September 20, 2008

UPDATED: The weird thing about the latest financial house of cards

... is that the cornerstone, such as it was, was confidence in the increasing ability of the bottom half of society to pay back unprecedentedly large debts.

Underlying these vast pyramids of debt was, all too often, a promise by a single mother who works at the DMV or a drywaller from Chiapas to (following a brief teaser period) make mortgage payments of, say, $3750 per month for the next several decades.

In recent times, investors have typically gotten rich in our society by betting on the rich to get richer. And most of the time, that's what happens: the rich get richer. Every so often, however, we have a meltdown because, during the bubble, investors temporarily overestimated the rate at which the rich will get richer—e.g., Silicon Valley in 2000, the Texas oil patch in 1982, commercial real estate developers around 1990, and so forth.

But, most of the time, you can get richer betting on the rich to get richer....

The homeownership rate had been stuck at about 64% since the late 1960s. The Clinton and Bush administrations pushed hard to get it up to 68-69%.

What in the world made anybody think that the second quartile up from the bottom was developing more earning capacity?

They'd sent their wives out to work a couple of decades before. What else could they do now to pay bigger mortgage payments in the future?

The second quartile folks weren't getting better educated, weren't getting more unionized, weren't facing less competition from China, weren't facing less competition from immigrants, weren't getting married at higher rates so they could better pool their earning capacity.

So what trend suggested they were now developing more capacity to pay back huge debts than before?

You can read the rest at

I mean, when was the last time it was smart to bet on the working class getting richer? 1946?

Too big to fail

There is a lot of talk about how we need more governmental regulation of today's enormously complex financial markets, but the obvious problem with that is that barely anybody understands how today's enormously complex financial markets work, and those that do generally have better things to do than get paid at civil servants' salary levels.

So, what we need are a few new but simple regulations. But those are hard to come up with. Let me toss one idea out there: We shouldn't permit financial institutions to get too big to fail.

The analogy to antitrust legislation is obvious: we don't permit businesses to get too big to compete, so why let financial firms get too big to fail?

For example, in 1987 the Reagan Administration Department of Justice vetoed the acquisition of the marketing research firm I worked for by Nielsen because it would leave only two competitors in the consumer packaged goods sales data industry. You didn't even know there was an industry that measures whether Crest or Colgate has higher market share? Well, it's not much of an industry, but the Reagan Administration considered it important enough to insist that it be a three company industry rather than a two company industry. This decision may have cost me, say, $100,000 or more in paper profits on my stock options in my employer, which went from worth $20 per share to below water, but I don't recall too many being outraged by my loss. That's how the antitrust laws work, going back to 1911, when the Supreme Court ruled that the Standard Oil Company should be broken up under the 1890 Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Standard was split up into three separate competitors.

Why not do the same thing to firms threatening to be too big to fail?

First, once this crisis is over, don't approve mergers that would create firms above a certain threshold in too-big-too-failness.

Second, firms that are already over the threshold would be given, say, three years to split themselves up into firms under the limit. Fast growing firms could plot out their futures and make plans to voluntarily divest themselves of some units, or split like amoebas before they reached the penalty threshold.

This doesn't penalize stockholders unduly (other than that they lose their too-big-too-fail premium). Instead of holding one share of TooBigtoFail Inc, they hold one share each in PrettyBig Inc. and FairlyLarge Inc. Are there enormous economies of scale in the financial industry that would be lost? Perhaps, but how do they compare to all the other losses we've seen due to too-big-to-fail moral hazard? If you want FDIC insurance on your million dollars in bank savings, the government doesn't let you keep it all in one bank, even though there would be economies of scale in doing that. It forces you to diversify among ten banks.

We already know how to do this in antitrust law. We've been doing it for 97 years, and it's not all that controversial anymore.

Consider the alternative, as we've seen it this week, to having written laws and regulations explaining in black and white ahead of time how big a financial firm can be before it must split itself up: government bureaucrats and contractors, in a caffeine-fueled frenzy, deciding which firms are too big to fail (AIG) and which ones aren't (Lehman).

