other word games. You are allowed to use the word "problematic" as a noun. You are also allowed to pretend that the works of Freud present a correct model of human psychology and the works of Marx present a correct model of sociology and …

Least credit is given for a clear, rational argument which makes its case directly, though of course that is what I will do with our example since, being gainfully employed, I don't have to worry about graduation or tenure. And besides, I'm actually trying to communicate here. Here is a possible argument to go with our example:

It is not generally claimed that John F. Kennedy was a homosexual. Since it is not an issue, why would anyone choose to explicitly declare that he was not a homosexual unless they wanted to make it an issue? Clearly, the reader is left with a question, a lingering doubt which had not previously been there. If the text had instead simply asked, "Was John F. Kennedy a homosexual?", the reader would simply answer, "No." and forget the matter. If it had simply declared, "John F. Kennedy was a homosexual.", it would have left the reader begging for further justification or argument to support the proposition. Phrasing it as a negative declaration, however, introduces the question in the reader's mind, exploiting society's homophobia to attack the reputation of the fallen President. What's more, the form makes it appear as if there is ongoing debate, further legitimizing the reader's entertainment of the question. Thus the text can be read as questioning the very assertion that it is making.

Of course, no real deconstruction would be like this. I only used a single paragraph and avoided literary jargon. All of the words will be found in a typical abridged dictionary and were used with their conventional meanings. I also wrote entirely in English and did not cite anyone. Thus in an English literature course I would probably get a D for this, but I already have my degree so I don't care.

Another minor point, by the way, is that we don't say that we deconstruct the text but that the text deconstructs itself. This way it looks less like we are making things up.

That's basically all there is to it, although there is an enormous variety of stylistic complication that is added in practice.


The one point I would add is that the obscurantism of college English departments is driven by a specific economic pressure: the supply of people who would like to teach English to college students and who would be quite competent at it is enormous, probably much greater than for any other college discipline. Retiring advertising copywriters, high IQ housewives facing an empty nest, the list could go on and on, of people whom colleges could hire to teach English. Not surprisingly, professional full-time English professors fight back by trying to make the barriers to entry to their field as daunting as possible. Thus, ideologies as brain-twisting yet boring as deconstructionism are highly popular.



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Debate preliminaries -- Does anybody know if Kerry is a morning person (like Bush) or a night person (like Clinton)?


Bush is an extreme morning person, which no doubt hurt him in the first debate in Florida, where his tiredness and petulance was obvious. It ran from 9pm to 10:30pm local time in the East. As the debates move West, he should have a chance to do better, if his handlers give him time to acclimate to the local time zone. The second debate in St. Louis, where he seemed less like Dana Carvey's Church Lady, started at 8pm local time. Tonight's debate in Arizona is the Mountain Time Zone but they don't have daylight savings time in Arizona so that means it's really ... it's really going to make my head overheat trying to figure this out ... okay, I think it will start at 6pm local time in Arizona. That should help Bush. (Unless I've got it backwards and then it starts at 8pm local time.)


Over at the lefty Science and Politics blog, it says that Bush has been campaigning out West for several days, which should help him get on local time. Of course, drinking three Red Bulls before the debate can also help, but it's more artificial.


Back in December 2000, I wrote this little essay for UPI comparing Bush and Clinton as classic larks and owls.


-- The Presidential transition from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush represents not just a shift from Democrat to Republican, but also from "owl" to "lark." While President Clinton enjoys staying up late, President-Elect Bush likes to be in bed at 9:30 p.m. every night. He even managed to stick to this schedule during much of the campaign. As a morning person, Bush will run the government far differently than Clinton did.

In government and business, managerial and planning positions attract morning people. On the other hand, the more creative and improvisational but less responsible jobs fill up with night people.

Although morning people often believe deep down that night people are just plain lazy, and "nocturnal activists" complain about the "tyranny of the day people," there are practical reasons for this division of labor.

This diversity of schedules may have originated far back in prehistory. Daniel McGraw, founder of The Nocturnal Society, theorizes, "Given the critical importance of having someone watch over the fire and guard the home against invaders during the night, it is logical to assume that evolution would provide for individuals whose natural inclination was to be awake after the others had gone to sleep."

In the modern world, there are numerous jobs best done by one or the other. In roles where the amount of time it takes to finish a day's work is highly unpredictable, night people will tend to do better. For example, if there's a big presentation tomorrow morning, a night person can stay eight hours late to debug a computer program or draw storyboards for a commercial. Similarly, some of Clinton's finest moments came during all-night negotiating sessions over Northern Ireland, when his phone calls encouraged exhausted bargainers to press onward to a deal.

Morning people seldom thrive in this kind of role, because their performance deteriorates rapidly during the evening. A lark might claim that all he has to do is come in early tomorrow morning, but no morning person in history has ever gotten to work eight hours early.

Of course, people who have been up all night have a hard time just dragging themselves to the big presentation the next morning where the decisions are normally made. Throughout the Cold War, Presidents religiously started their mornings with a national security briefing. The Washington Post reported in 1994, however, that during 1993, "Sometimes the briefing was canceled four or five times in a week." When word leaked out to the press, Clinton reinstated daily briefings.

Many Democrats blamed the Clinton Administration's shaky initial performance on the President's undisciplined use of time. Critics compared the Oval Office in 1993 to a free-floating all-night college bull session with various staffers wandering in and out as their interest waxed and waned. People who assume they are going to stay up late working are often in danger of wasting time before getting down to business. For instance, during Finals weeks at many colleges, when students frequently pull all-nighters to prepare for tests, it's traditional for students to devote the pre-midnight hours to practical jokes; water balloon attacks on other dorms, and playing childish games with big red rubber balls.

Finally, in July 1994, Clinton hired the respected former director of the Office of Management and Budget, Leon Panetta, to bring order to the Oval Office. He instituted a key staff meeting every morning at 7:30 and put the President on a fairly strict schedule... 

While owls tend to be better at dealing with erratically long duties, morning people thrive in a well-scheduled environment. If there's a monthly report that always takes two hours to do, then morning people are very good at coming in at 6 a.m. to pound it out before the 8 a.m. status meeting.

Although Bush is not known for being terribly hard working, he is considered an orderly and efficient delegator. He prefers to move briskly through a well-defined agenda. Democrats frequently criticized him for scheduling only a strictly limited amount of time to consider each clemency appeal from Death Row inmates. Yet, quick decision-making is a characteristic trait of morning people. They know from experience that agonizing late into the night over a problem won't help them make a better choice.

Bosses who get their best ideas early in the morning tend to be easier to work for. They delegate assignments soon enough in the day to give their staffers time to complete them during regular working hours.

In contrast, working directly for a leader who thinks best at night, such as Winston Churchill or Adolf Hitler, can be exhausting. A minion must stay up late to receive orders from the his boss, then come in early the next day to communicate them to lower level employees who work a nine to five schedule.



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"Insurgent Alliance Is Fraying In Fallujah: Locals, Fearing Invasion, Turn Against Foreign Arabs" reports the Washington Post. Iraqi xenophobia seems to oppose both pan-Arab jihadism and American occupationism. Perhaps we should appeal to Iraqi nationalism by offering a firm deadline for American withdrawal, and state that in the meantime we will help the Iraqis drive out the foreigners, then leave ourselves.



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What was Saddam thinking? ParaPundit has an item about an LA Times article reviewing Saddam's thought processes. Essentially, Saddam figured that the CIA knew perfectly well that he had destroyed his WMDs way back in 1991 and terminated his programs in 1996 (after all, the CIA had infiltrated the UN weapons inspectors), but he didn't want his regional rival Iran to be sure of that. 


Further, he assumed that Washington wanted him in power as a check on Iran. The LA Times reported:


In Hussein's view, the U.S. priority in the region was to ensure that Iran's Islamic Revolution did not spread to other nations and give radical Shiite clerics a chokehold on global oil supplies. He was convinced that Washington's national interest lay in containing Iran's suspected nuclear arms program, not in toppling his regime.


My guess is that Saddam assumed that George Bush the Second would eventually go have a talk with George Bush the First who would explain that the reason he left Saddam in power in 1991 is because a weak but still standing Saddam was the ideal situation from the American perspective: too weak to threaten his neighbors but still strong enough to restrain Iran. And George II, being a good son, would mediate upon his wise father's words and decide to do the same. 


Back on February 27 2001, on the 10th anniversary of George H. W. Bush's decision to settle for liberating Kuwait rather than going on to occupy Iraq, I wrote for UPI an endorsement of Bush 41's decision :


Second, the post-war era would have been even more chaotic and dangerous if American had occupied Iraq.


We like to dream that we could have converted Iraq into a peaceful democracy, just as we did with Japan and West Germany after WWII. The peoples of those two great industrial nations, however, had at least already learned how to work together with trust in the economic sphere. American proconsuls Douglas MacArthur in Japan and Lucius Clay in West Germany could thus extend that heritage of peaceful industrial cooperation to the political sphere.


In contrast, democratic "nation building" in Iraq probably would have turned out about as well as it has in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo.


Further, occupying Iraq would have presented the U.S. with severe geopolitical dilemmas.


Immediately after the war, Saddam's ethnic enemies within Iraq - the Shiite Muslims in the south and the Kurds in the north - both rebelled. If we were running Iraq instead of Saddam, we would have been presented with the same urgent question: Do we let the Shiites and the Kurds break free and set up their own nation-states? Or do we fight them to keep Iraq whole? It would have been extraordinarily distasteful for us to capture Saddam, only to then take on his favorite pastime of crushing breakaway elements.


Yet, for us to allow Iraq to break up into three small states would have badly destabilized the balance of power in the Persian Gulf.


As the stalemated Iraq-Iran war of 1980 to 1988 showed, those two bitter rivals are perfectly matched against each other. If Iraq had broken into three mini-states, however, Iran would have become the dominant regional power. This would have been especially troubling because the new Shiite state centered on Iraq's Persian Gulf oilfields would have shared its religion with the Shiite theocracy of Iran. This would have paved the way for the Iranian army to threaten Kuwait's independence.


Too bad that the simple Mesopotamian tyrant couldn't begin to understand the convoluted relationship between the two Georges. Of course, I'm not sure if anybody does, including the two Georges.



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Finally on DVD: "The Battle of Algiers" -- The great hyperrealist depiction of the Arab uprising against the French is finally out on DVD this week. I wrote in The American Conservative last winter:


“The Battle of Algiers” ignores France’s expensive efforts to buy the hearts and minds of the Arabs and Berbers. Nor does it stress how the insurgents, to prevent peaceful compromise, mutilated and decapitated moderate Muslims and assassinated liberal Europeans. But what it does show of 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 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, who 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.


