September 26, 2009

The fundamental paradox of modern liberalism

From the Washington Post, another article about how Eric Holder is doing exactly what Obama promised at his Howard University address, which I covered in VDARE in 2008: more Jobs for the Boys in the Civil Rights department
Justice Dept. to Address Backlog of Civil Rights Complaints
By Krissah Thompson

There is the ongoing review of the death of a man beaten by four white teenagers in a park in Shenandoah, Pa. The kids, all high school football players, shouted, "Go back to Mexico," before one punched him repeatedly with a metal shank balled up in his fist, according to witnesses. Then, another kicked him on the left side of his head so hard that the Mexican man's brain began to swell. He died two days later, his fiancee weeping at his side.

Not mentioned: This particular tragic fiasco broke out when the football players stumbled upon Luis Ramirez statuatorily raping his fiancee's 15-year-old sister in a public park. Ramirez may have started the fight and certainly appeared eager to fight.

In other words, this sounds much like a photographic negative of the Jena 6 case, where six black star football players beat an unconscious white kid. What were the differences? The white kid didn't happen to die and Jena was turned into a vast national brouhaha about white racism. (See Obama's speech about Jena means we should unleash the Justice Department to fight white racism.)

The end of the article reports that this Shenandoah case has already gone through the courts:
He pointed to the case of Luis Ramirez, the Mexican man who was beaten by the football players 14 months ago in the Shenandoah street fight.

In May, following a week-long trial, a local jury acquitted two of the defendants of all charges except for simple assault, a second-degree misdemeanor. Neither received more than seven months in jail. Another was tried as a juvenile and received probation. The last cooperated with the Justice Department, pleaded guilty in federal court and awaits sentencing. [That appears misleading: The Huffington Post article says: "Walsh pleaded guilty in federal court to violating Ramirez's civil rights and could be out of prison in four years."]

The Justice Department began monitoring the case more than a year ago [i.e., during the Bush Administration] and, according to Holder, is continuing to review the incident. Growing impatient, representatives of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund hand-delivered two boxes of petitions with 50,000 signatures to Justice Department officials in June asking that the teens be charged under the federal hate crimes law.

Holder mentioned the department's review to the Hispanic lawyers group this month, indicating to them that the case is a priority for the civil rights division.

In other words, this is about ethnic demands that racial politics triumph over the Constitution's ban on double jeopardy, combined with the frustrating shortage of real life Great White Defendants. There just aren't enough whites who violently assault non-whites to meet demand, so we we need to try and convict the few we have twice. In fact, we should execute them, then dig them up and then publicly execute then all over again.
Their issues are wrapped up in what is a top concern for Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who has pledged to make the division his department's "crown jewel" by returning its focus to protecting minorities from discrimination. What becomes of these cases, and others like them, will help determine the meaning of justice in the Obama administration. ...

Holder has said he recognizes the size of the task. In his 2010 budget, he requested an additional $22 million for civil rights work, creating 54 new legal positions and bringing the staff up to 399 lawyers. He told members of the Hispanic Bar Association earlier this month that he holds to a promise he made during his confirmation hearings that "the civil rights division would fight discrimination as fiercely as the criminal division fights crime -- and that we would once again honor the spirit of the movement that inspired its creation. . . . Although much work lies ahead, we are well on our way." ...

Joe Rich was one of them. He worked in the civil rights division from 1968 to 2005, and finally walked away after all of his responsibilities as chief of the voting rights section were steadily steered away.

"We were considered to be wild-eyed liberals, and they were trying to drive us out," said Rich, who is now director of the fair housing project at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "You've got a group of people there now that are not experienced in civil rights enforcement and who often had some hostility to civil rights enforcement. It will be a management challenge in how to deal with people like that."

The challenge will likely fall to Tom Perez, a former Maryland politician and civil rights lawyer who is Obama's nominee to head the civil rights division. Seven months after Perez was nominated, his confirmation remains held up in a power play in the Senate that both sides say has little to do with Perez.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) asked Senate Republicans to delay Perez's confirmation after the Department of Justice reduced charges in a case of alleged voter intimidation against the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia that was filed in the waning days of the Bush administration. Smith called the decision "possible political interference." ...

Alejandro Miyar, a spokesman for the department, said the attorney general's goal is to return the department to a traditional civil rights agenda. Founded in 1957 to enforce anti-discrimination laws, lawyers from the Justice Department's civil rights division were a key part of the civil rights movement. Over the years, the division has since seen its responsibilities grow beyond voting rights to housing, employment and disability discrimination.

There is a fundamental contradiction that grows year by year. By way of analogy, let me briefly recount the British Labour Party's history, which was formed to represent the interests of trade union members against the overwhelming power of the upper and middle classes. Eventually, however, the Labour Party went from outsiders to the dominant power and imposed its platform, such as nationalization of the commanding heights of industry. From 1964-1979, however, an era of mostly Labour governments, an expected paradox emerged that led to the downfall of Labour in 1979 and 18 years in the wilderness until it was fundamentally reconstituted in 1997 by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as an American-style left of center party rather than as Parliamentary expression of the unions.

The paradox that became clear in the 1970s was that the Old Labour party suffered from a fundamental conflict of interest when it came to negotiations between trade unions at nationalized industries and management, which reported to Labour Party cabinet members, who were sworn to promote the welfare of the trade unions. The result was Labour in the role of management constantly caving in to demands from Labour in the role of trade unions, with the resultant inflation and growing economic disparities between Brits inside the unions and outside the unions.

Similarly, the dominant liberal ideology that emerged triumphant in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s was that an elite among the majority (e.g., the President and the Attorney General) would protect the rights and interests of oppressed minorities through things like disparate impact discrimination lawsuits. In other words, the essences of modern American liberalism is the thwarting of majority rule by majority elites in the interest of weak minorities. After all, minorities were, by definition, minorities and therefore weak. And since the majority was large and powerful, it could afford to grant benefactions to a few minority beneficiaries.

But, the triumph of liberalism and the ensuing demographic change means we are slowly heading into era reminiscent of the decadent phase of the Old Labour government in Britain. We now have a black President and black Attorney General vowing to use the power of the Department of Justice to advance black interests.

But, of course, that's just the beginning.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

The coming Stolen Generation of African-Americans

The New York Times Magazine has an article by Maggie Jones, The Inner-City Prep School Experience, on a Washington D.C. version of the old Australian plan. The SEED School is a grades 6 to 12 boarding school for black ghetto children ("admission by lottery"). It was started in 1998 by two management consultants, Eric Adler and Rajiv Vinnakota. (Not at all surprisingly, Thomas Friedman wrote a NYT column about the wonderfulness of SEED.)

A boarding school for blacks exemplifies one general concept that has been growing in the minds of liberal activists about what to do with ghetto black students (witness the demands for mandatory preschool, longer school days, shorter summer vacations, and universal post-high school education). Since we all know that blacks are equal in intelligence by nature, therefore their unfortunate performance on average means that they must be victimized by their nurture. So, the solution is to take them away from their families to the maximum extent possible and have them raised by salaried professionals. The problem is that we simply haven't spent enough money on black students. It's our fault.

In other words, the trend is to re-enact the Australian Stolen Generation scheme. As you'll recall, in the 1930s, half-blood children of alcoholic Aboriginal mothers were sent to boarding schools to learn how to function in white society by well-intentioned whites. This was condemned in the movie Rabbit Proof Fence, but, amusingly, the director, Philip Noyce, wound up, much like the white bad guy in his film, sending his adolescent half-blood female star to boarding school to get her away from her alcoholic family.

SEED costs $35,000 per year for five days per week of school and boarding, but most of the article concerns whether or not having the kids go home on the weekends (which keeps the cost from being a lot higher than $35,000) just ruins whatever good is done by locking them up away from their friends and relatives on weeknights.

While SEED enrolls plenty of at-risk students, critics argue that SEED and other charter schools skim the cream of inner-city youth, attracting the families who are motivated to fill out the paperwork to apply to the school. Meanwhile, some of the most high-risk kids, whose parents are barely functional and place more value on their child’s being home every day to baby-sit or do housework than they do on education, are left behind.

But SEED’s statistics have impressed fans of the school, including President Barack Obama, who called the school “a true success story”: at least 97 percent of SEED graduates are accepted to colleges, including Princeton, Alabama A&M and Connecticut College. And 90 percent of SEED graduates immediately enroll in college, compared with 56 percent of African-American high-school graduates nationally. (About 70 percent of SEED graduates are currently in or graduated from college, although the program is new enough that the sample size is small.) Though SEED also outpaces D.C. public schools in reading and math, reading is still a weakness for many SEED students and, not coincidentally, the school’s SAT scores have been unimpressive. ...

Some kids don’t last beyond the first year or two at SEED. Until recently, the school lost about 20 percent of the student body each year — mostly in middle school and mostly boys. The incoming class of 70 students slowly dissipated each year so that by senior year, the remaining students barely filled a gym bleacher. The high attrition made the school’s much-lauded college acceptance rate less impressive: If a class of 70 seventh graders fell to 20 students by the time of graduation, those remaining 20 students were arguably among the best — at least in terms of self-discipline and a willingness to stick it out — of the original class. Adams, who became the head of SEED two years ago, has been improving the attrition rate by reducing the number of staff members with authority to dismiss students and taking a more nuanced view of dismissal-worthy offenses. During this past school year, the attrition rate dropped by more than 50 percent.

Recently, the Prime Minister of Australia issued a lachrymose apology for the Stolen Generation. (Of course, the levels of alcoholism and sexual abuse of children in Aborigine towns only got worse under the administration of culturally sensitive anti-racist post-1960s people, but who's counting?) It would not at all be surprising if about 2080, the President of the United States issues a similar apology for the Stolen Generation of blacks in the 2010-2040 era.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Dual discipline systems in Tucson public schools

Columnist Doug MacEachern writes in the Arizona Republic:
Tucson schools create race-based system of discipline

It has been a busy summer for our friends running the Tucson Unified School District.

As always, the annual Institute for Transformative Education summer seminar, hosted by TUSD's amply funded Mexican/American raza-studies program, was fun. So much racial bitterness to obsess over.

Tim Wise, the ultra-angry Tulane University poli-sci grad who has made a great living finding racism under every doormat, was the featured speaker. Everyone was wowed.

Tim Wise is America's foremost Uncle Tim.

In a year in which hundreds of district teachers received pink slips, meanwhile, TUSD spent thousands on recruiting teachers from out of state. And it hired a coordinator at $80,000 per annum to lead the effort.

The recruiting was prompted by what is fast becoming the consuming passion of the TUSD governing board and its allies - to establish a corps of teachers that precisely mirrors the racial make-up of its heavily minority student population.

... This summer, the TUSD board adopted a "Post-Unitary Status Plan" that it expects will help the district escape a decades-old federal desegregation order. The plan includes increasing the number of minority teachers - per the summer hiring spree, which netted 14 special-education teachers and one math-science teacher.

It also includes a vast expansion of the district's controversial Mexican-American studies program. Despite the budget-enforced closing of school libraries, the shuttering of arts and music programs and the layoff of teachers and counselors in other disciplines, the Post-Unitary Status Plan calls for a vigorous expansion of the program run by TUSD's happy band of unrepentant political leftists.

The board's plan also calls for changes intended (however counterproductive those plans may be) to improving the lot of minority students.

It wants to see more minority students enrolled in advanced-placement programs, for example - a laudable goal, certainly. But consider one significant part of the plan for "improving" the academic status of TUSD's Black and Hispanic students:

The board is calling for a two-tiered form of student discipline. One for Black and Hispanic students; one for everyone else.

With the goal of creating a "restorative school culture and climate" that conveys a "sense of belonging to all students," the board is insisting that its schools reduce its suspensions and/or expulsions of minority students to the point that the data reflect "no ethnic/racial disparities."

From the section of the 52-page plan titled "Restorative School Culture and Climate," subhead, "Discipline": "School data that show disparities in suspension/expulsion rates will be examined in detail for root causes. Special attention will be dedicated to data regarding African-American and Hispanic students."

... Offenses by students will be judged, and penalties meted out, depending on the student's hue. ... Some behavior will be met with strict penalties; some will not. It all depends on the color of the student's skin.

It is an invitation to chaos.

The funny thing is that after a number of years of disparate impact-based discipline, there won't be anybody except blacks and Hispanics left in the Tucson Unified School District.

Don't we need to de-unify school districts? Look how the San Gabriel Valley east of LA has prospered in recent decades because it has its own small school districts, while the more conveniently located San Fernando Valley has floundered under the control of the LAUSD.

One noteworthy feature of the Los Angeles Unified School District is that you can look up online every single school's suspension and expulsion statistics by race. For example, here is Canoga Park HS in the west San Fernando Valley. I wonder if this feature was dreamed up a discrimination lawyer and imposed as part of the settlement of a discrimination suit to make it easier to troll for more lawsuits? (The extremely deep pockets of LA's huge public institutions such as the LAUSD and the LAPD, combined with LA's many legally favored minorities and LA's swarms of LA Law-style Arnie Beckerish sleazy attorneys, such as the late Johnny Cochran, has made suing for discrimination a favorite retirement plan out here.)

Does anybody know whether charter schools are less attractive targets for discrimination lawsuits because they have shallower pockets?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Tibetan nannies

In Tom Wolfe books about the denizens of the Upper East Side, English nannies are the gold standard of status. The peasants have to get by with other brands.

Tibetan nannies: Parents’ new status symbol?

In some families, the ethnic background of a nanny carries a certain cachet — and entrenched stereotypes.

“Generally speaking, what is the difference between someone from the Philippines, Tibet and the Caribbean in terms of child-raising mentality, patience, education ...?,” wondered a recent poster on the popular parenting site

Such posts — and parents — are not alone in voicing their wishes to hire nannies with the “right” socio-ethnic background for their children. For the past several years, Tibetan nannies have been all the rage in New York City. On message boards and playgrounds, some parents claimed Tibetan nannies were “very balanced and Zen” and aided in children’s “spiritual development,” whereas in areas such as Dallas, for example, Latino nannies have been more in demand for their Spanish-speaking abilities.

At the Diki Daycare Center in Astoria, N.Y., demand for Tibetan nannies became so great that the preschool began offering a Tibetan nanny referral service.

“Tibetan women are well known for being caring and loving nannies,” reads the promotional literature. “They are recognized for becoming ‘one of the family’ and offer the same compassion and quality of care for their charges as they do their own children.” Furthermore, it says, “Cleanliness, organization & dedication to education are values of Tibetan culture.”

I used to read a lot of mountain climbing books, which were full of glimpses of Tibetan culture. As the highest altitude culture in the world, and one of the most isolated, Tibet has always had a certain glamor. From what I read, however, I would not characterize "cleanliness, organization & dedication to education" as values of traditional Tibet. The smell of rancid butter was something practically every climber to visit Tibet remarked upon.
In fact, Tibetan nannies have become so popular that they may have become victims of their own success as they’ve been able to request and get escalating salaries — much to the annoyance of some employers.

I love how the media has so totally bought into the Cheap Labor Is Good mindset that getting escalating salaries makes Tibetan nannies victims of their own success.
“Our nanny has priced herself out of our range and I will let her go because she guilted us into paying through the nose,” recently wrote an outraged New Yorker on the message boards of

The downturn in the economy may also be compelling some parents to shift their focus to their own financial futures rather than the “Free Tibet” movement by seeking nannies who offer more practical perks — free language instructions.

“The trends that I see are more toward education, cultural enrichment,” says Clifford Greenhouse, the president of the Pavillion Agency, a nanny and housekeepers employment agency. “[Parents] are getting realistic as to the important things in life.”

To that end, he says, the top requests are for nannies who are native speakers of “world languages,” such as Mandarin Chinese, Russian, and Spanish because, Greenhouse says, parents want their children to have an educational leg up, and a free language lesson thrown in with child care seems to fit the bill.

But is learning to speak Spanish with a lower class Mexican accent really the first step into a glittering career in international business?
Licensed employment agencies are prohibited by law to discriminate on the basis of ethnic background, though if there is a legitimate cultural or educational reason behind a request for a nanny with a particular background, owners of such firms will generally entertain them.

But doesn’t all this smack of plain, old-fashioned racism? It certainly does to many nannies. ...

What is even more troubling, points out Blaine, is the blatant racial profiling conducted by prospective employers, largely the mothers of nannies’ charges.

“Women who would never feel comfortable making such sweeping generalizations about anyone’s racial background in other areas of their lives, like work, somehow feel free to do it when they’re talking about hiring nannies,” she says. “People are more upfront when they’re talking about their homes and their kids because you don’t have to worry about H.R. coming to you, there’s no policing.”...

I'm shocked, shocked to hear this.
The bottom line, she says, is that race just doesn’t matter. “I can tell you, that in 18 years of doing this, I’ve never had a racial stereotype confirmed in the aggregate.”

Never ...

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 25, 2009

Isn't Tom Friedman just Malcolm Gladwell with a Mustache?

Thomas Friedman335230105
David Brooks282141141
Charles Krauthammer2811280
George Will24623223
Paul Krugman1821811
David Broder16510659
E.J. Dionne1471434
Karl Rove1261125
Peggy Noonan101596
William Kristol91586
From National Journal, a sister mag of The Atlantic, comes the the Top Ten pundits among DC Insiders: "In conjunction with The Atlantic Wire, National Journal asked its panel of Congressional and Political Insiders to rank, one-through-five, those columnists, bloggers, and television or radio commentators who most help to shape their own opinion or worldview." (Total points are the leftmost column of numbers, then points from Democrats, then points from Republicans.)

Maybe I'm missing something, but I thought that, by now, Tom Friedman was widely recognized to be a doofus. Not inside the Washington Echo Chamber, apparently. Here are raves from the Ruling Class about Mister Mustache:
Thomas Friedman

Democratic Insider: "Has attained that watercooler status of 'Did you read what Friedman had to say today?' Analysis of issues and policy implications often reveals ones that readers might not see themselves."

Republican Insider: "An interesting blend of a liberal and a realist and a man ahead of his time on energy and green issues."

D: "I've never read or listened to anyone who is better prepared, smarter, and more insightful. The premier thinker and writer in the group--yet presents so abrasively."

R: "He'd be a lot more influential if he'd actually return a phone call."

How many of the Top Ten were stridently wrong about Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Vibrant Diversity

You can't get much more diversely vibrant than this story from the Washington Post:

Two more suspects were arrested Friday in the beating death of a District pizzeria owner whose slaying was linked to an immigration scam, police said.

The victim, Shahabuddin Rana, 44, who was found dead Aug. 18 inside his Pizza Mart in Northeast Washington, had agreed to pay a woman $500 a week to marry his brother, a Pakistani national, then reneged on the deal after the wedding, police said.

Police identified the suspects as Leon Robinson, 25, of Northeast Washington, and Isaiah Genus, 26, of Southeast Washington. Both were charged with first-degree murder. The alleged wife-for-hire, Shanika Robinson, 26, of Capitol Heights, was charged with first-degree murder last month.

The three are accused of killing Rana inside his pizzeria, in the 2300 block of Fourth Street NE, after he refused to continue paying Robinson to stay in the sham marriage, which police said was intended to help Rana's brother get a green card.

In a court affidavit, police said Rana became upset when he learned that Robinson "was having sexual affairs" with other men. The affidavit says that Rana informed Robinson that she would not be getting paid anymore.

Police allege that after beating Rana, the three set his body on fire and stole cigarettes, cigars and about $2,000 in cash from the pizzeria ...

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Another thought on "Barack and Michelle"

Having read some more of Christopher Andersen's Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage online, I'll definitely buy it to read the whole thing. It's one of a genre of celebrity biographies where the rule is not scholarly scruples but to tell an interesting story. Being interesting is the exact opposite of almost everything published in respectable outlets about Obama, in which the goal has been not scholarly exactitude either, but to make him as boring as possible. It seems pretty clear that Andersen followed a lot of my book in looking for interesting angles on Obama, and it pays off.

These kind of books compete with novels for females readers, so they use a novelistic omniscient narrator and generally don't slow down to cite sources or to consider alternative explanations. To pick a minor but intriguing example, on p. 139 Andersen writes:
Determined to do something in public service, he resolved to return to Illinois and take the bar exam. He passed on the first try. (Michelle had failed on her first attempt but passed on the second.)

Now, that's what I surmised in in February 2008, although I presented the alternative possibility that she didn't even try to pass the bar exam (which in Illinois is pretty easy -- 81% passed the time Michelle passed) when the rest of her classmates took it:
One problem remained: the Illinois bar exam. It appears that in 1988 she either failed it or was unready even to try it. She eventually passed and was admitted to the bar in May 1989, almost a year after graduation. (In contrast, her husband was admitted only a half year after graduating from Harvard Law School three years later).

But, the question is open whether Andersen has a confidential source that has confirmed what I surmised from the public record, or whether he's merely passing on my inference in a streamlined, omniscient form. We can't tell from his notes.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Fantasy football with schoolkids

Charles Murray writes in The American:
A great idea has surfaced for blowing the claims for early childhood intervention out of the water. Congressman Jared Polis has proposed creating securities whereby people could invest in early childhood education and participate in the eventual returns. I think we all ought to get behind this idea, and thereby prompt some unsentimental hedge-fund guys to take a hard look at the claimed returns for early childhood intervention and the data that are being used to support those claims. I predict their technical conclusion will be “You can’t be serious.” Maybe someone will pay attention to them.

I think we should have a Fantasy Football league for schoolchildren. I'll play versus Bill Gates. He can pay for all the early intervention for his draft choices that he wants if he'll pick, say, the Hungarian Gypsy kids while I pick the Hungarian Jewish kids, he picks the Untouchables while I pick the Parsis, and so forth. A dozen years from now we'll compare test scores and settle our bets. C'mon, Bill, ante up!

The funny thing is that nurturism becomes ever more our ruling ideology all the while naturism becomes our hobbies. Fantasy football is pure selectionism. There is no coaching, no training, no nothing. Just pick the players who will come up with better statistics and you win. And it's huge these days.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Obama and Ayers and "Dreams from My Father"

Veteran celebrity journalist Christopher Andersen, who has written dozen of quick books about famous folks like Jackie O, has a new book out, Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage. In it, Andersen states, in an unfortunately unsourced fashion, that unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers at least copy-edited the President's memoir Dreams from My Father. Did he also write it, as Jack Cashill has long maintained?

In either case, it supports the inference that Obama was, in his lawyerly way, being intentionally misleading when he said in a primary debate in response to a George Stephanopolous question about Ayers:

OBAMA: George, but this is an example of what I'm talking about. This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.

And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense, George.

You can search through Andersen's book on Amazon.

Andersen writes on p. 165:
What did interest Barack were Ayers's proven abilities as a writer. Unlike Barack, Ayers had written and cowritten scores of articles and treatises, as well as several nonfiction books beginning with Education: An American Problem in 1968. But it was the tone Ayers had set in his latest book -- To Teach (1993) -- that Barack hoped to emulate.

The tale of a maverick teacher who takes her students onto the streets of New York to teach them firsthand about history, culture, and survival, To Teach was written in a fluid, novelistic style. Barack asked for Ayers's input, and Ayers, who like so many in his circle was greatly impressed by the charismatic young activist, obliged.

To flesh out his family history, Barack had also taped interviews with Toot, Gramps, Ann, Maya, and his Kenyan relatives. These oral histories, along with his partial manuscript and a trunkload of notes, were given to Ayers. "Everyone knew they were friends and that they worked on various projects together," another Hyde Park neighbor pointed out. "It was not secret. Why would it be? People liked them both."

In the end, Ayers's contribution to Barack's Dreams from My Father would be significant -- so much so that the book's language, oddly specific references, literary devices, and themes would bear a jarring similarity to Ayers's own writings. ...

There was a good deal of literary back-scratching going on in Hyde Park," said writer Jack Cashill ... Thanks to the help from the veteran writer Ayers, Barack would be able to submit a manuscript to his editors at Times Books. With some minor cuts and polishing, the book would be on track for publication in the early summer of 1995. In the meantime, he began showing the rough draft to a chosen few relatives.

Andersen's notes for the chapter appear on p. 309-310 but, unfortunately, they're not terribly informative as to his sources for any particular assertion. Did he do original interviews on the Ayers question? He'll need to get a lot more specific to make this stick. Obviously, there's no chance that any bigfoot Washington reporter will ever ask Obama about it.

Andersen's reference to Ayers' 1993 book To Teach is interesting because the soporific prose style of To Teach appears closer to Dreams from My Father than the livelier prose style in Ayers' own 1999 autobiography Fugitive Days, which begins with the unObama-like sentence: "Memory is a m-----------."

I certainly find it plausible that Ayers copy-edited Dreams from My Father. For example, as I pointed out in February, the Annenberg Project that Obama chaired had the same mailing address as Ayers's Small Schools Workshop, both on the third floor of a small office building: 115 S. Sangamon St., Third Floor. I've never seen anybody ask whether they were run out of the same exact office.

But, some reporter needs to get somebody from Hyde Park on record as saying that Ayers helped Obama write Dreams. Perhaps a disgruntled old radical might spill the beans. Has anybody asked, say, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. about this?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 24, 2009

UPDATED: "The Atlantic 50:" Pundit demographics

The Atlantic Monthly has put together a list it calls The Atlantic 50, which it describes as "the columnists and bloggers and broadcast pundits who shape the national debates:"

Updated: At a reader's suggestion, I looked up on Google Trends the number of searches for each name on this list. "steve sailer" came in ahead of 19 of The Atlantic 50. For example, #1 ranked "paul krugman" has been searched for 17.6 times as often on Google as "steve sailer" in 2009, but #12 ranked David Broder has only been searched for 0.4 times as often as "steve sailer."

And since "isteve" gets another 50% as many searches as "steve sailer," I might come in ahead of five or six more of these supposedly big names, putting me right at about #25. Of course, the same could be said for lots of other people who aren't on The Atlantic 50. For example, Ann Coulter is searched for more often than anybody on The Atlantic 50 besides Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and Michelle Malkin is ahead of Krugman. (And there are lots of technical quibbles about the spelling of names, last name-only searches, and so forth, so don't take these ratios all that seriously.)
The Atlantic 50 Searches v. "steve sailer"
1. Paul Krugman 17.6
2. Rush Limbaugh 104.0
3. George Will 5.3
4. Thomas Friedman 6.3
5. David Brooks 6.6
6. Charles Krauthammer 7.0
7. Glenn Beck 90.0
8. Frank Rich 1.7
9. Andrew Sullivan 14.8
10. Karl Rove 5.6
11. Sean Hannity 23.4
12. David Broder 0.4
13. Peggy Noonan 3.0
14. Rachel Maddow 31.0
15. Arianna Huffington 3.1
16. Fareed Zakaria 6.1
17. Maureen Dowd 6.2
18. E.J. Dionne 0.0
19. Bill O'Reilly 8.7
20. Keith Olbermann 18.2
21. Kathleen Parker 1.5
22. Glenn Greenwald 2.6
23. Nicholas Kristof 1.2
24. William Kristol 0.9
25. Robert Samuelson 0.7
26. Dick Morris 7.1
27. Eugene Robinson 1.4
28. David Ignatius 1.1
29. Josh Marshall 0.9
30. Mark Levin 20.0
31. Holman Jenkins 0.0
32. Bill Moyers 9.0
33. Richard Cohen 2.0
34. Jonah Goldberg 1.4
35. Gail Collins 0.7
36. Ruth Marcus 0.1
37. Steven Pearlstein 0.0
38. Joe Klein 1.1
39. Anne Applebaum 0.6
40. Michael Kinsley 0.3
41. Matthew Yglesias 0.7
42. Joe Nocera 0.3
43. Ronald Brownstein 0.0
44. Steve Benen 0.0
45. Lou Dobbs 10.4
46. Bret Stephens 0.0
47. Kimberley Strassel 0.0
48. Harold Meyerson 0.0
49. Ezra Klein 2.4
50. Hendrik Hertzberg 0.0

Here's how The Atlantic came up with their list of "the most influential commentators in the nation:"
To compile the list, our team spent months collecting and analyzing data, tracking a group of 400 names that eventually became our 50. Our in-house methodology relies on three streams of information:
  • Influence: We conducted surveys of more than 250 insiders – members of Congress, national media figures, and political players – asking respondents to rank-order the commentators who most influence their own thinking. These surveys were done with National Journal.
  • Reach: We collected and analyzed data to measure the total audience of each commentator.
  • Web Engagement: In partnership with PostRank, a company specializing in filtering social media data, the Wire analyzed top commentators on 16 measures of webiness, including mentions on Twitter and performance on popular social media sites like Digg and Delicious.
The final list is the result of an algorithm that brings together these three factors.

Rather than debate who is on the list, I'm going to use this list to answer a question I've been wondering about. Like Francis Galton in the 1860s, I like to take other people's lists made for their own purposes and use them to answer my own questions, such as: What are the demographics of opinion-molders?

Using somebody else's list to answer your question is less susceptible to bias than making up your own list. Presumably, the Atlantic folks weren't thinking about demographics when they came up with their methodology, so their list isn't biased by preconceptions about demographic balance. Therefore, whatever its flaws, it's a more neutral starting point for examining the demographics of the commentariat than any list I'd come up with after I came up with my question.

Here's my first crack at estimating the demographics of The Atlantic 50. I'll update this table on Friday as improved info comes in via the Comments.

Male White Black Asian Hisp Jewish RC Arm
Pro Mus

41.00 48.00 1.00 1.00 0.25 23.75 10.75 1.50 1.00 9.50 1.00

82% 96% 2% 2% 1% 50% 23% 3% 2% 20% 2%
Paul Krugman 1 1


Rush Limbaugh 1 1

George Will 1 1

Thomas Friedman 1 1


David Brooks 1 1


Charles Krauthammer 1 1


Glenn Beck 1 1


Frank Rich 1 1


Andrew Sullivan 1 1


Karl Rove 1 1

Sean Hannity 1 1


David Broder 1 1


Peggy Noonan


Rachel Maddow


Arianna Huffington


Fareed Zakaria 1


Maureen Dowd


E.J. Dionne 1 1


Bill O'Reilly 1 1


Keith Olbermann 1 1

Kathleen Parker

Glenn Greenwald 1 1


Nicholas Kristof 1 1


William Kristol 1 1


Robert Samuelson 1 1


Dick Morris 1 1


Eugene Robinson 1

David Ignatius 1 1


Josh Marshall 1 1


Mark Levin 1 1


Holman Jenkins 1 1

Bill Moyers 1 1

Richard Cohen 1 1


Jonah Goldberg 1 1

0.5 0.5

Gail Collins


Ruth Marcus


Steven Pearlstein 1 1


Joe Klein 1 1


Anne Applebaum


Michael Kinsley 1 1


Matthew Yglesias 1 1

0.25 0.75 0.25

Joe Nocera 1 1


Ronald Brownstein 1 1


Steve Benen 1 1

Lou Dobbs 1 1

Bret Stephens 1 1


Kimberley Strassel

Harold Meyerson 1 1


Ezra Klein 1 1


Hendrik Hertzberg 1 1



The first thing that leaps out at you demographically is the Lack of Diversity, the extreme under-representation of Non-Asian Minorities. Out of fifty, there's one black guy, Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post (who out of this rather dull list is definitely one of my favorites -- sensible yet idiosyncratic). So, the list is 2% black, whereas the population is about 13% black

As for Hispanics, there's one Spanish-surnamed guy, Matt Yglesias, who has a white Cuban grandfather, but doesn't particularly consider himself Hispanic and instead identifies as Jewish-American, due to his three Jewish grandparents. So, we'll call the list 0.5% Hispanic, versus 15% of the population.

So, although non-Asian minorities are a little over 30% of the population, they are under-represented by an order of magnitude among the opinion elite.

"Asians" (following the Census Bureau's post-1982 definition when they took South Asians -- physical anthropology be damned! -- out of the Caucasian race and put them in with East Asians) are represented by Fareed Zakaria, who is from an aristocratic Indian Muslim background. (His father was #2 to Indira Gandhi in India's ruling Congress Party.) So, 2% Asian on the list versus maybe 5% of the population. By the way, I'm not surprised that the "Asian" representative is Indian rather than from the much more numerous East Asian community. South Asians tend to be more political and loquacious than East Asians.

So, the Atlantic's list is 96% white, which certainly fits my long-held theory that our media elites are clueless about the impact of demographic change in the American population because everybody they compete with is white. For example, a recent study found that 94% of the screenwriters of studio releases are white. At this level in American society, minorities are just exotics. As I wrote in 2006:
This doesn’t mean that the white elites view minorities as their equals. Far from it. Instead, they can’t conceive of them as competition. Nobody from Chiapas is going to take my job. Status competition in the upper reaches of American life still largely consists of whites trying to claw their way to the top over other whites, who, as an example, make up 99 percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs. That’s why the media treats the outsourcing of hundreds of thousands of white-collar jobs to English-speaking, high-IQ Indians as a respectable cause for alarm, but not the insourcing of tens of millions of immigrants to perform blue-collar and servile jobs.

The Atlantic 50 is 82% male.

It's 6% out-of-the closet homosexual (Andrew Sullivan, Rachel Maddow, and Glenn Greenwald).

Religious ethnicity (i.e., the religious background of one's ancestors) is interesting. I haven't exhaustively searched each pundit's parents, but I looked enough to find out some things I hadn't known, such as that David Ignatius of the Washington Post is Armenian. Also, the father of Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times was an Armenian immigrant college professor from Romania. (I can't find anything about the background of his college professor mother Jane.)

There's a widespread assumption that any pundit with a German-sounding name is Jewish, although that's not always true. Is Kimberly Strassel Jewish? Steve Benen? I don't know enough to even guess.

Keith Olbermann was raised Unitarian and in this video tells a long story about how his father turned down a job at an anti-Semitic New York department store chain in the 1960s because they kept probing to see if he's Jewish. According to Olberman's version of the story, his father finally shouted that he didn't spend his Saturdays at temple because he wasn't Jewish and stormed out denouncing the department store executives for their anti-Semitism. And that's when the 10-year-old Olbermann learned to hate conservatives.

Perhaps, though, I wonder if young Olbermann didn't get the story backwards in some fashion. The notion of an anti-Semitic department store chain in New York City in the 1960s seems curious. Was there one? My search of Google for the phrase "anti-Semitic department store" finds zero hits. My experience at the UCLA MBA school in the early 1980s was that a professor had to warn the gentile female students that, much as they might be experts on fashion and shopping, they should not get their hopes up about making a great career at any of LA's department store chains because the best jobs were reserved for Jewish men.

Perhaps, the elder Mr. Olbermann was angry at the anti-gentilism of the department store executives, but since "anti-gentilism" isn't even a word, the story got stuck backwards in Olbermann the younger's head. Or maybe the elder Mr. Olbermann was part Jewish and didn't feel like apologizing for his ancestors' mixed marriages to the Jewish department store executives. Who knows?

Olbermann was raised in the Unitarian church, so I'll put him down as Protestant. (Yes, I know that Unitarians aren't even Christians theologically, but ethnically they are more or less Protestants.)

Skipping Strassel, Benen, and Kristof's mom, I'll take a guess at the religious background of 47.5 of the pundits and use 47.5 as my denominator.

Roman Catholics do fairly well, with 23 percent, plus another 3 percent Armenian Catholics (are Armenians Catholics? They aren't Protestants), plus 2 percent Eastern Orthodox (Arianna Huffington). Protestants are underrepresented at 20%. Jews make up about 50% of the Atlantic 50 versus 3% of the population, which means people of Jewish background are a little more than 30 times more likely to be in the Atlantic 50 as the average American. White Jewish men are at least 50 times over-represented.

The Jewish figure may go down a little as I hear about more individuals with Jewish surnames who are actually half-Jewish. And there are all the questions about what to do with adoptees, cuckoos' eggs, converts, and so forth.

This strong Jewish representation among the influential isn't new. In the 1995 book Jews and the New American Scene, the prominent social scientist Seymour Martin Lipset, a Senior Scholar of the Wilstein Institute for Jewish Policy Studies, and Earl Raab, Director of the Perlmutter Institute for Jewish Advocacy at Brandeis University, pointed out:
"During the last three decades, Jews have made up 50% of the top two hundred intellectuals, 40 percent of American Nobel Prize Winners in science and economics, 20 percent of professors at the leading universities, 21 percent of high level civil servants, 40 percent of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington, 26% of the reporters, editors, and executives of the major print and broadcast media, 59 percent of the directors, writers, and producers of the fifty top-grossing motion pictures from 1965 to 1982, and 58 percent of directors, writers, and producers in two or more primetime television series." [pp 26-27]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer