November 8, 2008

Obama considers Larry Summers for Treasury Secretary

A few comments:

- I've never seen much evidence that Obama has any true respect for white feminists. He seems to see feminists as whiny me-too victims who try to hog the spotlight from the real victims: blacks. The Throw Grandma Under the Bus incident which he brought up this year to excuse Rev. Wright exemplifies this.

You'll notice that Obama had his wife spend the last half of the campaign year acting like a devoted homebody who could barely bear to be away from her children for minutes. Of course, that raises the question: if Michelle's priorities are so home-centric, what in the world was she getting paid $317,000 for in 2005? Was this money just intended as a payoff to Obama to protect the interests of a huge private hospital?

The reality is more mixed. Over the years, Michelle served Barack's political ambitions much like Hillary served Bill's: as his enabler. Thus, he got Michelle a job handing out NGO jobs to young lefties, which built the Obama brand name in Chicago. But while Bill Clinton felt compelled to attest over and over again to how his wife should really be co-President, Barack treated Michelle during the campaign about like how Ike treated Mamie Eisenhower.

- Does Aspergery Larry Summers really have the right personality for what's going to be in large part a salesman's job of reasurring the world that the End Is Not Nigh? I like Larry, but he's got "Staff, Not Line" written all over him.

- If Obama makes Summers his second pick, after Rahm Emmanuel, that's basically a message that the neos (neoliberals and neocons) are in the house and they ain't going anywhere. You'll recall that during the brouhaha after Larry's perfectly accurate remarks on why there aren't many women mechanical engineering professors at Harvard, only two Harvard professors behaved honorably: Steven Pinker defended Summers on the science, and mechanical engineering professor Frederick H. Abernethy attacked him for wasting a gigantic amount of Harvard's money defending his best friend, Harvard economist Andrei Schleifer, from federal charges for playing a corrupt role in the Rape of Russia in the 1990s.

Most of Summers' other defenders were hard-core neos. Fellow big name Harvard economist Edward Glaeser denounced prominent investigative journalist David McClintick's Institutional Investor report on Shleifer as "a potent piece of hate creation—not quite 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' but it's in that camp." Perhaps Summers' most vocal defender was Ruth R. Wisse, who is the Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature at Harvard (no, I'm not making that up).

- What does the appointment of Rahm Israel Emmanuel and the intense consideration of Larry Summers say about Obama? The assumption that he intended to wage some kind of idealistic foreign policy is silly. The crucial thing to remember about Obama is that he always played ball. That's how he got ahead in Chicago politics. He played ball with Richie Daley, with Tony Rezko, with the Black Muslims, with John Stroger, with Bill Ayers, with various Palestinian intellectuals in exile, with everybody. He's the opposite of his predecessor in that Illinois Senate Seat, Republican Peter Fitzgerald, who brought pit bull prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to Chicago to put corrupt Republican governor George Ryan in prison. (I'm proud that one of the few times I've ever voted for a Democrat was when I voted for Ryan's opponent in 1998 because Ryan was a crook who had taken campaign contributions/bribes to give truck drivers licenses to bad drivers, which got innocent motorists killed.) Sen. Peter Fitzgerald didn't play ball, so he was out out on his butt after one term and Obama took his place.

Obama plays ball. In Hyde Park in the 1980s and 1990s, he played ball with anti-Semites to help his radical street cred, but now he's playing ball in the biggest league of all, and those Palestinians and black nationalists aren't in this league at all. They're small time losers. Rahm Emmanuel, on the other hand, very much is.

One of Obama's favorite novelists is Philip Roth. Having reread Portnoy's Complaint recently, I must say that that book can help you develop a quite realistic understanding of aspects of the contemporary world, four decades after Roth wrote it. I suspect Obama drew similar lessons from it.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 7, 2008

Who says the social sciences aren't sciences?

People are always putting down the social sciences, saying they aren't real sciences. When an astronomer predicts a solar eclipse, it happens. But when a social scientist predicts something, how often does it come true?

Well, it depends how unpopular the social scientist cares to be. You don't even have to be a scientist. For example, it's easy as pie to make accurate predictions about school test scores. You just have to be willing to put up with little things like being denounced as evil and getting fired. The problem with the social sciences is that there's little demand for social scientists. What there's a huge demand for is social shamans who can lift the curse of the evil eye.

For example, last year there were complaints about admission to the "gifted" programs in New York City public schools. Admissions were done in a kind of haphazard fashion with some parents better able to game the system than others. The NYT reported at the time:

[Gifted programs] have also been controversial, as other parents say they have discriminated against black and Hispanic children. School officials say they hope the new plan, coupled with an intensive outreach effort, will increase those numbers.

So, what did school superintendent Joel Klein do? He sounds like a smart guy, right? So, he should understand simple cause and effect, shouldn't he?

Klein came up with the idea of using a standardized test and accepting only students who scored at the 95th percentile nationally or higher into gifted programs. What a brilliant concept! Why didn't anyone in New York think of that before! Surely, that couldn't cause any political problems!

Half Sigma immediately blogged in 2007:

I'm trying to figure out what this is changing. Without any affirmative action, the gifted classed will be dominated by Asian kids, and blacks and Hispanics will complain that they are being discriminated against.

Last week, the NYT reported on the results of Klein's brainstorm:

The number of children entering New York City public school gifted programs dropped by half this year from last under a new policy intended to equalize access, with 28 schools lacking enough students to open planned gifted classes, and 13 others proceeding with fewer than a dozen children.

The policy, which based admission on a citywide cutoff score on two standardized tests, also failed to diversify the historically coveted classes, according to a New York Times analysis of new Education Department data. ...

The incoming gifted class is 9 percent Hispanic, 13 percent black and 28 percent Asian. Their kindergarten and first-grade peers in the city are 41 percent Hispanic, 27 percent black and 15 percent Asian. Students admitted to gifted programs under the previous policies are 15 percent Hispanic, 31 percent black and 20 percent Asian.