When I wrote this last Christmas, a couple of months before the Abu Graihb scandal emerged, I assumed we too were using torture in Iraq -- it's inherent in the logic of guerilla war -- but I didn't say anything about it in my review because I don't believe in making unfounded charges against our fighting men who are doing the best they can under rotten circumstances.


By the way, Jacques Chirac fought in the Algerian war as a young officer. Paul Starobin reported in The National Journal::


The Algerian uprising [against France from 1954-1962] certainly made a powerful impression on a young man destined for France's highest political office: Jacques Chirac. Conscripted in 1956, at the age of 23, to serve as an officer in the French army, Chirac commanded a platoon in an isolated mountainous region of Algeria. The mission was to keep order. But order proved impossible to keep, with the local population protective of the fellaghas, the armed resistance fighters from the Fronte de Liberation Nationale (FLN). Chirac himself was not wounded in engagements with the guerrillas, but some of his men were, and some were killed. In a speech to the French Military Academy in 1996, he called his time there the most important formative experience of his life.


According to an old friend and adviser, Algeria principally taught Chirac that occupation, even under the best of intentions, is impossible when popular sentiments have turned against the occupier: "His experience is that despite all the goodwill, when you are an occupier, when you are seen [by the local people] as an occupier, the people will want you to get out." And if Chirac was convinced of anything, according to this source, it was that the Americans would ultimately be viewed not as liberators in Iraq but as occupiers. He foresaw a kind of re-enactment of the Algerian tragedy, the source adds, a "vicious circle" in which increasingly violent acts against the occupier are met with an increasingly harsh response -- a cycle that inevitably sours local people against the occupation.


As the French side tells it, this perspective was at the heart of a disagreement between Chirac and Bush at a private talk late last November [2002] in Prague, where U.S. and European leaders were gathered to discuss enlarging NATO. (Although the pair talked on the telephone, this was their main exchange before the war started six months later.) According to a senior French official who reviewed a French handwritten transcript of the meeting, Chirac talked not about the risks of the major combat phase of a military campaign, which the French expected to go quickly, but about the perils of the postwar phase, in particular the dangers of underestimating the force of Arab nationalism and the prevalence of violence in a country that had never known democracy. According to the French source, Bush replied that he expected postwar armed resistance from elements connected to Saddam's Baathist regime -- but thought it unlikely that the population as a whole would come to see the U.S. as occupiers. And Chirac, according to the source, told Bush that history would decide who was right. The White House recently declined to comment on the meeting.


Greg Cochran says that if the French were really our enemy, they would have told us to invade Iraq.



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My movie scenario comes to life: A reader writes:


I saw this on Drudge -- Bill Gertz is reporting in the Washington Times:


"U.S. security officials are investigating a recent intelligence report that a group of 25 Chechen terrorists illegally entered the United States from Mexico..."


Was this the new class of interns over at The Weekly Standard?


I kept telling these movie guys last Spring that this was the way to make a hit film about the disaster that is our Mexican border: you have Cliff Curtis, the Maori character actor who usually plays either Latinos or Muslims, play a Middle Eastern terrorist who is sneaking a dirty bomb into the U.S. across the Arizona border by pretending to be Mexican.


But by now, Jerry Bruckheimer's probably all over it.



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Was Bush wired in the 2nd debate? Salon is still claiming he was, but I looked closely and did not see anything Friday. There was clearly the normal depression between his shoulder blades. If something shows up in the Salon pictures, that's likely due to selection bias. 


During the first debate, Bush did occasionally seem to be listening to messages from space aliens being picked up by his fillings. But in the second debate he was much more in the momemt. 


If there is something between his shoulder blades, Derek Copold made the most sensible suggestion, on Thrasymachus' site --"I certainly wouldn't put it past this White House to pull such a stunt, but I think it might be the junction of his suspenders." Does Bush wear suspenders?



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The Rise and Fall of Neoconservative Foreign Policy: A friend writes on the question of what went wrong with neconservatism:


What follows is my list of reasons and is for you to do whatever you want with--as long as you don't quote me by name! As noted, you're the one with guts!!


First is what you say--which I hadn't thought of before you first broached it. They abandoned empiricism for theory. And theory always comes crashing down when confronted by reality.


Second, and since you asked, I will go further and say that I also associate myself with the now-familiar neocons-as-Trotskyite point. I read an interview with Chris Hitchens recently on Johann Hari's website, in which Hitchens argues in purely Trot terms that siding with the neocons is necessary lest the fascists and right-wingers regain power. For these guys, it's 1938, or maybe 1939, forever. And clearly there's a Holocaust angle here, as well as a Trot angle, which leads them to strongly oppose "fascism" wherever they see it, be it Hitler or the "Islamofascists"-- a ludicrous concept, but try to convince them of that. And yet the self-liquidating quality here is that such trans-national ideology doesn't play well, because most people are nationalistic, for solid human biodiversity reasons, not cosmopolitan. Thus it was that the USSR eventually fell into the hands of the Russian nationalists--counting Stalin as a Russian nationalist--and not Trotsky and the internationalists. And so it is with the neocons. I think it's entirely possible, likely, even, that they will get a re-elected Bush, or even an elected Kerry, into a war with Iran. And it's quite possible for me to see 10 million Americans getting killed in the next decade as Murphy's Law meets WMD proliferation. At that point, assuming we all aren't killed, there will, to put it mildly, be a backlash against the neocons.


Third, even as I am smearing the neoconmen as commies, lemme also add that there's more than a little bit o' fascist in them. All this preoccupation with strength and war and moral clarity has strong fascist overtones--most dramatically, in the case of Michael Ledeen, who was once open in his admiration of Mussolini. A professor at U Mass Amherst, Nick Xenos, wrote a piece for Logos, an online journal, earlier this year in which he dug up all sorts of openly pro-fascist stuff from Leo Strauss in the early 30s. Obviously the anti-Semitism was a deal-breaker for lots of them, but as Hayek noted in The Road to Serfdom, even refugees from fascism had a way of talking like fascists when it came to statist visions of Will, and Geist, etc. They couldn't help themselves--they were Germans. 


Growing up in Germany, a country--a recent country--which had no real statecraft tradition, they instead absorbed all the nutty theories of Marx, Hegel, Schleiermacher, Nietzsche, etc. And of course, kabala and other weird messianic belief-systems. Such luftmenschy philosophizing came to them at the expense of Talleyrandian/Johnsonian pragmatism. (Bismarck was the flukish exception--beginner's luck for Germany, soon undone by nuts, starting with Kaiser Wilhelm II.) Meanwhile, the two places where fascism wasn't defeated in 1945 were Palestine and South Africa. In both places, Germans/Nordics were left free to think that racial Darwinism, lebensraum, etc. were just fine. Hence Malan and the National Party and Jabotinsky/Begin/Sharon. But fascists tend not to have good foreign policies.


Fourth, and related to the third, above, the secret of most Jews is that they are really Germans, in their bones. That is, their ancestors, even if they lived in Poland or Ukraine, spoke either German or Yiddish; their cultural reference points were Vienna or Frankfurt, not Moscow or Kiev. They grew up with aforementioned philosophical systems, which, while not necessarily fascist, all lent themselves to abstractions, followed by, if need be, implementing and purifying violence. And of course, the Germans are traditionally known for their stubbornness, arrogance, and inflexible my-way-or-the-highway-ness. That's how they kept getting themselves into losing two-front wars. And in Palestine, T.E. Lawrence, in the Seven Pillars, wrote how the Zionists, c. 1918, good "yekke" (Hebrew for those who insisted on wearing formal jackets) that they were, built houses in Palestine that had nothing to do with local custom or climate--they were simply replays of what they left behind in Deutschland. And as we know, nothing about the Germans, for all their strengths, speaks to foreign policy acumen.


And so ultimately, in spite of their best efforts--the latest issue of Commentary has, I think, 3 articles praising fundamentalist Christians as great allies of Jews and Israel, I think that their mad project in the ME will founder. What they have in mind is simply too absurd. About the time that we pacify Fallujah, the Chinese will have overtaken us.



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IQ Odds and Ends: Rodrigo de la Jara runs a fun "IQ Comparison Site" with lots of interesting data.


Of particular interest is his discovery of a Pre-1974 SAT to IQ Conversion Table. The Educational Testing Service has long denied, with a straight face, knowing of any study correlating SAT scores and IQ scores, so de la Jara is only partially kidding when he writes:


The table is from the paper 'Conversion Tables for Otis Gamma and Scholastic Aptitude Test,' by Warren W. Willingham and James A. Strickland in the Personnel and Guidance Journal,  41(4), 1962, 356-358.  It took some effort and luck to dig up this obscure paper.  The experience was a bit like finding a Rosetta stone.  ;-) 


'The data are based upon a sample of 403 students who visited the Office of Guidance and Testing at Georgia Institute of Technology during the years of 1957-1960.'...


'The correlation between the two scores was 0.58.  The standard error of estimate for the SAT total score was 102; the standard error of estimate for the Otis was 5.8.  This correlation of 0.58 gives a spuriously low impression of the correlation between the SAT and the Otis due to restriction in the range of ability in this sample.'


Unfortunately, this Otis-Gamma IQ test has a standard deviation of 15.6 rather than the standard 15, so George W. Bush's 1206 SAT score, for example, would equate to a conventional IQ of about 128 rather than the Otis-Gamma 129, as the table says.



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My new VDARE.com column: "'You have to tell the truth:' The Bell Curve after 10 years" is up:


Today, of course, neoconservatism means messianic Invade-the-World-Invite-the-World foreign and immigration policies. But for its first three decades, beginning with the founding of The Public Interest journal in 1965 by Irving Kristol and Daniel Bell, neoconservatism meant intensely quantitative social science research that cast doubt on liberal pieties about race and ethnicity.


Landmarks in the evolution of this long-lost form of neoconservatism: the 1965 report by Daniel Patrick Moynihan raising the alarm that the illegitimacy rate among blacks had reached 22 percent (it's now triple that); James Q. Wilson's 1975 book Thinking About Crime, which introduced the commonsensical solution that finally quelled the long crime wave of 1961-1995. (Lock up more criminals for longer, because they can't victimize the public when they’re in prison).


Charles Murray was at the neoconservative Manhattan Institute when he became interested in researching IQ. The Manhattan Institute dropped him like a hot potato. But he was immediately picked by the neocon American Enterprise Institute.


The Bell Curve was the crowning achievement of 30 years of neoconservative analysis … and, as we'll see below, its death blow.



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2nd Presidential Debate: A reader writes (facetiously):


"Hey, Steve, you are just ticked off that not a single person in the debate audience, which represented a cross section of the American people, asked a question about illegal immigrants. For surely if anyone had submitted such a question, Charles Gibson would have used it, right?


