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With Jeb Bush and Donald Trump arguing over whether George W. Bush failed to stop 9/11, it’s worth going to the videotape (47:28) of the second Presidential debate of 2000. On 10/11/2000, the Texas governor denounced heightened scrutiny of Arab airline passengers by airport security. Bush said on national TV:

Secondly, there is other forms of racial profiling that goes on in America. Arab-Americans are racially profiled in what is called secret evidence. People are stopped, and we have to do something about that. My friend, Senator Spencer Abraham of Michigan, is pushing a law to make sure that Arab-Americans are treated with respect. So racial profiling isn’t just an issue at local police forces. It’s an issue throughout our society. And as we become a diverse society, we’re going to have to deal with it more and more. I believe, though — I believe, as sure as I’m sitting here, that most Americans really care. They’re tolerant people. They’re good, tolerant people. It’s the very few that create most of the crises, and we just have to find them and deal with them.

Note that when the future President said “we just have to find them and deal with them,” the “them” he was referring to as having to be dealt with were not Arab skyjackers but airline and airport employees worried about stopping Arab skyjackers.

In accordance with this statement, Bush appointed Democrat Norman Mineta Secretary of Transportation and directed him to root out profiling of Arabs at the airport.

In 2005, airport counter clerk Michael Tuohey told Oprah Winfrey of his encounter early on 9/11/2001 with the leader of the terrorists:

“I got an instant chill when I looked at [Atta]. I got this grip in my stomach and then, of course, I gave myself a political correct slap…I thought, ‘My God, Michael, these are just a couple of Arab businessmen.’”

By the way, on a personal note, this may have been when I started to realize I was the world’s least viral journalist. I’m not sure if the word “viral” had that meaning on 9/11/2001, but if it did, I was sure that the President’s 11-month-old denunciation of anti-terrorism efforts would soon go viral. I vividly recalled watching Bush say this to a huge television audience less than a year before. Back then you couldn’t post video, but it was easy to find a transcript. So I stayed up late that night writing up “Bush had called for laxer airport security” so I wouldn’t get scooped too badly by all the other pundits.

In all the rush, it didn’t get published for about a week. Yet by then, nobody else had brought it up. When my piece didn’t get any attention, well, lots of stuff was happening.

Every few years since then, I’ve brought up Bush’s statement, but it never seems to register on anybody other than my core readers. It’s an interesting example of the Sapir-Whorf effect in action. We are given categories to file facts away in: e.g., Republicans Are Racist; Bush Protected Us from Terrorism, etc. It’s very hard to remember anything that doesn’t fit in the right slots.

This is the first time I’ve posted video of Bush saying this. We’ll see if this makes any difference in the impact, although by now, after 14 years, I doubt it.

Similarly, the big Bush Push of 2002-2004 to ease traditional credit standards, such as down payments and documentation, that have disparate impact on black and Hispanic mortgage-seekers is practically impossible for most people to remember because it doesn’t fit in the categories: Republicans Are Racist; Bush Protected Us from Liberalism, etc.

Here’s a video of Bush telling his federal regulators that down payment requirements are keeping minorities from achieving the American Dream:

But I’ve posted this before with negligible impact.

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Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has been getting a lot of the usual Strange New Respect recently for his calls for the GOP to moderate, especially on immigration. Ross Douthat does a good job of puncturing Jeb’s conventional wisdom in “The Great Immigration Reform Mirage.”

I’m struck though that almost nobody has mentioned something that ought to be completely obvious about why Jeb Bush isn’t an unbiased observer on the subject of immigration: Jeb’s handsome son, George P. Bush, long designated within the Bush clan as the most likely third Bush President (George W. called his father “41″ and George P. “44″), is half-Mexican. It’s in Jeb’s interest to increase the Mexican share of the vote so as to make his son a more plausible GOP nominee.

I sort of feel for Jeb, who had his shot at the presidency wrecked by his jag-off older brother, and I suppose it would be consolation for him to have his son be made President by having the government elect a new people. 

Still, I’m struck by how these facts about the Bush Dynasty seem too interesting to be of interest to the press.

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At the Texas Capitol, there are about three dozen Hispanic lawmakers in the House and Senate.

The number of those who are Republicans: zero.

That’s what Hispanic Republicans of Texas is trying to change.

The group co-founded by George P. Bush (son of Jeb, nephew of W.) seeks to recruit, elect, support and defend Hispanic Republican candidates and elected officials for state and local offices.

People who knew George P. Bush at Rice tell me that the thought of him as President someday is funny/scary, but from what I’ve read of George P.’s blonde wife, media lawyer Amanda Bush, the idea of her as First Lady someday sounds not all that unlikely.

Anyway, this reminds me of why the GOP pursuit of Hispanics is fairly hopeless under the current system: Hispanic elites are so overwhelmingly Democratic. Here in Texas, where Hispanics are much more conservative than in California, Hispanic Democrats in the state legislature outnumber Hispanic Republicans three dozen to nothing. The dominant Republican political dynasty in Texas since the 1960s, the Bushes, has been wildly pro-Hispanic for decades and all it has gotten the GOP is 0 for 36.

There are fundamental systematic reasons why the more the GOP elite hands legal privileges to minorities in the hopes of winning their favor, the more the minorities’ leadership elites become locked into the Democrats. I will outline this and what to do about it in a future essay.

• Tags: Bush, Dynasty 
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From my new column:

Journalists always like to say they write “the first draft of history,” but, really, there are three drafts. And it’s the middle one, in between Breaking News and History, where the worst distortions creep in. Between the raw feed and the history books, journalists quickly simplify the immense complexity of events into stock clichés that can go unchallenged for decades. For example, by 1992 the press had rewritten the 1988 election around Willie Horton.

Likewise, it will probably take one to two generations before historians can cut through the rewrites to understand the fundamental dynamics of the last decade. Why did the Bush Administration waste eight years on Immigration, Invasion, and Indebtedness? Why did it encourage Mexicans to illegally immigrate to America by calling for amnesty? What was Karl Rove thinking when he tried and failed in four different years (2001, 2004, 2006, and 2007) to shove through amnesty and guest worker legislation?

With Rove’s boss, George W. Bush, the question is less of a puzzle. I suspect that minimizing the border between Mexico and America was Bush’s personal passion, while Rove just thought they were being clever.

Striking a deal with Mexico was traditional Bush family business, going back at least to 1960 when George H. W. Bush’s Zapata Off-Shore oil company formed a partnership with Jorge Diaz Serrano to sneak around Mexico’s ban on foreign involvement in its oil industry. (Diaz Serrano later became head of Pemex, the Mexican oil monopoly, and then went to prison for corruption.)

Further integration of the U.S. and Mexican economies was naturally attractive for the Bushes. The senior Bush negotiated NAFTA and encouraged Mexican president Carlos Salinas to turn public monopolies such as the phone system into private monopolies (a policy which has made Carlos Slim the richest man in the world). Yet, in NAFTA, Mexico withheld from privatization its crown jewel monopoly, Pemex.

Business and immigration all blended together for the younger Bush, which is why his 2001 plan was to have his Secretary of State negotiate an immigration deal with Vicente Fox’s Foreign Minister. In his 1995 New York Times op-ed, No Cheap Shots at Mexico, Please, then-Governor Bush warned Republicans off from the immigration issue by holding forth on the profits to be made from further integration with Latin America:

“Mexico is proving to be a strong economic friend. Our economic bond with Mexico carries with it some very positive long-term results. An isolated United States will not be able to compete successfully in a world economy where Europe and Asia are united into common-market partnerships. The trade agreement wisely affords our country the opportunity to join forces with Canada and our neighbors to the south—first Mexico, then Chile, then other emerging capitalist countries in Latin America.”

On the personal side, George and Barbara Bush employed a live-in Mexican maid, Paula Rendon, of whom W. has said, “I have come to love her like a second mother.” He went on to employ another Mexican immigrant, Maria Galvan, to raise his two daughters. Younger brother Jeb married a Mexican girl, Columba Garnica, who had spent some years as an illegal immigrant in California.

Jeb and Columba’s son, George P. Bush, was such a natural politician and heir to the Bush dynasty that W., who nicknamed his father “41″ (for being the 41st President) and himself “43,” called his nephew “44.”

So, from 43’s dynastic perspective, electing a new people in order to keep electing Bushes to the White House all made a certain grandiose, demented sense.

Yet, for Rove, who was supposed to be the brains of the operation, the motivations are murkier —other than sheer submissiveness toward his willful boss.

Let’s run through the possibilities:

Read the rest there and comment upon it here.

• Tags: Bush, Illegal Immigration, Rove 
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Matt Latimer, a former Bush speechwriter, in the Washington Post:

Yet Bush’s advisers, particularly Karl Rove, exerted enormous pressure on him to go out every day to talk about anything — even if no one was listening. Each year, for example, we were asked to produce three entirely separate statements to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day. And we crafted remarks for so many Hispanic-themed ceremonies that the president finally stood up in the Oval Office and told his speechwriters, “No más.”

The Hispanic-themed comments were an outgrowth of the administration’s all-out push for comprehensive immigration reform. As the president’s proposal became more controversial, Rove — on one of his over-caffeinated days — persuaded Bush to give speech after speech, each time hoping that somehow they’d find the magic words to turn things around. Bush, who when given a moment to collect his thoughts could be a persuasive speaker, was talking so often that his words on the subject lost their presidential heft. Critics noted that his message seemed muddied and his arguments contradictory or confusing.

Well, when you are trying to put a giant swindle over on American voters, the best you can hope for is that your message comes across as muddied, contradictory, and confusing.

• Tags: Bush, Illegal Immigration, Rove 
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Is this from a 2001 George W. Bush speech on education or from a 2009 Barack Obama speech on education:

So let’s challenge our states — let’s challenge our states to adopt world-class standards that will bring our curriculums to the 21st century. Today’s system of 50 different sets of benchmarks for academic success means 4th grade readers in Mississippi are scoring nearly 70 points lower than students in Wyoming — and they’re getting the same grade. Eight of our states are setting their standards so low that their students may end up on par with roughly the bottom 40 percent of the world.

That’s inexcusable. That’s why I’m calling on states that are setting their standards far below where they ought to be to stop low-balling expectations for our kids. The solution to low test scores is not lowering standards — it’s tougher, clearer standards. (Applause.) Standards like those in Massachusetts, where 8th graders are — (applause) — we have a Massachusetts contingent here. (Laughter.) In Massachusetts, 8th graders are now tying for first — first in the whole world in science.

Judging from the inelegant diction, misunderestimated statistics, dubious logic, and MBA buzzwords, you might think it’s Bush in 2001. But it’s Obama last week in his big education speech. The shout-out to Massachusetts is the most obvious give-away.

But it’s the same cargo cult mentality that thinks that the big difference between students in Mississippi and students in Massachusetts is that Massachusetts’ grades them tougher on state achievement tests to see if they are “proficient” in math and reading, so, therefore, the Massachusetts students Rise to Meet the Challenge.

In reality, Massachusetts has been the intellectual center of North America since the 1600s, and Mississippi has not. And the toughness of the grading of the Massachusetts test doesn’t have much of anything to do with it. As I pointed out in VDARE a couple of years ago, Massachusetts is one of the toughest graders, but the toughest grader of all is … Louisiana.

As I explained, The basic problem, which Obama didn’t mention, is the NCLB’s

most important and implausible requirement: “that all children should reach a proficient level of academic achievement by 2014″ in math and reading.

It’s nuts.

… In the current NCLB, which was largely the result of an alliance between President Bush and Senator Kennedy … . Each state is allowed to concoct its own test to determine whether its own students have reached “proficiency,” which the state can define however it pleases.

Not surprisingly, practically every single state cheats in order to meet the law. For example, Mississippi, that intellectual powerhouse, recently declared that 89 percent of its 4th graders were at least “proficient” in reading.

Unfortunately, however, on the federal government’s impartial National Assessment of Educational Progress test, only 18 percent of Mississippi students were “proficient” or “advanced.”

(The most honest state, surprisingly enough: Louisiana—with Missouri, Massachusetts, and South Carolina deserving honorable mentions.)

Overall, the typical state claimed that 68 percent of its 4th graders were proficient readers, compared to the 30 percent found by the honest NAEP.

But, Obama is pretending, just like Bush, that we can make NCLB come true just by wishing hard enough.

• Tags: Bush, Education, Obama 
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From my new column:

Are we in the middle of what future historians will refer to as the Bush-Obama Era?

That might sound bizarre—until you notice the continuity of policy on crucial issues such as the economy and immigration. Remarkably, under Obama, much of the conventional wisdom of the Bush years continues to reign unquestioned.

Education policy showcases the stability of the Bush-Obama Age. Last week’s big speech on schools given by President Obama to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was essentially a sequel to President Bush’s speeches on the same topic in 2001.

Granted, Bush didn’t start his orations on American education by leading mass chanting in Spanish as Obama just did:

THE PRESIDENT: “Thank you. [Applause.] Si se puede.

AUDIENCE: “Si se puede! Si se puede!”

Somehow, though, I suspect that Bush is now kicking himself that he didn’t think of that cool opening. Since the topic is schooling, let’s take a test.

Which President orated:

“The highest percentage increase in our budget should go to our children’s education. Education is my top priority and by supporting this budget, you will make it yours as well. … Measuring is the only way to know whether all our children are learning—and I want to know, because I refuse to leave any child behind. … “

  1. Barack Obama

  2. George W. Bush

  3. Dwight Eisenhower

It definitely wasn’t Eisenhower. When Sputnik alerted America in 1957 that we were in a dead-serious competition with the Soviet Union for technological mastery of ballistic missiles, the 1958 National Defense Education Act responded by delivering stronger education to the OK, you can tell from the clunky prose style that the quotes above come from Bush in 2001. But the philosophy remains the same.

In his speech last week, Obama told the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce:

“And yet, despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we’ve let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us. Let me give you a few statistics.”[Transcript, March 10, 2009]

Uh-oh. Obama is into words, not numbers, so his rhetorical statistics tend to be half-digested factoids that raise more questions than they answer:

“In 8th grade math, we’ve fallen to 9th place. Singapore’s middle-schoolers outperform ours three to one. Just a third of our 13- and 14-year-olds can read as well as they should.”


For the answer, click here

• Tags: Bush, Education, Obama 
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Here’s by review from The American Conservative of Oliver Stone’s movie about the ex-President:

Given the limitations of Oliver Stone’s biopic about George W. Bush (modest budget, rushed production, lack of memoirs by the officials who started the Iraq War, and Stone’s own fading powers), “W.” turns out better than expected. Anchored by another charismatic performance by Josh Brolin (the hunter turned hunted protagonist of “No Country for Old Men”), this tragicomedy of regression to the mean offers a plausible depiction of the President’s resentful yet admiring relationship with his imposing father, and the complicated ways that set the stage for the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Brolin has emerged recently as such an enjoyable leading man to watch that he makes spending 129 minutes with George W. Bush fun.

The historical accuracy of Stone’s films has been improving since their nadir with the infuriating but stylistically dazzling “JFK” in 1991. Unfortunately, as the older, wiser Stone has gotten more honest, his aesthetic bravura has dwindled. I only noticed two scenes that seemed distinctly dubious: Dick Cheney ranting about America acquiring a global empire of oil, and a 1988 passage in which Dubya talks his dad into running the Willie Horton ad. (The undying omnipresence of favorite liberal talking points like Willie Horton in our cultural memory points out that history isn’t actually written by the victors, it’s written by the writers of history.) The great majority of the screenplay, though, strikes me as on solid ground, historically and psychologically.

Visually, Stone seems to be trying to make “W.” look even more like a made-for-TV movie (maybe one of those Dallas reunion specials) than the limited budget mandated. The score is weak. Other than a creepy-acting Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice, the supporting actors don’t look like much like their real-life counterparts (Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney?), but turn in competent performances.

And don’t expect a complete portrait of the origin of the War—there’s barely any mention of the neocons or of Bush’s unquestioning political correctness that made him assume Iraqis (!) were ready for democracy.

Still, “W.” is entertaining, informative, and likable. It has not been a success with the critics, who are annoyed that it doesn’t condemn conservatism as inherently evil. Indeed, Stone’s depiction of George H.W. Bush as an old-fashion prudent conservative is downright hagiographic. The 6’-7” James Cromwell, best known as the farmer in the talking pig classic “Babe,” brings more gravitas to the role of the 41st President than did the boyishly goofy elder Bush himself.

Stone was the natural choice to film the empathetic screenplay by Stanley Weisberg (who cowrote “Wall Street” with him two decades ago) because he has much in common with the President, such as substance abuse problems, a religious conversion, and declining popularity. The son of a Wall Street tycoon, Stone entered Yale the same year as Bush. Stone’s rebellion played out more flagrantly. While Bush followed his father’s path (Skull and Bones, military aviation, oil, and politics), just more drunkenly, Stone volunteered for combat duty in Vietnam (as shown in his “Platoon.”)

It’s unfortunate that Freud’s silly theories have discredited all psychological analyses based on nuclear family dynamics, because they can sometimes explain much about politicians. The ambitions of both Winston Churchill and Barack Obama, for example, were fired by political fathers who ignored their sons on the way up, before failing ignominiously.

George W. Bush’s Poppy Problem was the opposite of Obama’s: his father was an all around pretty good guy. As Stone commented, “Forty years is a long time to wait when your father is better at sports, politics, oil, money, diplomacy, and even academics than you are.” Nor did it help that his dad saw W.’s younger brother Jeb as his natural successor in the White House.

The relationship between father and son also had its good side. The father kept giving the prodigal son second chances, and W. finally repaid him, quitting drinking the day after his boozy 40th birthday party in 1986, in part to keep his behavior from distracting from his father’s White House run. He went on to be a surprisingly decent governor of Texas by concentrating on just four reforms. Then, the Peter Principle promoted him to his “level of incompetence,” the Presidency.

While the father was known as the In-Box President, the younger Bush wanted to be the opposite, the Pushbutton President, the decider who makes a few big, tough choices based on gut instinct, then lets the Pentagon sweep up without bothering him with tiresome details.

Rated PG-13.

• Tags: Bush, Movies 
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I’m not in the mood to defend George W. Bush, but I suspect that historians will eventually figure out that his big domestic / economic policy mistakes (e.g., allowing so much illegal immigration and promoting zero down payment mortgages to increase minority home ownership) stemmed from him assuming that the rest of the country was like Texas.

Bush had been a decent governor of Texas for six years. And Texas has continued to do relatively well in the eight years since he left Austin (e.g., there was hardly any Housing Bubble in Texas).

Bush knew Texas well, but he didn’t know the other 49 states, especially not California. Approaches that worked okay in Texas proved disastrous elsewhere.

• Tags: Bush 
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Do you ever get the sinking feeling that the biggest difference between Bernie Madoff and most of the public figures our age is that he admitted he was running “a giant Ponzi scheme?”

Madoffnomics consisted of making conspicuous donations to worthy ethnic causes in order to build a benevolent reputation in order to get an ever increasing amount of money flowing in to pay off those who had gotten on board early, but with no chance of later investors coming out ahead. How different is that from the Bush-Rove program of “compassionate conservativism,” as embodied in Bush’s jihad against down payments on home mortgages as denying minorities the American Dream?

• Tags: Bush, Political Economy 
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I keep reading articles trying to explain the mortgage meltdown, but the mainstream media’s coverage almost utterly ignores George W. Bush’s war on down payments in his effort to boost minority homeownership by 5.5 million. On Google News, the only reference over the last month to Bush’s 5.5 million household goal are columns by Rod Dreher and Ross Douthat, both of whom no doubt heard about it from me.

It’s like that Star Trek episode where an evil computer takes over, but Kirk and Spock make it overload its circuits by posing logical conundrums for it to figure out like:

The next thing I will say is a lie.

The last thing I said is the truth.

Or maybe not exactly that (it’s been 40 years since I watched that episode), but close.

Anyway, in regard to Bush’s plan to expand minority homeownership by debauching traditonal credit standards, the media reason (read with Stephen Hawking-style computer accent):

Bush is evil.

Minorities are good.


Best not to think about it or smoke will come out of our brains. Let us never mention it again.

I did notice that James Bovard figured out what was going on over three years ago in a June 11, 2005 column for Lew Rockwell entitled “Bush Profiteering from Housing Defaults.” It also explains what the Nehemiah Corp. is up to:

President Bush is determined to end the prejudice against people who want to buy a home but don’t have any money. Since he became president the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has spent more than $120 billion. HUD public-housing projects continue to devastate poor neighborhoods. HUD largesse to local governments continues to finance the confiscation and demolition of private homes, and HUD programs continue to spur fraud and corruption around the nation.

Bush has done almost nothing to reduce HUD’s damage to America. Instead, he is devoting himself to expanding home giveaways. He proclaimed on June 16, 2003,

Homeownership is more than just a symbol of the American dream; it is an important part of our way of life. Core American values of individuality, thrift, responsibility, and self-reliance are embodied in homeownership.

In Bush’s eyes, self-reliance is so wonderful that the government should subsidize it.

Bush could be exposing taxpayers to tens of billions of dollars of losses, luring thousands of low- and moderate-income people to the heartbreak of losing their first house, and risking wrecking entire neighborhoods. Bush’s housing initiatives – especially his “American Dream Down Payment Act” to give free down payments to selected home buyers – were key planks in his reelection campaign. He is also pushing Congress to enact a law to permit the feds to give zero-down-payment mortgages.

The Bush “Dream Act” and the zero-down-payment plan are modeled after “down-payment assistance programs” that have proliferated in recent years. These programs, often engineered by nonprofit groups, routinely involve a home builder giving a “gift” to the nonprofit, which provides a home buyer with money for the down payment. The price of the house is sometimes increased by the same amount as the builder’s “gift.” Almost all the mortgages created with down-payment assistance end up being underwritten or guaranteed by either the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Ginnie Mae (the Government National Mortgage Association).

Free down payments carry catastrophic risks. The default rate on mortgages from the largest down-payment-assistance organization, Nehemiah Corp., is 25 times higher than the nationwide mortgage-delinquency rate, according to the HUD inspector general. The default rate on Nehemiah mortgages quadrupled between 1999 and 2002, reaching almost 20 percent. The I.G. warned that permitting the Federal Housing Administration to insure mortgages made with gifts from down-payment organizations is “endangering the FHA insurance pool.” HUD currently has no idea how many of the loans that the FHA is underwriting are closed with down-payment gifts.

Bush began pushing his American Dream Down Payment plan in 2002. The administration’s rhetoric echoed the 1968 Housing Act, which nullified state and local restrictions on where blacks and other groups could live. A June 17, 2002, White House Fact Sheet declared that Bush’s agenda

will help tear down the barriers to homeownership that stand in the way of our nation’s African-American, Hispanic, and other minority families by providing down-payment assistance. The single biggest barrier to home-ownership is accumulating funds for a down payment.

The Bush administration sounded as if requiring down payments is the new version of Jim Crow laws.

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Here’s an excerpt in which I uncharacteristically show some sympathy for Karl Rove and George Bush from my new column:

It’s important to fully understand why the lessons the two Texans, Rove and Bush, learned in their home state didn’t apply in other heavily Hispanic states.

So far, the mortgage meltdown hasn’t been as bad in Texas as in the four Sand States” (as they were known on Wall Street during the Bubble): California, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida. These are home to half of the foreclosures and a large majority of the defaulted mortgage money.

Partly this is due to the Oil Bubble, which now appears to be ending. Oil prices over $100 per barrel kept the Texas economy strong in 2008, allowing debtors to avoid foreclosure.

Also, the enormous amount of land and the lack of environmental restrictions on home development in Texas means that when the federal government stimulates demand, the supply of housing increases quickly as well, keeping housing prices reasonable.

Finally, what Rove and Bush missed was how different was Texas’s economic and immigration history over the last three decades relative to the seemingly similar Sand States. Due to OPEC’s oil price increases in the 1970s, Texas experienced a huge construction boom thirty years ago. That mostly attracted construction workers from the rest of the U.S. rather than from Mexico, because Mexico was simultaneously experiencing its own oil boom following massive new discoveries.

When oil prices collapsed in 1982, the economies of Texas and Mexico slumped simultaneously. The big wave of post-1982 unemployed illegal aliens therefore headed for California rather than for Texas.

That’s why San Antonio had “surprisingly low levels” of immigration from 1965 to 2000, according to the important new book quantitatively comparing Mexican-Americans in San Antonio and Los Angeles in 1965 and 2000, Generations of Exclusion, by sociologists associated with the UCLA Chicano Studies Program.

The 2000 Census found that California’s foreign-born population (26 percent of all residents) was almost twice as large as Texas’s (14 percent).

As Texans, Rove and Bush apparently just couldn’t understand the quantity and quality of the immigration situation in the other heavily Hispanic states. In 2000, Texas had a large but fairly well-rooted, stable, and assimilated Mexican-American population that had a reasonable potential to make enough money in resource-extraction or other blue-collar jobs to afford to buy Texas’s cheap houses.

In sharp contrast, California had a huge and mostly new, ill-educated, and unassimilated Mexican-American population that didn’t have even a chance of making enough money in Silicon Valley or Hollywood to afford California’s already expensive houses.

And Nevada, Arizona, and Florida were more like California than they were like Texas. [More]

So, who are the bad guys here: Texans or Californians? That’s what people always want to know: who’s the bad guy and who is the good guy?

The point is that our country’s two biggest states are just very different, and much of that has its roots in their very different terrain.

For example, everybody in California would prefer to live near the Pacific because the climate and scenery are so nice. In contrast, in Texas (and the other Gulf of Mexico coastal states), the threat of hurricanes means people tend to prefer to live inland. Galveston used to be the dominant port of Texas’s coast, until the hurricane of 1900 drowned 6000 people, after which Houston (45 miles inland and 45 feet above sea level) became the main metropolis. So, Affordable Family Formation works better in Texas than in California.

This doesn’t make Texans or Californians good or evil, it just makes them different. And because the two states between them account for 60 million people, it’s crucial that Americans get a better grip on the differences between the two states.

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Former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan’s new book seems to support the theory that I offered in 2005 when former Bush ghostwriter Mickey Herskowitz revealed that Bush had been talking about the political advantages of invading Iraq in 1999. I went on to speculate:

The idea of beating up on a sure loser like Saddam may have especially appealed to GWB because of the President’s personal qualities. Bush sees himself not as a manager (which is certainly correct), but as a leader, one who makes tough decisions based on intuition where other men who worry about getting the facts first would suffer paralysis through analysis.

In other words, Bush doesn’t particularly like to work hard, and he’s not that interested in learning what it takes to administer the government. Spending eight grueling years on the blocking and tackling of effectively running the government like Dwight Eisenhower did is not for Bush. Instead, he’s going to throw the Bomb, so he can then coast. And the Iraq Attaq sounded to him like a pushbutton war — all Bush had to do was tell the Pentagon to go conquer Iraq and they’d go do it without bothering him with a lot of tiresome questions about minor details.

• Tags: Bush, Iraq 
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You don’t hear his name mentioned much anymore, but it just occurred to me that George W. Bush is still President of the United States. In fact, he will be president for another eight months and a week.

What’s he been up to lately? Is he still trying to start a war with Iran over Iraq, despite both countries being on the same side, backing Maliki? Well, who knows …

Yet, if he was looking for something to do, I’ve got an idea for him. Obviously, he can’t do anything domestically with Congress in the hands of the Democrats. So, that leaves foreign policy. But he doesn’t have any more troops to play with, so it would be hard for him to start any more major wars.

I see in the news today that Cuba’s forward-looking elderly Sibling-in-Chief Raul Castro is trying to bring the Worker’s Paradise up into the later 1970s:

Cuba’s Communist government has allowed microwave ovens to go on sale to the general public for the first time ever.Anxious Cubans gathered at an electronics store in Havana to purchase a microwave.

And a week or two ago, Raul allowed the first PCs to be sold in Cuba! It can’t be long now until Betamax VCRs are in all the Havana shops.

Few in Cuba can afford to buy a PC or microwave, however, because Cuba is poor. The CIA World Factbook says the Purchasing Power Parity per capita income is $4,500. In cash terms, Cubans are much, much poorer than even that — the State Dept. says the average monthly salary is $16! (The majority, however, get some hard currency from relatives in America.)

Therefore, how about Bush trying to bring a little peace and prosperity, Nixon goes to China-style, by trying to negotiate an end to America’s half-century conflict with Cuba?

There’s a lot of money to be made by both Americans and Cubans if Bush could work out an end to the American embargo in return for opening up the Cuban economy.

Let’s just use Cuba’s per capita GDP PPP number of $4,500. The Cuban per capita income is less than half of the Dominican Republic’s $9,200. (For comparison, Cuba is about an order of magnitude below the U.S. GDP per capita).

Back before the Castro Bros., Cuba was wealthier than the Dominican Republic.

So, it’s reasonable to imagine that Cuba, which is a fairly well-educated country, could catch up to the Dominican Republic in not that many years if Cuba now followed the Chinese path and de-Communized. It has a population of 11.5 million, which means that a lot of money could be made bringing the place up to the 21st Century.

It’s easy to catch up economically if you haven’t been allowed to buy any new technology for the last few decades. Think how much of productivity gains you can get just from microwave ovens. And in March, Raul announced that ordinary Cubans would be allowed to buy cell phones for the first time. Typically, cell phones do more economically for Third World countries than any other piece of technology.

Cuba has three times as much coastline ( 3,735 km, or about 2100 miles) as the Dominican Republic. It’s a long skinny country with a lot of beaches. And it’s closer to the U.S., barely half as far from the big airline hub in Atlanta as the DR. I imagine American hotel companies have contingency plans locked away for turning Cuba into a tourist paradise. And cruise ship companies would love to make the Miami-Havana run.

If Cuba caught up economically to the Dominican Republic, which is about 10-15% smaller in population, it could buy a fair amount of stuff from the U.S. The D.R. buys 46% of its $13 billion in total imports from the U.S. each year. That’s not big money, but it adds up over the years.

How could Bush get started? The first public hint of the Nixon-Kissinger-Chou opening was the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1971. What would be more natural than for Bush, a former baseball team co-owner, to start Baseball Diplomacy with Cuba, a font of baseball talent not allowed to play in America?

There are currently 88 Dominicans in the major leagues (plus far more in the minors). The average major league salary is approaching $3 million, so that’s a quarter of a billion dollars paid annually to Dominican major leaguers.

Cuba only has $3.2 billion in annual exports at present, so if Cuban big leaguers could make, say, $200 million per year in salary, that alone could boost national exports by 6%. So, if Bush offered to broker a deal with his old baseball owner colleagues, I suspect Raul would be very tempted.

From there, a more general settlement that would let American businesses into Cuba might be negotiable.

A baseball player deal could set a useful precedent for a sticky problem. The Communists presumably don’t want all their talented people, such as their doctors, racing off to America for big salaries as soon as totalitarianism is lifted, but before the economy starts to get into gear. The Cuban government’s view will be that they paid to train the baseball players and doctors, so they are entitled to a cut. And America doesn’t need a new huge immigrant influx into Florida. (The special “Ollie Ollie Home Free” treatment of Cuban immigrants as refuges would have to be changed once Cuba opens up.)

This is similar to the Japanese baseball league’s view that they don’t want all their players dashing off to higher pay in America without them getting a cut. So, Major League Baseball has agreed to a “posting system” with a Japanese league where an American team pays the Japanese team to let a player out of his contract so he can come to America. For example, the Boston Red Sox paid $51 million to the Japanese team that held Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s contract. The Red Sox also had to negotiate his salary with the pitcher himself, with him getting a six year contract totaling $52 million (plus incentives). So, the star and his Japanese team basically split his value on the American market 50-50.

So, it might make sense for the U.S. to recognize the Cuban government as having legal employment contracts for some number of years into the future with skilled Cubans. Thus, the U.S. firms would have to pay Cuba for hiring its doctors and other skilled workers. This would reduce the rush to the exits that could otherwise leave Cuba even more economically prostrate than it is now.

The bottom line is that the current situation in Cuba is ridiculous. Somebody is eventually going to make a lot of money fixing it, and Americans might as well get in on the action.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Bush 
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Oliver Stone appears to have finished his screenplay for his upcoming biopic about George W. Bush. ABC News has a summary. Evidently, it focuses on the Iraq War as motivated primarily by his complicated relationship with his father, which sounds about right to me.

Barbra Streisand’s stepson Josh Brolin is set to play Bush. Brolin was wonderful as the ornery hero in “No Country for Old Men,” so he’ll likely make Bush fairly sympathetic.

I suspect the movie won’t be all that good because

A. Stone is past his prime;

B. He may rush to get it out before the election. He rushed to get “Alexander” out before competing Alexander the Great projects by Martin Scorsese, Mel Gibson, and Baz Lurhman could get off the ground, and it was a dud.

Overall, my impression is that although Stone made some amazing movies in his 1986-1995 prime, he isn’t that great a filmmaker himself. He’s more of an alpha male who can persuade terrific talent to work for him. Thus, he used pretty much the same below-the-line crew on his best films, but he didn’t get them back for “Alexander,” so five minutes into the movie you could tell it was no good.

• Tags: Bush, Movies 
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From the Washington Post blog The Fix:


President Bush: In the nine states for which The Post purchased exit polling data (Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Tennessee), the president’s disapproval rating was above 40 percent in five. That includes a 52 percent disapproval score in New York, a 49 percent disapproval rating in New Jersey and a 42 percent disapproval in California. Did we mention these include Republican primary voters? The other bit of bad news for Bush is that among those who disapproved of the job he has done, McCain won overwhelmingly — meaning that the likely 2008 nominee will, in the minds of many GOP-leaning voters, be a repudiation of the current president.

Okay, except that McCain is just like Bush 43, only more so — more invade the world, more invite the world, more in hoc to the world. And they have very similar nasty frat boy personalities.

Yesterday, I suggested that John McCain, with his cocky shoot-from-the-hip lack of preparation and thoroughness, is the the kind of man George W. Bush always wanted for a father. (The convoluted psychodynamics of the Bush family, I’ve long argued, are a key to understanding why we are in Iraq.)

It now occurs to me that Mitt Romney is the kind of son George H.W. Bush would have always wanted to have follow him in the White House. But the public tends to like the McCain / W types more than the Romney – H.W. types.

Of course, Bush 41 has a competent son, Jeb. And the dynastic plan was for him to get elected governor of Florida in 1994, re-elected in 1998, and elected President in 2000 and 2004. Instead, Jeb narrowly lost in 1994 while George W. pulled off an upset election in Texas, screwing everything up royally. Is George W. Bush the only President who would have lost an election unanimously if the candidates had been restricted to his own siblings and the electorate to his own parents?

Of course, America is now so brand-name crazy in its politics that Jeb’s chances in 2012, 2016, 2020, or 2024 (when, amazingly enough, he’ll be younger than either John McCain or Bob Dole were) can’t be permanently ruled out.

• Tags: Bush, Dynasty, Politics 
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From my new column:

Bush Tries To Redefine Amnesty One Last Time
By Steve Sailer

Was this the straw that finally broke the camel’s back?

On Tuesday, May 29, President George W. Bush declared that opponents of the Kennedy-Bush “comprehensive immigration reform” plan in the Senate “don’t want to do what’s right for America,” you unpatriotic curs

The response has been overwhelming, but not in the direction that the President had hoped.

White House staffers then threw fuel on the fire, telling the New York Times, that Bush “had ad-libbed the line during a passionate address on an issue he holds dear.” [President’s Push on Immigration Tests G.O.P. Base, By Jim Rutenberg And Carl Hulse, June 3, 2007]

In other words: Don’t blame us flacks, we didn’t come up with that line. Blame our boss—he really means it. Bush is so nuts for illegal immigrants that he’s out of our control.

On Friday, Bush waded back in, delivering a semi-literate defense of the Senate amnesty bill:

“I say the system isn’t working because there’s a lot of Americans who say that the government is not enforcing our border.”

In other words: How dare those disrespectful Americans say that the government is not enforcing our border! Don’t they know the government is me?

“I say the system is broken because there are people coming into America to do work that Americans are not doing.

In other words: Uh … hmmhmm … Well, I don’t quite know what this means. My best guess is that the President left out a part of the sentence necessary for it to make sense.

“There are so-called innkeepers, providing substandard hovels for people who are smuggled into our country. In other words, we have got a system that is causing people—good, decent people—to be exploited.”

In other words: People aren’t being nice to those swell illegal immigrants and that makes me mad!


• Tags: Bush, Immigration, Politics 
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Jim Pinkerton writes in Newsday:

‘Those who are looking to find fault with this bill will always be able to find something.” That was George W. Bush at his press conference Thursday, defending his proposed immigration legislation. He didn’t quite say to critics, “Bring ‘em on” – but was close enough to get this critic going.

Of course, the president immediately went on to laud the “comprehensive” virtues of his bill, urging its congressional enactment. But if we examine the legislation, we will indeed see plenty of faults – such that “comprehensive” becomes a catalog of costly flaws. As the old business joke goes, “We lose money on each sale – but that’s OK, because we make it up on volume!” [More]

• Tags: Bush, Immigration 
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Remind Bush not to accept an invitation to go dove hunting with Cheney: Steve Clemons claims that President Bush is now listening more to sane people like Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about not starting a war with Iran, and the insane people in Dick Cheney’s office aren’t happy about it:

The thinking on Cheney’s team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran‘s nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).

This strategy would sidestep controversies over bomber aircraft and overflight rights over other Middle East nations and could be expected to trigger a sufficient Iranian counter-strike against US forces in the Gulf — which just became significantly larger — as to compel Bush to forgo the diplomatic track that the administration realists are advocating and engage in another war.

There are many other components of the complex game plan that this Cheney official has been kicking around Washington. The official has offered this commentary to senior staff at AEI and in lunch and dinner gatherings which were to be considered strictly off-the-record, but there can be little doubt that the official actually hopes that hawkish conservatives and neoconservatives share this information and then rally to this point of view. This official is beating the brush and doing what Joshua Muravchik has previously suggested — which is to help establish the policy and political pathway to bombing Iran.

The zinger of this information is the admission by this Cheney aide that Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake by aligning himself with the policy course that Condoleezza Rice, Bob Gates, Michael Hayden and McConnell have sculpted.

According to this official, Cheney believes that Bush can not be counted on to make the “right decision” when it comes to dealing with Iran and thus Cheney believes that he must tie the President’s hands.

On Tuesday evening, i spoke with a former top national intelligence official in this Bush administration who told me that what I was investigating and planned to report on regarding Cheney and the commentary of his aide was “potentially criminal insubordination” against the President.

The standard reason other Presidents haven’t given their Vice Presidents the kind of power that Cheney has is because you can’t fire the Vice President when they do things like this.

• Tags: Bush, Iran 
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A reader writes:

Rudy enrolled at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in 1957, an exclusive Catholic prep school. They accepted two kids from each parish.

From “Rudy: An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Giuliani” by Wayne Barrett on page 34:

“After seven semesters at Bishop Loughlin, Rudy’s grade average of 84.8 earned him a ranking of 130, putting him in the class’s second quintile. His report cards for those years show columns of mostly B’s and C’s, a few A’s and one D. He scored a 65 in chemistry, a 74 in Latin and a 92 in American history. His combined College Board scores, 569 in verbal and 504 in math, were twenty-seven points shy of 1100, and quite ordinary.”

Wayne Barrett is a writer at the Village Voice and professor at the Columbia School of Journalism, if you want to check with the source.

Here’s his academic history: “He attended Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, Manhattan College in the Bronx, and New York University Law School, graduating magna cum laude.”

In comparison, George W. Bush scored 1206 and Al Gore 1330 on the SAT. All these scores are under the tougher pre-1995 scoring system. Add 70 or 80 points to get the equivalent under the current scores. Does anybody know what John McCain scored to get into Annapolis as the son and grandson of admirals?

It’s striking that more than a few men considered Presidential Timber wouldn’t have gotten a callback if they had applied to join, say, the Navy SEALs. It’s not that a fairly high IQ is so utterly crucial to being a good SEAL, but it does improve the odds. There are many men who want to be SEALs, and plenty of them have reasonably high IQs, so it’s no-brainer for the Navy to weigh IQ in the mix of qualifications.

Being Presdient, in contrast, does not generally require the physical ability to infiltrate an enemy harbor and silently kill sentries, so one might expect that IQ would be even more important in the Chief Executive job than in being a scuba commando.

Certainly, “intangibles” can make up for a modest IQ in a President, but are we so sure we are good at evaluating the intangibles of politicians? How good a job did we do with George W. Bush? And he wasn’t some nobody from nowhere. He was the son of a President. Many important people had met him during the twelve years his father had held the two highest offices in the land, and few had thought him a worthy successor. We knew that his own parents considered him inferior to his own brother Jeb. And yet, the Republican Establishment got behind him in 1999, drinking Karl Rove’s Kool-Aid that his intangibles would somehow make up for Bush’s tangible deficiencies.

• Tags: Bush, IQ, Politicians, SAT 
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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