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From my column in Taki’s Magazine, a review of Gregory Clark’s new book on surnames and social mobility:

Economic historian Gregory Clark, a Glaswegian now at UC Davis, has been extending a main channel of British science into the 21st Century. His new book, The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility is another milestone in the revitalization of the human sciences after their long, self-inflicted dry spell in the later decades of the 20th Century. 

One of the central concerns of British thinkers from the 18th Century into the mid-20th Century was the scientific study of breeding. The British agricultural revolution that began about three centuries ago led to the scientific breeding of livestock, including thoroughbreds. (Indeed, various meanings of the word “race” in English—a contest of speed, a lineage, and a breed—are related to the British passion for breeding racehorses.)

Read the whole thing there.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Books, Dynasty 
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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.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Here’s the opening of a minor sports page article in the L.A. Times about the Dodgers facing 49-year-old Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jamie Moyer:

To prepare to face Jamie Moyer on Friday night, Dodgers outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. could watch videos of his past at-bats against the Colorado Rockies left-hander. 

Or he could talk to his father, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn Sr., who also faced him.
Rookie Scott Van Slyke could also solicit advice from his father, former All-Star Andy Van Slyke. 

Shortstop Dee Gordon’s father, former pitcher Tom Gordon, was Moyer’s teammate. …

“I think Jamie pitched against my grandfather,” joked Jerry Hairston Jr., a third-generation major leaguer.

So, four of the 25 Dodgers are the sons of former major leaguers. And these aren’t minor major leaguers, either. All four dads spent at least 13 years in The Show.

When I was a kid, it was quite rare for big leaguers to be the sons of big leaguers. It seemed more common for baseball players to be brothers than father-son combos. I first noticed a sizable number of scions in baseball about 20 years ago. Adam Bellow wrote a book early in the last decade, In Praise of Nepotism, that toted up the statistics showing growing dynasticism in many fields, but I haven’t looked at the numbers much since. Is this trend still growing in the baseball?

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Speaking of nepotism in India, here’s my 2003 article in The National Interest, “Revolutionary Nepotism,” surveying the global resurgence of dynasticism. It would be interesting to update it to see which way trends have gone over the last decade. 

One of the things that got me interested in the topic was the growth of dynasticism among baseball players: the best National Leaguer and the best American Leaguer of the 1990s were, arguably, Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr., whose fathers I vividly recalled. (I watched Bobby Bonds’s first major league game in 1968 on TV, and he hit a grand slam homer to beat my Dodgers.) Before the late 20th Century, there just weren’t a lot of examples in baseball history of superstars who were the sons of all-stars or vice-versa. So, one question would be whether this trend has continued in baseball over the last decade.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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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.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Bush, Dynasty 
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Washington Post op-ed columnist Ruth Marcus gushes in “A Vote for Senator Caroline:”

On the question of Caroline Kennedy for Senate, my head says no, on balance. My heart says yes! Yes! Right now, as you might guess from the hedging on the former and the exclamation points on the latter, my heart is winning. …

There are any number of intriguing subplots at work here. Her uncle’s illness, and the “dream will never die” emotion of having Caroline in place to carry on his work. The don’t-mess-with-my-family payback dynamic of putting in for the job to shove aside Andrew Cuomo, her cousin Kerry’s former husband.

Imagine, by the way, how Hillary Clinton must be feeling. After all that work, after all those years, she not only lost the presidential nomination to Barack Obama, she now may be yielding her Senate seat to a woman who emerged from the political shadows to give Obama the benediction of the Kennedy legacy.

What really draws me to the notion of Caroline as senator, though, is the modern-fairy-tale quality of it all. Like many women my age — I’m a few months younger than she — Caroline has always been part of my consciousness: The lucky little girl with a pony and an impossibly handsome father. The stoic little girl holding her mother’s hand at her father’s funeral. The sheltered girl, whisked away from a still-grieving country by a mother trying to shield her from prying eyes.

In this fairy tale, Caroline is our tragic national princess. She is not locked away in a tower but chooses, for the most part, to closet herself there. Her mother dies, too young. Her impossibly handsome brother crashes his plane, killing himself, his wife and his sister-in-law. She is the last survivor of her immediate family; she reveals herself only in the measured doses of a person who has always been, will always be, in the public eye.

Then, deciding that Obama is the first candidate with the inspirational appeal of her father, she chooses to abandon her previous, above-it-all detachment from the hurly-burly of politics.

I know it’s an emotional — dare I say “girly”? — reaction. But what a fitting coda to this modern fairy tale to have the little princess grow up to be a senator.

Dynasticism is one of the dominant emotions in 21st Century American politics. Barack Obama just found a more sophisticated way to position himself as a rightful dynastic heir than all the Bushes, Clintons, and Kennedys.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Dynasty 
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In my new column, I respond to Kenan Malik’s criticism in Prospect of my definition of race. His assumption that it’s absurd to call the British royal family a racial group got me thinking about dynasticism again, and I finally figured out something about the essence of Barack Obama’s appeal that should have been obvious to me a year ago.

It’s absurd that in a huge country like America that a Bush or a Clinton has been on every national ticket since 1980. I viewed Obama’s victory over the Clinton dynasty as a defeat for the forces of dynasticism, but now I realize I was being naive, that has brilliantly tapped into the public’s dynastic logic, just on a larger and subtler scale.

Here’s an excerpt, but you’ll have to read the whole article to see how.

How to Think About Race — and Barack Obama

Steve Sailer

A new but characteristically confused debate over whether race is a biological reality reminds me of the value of having a simple definition of

Left-leaning British-Indian science journalist Kenan Malik’s latest book, argues online:

In a hostile review of Malik’s book in Prospect, the fine British intellectual magazine, Mark Pagel, a British evolutionary biologist, lands a flurry of blows:

deny what everybody knows and to swap the word race for something less politically charged like ‘group’ is just an act of self-denial and certainly no more accurate than the dreaded ‘r’ word. It is also patronising—I would like to think we are all grown up enough to accept the facts and ready ourselves for the deluge to come. I say deluge because the more we measure, the more genetic differences we find among populations …”

Unfortunately, Pagel doesn’t deliver a knockout punch because he lacks a definition of race. Like Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart wrote in his famous opinion in a pornography case, Pagel can’t define race, but he knows it when he sees it.

Malik responded in Prospect by noting, with some justice,

To illustrate the state of the art thinking among the race realists he opposes, Malik writes:

an extended family that is inbred to some degree‘ in the words of Steve Sailer of the Human Biodiversity Institute. … But once everything from the British royal family to the entire human population can be considered a race (because each is an “extended family inbred to some degree”), then the category has little value.”


Along these lines, here’s an update of an update of Richmond’s speech concluding Shakespeare’s Richard III about the dynastic marriage to end the War of the Roses between the Yorks and Lancasters:

We will unite the white rose and the black:
Smile heaven upon this fair conjunction,
That long have frown’d upon their enmity!
What extremist hears me, and says not amen?
America hath long been mad, and scarr’d herself;
The rev’rend shouted his congregation’s ire,
The consultant plotteth Will Horton ads
The undiverse fleeeth to the exurbs
All this divided White and Black
Divided in their dire division,

But then Barack Sr. and Stanley Ann
The true succeeders of each racial house,
By God’s fair ordinance conjoin together!
And let their heir, God, if thy will be so.
Enrich the time to come with smooth-faced peace,
With smiling plenty and fair prosperous days!
Abate the edge of racists, gracious Lord,
That would demand both parties make borders secure,
And make America less inclusive
Let them not live to taste this land’s increase
That would with insensitivity wound this fair land’s peace!
Now civil wounds are stopp’d, peace lives again:
That she may long live here, God say amen!

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Former Mexican foreign minister Jorge G. Castañeda Gutman has been a long-time interest of mine. (Here’s my 2001 article about this slippery fellow: “Mexico’s Talleyrand“).

In 2006, Fredo Arias-King pointed out to me that Castaneda’s Soviet mother was an employee of Stalin’s government when his father, Mexico’s UN ambassador, met her in New York City in the early 1950s, where she was a translator for Stalin’s delegation. Castaneda’s chief advisor while he was Foreign Minister (2001-2003) was his older half-brother, Ambassador-at-Large Andres Rozental Gutman, who is his mother’s son by a previous marriage. Rozental personally advised Mexico’s immigration negotiators with the Bush administration.

On Monday, the Mexico City newspaper El Universal has accused Castaneda of spying for Castro’s intelligence service on his father, who was Mexico’s foreign minister in the late 1970s and early 1980s: “Castañeda espió a México y a su padre.”

Even though Castaneda is a frequent commentator in the American press, the American media, according to a Google News search, ignored the story — after all, it’s only a story about America’s next-door neighbor — except for the LA Times on Wednesday, which headlined Castaneda’s denial of a story that nobody in America had been told about.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Dynasty, Mexico 
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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.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Bush, Dynasty, Politics 
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Do you ever get the impression that John McCain, who for some reason seems to be perceived as the anti-Bush candidate in the GOP race, is the cool, cocky dad George W. Bush wished he’d had instead of that wimpy, diplomatic, prudent father he has spent his life being annoyed that he got stuck with?

The classic problem with dynasticism is regression toward the mean: the formidable father has a less impressive son. Having already gone down that route with the Bushes, we’re now embarking on a bizarre exercise in pseudo-dynasticism. Having witnessed the failure of the son, we’re now enthroning the man who could be the failed son’s crazy old coot of a favorite uncle.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Dynasty, Politics 
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From the NYT:

“Pakistan’s largest political party picked Benazir Bhutto’s 19-year-old son to succeed her as chairman and vowed to forge ahead with elections next week.”

Sure, why not pick a 19-year-old? How old was Alexander when he succeeded Philip? How old was Pitt the Younger when he became Prime Minister?

It’s the blood that matters. (Or just the name — next door in India, Sonia Gandhi, the widow of Rajiv, daughter-in-law of Indira, and granddaughter-in-law of Nehru, led the Congress Party to victory in the last election, even though she’s an Italian ex-stewardess and doesn’t really speak any Indian languages well.)

My 2003 National Interest article on the trend back toward dynasticism is here.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Dynasty 
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The New York Times has an interesting article on Jpod taking over as editor of Commentary, cleverly tying it to the 2003 book by Adam Bellow, In Praise of Nepotism:

New Commentary Editor Denies Neo-Nepotism

By Patricia Cohen

The new appointment puts three generations of Podhoretzes at the magazine, with Norman holding the title of editor at large and his grandson Sam Munson as online editor. Of course, the ancestral streak is not exactly surprising. The Podhoretz, Kagan (Fred, Donald, Robert and Kimberly) and Kristol clans have dominated the movement for 40 years.

“There’s a family business aspect to the neoconservative enterprise,” said Mr. Bellow, whose book “In Praise of Nepotism” was published in 2003. Such kinship ties are part of “a very broad phenomenon across American society; it’s not really right to single out neoconservatives.”

(Here’s my review-essay on Bellow’s “In Praise of Nepotism” in The National Interest.)

The NYT reporter had asked me:

“How is he [JPod] thought of in conservative circles?”

I replied:

Among conservative intellectuals, John Podhoretz is widely considered proof of the statistical tendency toward regression beneath the mean. The only reason he has a career is because he is, as they say in Little Italy, connected.

As blogger Larry Auster has been pointing out, only one of his many colleagues at National Review Online’s group blog, The Corner, has congratulated him on his ascension. On Tuesday morning, Kathryn Jean Lopez (“K-Lo”) offered this minimalist salute:

Congrats Are in Order [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
for JPod. 10/16 08:33 AM

By Friday afternoon, the only further mention of his promotion I’ve been able to find on The Corner is John Derbyshire’s aside in the midst of a long argument with “JPod” over illegal immigration:
“And thanks, JPod, for letting us know that Commentary is to be edited by a guy who thinks “illegal” is “a weasel word.” That old rule-of-law stuff is so paleo.”

Then she asked:

“Do you think Podhoretz is qualified to be editor of Commentary?”

I replied:

As a fellow right-wing film critic, I can safely say that making John Podhoretz editor of Commentary would be like making me editor of the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Seriously, the appointment of the buffoonish Pod the Lesser calls attention to a long-term problem: the intellectual decline of neoconservatism. Back in the 1960s, neoconservatism started out, essentially, among social scientists such Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Irving Kristol, Daniel Bell, and James Q. Wilson. They were quantitative analysts, not pundits.

Over the generations, however, that neoconservative emphasis on datacrunching has evaporated. Irving Kristol crunched more numbers on an adding machine that William Kristol has crunched on a personal computer. (Charles Murray is just about the last neoconservative quant jock left.) Along with that decline in analytical rigor has come a shift in focus from domestic policy to foreign policy, with, as we’ve all seen, unfortunate consequences in Iraq

Yet, putting a TV-trivia obsessive like JPod in charge of Commentary takes the intellectual downfall of the neocons to a whole … ‘nother … level.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Dynasty 
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A reader writes regarding the news that the former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s politically ambitious son George P. Bush (whom George W. Bush has nicknamed “44″ to go along with his being “43″ and his father “41″) has joined the Naval Reserve as an Intelligence officer:

As The Simpsons put it: “The Naval Reserve: America‘s seventeenth line of defense, right between the Minnesota National Guard and the League of Women Voters.”

Gotta give Bush 44 (ugh) credit for cleverness. There is not an easier way to get “military service” on your resume then as a Naval reserve intelligence officer. I know at least one congressman (Mark Kirk of Illinois) has already taken this path. And of course Jack Kennedy would have spent World War II in Georgetown as an intelligence officer but for the FBI discovering he was having an affair with a suspected Nazi spy. Instead of being bounced from the Navy, his father arranged that he be sent to a war zone (but for his reckless libido, he never would have been a war hero)

What’s curious is that George P. Bush is an attorney, so the best use of his skills in the reserves would be as an Army National Guard (or Army Reserve) JAG )Judge Advocate General) officer– the Army is the only service that lets lawyers serve as JAG officers without already having served active duty. But the Army has a disconcerting habit of sending its reservists to Iraq and, after Jessica Lynch’s captain screwed up a convoy and got people killed, the Army has required every officer (excluding chaplains and doctors) to go through at least several weeks of infantry training. That can’t possibly be fun.

The Navy Reserve, that’s the life. I was thinking of joining the reserves as a JAG officer a few years ago and I learned about NRIP— the Naval Reserve Intelligence Program. On a continuum of difficulty of military training— if Navy Seal training is the toughest, NRIP is clearly the easiest. High school football players train harder. In your first year, active duty training is two weeks of Direct Commission Officer School. A knife and fork school that basically teaches you the difference between the uniforms you must salute and the ones you should expect a salute from. Oh and the two weeks is business weeks, its 10 days of training.

After that rigorous ordeal, you’ll need to take a breather. You go home and attend drills once a month, study at home for a year and then do two more two weeks of intelligence training. The home study course is hardly top secret– its online.

That’s it for your active duty training. At that point you serve two weeks a year at a Navy base or an aircraft carrier. The unit closest to me sent people to the NATO European naval headquarters— two weeks a year on Uncle Sam’s dime in a backwater English town called London. 8 years later, after you’ve had your fill of the West End nightlife, you get an honorable discharge and run for office on your military record.

If I hadn’t gotten that sleep apnea diagnosis (at the time, it meant an automatic fail in the Navy physical), I probably would have joined. Of course, the military gives medical waivers all the time now and since the Navy Reserve take people up to 42, I still have a few years to decide if I ever want to go into politics.

The noblesse just aren’t as obligeing as they used to be.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Dynasty, Politicians 
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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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