"Nah, red-blooded Americans are concerned about the stuff that touches their daily lives, like stem-cell research. You've just got to shed your obsessions and think more like a normal American!"



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The Inside Story on The Bell Curve and Steve Forbes: Peter Brimelow recounts his struggle to get Forbes Magazine back in 1994 to publish his scoop on The Bell Curve. Of particular interest is Brimelow's portrait of the forgotten man in the brouhaha, the late co-author Richard J. Herrnstein.



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Human Genome leader recants: In VDARE.com in early 2001, I pointed out that the "race is not a scientific concept" party line emanating from the Human Genome Project leaders was just spin. I wrote:

"Human Genome Project scientists have been conspiring with journalists recently to lard press reports on their findings with politically-correct disinformation."

Now, a New York Times Magazine article by Robin Marantz Henig called "The Genome in Black and White (and Gray)" reveals that one of the two leaders of race to map the human genome, Francis S. Collins, has jumped ship:

''The concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis,'' said J. Craig Venter in June 2000, standing beside President Bill Clinton to announce the completion of the first draft of the human genome sequence. Venter was at the time the president of Celera, the private company that competed with the National Human Genome Research Institute, a publicly financed international team, to sequence the genome. (It was declared a tie.)

Venter's scientific rival, Francis S. Collins, the head of the genome institute, stood at the podium that day on Clinton's other side -- two male, middle-aged white scientists saying we're all brothers and sisters under the skin. Collins made much of the fact that humans share 99.9 percent of their genome with one another -- and that the remaining 0.1 percent probably codes for variations, like skin color, that are for the most part biologically insignificant.

Today, the two men have parted company on this narrow strip of common ground. Venter says he still believes the genome is colorblind. ''I don't see that there's any fundamental need to classify people by race,'' he says. ''What's the goal of that, other than discrimination?''

But Collins sees the matter differently now. Maybe in that 0.1 percent of the genome there are some variations with relevance to medicine, he says. And maybe identifying them could help reduce health disparities among the races. He is using his bully pulpit at the genome institute to urge scientists to study whether these variations can, or should, be categorized according to racial groupings.

''It's always better to face up to a controversial scientific issue, to tackle the issue head on and not run away from it,'' Collins says. ''And if we don't do it, someone else will -- and probably not as well.''

Collins, for his part, recognizes that social forces explain many of the observed differences among the races -- but says he thinks something else might be involved as well. ''We need to try to understand what there is about genetic variation that is associated with disease risk,'' he says, ''and how that correlates, in some very imperfect way, with self-identified race, and how we can use that correlation to reduce the risk of people getting sick.''


Taking up Duster's challenge, Collins knew, meant walking into a quagmire. A decade earlier, another top government scientist lost his job by discussing the genetics of urban violence…

Collins doesn't quote the Bible often -- he tends to neither hide nor flaunt his religious faith -- but he quotes it now. He chooses a line from the New Testament's Book of John, in which Jesus says to his disciples, ''And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.''



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2nd Debate: Stylistically, it was much closer than Kerry's wipe-out win in the first debate. Bush got rid of his Church Lady expressions, which made him seem not just unpleasant but weak. Today, he did his Harry Truman scrappy little underdog impression. He still seemed like a jerk, but not a weak, old-lady jerk, which is a massive improvement. 


Still, how many people really watched tonight's debate? Interest levels seem minimal.


Kerry validated again that he is a plausible President. Bush's stylistic improvement will no doubt be the big story, but Kerry seemed just as good as last week. He's got to be winning over the people who are worried about whether Kerry is up to the President's important duties at keeping the Earth from crashing into the sun, or whatever they worry about.


I believe Kerry only mentioned he was in Vietnam once this time, which is an improvement.


By the way, what kind of accent does Kerry have? Overseas boarding school generic American? He sure sounds less like he's from Massachusetts than anybody ever.


I bet Bush is mad that Kerry didn't fall into the trap he so carefully set of trying to get Kerry to defend the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision of 1857. Karl Rove must have done some focus group work and found out that the Dred Scott decision is the only Supreme Court decision that everybody is united about. 


One request: Out of the vast Bush campaign budget, don't you think they could hire him a joke-writer? Bush's persona suggests that he's always about to crack a joke (e.g., he smirked while talking about partial birth abortions), but he almost never says anything that's actually funny. (David Letterman has been running a series of clips from the President's speeches where his body language and tone set you up for the joke that's coming, but there never is a joke.) It's really easy to draw laughs when you are the most powerful man in the room. People are inclined to find just about anything the top dog says that's the slightest bit funny to be a real knee-slapper. And when your are accompanied everywhere by a military officer with a briefcase containing the nuclear war codes handcuffed to his wrist, you ought to be able to knock them dead. But Bush's sense of humor is so weak that he almost never comes up with anything beyond junior high school sarcasm.


Gerald Ford used to employ Bob Orben, a top joke writer for Bob Hope, as his head speechwriter. Ford had the reverse problem. Orben would come up with some funny lines for him -- "If Abraham Lincoln were alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave" -- but Ford's delivery was so leaden that nobody would know when a joke was coming up so, they'd think the President had just made an embarrassing mistake: "The poor man, he doesn't seem to realize that if Abraham Lincoln were alive today, he wouldn't be in his grave." 


Kerry never says anything funny either, but then he seldom sets you up for a joke like Bush always does.


The domestic second halves of these debates are boring because the candidates don't disagree on much other than tax-cutting for the rich. Bush is a traditional Democrat on so many issues. Does Bush ever brag about cutting a spending program?


The last question for Bush was the best: Out of all the thousands of decisions you've made as president, name three mistakes. Of course, in response he didn't name any. He only said he made some mistakes in appointments, but won't mention their names. And you just know he was thinking about people who were disloyal to him personally, like Paul O'Neil, not the ones who have been grossly incompetent and disloyal to America, like Douglas Feith. He sure hasn't fired anybody for being a screw-up.


In terms of content, obviously, every week that goes by just means Bush has to lie more to dig his way out of his ever-deepening Iraq Attaq hole. He was particularly brazen this week, but this isn't the Republican Convention anymore, so his lies are getting thrown back in his face. Did you see Bush's whopper at the end about how the Duelfer Report proved him right? 


More and more, Bush is dependent upon "Fundamentalist Post-Modernism," the belief that belief is all that matters and that reality is trivial compared to having a positive mental attitude.


This is the third debate overall and we still haven't heard the Democrats mention the name "Chalabi" yet. I wonder why not? "The reason the President had not plan to win the peace was because his aides had fallen under the spell of the convicted embezzler Ahmed Chalabi. Yet even last January, this conman was the President's guest at the State of the Union address!" I wonder why they don't use something like that? Does it not focus group test well? Or are they worried it would offend big donors?


The quality of the debates this year is above average, perhaps due to how much the participants hate each other. Also, the subject matter is simpler because one side made such a glaring mistake in starting a war we didn't need to fight. In contrast, the discussion of North Korea is a snoozer because who knows what the right approach is, and the two candidates reverse their Iraq approaches on North Korea. 


Hey, conspiracy-theorists, where was the radio pack between Bush's shoulder blades tonight? I don't think in the first debate he was listening to Karl Rove over the radio, I think his problem last week came from the fact that the space aliens who normally send him messages via his fillings were taking the day off.



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Communist feminist wins Nobel Literature prize: Elfriede Jelinek, a member of the Austrian Communist Party from 1974-1991 (think for a moment about what it would take for you to have joined the CP in 1974 and not quit until two years after the Berlin Wall came down!), has won the Nobel Prize for literature. 


Five years ago I explained why Nobel winning authors and Nobel winning economists are so seldom on the same page politically. The economics Nobel will be announced on Monday. Is there anybody left at the University of Chicago who doesn't have one yet?


UPDATE: A lady in Kenya who plants trees to combat deforestation has won the Nobel Peace Prize -- that sounds like a nice choice, better than some previous winners.



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Courage. Readers write:


As a member of the first generation to be less well-educated than its parents, I have experienced educational Marxism first-hand and have noticed that as my generation has taken over the schools, the situation has become infinitely worse. What is it about the left-wing baby boomers? I think it is that too many of us are simply spoiled brats. A spoiled brat is a tantrum-throwing bully, but is also a coward. Over the last 50 years, minorities have become the most effective tantrum-throwers and have cowed White baby boomers to the point that we have redefined cowardice as a virtue so we won't feel guilty about being cowards. My personal experiences and observations have led me to believe this is the most important fact of modern times.


Another reader writes:


Which brings me to the only thing I really want to say, which I have been too lazy to drop into your mailbox all this time: I am very proud of you, you know. You mention your “proud self-image as an American”, and when I first discovered your existence (through John Derbyshire’s website – another Steyn-like case on Iraq, alas) I thought here at last is someone that all Americans should be, as befits their status as the most prosperous, powerful people since at least the mid-20th century, not to mention as a people possessed of all that proud history rooted in culture: literate, well-informed, curious, and fully aware that just because America the nation of a distinct people is indeed a sweet, peaceful, truly incredible place, the g-d government can be, and has been a criminally stupid little enterprise on occasion. 


That is why, I am proud that you have the moral integrity to paint Bush exactly as he is. So many “conservatives” and “Republicans” are besotted, there’s no other word for it. Even after the monstrous amnesty and guest-worker proposals some of these specimens won’t admit the President is not on America’s side. I’ve had conversations with people who give him a pass because “it’s a matter of their survival now.” So here’s my vote, Mr. President. When I tell some of these same specimens that I am not voting for Dubya, they accuse me of being anti-American. Of course, there is the obligatory surprise first that I am not a Democrat! The irony, Steve; the bloody pitiful irony. After all your shouting from the rooftops about the bipartisan pandering to minorities, well, ich bin ein minority, and ich ain't voting for either of the anointed jerks.


I'm blushing. 


Still, 228 years into the American Republic, it seems sad that so few Americans today allow themselves the fun of thinking for themselves and saying what they think.



Thanks for the book: To whomever sent me a copy of J.M. Roberts' history book The Triumph of the West: Thanks! I'm almost done with it.



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Ruling from the Cocoon: From the Duelfer Report, as summarized in the NYT:


It was in December 2002, the report said, that Mr. Hussein assembled senior officials to tell that Iraq did not possess illicit weapons, and that they should "cooperate completely'' with the United Nations inspectors who had returned to Iraq as part of a last-ditch effort by the Security Council to stave off an American-led war.


By January 2003, the report says, Mr. Hussein finally accepted that American military action was inevitable. But he also believed that Iraqi forces could hold off the invaders for at least a month, even without chemical weapons, and that American forces would not penetrate as far as Baghdad. "He failed to consult advisers who believed otherwise, and his inner circle reinforced his misperceptions,'' the report said. "


What a dysfunctional way to run a government, with a President living in a dream world surrounded by yes-men. Thank God nothing like that could ever happen in the White House!


