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From her obituary in the New York Times:

Marni Nixon, the American cinema’s most unsung singer, died on Sunday in New York. She was 86. …

Classically trained, Ms. Nixon was throughout the 1950s and ’60s the unseen — and usually uncredited — singing voice of the stars in a spate of celebrated Hollywood films. She dubbed Deborah Kerr in “The King and I,” Natalie Wood in “West Side Story” and Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady,” among many others. …

At midcentury, Hollywood was more inclined to cast bankable stars than trained singers in films that called for singing. As a result, generations of Americans have grown accustomed to Ms. Nixon’s voice, if not her face, in standards like “Getting to Know You,” from “The King and I”; “I Feel Pretty,” from “West Side Story”; and “I Could Have Danced All Night,” from “My Fair Lady.”

Besides being technically outstanding (Nixon personally preferred singing 20th Century European art music), Nixon was also an impressionist who could seamlessly hit the notes the star couldn’t in the manner the leading lady would have if she could have:

The second line of the couplet “But square-cut or pear-shape/These rocks don’t lose their shape,” with its pinpoint high note on “their,” from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”? That was Ms. Nixon too. (The film’s star Marilyn Monroe sang the rest of the number, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”)

“Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” is one of the high points in the history of the American entertainment industry. But I’d never noticed before that Nixon substitutes for Monroe for one breathy couplet:

Oops, wrong cover version. That’s T-Bone Burnett doing “Diamonds” Lou Reed / Bobby Fuller Four-style.

That’s more like it.

He’s your guy
When stocks are high,
But beware when they start to descend.

It’s then that those louses
Go back to their spouses.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.


A couple of commentators on Turkish affairs now lean toward the Gulen Cult of the Poconos really being behind the coup fiasco in Turkey.

One analyst is Harvard economist Dani Rodrik, who came to dislike the Gulenists while he was investigating the show trial of his father-in-law, an old-fashioned Kemalist general. Much of the testimony against the generals in the big purges while Erdogan and Gulen were allies was forged by Gulenists in the police. (After Erdogan and Gulen turned on each other in late 2013, Rodrik’s father-in-law was released by Erdogan as part of a rapprochement between Erdogan and the military.) Rodrik now writes:

… And in any case, there was no reason for Kemalists to act now or to rush into what was clearly an ill-planned coup. The Ergenekon and Sledgehammer [show trial] verdicts had been reversed and Erdogan had long distanced himself from these trials, explicitly acknowledging they were plots against the military. Erdogan was also reversing many of his foreign policy actions that must have grated on the military: he had just reconciled with Russia and Israel and was pulling back on Syrian adventurism.

The Kemalists got along fairly well with Israel over the decades.

… For its part, the Gulen movement has a long history, going back to the 1980s, of trying to place its sympathizers in the military ranks. And while the high command systematically tried to purge them, it is quite likely that the Gulenists were able to outwit them. To evade suspicion, Gulen is said to have instructed his sympathizers to go to great lengths, including not letting their wives wear the headscarf – a telltale sign of religiosity in Turkey – and even to drink alcohol. The steady stream of document leaks that enabled the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials, as well as the mysterious way in which investigations of these leaks have been blocked, also suggests the presence of a large number of Gulenists in the military.

All of this points to the Gulen movement as the immediate culprit behind the coup attempt. Gulenists had both the capability and the motive to launch the coup. The timing – just after military officers began to be detained and before a major sweep – also supports this theory. Many have suggested that the Gulenists decided to move early and quickly because they learned that the impending sweep had been moved forward. This is plausible, and also helps explain why the coup attempt seemed rushed and poorly planned. Under this theory, the botched coup was a last-gasp, desperate attempt to reclaim their one final remaining institutional bastion and ensure their survival in Turkey.

My best guess is that the coup was planned and organized by Gulenists but that they were joined by quite a few others as well. The joiners may have had diverse motives: personal ambition, hatred of Erdogan, or simply the belief that they were obeying orders from the higher-ups.

One of the curious aspects of the coup attempt is that it had no public face or apparent leader. …

This lack of a public face is a lot less anomalous from the standpoint of Gulenist modus operandi. Gulenists always prefer to operate in the shadows, behind the scenes, and never take direct ownership of operations they launch and control.

So, that’s not hugely convincing, but it is interesting.

Meanwhile, in the NYT, Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol (whom I think I’ve had lunch with) writes:

Mr. Gulen strongly denies the charges. Some in the West seem to think that this is yet another of the many bizarre conspiracy theories peddled by Mr. Erdogan. But this is not merely propaganda. There are good reasons to believe the accusation is correct.

The Gulen community is built around one man: Fethullah Gulen. His followers see him not merely as a learned cleric, as they publicly claim, but the “awaited one,” as I have been told in private. He is the Mahdi, the Islamic version of the Messiah, who will save the Muslim world, and ultimately the world itself. Many of his followers also believe that Mr. Gulen sees the Prophet Muhammad in his dreams and receives orders from him.

Besides Mr. Gulen’s unquestionable authority, another key feature of the movement is its cultish hierarchy. …

Given the Gulen community’s hierarchical structure, all of this makes Mr. Gulen a prime suspect. Of course, the truth can come out only in a fair trial. Unfortunately, Turkey is not good at those — especially given Mr. Erdogan’s control over the judiciary and the ferocious polarization in the country today. But the United States government can try to negotiate with its Turkish counterparts to extradite Mr. Gulen, as Turkey’s government is now requesting, on the condition of a fair trial.

I dunno. I’m not excited about the U.S. turning over to Erdogan his arch-enemy on the promise of a fair trial. The evidence that Gulen was behind the coup is, at present, far from overwhelming. And, having seen Midnight Express, I’m not sure how much to trust the testimony that will likely come out of Turkish interrogation chambers in the near future incriminating Gulen.

Erdogan is going to do what he’s going to do, but I don’t see much reason to help Erdogan take vengeance upon his foes.

Instead, I’d rather see the FBI relaunch its investigation into the Gulen Cult’s skimming and immigration fraud in running the largest chain of charter schools in America. A couple of years ago, the FBI was enthusiastically raiding Gulen charter schools across the U.S., carting away evidence. But then you stopped hearing about the investigation. Perhaps somebody at CIA or State told the FBI that ripping off American taxpayers to fund Gulen was part of Washington’s grand strategy to make sure the Bosporus was in friendly hands?

I’d rather see Gulen answer to charges of defrauding Americans in open American courts than to turn him over to Erdogan’s sense of fairness.


From the BBC:

Germany blast: Syrian migrant ‘behind Ansbach explosion’

A failed asylum seeker from Syria is believed to have killed himself and injured 12 other people after setting off a bomb outside an open-air music festival in the German city of Ansbach.

Bavaria’s interior minister said the 27-year-old man detonated his device after being refused entry to the festival.

This just proves we must Let Them All In, all billion-plus Muslims.

Otherwise, the Muslims who are already here will kill us. As you can see, they don’t deal well with frustration.

Joachim Herrmann said the man who died had entered Germany two years ago.

It is third attack in the state of Bavaria in a week.

A shooting rampage in Munich on Friday left nine dead while an axe attack on a train a week ago in Wuerzburg injured several people.

And then there’s the new machete-chopping by a Syrian refugee in Baden-Württemberg this weekend.

By the way, from an interview with Hillary Clinton in Time:

Exclusive: Hillary Clinton on Running and Governing as a Woman
Jay Newton-Small @JNSmall Jan. 7, 2016

… Q. Any particular foreign leader whose executive stewardship you admire and might want to emulate as president?

Hillary: Well, I have to say that I highly admire Angela Merkel. I’ve known Angela since the 1990s, she and I actually appeared on a German TV show together. I have spent personal time with her. She is, I think, a really effective strong leader and really right now the major leader in Europe, not just in Germany. I admire her political skills and her principles, her strong work ethic. I just find her to be an incredibly important person in the world today and I look to her to see how she’s managed it.

Read More: TIME’s 2015 Person of the Year is Angela Merkel

Also, in The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg, who was given much access to hang out with President Obama and talk foreign policy, writes:

Merkel is perhaps Obama’s favorite ally. Transactional, clinical—an actual scientist by training—and emotionally self-contained, she also possesses a quality Obama says he admires: political courage. Her position on the absorption of Middle Eastern refugees might cost her her job. Obama, I get the sense, believes he would do what she has done if faced with similar circumstances. …


From The Independent:

German machete attack: Syrian refugee kills woman and injures two others in city of Reutlingen

Man has been arrested by police following assault outside fast food restaurant in Reutlingen
Caroline Mortimer @cjmortimer 6 hours ago962 comments

… The unnamed victim is believed to be a Polish woman who worked at the restaurant and may have been pregnant at the time of the attack, German tabloid Bild reports.

Mohammad Alhelo told German newspaper, Stuttgarter-Zeitung, that the man had run into the restaurant swinging the machete around his head.

He said: “He ran with the machete through the restaurant and swung it over their heads”.

The 20-year-old, who worked at the fast food restaurant with the attacker and his victim, said he [was] refilling the drinks machine when the attack started and ran away in a panic.

Mr Alhelo said the attacker was arguing with the woman before he killed her on the street – he said he had fallen in love with the woman when he started working there.

He described the man as “a friendly guy” who had arrived alone in Germany from Syria around 18 months ago.

After killing the woman in the restaurant the man injured two more people before being arrested.

He said a passing BMW managed to run him over and afterwards he “lay prostrate on the ground and didn’t move”. …

The police has confirmed the attacker was a 21-year-old Syrian refugee but have not released his name. The motive for the attack is unclear but police said there is no evidence it is terror related.


Screenshot 2016-07-24 17.41.20

I haven’t actually seen anything this good in the Democratic National Committee hacked emails yet. But hopefully there will be something juicier in the future.

My theory is that Putin is sick of Olympics-related tricks, so he’s gone proactive ahead of Rio:

- Back during the 2008 Summer Olympics, America’s ally Georgia launched a tank invasion of the Russian protectorate of South Ossetia while Putin was watching the events in Beijing.

- During Putin’s showcase Winter Olympics in Sochi, a mob overthrew Putin’s democratically elected ally in Ukraine.

- Now, the IOC is threatening to kick the whole Russian team out of the Olympics for revelations of doping.

Putin practicing Plunge for Distance

On Friday, Vlad mentioned during his weekly conference call with us Kremlin Hasbara Fellows that he’d secretly been practicing since 2013 for the Plunge for Distance event at the 2016 Olympics and figured he was a sure thing for a medal.

But the U.S. Olympic Committee had just sabotaged his plan to get the IOC to restore the Plunge for Distance at Rio.

So, maybe that explains the DNC leak.

Let me just say that, reading between the lines of Mr. Putin’s speech, if the Plunge isn’t back in the Games and a surprise celebrity world leader entrant doesn’t win Gold, the whole world is going to be reading 33,000 emails from Hillary’s home server come October 31.

Remember what happened to Donald Sterling?


David Brock

From the Los Angeles Times:

Be nice to Hillary Clinton online — or risk a confrontation with her super PAC

By Evan Halper

When the Internet’s legions of Hillary hecklers steal away to chat rooms and Facebook pages to vent grievances about Clinton, express revulsion toward Clinton and launch attacks on Clinton, they now may find themselves in a surprising place – confronted by a multimillion dollar super PAC working with Clinton.

Hillary Clinton’s well-heeled backers have opened a new frontier in digital campaigning, one that seems to have been inspired by some of the Internet’s worst instincts. Correct the Record, a super PAC coordinating with Clinton’s campaign, is spending some $1 million to find and confront social media users who post unflattering messages about the Democratic front-runner.

In effect, the effort aims to spend a large sum of money to increase the amount of trolling that already exists online.

The plan comes as Clinton operatives grapple with the reality that her supporters just aren’t as engaged and aggressive online as are her detractors inside and outside the Democratic Party.

The lack of engagement is one of Clinton’s bigger tactical vulnerabilities, particularly when compared with rivals like Donald Trump, whose viral social media attacks are legion, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is backed by a passionate army of media-savvy millennials.

Some experts on digital campaigns think the idea of launching a paid army of “former reporters, bloggers, public affairs specialists, designers” and others to produce online counterattacks is unlikely to prove successful. Others, however, say Clinton has little choice but to try, given the ubiquity of online assaults and the difficulty of squelching even provably untrue narratives once they have taken hold.

At the same time, however, using a super PAC to create a counterweight to movements that have sprung up organically is another reflection of the campaign’s awkwardness with engaging online, digital pros said.

“It is meant to appear to be coming organically from people and their social media networks in a groundswell of activism, when in fact it is highly paid and highly tactical,” said Brian Donahue, chief executive of the consulting firm Craft Media/Digital.

“That is what the Clinton campaign has always been about,” he said. “It runs the risk of being exactly what their opponents accuse them of being: a campaign that appears to be populist but is a smokescreen that is paid and brought to you by lifetime political operatives and high-level consultants.”

The task force designed to stop the spread of online misinformation and misogyny is the brainchild of David Brock, a Clinton confidant who once made a career of spreading such misinformation and misogynistic attacks against her and Bill Clinton. His critics say he kept his taste for dirty tricks when he switched sides to become one of the Clintons’ most valued operatives. …

You know … for kids!

When actor Tim Robbins was confronted on Twitter after making the dubious assertion that election fraud is robbing Sanders of votes, he accused tweeters who challenged him of being paid shills for Brock. Within an hour, he had directed a variation of the same message at 88 different tweeters:

“Dear @CorrectRecord operatives, Thank you for following today’s talking points. Your check is in the mail. Signed, @davidbrockdc”

Those independent tweeters who challenged Robbins were not on Brock’s payroll. Correct the Record is not paying activists outside the organization to send messages, although it is arming them with instructions, talking points and postable infographics.

But the Robbins response confirmed a well-established rule of social media: The kind of confrontations Correct the Record is manufacturing almost never win converts.

Social media scholars say that’s not necessarily a problem.

“It will get the people already supporting Hillary Clinton riled up and more excited,” said Filippo Menczer of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research at Indiana University, who researches how and why misinformation takes hold on social media.

That was my conclusion back in 2013 when commenting on an Israeli article about Israel’s elaborate hasbara program:

Although this Israeli system has been widely rumored to be operative for years, my first thought was that this didn’t sound very cost-effective. After all, plenty of people, some of them quite talented writers, like to comment for free.

On the other hand, this should allow the Netanyahu government to systematically identify and evaluate its verbalist supporters at an early age, and then reward the ones it likes most.

The Russian government has set up a hasbara system similar to Israel’s. America, in contrast, has lots of Volunteer Auxiliary Thought Police.


From Salon:

In my genes: Adventures in DNA testing

What genetic secrets hide beneath a “white bread” appearance?

SATURDAY, JUL 23, 2016 04:30 PM PDT

… And as with most liberal types, I harbor a secret “wanna be” desire to be something more, or other, than I appear — a white, late-middle-aged male, putting me in the same phylum as Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell — not the sexiest demographic in the world. From ninth grade biology, I vaguely remembered the difference between “genotype” — your genetic code and sequence — and your “phenotype,” essentially, what you look like, and appear to be.

My grandmother had a branch of aunts and cousins with dark hair and eyes and olive colored skin, and she entertained the fanciful notion there was, in her family, some “Arab” blood. And after three hundred years on this continent it seems possible that there had been some “mixing,” most likely of the non-consensual variety, with people of Native American or Asian or African descent. As the Updike Genealogy reports, while describing the migrations of one Johannes Opdycke in the late 1600’s from Long Island to New Jersey, “… their herds of stock in the rear doubtless driven by a negro slave or two, who formed part of the establishment of every prosperous planter in those days.” I read somewhere that 10 percent of white Americans have some percentage of ‘African’ blood, and so it seems plausible that I could be one of them. After all, I love hot climates, prefer African and Caribbean music to their Anglo counterparts and married a woman from Kenya. Perhaps it’s all there, in my genes!

After all, what has anybody named “Updike” ever contributed to American culture?

And so when I saw on the computer that you could take the test, for only 99 dollars and a sample of saliva, and within weeks have breakdown of where my ancestors came from, I ordered it online …

Perhaps that “Arab” blood of my grandmother was actually the Moorish blood of that great empire that ruled, built, and educated, large swaths of Spain and Portugal and France for 500 years?

It was with no little excitement that I arrived home one day to find in my inbox the exciting news that my DNA results had arrived: I couldn’t wait, remembered my password for once, and followed the prompts to the results.

There it was, a simple map of Europe, a large circle surrounding Great Britain that included England and Scotland and Wales, excluded Ireland, then looped across the channel to claim Holland, the eastern edge of Germany, and north to Denmark, maybe a bit Sweden.

Below there were only two numbers, as stark as could be:

99%: Great Britain; 1% Scandinavian.

What?! I stared at the map and fiddled with the computer, looking for a more refined, or subtle, breakdown of my mysterious past, but there was none. That was it. Where were the French, the Russians, the tinge of “Arab blood”? What happened to Spain and the Moorish Empire, the tawny Kramer cousins from Pennsylvania, three hundred years of possible intermingling here in America?

Diversity? Well, now at least I know where I got my temper, my aversion to rowing, and hyper-competitiveness in the tennis court: 1% Viking. Ninety nine dollars: one dollar for every percent that I was “British”!

I didn’t tell my wife for days, and kept my secret from my students, too. I thought fondly back to my original genetic analyst back in Brooklyn, my lovely, long-limbed hostess with her sleepy demeanor and old-school gym shorts: over a cup of tepid tea, she had taken the full measure of my phenotype — freckles, thrift store clothes, self-cut hair, a general aura of waspy befuddlement — and for only the price of a New York City Subway token, delivered her verdict: “White Bread.”

John Updike

I wrote about the interesting history behind the ethnic slurs “white bread” and “plain vanilla” for Taki’s Magazine in 2014.

I presume this David Updike is the son of John Updike, the Nabokov of native-born novelists.

(David Updike mentions in this article that his father’s father was born in Trenton, NJ, which is where John Updike’s father was born.)

So it’s worth noting for literary history’s sake that the great Updike was at least 98% Northwestern European by ancestry.


The first ever four digit day for comments: a combination of lots of posts by me, Trump giving a good speech, and yet another terrorist attack (fortunately, only of medium size).


Commenter candid_observer notes:

I think the deep problem Trump faces is in finding staffers who are both experienced and aligned with his views.

For reasons ever to be mysterious in the future, the notion that America is for Americans has become anathema not only on the left, but across the vast proportion of the right; likewise the idea that truth is more important than political correctness. And virtually no one with professional political experience can understand how a politician might combine genuinely populist economic policies with opposition to immigration and to fruitless wars in distant lands.

As deeply rooted in common sense this set of views might be, they are utterly alien to our current political class.

Trump can either train novice political staffers lacking prejudices against his views to come up to speed, or hire experienced political staffers in the hope they can quickly dispense with their prejudices against his views.

Such, I think, must be the fate of a revolutionary politician.


Transcript from RealClearPolitics:

[Tapper:] “But first, I want to say –You think people in Ferguson, Missouri, would like that speech?”

[Miller:] “I think anybody who with has suffered the debilitating impacts of crime and chaos in their lives, the failing schools, the effects of open borders, the effects of these terrible tax, trade and regulatory policies, would embrace that speech,” Miller said.

“To his point: What has Barack Obama’s policies given the people of Ferguson? What has Hillary Clinton’s policies given the people of Ferguson? When we say we’re not going to be politically correct, the first lie we’re going to stop telling is that politicians have done anything for the people in Ferguson.”

Manafort has some good things to say about truth as well.


From the New York Times:

For Trump, an America That Is Not a Nation of Nations

With all the political orthodoxy that Donald J. Trump tore up in his convention speech on Thursday night, he set aside a core tenet of the American narrative on immigration: that the United States is a nation of nations, built on the sweat and initiative of people who came from other countries.

Using even darker language than he had on the campaign trail, Mr. Trump did not include even a boilerplate mention of positive contributions by immigrants. He described foreigners who came to the United States illegally and became killers of American citizens and drug dealers. More forcefully than he had before, Mr. Trump said he would also impose new restrictions on legal immigration to protect American workers from lower-paid competition in the labor market.

Under his presidency, the American dream would be primarily reserved for Americans.

I can’t even.

“The American people will come first once again,” he said.

Wow. Just. Wow.

Trump’s Anti-American Hate Rhetoric is obviously modeled on Nazi documents like this one:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

As we all know, that’s Not Who We Are.

Oh, wait … never mind …

Back to the NYT:

Historians and legal scholars struggled to recall when a presidential candidate had departed so radically from the traditional view that America’s welcome for immigrants was a prime reason for its exceptional innovation and prosperity.

But if you keep repeating The Narrative over and over for enough decades, it can be shocking when some heretic doesn’t bow down to it.

Seriously, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m old enough to remember before The Narrative became “the traditional view that America’s welcome for immigrants was a prime reason for its exceptional innovation and prosperity.” From watching cowboy movies in the 1960s, I absorbed the previous Narrative that the pioneering spirit of the settlers was a prime reason for its exceptional innovation and prosperity.

That slowly began to change during the 1970s as cowboy movies faded and gangster movies rose. You can see a ham-handed early attempt to retcon American history to make Ellis Island immigrants central in the late Michael Cimino’s 1980 cocaine-fueled cowboy epic Heaven’s Gate,

in which Wyoming is inexplicably full of vast columns of trudging Old World huddled masses:

Where are they going? Why are they in the middle of nowhere?

Martin Scorsese tried to pull off a similar ethnocentric rewrite of American history in his 2002 big-budget Gangs of New York. As I wrote in my review in VDARE:

By churning out countless Westerns in the mid-20th Century, Hollywood helped validate the idea that America was made by settlers, especially the cowboys of the Great Plains.

Around 1970, however, some brilliant young Italian-American directors and actors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Al Pacino, and Robert De Niro asserted a new vision of American history. America, they implied, was made not by settlers, but by Catholic and Jewish immigrants, especially the gangsters of the big cities.

Gangster movies had long been popular for the same reasons as cowboy movies: both mobsters and frontiersmen live in a Hobbesian state of nature, beyond the reaches of the law. Their life is thus full of interest.

But the notion that 20th Century urban gangsters were central to American identity probably never occurred to anybody before “The Godfather” films. Obviously, America had been around for a long, long time before Lucky Luciano got off the boat from Sicily. Indeed, historian David Hackett Fischer’s great book Albion`s Seed: Four British Folkways in America shows how much of American culture was transplanted intact from Britain in the 17th Century. Much of what’s distinctive about the American character today was already visible to de Tocqueville 170 years ago – before mass immigration began.

Scorsese, maker of Mean Streets and Casino, seems to have been bothered by this objection. So, he has spent over 30 years and more than $100 million to film the 1928 book “Gangs of New York” to give his mobcentric theory of America some credibility by pushing it back to the mid-19th Century.

The film’s slogan: “America Was Born In The Streets.” To Scorsese, who grew up in New York City’s Little Italy, the most important event of 1863 was not the Battle of Gettysburg, but the New York Draft Riots.

Despite a high potential cast — Leonardo DiCaprio, a memorable Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson, Brendan Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, John C. Reilly, Cameron Diaz — Gangs of New York, like Heaven’s Gate, doesn’t really work, in part because the central ethnocentric conceit is kind of silly.

Personally, I don’t blame Cimino and Scorsese for their ethic loyalty. I think it’s natural and fairly healthy. But it’s also healthy for others to be allowed to notice patterns of ethnic bias and point them out. Fortunately, we can more or less make fun of Italian-Americans for their prejudices without our careers being in too much danger.

By the way, at the EphBlog, there are suggestions for some hashtags that would be sure to be denounced as “controversial,” such as #AmericanLivesMatter, #AmericansMatter, and #AmericaMatters. What do you think?


Screenshot 2016-07-22 12.57.22


From the New York Times:

Will Fear Strike Out?

Paul Krugman
JULY 22, 2016 10:53 AM

If you want to feel good about the state of America, you could do a lot worse than what I did this morning: take a run in Riverside Park. There are people of all ages, and, yes, all races exercising, strolling hand in hand, playing with their dogs, kicking soccer balls and throwing Frisbees. There are a few homeless people, but the overall atmosphere is friendly – New Yorkers tend to be rushed, but they’re not nasty – and, well, nice.

Yes, the Upper West Side is affluent. But still, I’ve seen New York over the decades, and it has never been as pleasant, as safe in feel, as it is now. And this is the big bad city!

The point is that lived experience confirms what the statistics say: crime hasn’t been lower, society hasn’t been safer, in generations. Which, of course, leads us to the Trump gambit from last night. Can he raise 1968-type fears in a country that looks, feels, and is nothing like it was back then?


It’s hard to remember all the media manias that have come and gone in attempts to derail the Trump candidacy. For example, the Great Six-Pointed Star Crisis of early July 2016 is already largely forgotten.

It’s hard to remember now after so much leftist violence, but one of the biggest coordinated press campaigns back in the late winter was the idea that Trump rallies were loci of “violence.” Thus, when there was mob violence at a Trump rally in Chicago in March, it was widely blamed initially by the press and politicians on Trump and his violent supporters. Of course, that was 180 degrees backward.

So how did Trump’s convention in Cleveland turn out? Did Trump’s cossacks sack Shaker Heights? Or did that not actually go through the formality of taking place?


From the WSJ yesterday:

The Speechwriter Behind Donald Trump’s Republican Convention Address
Stephen Miller, 30 years old, says he feels connected to the candidate’s words

July 21, 2016 5:30 a.m. ET

Donald Trump is set to deliver his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination Thursday night in Cleveland. Behind his words will be 30-year-old policy adviser Stephen Miller, who is tasked with drafting the speech of his life. …

Campaign officials say that Mr. Miller, more than anyone else on the campaign, has achieved a mind-meld with the candidate, capable of channeling Mr. Trump’s blunt, short sentences into well-argued addresses with stylistic flourish.


Here’s a graph going around to show you that there’s nothing to worry about in the big spike in urban homicides since Ferguson: look, the murder rate is down compared to the Carter Administration! For example, Democratic-connected journalist-financier Steven Rattner tweets:

Screenshot 2016-07-22 01.37.40

But take a look at the single most dominant notable feature of the graph: the huge increase in murders in the second half of the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s when liberals took charge of the criminal justice system:


It might make you think twice about the new Abolish Mass Incarceration conventional wisdom whose rise has coincided (perhaps not coincidently) with the 17% increase in homicides seen in the 50 biggest cities in 2015 over 2014.

Thanks, Mr. Rattner. Your graph is much appreciated.


Who is it going to be? Why?


From the Miami Herald:


Screenshot 2016-07-21 21.34.11

The North Miami police officer who shot an unarmed, black mental health worker caring for a patient actually took aim at the autistic man next to him, but missed, the head of the police union said Thursday.

It was a stunning admission from the police officer and from John Rivera, who heads up Miami-Dade’s Police Benevolent Association. But it was one meant to calm the fears of a nation besieged with cellphone videos of police shooting and sometimes killing unarmed black men.

In this case, Rivera said, the officer ended up wounding the man he was trying to save. …

North Miami police and investigators have been tight-lipped since the Monday shooting, even as video of most of the encounter has been released. The story gained international attention and public pressure for answers mounted. …

The chief didn’t take any questions and refused to name the officer. The city said he is a 30-year-old Hispanic male who has been on the force for four years. …

Rivera called the officer who shot Charles Kinsey, “decorated” and said he was a member of city’s SWAT team. The name of the autistic man hasn’t been released. He appears to be a white Hispanic on the video.

Or maybe not, but does it really matter?

Commenter Dave Pinsen responds:

This shooting is the clearest example yet of too many people getting shot by cops. This is a real problem, that has nothing to do with race. But for Obama, everything has to do with race, so instead of helping to solve it, he exacerbated a different problem.

I haven’t seen any pundit make the connection, but some of this stems from how atomized America is today. There’s little in the way of organic community institutions that can deal with stuff without calling 911, which brings cops at Def Con 1. Maybe if there were a neighborhood watch that could have taken a closer look at the autistic guy and saw he had a toy before someone called the police.

Maybe in the Alton Sterling case, there could have been a merchant’s association or whatever to give Sterling a job sweeping up the sidewalks in front of the stores instead of selling CDs.

Maybe in the case of the black lady whose mentally ill son was shot dead by a cop for holding a screw driver, there could have been some neighbors to call to help get him to the mental hospital without killing him.

Jack D comments:

There is a big problem with how 911 calls are passed on and with how the police treat “man with a gun.” It was reported as “suicidal white guy with a gun” (it was a toy truck – the man was autistic and childlike). One the police arrive at the scene expecting a gun, they are primed to see one and as soon as they see one they feel justified in killing you immediately, especially if you don’t seem to be “compliant.” People are often not compliant because there is something wrong with them (mental illness, don’t speak English, etc.). The police killed Tamir Rice TWO SECONDS after they arrived on the scene, because he was “reaching for his gun.”

Perhaps there would be technological changes that could make cops feel more secure and thus have less itchy trigger-fingers? For example, police forces are switching over to SUVs from sedans. You could armor up an SUV pretty well so that if the cops roll up at an ambiguous situation where they are worried about somebody possibly shooting, they could just sit in their vehicle behind bulletproof glass and talk over what they see and what they’re going to do.

An SUV can carry quite a bit of equipment, so it would have room to haul around more high tech gizmos, such as long distance gun detectors. For example here’s a New York Daily News article from 4 years ago:

The NYPD is developing a new way to seek people toting guns on the street by using radiation scanners that can detect those packing heat, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced Tuesday.

The technology — which works similar to infrared imaging — includes a mechanism that can detect a natural energy, known as terahertz radiation, that emits from a person’s body, Kelly said during his State of the NYPD address.

Because the radiation waves cannot travel through metal, a concealed gun can be detected from the image captured by the lense of the detector, Kelly said.

“This technology has shown a great deal of promise as a way of detecting weapons without a physical search,” Kelly said.

Did this test actually work? I dunno, but it seems like more tech might help.

There’s a push these days to take away cops’ new quasi-military toys. That was part of the early right-of-center conventional wisdom out of Ferguson in 2014: it was all the cops’ fault for dressing like orcs.

In reality, working people these days are much more safety conscious than they were, say, 40 years ago. Rendering the cops as ill-equipped as they were during the Dallas Massacre doesn’t solve much.

Instead, you have to work with the fact that cops aren’t as brave as they used to be when they’d just walk up with a knightstick and whack a perp into submission. That can get you into real trouble these days. Nonlethal violence looks bad on video, like when the LAPD, having been denied the use of a chokehold, but not wanting to shoot Rodney King, hit him a whole bunch of times to finally subdue him. That didn’t work out so well for the cops

In Tom Wolfe’s 2012 novel Back to Blood, Miami cop Nestor Camacho bravely wrestles down a Rodney King-sized black perp, but an out-of-context video winds up all over social media.

Now, cops say things like, “I’m going home tonight,” meaning: “I’m not getting myself killed over this.”

So we need to work with that reality and develop stand-off means to allow cops to deal with possibly armed suspects without shooting them.


From the Washington Post:

More people were murdered last year than in 2014, and no one’s sure why

By Max Ehrenfreund and Denise Lu
Jan. 27, 2016

The number of homicides in the country’s 50 largest cities rose nearly 17 percent last year, the greatest increase in lethal violence in a quarter century.

A Wonkblog analysis of preliminary crime data found that about 770 more people were killed in major cities last year than the year before, the worst annual change since 1990.

The killings increased as some law enforcement officials and conservative commentators were warning that violent crime was on the rise amid a climate of hostility toward police. They said protests and intense scrutiny of officers who used lethal force had caused officers to become disengaged from their jobs, making streets more dangerous. Some have called it the “Ferguson effect,” after the St. Louis suburb in which Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed by a police officer in 2014.

Screenshot 2016-07-21 19.57.24

I blogged about this study last January.

The post-Ferguson spike in homicides was first documented by Carl Bialik in Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight last September 11, 2015. I blogged about it here.

Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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Confederate Flag Day, State Capitol, Raleigh, N.C. -- March 3, 2007