See, it turns out that in a lot of NYC neighborhoods, almost nobody is at the national 95th percentile or above. Who could have imagined that? Apparently nobody in Joel Klein's office ... Of course, they could have just read Half Sigma's blog, but understanding how the world works is evil, so who would do such a thing?

It would appear that whites (and miscellaneous) make up 48% of the new gifted class accepted meritocratically while making up only 17% of the total kindergarteners. Under the more haphazard old system, whites made up only 33 percent of the gifted classes.

Today, the NYT is back with a report on the results of an expensive program that's been running for 14 years to boost test scores among Non-Asian Minorities (NAMs) so they can qualify for Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and the six other elite high schools in NYC where admission requires taking a test. (By the way, at Stuyvesant the average SAT score of seniors is supposedly 1410 out of 1600.)

You'll never ever guess what happened!

Racial Imbalance Persists at Elite Public Schools

by Javier C. Hernandez

Recent efforts to get more black and Hispanic students into New York City’s elite public high schools have fallen short, with proportionately fewer of them taking the admissions exam and even lower percentages passing it. The performance gap persists even among students involved in the city’s intensive 16-month test prep institute, designed to diversify the so-called specialized high schools, including the storied triumvirate of Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech.

Among the 21,490 public school students who last year took the exam, the single gateway to eight high schools, 6 percent of blacks and 7 percent of Hispanics were offered admission, compared with 35 percent of Asians and 31 percent of white students. The disparities were the worst at Stuyvesant, where 2 percent of blacks, 3 percent of Hispanics, 24 percent of whites and 72 percent of Asians were accepted. (Over all, 1 in 5 test-takers is offered a spot; racial data is not available on private school students.)

The disparities were the worst at Stuyvesant because it's perhaps the most famously competitive high school in the country.

Parents of black and Hispanic students have long complained about the lack of diversity in the elite schools’ enrollment, and the Department of Education promised two years ago to study whether the demographic lopsidedness was the result of certain groups’ doing poorly on the grueling two-and-a-half-hour test, not taking the exam in high numbers, or simply choosing not to attend the schools. The city abandoned that effort, but an analysis by The New York Times shows that not only do blacks and Hispanics lag behind whites and Asians in succeeding on the exam, they are far less likely to take it.

Perhaps most surprising is a close look at the students enrolled in the city’s Specialized High Schools Institute, created 14 years ago to prepare students for high school and recently expanded by Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. Black and Hispanic students who attend the institute are more likely to succeed on the test. While 90 percent of Asians and 85 percent of white students at the institute take the test, 65 percent of blacks and 70 percent of Hispanics do; last year, of the institute graduates taking the test, 58 percent of the Asians, 49 percent of whites, 21 percent of Hispanics and 19 percent of blacks were offered admission.

Let's do the math. Among Asians enrolled at Specialized High Schools Institute, 52% pass the test (90% times 58%), as do 42% of whites, 15% of Hispanics, and 12% of blacks. It looks like another example of La Griffe Du Lion's Fundamental Constant of Sociology -- the gap between blacks and whites in average scores on tests of reasoning is about a standard deviation.

Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott said the data showed there was work to be done both to get black and Hispanic students to take the test and to help them pass it.

“I’m not ever happy when I see a low percentage of those students participating in schools that are high rigor,” he said. “It’s important for the halls of Stuyvesant, the halls of the Bronx High School of Science, to be reflective of the city itself.”

Instead, the schools that make up the upper crust of the public education universe belie the system they are part of and the city where they reside, and the disparity between the races has grown even more pronounced over the past decade.

In this city of 1.1 million public school students, about 40 percent are Hispanic, 32 percent are black, 14 percent are Asian and 14 percent white. More than two-thirds of Stuyvesant High School’s 3,247 students are Asian (up from 48 percent in 1999). At Brooklyn Technical High School, 365 of the 4,669 students, or 8 percent, are Hispanic; at the Bronx High School of Science, there are 114 blacks, 4 percent of the 2,809-student body.

The other schools in the elite group, considered a second tier, are more diverse: Brooklyn Latin School, for example, which became a specialized high school in 2007, is 23 percent Hispanic and 32 percent black (though it has 183 students, a fraction of the top three).

The portrait of test-takers from public schools is closer to the overall enrollment, but hardly a mirror: 28 percent of last year’s were black, 23 percent Hispanic, 30 percent Asian and 19 percent white.

Marcia V. Lyles, deputy chancellor for teaching and learning, acknowledged that racial diversity at the schools “is not where we would want it to be.”

Elizabeth Sciabarra, who oversees student enrollment planning, said the city had increased its efforts to inform families about the test, with the hope that interested students of all backgrounds might start preparing earlier. But, she noted: “It is a choice. There are kids who might be wonderful candidates for this who will just not sit for the test. That transcends ethnicity; that’s across the board.”

The test-prep institute, which includes a full-time five-week summer session and twice-a-week workshops during the school year, was a core part of the city’s strategy to diversify the ranks of the elite schools. But the intensive program has been hampered by a Supreme Court decision last year that ordered districts to remain race-neutral in efforts to diversify schools. Now the program gives preference to students based only on family income, not race.

And enrollment in the institute has fallen to 2,800 students at 10 sites this year, from 3,800 students at 17 sites in 2006. Education officials said that they reduced the number of sites to standardize the curriculum and that despite the drop in enrollment, more students were currently receiving the full test-prep regimen.

The test itself, consisting of 45 verbal questions and 50 math questions, measuring students’ ability, for instance, to put sentences in order and discern geometrical angles, has also become a subject of criticism.

Joshua N. Feinman, an economist who graduated from Stuyvesant and is the parent of a Bronx Science junior, recently released a study challenging the validity of the test, saying it had not undergone normal predictive bias studies to see if it was skewed toward any gender or racial groups. The study revives complaints from the 1960s, when civil rights groups charged that the tests were unfair to black and Puerto Rican children and should not be the only criterion determining access to the schools.

Department of Education officials said they were confident that the test, which is manufactured by Pearson and has been used since the 1970s, was reliable.