Also, it's clear that Saddam was to broke too build nuclear weapons. The AP reports:


Saddam was able to "subvert" the $60 billion U.N. oil-for-food program to generate an estimated $1.7 billion in revenue outside U.N. control from 1997-2003, Duelfer's report says. In addition to oil-for-food schemes, Iraq brought in over $8 billion in illicit oil deals with Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Egypt through smuggling or illegal pumping through pipelines during the full period that sanctions were in place from 1991-2003, the report says.


So, that just under a billion dollars a year, which ain't much. No wonder Saddam's favorite hobby had turned from conquest to writing romance novels.



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War Nerd: "Dying for a job with the Iraqi National Guard:"


Guess how many Iraqi National Guard [ING] troops have been killed in the war. Whatever your guess was, you might be right -- because nobody knows how many of those poor suckers have died. It's weird... It's a tough life, being a native auxiliary. You don't even make it onto the casualty lists.


One of the problems with making an exact count of ING casualties is that hundreds of men have died when they were waiting in line outside ING offices, trying to join. Do they count or not? After all, they weren't really in the force yet. "Applicant rejected on grounds of death."...


So why would smart people take a suicide job in the ING? I think it's a couple of things: first, jobs really are hard to get in Iraq. There is no Iraqi economy. Sure, there's oil, but my dad always said the only time oil brings a lot of jobs is in the beginning, when they're building the pipeline. Once it's running, jobs get scarce. The only locals who get rich off a pipeline are the crooked bureaucrats...


The only jobs you can get are the kind where you carry a gun and can't get life insurance. And that's the one kind of job Iraqi men really know. Under Saddam, the Iraqi Army was the fourth-biggest in the world, with 900,000 men...


So if you make it worth their while, they'll join. Whether they'll fight, that's another question. We paid a lot of South Vietnamese to put on the ARVN uniform, but we never convinced most of them to fight. And frankly, compared to the ING, ARVN is starting to look like the Wehrmacht. The ING just flat-out refused to attack Fallujah back in April. They won't even patrol with our troops in most towns, because we draw too much fire. These ING recruits are getting the big squeeze from both sides. That's how guerrilla war works: the idea is to make it impossible for anybody to stay neutral...


The insurgents' argument is simple: no matter how much the Americans are paying you, it won't do you much good if you die before you can collect your first paycheck....


Our terms are pretty simple too: if you want to work at all, work for us because we're the only paying concern in town. 


The ordinary Iraqi man has to make a guess about who's going to win. If he joins the Iraqi National Guard, survives his first five minutes in uniform, and the Americans win, he's set for life -- because an army job in a messed-up country like Iraq means power, bribes, respect. But if we get sick of it and leave like we did in South Vietnam, he and his family are going to die a slow, nasty way. 


If you want to get really sick, just read about what happened to the Algerians who collaborated with the French after the French sailed off and left them to the mercy of the rebels. The ones who killed themselves and their families were the smart ones; they got off easy. The others... man, it was too much even for me. So all in all, career counseling day at an Iraqi high school must be a tricky job.



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Tiger Woods weds Elin Nordegren: I suspect, with no proof, that the new Mrs. Woods set her cap for Tiger, the world's most eligible bachelor, long before she ever met him. Even though she could make a living as a swimsuit model in Sweden, she took a job as a nanny for Sweden's top golfer Jesper Parnevik. She went with the Parnevik family to US tournaments, where her spectacular appearance made a stir along the sidelines. Her looks spoke for themselves, but her boss introduced her to Tiger with good recommendations to him beyond her looks: she's good with children, honest, hard-working, nice, acts interested when I talk to her about golf, etc. 


It's actually a rather Victorian story of how the nanny marries the dashing aristocrat. Lots of modern young women could profit from studying it. One of the odd side effects of feminism has been to make young women much more passive about the important business of snagging a husband.


Then again, my wife says that maybe Mrs. Parnevik decided to marry her off to Tiger Woods before Elin became the second Mrs. Parnevik.


Update: A friend asks: Will their children be eligible for affirmative action?


Their children will be 9/16ths European, 1/8th Thai, 1/8th Chinese, 1/8th black, and 1/16th American Indian. Beats me.


Update: Here's a Fox article on "How Elin Snagged Tiger."



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Will women become more feminine or more masculine due to genetic technologies? Back in 2000 in "The Future of Human Nature," following Heinlein's brilliant portrait of the effects of genetic engineering, Beyond This Horizon, that when parents can choose traits for their sons, they will likely try to make them all alpha males, which will launch a masculinity arms race with disconcerting prospects for the peace of the human race. In Heinlein's novel, all the men are as handsome as matinee idols and as masculine as pirate captains. No man steps outside without his gun and the reigning code of honor requires the slightest insult to be the basis for a duel to the death on the spot. (Not surprisingly, manners are excellent in this future world -- as Heinlein famously said, "An armed society is a polite society.) It's fun to read about, but I sure wouldn't want to visit there.


As I've argued frequently, the on-going spread of free-market eugenics should be an issue of major concern to policy-makers. At present, we have very little way of guessing whether parents' influencing the gene frequencies of their children will be good or bad for the human race. The only way to predict the future with any accuracy is to study the social impact of existing differences in gene frequencies. Unfortunately, very, very little in the way of resources is devoted to studying the social (as opposed to medical) impact of human biodiversity due to political correctness. So, we are flying blind into the new age of do-it-yourself eugenics. Maybe it will all work out fine. Maybe it won't. But our society is making almost no effort to find out because we don't want to thing about existing genetic differences.


A friend suggests that selection for more feminine characteristics in daughters might already be at work:


Even without conscious selection for traits, I suspect there is strong selection now for feminine personalities. Women have birth control and can avoid large families if the role of mother is not attractive. I suspect the traits that make being a mother attractive are "feminine", such as taking pleasure in nurturing others. An ambitious woman with a aggressive personality is likely to choose to be a newspaper reporter (explaining partially why the writers or so feminist), but this choice is likely to go along with having fewer children. (Alas, high IQ makes a interesting career easier to achieve and leads to fewer offspring). Thus, I suspect there is already strong selection for femininity. Previously, the "masculine" women would have still married and been pregnant. The masculine traits might have even helped her in getting resources for the children, and increased her reproductive success.


Also remember that childhood personality and adult personality go together. Most parents want a sweet, nice, easily trained, anxious to please child. These are "feminine" traits. Who wants a stubborn, self involved, selfish, aggressive etc. child? These are masculine traits.


For reasons of research it is easier to study children then adults. It is easy to find families where genetic material can be obtained from parents and siblings when they are all living together. If they are already adults, it is much harder to assemble the materials. If the materials are collected while the subjects are children, there will be a delay before the study of adults can be done. This makes getting (academic) tenure harder and is generally harder and more expensive to do. Thus, there is a lot more data on children's personalities and genetics than for adults.


One can imagine where artificial insemination is used studies which merely say "this father has produced 10 children, whose personalities when tested at age 5 are as follows. We predict that his sperm will continue to produce this outcome. John's daughters (biological) tend to be very sweet, Sam's stubborn." I suspect given this information, most parents would choose John's sperm. This would probably apply for both sexes. With children as consumption goods, parents would prefer the easy to raise, even if these were not the best traits for adult success.


While the technology is available now to study the offspring of various sperm donors (especially if it is frozen) and use this in predicting the traits of the offspring, to my knowledge it is not being done. Even something as simple as an IQ test of the donor is not being done.


One minor trait that is probably being selected against now is "morning sickness". Those very sensitive to this are likely to avoid further pregnancies. They can now do so. This lower birthrate almost certainly outweighs any effect of slightly fewer offspring being damaged by the mother eating the wrong foods. (The socio-biological theory for why morning sickness occurrs is that the nausea threashold is set very low because the first tri-semester fetus is very vulnerable to damage from things in the mother's diet including slightly spoiled food).


This may have something to with the frustrations that feminists down through history feel about how the next generation isn't as enthusiastic about feminism as they were: the problem is that they aren't reproducing as much as the non-feminists. For example, my late friend Jim Chapin, a historian from a distinguished family of artsy WASPS (his brother Harry Chapin the folksinger, his father Jim Chapin the famous jazz drummer, his grandfather Kenneth Rexroth the literary critic), said that one of his grandfathers claimed that the greatest achievement of his life was getting his suffragette wife to give him a child. 


Now, whether this is a question of nature or nurture is hard to tell -- not infrequently, they both move in the same direction.



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Cochran's Revenge: The Associated Press reports today:


U.S. Report Undercuts Bush War Rationale

Wed Oct 6, 2:41 PM ET

By KEN GUGGENHEIM, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Contradicting the main argument for a war that has cost more than 1,000 American lives, the top U.S. arms inspector reported Wednesday that he found no evidence that Iraq (news - web sites) produced any weapons of mass destruction after 1991. The report also says Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s weapons capability weakened during a dozen years of U.N. sanctions before the U.S. invasion last year.


Contrary to prewar statements by President Bush (news - web sites) and top administration officials, Saddam did not have chemical and biological stockpiles when the war began and his nuclear capabilities were deteriorating, not advancing, according to the report by Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group.


And here's an email from Greg Cochran that was published on JerryPournelle.com two years ago on October 12, 2002, almost a half year before the war started:


As far as I can tell, exactly nothing new has happened in Iraq concerning nukes. Most likely they are getting steadily farther away from having a nuclear weapon.. Look, back in 1990, they surprised people with their calutrons. No normal country would have made such an effort, because calutrons - mass spectrometers - are an incredibly inefficient way of making a nuclear weapon. We know just how inefficient they are, because E. O Lawrence conned the government into blowing about a quarter of the Manhattan Project budget on a similar effort. Concentrating enough U-235 for one small fission bomb cost hundreds of millions of 1944 dollars. Probably the Japanese could have constructed new cities for less money than this approach took to blow them up. By far the cheaper way is to enrich the uranium just enough to run a reactor and then breed plutonium. The Iraqis wanted U-235, probably because it is much easier to make a device with U-235 than with plutonium. You don't have to use implosion and you don't even have to test a gun-type bomb - we didn't test the Hiroshima bomb. 


I would guess that they [the Iraqis] realized their limitations - they're not exactly overflowing with good physicists and engineers - and chose an approach that they could actually have made work. Implosion is not so easy to make work. India only got their implosion bomb to work on the seventh try, back in 1974, and they have a _hell_ of a lot more technical talent than Iraq.