Why let them get that big in the first place?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 19, 2008

Non-specific immune response due to intentional attribution error

GC unloads in the GNXP comment section. Yes, I know that the financial breakdown had lots of short-term causes, but we've got a long-term problem that people are only now waking up to that he describes with vivid overstatement here.

Consider the recent and ongoing financial meltdown. The forced borrowing and credit expansion makes our society like Wile E. Coyote. The standard of living which we're maintaining through massive borrowing is that of a 90+% Euro country, running further and further out in mid-air over an enormous gorge. At some point the Chinese will call in their chits -- and there will be a massive correction which drops us back to the economic profile of a ~67% Euro country with a 2% high IQ minority of immigrants and a 30% or larger proportion of restive NAM economic deadweight. A vertical drop on the regression line rather than a gradual degradation. ...

But can this fundamental demographic factor be mooted, let alone discussed? No.

- Yet can we discuss "greed"? Sure.

- The ineradicable evil of the Republicans and capitalism itself? Of course.

- The necessity of yet more government control over the economy, despite the fact that Sarbanes-Oxley did nothing to prevent this? Naturally.

So -- what happens when we can only discuss symptoms rather than causes? Well, do you know what nonspecific activation of the immune system can do? Some really bad things:

A cytokine storm. An immunologist contacted by New Scientist and who wished to be anonymous has commented that "You don't need to be a rocket scientist to work out what will happen if you non-specifically activate every T cell in the body."[25]

- Point: a nonspecific immune response can result in the death or incapacitation of an organism.

- Observation: our media systematically causes nonspecific responses via intentional attribution error.

1) Health Care -- have you seen these Blue Shield Ads? They go on & on about the "uninsured" without ever once mentioning that they are overwhelmingly Hispanic.

2) Collapse of our financial system -- compare Sailer's diversity recession article to current see-no-ACORN NYT coverage.

3) "Gun violence" in the US -- compare Bowling for Columbine to the FBI Uniform Crime reports. The Heller argumentation was a joke, a complete abstraction on both sides. Doesn't matter whether there are assault rifles in every house (like Switzerland) or gun prohibition (like the UK). Demographics is what determines gun violence.

4) Education -- international statistics show "Americans" at the bottom, causing NCLB. But whites and Asians are doing fine.

5) Terrorism -- compare PC Norman Mineta's screening procedures with the reality of the names on the terrorist watch list.

6) Racial profiling -- see "violence" above. Soon whites/asians will be pulled over at higher rates to match quotas, with blacks/hispanics pulled over at lower rates. This will be the effect of Obama's proposed national racial profiling prohibition in the Jena Six speech at Howard -- either increase spurious arrests or practice catch and release, or both.

7) Crime statistics -- FBI aggregates Hispanics into the white category as "offenders", vastly increasing the apparent white crime rate (this is how Tim Wise lies).

Every single one of these has the same form:

1) NAM group behaves badly
2) Media reports it as nonspecific problem of "society" and refuses to mention specific culpability
3) The government increases its power and forces non-NAMs to pay for their bad behavior
4) Refusal to address root causes increased rates of taxation, crime, victimization. Everything from airport security strip searches of grandma to gun seizures from law abiding citizens to forced busing into Rwanda-like schools is a function of this systematic attribution error.

September 18, 2008

Was Obama born in Hawaii?

Or was he born in some foreign country, thus (perhaps) disqualifying him from becoming President?

Of course he was born in Hawaii.

Have you ever looked at where Hawaii is on a globe? It's farther from foreign countries than even the American mainland. The idea that his heavily pregnant mother (flying is not at all fun for pregnant women) would get on an early 707 and fly at great expense to some foreign country is ridiculous -- especially the popular theory that he was born in Kenya. Do you know how many different flights she would have had to take to get to Kenya in 1961? Honolulu to California, California to the East Cost, the East Coast (refueling at Gandar Bay) to London, London to maybe Cairo, Cairo to Nairobi. How much would that have cost? And then you would be stuck having your baby in Africa rather than in a modern American hospital in Honolulu.

Or you could go the other way around the world -- it's about the same distance either way. Kenya and Hawaii are more or less on the opposite sides of the globe, almost as far apart as two places can be.