These results are all straight out of La Griffe du Lion 101, but it constantly comes as a big surprise to people like Joel Klein.

But, of course, now that Obama is in, we have Hope and Change, so everything will be different Real Soon Now.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Bachelorettes in Debt -- The New Reverse Dowry System

My wife raises an interesting point that I've never heard anyone discuss. Many of the single women of a certain age who are still actively in the husband-seeking market spend a fortune on themselves to look good and be in the right (i.e., expensive) places to meet Mr. Right. Thus, an awful lot of them have a lot of debt, especially credit card debt, which they keep rolling over to the tune of many thousands of dollars in interest each year.

The question is: when she finally meets a suitable guy, does her debt tend to discourage the fellow from popping the question? I mean, if a couple has gotten pretty serious, but then he finds out she has $40,000 in credit card debt, which she's paying $5500 per year of interest on, does the idea of a joint checking account start sounding kind of expensive? Especially, if they're thinking about having kids and he knows she's going to have to de-emphasize her career for awhile. If she can't pay off her credit cards now while she's working full time, she's not going to pay them off either when she downshifts her career to raise kids. So, marriage is going to cost him $40,000 right off the bat that he hadn't thought about before.

That can kind of put the damper on romantic impulsivity.

This trend is the opposite of the European tradition of the dowry, in which the bride's family gives the groom money in return for a lifetime of his work supporting their daughter. (Here in America, we have a quasi-dowry system in which the bride's parents pay the for the wedding reception and the guests give the couple gifts equal to about their share of the cost of the reception. Thus, when we got married, we received gifts roughly equal to the wedding reception's cost to my in-laws, which was a nice little haul -- maybe four or five months of my after tax salary.)

In contrast, this emerging system in which two thirtysomethings are interested in getting married, but the potential bride is heavily in debt, so her would-be husband is likely to end up on the hook for it, is more like the African "bride price" system in which the groom pays the bride's father (or maternal uncle in some societies) fifteen head of cattle (or whatever) for the woman. The groom pays in Africa because he's going to get a lifetime of hard work hoeing the fields out of his wife. (According to Borat, in Kazakhstan, the going price for a bride is 15 gallons of insecticide.)

But, certainly, the African system is less conducive to monogamy, paternal investment in children, and other socially beneficial things than the European dowry system.

So, maybe this explains some of the ever-increasing illegitimacy rate in America?

Niall Ferguson's "The Lessons of Detroit"

Here's an excerpt from Harvard financial historian Niall Ferguson's massive Vanity Fair article explaining it all: "Wall Street Lays Another Egg:"

The Lessons of Detroit:

In July 2007, I paid a visit to Detroit, because I had the feeling that what was happening there was the shape of things to come in the United States as a whole. In the space of 10 years, house prices in Detroit, which probably possesses the worst housing stock of any American city other than New Orleans, had risen by more than a third—not much compared with the nationwide bubble, but still hard to explain, given the city’s chronically depressed economic state. As I discovered, the explanation lay in fundamental changes in the rules of the housing game.

I arrived at the end of a borrowing spree. For several years agents and brokers selling subprime mortgages had been flooding Detroit with radio, television, and direct-mail advertisements, offering what sounded like attractive deals. In 2006, for example, subprime lenders pumped more than a billion dollars into 22 Detroit Zip Codes.

These were not the old 30-year fixed-rate mortgages invented in the New Deal. On the contrary, a high proportion were adjustable-rate mortgages—in other words, the interest rate could vary according to changes in short-term lending rates. Many were also interest-only mortgages, without amortization (repayment of principal), even when the principal represented 100 percent of the assessed value of the mortgaged property. And most had introductory “teaser” periods, whereby the initial interest payments—usually for the first two years—were kept artificially low, with the cost of the loan backloaded. All of these devices were intended to allow an immediate reduction in the debt-servicing costs of the borrower.

In Detroit only a minority of these loans were going to first-time buyers. They were nearly all refinancing deals, which allowed borrowers to treat their homes as cash machines, converting their existing equity into cash and using the proceeds to pay off credit-card debts, carry out renovations, or buy new consumer durables. However, the combination of declining long-term interest rates and ever more alluring mortgage deals did attract new buyers into the housing market. By 2005, 69 percent of all U.S. householders were homeowners; 10 years earlier it had been 64 percent. About half of that increase could be attributed to the subprime-lending boom.

Significantly, a disproportionate number of subprime borrowers belonged to ethnic minorities. Indeed, I found myself wondering, as I drove around Detroit, if “subprime” was in fact a new financial euphemism for “black.” This was no idle supposition. According to a joint study by, among others, the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, 55 percent of black and Latino borrowers in Boston who had obtained loans for single-family homes in 2005 had been given subprime mortgages; the figure for white borrowers was just 13 percent. More than three-quarters of black and Latino borrowers from Washington Mutual were classed as subprime, whereas only 17 percent of white borrowers were. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, minority ownership increased by 3.1 million between 2002 and 2007.

Here, surely, was the zenith of the property-owning democracy. It was an achievement that the Bush administration was proud of. “We want everybody in America to own their own home,” President George W. Bush had said in October 2002. Having challenged lenders to create 5.5 million new minority homeowners by the end of the decade, Bush signed the American Dream Downpayment Act in 2003, a measure designed to subsidize first-time house purchases in low-income groups. Between 2000 and 2006, the share of undocumented subprime contracts rose from 17 to 44 percent. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also came under pressure from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to support the subprime market. As Bush put it in December 2003, “It is in our national interest that more people own their own home.” Few people dissented.

As a business model, subprime lending worked beautifully—as long, that is, as interest rates stayed low, people kept their jobs, and real-estate prices continued to rise. Such conditions could not be relied upon to last, however, least of all in a city like Detroit. But that did not worry the subprime lenders.

Although the number of defaults in the Greater Detroit reion (MI, OH, IN, IL, but, oddly enough, not PA) have been high, I suspect the dollars lost are small compared to Greater Los Angeles (CA, NV, and AZ).