Anyhow, Iraq doesn't have the money to do it anymore. The total money going into his government is what, a fifth of what it used to be? ( Jeez, quite a bit less than that, when you look carefully) 


Almost all the oil sales ( other than truck smuggling) go through the UN. ^8% of that revenue is available for buying _approved_ imports. Mainly food and other things that we approve of. The Us has a veto on such purchases. The total amount available for those approved purchases was something like 7 billion last year. Saddam is getting under-the-table payments of something like 20 cents a barrel from some or for all I know all of the buyers: but how much cash is that? we're talking something like 1 or 2 %" no more than 100 million a year. Sheesh. Probably the truck smuggling accounts for more. Hmm.. That might be as much as a billion. Not much cash to run a government. . It's a little hard to for me to see how he manages to keep the show on the road at all.


Big non-private organizations tend to gradually slide towards zero output when the money merely stays the same: cut and they fire the worker bees and keep a few PowerPoint specialists. There is no reason to think that Arabs are immune to that kind of logic of bureaucracy. On the contrary. Not only are they not making any nuclear progress, they're probably making regress.


At best, if we hadn't interrupted them back in the Gulf War, they would have eventually had a couple [bombs]. I doubt if it they even would have been an effective deterrent. It's hard to make classic deterrence work when you have one or two bombs and the other guy has thousands, when he can hit you and you can't hit him.


He would cause himself practical trouble by harboring anti-US terrorists. If they ever made a significant hit on the US, he'd be in deep s---. What would he get out of it? And I am supposed to think that he fears terrorist groups more than he fears a Trident boat?? He should appease _them_, rather than us? Look, if we really got mad, we could turn him and his entire nation into something that was no longer human. Kill them too, of course, but that's too easy.


This particular argument is nonsense, even if he had a little deterrent. as are all the ones that I have seen floated by the Administration or by their hangers on and flacks. It's not as crazy as the idea that we're going to democratize Iraq, or Iraq and then the entire Arab world - that's about as crazy as a human can get - but it makes no sense. Anyone with a brain knows, for example, that the last thing Israel wants is democratic Arab states, because they'd be _more_ hostile than the existing governments, and possibly stronger.  People like Mubarak understand that they can't beat the IDF, and also understand who makes the deposits in their Swiss accounts: a new popular government might not. And a popular government might have some enthusiasm to draw on - Iran did, at first, after the fall of the Shah - whereas in places like Syria or Iraq > 70% of the population hates the government.


I know why Wolfowitz wants this, and why Bill Kristol wants this. I know that most Americans have decided that Iraq was somehow responsible for 9-11, because what else would explain the Administration's desire to attack? And so they support an attack, which would make every kind of sense if Iraq _had_ been behind 9-11 Except that everyone knows that they didn't have anything to do with it. The problem is, I don't understand, even slightly, why Bush and Cheney want this.


Gregory Cochran



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The Dumbing Down of Republicans: From the new, post-Bush-Kerry debate poll conducted by Gallup / CNN / USA Today:


Republicans (62%) are much more likely than Democrats (33%) to believe Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks. When asked if Hussein was personally involved in planning the attacks, the pattern is similar, with 50% of Republicans and 26% of Democrats saying he was involved.


That scores of millions of patriotic but naive Americans believe that the only sensible and honorable explanation for why Bush invaded Iraq in response to 9/11 is that Saddam personally planned 9/11 reflects less badly on them than on Bush for not having such a good reason for a starting a war.



An important new resource on the Web:



Are you going to vote for John Kerry even though you find him unpleasant, annoying, arrogant, waffling, misguided, or just generally unappealing in some profound way? Then you've come to the right place! We're Kerry Haters for Kerry -- perhaps his largest constituency! No need to hide in the Kerryhating closet anymore while you pretend to everyone that he'll be a great president. Here you are among friends. You can speak freely and honestly. You can admit: 'He's awful! And I'm for him!'


The prose style sounds a lot like Mickey Kaus.



10th Anniversary of The Bell Curve -- I'm writing an essay this week about the enormous bestseller that came out in October of 1994, but haven't decided what I'll say yet. Any suggestions?



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Steven Levitt "eliminates" the black-white test score gap! Levitt is the imaginative U. of Chicago professor who recently was named the top young economist in America. He's best known for the popular theory that legalizing abortion in the early 1970s contributed to the decline in crime in the later 1990s through, in effect, prenatal capital punishment of potential criminals. In our debate in Slate, I dismantled his hypothesis by showing that the first cohort of legalized abortion survivors were not, as his theory would predict, particularly peaceful teens, but instead were three times as murderous as the cohort born just before Roe v. Wade. 


Levitt has now turned his peripatetic attention to the IQ racial gap, with the goal of statistically showing that it can be eliminated just by adjusting for various environmental factors. In a May 2004 paper in the Review of Economics and Statistics called "Understanding the black-white test score gap in the first two years of school," Levitt and Roland G. Fryer Jr. claim


"As in previous data sets, we observe substantial racial differences in test scores in the raw data: black kindergartners score on average 0.64 standard deviation worse than whites. In stark contrast to earlier studies (including those looking at kindergartners), however, after controlling for a small number of other observable characteristics (children’s age, child’s birth weight, a socioeconomic status measure, WIC participation, mother’s age at first birth, and number of children’s books in the home), we essentially eliminate the black-white test score gap in math and reading for students entering kindergarten."


However, I have thought of a simpler way to "essentially eliminate the black-white test score gap" than the one they describe. First, though, let's think of an analogy for what they are doing. Say you were attempting to "essentially eliminate" the Japanese-Lithuanian child height gap. You could control for household environmental measures such as the length of the beds, the height of the ceilings, the average inseam length of pants hanging in the closets, the size of the shoes, etc. Or you could simply control for the height of the parents. Much simpler! Occam would approve.


Similarly, if you controlled simply for the IQ of the parents, I bet you wouldn't have to laboriously include so many proxies for the parents' IQ like socio-economic status, WIC participation (i.e., get free formula from the government for being poor), mother's age at first birth, number of children's books in the home, and birth weight.



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Cheney's Apocalyptic Streak -- The debate reminded me that one of the (many) causes of the Iraq Attaq was the Vice President's obsession with an apocalyptic attack by terrorists on the U.S. Cheney claimed in his opening salvo:


The effort that we've mounted with respect to Iraq focused specifically on the possibility that this was the most likely nexus between the terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. The biggest threat we faced today is the possibility of terrorists smuggling a nuclear weapon or a biological agent into one of our own cities and threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.


Why was Cheney so obsessed with this that he bypassed or corrupted much of the intelligence system of the U.S. to find flunkies who would feed his paranoia with lies and balderdash? 


I suspect there's a connection to Cheney's recurrent role during the Reagan and Bush Administrations in the top-secret "Continuity of Government" program. Mostly devised by Oliver North, it was a massively funded effort to ensure that someone in the official chain of command would survive a Soviet nuclear attack on Washington D.C., or as the program mutated following the collapse of the Soviet Union, a terrorist nuking of D.C. 


Three teams of officials were designated, headed by a rotating Cabinet officer officially in line to become President. These various Secretaries of Agriculture and Commerce were intended to be legal figureheads who could give orders to the military. The powers behind the thrones would be their designated chiefs of staff: Cheney, then a Congressman; Donald Rumsfeld, then a business executive; and James Woolsey or at other times Kenneth Duberstein. Several times per year, Cheney would assemble with a Cabinet secretary and 40-60 federal officials in the middle of the night at Andrews Air Force Base, and be flown to various holes in the ground where they would go through a 3-4 day exercise pretending to fight a nuclear war. James Mann had all the details in the Atlantic Monthly last March


This is pure speculation, but I suspect that all of this planning for apocalypse had an indelible impact on the psyche of Cheney (and on Rumsfeld, too, although perhaps to a lesser exent, as well as on Woolsey, another Kool-Aid drinker)



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Veep Debate: Both fellows came across as plausible leaders. Cheney's neck appears to have totally vanished, leaving him looking like a pit bull with his head screwed on at a funny angle. He looks like the troll that lived under the bridge in "The Three Billy Goats Gruff," but he certainly appears collected and credible, even when he's lying. The biggest problem is that by repeating the same talking points as Bush, but without all the self-pity and ineptitude, he makes his boss look like a whiny, lazy schnook. It's easy to see how Cheney could have intimidated Bush into doing so many stupid things like invading the wrong country.


Edwards is still a lightweight pretty boy, kind of a cross visually between younger versions of actors Sam Neill and Mark Harmon, but he did well enough. I don't trust Edwards to be President in an emergency, but he didn't let Cheney bully him, which is a start. Still, I can't understand why two debates have gone by without either Democrat mentioning the name "Chalabi."


The problem for the GOP is that while Edwards comes from a sleazy class of people -- trial lawyers -- his record appears to have been fairly honorable.


Hey, whatever happened to domestic conservatism? As far as I could tell from the debate, the only difference between the two parties domestically was that the GOP is in favor of tax cuts for the rich. Otherwise, Dick Cheney's got just as long a list of government programs to solve all your problems as John Edwards does. It's all leaving Anne Applebaum nostalgic for Newt Gingrich, who at least tried to get spending under control



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The subtle difference between Bush and Kerry in two words: Bush is competitive and Kerry is ambitious


Bush by nature and by upbringing in the hyper-rivalrous Bush-Walker family is driven by a need to win. By chance, he happened to be born into a family where to earn top honors requires him to win not one, but two Presidential elections. If he'd been born into a family where his father owned the biggest junkyard in town, he'd be scrapping to own the biggest junkyards in two towns. This helps explain the President's striking lack of interest in the content of his job -- being President is just means to an end.


For Kerry, in contrast, being President is the end, the goal of the last 45 years of his life. He came from a family background where this burning ambition to be President was unlikely but hardly unthinkable, just unusual. At prep school, his naked flame of ambition made him a bit of an outsider among the sons of the hyper-rich who strove for nonchalance. In Vietnam he was certainly brave, and relatively few men on his boat ended up hating him (which is an above average performance for an officer in Vietnam), but always a glory hog. In the Senate, he has mostly seemed to bide his time, being liberal enough to get re-elected in Massachusetts, but keeping a low enough profile that the GOP couldn't as effectively hang the Massachusetts Liberal moniker on him as they did on Dukakis.



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A new slogan for Kerry: Staying up an hour past his 9:30 bedtime apparently taxed Bush's strength in the first debate. After four years on the job, he looks tired. In contrast, Kerry could campaign on how well-rested he is after taking a 20-year long vacation in the Senate.



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Douglas Feith's longtime law partner Marc Zell is a West Bank settler. The FBI's NeoconGate probe into American secrets winding up in Israeli hands has centered on the bailiwick of Feith, the #3 man at the Pentagon. Many pundits have denounced the FBI's investigation as implying "dual loyalties" on the part of some neocons, which is impossible, impermissible, impertinent, or whatever. In Slate, for example, the assertion that Feith has any ties to Israel was denounced as anti-Semitic and wholly lacking in any factual basis.


Feith's law partner in FandZ International from 1986-2001 (breaking up only when Feith joined the Bush Administration), was L. Marc Zell. Right after the Iraq invasion that was planned and justified by Feith, Zell formed a law firm in Baghdad for the purpose of helping firms win contracts from Feith's Pentagon. Zell's partner in this venture is Salem Chalabi, who is the nephew of -- you'll never guess this in a million years -- Ahmed Chalabi, who provided Feith with so much of the fictional justification for the war that Feith stovepiped past the CIA and into the Vice President's eager hands. Isn't that cozy?


Sadly, Zell became disillusioned with his new law partner's rich uncle when that convicted embezzler known throughout the region as Ahmed-the-Thief (but known throughout the American Enterprise Institute as the "George Washington of Iraq") failed to deliver on the promises he had made concerning Israel. Zell complained, "He said he would end Iraq's boycott of trade with Israel, and would allow Israeli companies to do business there. He said [the new Iraqi government] would agree to rebuild the pipeline from Mosul [in the northern Iraqi oil fields] to Haifa [the Israeli port, and the location of a major refinery]."


Now, here's something I hadn't known before: For the last 16 years, Feith's law partner Zell has been one of those West Bank settlers you hear so much about. And not one of those quiet, pragmatic, sane settlers who just moved from Israel to the West Bank because of the lucrative subsidies from the Israeli government. No, Zell is one of the, uh, enthusiastic settlers as this statement of his makes clear:


"I ask myself what kind of peace can there be if the Jews cannot live and build in Judea. Has the world gone completely mad when it sees the descendants of the Jews of ancient Tekoa and Hebron and that newly discovered Jewish Second Temple period town in Gush Etzion as "trespassers?" I say to the world that if you deny the legitimacy of our habitations in the hills of Gush Etzion and Judea (and Samaria and Gaza), you deny the legitimacy of the entire Jewish State . . . more than that: you deny our very legitimacy as a People on this G-d given Earth."



I suspect that personal ties to Israel have grown sharply among neocons over the decades, as more conservative Jewish New Yorkers move to Israel, often to settlements. This would help explain the extraordinary changes in the neoconservative movement over the years.


 For example, Israel is never mentioned in Norman Podhoretz's second autobiography until p. 323, when the 1967 war is won by Israel. Like most of the first generation neocons, he served in the U.S. Army and was very much focused on America as a young man. Yet, by the 1990s, Podhoretz had four grandchildren in Israel. Likewise, his wife Midge Decter, author of a recent hagiography of Donald Rumsfeld, has of course four grandchildren there too. Norman's son-in-law Elliot Abrams is the White House's top advisor on the Israel-Palestine dispute, and his son John is a columnist too, so both have nephews/nieces in Israel.


Similarly, David Wurmser, the neocons' mole in the State Dept. and now on Cheney's staff is married to an Israeli woman. Paul Wolfowitz has an Israeli brother-in-law. I'm sure the list could go on. 


So, when I talk about the importance of "ethnic nepotism," I'm talking about a web of very down-to-Earth connections between real people.



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Bush/Rove: Working to make that state IQ hoax a reality. Remember back in May when hundreds of liberal websites and even The Economist were trumpeting a blatant hoax claiming that the states that voted for Gore had radically higher average IQs than the states that voted for Bush? This year, though, it sometimes seems like the the Bush/Rove strategy on Iraq is to try desperately to hold on to the Dumb Vote, the 40% of the public that thinks Saddam was directly involved in 9/11. (Indeed, that might explain the fairly surprising news that the Asian Indian vote is going overwhelmingly for Kerry.)


A reader writes:


Why is anyone surprised that Bush did terribly in the first debate? Quite apart from the fact that Bush is inarticulate and overly scripted, why did anyone think that a *debate* about foreign policy would help Bush? Elections are, first and foremost, referenda on the incumbent. The incumbent usually gets hurt when there's bad news, particularly if the bad news can plausibly be attributed to him. Iraq is bad news, and it's Bush's war. Why did anyone think this was a good way for Bush to "put Kerry away"? 


Forget about all the un-Presidential body language. There were only two ways for Bush to win on foreign policy this election. First, he could convince the electorate that Iraq has thrown us a number of surprises, but we've adapted; that the mistakes of Iraq are not part of a pattern, and have been corrected. Then: point out that Kerry has no plausible plans to solve the Iraq mess, highlight successes in the broader war apart from Iraq, focus on terrorism and trash the Democrats. Bush can't repudiate his own war in Iraq, but he could have put it into a context that minimized the damage it could do to him, and maybe even spin it for some benefit. That's what I thought Bush should have done at the convention... 


The second approach is the one Bush took at the convention: obfuscate, talk in generalities, emphasize the *aims* of the war rather than its *effects*, and trash the Democrats for insufficient resolve. I thought that was pathetic. It certainly didn't reassure *me*. 


And Bush is now reaping the reward of his strategy: the rhetorical strategy that worked fine at the convention is a disaster in debates, where he can be challenged. All this was clear by the end of the GOP convention, and I don't understand why so many Republicans were complacently predicting a blow-out only a week ago. 


I guess they still believe Karl Rove's mantra that the way to win is to say you're winning. Sure worked in 2000; Rove and Bush did a victory lap the week before the election, and [Sarcasm Alert] sure enough they won the popular vote by a solid 5 points. 



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The Suicide of the West epitomized in a USA Today op-ed. Law professor Jonathan Turley argues for elimination of laws against polygamy because they are discriminatory and racist:


Tom Green is an American polygamist. This month, he will appeal his conviction in Utah for that offense to the United States Supreme Court, in a case that could redefine the limits of marriage, privacy and religious freedom. If the court agrees to take the case, it would be forced to confront a 126-year-old decision allowing states to criminalize polygamy that few would find credible today, even as they reject the practice. And it could be forced to address glaring contradictions created in recent decisions of constitutional law. For polygamists, it is simply a matter of unequal treatment under the law.


In addition to protecting privacy, the Constitution is supposed to protect the free exercise of religion unless the religious practice injures a third party or causes some public danger. However, in its 1878 opinion in Reynolds vs. United States, the court refused to recognize polygamy as a legitimate religious practice, dismissing it in racist and anti-Mormon terms as "almost exclusively a feature of the life of Asiatic and African people." In later decisions, the court declared polygamy to be "a blot on our civilization" and compared it to human sacrifice and "a return to barbarism." Most tellingly, the court found that the practice is "contrary to the spirit of Christianity and of the civilization which Christianity has produced in the Western World." 


Contrary to the court's statements, the practice of polygamy is actually one of the common threads between Christians, Jews and Muslims. Deuteronomy contains a rule for the division of property in polygamist marriages. Old Testament figures such as Abraham, David, Jacob and Solomon were all favored by God and were all polygamists. Solomon truly put the "poly" to polygamy with 700 wives and 300 concubines. Mohammed had 10 wives, though the Koran limits multiple wives to four. Martin Luther at one time accepted polygamy as a practical necessity. Polygamy is still present among Jews in Israel, Yemen and the Mediterranean.


Notice the sleight of hand here as Turley claims that "polygamy is actually one of the common threads between Christians, Jews and Muslims," but the only evidence he cites is that "Martin Luther at one time accepted polygamy as a practical necessity." 


Well, isn't that special! Obviously, opposition to polygamy is one of the defining characteristics of Christianity and the West. Monogamy is a cartel among men to share women relatively equally, to compete on quality of wife but to not compete on quantity of wives. This cartel, along with some other customs like opposition to cousin marriage, underlies the West's traditional advantage in trust and cooperation among males. Obviously, our society is not much threatened by Mormon wackos like Tom Green, but it is threatened by massive immigration from cultures endorsing polygamy.


Turley wraps up:


I personally detest polygamy. Yet if we yield to our impulse and single out one hated minority, the First Amendment becomes little more than hype and we become little more than hypocrites. For my part, I would rather have a neighbor with different spouses than a country with different standards for its citizens. I know I can educate my three sons about the importance of monogamy, but hypocrisy can leave a more lasting impression.


The shallowness of analysis, the fetishization of anti-discrimination and minority rights, and the refusal to even think about the reasons behind the great traditions of our culture makes this a prize example of the destructive trends at work in the West.



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More on Dawkins, Hamilton, and Ethnic Nepotism:


- The 1975 paper by William D. Hamilton that is one of the earliest statements of the theory of ethnic nepotism, Innate Social Aptitudes of Man: an Approach from Evolutionary Genetics,  is posted by Jim Bowery here.


- For additional info on the remarkable scientist William D. Hamilton, see this website.


- Lots of interesting comments on GNXP about the "Dissing Dawkins" entry attacking my previous week's article on Dawkins on race. I can't figure out what the URL is for a GNXP comment thread, so just go to the lower left corner and click on "Comments."


- A reader writes in response to my criticism in last week's column of Dawkins thought experiment in which Dawkins' assumed that nobody would have any trouble visually distinguishing between Ugandans and New Guineans. I pointed that I would, but an Australian reader says, with some justification, that's just because I'm a dumb American:


I don't agree with your comments about the similarity of Papuans from Irian Jaya and Negroes from Africa. I am an Australian and I have never been to New Guinea or Africa but I consider Papuans to be as similar to Ugandans as a black Clydesdale is to a black quarterhorse. Papuans may be dark brown skinned, have woolly hair and other superficially similar features to Negro Africans, but everything else is different. Face shape, ears, nose, eye shape, body build, skull shape, body hair... are different. The nose on adult Papuans, not those boys with their child noses, is very large, beaky and something similar to the nose on those cigar store Indian statues seen in Western movies. Very big conks indeed and high bridged. Nothing like any Negro African even Nilotids or mixed types like Ethiopians. The Melanesian brothers looked to my eye like Bougainvilleans who are noted for their black shiny skin unlike Papuans who are usually a dark reddish brown.


I have found that Americans do not know much about race and often cannot distinguish Berbers from sub saharran Africans, Arabs from negroes and even Southern Europeans from mixed race types or dark skinned caucasians like East Indians. Negroes in the States are mixed race being about 20% caucasian. Mestizos are confused with Europeans like Spanish or Portuguese. It is rather odd! So I suppose your difficulty in separating Papuans from Negro Africans is understandable. By the way, American blacks in Australia cannot tell Papuans from negroes also. Very odd indeed.


How sadly true. Unfortunately, American intellectuals tend to export their ignorance about race to the intellectuals of the rest of the world -- Dawkins' essay, for example, seems to conceptualize race from within the peculiarly American perspective of only noticing differences among Continental-Scale Races and of being worried about the One-Drop-Rule. It's hard to imagine an English scientist of the days of the British Empire, such as Darwin or Galton, holding such a crudely Americanized view of race.

- A reader writes in response to my article about Hamilton's view of ethnic nepotism:


As I wrote earlier, I enjoy your blog. However, I believe you need to be more careful in your argument about relatedness and race, at least insofar as this is supposed to tell us something about altruism. What is left out of a great many popular accounts of kin selection (including Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene") is that Hamilton made some simplifying assumptions to derive his famous rule. Relax these assumptions and the rule may no longer hold. What's most relevant in the present case is that the rule assumes *no* selection between the time a gene is present in a common ancestor and the time it expresses itself in a descendant. 


To see how this affects the argument, look at the familiar case where you have a chance to save a cousin from a tiger, at some risk to yourself. The usual calculation is that you share 1/8 of your genes with a cousin (over and above what you share with the background population -- this is where Washburn messed up) so you should help your cousin as long the fitness costs to you are less than 1/8 the fitness costs to your cousin. *However* the 1/8 figure may not be correct for a genetic locus affecting altruism if there has been selection at that locus between your grandparents' time and the present. Suppose you've lost uncles and aunts and cousins in the past when they've tried to rescue other relatives from tigers. Since these lost relatives are more likely to have been carriers of any altruism alleles, you're no longer entitled to assume these particular alleles now have a frequency of 1/8 among your cousins (again, over and above background frequency), and no longer entitled to use r = 1/8 to calculate the adaptive value of altruism. In fact, Hamilton assumed that fitness costs and benefits were *infinitesimal* when he did his early calculations, to avoid this problem.


Going from grandparents to grandchildren as in the example above, Hamilton's rule should still give a pretty good estimate for weak to moderate selection for altruism. But in the case of races, significant coefficients of inbreeding result from lots of distant common ancestors. I've never seen an estimate of how much of an effect such selection would have, but in general even quite weak selection over long periods of time can change allele frequencies enormously from what coefficients of inbreeding on their own would predict. This helps to explain why people working in the field, like Axelrod, build explicit genetic models instead of just hopping from F to r to B/C.


Am I saying Hamilton was wrong, or at least awfully careless, in his paper on "Innate Social Aptitudes of Man" in jumping from Wright's F to expected altruism? Yes. He is a giant in the field, of course, but not infallible.


Right. But I've put a lot of work into showing that Bill Hamilton agreed with me on this, because I'm completely fallible. I was tired of having Leda Cosmides tell me I just didn't understand the science well enough or I'd see the obvious flaw in the theory of ethnic nepotism. Okay, I probably don't, but Hamilton understood it at least as well as she did, so I don't have to defer to her authority anymore.


But what about where there is positive selection for kin altruism? To use your tiger example, if your recent ancestors worked out an effective anti-tiger collective security system (e.g., the buddy system when venturing out of the village, or tiger hunts, or deforestation of tiger habitats, or whatever), then you'd have positive selection for kin altruism. Or consider war. Say your father and his brothers and first cousins and distant cousins stood shoulder to shoulder and fought the other group until the enemy broke and ran and your group hunted them down and killed them one at a time? How many times in human history and prehistory has the more cohesive, self-sacrificial military force wiped out the force made up of people who didn't trust each other with their lives?


I bet most of us are more descended from the kin groups that thought of themselves when they went to war as "we band of brothers" than the kin groups who went to war with each man thinking of himself as an individual for the simple reason that the more in-group altruistic warriors tended to kill the less in-group trusting warriors.


By the way, I did a little spreadsheet work five years ago and found that ethnic nepotism would be greater in a faster growing population (i.e., ones with bigger families, at least in terms of surviving children). Proportional to your one copy of a gene, there'd be more copies of that gene in your aggregate kin for the simple reason that you'd have more kin. So, you'd see more self-sacrifice in cultures with big families. Which is what you see in the real world -- e.g., the draft won't fly these days politically because parents have too much invested in each of their small numbers of son than in the Baby Boom days when they tended to have an heir and a spare or three or four.


I suspect we tend to be descended more from ancestors who were part of fast growing populations than from shrinking populations. It's like the old economics debate over whether more jobs are created by small businesses or big businesses -- the answer, of course, was: by small business that become big businesses.



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New VDARE column: Where Dawkins fears to tread: ethnic nepotism and the reality of race:

The Iraqis' fierce resistance to foreigners (us) invading their country was predictable on any number of grounds. But perhaps the most interesting is the most fundamental: the theory of "ethnic nepotism." This explains the tendency of humans to favor members of their own racial group by postulating that all animals evolve toward being more altruistic toward kin in order to propagate more copies of their common genes.

Which doesn't mean that kin groups always cooperate—they also compete among themselves, in a sort of sibling rivalry writ large. But nepotistic solidarity still matters.

Even the notoriously fractious Afghan Pashtuns think in terms of: "I against my brother. My brother and I against my cousin. My cousin and we against the world." (Note that, by maintaining a smaller footprint in Afghanistan and letting the Afghans go back to being Afghans, we've provoked much less nationalist backlash there.)

You may not have ever heard of ethnic nepotism before. That's largely because the most media savvy-explicators of Darwinism—such as Richard Dawkins, recently voted Britain's top public intellectual by Prospect magazine—are terrified that their entire field might be tarred as "racist" if the concept is given a fair public discussion.

The term "ethnic nepotism" was introduced in the 1981 book The Ethnic Phenomenon by Pierre L. van den Berghe, a white sociologist born in the old Belgian colony of the Congo.

Disgusted by white oppression of Africans, van den Berghe became a fairly conventional liberal on race. But, as he overcame his Eurocentric focus on white crimes, he realized that race-based exploitation and violence are universal human curses. This led him to sociobiology and its bedrock finding: the late William D. Hamilton's theory of kin selection and inclusive fitness—the more genes we share with another individual, the more altruistic we feel toward him.

There are no clear boundaries between extended family, tribe, ethnic group, or race. So van den Berghe coined the term "ethnic nepotism" to describe the human tendency to favor "our people."

Ethnocentrism, clannishness, xenophobia, nationalism, and racism are the almost inevitable flip sides of ethnic nepotism. (I say almost because it's important to note that you can be patriotic and work for the good of your own fellow citizens without overtly wishing ill toward any other country. Nonetheless, even patriotism still implies discrimination against noncitizens.)

The Ethnic Phenomenon is the book Karl Marx should have written. Rather than focusing on the relatively minor phenomenon of class, he should have explored the global importance of kinship.



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"Red Dawn" -- I finally watched the 1984 surprise hit (most of the anti-communist hits of the Reagan era came as huge surprises to a perpetually clueless Hollywood establishment: "Uncommon Valor," "Rambo," "Top Gun," etc.), which has a few primordially powerful scenes. You aren't supposed to take the premise all that seriously -- Soviet and Cuban troops invade the American heartland, although writer-director-tough guy John Milius actually tries to make it as plausible as possible -- but as a portrait of how a guerilla resistance to foreign occupiers evolves, it offers some important lessons for today.


One peaceful day in a Colorado small town, Soviet and Cuban paratroopers start falling from the sky, Patrick Swayze, the ex-quarterback of the Calumet H.S. Wolverines, now a pump jockey, rescues his little brother (Charlie Sheen) and some other football players and they head up into the Rockies after loading up on guns and canned goods at C. Thomas Howell's dad's convenience store.


After five weeks of hiding out in the woods and hunting deer, the boys sneak down to the occupied town, where the two brothers find that their father (Harry Dean Stanton), like all the other registered gun owners in town, has been imprisoned at the Re-education Camp (the drive-in movie theatre). Through the razor wire, they have a moving last conversation with him, and as they are leaving for the last time, Stanton shouts to his sons, "Avenge me! Avenge me!"


Later, after the boys have started an armed resistance using RPGs and IEDs, they capture one unharmed Soviet soldier and find out that one of their band is a traitor. Swayze decides to execute them both, but his brother cries out:


"If we kill them, then how are we better than them?


Swayze replies, "Because we live here," and shoots the Russian.



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"Ethnic Electorate: Myths & Realities:" My new cover story in the Oct. 25, 2004 issue of The American ConservativeAmerican Conservative Cover Art Oct 25 2004 Ethnic Electorate by Steve Sailer is now available to subscribers to the Electronic Edition. Here's a brief excerpt from my comprehensive five page story:


There are few topics that political reporters are more likely to botch up than voter demographics. As an old marketing researcher, I'm often struck by how someone can build a successful career at a major newspaper writing about voting blocs despite quantitative skills that wouldn't get him out of the mailroom at Procter & Gamble. The incompetence and gullibility of journalists when analyzing electoral segmentation would merely be amusing, except that politicians sometimes start to believe their own press clippings...


One reason for the poor quality of demographic reporting is the invincible innumeracy of journalists. If reporters had a good head for numbers, they wouldn't be reporters. They could make more money working for the candidates, crunching data and spinning the results. So, the credulous English majors who cover the candidates are constantly being snookered by campaign consultants who enjoy doing sixth grade math.


For example, the linchpin of the widely-repeated argument that the GOP must favor amnesty for illegal immigrants or go down in flames in November has been an endlessly cited quote that Bush pollster Matthew Dowd gave Thomas Edsall of the Washington Post in July 2001: "As a realistic goal, we have to get somewhere between … 38 to 40 percent of the Hispanic vote" -- up from 35 percent in 2000.


Indeed, Karl Rove and Co. made the argument that amnesty would be a clever election tactic so many times that when the President finally formally announced his plan, many newspapers reported the move as a cynical and desperate election ploy -- not exactly the headlines the White House wanted.


But, did Dowd's quote ever make any sense? Let's do the math. How crucial would, say, a three percentage point increase in Hispanics (from 35 to 38 percent) be for Bush? Latinos accounted for only 5.4 percent of all voters in the Census Bureau's survey of 50,000 household right after the 2000 election. What about 2004? The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials recently forecast that the Hispanic share would reach 6.1 percent this fall.


What's 6.1 percent times 3.0 percent? It's a 0.183 percentage point increase for Bush. That's … not much. In fact, that would be one out of every 546 votes cast...


Obviously, Dowd's argument for amnesty is malarkey … but nobody in the press corps ever did the arithmetic...


According to Brandeis historian David Hackett Fischer's famous book Albion's Seed, WASPs are still divided into four subethnic groups which had spread West across the U.S. at roughly constant latitudes: from north to south, they are New England Puritans, Pennsylvania Quakers, Appalachian backcountry Scotch-Irish, and Southern lowlanders. He expects the bellicose Scotch-Irish and the self-righteous descendents of the Puritans to be particularly at arms this year over Iraq.


"The family tree of George W. Bush is as close to pure Yankee Puritan as any Presidential candidate's in many decades, but Bush has mastered the idioms of the backcountry culture he grew up in down in Midland, Texas," Fischer told me. As epitomized by the Scotch-Irish warrior Andrew Jackson, Bush's adopted culture prefers to shoot first and ask questions later.


In contrast, John Kerry is from Massachusetts and is part Puritan. He does best in New England and its outcroppings such as Northern California. Fischer contended that the Bush Administration's doctrine of pre-emptive war on Iraq was foreign to Greater New England's traditional self-image. "It's very important to New Englanders not to fire the first shot."


Another traditional aspect of liberals' self-image is their assumption that they are smarter than conservatives. Indeed, in May, hundreds of liberal websites, as well as The Economist magazine, fell for a telling hoax: a fictitious table of state IQ scores purportedly showing Gore states vastly outsmart Bush states. In reality, state IQ scores have not been published in decades, but school achievement scores and educational levels found in exit polls indicate the two parties are highly similar intellectually, on average.


This year, however, much of Bush's support comes from the two-fifths of the public who continue to tell pollsters that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11. This view isn't necessarily illogical -- many Americans seem to assume that's why the President responded to 9/11 by invading Iraq -- but it is ill-informed.




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Christopher Hitchens discovers a new hero to go along with Leon Trotsky: Paul Wolfowitz. Johann Hari interviews Hitchens:

"That's when I began to first find myself on the same side as the neocons. I was signing petitions in favour of action in Bosnia, and I would look down the list of names and I kept finding, there's Richard Perle. There's Paul Wolfowitz. That seemed interesting to me. These people were saying that we had to act." He continues, "Before, I had avoided them like the plague, especially because of what they said about General Sharon and about Nicaragua. But nobody could say they were interested in oil in the Balkans, or in strategic needs, and the people who tried to say that - like Chomsky - looked ridiculous. So now I was interested."...

He believes neoconservatism is a distinctively new strain of thought, preached by ex-leftists, who believed in using US power to spread democracy. "It's explicitly anti-Kissingerian. Kissinger hates this stuff. He opposed intervening in the Balkans. Kissinger Associates were dead against [the war in] Iraq. He can't understand the idea of backing democracy - it's totally alien to him."

"So that interest in the neocons re-emerged after September 11th. They were saying - we can't carry on with the approach to the Middle East we have had for the past fifty years. We cannot go on with this proxy rule racket, where we back tyranny in the region for the sake of stability. So we have to take the risk of uncorking it and hoping the more progressive side wins." He has replaced a belief in Marxist revolution with a belief in spreading the American revolution. Thomas Jefferson has displaced Karl Marx...

With the fine eye for ideological division that comes from a life on the Trotskyite left, Hitch diagnoses the intellectual divisions within the Bush administration. He does not ally himself with the likes of Cheney; he backs the small sliver of pure neocon thought he associates with Wolfowitz. "The thing that would most surprise people about Wolfowitz if they met him is that he's a real bleeding heart. He's from a Polish-Jewish immigrant family. You know the drill - Kennedy Democrats, some of the family got out of Poland in time and some didn't make it, civil rights marchers? He impressed me when he was speaking at a pro-Israel rally in Washington a few years ago and he made a point of talking about Palestinian suffering. He didn't have to do it - at all - and he was booed. He knew he would be booed, and he got it. I've taken time to find out what he thinks about these issues, and it's always interesting."

He gives an account of how the neocon philosophy affected the course of the Iraq war. "The CIA - which is certainly not neoconservative - wanted to keep the Iraqi army together because you never know when you might need a large local army. That's how the US used to govern. It's a Kissinger way of thinking. But Wolfowitz and others wanted to disband the Iraqi army, because they didn't want anybody to even suspect that they wanted to restore military rule." He thinks that if this philosophy can become dominant within the Republican Party, it can turn US power into a revolutionary force.


One little problem with the Wolfowitz-Hitchens Plan for turning the U.S. into what Trotsky wanted the Soviet Union to be is that the officials who are true believers in revolutionizing the Middle East -- Wolfie, Feith, etc. -- are flaming incompetents who do idiotic things like fire the entire Iraq army and fall in love with Ahmed Chalabi. In contrast, the officials who are competent think that revolutionizing the region would most likely be a disaster.



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As an alumnus of Rice U., the smallest college (2500 undergraduates) to play bigtime Div. 1A football, I'm used to the Owls losing, but I don't think anybody could get used to this:


Rice @ 63
San Jose St 70 F
Recap | Box Score


Wha' appened? The refs decide to take seriously the little known and seldom enforced No Tackling rule? The teams decide to start basketball season early?



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Bush as Dana Carvey's Church Lady -- Photographic proof

Well, isn't that special!

As I mentioned below right after the debate, the anger and hostility the President radiated on the split-screen while Senator Kerry was criticizing him was quite memorable. Especially during the first half of the debate, Bush kept pulling his lower lip up to make his mouth into a thin-lipped straight line as if he was biting his lip to keep himself from interrupting his opponent. He looked remarkably like Dana Carvey's old Saturday Night Live character, The Church Lady, who would sit brimming with half- repressed rage while somebody rambled on, and then spit out, "Well, isn't that special." If I was Carvey's agent, I'd be on the phone with Lorne Michael right now about having Dana play Bush as the Church Lady in the opening sketch on tomorrow's Saturday Night Live.





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More reader responses to the first debate:


When Bush started speaking, I said to my wife (not for the first time) "You know, he does look like Curious George."  To which my wife replied, once Kerry started to speak, "and he looks like the Man with the Yellow Hat."  That gave me a mental picture of Kerry pulling out a sack and popping it over BabyBush's head. 


Although the problem with the President is that he's Incurious George.



The pinheads, in their denial, remind me of the MD reaction to Semmelweis. He showed that that doctors were the _cause_ of childbed fever - that they were (accidentally of course) killing huge numbers of women. And he showed how very simple sanitary precautions could almost completely eliminate this tragedy. His colleagues utterly rejected this: you see, in order to admit that Semmelweis was correct, they first would have had to admit that they had been terribly wrong, that they had increased the risk of childbed fever manyfold. Rather than think this, which would have been really depressing and seriously damaged their amour-propre, they mocked him, rejected him and his ideas. He attacked them desperately, horrified at their murderous folly, but got nowhere. He eventually died in an insane asylum. Not a Disney story.

Here, people have to admit that their country, the government that they probably voted for (as I did) is criminally stupid, that it chose an aggressive war that has no practical purpose at all. Their government has embarrassed and discredited the country in the eyes of the world. Rather than believe that highly depressing fact, they spin fantasies. But let's look at the bright side: at least they wash their hands.


It's always been part of my proud self-image as an American that I can say, "America ends wars, it doesn't start them." (Well, maybe not 100% of the time, but even in, say, the Mexican-American war, Santa Anna conveniently handed us a casus belli.) I'm sure this is true for many of us. Now, though, our President, with the consent of Congress and broad support among the American public, has trashed that claim. The easier solution is to simply not believe our lying eyes and to keep believing the story. William Saletan of Slate has more along these lines in his "Is Bush's biggest mistake too awful to admit?"



I definitely agree with the reader who said that Bush takes after his mother. Barbara Bush definitely has a reputation behind the scenes as a pretty nasty and unforgiving person. I think that her fairly good reputation with the public is based on a) Nancy Regan was so reviled in many quarters that her successor was bound to be positively contrasted with her, whether accurately or not and b) She wrote a book and said her dog wrote it, which was regarded as cute. 


However, I do think that Bush's dislike of being a challenged incumbent is something he shares with his father. Bush 41 seemed to hate sharing the stage with Clinton and Perot, but he was enough of an old-fashioned WASP gentleman to keep this more or less under control, so that his irritation at not being allowed to coast to re-election only came out in small gestures like the infamous glance at his watch. Bush 43 has less self-control in this regard, so his irritation shows on his face. They say that he was just like this in his debate for re-election as governor of 1998, but there was a "no taking the camera off the speaker" rule that concealed his scowls when his opponent was talking. When he first ran in 1994, in contrast, he was complimented for being respectful and well-spoken toward Ann Richards. Being an incumbent must bring out his dormant sense of entitlement.


I'm trying to figure out why the polls all say the public would rather have dinner with Bush than Kerry. Judging from last night, Kerry passes the basic test of being polite, while Bush seemed like a jerk, a nasty, anger-filled little man.



Last night was Kerry's best public performance. He came across like a top surgeon-- arrogant, but also very competent. Bush on the other hand, came across as the third best veterinarian in a small town. If you woke up from amnesia and had to guess which has been president for four years, who would guess Bush?


As for Bush's reactions, C-Span had a split screen the entire debate. Jim Baker was smart to insist reaction shots not be shown-- Bush was horrible, he telegraphed such anger and disdain.


Maybe that doesn't hurt Bush. A lot of people think that the most important qualification of a President is that he be willing to kick ass, and the fact that Bush looked like he was just about ready to walk over and cold-cock Kerry appeals to them. Yet, his looking like a peeved old lady can't help with that voter segment either.



After all the discussion of typewriter fonts, it was a relief to see the two candidates discussing the most pressing issue on the table. Kerry certainly came out ahead. His proposals had their problems. They seem both contradictory and unrealistic. Saying you will win a war you admit to be a mistake sounds odd, to say the least, and there isn't a snowball's chance in Hell of some other country happily committing its troops to help us get out of a guerrilla war of our own making. Not even Bush's father could pull that off, and Kerry's no 41. Still, Kerry at least has made the most important step: He sees there's a problem, and he's admitted it. His solutions are inadequate, but at least they're something else beyond digging the country ever deeper into the same hole.


The President, on the other hand, is still in full denial. That, I think, explains his behavior more than anything. The one thing people hate worse than making mistakes is having it pointed out to them, especially when they're determined to believe otherwise. It's like trying to tell a surly drunk he's had too much to drink. He'll deny it right up to the point he runs his car into a tree.


That Bush has effectively cocooned himself away from anything resembling serious criticism for the past four years certainly hasn't helped him either. Ronald Reagan and Bush I held numerous press conferences--some with a lot of give and take--and both came out better for it. Even Clinton was able to deal with hecklers, and having a GOP-dominated Congress made him aware of his opposition. Bush has no one around him who'll say "no."


Well, the mood of the country seems to be moving increasingly toward what I call Christian post-modernism: the feeling that reality is less important than thinking positive thoughts, that problems don't so much exist in the real world as merely in the heads of those awful, negative-thinking cynics. They are the real problem!




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