This is a very silly idea.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The Obama Thought Police

In "Black and Blacker: The Racial Politics of the Obama Marriage," Vanessa Grigoriadis writes:

"As I began to finish the reporting for this article, I mentioned to an Obama aide that I was interested in the different ways that Obama presents himself to black and white audiences. The aide hit the roof over this comment, which he claimed was racially divisive, and soon I received a call from Obama’s “African-American outreach coordinator,” who apparently clarifies race issues for reporters when they are perceived to have strayed. “I appreciate what you’re saying,” said Corey Ealons, “but I think it’s dangerous, quite frankly.” He thought for a moment. “The spirit of this campaign is about bringing people together and focusing on the things that are similar about us as opposed to the things that make it different,” he said. “Barack is one of the best political communicators in our history. If you’re somehow saying that he can’t be the same person with all people, that’s certainly not the case.” He paused. “Barack Obama is Barack Obama,” he said."

Anybody who has seen the video of Obama's "Quiet Riot" speech commemorating the 1992 South Central Riots in front of an assembly of black ministers, in which he uses the accent and body language of a Baptist reverend from Tupelo, will know how funny this is. By the way, the "shout-out" to Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., is from the one to the two minute mark in the video. (The text of Obama's speech is less amusing -- it features a long whine about how blacks got cheated out of all that government money they were promised after they rioted in 1992.)

What's even more hilarious is how many journalists have volunteered to serve as unpaid deputies in the Obama Thought Police Auxilary. Partly, it's access journalism at work -- you're only allowed to talk to the candidate if his aides are sure you won't ask any tough questions. It's like Hollywood's various gay Scientologist action heroes -- you'll never ever be allowed to interview them, or any of their publicists' other A-list clients, if you ask them about being gay or being a Scientologist.

But mostly, it's just that asking Obama any intelligent questions about his "story of race and inheritance" is unthinkable. Sure, it would be interesting and important, but its ... just ... not... done.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 17, 2008

The Obama Campaign's Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

Barack Obama really, really doesn't like people mentioning his past.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Now Obama's presidential campaign is increasingly using the list to beat back media messages it does not like, calling on supporters to flood radio and television stations when those opposed to him run anti-Obama ads or appear on talk shows.

It did so as recently as Monday night, when it orchestrated a massive stream of complaints on the phone lines of Tribune Co.-owned WGN-AM in Chicago when the radio station hosted author David Freddoso, who has written a controversial book about the Illinois Democrat.

The latest use of the database, called the Obama Action Wire, is proving yet another new and potentially powerful tactic in the closing weeks of a campaign that has already been dominated by Internet-based messages and media. ...

"The Action Wire serves as a means of arming our supporters with the facts to take on those who spread lies about Barack Obama and respond forcefully with the truth, whether it's an author passing off fiction as biography, a Web site spreading baseless conspiracy theories or a TV station airing an ad that makes demonstrably false claims," said Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt.

Sen. John McCain's campaign uses the Internet for fundraising and organization but does not have anything like Obama's alert system to bombard a specific media outlet in real time.

Obama's campaign says supporters have placed thousands of phone calls to TV and radio stations and sent even more letters to newspapers.

A page on the campaign's Web site, headlined "Hit 'em where it hurts," told supporters how to complain to advertisers at stations that ran a recent anti-Obama ad.

"We'll provide you with talking points on this maliciously false hit ad to help guide you through the process," the page said, citing a spot run by a conservative group called the American Issues Project.

The campaign says supporters sent roughly 100,000 e-mails in August to stations that aired the ad, which criticized Obama for his ties to former 1960s radical William Ayers.

WGN also was flooded with calls and e-mails shortly before and during an Aug. 27 interview with Stanley Kurtz, a conservative writer who has examined Obama's ties to Ayers.

"WGN radio is giving right-wing hatchet man Stanley Kurtz a forum to air his baseless, fear-mongering terrorist smears," read the first message confronting the station, an e-mail that also provided detailed background information on Kurtz, Obama and Ayers.

The WGN alerts were sent primarily to Obama supporters in the Chicago area but were quickly posted to electronic message boards and Web sites, spreading them worldwide. Many of those who called to complain were from outside Illinois, and they flooded the station's switchboard in a way a WGN producer called "unprecedented."

On Monday night, Zack Christenson, executive producer of "Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg," said the response was about the same. "It's just constant, constant phone calls, and the e-mails are pouring in," he said, adding that the extra volume of calls made it more difficult to run the show.

Obama's campaign describes the system as a grass-roots truth squad that arms supporters with information. But others see an attempt to stifle free speech.

"If Barack Obama demonstrates this little regard for free speech from his opponents during the campaign, what could the American people expect from him as a president?" Ed Martin, president of American Issues Project, said in a statement.

I've read Fredosso's book. If there are lies in it (and I didn't notice any), Obama should sue for libel. Lotsa luck with that, Barack.

The emerging method of political power, as pioneered by Berlusconi in Italy, and imitated by Putin in Russia and by Chavez, less effectively, in Venezuela is to control what can be said on television and radio.

Obama won't actually own the airwaves and there is still that pesky First Amendment, but it appears that his team is working out a plan to use mobs to intimidate media outlets. Think about it from a station manager's point of view -- We could interview some reporter who has spent months investigating Obama's relationship with Tony Rezko, and have all our advertisers receive countless fulminating emails forwarded from Team Obama threatening to never buy their products again ... or we could do a segment on Megan Fox.

Sure, it's hard to sell books without doing publicity tour interviews, so there will be fewer books about President Obama, but the publishers can instead sign Megan Fox up to write her autobiography, so everybody's happy, right?

Further, considering how much the U.S. government suddenly seems to more or less own as of this week, all sorts of new possibilities are opened up. Matthew Yglesias is already salivating over what President Obama could do as the ultimate owner of the country's biggest insurance company:
In November, there’s going to be an election. And in January, there’ll be a new President. And in the interim, progressive groups will probably come up with a lot of “ten ways to make everything awesome” proposals. And it’ll take 41 conservative senators to filibuster them all, and so they’ll all be filibustered. But if the government directly controls major financial institutions, that would give the new administration extraordinary leverage over the national economy. Suppose the new CEO of AIG decided he didn’t want to insure assets of companies whose executives make unseemly multiples of the national median income? There are all kinds of crazy things you could do. And of course not all of them woul dbe good ideas. But some of them would! And the smart folks on our side need to be figuring out which ones they are. It seems doubtful to me that a progressive administration would ever be able to get away with this much nationalizing of everything, but what’s done is done and I think it creates a real opportunity for “socially conscious insurance underwriting” or whatever you care to call it.

Fortunately, Obama has a trusted long-time adviser with decades of experience running socially conscious public-private partnerships. That man is otherwise occupied at the moment, but a President Obama has the Presidential Pardon to spring Tony Rezko out of the correctional facility and into the West Wing.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 16, 2008

Financial crisis and the candidates

Noah Millman writes:

"At this point, I don’t think anybody knows where we’re going. But there is a hierarchy of ignorance. And one thing is clear: Senator McCain is way too close to the bottom of that hierarchy for comfort. His comments on the crisis have been almost pure in their incoherence, emptiness and self-contradiction. Obama has not distinguished himself as a key leader so far – most of the commentary I’ve seen from him is somewhat out of date, pointing to real problems that contributed to the crisis but not giving a good indication of how we get out of the mess we’re in now we’re in it. But at least he has some idea of what he’s talking about."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 15, 2008

Geneticist: Can't find nuthin'

Nicholas Wade of the NYT has an article on the genetics of mental diseases and intelligence that focuses on a geneticist named David B. Goldstein. (I don't like using initials in names because I can't really remember them, so I have to laboriously look them up, but the "B." in his name is necessary because there are so many mildly prominent David Goldsteins.)

The principal rationale for the $3 billion spent to decode the human genome was that it would enable the discovery of the variant genes that predispose people to common diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. A major expectation was that these variants had not been eliminated by natural selection because they harm people only later in life after their reproductive years are over, and hence that they would be common.

This idea, called the common disease/common variant hypothesis, drove major developments in biology over the last five years. Washington financed the HapMap, a catalog of common genetic variation in the human population. Companies like Affymetrix and Illumina developed powerful gene chips for scanning the human genome. Medical statisticians designed the genomewide association study, a robust methodology for discovering true disease genes and sidestepping the many false positives that have plagued the field.

But David B. Goldstein of Duke University, a leading young population geneticist known partly for his research into the genetic roots of Jewish ancestry, says the effort to nail down the genetics of most common diseases is not working. “There is absolutely no question,” he said, “that for the whole hope of personalized medicine, the news has been just about as bleak as it could be.”

Of the HapMap and other techniques developed to make sense of the human genome, Dr. Goldstein said, “Technically, it was a tour de force.” But in his view, this prodigious labor has produced just a handful of genes that account for very little of the overall genetic risk.

“After doing comprehensive studies for common diseases, we can explain only a few percent of the genetic component of most of these traits,” he said. “For schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, we get almost nothing; for Type 2 diabetes, 20 variants, but they explain only 2 to 3 percent of familial clustering, and so on.”

The reason for this disappointing outcome, in his view, is that natural selection has been far more efficient than many researchers expected at screening out disease-causing variants. The common disease/common variant idea is largely wrong. What has happened is that a multitude of rare variants lie at the root of most common diseases, being rigorously pruned away as soon as any starts to become widespread.

It takes large, expensive trials with hundreds of patients in different countries to find even common variants behind a disease. Rare variants lie beyond present reach. “It’s an astounding thing,” Dr. Goldstein said, “that we have cracked open the human genome and can look at the entire complement of common genetic variants, and what do we find? Almost nothing. That is absolutely beyond belief.”

If rare variants account for most of the genetic burden of disease, then the idea of decoding everyone’s genome to see to what diseases they are vulnerable to will not work, at least not in the form envisaged. “I don’t believe we should do more and more genomewide association studies for common diseases,” Dr. Goldstein said. Instead, he suggested, the “missing heritability” might be tracked by thoroughly studying the genome of specific patients.

This is what Greg Cochran predicted back in the 1990s would be found. Contrary to the impression you'd get from reading the newspaper (at least when the estimable Mr. Wade is on book leave), your genes didn't evolve to kill you. They evolved to help you survive and reproduce. (Here's the February 1999 cover story in The Atlantic Monthly, "A New Germ Theory," on Cochran and his research partner Paul Ewald.) The Cochran-Ewald theory predicts that germs -- bacteria and viruses -- will be found to be the causes of many major diseases.

From an alternative perspective, you could also blame an infectious disease on your genes by saying that if you only had the necessary gene variant, your immune system would have been equipped to wipe out the germ before it caused the disease. On the other hand a lot of the diseases of old age are caused by by wear and tear, with a germ or the lack of a gene as merely the trigger for something that was going to fail sooner or later anyway.

Which perspective is most useful for medical progress is a difficult question. Perhaps they all should be borne in mind.

Goldstein also can't find any genes for IQ, which would seem more like a capability than a disease:

Another pursuit that interests him, one of high promise for reconstructing human evolutionary history, is that of discovering which genes bear the mark of recent natural selection. When a new version of a gene becomes more common, it leaves a pattern of changes that geneticists can detect with various statistical tests. Many of these selected genes reflect new diets or defenses against disease or adaptations to new climates. But they tend to differ from one race to another because each human population, after the dispersal from Africa some 50,000 years ago, has had to adapt to different circumstances.

This newish finding has raised fears that other, more significant differences might emerge among races, spurring a resurrection of racist doctrines. “There is a part of the scientific community which is trying to make this work off limits, and that I think is hugely counterproductive,” Dr. Goldstein said.

He says he thinks that no significant genetic differences will be found between races because of his belief in the efficiency of natural selection. Just as selection turns out to have pruned away most disease-causing variants, it has also maximized human cognitive capacities because these are so critical to survival. “My best guess is that human intelligence was always a helpful thing in most places and times and we have all been under strong selection to be as bright as we can be,” he said.

This is more than just a guess, however. As part of a project on schizophrenia, Dr. Goldstein has done a genomewide association study on 2,000 volunteers of all races who were put through cognitive tests. “We have looked at the effect of common variation on cognition, and there is nothing,” Dr. Goldstein said, meaning that he can find no common genetic variants that affect intelligence. His view is that intelligence was developed early in human evolutionary history and was then standardized.

The idea of standardization in evolution is attractive. After all, we standardized on one head, two eyes, and so forth a long, long time ago. Just about everybody who isn't clearly defective can learn to speak a language and even learn some moderately complex grammar. (Although that doesn't mean my grammar is as good as William F. Buckley's was.)

Okay, but one problem with applying the idea of standardization to intelligence is that intelligence clearly isn't standardized. David B. Goldstein, to pick an example, is smarter than the average person. Heck, he's a lot smarter than the average David Goldstein.

But, as last month's whoop-tee-doo in Beijing demonstrated once again, just because something "was developed early in human evolutionary history and was then standardized" doesn't mean that everybody can do it equally well now. For example, running presumably developed tens of thousands of generations ago, and everybody pretty much runs today using the same basic, natural technique (as opposed to the various swimming strokes or ways that horses can move). Further, as Dr. Goldstein might say, my best guess is that human footspeed was always a helpful thing in most places and times and we have all been under strong selection to be as fast as we can be.

Yet, you and I still can't run anywhere near as fast as Usain Bolt can.

So, my guess is that the answer to the problem is that quite a bit of IQ variance is in the genes, it's just in a whole lot of genes.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Here's the full length version of the Sarah Palin article I wrote for The American Conservative a week and a half ago.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Is Afghanistan a place to economize?

The U.S. has been fighting in Afghanistan for seven years now. We achieved excellent returns in the first few months, but since then we've mostly just been sucked into that useless place's endless knuckleheadedness.

Has the U.S. government ever explained to the vast Pashtun tribe on what terms honor would be satisfied and we would leave? (E.g., Deliver Osama alive or prove that he is dead? Rename their movement something other than "Taliban?" Understand that if they ever tolerate anti-American terrorists again, we'll be back, and really mad this time?) I suspect we could reach a meeting of the minds with the Pashtuns more easily if we phrased all our demands in terms of "honor demands that ..."

If Barack Obama wins, he should appoint McCain to be Ambassor to the Barbarian Tribes (which was Sir Richard Burton's de facto title within the British Foreign Office). McCain is exactly the kind of man the Pashtuns would feel sympatico with.

Still, the idea of negotiating a final peace agreement with the Pashtuns is probably unlikely. I'm not sure that the concept of "war" and "peace" as mutually exclusive periods of time is one that they subscribe to. To them, fighting is kind of like the professional golf season is to Americans -- something that, whether formally or informally, goes from early January to late December with a one week break for Christmas. Just as somebody somewhere is always playing golf for money, somebody somewhere in Pashtunland is always fighting somebody else.

But the Establishment view seems to be swinging in the direction of Obama's suggestion that we instead amp up the war in Afghanistan and widen the war into Pakistan, a country of 170,00,000. After Musharraf's fall, Bush has publicly allowed crossing the border into Pakistan. Perhaps some commandos can grab Osama (assuming he is still alive) and we can be done with it.

But even if that happened our "allies" in Afghanistan would probably insist we stay. We always seem to end up at the service of our supposed puppets in country. The anti-Pashtun/Taliban folks in Afghanistan have been telling us for years, "Let's you and them fight."

By the way, speaking of Pakistan, Obama was close friends with three Pakistanis he hung out with at posh Occidental liberal arts college in LA. (That's when he changed his name from Barry to Barack.) That's why he went to Pakistan in 1981, which is just about the only foreign trip he ever took unconnected with his parents. And he later roomed in NYC for years with another Pakistani that he knew through his Oxy friends.

UPDATE: In Pakistan in 1981, Obama stayed at the estate of the man who was recently caretaker Prime Minister after his boss, Gen. Musharraf, quit. Although Obama recently boasted of how much foreign policy expertise he gained from this trip, he didn't mention it in Dreams from My Father since it didn't have much to do with his story of race and inheritance.

Obama's youthful connection to Pakistani bigshots is not particularly remarkable. Imagine an American student at Amherst in the 19th Century who makes friends with the tiny number of Italian students there, and goes to visit Italy with his classmate. His friends would almost certainly belong to a politically influential network of Italian families. Of course, if the American later ran for President, it would be interesting to know which network of Italian families he had connections to.

Still, Obama sure has a lot of odd Muslim connections -- like Tony Rezko being in bed with the Black Muslims in Chicago. I don't see any evidence that Obama ever had a spiritual interest in Islam. As he admitted in connection with his Muslim grandfather, the youthful Obama saw both Islam and the Nation of Islam as being anti-white and anti-miscegenation (his grandfather had denounced his parents' marriage), so Obama vaguely approved of both religions, without, as far as I can tell, caring much about their theology.

Obama's Pakistani friends no doubt came from wealthy, influential families within Pakistan. Does anybody know what their political connections are within Pakistan, since they've probably helped shape Obama's view of that complicated and obscure part of the world?

September 14, 2008

Invade the World. Invite the World. In Hock to the World.

So, how's that working out for us?

Gen. William Odom obituary

From Ron Unz's elegy in The American Conservative about Gen. William Odom, head of the National Security Administration under Reagan and opponent of the Iraq Attaq:

"Those with knowledge of military affairs recognize different types of courage. There is combat courage—the resolve to storm a position or hold a trench against heavy odds. There is command courage—the willingness of officers to take decisive action and sustain losses to secure victory. And there is a third variety, crucial at the topmost ranks of America’s officer corps but increasingly rare—political courage, the willingness to speak truth to political power. Bill Odom, whom I greatly admired and respected, exemplified this last, most elusive kind of courage, which is why his death of a heart attack on May 30 leaves such a void in America’s foreign-policy debate."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Best. Election. Ever.

The New York Post has reported that the 67-year-old Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.'s 2007 affair with a 37-year-old church lady employed by a black Texas megachurch headed by one of Wright's proteges has led to her divorce and firing. (And, yes, she's not black.)

Payne's husband, Fred Payne, 64, said he learned of the affair in late February, when he discovered e-mails between his wife and Wright. "There must have been about 80 of them, back and forth," he said. "Wright said things like he was going to leave his wife for Elizabeth."

Wright has been married to his second wife, Ramah, for more than 20 years. The preacher reportedly wooed Ramah away from her first husband in the 1980s, when the couple came to marriage counseling at Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

After discovering he had been cuckolded, Fred Payne, who had married Elizabeth in October 2006, headed straight for divorce court. "I was downright mad about this bull- - - -," said Fred, who said he is "in the oil and gas business," belongs to a hunting club and makes his own bullets in his garage.

"People wouldn't be happy to know that my wife was sleeping with a black man." He added, "Rev. Haynes doesn't like the interracial thing, either. This was quite an issue for him." [Rev. Haynes is black.]

Elizabeth Payne said she has been banished by Haynes and the flock at Friendship-West. "I'm not a member of the congregation anymore; I'm not even allowed on the premises," she said.

Ms. Payne has filed a charge of wrongful dismissal.

That big house being built for Sen. Obama's long-time spiritual adviser in an almost all-white gated golf course community is owned by Trinity United Church of Christ. I assumed at the time that there was some tax-avoidance reason for this, but perhaps when Wright made these arrangements, he had community property issues in mind, too.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Dozens killed as trains crash head-on in LA

A commuter train slammed head-first into a freight train in the San Fernando Valley, killing a couple of dozen (so far).

This should not happen in 2008.

Preventing head-on train collisions was the fundamental problem that modern American business management evolved to handle. A head-on crash in 1843 led to a national debate: should all railroads be built with two lines, like almost all roads are built with lanes running in each direction, to prevent head-on collisions? To avoid the enormous expense of double lines while not killing passengers in head-on crashes either, the Pennsylvania Railroad invented many of the techniques of modern management. It became the first gigantic company in American history, with as many as 250,000 employees. It set the standard for how to manage large, complicated enterprises in America.

This is a problem that was solved a long time ago.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer