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From the Washington Post:

How the Kardashians exploit racial bias for profit

By Sally Kohn November 18
Sally Kohn is an essayist and a CNN political commentator.

As you surely know, last week Kim Kardashian posed — naked — on the pages of Paper Magazine. The stated goal? #BreakTheInternet.

Most cultural critics rolled their eyes and cried stunt. But the Kardashians aren’t just trashy. They’re dangerous—actively exploiting and reinforcing racial and gender biases that bite us in the ass.

Kim Kardashian’s picture is an almost exact replica of a 1976 portrait, also shot by photographer Jean-Paul Goude. The original version features Carolina Beaumont, who is black. The portrait was published in Goude’s book called, ahem, “Jungle Fever.”

Both images harken back to even more offensive representations of black women, particularly of Saartjie Baartman — the “Hottentot Venus” — a black woman with a large rear end who was violently exploited as a sexual object in a traveling “freak show” during the slave trade era.

For centuries since (and likely before) black women and their bodies have been smeared by stereotypes of hyper-sexuality simultaneously displayed and denigrated, their individuality and self-determination suppressed by the whims of the white male gaze. Goude, a white man, embodies this exploitative obsession. “Blacks are the premise of my work,” he said in 1979. “I have jungle fever.”

As Yomi Adegoke wrote in the Guardian in September, non-black women have a history of appropriating black women’s bodies and culture.

Other topics touched upon include Ferguson and the KKK.

* Correction: This article has been amended because it’s unclear whether Kardashian identifies as a woman of color.

I have no idea what that means.

Did Ms. Kohn say Ms. Kardashian was a woman of color and then have to retract it? Or vice-versa?

Does it matter? Presumably it’s embarrassing to Ms. Kohn to get a premise of her argument factually wrong, but it seems unfair to focus on that because no doubt she would have written virtually the same article no matter what the facts.

It would be fun to sponsor a computer program that would generate this kind of feminist prose at random. Just ask a woman to list a few people she hates, and, voila, 800 words of Washington Post-quality clickbait! The only difficulty would be in convincing your Gender Oppressive White Alpha Male Brogrammer, Wally, to leave out all the code that he would automatically want to put in to check for logical consistency.

As for Kim Kardashian, her mother Kris Houghton Kardashian Jenner is of pretty standard American ancestry: English, Scottish, French, German and Dutch. Her late father Robert Kardashian, the lawyer from whose house O.J. Simpson set off on his White Bronco ride toward the Mexican border, is usually said to be of Armenian descent.

As I’ve mentioned before, the notion that Armenians are not white appears to be growing in the 21st Century as part of the Flight from White. In contrast, back when Republican George Deukmejian edged Democrat Tom Bradley in the 1982 California gubernatorial election, it was always seen as White Guy Beats Black Guy.

After looking into it, Robert Kardashian’s ancestors appear to be less indigenous Armenians than members of a dissenting Russian sect called the Molokans who were exiled to the Caucasus. Wikipedia explains:

Molokans (Russian: молокане for “milk-drinkers”) are members of a Christian sect that evolved from “Spiritual Christian” Russian peasants who refused to obey the Russian Orthodox Church. Molokan practice was first sanctioned by the Nestorian Church in the 11th century in order to accommodate the conversion of some 200,000 Kerait Tatars, who lived on meat and milk, to Nestorian Christianity. …

It’s unclear from what little I’ve read whether modern Molokans are direct descendants of these Tatars who were found at various times over thousands of miles of Eastern Europe and Western Asia or whether they later emerged among random Russians in a sort of Orthodox equivalent of the Protestant reformation.

During the early 20th century under his fellowship, about 2,000 Molokans (mostly of the Jumpers and Leapers Sect) left for the United States and settled in the Los Angeles area near the area of Boyle Heights, and some other parts of the West Coast and Canada. …

Some Molokans adhere to the Old Testament kosher dietary laws and do not eat pork, shellfish, or other “unclean” foods. Some refuse to serve on juries or file lawsuits against fellow church members. Church services are conducted predominantly in the Russian language, men and women sit apart, and services are usually quite active – comparable to Pentecostal activities. Molokan families encourage endogamy.

Not really working in this case.

In any case, Ms. Kardashian ought to be honored as an exemplar of the reigning social constructionism ideology, since she seems to be constructed mostly of Silicone and PhotoShop.

From the San Jose Mercury-News last August, we hear of a potential fitting ending for the Kim Kardashian Saga, which began that day in 1994 when O.J Simpson set out from the Kardashian house for the Mexican border:

O.J. Simpson is obsessed with Kim Kardashian, according to Radar Online. …

A prison insider reportedly told the website that the former NFL star — who is serving a 33-year sentence at Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada, for a 2008 robbery and kidnapping conviction — plastered pictures of Kardashian all over his cell.

“He has several sexy pictures of Kim hanging up in his prison cell from her 2007 Playboy shoot and he isn’t shy about showing her picture to fellow inmates,” the insider supposedly said. …

Radar says Simpson, 67, somehow thinks he can hook up with Kardashian, 33, when he gets out of the slammer, which won’t happen until 2017 at the earliest.

Perfectly sensible. What rich and famous, 30-something mother married to a gaziilonaire celebrity wouldn’t jump at the chance to hook up with a 70-year-old ex-con accused of killing his ex-wife and another guy and rumored to be her sister’s biological father? Seems like a no-brainer.

Radar reports that Simpson told a friend, “She likes black ball players, I am a Hall of Famer — and I still have my Heisman award,” — apparently a dig at Kardashian’s former boyfriend Reggie Bush, who gave back his college football Heisman Trophy after it came out he broke some NCAA rules while at USC (the same school for which Simpson starred).

I’ve always been under the impression that it was Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole’s affair with fellow USC Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen that was behind the Juice’s decapitation spree. Not much solidarity among USC Heisman winning running backs, is there?

Simpson also is supposedly not deterred by Kardashain being married to Kanye West, reportedly saying, “As long as I am in prison, I can’t be with her, so Kanye can have her for now. But when I get out, she’s mine.”

… Radar points out Simpson and his ex-wife were friends with Kardashians’ parents, Kris Jenner and Robert Kardashian, even vacationing with them several times in the late 80s early 90s.

“O.J. said he always thought she was a cute girl when she was younger,” the source said, “but it has only been since he’s been in prison his infatuation with her has grown to a full-blown obsession. He reads every magazine he can about her, and when she is on TV, he demands silence from his fellow inmates so he can watch without interruption.

Have Key & Peele done this sketch yet?

He’s even tried to get in contact with her, but so far she hasn’t responded to him.”

I can’t imagine anybody I’d rather see Kim Kardashian and O.J. Simpson wind up with than each other. This has to happen. It would be so fitting.

It would be … Closure.



Watch it here, or on your TV at 11:30 pm if you are in Pacific or Mountain time zones.

Here’s the original that’s being parodied:

From 1975.


Because I could afford to lose a few pounds (and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet), commenter NOTA’s observations hit home:

The [Robin] Hanson article was very obviously carrying out a philosophical thought experiment to try to clarify why we have such a visceral reaction to a particular crime.

For [Noah] Smith to try to smear him as a sexist based on that demonstrates something really ugly about Smith. Would his contention be that nobody must ever engage in philosophical speculations that upset people? Someone tell all the philosophers who talk about pushing fat guys in front of trolleys!

Here’s my Taki’s piece from last year on a series of studies in which liberals were more enthusiastic on average about murdering white fat men than black fat men to stop runaway trolleys, while conservatives were nonracist in their responses to the thought experiment.

Worse, I think Steve’s right that Smith was trying to whip up a twitter mob (much less nasty than a real one, but still enough to fill your email with hate and occasional death threats). Three hundred years ago, Smith would be the guy saying “Y’know that friendless old widow with all the cats? I heard she was a witch….” in hopes of stirring up a little lynching or witch trial action.

This sort of thing works mainly because people react to it based on whose team is being attacked and who is doing the attacking. Smith can count on the support of a lot of otherwise decent people who dislike sexism and don’t much like weird libertarian economists, in the unlikely event he triggers some kind of twitterstorm that makes Hanson’s life really lousy for a month or two.

I expect in a few years, this particular mania will pass. People will remember twitter storms and social media warriors and kind-of scratch their heads at how weird it was that thousands od people would start sending hateful messages to strangers, often based on something they hadn’t even bothered watching or reading, because it felt so good to be part of a big surge of righteous indignation about their favorite social justice cause. (And like participation in mob violence, the best part is that it’s all but risk free–the friendless victim usually has fe defenders and can’t fight back, so you can abuse someone with little risk that it will ever come back on you.)

And here’s Noah Millman from last year engaging thoughtfully with my observation that fat guys are, you know, relatively hard to push to their deaths.


In Bloomberg View, econ blogger Noah Smith writes:

Economics Is a Dismal Science for Women
Noah Smith
19 NOV 21, 2014 3:06 PM EST
By Noah Smith

British physicist Matt Taylor, who was involved with the Rosetta comet landing, recently found himself in the middle of a controversy about sexism and bad taste, after he was interviewed wearing a tacky shirt featuring pin-up girls toting guns. In true Internet fashion, the incident was labeled ShirtStorm, and it sparked a debate about sexism in the sciences. Taylor has since apologized, issued a series of mea culpas, and showed as much contrition as one person could for a sartorial offense. Some of his female colleagues even came to his defense.

But all of this raises a question: Why is it that the sciences look like a feminist nirvana compared with the economics profession, which seems to have a built-in bias that prevents women from advancing?

Consider this 2011 blog post by George Mason University economist Robin Hanson. Hanson writes that “gentle, silent rape” of a woman by a man causes less harm than a wife cuckolding her husband:

I [am puzzled] over why our law punishes rape far more than cuckoldry…[M]ost men would rather be raped than cuckolded…Imagine a woman was drugged into unconsciousness and then gently raped, so that she suffered no noticeable physical harm nor any memory of the event, and the rapist tried to keep the event secret…Now compare the two cases, cuckoldry and gentle silent rape.

There was no outcry whatsoever over these remarks, nor any retraction that I could find.

Noah Smith shouldn’t try to sic the Social Media Justice Warrior mob on poor Robin Hanson. Professor Hanson is a very nice, very innocent, very eccentric man who tries to come up with counterintuitive thought experiments (most of which aren’t very useful thoughts, but he means well). The most publicity he probably ever had was a 2010 New York Times article interviewing him and his wife, a nurse, about how he wants to have his head frozen when he dies, and how she thinks that’s ridiculous:

Until Cryonics Do Us Part


Published: July 7, 2010

… The provenance of this disagreement remains somewhat hazy, as neither Peggy nor her husband, Robin Hanson, can remember quite when he first announced his intention to have his brain surgically removed from his freshly vacated cadaver and preserved in liquid nitrogen. It would have been decades ago, before the two were married and before the births of their two teenage sons. With the benefit of hindsight, Robin, who is 50 and an associate professor of economics at George Mason University, will acknowledge that he should have foreseen at least some initial discomfort on the part of his girlfriend, whom he met when they were both graduate students at the University of Chicago. “I was surprised by her response,” he recalls, “but that’s because I am a nerd and not good at predicting these things.”

“Robin is the kind of nerd who is very excited about the future, an orientation evident on his C.V., which lists published articles like “Economic Growth Given Machine Intelligence” (on why robots will give us growth rates “an order of magnitude” higher than we’ve currently got), “Burning the Cosmic Commons: Evolutionary Strategies of Interstellar Colonization” (on what behaviors we can expect from extraterrestrials) and “Drift-Diffusion in Mangled Worlds Quantum Mechanics” (it’s very complicated). His enthusiasm is evident in the way he talks about these ideas, hands in the air, laughing amiably every time he brings up the distance between his own theories and those of the mainstream. If he is in a chair, the chair is moving with him.

“I’m just really terribly curious,” Robin told me in January over Skype.”

Trying to send The Mob after Hanson is pretty weaselly of Smith. Fortunately, this stuff is awfully random.

It’s striking how it’s turning into Open Season on Aspergery nerds. Various Dilberts are being targeted as the Gender Enemy Oppressing Four Billion Women. Why? Because they are socially maladroit. In reality, Robin Hanson couldn’t oppress Bambi.


From Commenter ABN:

A couple of points:

1. Amnesty in exchange for having anchor babies is simply the reductio ad absurdum of an idea that conservatives have stupidly gone along with–the idea that children should be viewed as morally independent from their parents, and from the actions of their parents. Any Neanderthal could have told you that children exist by, for, and of the parents and tribes whence they come. But as Steve says, what goes unsaid eventually goes unthought, so now the Respectable Right lacks even the language to articulate the fact that America is being demographically cuckolded.

Do we even have the language anymore to articulate the concept of being personally cuckolded? Is the word “cuckold” even in current circulation?

Come to think of it, the leadership of the Respectable Right has lost the ability to express anything that isn’t Whiggish, universalist liberalism.

Here’s a question: in John Milius’s 1984 Red Dawn, you’re watching a low to mid budget teen action fantasy with Charlie Sheen, and it’s pretty okay. But then Patrick Swayze says one four-word line — if you’ve seen the movie, you know what it is — and suddenly you realize you’ve just watched one of the great scenes in movie history. Okay, in the 2012 remake, is that line in movie? I haven’t seen the new movie, but I just watched the trailer and it’s not in that. Nor is it on the memorable quotes page on IMDB. Are they keeping it under wraps to not spoil it? Or did they not use it in the 2012 movie for being insufficiently Proposition Nationy?

2. At what point do Americans get to stop pretending that US citizenship is the same thing as membership in the nation?

I’m trying to think of an analogy for what citizenship is turning into in the conventional wisdom. Qualifying for an American Express card?

Okay, here’s the closest analogy I can come up with for how respectable opinion thinks about illegal immigration: in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino are watching Pretty Woman and making fun of the scene where Julia Roberts isn’t allowed to buy clothes at a snooty Rodeo Drive shop because she’s a streetwalker.

Lisa Kudrow: You know, even though we’ve watched Pretty Woman like thirty-six times, I never get tired of making fun of it.

Mira Sorvino: Aw, look, poor thing – they won’t let her shop. Yeah – like those salesgirls in Beverly Hills aren’t bigger whores than she is.

Kudrow: Oh my God, listen to that sad, sad music as she leaves. Like, boo-hoo! … But [a tear wells in her eye] … it is actually kind of sad.

But when the movie gets to the happy ending back at the same boutique, Lisa Kudrow dissolves into happy tears. She explains:

Kudrow: [Sob] I just get really happy when they finally let her shop.


Missouri has a white Democratic governor, Jay Nixon. But the national Democrats’ decision to pound the Ferguson drum so hard after The Narrative crashed and burned on August 15th may mean that the days of white Democrats in Missouri are dwindling. From the Kansas City Star:

Steve Kraske: Will Ferguson leave lasting scars on the Missouri Democratic Party?
11/21/2014 4:05 PM 11/21/2014 4:36 PM

… “Democrats … are concerned about losing the support of African-American voters in relatively important numbers for a relatively long period of time,” said Dave Robertson, a political scientist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Here in western Missouri, we get that Ferguson is a big deal. What we may not fully grasp is just how all-encompassing this controversy is in the St. Louis area, which happens to be the most valuable Democratic Party turf in the state.

The fear, most specifically, is what happens if more violence erupts in such a way as to leave lasting scars in that part of the state. Will Democrats, and African-Americans specifically, take a look at Nixon and his party, who rule much of the St. Louis area, and question their continued allegiance?

Subtract just a portion of Democratic support from St. Louis County, home to Ferguson and the greatest number of Democratic votes in the state, and the party’s ability to win statewide starts sinking.

Democratic leaders are consumed with all things Ferguson, even as critics continue to ride Nixon for what they describe as a slow, dithering response that hasn’t connected with residents there.

This week, for instance, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill told reporters that she had a “full and complete discussion” about Ferguson with President Barack Obama.

There wasn’t a Senate or Governor election in Missouri in 2014, but the House delegation elected is six Republicans and two Democrats (blacks St. Louis and Kansas City). From St. Louis Public Radio:

Missouri Democrats took a beating on Tuesday in contests for the Missouri General Assembly, losing even more ground in the Missouri House and Senate — including a hotly-contested race for a vacant Jefferson County Senate seat. …

Going into the election, the Republicans already controlled the state legislature. Now they have strengthened that dominance. When the 34-member state Senate reconvenes in 2015, it now will have 25 Republican members — two more than needed to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto. In the 163-member House, the Republican majority will be adding seven members for a total of 117.

The columnist implies that the big danger to the Democrats in Missouri is blacks angry at whites staying home. It’s considered in bad taste to mention this, but isn’t a bigger danger white Democrats flipping to vote Republican over the Democrats egging on the mob in Ferguson? Each worried white who flips costs the Democrats twice what an angry black staying home costs the Democrats.


So it’s likely that the tattooed rocket scientist in England with the cheesecake shirt who has been denounced all over the world as a one-man army barricading women from STEM careers was using his television time to promote his friends’ small businesses. Harry Baldwin explains:

Elly Prizeman, who made the shirt, makes her living doing laser tattoo removal. Her husband did Taylor’s tattoos.

Also, I’m guessing Shirtstorm Guy’s inspiration was President Obama’s favorite, Mohawk Guy:

[Bobak] Ferdowsi became a media “sensation”, or “meme”,[8] when during the August 6, 2012, landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, he wore an unusual mohawk hairstyle that was seen on NASA TV’s live broadcast of the event. He was seated in a prominent camera position and his mohawk unexpectedly became an iconic image of the landing.[9][10][11][12] Ferdowsi explained that he wore a new haircut for every mission and the mohawk was chosen by his team by popular vote.[13]

When President Barack Obama called to congratulate the team, he noted the popularity of the “Mohawk Guy,” saying “it does seem NASA has come a long way from the white shirts, dark-rimmed glasses, and pocket protectors. You guys are a little cooler than you used to be.”[14]

Uncool dorks who put Man on the moon 45 years ago

Ferdowsi said in another interview that he did it to help lighten the seriousness of the workplace and “If my mohawk gets a few more people excited about science and this mission, that’s awesome.”[6]

Ferdowsi took part in the Second inauguration of Barack Obama (January 2013) marching in the parade alongside replicas of Curiosity and the Orion spacecraft, along with other NASA scientists, as part of the agency’s official Presidential Inaugural Weekend.[15] Ferdowsi also took part in Obama’s State of the Union address on February 12, 2013, where he was seated in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box “to highlight President Barack Obama’s call for more visas for skilled immigrants in the fields of math, science and engineering.”[16]

Commenter Muhry says:

mohawk guy should consider himself lucky that native americans are either less influential or less sensitive (no doubt more the former), after all he appropriated indian culture.

i’m guessing he won’t be wearing an afro for his team’s next mission.

Social media, avant la lettre

You know how in about every other Simpsons’ episode, there’s a scene where the good citizens of Springfield assemble to hear reasoned discussion, but then some random thing somebody says suddenly catalyzes them into an insane mob demanding a billion-dollar monorail or whatever?

I always thought it would be kind of fun to live in a world like that, where random crowd dynamics could ricochet into nonsensical swings in mood and decision-making.

But of course, I reflected, we didn’t live in that world, because we hardly ever got together anymore and listen to speeches. It wasn’t like it was 1858 and going to listen to five hours of political speechmaking was the hottest ticket in Central Illinois.

But now, thanks to social media, we’re all living in that world. Mohawk Guy is the coolest dude ever, Shirtstorm Guy is the New Hitler. It’s all random.

And, it turns out, our new Random Mob Hysteria World is more of a drag than it looked like on The Simpsons.


As we saw in this month’s election, obscure Republican backbenchers in the House snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by not letting John Boehner call for a vote on the Senate amnesty / guest worker bill pushed by GOP establishment elites like McCain, Graham, Rubio, Rove, Jeb Bush, etc. Contrary to all the conventional wisdom about how this base recalcitrance was political suicide for the Republican Party, it turned out to be 180 degrees the opposite. In reality, you don’t win elections by letting your political enemies have their way with you.

The death wish remains strong among Republican stars, however, so the odds were that if they ever got the White House back, they’d push through exactly what the Democrats want, just with even more Qatar-style guest workers/indentured servants.

But Harry Baldwin comments:

The president talked about how the house should have passed the “bipartisan Senate plan,” but the reason the Republicans didn’t do so is that their base HATE, HATE, HATES it. There is no version of immigration reform that addresses the issues that need addressing–end of birthright citizenship, end of chain migration, radical reform of refugee status, drastic reduction of legal immigration, strongly enforced employer sanctions, and deportation (self-deportation is fine) for those here illegally. Since none of those things would be included in any conceivable Republican bill, I believe Obama did the GOP a big favor by taking executive action. By taking the onus for this unpopular legislation on himself, he saved them from shooting themselves in the foot.

Obama has now made it much harder for future Republican insiders to stab their base in the back over immigration by equating immigration with Obamaism.


Screenshot 2014-11-21 06.22.38

This graph is from p. 26 of the Public Policy Institute of California’s 2002 book, Understanding the Future of Californians’ Fertility: The Role of Immigrants by PPIC demographers Laura E. Hill and Hans P. Johnson. They calculated the Total Fertility Rates (babies per woman per lifetime) by ethnicity in California from 1982 onward, demonstrating the huge pig-in-a-python bulge among foreign-born Hispanics that followed the 1986 amnesty legislation. This had a massive impact on California’s public schools, first overcrowding them, then leading to a colossally expensive school construction program (e.g., the $578,000,000 Robert Kennedy Schools building on Wilshire Blvd.). Hill and Johnson write on pp. 27-28:

Between 1987 and 1991, total fertility rates for foreign-born Hispanics increased from 3.2 to 4.4.

And the demographers go on to explain how the amnesty caused this:

“Between 1987 and 1991, total fertility rates for foreign-born Hispanics [in California] increased from 3.2 to 4.4 [expected babies per woman over her lifetime]. This dramatic rise was the primary force behind the overall increase in the state`s total fertility rate during this period. Were it not for the large increase in fertility among Hispanic immigrants, fertility rates in California would have increased very little between 1987 and 1991.

“Why did total fertility rates increase so dramatically for Hispanic immigrants? First, the composition of the Hispanic immigrant population in California changed as a result of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. In California alone, 1.6 million unauthorized immigrants applied for amnesty (legal immigrant status) under this act. The vast majority were young men, and many were agricultural workers who settled permanently in the United States. Previous research indicates that many of those granted amnesty were joined later by spouses and relatives in the United States… As a result, many young adult Hispanic women came to California during the late 1980s. We also know that unauthorized immigrants tend to have less education than other immigrants and that they are more likely to come from rural areas. Both characteristics are associated with high levels of fertility. As a result, changes in the composition of the Hispanic immigration population probably increased fertility rates.

“Another possible reason for the sudden increase in fertility rates for Hispanic immigrants is also related to IRCA. Because many of those granted amnesty and their spouses had been apart for some time, their reunion in California prompted a “catch-up” effect in the timing of births…”

I’ve been pointing out this piece of history repetitiously since 2002. But it’s never ever caught on. It’s just too alien to the reigning pieties to even think about the subject.

I should be a consultant to some New Media firm in San Francisco, their infallible expert on what won’t go viral. They would just show me memes that they are considering promoting. Any idea I find interesting would immediately be deleted as hopeless.


How is officially rewarding illegal alien parents for having produced anchor babies going to discourage the production of future anchor babies?


At The Federalist, Robert Tracinski writes:

Tattoos? What tattoos?

So a team of scientists landed a space probe on the surface of a comet for the very first time ever, and that’s not really news. What’s news is that one of the guys who did it was wearing a tacky shirt.

No, really. … Since the shirt in question had cartoon images of scantily clad women, you see, it was deemed off-putting toward women in science.

Let’s stipulate that scientists and engineers have a tendency to not be able to dress themselves in a way that is fit to be seen in public. That’s why, back in the day, the guys at mission control used to wear a pretty basic uniform of white dress shirt and skinny black tie. It didn’t make them look suave or hip. All it did was make them look like the kind of guys who could calculate interplanetary trajectories with nothing but a slide rule. Which, ultimately, is way cooler.

The irony here is that the wearer of the offending shirt, astrophysicist Matt Taylor, seems to be some hybrid of geek and hipster. Note all the earmarks: the beard, the big glasses, the “sleeve” tattoos on his arms, and the retro “kitsch” of an obnoxiously colored, comic-book-themed bowling shirt.

I’ve noticed that a lot of the pictures of this guy carefully crop out his forearms, which are covered with tattoos down to his wrists. In other words, this rocket scientist has low class trashy taste. But you are supposed to pretend that his stupid tattoos are “transgressive,” while his stupid shirt is “oppressive.” But what if he had cheesecake tattoos? (See #3 below.)

So he was trying to be stylish after a fashion—and it is, in fact, the current fashion—and he still got into trouble.

In one respect this is all a tempest in a teacup. Who cares what shirt the guy was wearing while he landed a spacecraft on a comet? But our culture does care, and it made him care, reducing him to a tearful televised apology. That’s what makes this a cultural turning point.

There are three big lesson we can learn from #ShirtStorm about the brave new world of feminist grievance-mongering that we have just landed on.

1) They’re not just going after the frat boys. …

2) The new orthodoxy is total. …

3) There are no logically consistent rules. …

It like when you first get off the bus at Marine Corps boot camp and extremely angry people start shouting at you. If you had time to think, you might point out to them that some of what they seem to be angry about logically contradicts some of the other things they seem to be angry about. In fact, you have a little list of contradictions that you’d like to share with them. But that would just make them angrier, so it’s probably not a good idea.

Which is to say that this is a power play. It reminds me of what Shelby Steele has written about the phenomenon of “white guilt”: the presumption that all white people are complicit in the crimes of slavery and segregation and are therefore guilty until they prove themselves innocent. And they can prove their innocence by embracing whatever political agenda the guardians of racial grievance choose to decree.

So call this new system “male guilt.” Every man is presumed sexist until proven otherwise, and his only hope is appease the self-appointed arbiters of offensiveness.

It’s pretty easy for a woman to exploit men by claiming to represent the rightful wrath of Team Women. When you get old enough, you realize that most women don’t really care about Team Women, they care about Team Me and (hopefully) Team My Family. But they know that guys are crazy for being on teams, so it’s simple to get guys to assume that Team Women is a real thing and not just whatever an individual woman happens to be worked up about at the moment.

This will all acquire a laser-like focus very quickly, because accusation of sexism will soon have an urgent, concrete purpose: destroying all opposition to Hillary Clinton’s presumed presidential campaign. As Stephen Miller observes: “If you want to know what #ReadyForHillary will look like for 4 years… This is it.” …

Read the whole thing there. This guy Tracinski has an agile style.


Commenter Syon points out these two clips from an HBO Curb Your Enthusiasm episode.

First, Larry and his best friend Jeff get kicked out of their Jewish country club for some Seinfeldian infraction, which dismays their tennis-playing wives. Larry’s shiksa wife Cheryl points out that she’s gone along with their [Jewish] social set for all these years, but maybe now they should apply for membership at the [gentile] Beverly Park Country Club (i.e. the Los Angeles CC). Jeff’s Jewish wife Suzie (an amazing NSFW character) is incredulous that Larry imagines he could ever act “gentiley” enough to get through the interview.

Next, Larry and Cheryl meet with two polite LACC officials:

Interestingly, the sticking point (besides all the lies Larry has told about driving a Hummer, fundraising for Reagan, playing polo, and captaining a schooner) looks like it’s going to be LACC’s hyper-Scottish insistence that golfers walk (at least on the great North course) rather than ride in a motorized cart.

My general point in my revisionist history of country club discrimination in Taki’s Magazine is that different kinds of people set up different clubs because they have different interests and personalities and then they further socially construct separate cultures in which they each feel — to use that all-powerful word of 2014 — comfortable.

Amiable Jeff could probably get along with most people most places, but he doesn’t see the point of having to walk 18 holes like he’s supposed to be the great-grandson of Old Tom Morris. Jeff’s wife Suzie, however, is an acquired taste.

Los Angeles CC and Hillcrest CC might be the richest two groups of people in Los Angeles, and they evidently have different priorities involving how important their golf courses are to them. As far as I can tell, both groups have been rapturously happy for the last 90 years with their own country clubs each arranged the way they prefer. The conventional wisdom that it’s only Group A’s irrational hatred for Group B that keeps the two clubs from being mixed 50-50 (rather than about 95-5 and 5-95) is, shall we say, tendentious.

Actually, although the Playboy Mansion is directly behind the LACC’s 13th green, in real life Larry probably wouldn’t bother even trying to get in because LACC has had a general policy of not having anything to do with show biz people. (There have been a handful of exceptions such as the application in 1989 of an older gentleman who, admittedly, had started out as an actor, but then he became President.)

As Suzie says, LACC has some number of Jewish members — I was friends with a nice kid from Beverly Hills High School’s all-Jewish debate squad back in 1973-74 and his dad was an LACC member. But the membership is extremely low profile. A tech millionaire friend who tried to get in was informed by the guy he had lunch with that the small number of new members tend to be corporate lawyers.

As America becomes more unequal, most average country clubs are in decline these days. But the super-elite clubs are doing fine. LACC, for instance, just restored its North Course back to its 1929 peak.

11th hole at LACC

The Los Angeles CC is an astonishing piece of property, taking up 0.9 miles of frontage on both sides of Wilshire Boulevard between Beverly Hills to the east, Century City to the south, Westwood to the west, and Bel Air to the north. A back of an envelope calculation in this article suggests its 313 acres could sell for $19.5 billion. LACC only pays about $200,000 in property taxes annually, while Hillcrest, which only has one course, pays about $100,000.

I had lunch once with a golf course owner who told me his father had been the leader of Brentwood Country Club. In the early 1960s, his father had teamed up with Bob Hope and others to push through a ballot initiative so that country clubs wouldn’t be assessed for property taxes at their “highest and best use” (e.g., condos). The poor man was building an oceanfront Pete Dye golf course on clifftop family property in on the Palos Verde Peninsula, but his 18th hole had slid halfway down to the beach. Eventually, he and his brother ran out of money fixing the 18th hole and had to sell the golf course to Donald Trump.

Here’s an article from the Hollywood Reporter on the various entertainment industry golf clubs (i.e., not LACC). The article’s picture depicts Richard Kind (who once kindly helped me look for a putter I had lost at Robinson Ranch), Super Dave Einstein (Albert Brooks’ brother — yes, Brooks’ real name is Albert Einstein), Jeff Garlin, and Larry David.

Larry plays to an admirable 11 handicap at Riviera in Pacific Palisades. It’s a great old George C. Thomas course from the 1920s that hosts the pro tournament every winter. Riviera is famously not very clubby — rather than the members owning the club, it’s owned (I believe) by a Japanese corporation as a profit-making enterprise, which is one reason the USGA hasn’t gone back to Riviera to hold a U.S. Open since Ben Hogan won there in 1948. If you are willing to pay enough, you can probably find a way to play Riviera on a weekday without knowing a member, and if you are willing to pay enough you can probably join. So, it has a more diverse membership (e.g., Johnny Mathis). But Riviera did kick out O.J. in 1995.

The USGA desperately wants to hold another US Open in the huge Los Angeles market. They recently convinced their long-time first choice LACC to hold the 2023 Open. Hosting the US Open is the highest honor a golf course can enjoy in American golf. But LACC had long been one of those handful of out-of-sight elite clubs, like San Francisco GC, that felt that holding an Open would be a hassle they don’t need and would bring attention they don’t want.

I’m not sure why they changed their minds. But, I have this vague impression that the U.S. Open is turning into a sort of ethnic pride parade for WASPs. Perhaps since the Tiger Woods scandal of 2009, the high muckety-mucks of golf have started to lose interest in their long strategy of trying to expand the demographic appeal of the game and are starting to do things that they feel are part of their cultural tradition, such as playing the U.S. Open last summer on a half-brown Pinehurst, much to the disgust of Donald Trump, who knows a fair amount about what the masses like.


Recently, Bill Cosby cancelled an appearance on David Letterman’s show after multiple women claimed that Cosby long ago had slipped something in their drinks to molest them.

Cosby and Letterman have something in common besides being popular comedians: they’ve both had somebody thrown in jail for blackmailing them.

Back in 2009, using the Letterman and Cosby cases as examples, I asked:

Why Is Blackmail Illegal?

And then came back to the subject the next day with

Legal v. Illegal Blackmail

Rereading the comments, I’d conclude that there are indeed good reasons for blackmail being illegal, but they are kind of subtle.

It’s worth asking if the 1990s case in which Cosby got a young woman sentenced to five years in prison for asking for a big payoff to keep quiet about her being his daughter (Cosby responded that she wasn’t his daughter and he’d only slept with her mother once) may have discouraged other women from coming forward. A good lawyer could no doubt explain the precise legal differences between the imprisoned woman’s case and yours, but the five-year sentence for blackmail had to be so frightening that it seems likely that it might have shut some women up.

As for Cosby’s character, I never really believed the America’s Dad stuff because I could remember him hanging out at the Playboy Mansion for what seemed like most of the 1970s.

Also, the “Cosby never worked blue” meme doesn’t jibe with my memories. My parents went to see Harry Belafonte at the Hollywood Bowl in the summer of 1971, but Belafonte was sick, so it was announced to patrons that Cosby would fill in for his friend. My parents thought that sounded good because they knew how much I liked his early records like “Noah” and his 1969 sit-com. But, they reported back, Cosby’s material that night was shockingly obscene, and they didn’t like that at all. That could just be my parents over-reacting, but it fit in with the Playboy Mansion stuff.

My general impression was that Cosby’s star was fading throughout the first half of the 1970s, which I thought unfortunate because I found him hilarious. But then the Jello Pudding commercials rebuilt his popularity on the basis of avuncularity, from which he segued into his immensely popular 1980s sitcom (which I didn’t find hilarious).

On the other hand, I know a fellow who played a minor recurring character on the 1980s sitcom. He’s a good guy and he looks up to “Mr. Cosby” as a role model. So, the reality, whatever it was, is complicated.

Veteran commenter James Kabala, who worked hard back in 2009 to explain blackmail law to me, comments:

I think we discussed this at the time of the Letterman case – blackmail is not “coming forward.” Blackmail is NOT coming forward and then getting money out of it too. A blackmailer only goes public if he fails in his attempt to get the money. The blackmailer prefers for his mark’s bad deeds to go unpublicized. If they were publicly known, then there is nothing to get paid off about.

Sure, but you had to explain blackmail law to me about 3 times before I finally started to understand it.

If I were some actress/model/whatever who heard about Cosby sending an accuser to prison for five years, how confident would I be that I understood the law well enough to risk accusing somebody who evidently has that kind of mojo and is that merciless? And am I all that sure he really did put a Mickey Finn in my drink? Or maybe I just had too many drinks? Is it impossible to imagine that Bill Cosby charmed me into having too many drinks? Maybe I sort of drunkenly agreed to take a Quaalude to make a certain sexual practice less painful? It’s all kind of in a Seventies haze …

What’s going on now is that lots of these women are hearing each other accuse Cosby of putting something in their drinks, so that adds credibility to their suspicions that they didn’t really drink that much the time they slept with Cosby.

But that kind of thing can sometimes turn out very wrong, like UFO sightings built on drunk drivers’ vague experiences, for which their reading about other drunk drivers’ claims provides them a vocabulary of details to cite.

So, I don’t know. But that’s why I think things like the blackmail incident and all the times he was on TV hanging out with Hef in the 1970s are moderately informative.

In contrast, say that during the 2012 election, wave after wave of women came forward accusing Mitt Romney or Barack Obama of drugging and raping them. That could be true, I suppose, but it doesn’t fit with much else we publicly know about them. There is just not much evidence of either one chasing tail very much.

In contrast, we have public record of of Cosby being a big league tail-chaser from all the TV shows from the Playboy Mansion he appeared on that everybody has forgotten about. And there’s the 1997 blackmail case. But that also doesn’t mean he’s guilty of drugging and raping women since it looked like plenty of women were enthusiastic.

So, we’ll see …


For years I’ve been threatening to write a big article on the true history of country club discrimination in the first half of the 20th Century, and now I’ve finally done it in Taki’s Magazine:

For most of history, being a hereditary aristocrat was a good job. The only catch was the old concept of noblesse oblige, which suggested that people of wealth, power, and influence were honor bound to defend the general public.

Today, however, it’s more prestigious to be a victim of the majority. That seems to release you from any nagging worries about aristocratic responsibility.

Being an actual victim, though, is still no fun. So the best thing is to be recognized as a member of a hereditary victimocracy. …

One of the most popular varietals is to claim to be related to somebody who couldn’t get into an exclusive golf club (and thus had to found his own country club). …

It turns out that most of what we think we know is a retconning of American social history.

Contrary to mythos, as far as I can tell:

First, as early as 1925, a higher percentage of Jews than gentiles may have belonged to country clubs.

Second, Jewish country clubs were, on average, more luxurious and expensive than gentile clubs.

Third, a 1962 study by the Anti-Defamation League found that Jewish country clubs were more discriminatory than Christian clubs.

Fourth, historically, Jewish applicants were mostly blackballed for ethnic reasons by Jewish country clubs.

Read the whole thing there.


SlateStarCodex has a meandering piece up about male first names that includes a couple of publications’ lists of the biggest douchebag names. Not a lot of overlap, except that “Chad” is number 1 on both lists.

My impression is that “Chad” has been a cliche joke name for several decades. My recollection is that satirists were already making fun of it by at least the early 1970s. (The comic aspects of the name were reinforced by the “hanging chad” brouhaha of the Bush-Gore recount of 2000.)

I only just now discovered why “Chad” became so abused. It’s a pretty interesting story about a topic that continues to be relevant but barely discussed in our society.

To people of my generation, the name “Chad” is often associated with the handsome TV actor Chad Everett, who starred as the romantic leading man on the CBS drama “Medical Center” from 1969-1976. Born Raymon Lee Cramton, he was the quarterback of his high school football team in Indiana.

Okay, now I finally understand why Chad became a joke name, along with Tab, Troy, and Rock. It turns out the name “Chad Everett” was picked out for him by his Hollywood agent, Henry Willson, a notorious gay sexual predator.

Willson was famous in Hollywood for crafting butch names and images for his clients, who also included Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Troy Donahue, Robert Wagner, Nick Adams, Guy Madison, Mike Connors, Rory Calhoun, John Saxon, Yale Summers, Clint Walker, Doug McClure, Dack Rambo, Ty Hardin, and John Derek. He’d started in Hollywood as a procurer of starlets for moguls, but his passion lay in young men.

From an interview with Willson’s biographer in the Gay and Lesbian Times:

“Willson gave these hunks literally interchangeable names and had his way with many of them. Talk about mixing business and pleasure. “Henry was like the gay Hugh Hefner,” Hofler says. “This was someone who took his sexual orientation and really manufactured these sex fantasies.” …

“Yet Hofler learned during his interviews and research that Willson didn’t get “hands-on” with every client or young hopeful. For example, Willson wouldn’t take liberties with some actors, like John Gavin – those who hailed from moneyed, high society families. He was more apt to molest the naïve, off-the-bus types who would do anything to see their names in lights.”

So, don’t assume everybody on the list above earned his career the hard way.

So if your mom wasn’t sophisticated enough to notice the underlying point of the jokes in the press, she might name you Chad.

Chad Everett couldn’t get good roles after “Medical Center” for two dozen years. Below is Everett’s famous comeback scene helping Naomi Watts audition in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. Before watching the audition scene, however, watch this clip of Betty and her roommate practicing the lame script for Betty’s audition.

A lot of Lynch’s work is fairly random, but the full effect of the various scenes (some of which I couldn’t find) leading up to Betty’s audition are superbly crafted and make the payoff scene particularly memorable: actresses!

There’s nothing NSFW about either the dialogue or video/audio, but put them together …


Here’s a story from Sports Illustrated about a kid from my old Notre Dame H.S. in Sherman Oaks who turned down a football scholarship from UCLA:

Baseball is reportedly on the verge of having its first $300 million man. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman has reported that the Marlins have an agreement in place with slugger Giancarlo Stanton for a 13-year, $325 million extension, the largest in the history of North American professional team sports.

Now, the Florida Marlins’ ownership is pretty sketchy, so who knows how this will work out for him.

When I saw him play high school football, he was known by his middle name of Mike Stanton.(He is named Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton, but in 5th grade he gave up trying to get his classmates to pronounce his Italian movie star first name. Then after about his first 50 major league homers, he switched back to his real name.)

It’s an interesting question whether a youth who is growing up to be gigantic (he’s listed at 6′-6″ and 240 pounds) and fast like Stanton did should rationally concentrate on football or baseball.

The latter is a lot less brutal game.

On the other hand, hitting a baseball seems more or less like a knack, dependent upon eyesight and other subtle traits. Just because you are huge and quick doesn’t mean you can hit big league pitching, so you might wind up a project riding the buses around the minors for a long time, which isn’t much fun.

Just about anybody huge and fast who is willing to inflict and absorb pain can play football at least at the college level. So football is more of a sure thing. But you might get hurt and wind up huge and not fast, and then football becomes not at all a sure thing.

It seems like baseball is kinder to ex-fast players, who can switch from the outfield to 1st base or designated hitter, while football players don’t seem to switch much after they start in the NFL. I can remember back in the 70s talk about how when middle linebacker Dick Butkus comes back from yet another knee surgery, the Bears might switch him to center where his immobility wouldn’t be as much of a problem. But that was Butkus they were talking about doing this giant favor for. Mostly, they just cut you and get some fresh meat to fill your spot on the roster.

So, I’d focus upon baseball. But you have to have a knack for hitting or pitching. Just being a good athlete isn’t enough.


Tracey Ullman has been doing TV sketches for decades about women who fall in love with death row inmates. Here’s one from the 1990s in which ACLU lawyeress Sydney Kross talks shy bankteller Kay Clark (both Ullman) into marrying her Death Row penpal:

Ullman’s greatest version of this theme was from a half dozen years ago: White Widow Gretchen Pincus, who has married a half dozen African-American inmates of the Huntsville Death Row, such as the Wet Wipe Killer and the Tastee-Freez Rapist. But it evidently made almost no splash in popular culture and I can’t find the video online anymore.

Ullman has always seemed extremely funny to me and to television executives, but not, so far as I can tell, to anybody else.


Ed West writes in The Catholic Herald of Britain:

I’ve often wondered if Ukip is not some sort of latter day Puritan revolt; if you look at maps of their support it is strongest in the eight counties that were involved in the Great Migration [to New England in the 1630s], from Lincolnshire down to Kent. These are the areas where Protestantism was strongest but even before that they were traditionally rebellious; Kent, Essex and East Anglia were the homes of the Peasants Revolt and the following century Kent was home to the Cade rebellion, when angry yeomen turned on what we’d now call the liberal elite. The most rebellious folk were the upper peasantry, the yeomen, the same social class who today are the most likely to support Ukip, and the peasants revolt wasn’t in fact called that until centuries later. The 1381 uprising also had a strongly xenophobic undertone, and when they reached London they attacked the Flemish migrants.

These are the most Protestant parts of England and not coincidentally the most eurosceptic, but as the polls show, Nigel Farage’s party also has considerable support among papists.

I wonder why post-Puritans have opposite feelings on immigration in the UK and the US?

In recent years, I’ve spent a little bit of time in the most post-Puritan parts of America, like Stockbridge, MA and Chautauqua, NY, those beautiful little towns west of Boston with so many colleges and bookstores. I visited Mark Twain’s tomb in Elmira, NY, where it’s evidently customary to smoke a contemplative cigar and leave the butt on his gravestone.

I liked the region quite a bit, in part because it’s so out of touch with the rest of modern America. There are few low skill immigrants, in part because there are so few construction jobs. The whole place was relatively prosperous in the past, so it’s full of buildings, but now that air conditioning exists, lots of people would rather live somewhere to the south.

It’s still a moderately influential part of the country because of its colleges and high cultural standards. So it would be great if anybody could figure out how to penetrate their cognitive cocoons and get these post-Puritans to grasp that those horrible people in Arizona aren’t objecting to mass immigration just to annoy them.


The Confederacy had a proliferation of flags.

The most famous today is the X-shaped battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia.

A commenter pointed out that there’s an interesting story behind the evolution of this flag from its original cross-shaped design.

Here’s an earlier iteration, with the St. George’s Cross:

From the first chapter of historian John M. Coski’s book The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem, as excerpted in the New York Times on April 3, 2005:

William Miles’s disappointment with the Stars and Bars went beyond his strong ideological objections to the Stars and Stripes. He had hoped that the Confederacy would adopt his own design for a national flag-the pattern that later generations mistakenly and ironically insisted on calling the Stars and Bars. The design that Miles championed was apparently inspired by one of the flags used at the South Carolina secession convention in December 1860. That flag featured a blue St. George’s (or upright) cross on a red field. Emblazoned on the cross were fifteen white stars representing the slaveholding states, and on the red field were two symbols of South Carolina: the palmetto tree and the crescent. Charles Moise, a self-described “southerner of Jewish persuasion,” wrote Miles and other members of the South Carolina delegation asking that “the symbol of a particular religion” not be made the symbol of the nation.

In adapting his flag to take these criticisms into account, Miles removed the palmetto tree and crescent and substituted a diagonal cross for the St. George’s cross. Recalling (and sketching) his proposal a few months later, Miles explained that the diagonal cross was preferable because “it avoided the religious objection about the cross (from the Jews & many Protestant sects), because it did not stand out so conspicuously as if the cross had been placed upright thus.” The diagonal cross was, Miles argued, “more Heraldric [sic] than Ecclesiastical, it being the ‘saltire’ of Heraldry, and significant of strength and progress (from the Latin salto, to leap).”

Although Miles diplomatically described the cross as the saltire, a heraldic device (and an act of the Confederate Congress later described it as a “saltier”), his contemporaries and subsequent generations have tended to identify it as a cross, specifically as a St. Andrew’s cross-a familiar symbol in Western culture. The X-shaped cross derived its name from the first-century Christian martyr who did not believe himself worthy to die on the same kind of cross as Jesus Christ. Crucified in 69 a.d., Andrew’s remains were transported to the Scottish coast in the fourth century. He later became the patron saint of Scotland and his cross the symbol of Scotland. The St. Andrew’s cross was incorporated into the new British flag in 1606 when King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England.

While medieval tournaments, the novels of Sir Walter Scott, and other expressions of romanticized Scottish culture permeated the antebellum South, the St. Andrew’s cross enjoyed no special place in southern iconography. If Miles had not been eager to conciliate southern Jews, the traditional Latin (or St. George’s), cross would have adorned his flag.

I wrote about the (now-forgotten) Jewish enthusiasm for the Confederacy in Taki’s Magazine earlier this year.

Old times there are now forgotten;
Look away! Look away! Look away from Dixie Land.

From the blog Dead Confederates:

The Politically-Correct Origin of the Confederate Battle Flag

This may come as a shock to some present-day Confederate heritage activists, some of whom wield their own religious beliefs like a cudgel and project back onto the Confederacy their own brand of Christianism. Nonetheless, the reality is that the revered Battle Flag was the result of a conscious attempt by Miles and his collaborators to make its design less Christian, and so less offensive to people of other faiths. Miles rejected the notion that his flag was a religious symbol at all, and instead sought to make it an explicitly secular one. And he did so as a member of the congressional delegation from South Carolina, the fire-eating state that led the South into secession in the first place. To put it in terms familiar to those who follow debates about its use and meaning, the design of the Confederate Battle Flag was, in the context of its time and place, a cave-in to “political correctness.”

Furthermore, as Coski pointed out recently in an essay at the New York Times Opinionator blog, contemporary references to the design as the “Southern Cross” were allusions to the astronomical constellation, not the Cross of Calvary. For patriotic Southerners like George Bagby, editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, it was the constellation — usually invisible below the southern horizon to those in the northern hemisphere — that was a symbol of the Confederacy’s future greatness. Channeling the imperialistic ambitions shared by groups like the Knights of the Golden Circle, Bagby saw in the constellation the destiny of the Confederacy:

The “Southern Cross” holds its place steadily in the Southern heart. It was in every mouth long before the war began; it remains in spite of all arguments against it. These arguments are ridiculous. First, we don’t see the Southern Cross in the heavens. Indeed! Do the British see the lion and the unicorn on the land or in the sea? Do the Austrians behold the double headed eagle anywhere in nature or out of it? What has seeing got to do with it? The truth is, we shall see the Southern Cross ere the destiny of the Southern master and his African slave is accomplished. That destiny does not stop short of the banks of the Amazon.

Some of the most fire-breathing Confederates were intent on turning their breakaway republic into Brazil North, a slave empire extending to the Amazon River. (Others were far more state-oriented and believed in minding their own business.)

Personally, I suspect a lot of this was hot air and high spirits induced by the King Cotton Bubble of the late 1850s. Eventually, other places, such as Egypt and the real Brazil, would have gotten into cotton growing and world cotton prices would have come down, deflating Southron self-confidence and making them more reasonable and inclined to deal.

Fearing a northern blockade of the south after secession, English textile factories had been stocking up on cotton in 1860, keeping prices and southern self-esteem sky high. Soon after the outbreak of the Civil War, the Confederacy stupidly imposed a self-embargo on its own cotton exports to prove to the world how much the world needed King Cotton. This gave the Union time to organize its naval blockade, and it turned out that the English had stashed away surplus cotton, so by the time the cotton shortage started to really hurt the British economy in 1862, the Union had launched a diplomatic and ideological offensive, culminating in September’s Emancipation Proclamation, that kept the British government from intervening on the side of the Confederacy. Thus, fizzled the main strategic hope of the Secessionists.

By the way, Paul Johnson has argued that the reason a fair amount of 19th Century trade policy is hard to make sense of today, such as Jefferson’s self-embargo and the Confederate self-embargo, is because it never made any sense. Economics was a less well developed field of thought back then, so politicians were inclined to do things that seemed like a good idea at the time, but now just seem kind of dumb.


The New York Times editorializes:

And yet, Cuban doctors serving in West Africa today could easily abandon their posts, take a taxi to the nearest American Embassy and apply for a little-known immigration program that has allowed thousands of them to defect. Those who are accepted can be on American soil within weeks, on track to becoming United States citizens.

There is much to criticize about Washington’s failed policies toward Cuba and the embargo it has imposed on the island for decades. But the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, which in the last fiscal year enabled 1,278 Cubans to defect while on overseas assignments, a record number, is particularly hard to justify.

It is incongruous for the United States to value the contributions of Cuban doctors who are sent by their government to assist in international crises like the 2010 Haiti earthquake while working to subvert that government by making defection so easy.

American immigration policy should give priority to the world’s neediest refugees and persecuted people. It should not be used to exacerbate the brain drain of an adversarial nation at a time when improved relations between the two countries are a worthwhile, realistic goal.

“Neediest” — that reminds me of Jerry’s monologue from “The Visa” episode of Seinfeld:

I am for open immigration but that sign we have on the front of the Statue of Liberty, “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” Can’t we just say, “Hey, the door’s open, we’ll take whoever you got”? Do we have to specify the wretched refuse? I mean, why don’t we just say, “Give us the unhappy, the sad, the slow, the ugly, people that can’t drive, that they have trouble merging, if they can’t stay in their lane, if they don’t signal, they can’t parallel park, if they’re sneezing, if they’re stuffed up, if they’re clogged, if they have bad penmanship, don’t return calls, if they have dandruff, food between their teeth, if they have bad credit, if they have no credit, missed a spot shaving, in other words any dysfunctional defective slob that you can somehow cattle prod onto a wagon, send them over, we want ‘em.”

Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

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

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