The other item I would add is the effects of political correctness and discrimination lawsuits on financial institution's ability to perform reality checks on their own actions. Nobody can send a memo to their colleagues saying "We lent a billion dollars to Detroit?" without being in severe danger of it turning up in the discovery of a redlining discrimination case.

Beyond that, it was just totally uncool to point out that Detroiters, where the high school dropout rate is, what, 75%, couldn't really make enough money over the next 30 years to pay for all that bling they were buying with home equity lines of credit. Who wanted to hear it? Everybody else at Washington Mutual was bringing home fat bonus checks for buying up no money down mortgages from Detroit storefront mortgage brokers. For most of this decade, money and social conformity/political correctness were marching arm in arm toward the brave new dawn, and only evil old bastards were doubting it.

In summary, though, the idea of a "diversity recession" that I introduced in August of 2007 is on its way from a scurrilous fringe idea to being a standard part of how economic historians will explain what happened.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 6, 2008

Upper West Side Media Types: "Watch what we say, not what we do"

Manhattan's Upper West Side has perhaps the highest concentration of influential news media types in the country. For the last 48 hours, they've engaged in an orgy of self-congratulation over electing Obama. But, now, it's time to get back to what they, personally, are most concerned about: keeping Non-Asian Minority kids away from their kids. From the New York Times:

As Schools Grapple With Crowding, Prospect of Rezoning Angers Manhattan Parents

At Public School 199 in the heart of the Upper West Side, a music teacher who once had her own classroom now keeps her instruments in a small closet, stacking cymbals and drums onto a cart as she visits more than two dozen classes each week. Students who need tutoring in reading or math sit behind a makeshift wall of metal cabinets in the hallway. There are seven kindergarten classes this year, up from three in 2000.

And on a recent Friday afternoon, it took six staff members 15 minutes to find a room for a training workshop. P.S. 199 has 663 students in kindergarten through fifth grade this year, nearly 200 above its capacity in the West 70th Street building it has long shared with the Center School, a middle school that draws students from the Lincoln Center area north to Harlem. Public School 191, just nine blocks south, draws largely from the nearby housing projects and has more than 107 empty seats available.

It might seem that there are easy solutions to the overcrowding in District 3, which encompasses the Upper West Side and parts of Harlem. The district has neighborhoods facing a burgeoning school-age population, in part because of a high-rise building boom, with pockets where the number of children are in decline. Why not send some of P.S. 199’s overflow to fill the seats at P.S. 191, or move the Center School and let the popular P.S. 199 expand to take up the whole three-story building?

But in New York City, where real estate and access to good schools often lead to Olympics-level competition, even the specter of changing school boundaries can raise the hackles of parents who chose their high-priced homes precisely because of those boundaries. The topic of rezoning is so sensitive that education officials have referred to it as the “third rail” — and no one seems to remember the last time a significant boundary change was enacted.

For months now, officials and members of District 3’s Community Education Council, the elected board that must approve any rezoning plans, have gone back and forth on painstaking negotiations and proposals. At a meeting on Wednesday night, the council is expected to introduce its resolution, which members would vote on later this month.

The heated debate dividing neighbors is likely to repeat itself across town later this month, when city education officials begin discussing the rezoning of parts of District 2, which encompasses the Upper East Side and much of Lower Manhattan. District 2 is plagued by some of the city’s worst overcrowding, particularly in TriBeCa and on the Upper East Side.

In the debate over the fate of P.S. 199 and the Center School, there have been accusations of racism, and a flier calling one school administrator who opposed a move a dictator. Parents — and prospective parents — of P.S. 199 have set up an elaborate campaign against changing the school boundaries, using the Internet and old-fashioned petitions on clipboards to protest.

“You move to a neighborhood in no small part because you are attracted to the school — it’s a core decision you are making,” said Eric Shuffler, who is among the parents of 4-year-olds fighting for kindergarten spots in 2009 at P.S. 199. “Something that you had planned on is now being taken and it’s compounded by the fact that you don’t know what happens to your children once the decision is made.”

It's not like these affluent Upper West Side parents are prejudiced or anything. I mean, they'd love to have Obama's daughters go to P.S. 199. It's just, well, you know ...

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Rahm Emmanuel in, Sheldon Adelson out (of money)

All those folks who thought they had elected the Dalai Lama to be President are slowly starting to realize they actually elected a man whose driving ambition from age 25 to 40 was to become Mayor of Chicago because that job gives you what Obama has always wanted: power. By my count, the word "power" or its variants appears 82 times in Dreams from My Father.

Obama has appointed as his chief of staff Congressman Rahm Israel Emanuel, fixer-fundraiser-bruiser extraordinaire who started out with the Daley Machine.

Poor Philip Weiss, who had convinced himself from all the time Obama spent hanging out with Palestinians before he became famous, that Obama's election meant a fair shake for the Palestinians, is distraught. (As if Obama ever cared about Palestinians ...) Emanuel spent the 1991 Gulf War volunteering at an Israeli military base.

Joshua Green writes in Rolling Stone:

There's the story about the time he sent a rotting fish to a pollster who had angered him. There's the story about how his right middle finger was blown off by a Syrian tank when he was in the Israeli army. And there's the story of how, the night after Clinton was elected, Emanuel was so angry at the president's enemies that he stood up at a celebratory dinner with colleagues from the campaign, grabbed a steak knife and began rattling off a list of betrayers, shouting "Dead! . . . Dead! . . . Dead!" and plunging the knife into the table after every name. "When he was done, the table looked like a lunar landscape," one campaign veteran recalls. "It was like something out of The Godfather. But that's Rahm for you." Of the three stories, only the second is a myth ...

The second of three sons born to a pediatrician father and a civil-rights-activist mother, Rahm was raised in a middle-class family that stressed competitiveness and achievement. His older brother, Ezekiel, is a leading medical ethicist. [Ah, yes, the medical ethics profession ...] His younger brother, Ari, is a Hollywood talent agent who served as the inspiration for Ari Gold, the fast-talking agent played by Jeremy Piven on HBO's hit series Entourage. (In a recent episode shot at a Lakers game, the lead actors sat in Ari Emanuel's $2,000 courtside seats.) "After about the sixth episode, I finally caught it," says Rahm, who himself was the model for the character Josh Lyman on The West Wing. "I called Ari the next day and said, 'Hey, I finally saw the show, and you know what? I like that guy better than I like you.'"

Emanuel got his political education working as a fund-raiser for Mayor Richard Daley's re-election campaign in Chicago, where he learned how to twist arms and knock heads. Donors were used to giving $5,000 -- but Daley needed more. "Rahm took it up a notch," Daley's brother William recalled several years ago. "He told many of them they easily had the ability to give twenty-five grand." When contributors didn't pony up, Emanuel would tell them he was embarrassed that they'd offered so little and hang up on them. The shocked donor would usually call back and sheepishly comply. In thirteen weeks, the thirty-year-old raised $7 million -- an unprecedented sum at the time. His fund-raising skills eventually earned him a job in the Clinton campaign.

Emanuel was an Iraq War hawk. His father was a member of the anti-British Irgun terrorist organization in Palestine in the 1940s.

In an interview with Ma'ariv, Emanuel's father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, said he was convinced that his son's appointment would be good for Israel. "Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel," he was quoted as saying. "Why wouldn't he be? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."

Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, chiefly owned by Sheldon Adelson, recently #3 richest man in America and a prime funder of neoconnery in the U.S. and Israel, announced it was in danger of going broke. Adelson was a small time hustler who got insanely rich off the Housing Bubble as Californians took out home equity loans and drove to Vegas and off the Chinese mania for gambling by somehow getting the Beijing to give him something of a monopoly on casinos in Macao. His second wife is Israeli, and late in life he developed a passion for Likudism, spending a fortune on putting Netanyahu back in office.

As a convenience for all the neocons out there, here's the District of Columbia form you have to fill in to change your party registration from Republican to Democrat.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The McCain Belt

So, why did McCain do best, relative to George W. Bush in 2004, in states like #1. Tennessee, #3. Arkansas, #5 Oklahoma, #7 West Virginia, #9 Kentucky, and #10 Alabama?

Here's a map by counties, with counties where McCain improved relative to GWB in 2004 the most shown in reddest red.

Before reading onward, can you figure out why this pattern exists?


The pattern should be quite obvious to anybody who has read David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed on the four types of Brits in America.

Spoiler Alert:

John McCain, a pugnacious Scots-Irishman, did best in counties full of pugnacious Scots-Irishmen.

Tennessee, home of Andy Jackson, was the state where McCain improved on Bush's vote the most.

(The other four states in McCain's Most Improved Top Ten are driven by obvious special factors: #2 Louisiana by the decline in number of blacks due to the hurricane; #4 Alaska by Palin's status as a Favorite Daughter; #6 Massachusetts by favorite son John F. Kerry no longer being on the ballot; and #9 Arizona by McCain being a Favorite Son.)

Think how amazing that is. According to Fischer, the main Scots-Irish immigration was finished a couple of hundred years ago. And yet, this heritage lives on in voting behavior eight or more generations later.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

I'm on the radio at 4:35 pm EST today (Thursday)

I'm on the Ron Smith show today (Thursday) on WBAL in Baltimore. I'll be talking about my new book (1.8 meg PDF file) among other things.

You can listen in live by clicking the "Listen Live" red button in the upper left of the screen. Times:

4:35 pm Easter

3:35 pm Central

2:35 pm Mountain

1:35 pm Pacific

800-767-WBAL to call in.

Ron's one of the smartest talk-show hosts out there. It's always a good conversation with Ron.

I'll see if I can get my voice in shape over the next hour to talk. It's real guttural-sounding right now.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Every year in California, we get to vote on about a dozen initiatives, most of which we voters are completely clueless about. I'm not talking about the much publicized gay marriage one -- everybody is entitled to an opinion on that. It's all the bond issues. Shall we issue $10 billion in bonds for a supertrain from LA to SF? How about $7 billion to removes asbestos from LA schools? (I think they both passed. I'm too depressed to look them up.)

Sure, why not? They're bonds, right, not taxes? So we won't have to pay them. I guess, theoretically, we're supposed to pay them sometime, but no doubt we'll just flip the state to a greater fool before that happens.

Obviously, the initiative system is broken. The state is completely broke, with a predicted illegal shortfall of $25 billion next year in the state budget. Yet voters are continuing to take on debt with no idea how it will be paid. This is the state that sank the world economy. We're too childish to have that kind of spending power.

The way to fix it is to put a dollar limit on spending mandates for initiatives, such as $100 million, say. Then you could still have initiatives about important issues such as racial preferences or redistricting, but big ticket items would have to be hashed out as part of the budget process by the legislature.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 5, 2008

"Dreams from My Father" as the next "To Kill a Mockingbird"

My guess is that over the next one to two decades, Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father will become one of the standards on high school and community college reading lists, like "To Kill a Mockingbird" or that Latina-authored snooze "The House on Mango Street" by Sandra Cisneros.

I suspect there will be a big market in Cliff Notes among students who don't quite make it all the way through Dreams.

By the way, kids, the reason "Lord of the Flies" is on all school reading lists is because it's your teachers' way of letting you know what they think of you.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Michael Crichton, RIP

The doctor turned thriller author ("Andromeda Strain," "Jurassic Park") has died at age 66 of cancer.

He was probably the tallest man in history to be famous for something unrelated to being tall.

I read his autobiography many years ago. It includes a section about how he was inspired by Yuri Geller to learn how to bend spoons with his mind. He used to attend house parties in the early 1970s of spoon benders -- mostly Lockheed engineers and their families, with everybody sitting around bending spoons telekinetically. He said he got pretty good at bending spoons with his brain waves, but then he got bored with it.

I have no idea what to make of that.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Change by State: 2004 to 2008 (from a reader)

State McCain 08 Bush 04 Change
Hawaii 24.8% 45.3% -20.5%
Nevada 39.5% 50.5% -11.0%
Indiana 49.2% 59.9% -10.8%
North Dakota 52.9% 62.9% -9.9%
Nebraska 56.8% 65.9% -9.1%
Utah 62.5% 71.5% -9.0%
Montana 50.1% 59.1% -8.9%
Delaware 37.0% 45.8% -8.8%
California 36.9% 44.4% -7.4%
Vermont 31.8% 38.8% -7.0%
Wisconsin 42.3% 49.3% -7.0%
Idaho 61.6% 68.4% -6.8%
Colorado 45.0% 51.7% -6.7%
Illinois 37.9% 44.5% -6.6%
North Carolina 49.4% 56.0% -6.6%
New Mexico 43.5% 49.8% -6.3%
South Dakota 53.6% 59.9% -6.3%
Michigan 42.0% 47.8% -5.8%
Texas 55.4% 61.1% -5.7%
Iowa 44.3% 49.9% -5.6%
Maine 39.0% 44.6% -5.6%
Kansas 56.5% 62.0% -5.5%
Connecticut 38.6% 44.0% -5.4%
Virginia 48.6% 53.7% -5.0%
Oregon 42.2% 47.2% -5.0%
Pennsylvania 43.5% 48.4% -4.9%
South Carolina 53.1% 58.0% -4.8%
Washington 40.9% 45.6% -4.8%
New Hampshire 44.3% 48.9% -4.5%
Georgia 54.0% 58.0% -4.0%
New Jersey 42.4% 46.2% -3.9%
Missouri 49.5% 53.3% -3.8%
Florida 48.4% 52.1% -3.7%
Rhode Island 35.0% 38.7% -3.6%
Ohio 47.4% 50.8% -3.4%
Minnesota 44.2% 47.6% -3.4%
New York 36.7% 40.1% -3.3%
Maryland 39.7% 42.9% -3.3%
D. C. 6.5% 9.3% -2.8%
Wyoming 66.2% 68.9% -2.7%
Mississippi 57.1% 59.4% -2.4%
Alabama 60.1% 62.5% -2.3%
Kentucky 57.4% 59.6% -2.1%
Arizona 53.7% 54.9% -1.2%
West Virginia 55.3% 56.1% -0.7%
Massachusetts 36.2% 36.8% -0.6%
Oklahoma 65.7% 65.6% 0.1%
Alaska 61.2% 61.1% 0.1%
Arkansas 56.5% 54.3% 2.2%
Louisiana 59.0% 56.7% 2.3%
Tennessee 60.7% 56.8% 3.9%

My reader suggests that energy importing states swung left, while energy exporters drifted right, but it's hard to tell.

One thing to note is that in the Greater California Foreclosure Zone, McCain got devastated in Nevada (second worst fall) and got hit hard in California and Colorado. He was down only 1.2% versus Bush in Arizona, but he's the native son, so that's a bad performance.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there's a fair amount of randomness injected into these 2004 to 2008 changes by the impact of levels of advertising delivered. It's hard to prove statistically that candidate advertising has any affect, but it seems hard to imagine that its completely a scam dreamed up by political consultants who get 15% cuts on each ad buy. Lots of states got only minimal amounts of advertising because they are deemed irrelevant to the electoral college results. Other states get a (presumably) offsetting flood from both campaigns. And some states get more ads from one campaign than from the other. This should inject a lot of randomness into the results from election to election, yet affordable family formation continues to dominate three elections in a row now.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Thomas Sowell foretold this morning's punditry ...

in the title of his 1995 book:

The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as the Basis of Social Policy

White self-congratulation is a dominant motif today since it's hard to congratulate African-American culture on Obama, at least with a straight face. Here we are, 43 years after the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the first black President turns out to have had a completely non-black upbringing sequestered out in the Pacific Ocean thousands of miles from any black community.

Obama is exactly the kind of only nominally African-American beneficiary of affirmative action at Harvard, the kind who are either immigrants, outright foreigners (like Barack Sr.) or have a white parent or grandparent, of whom Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier and African Studies honcho Henry Louis Gates have been complaining for years:
Guinier, a Harvard law professor, was quoted in The Boston Globe at the time as saying that most minority students at elite colleges were “voluntary immigrants,” not descended from slaves. “If you look around Harvard College today, how many young people will you find who grew up in urban environments and went to public high schools and public junior high schools?” she said. “I don’t think, in the name of affirmative action, we should be admitting people because they look like us, but then they don’t identify with us.”

Obama likely has more black ancestors who sold slaves to the (Arab) white man than black ancestors who were slaves under the (European) white man. (He also has white slaveowning ancestors in his white family tree.)

Guinier is, by her own standards, another phony African-American. Her mother is Jewish (that's why she looks so much like the late Gilda Radner) and her father was a famous Jamaican immigrant union leader for the Communist Party USA. But she retains enough of her paternal Marxism to feel guilty about this abuse of class in the name of race.

Of course, if you look at the Obamas, the authentic African-American, Michelle Robinson Obama, whose all-American slave ancestry would put her near the top of Guinier's list of most deserving of reparations due to ancestry, wasted her affirmative action sinecure at Guinier's Harvard Law School, giving up practicing law way back in 1993. In contrast, Mr. Obama, the ultimate phony in terms of eligibility for affirmative action reserved for African-Americans, seems to have done pretty well for himself.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

2008: Hope, maybe, but not much Change

Here's Andrew Gelman's graph showing that there wasn't much regional change between 2004 and 2008 at the state level, just a national shift to the left (up in this graph). (I'm not sure what % of precincts reporting he's using, but I doubt if anything will change much).

The states below the 45 degree line swung toward the GOP -- most notably Arkansas and Louisiana. Arkansas is probably still undergoing the process of de-Clintonization and is rejoining the rest of the South. Hurricane Katrina ethnically cleansed some of the poor blacks living below sea level in New Orleans, so the state has moved to the right. I'm not sure what's going on in Oklahoma. The GOP did well in Alaska, presumably due to Sarah Palin. The GOP also did well in Massachusetts due to a favorite son not being the Democratic nominee.

The real outlier for the Democrats is Hawaii, which is, presumably, a favorite son effect for Obama. Vermont is just becoming Vermontier, Delaware is undergoing a long term shift from being a bellwether purple state to a solidly blue one, Nevada was driven left by the Hispanic influx and the highest rate of foreclosures in the country. I don't know why Indiana jumped so much to the left -- perhaps Gary and the rest of Greater Chicago in Indiana was fired up for the local hero. Utah's move from being ultra-Republican in 2004 to just highly Republican might have something to do with growing Hispanic presence, or from Mormons being sore at McCain beating Romney. (Nine months ago, I wondered how Mormons would react to the anti-Mormon animus seen in some of the GOP primaries.)

Anyway, you can see the new best fit line would simply have shifted up (in the Democrats' direction) a few points, with a pretty good fit.

And here's the quivalent graph comparing 2000 to 2004, with the 45 degree line representing how Gore did in 2000. A very, very similar pair of elections, just with Bush running about 3 points better in 2004 than in 2000 almost everywhere in the country.

If you drew up the equivalent graph for the 1952 and 1956, which featured Eisenhower and Stevenson running both times, it would look more like a random scatterplot. On a state-by-state basis, the political environment was a lot more dynamic in the 1950s than today.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The election in a nutshell

From the NYT:

And the issue of race proved vexing. The campaign was blindsided when DVDs of the incendiary sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., Mr. Obama’s former pastor, emerged and threatened Mr. Obama’s candidacy.

“That was one place where we dropped the ball,” said Mr. Axelrod, his voice growing angry. The campaign’s research operation had not known of the DVDs and was sent scrambling after they were broadcast. “The work just wasn’t done.”

The slip-up violated a key tenet of the campaign: to avoid discussions focused on race. From polling and interviews, the campaign concluded from the outset that it was imperative to define Mr. Obama’s candidacy in terms that would transcend skin color.

“It would be difficult for an African-American to be elected president in this country,” said Cornell Belcher, a pollster who worked for Mr. Obama’s campaign and studies racial voting patterns. “However, it is not difficult for an extraordinary individual who happens to be African-American to be elected president.”

"Blindsided"??? I pointed out that Rev. Wright was going to be a problem for Obama 50 weeks beforehand.

The general cluelessness of America's white political elites regarding anything touching race is astounding. David Axelrod, who has been in Chicago politics for decades, running Daley's campaigns, didn't know that Obama's preacher, who runs a megachurch, sells his sermons online??? How could anyone imagine that Rev. Wright -- Rev. Wright -- wouldn't want to pocket some extra cash and edify humanity at the same time by peddling his graceful digitial presence? All you had to do was Google "Trinity United Church of Christ" and the DVDs were prominently displayed. (I wonder if any McCain aides ever even bought them?) I saw them on sale in early 2007.

And all this stuff about defining Obama as somebody who "just happens to be African-American" as if he's the second coming of former LA Mayor Tom Bradley ... Wasn't that dependent upon nobody important reading carefully his 460 page autobiography, My 25 Year Struggle to Define Myself as a Black Man? Granted, practically nobody did, so it worked, but still ...

What this shows once again is that Everybody Drinks Their Own Kool-Aid. I'd like to imagine David Axelrod as a mastermind cynically manipulating the media, because at least it would show that somebody who is pulling the strings has a brain. But this revelation that Axelrod was completely clueless about Rev. Wright just reveals that the first person these guys brainwash is themselves. Instead of some evil genius pulling the strings, there are just a bunch of guys yanking their own chains before they can yank ours.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The last sentence in "Dreams from My Father"

The last pages of President-Elect Obama's autobiography take place at the reception for his wedding to Michelle in 1992. The last two pages begin:

The person who made me proudest of all, though, was [my brother] Roy. Actually, now we call him Abongo, his Luo name, for two years ago he decided to reassert his African heritage. He converted to Islam, and has sworn off pork and tobacco and alcohol. He still works at his accounting firm [in Washington D.C.], but talks about moving back to Kenya once he has enough money.

And ends:

My mother’s chin started to tremble again, and Abongo lifted up his glass of fruit punch for a toast. “To those who are not here with us,” he said.

“And to a happy ending,” I said.

We dribbled our drinks onto the checkered-tile floor. And for that moment, at least, I felt like the luckiest man alive.

I love that "And for that moment, at least."

Jeez, Obama, stop feeling so sorry for yourself. You are the luckiest man alive.

The last line of Dreams, by the way, is a pallid knockoff of baseball slugger Lou Gehrig's famous line from his last appearance at Yankee Stadium in 1939 after he had to leave the lineup after 2130 consecutive games.

"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

When he said that, Lou was dying of Lou Gehrig's Disease. (Yeah, yeah, I know, he should have seen it coming.)

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Once again, Affordable Family Formation paints the states red or blue

I have to confess that I wasn't paying that much attention to who would win the election. What I was really looking forward to was the distribution of votes within states. Based on the extremely similar results in 2000 and 2004, I had invented a novel and ambitious theory explaining why American states vote in differing proportions for Republican or Democratic candidates.

My Affordable Family Formation theory isn't about who wins nationally, it's about how, given a particular national level of support, which states will be solid blue (Democrat), which ones purple (mixed), and which ones solid red (Republican).

Of course, George W. Bush ran in both 2000 and 2004, so maybe he was the reason my theory worked so well in both elections. Thus, 2008, with its quite different candidates, was a good test. Or maybe the Housing Bubble and its subsequent popping would have changed results dramatically.

Before getting to the results, let me review my AFF theory. It holds that what paints the electoral map red and blue is "affordable family formation" was validated once again. Taking a quick and dirty look at McCain's and Obama's shares in each state (plus DC) with 92% of the national precincts reporting, the same two demographic variables that drove the results in 2000 and 2004 showed startlingly high correlations once again.

My basic theory is that Democrats do best in states with metropolitan areas where land for homes is scarce because they are hedged in by oceans or Great Lakes; while Republicans do best in inland areas where homebuyers can look around for homes in a 360 degree radius around job sites. I call this the Dirt Gap: Republicans are found more in areas with more dirt and less water.

This means that homes in inland areas tend to be cheaper because the supply of land within a certain commuting time is greater. In turn, cheaper homes mean that non-Hispanic whites tend to marry earlier and have more children, which means they attract family oriented people and their cultures tend to be more family-oriented, making Republican family values appeals more appealing there. In contrast, "Living by the Water," which is #51 on the Stuff White People Like website, correlates with Stuff White People Like political views. (You can read about Affordable Family Formation in detail with graphs here.)

Take a look at the Average Years Married between ages 18 and 44 among non-Hispanic white women in the 2000 Census. That's a statistic I invented to be the marital analog of the well-known total fertility rate measure (which estimates from the latest available year's birth behavior how many children a woman will have in her lifetime). Likewise, Average Years Married estimates how many years out of the 27 between 18 through 44 will a woman be married. The Average Years Married for non-Hispanic white women does a remarkably good job of predicting McCain's (or Obama's) share of the total vote across all races in the states.

Thus, McCain carried 19 of the top 20 states on Average Years Married among non-Hispanic whites, while Obama carried 18 of the 19 lowest states. The correlation coefficient was r=0.88, on a scale where social scientists usually call r=0.2 "low correlation," r=0.4 "moderate correlation," and r=0.6 "high correlation." So, in the social sciences, r=0.88 would have to be something like "extremely high correlation." This is, however, down from the astonishing 0.91 level seen in 2004, but, keep in mind, the demographic data I'm using is now 8.5 years old. (It was collected on April 1, 2000 for the last Census.)

Looking at the 2002 Total Fertility Rate among non-Hispanic Whites, Obama carried the bottom 15 states, while McCain carried 14 of the top 15. The correlation coefficient was r=0.82. The demographic data is now 6 years old. (In 2004, when the demographic data was fresher, it was 0.86.)

Keep in mind that this is based on incomplete 2008 voting results with 8% of the precincts and who knows how many of the mail-in ballots missing, so the correlations will likely change.

By the way, this explains much of the Sarah Palin Hysteria: with her five children, she elicits the SWPL whites' secret dread that they are being outbred by the non-SWPL whites.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

In other news...

The potential next President of Mexico and current second most important government official, 37-year-old Interior Minister and point man in the drug wars, Juan Camilo Mouriño Terrazo, died as his LearJet crashed into bumper to bumper traffic on the most important street of Mexico City. The AP has the story here.

The Lear jet, carrying three crew members, Mr. Mouriño and four of his aides, came down on busy Reforma Avenue about 6:45 p.m., scattering wreckage over a vast area.

“It fell on top of all the traffic, which you know is completely stopped,” said Arturo Sánchez Rios, a food vendor. “I saw 10 to 15 cars explode in a manner of seconds.”

Giant flames soared into the night sky but there were no immediate reports of deaths on the ground. Officials said nearly 2,000 people were evacuated from area office buildings.

I wrote about him last January here.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

November 4, 2008

Looks like I'm in business for next four years

Unlike my previous book (my 900-page, but never-released, psychobiography of the subtle childhood dynamics that made John F. Kerry who he is today*), interest in the topic of my new book looks like it will remain strong for the next four years.

* Just kidding.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Exit Polls

Here's the national exit poll via CNN (in all these, first column Obama, second McCain, third Misc.)

By the way, somebody should make a copy of it as it stands now because in a few hours CNN will come along and change all the exit poll splits to make them reflect the actual vote splits.

Vote by Race
White (75%)

African-American (13%)

Latino (8%)

Asian (2%)

Other (3%)

A Republican can't win with just 55% of the white vote. Bush got 58% in 2004 and won, but only 54% and lost the popular vote in 2000. And the bar keeps inching up every four years.

And here's the famous Gender Gap, which CNN lists first out of all demographic measures:

Vote by Sex
Male (47%)

Female (53%)

And here's the not so famous Marriage Gap:

Vote by Marital Status
Married (66%)

Unmarried (34%)

So, Obama did only six points better among women than among men, but he did 19 points better among singles than among marrieds.

In contrast, in 2004's exit poll, Kerry did 7 points better among women and 17 points better among singles.

Thumbing through the demographics casually, nothing looks terribly surprising, just a broad shift to the left versus 2004, just as 2004 saw a widespread shift to the right versus 2000. Of course, some of the black vote breakdowns by state are pretty funny, with North Korean-like 98-2 ratios.

For example, here's New York:

Vote by Race
White (71%)

African-American (17%)

Take that, Enver Hoxha!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

How to fix the primaries in 2012

Clearly, the 2008 primary system was broken, both for the GOP and the Democrats. The GOP's large fraction of early winner-take-all primaries resulted in a nominee who, through, sheer luck wrapped it up on February 5, then didn't do much for the next nine months except get even older.

The Democrats avoided that problem, but too much proportionality combined with too much front-weighting meant that that when the Rev. Wright videos finally emerged on March 13, 42 states had already had their say. And the proportionality of the delegate distribution in the last eight states meant that Hillary's task was close to hopeless, making the eight states after March 5 anti-climactic.

So, you can see the problems: too much frontweighting and either too much winner-take-all or too much proportionality.

The states have been trying to get their primaries up early so that they get some kind of a say, and the states generally prefer winner-take-all to magnify their importance. The obvious solution is to make the two desires work against each other:

Set a rule that the first state primary or caucus in 2012 has to be 100% proportional and the last state 100% winner-take-all, with a sliding scale in-between. This would give states an incentive to hold back in the calendar so they can be more winner-take-all. Meanwhile, it would prevent premature climaxes like the GOP in 2008 and long-drawn out anti-climaxes like the Democrats in 2008.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer