"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, December 21, 2012

More on Saint Ed

The Regular Wife suggested I offer a description of Saint Ed for potential readers out there.   So here goes.

Saint Ed is set in the winter of 1939.   In Europe, the Nazis have invaded and (with the Soviets) conquered and partitioned Poland.   Meanwhile, at Princeton University, 21 year-old Ed Rybowski, a Polish-Jewish Brooklyn boy, is growing increasingly frustrated and angry at the absurdity of his safety in America while the rest of the world is at war.   His only college friend is his lacrosse teammate, Billy "Wyt" Randolph, the wealthy son of Virginia's junior Senator.   To distract Ed from his feelings of guilt, Randolph takes him on a wild road trip, first to Manhattan and Harlem, and then on to Mad River, Vermont for skiing.   On the way Ed discovers secrets about his late father's past as a "businessman" in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and what broke his parents' marriage apart, while Randolph reveals his own deepest secret, something that could ruin his family's political dynasty.  

CreateSpace, Amazon's self-publishing program, allows you to create your own search terms for your book.   If I had to list a few for Saint Ed, I'd list World War II, jazz, bootleggers, smugglers, gangsters, pool hustlers, communist sympathizers, drunks, loan sharks, grifters, chippies and debutantes.  

As the "chippies and debutantes" might suggest, Ed and Billy meet girls along the way.

I hope you buy the book, and I hope you enjoy it.


Meanwhile, sales doubled overnight!

Well, they went from one (my Mom) to two (one of my good friends).  


P.S.  If the technology works... and, if I've learned one thing from doing this, it's that technology is unbelievable... Saint Ed ought to be available on Kindle within a day or so.   

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Girl of the Day - Irene Dunne

Easily makes my top 10 actresses of all time.   Is there anything cooler or classier than her repartee with Cary Grant in their great 30s screwball comedies:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Saint Ed

It's an odd feeling to send a novel you've been writing on and off for thirty years or so out into the cold cruel world.   It's a little bit like finally making a ne-er-do-well son move out of the bedroom in the basement if he's moved home after college for a number of years.   You should have probably kicked the kid out a long time ago.

Anyway, the miracle of the Internet now allows authors (or people who fancy themselves authors) to skip the step of finding an agent and enduring the humiliations of rejection, and simply publish the damn thing through Amazon, using their terrific self-publishing system called "CreateSpace."   So that's what I've done.   I think it's a good book; anyway, it's the best book I can write.   If you're a friend, buy a copy.   If you're a stranger, buy a copy.   If you've accidentally happened on this blog to look at the Girls of the Day, buy a copy.   Amortizing the time I spent on it, I expect to make something on the order of a penny an hour "all in."

If you're family, I'll be sending you a copy, but I'll save it until after Christmas, as showing your drawers like this doesn't make a decent present.  

Some history that's not necessarily too interesting.   An earlier version of the book was my senior thesis way back in 1981 at Princeton with Joyce Carol Oates as my "reader."   Then it went into a drawer until I was ABD in Duke's Ph.D. program in English under Frank Lentricchia, when I wrote a second draft.   Then it was back into the drawer for another decade or so, when I wrote another draft while I was an underemployed post-doc at Marquette.    Then law school, law practice, partnership, marriage, children, home-ownership, dog-walking, etc., all intervened.   It was originally titled "Mad River," right up to the point this year when John Sandford published a mystery bestseller with the same title.   A moment the poignancy of which only I understand -- I actually got an email from Amazon publicizing the release of the Sandford book!   That was probably God's way of telling me that life is short, and it prompted me to go ahead and get this thing out there.

Who knows, maybe it gets discovered and I sell a million copies.   Or maybe it sits on a shelf until fifty years after I'm gone, like Moby Dick, before it gets discovered.   Or maybe the only people who ever read it are a few friends and family.   In the end what matters is that this is who I was, and what I thought, and I've made a record of it that exists outside of my own head, even if it's only out there in binary code somewhere on the Internet.

Cheers!   And Merry Christmas! 

Two Things That Bore Me

I have not been writing much about politics of late, because our politics are currently focused on (a) the fiscal cliff; and (b) the Shady Hook Elementary School shooting.   Both subjects depress me and, frankly, bore me.   There's simply not much to be said, as both involve what are truths so basic that they need no additional discussion.

Truth #1 - Evil exists.   Insanity is a characteristic of some human minds, and always will be.   You can't legislate your way out of Shady Hook.

Truth #2 - Washington is dysfunctional.   Republicans and Democrats have essentially conspired for a dozen years in perpetuating the fiction of the free lunch.   No one is calling for a balanced budget now, this year.   So what's really the difference between them in the end?  

Birthday Today - Alyssa Milano

Want to feel old?    Alyssa Milano turns 40 today.   She was the kid from Who's the Boss?   That makes Tony Danza 93, I suppose.   (Actually, he's 62.)

Girl of the Day - Jennifer Carpenter

After offing LaGuerta and joining her brother Dexter Morgan on the dark side, Jennifer Carpenter's Debra Morgan on Showtime's Dexter has once again shown that she's one of the most interesting characters on TV.   No idea what she'll do after the show ends next year, but for seven years she's been terrific.

Tim Scott Update

A daughter of Indian immigrants, Nikki Haley, the first non-white governor of South Carolina, nominates an African-American, Tim Scott, to be the first black Senator from the South since Reconstruction.   Scott will be the only black Senator in the current Senate.   Cause for celebration, right?

Apparently, not, since Scott is a conservative Republican.   Here's the New York Times:

Mr. Scott’s... politics, like those of the archconservative Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, are utterly at odds with the preferences of most black Americans. Mr. Scott has been staunchly anti-tax, anti-union and anti-abortion.

Even if the Republicans managed to distance themselves from the thinly veiled racism of the Tea Party adherents who have moved the party rightward, they wouldn’t do much better among black voters than they do now. I suspect that appointments like Mr. Scott’s are directed less at blacks — whom they know they aren’t going to win in any significant numbers — than at whites who are inclined to vote Republican but don’t want to have to think of themselves, or be thought of by others, as racist.

Just as white Southern Democrats once used cynical manipulations — poll taxes, grandfather clauses, literacy tests — to get around the 15th Amendment, so modern-day Republicans have deployed blacks to undermine black interests...

The trope of the black conservative has retained a man-bites-dog newsworthiness that is long past its shelf life. Clich├ęs about fallen barriers are increasingly meaningless; symbols don’t make for coherent policies. Republicans will not gain significant black support unless they take policy positions that advance black interests. No number of Tim Scotts — or other cynical tokens — will change that.

I'm so confused.   We're not allowed to talk about how affirmative action promotes some African-Americans in work and schools beyond what their test scores or grades or achievements would merit.   But apparently, if a Republican has impressed fellow Republicans enough to be elected to the House and nominated for the Senate, then he's a "cynical token," a pawn pushed forward by his white Republican masters (OK, so Nikki Haley doesn't fit this... say, he's a pawn of a pawn).   In one case liberals demand that we assume that black person A has merit; in the second  case they themselves assume that he does not.   Weird.

Why would any Republican ever read the "paper of record"?   No wonder their business model is in the toilet.

Robert Bork, RIP

Judge Robert Bork has died at age 85.   A great thinker and great jurist, he ought to have been sitting in Anthony Kennedy's spot on the Supreme Court, and the history of the past 25 years would have been much different had he been confirmed.   Instead, in one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the Senate -- perhaps outdone only by the same "august" body's treatment of Clarence Thomas a few years later -- he was rejected by the Senate, after one of the most scurrilous, unfair, dishonest, demogogic speeches ever given in American politics, by the disgusting Ted Kennedy (a man not worthy to shine Bork's shoes, either intellectually or morally).   Here's what Kennedy said:

Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is—and is often the only—protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy ... President Reagan is still our president. But he should not be able to reach out from the muck of Irangate, reach into the muck of Watergate and impose his reactionary vision of the Constitution on the Supreme Court and the next generation of Americans. No justice would be better than this injustice.

You would be hard-pressed to come up with a more ridiculous and false caricature of what Bork thought, or what conservatives actually believe.   Yet Kennedy won the day.   More's the pity.

Bork's death will be a test of the mainstream media's capacity for decency.   Let's see what they say as they remember this great man.

UPDATE:   So far, the Left is failing.   Here's a typical comment from the Huffington Post:

This is what the party of "tolerance" and "openness" and "civility" is really like when they think no one is looking.   An exemplary person, a man who served his country honorably as a Marine and a judge, an extraordinarily educated man who was a professor at the premier law school in the country, Yale, a father of three, a devout Catholic convert, yet because he disagrees politically with the Left he is a "loathesome individual" whose death occasions this kind of ugliness.   I'm appalled, but I'm not shocked.   By the way, this is not cherry-picked, there are literally hundreds of similar posts on Huffington, Democracy Underground, the Daily Kos, etc.   These people have no decency.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


We are apparently destined to have a collective spasm of gun control blathering in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting tragedy.   Liberals who may have never shot a gun, much less owned a gun, apparently believe that the mere availability of guns inevitably leads to criminal insansity like that of Adam Lanza at the Shady Hook Elementary School.  

Let them explain the following data which popped to my attention today.   In his NY Times column, liberal statistician extraordinaire Nate Silver -- OK, so he got the election right -- notes that Democrats and Republicans are starkly divided by gun ownership.   But the data he presents is highly interesting for reasons he likely wouldn't acknowledge.   According to November exit polling, only 21% of African-American voters own guns, while 47% of whites do.   But, according to this study by the Department of Justice, over a thirty-year period, blacks committed 52% of homicides in America, while whites committed only 45%, despite having a population six times the size.   If gun ownership was a predictor for committing murders, the fact that blacks own guns less than half as often as whites ought to mean that they would commit fewer murders, not more, shouldn't it?   But the reality is that they commit murder at a much higher rate than whites -- six or seven times as often.

None of this is to cast aspersions at African-Americans, or to belittle the horror of Sandy Hook.   It's simply to offer the suggestion that, rather than guns, poverty, the breakdown of the family, a demonstrably idiotic "war on drugs," a culture of dependency, the loss of manufacturing jobs in the inner city, terrible school systems, the gang culture, and many other factors have combined to make black murder rates substantially higher; just as, rather than guns, divorce, the anomie of suburban high schools, the soul-wasting disaster of videogaming, mental illness, the isolation of suburbia, the shriveling of neighborhoods, the lack of church attendance, and the general loss of community, have combined to make it more likely that disaffected young men might commit horrific acts of mass murder.  

It's a cliche, but it's true... guns don't kill, people do.   And, in particular, people with particular kinds of environments.

If you really wanted to lower the murder rates in America -- and I'm as concerned about the murders of young black men on the south side of Chicago in gang-related drug killings as I am about the admittedly more horrific, but also rarer killings at Shady Hook -- here's what I would propose.   Don't outlaw a tool, a weapon.   Instead, let's change the environments of young black men in the cities and young white men in the suburbs.   One, let's wind down the war on drugs just as we've wound down the war in Afghanistan.... let's just accept defeat and get on with our lives.   That will eliminate the reason behind many of the gang-related homicides in our cities.   Two, let's make it as difficult to get a violent first-person shooter videogame as it is to buy cigarettes or liquor if you're under 21.   We seem to have made it a priority to keep young people from developing Habit A that leads to lung cancer.   Why not make it a priority to keep young people from developing Habit B that leads to cancer of the soul?

Anti-Christianity is Mainstream

I enjoyed watching Tim Tebow last year as he led the Denver Broncos into the playoffs.   He was exciting.   Generally, I happen to like running quarterbacks -- Michael Vick, Steve Young, RGIII -- as they usually are running when plays have broken down, and they are thus in the open field.   Running backs rarely get that kind of open space, at least not lately, and not if your name isn't Adrian Peterson.   Something about a quarterback moving through open space when the defense didn't expect it is about the most exciting thing in football.   So I liked Tebow as a player.   I understand why the Broncos dumped him -- if you get a chance to bring in Peyton Manning, you do it -- but I liked Tebow.

This season has been less fun because Tebow hasn't gotten a chance to play much with the NY Jets as Mark Sanchez' backup, even though Sanchez has been terrible.   I wish he had, although I have to defer to football people who say he's simply not as good as Sanchez at the quarterback position.   (It may be that Sanchez himself is simply stuck on a truly bad football team with a coach, Rex Ryan, who has outlived his welcome.)

I also always liked the fact that Tebow was an openly devout Christian.   He's Christian in a different way than I am, but he's patently a good person who does good works frequently.   What's not to like?

So that's why I was somewhat surprised and saddened to see this passage in an otherwise pretty nice sports feature article in the New York Times by a writer who actually seems to like Tebow as a player too.   Read this and imagine it being said about any other religion (and particularly imagine whether the Times would publish anything similar about a Muslim):

The show-business aspects of Tebow’s Christianity off the field are mostly a distraction. The virginity, the anti-abortion ad, the praying, the laying on of hands, the Tebowing — a pose in which he drops to one knee in prayer, the imitation of which became a brief Internet sensation — they’re all so many stunts.

Say what?   A 25 year-old superstar multi-millionaire male-model handsome quarterback in New York is remaining a virgin until marriage... and that's a "show-business stunt"?   Does the writer have any idea how much will power and commitment to faith it would take to resist the temptations that Tebow must face literally every day?   Being pro-life... a stunt?   Praying... a pose?  

This is extraordinarily offensive to Christians.   And gratuitous in what otherwise was a pretty nice article.

Girl of the Day - Betty Grable

It's going on seventy years since Betty Grable was the biggest pinup girl for GIs in World War II.  

Still looks pretty good.   Today's her birthday, born in St. Louis in 1916.  

Birthday Today - Keef!

It's Keith Richards' 69th birthday today.   Who would have thought he'd make it?   Looking back, though, you can make an argument that Richards and Jagger and the Rolling Stones were the greatest artists of the 1960s.   The so-called great novelists -- Mailer, Pynchon, etc. -- are almost unreadable today.   The so-called great artist, Andy Warhol, looks dated and self-parodic.   But, if you get yourself into a quiet place and let the needle drop on the first song of Beggar's Banquet or the first song of Let it Bleed or the first song of Sticky Fingers -- Sympathy for the Devil, Gimme Shelter, Brown Sugar -- you still get an almost diamond-perfect, crystalline sense of the sex and fun and wildness and danger and chaos of the late 1960s.   Great art is the art that lasts longest and speaks across the generations.   Homer.   Virgil.   Dante.   Shakespeare.   Caravaggio.   Michelangelo.   Mozart.   Mozart.   Beethoven.   I'm not putting the Stones in that league.   But they've lasted a lot lot longer than anyone would have thought.

The Regular Son and I have often commented... imagine the Beatles in 1968 getting the latest Stones album -- their main competitors in rock and roll -- and putting the record on the turntable and setting the needle down and then listening as this came out of their speakers:

I suspect they said something like:

Crap.   They're better than us.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tim Scott

Get used to the name.   He will shortly be one of the most vilified conservatives in America, after Governor Nikki Haley appoints him the new Senator for South Carolina, taking over for Jim DeMint.  But, as a black conservative from South Carolina, he has a chance to be in the Senate for a long, long time.

From a recent profile:

In high school, he took an after-school job at a movie theater. He would take breaks at the nearby Chick-fil-A because the girls were cute and the fries were cheap. One day, the restaurant owner, John Moniz, came by the cinema with a chicken sandwich for Scott, and the two got to talking. The friendship that developed was life-changing for Scott. Moniz was a devout conservative Christian who encouraged a strong work ethic. He told Scott, who was struggling in school, that football could be a gateway to college. Scott finished high school and earned a partial football scholarship to Presbyterian College. He eventually transferred to Charleston Southern University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science.

If not for his relationship with Moniz, Scott would probably not have become a Republican. The businessman instilled in the young man a belief in tough love, hard work, and low taxes. When Scott says today that the best way to unlock people’s potential is to give them space to be entrepreneurial, he is thinking about Moniz.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ace Nails It Re the Connecticut Shooter

Ace makes an important point about how the media can either play up or help put down the kind of narcissistic nutjobs who do things like the Connecticut school shooting:

I think it would do at least something to dissuade the next potential mass murderer to know, for example, that coverage on him will not focus on the Evil Menace part of him (which is a self-conception he finds flattering), but the Sad, Lonely Pathetic Guy Who Has a Small Dick and Couldn't Keep a Woman or a Job and Just Couldn't Hack It part of him. The part that's actually much more relevant to his crime -- masterful men do not have to kill people to let the world know "I exist" -- and the part that he's actually afraid of other people knowing about.

If I were the media, I'd allow myself to get very personal in publishing accounts of these guys. Personal, and nasty.

And not only is this a bit of a public service, but, as I said, this is much more relevant to the actual reasons for his crime than this puffed-up faux-heroic claimed motivations. The maniac in Colorado did not shoot up a theater because of Batman, and to even say that credits his self-conception as true and puffs up his fantasy connection to Batman.

No, the maniac in Colorado shot up the theater because he was a pathetic weakling unloved by women and incapable of satisfying them and so retreated into a twisted babydick world of power fantasy.


The Army has a word for the sort of thing the Obama administration is about to turn loose on America with Obamacare, scheduled to go "online" in October 2013:

HHS did finally if "conditionally" approve the exchange blueprints of six states this week, though it has yet to release any formal objective standards for conditional approval. Some 24 states are refusing to participate, so the agency will be running a federal fallback exchange that it won't reveal how it will operate.

A federal exchange is a vast undertaking. The clearinghouses will be open to the uninsured but also to small businesses and people who already buy plans on the individual market. On average about a quarter of a state's population are expected to at least browse the exchange options, and the share will be far higher in states with large numbers of uninsured people under 65, like New Mexico (24%), Georgia (22%) and Texas (27%).

If 20% of Americans use exchanges, that's 62 million people. At a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Thursday, ObamaCare point man Gary Cohen all but took the Fifth on how he'll deal with this and other challenges.....

The last entitlement to get off the ground was President Bush's Medicare prescription drug benefit. Those rules were tied up with a bow by January 2005, giving business and government nearly a year to prepare—and that was far simpler than re-engineering 17% of the economy. No one knows where the current magical mystery tour is headed, especially not HHS.

Look, as the young folks say, let me put you some knowledge.   Economics from Adam Smith to Hayek teaches that markets function through innumerable decisions by individuals based on their own subjective estimates of the value of things they want in an environment defined by scarcity.   Those decisions end up allocating resources through the "invisible hand" of the marketplace, which is an organic process.   The word organic is key... you can't impose a market, and you can't impose order on a marketplace, it arises from individuals' decisions over time... in other words, it grows.   No single intelligence, no government "plan" can recreate that order, because it's simply too complex, just as life is too complex.   We're not God.  

The hubris of the Obama Administration in thinking that it could remake 17% of the American economy from the top down is astonishing.   To provide some proportion:   the American healthcare sector represents a GDP that is only slighly smaller than France's, but slightly larger than Brazil's or the United Kingdom's, and substantially larger than the economies of Russia, India or Canada.   It would be the sixth largest national economy in the world by itself!   And we are deciding to remake it on the fly using the extraordinarily inefficient mechanism of rulemaking in the federal government's biggest and most f***ed up bureaucracy, the Health and Human Services Department.

I'm scared.   How about you?

Girl of the Day - the Great Lee Remick

This is a really easy one.   It's Lee Remick's birthday.   Probably in my top three all-time GotDs, along with MM and Natalie Wood.

Hard to beat that.

Krauthammer on the Hypocrisy of "Choice"

In an article today about the Michigan right-to-work legislation, Charles Krauthammer makes an essential point about the hypocrisy of the left:

President Obama railed against the Michigan legislation, calling right-to-work “giving you the right to work for less money.” Well, there is a principle at stake here: A free country should allow its workers to choose whether or not to join a union. Moreover, it is more than slightly ironic that Democrats, the fiercely pro-choice party, reserve free choice for aborting a fetus, while denying it for such matters as choosing your child’s school or joining a union

To me the hypocrisy of Democrats' position on choice extends further.   Consider the minimum wage.   Democrats like the minimum wage, not because it provides a baseline so that workers can obtain a "living" wage to support their families, but because it limits the competition of low-wage workers and protects jobs for the Democrats' unionized constitutencies.   In other words, it's not about actually providing a minimum wage to workers, but about shutting people out of the workforce by overpricing them.   (This is basic economics, by the way... if you raise the price of something, the demand for it goes down.   If you raise the price of low-skilled work, the demand for low-skilled work goes down.   The victims are not the low-skilled workers being exploited by unscrupulous robber barons who pay them pittances to work; the victims are pow the low-skilled workers who don't have jobs at any wage, who are instead now exploited by the government welfare bureaucrats.)   But what happened to freedom of choice.   If a free man chooses to work for another free man for $6 per hour, or $5 per hour, because he'd rather have $200 in his pocket at the end of the week, and would rather have a job than not have a job, what business is it of the government's to tell him he can't do that?  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Why Shouldn't a College Degree Cost $10,000?

Rich Perry and Rick Scott see a problem and seek a real solution:

As college costs rise rapidly in most places, Texas and Florida are trying to implement something that has become a radical notion: a degree that costs only $10,000.

Texas governor Rick Perry announced this goal for his state last year. (Perry was inspired by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who had remarked that online learning ought to make it possible for students to pay just $2,000 per year for college.) In November, Florida governor Rick Scott announced that he, too, wanted to see state colleges offer bachelor’s degrees for $10,000 or less. In Texas, ten colleges have signed on (some of them working together in a partnership), while in Florida, twelve colleges — nearly half of the 23 four-year colleges in the Florida community-college system, which includes both two-year and four-year institutions — either have developed proposals or are in the process of doing so.

Considering that the nation’s public colleges cost $13,000 per year on average for tuition, room, and board, while private colleges cost an average of $32,000 a year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics’ 2010–11 academic-year numbers, Texas and Florida colleges have their work cut out for them. But there is plenty of demand for cheaper degrees: Some 57 percent of Americans think students are not getting enough value for the money they spend.

What can't continue, won't.   The market adapts.  

The Real Django

With Quentin Tarantino's new movie Django Unchained coming out, it is well to remember the great artist whose name Tarantino appropriates:

Rolling Stones Pay Per View!

OK, so normally I don't do the whole pay-per-view thing.   And I'm sure the Stones at age... what is Keith Richards anyway, 93?... won't be too great anymore.   But still... I'm all in for this Saturday night on cable.

In other words:

Girl of the Day - Taylor Swift

A palate cleanser after the last post.   It's her 23rd birthday.   The Regular Wife was 23 when I met her, also quite tall, and also beautiful.   Still is 23 years later.   The Regular Guy, meanwhile, is falling apart.

Bored, Bored, Bored...

... by the fiscal cliff machinations.   When I began the Regular Guy Believes blog, one of my first posts was that the Regular Guy believes that cutting spending in the federal budget would be child's play.  

Well, apparently not.   It is so boring to regular guys -- like moi -- to listen to the news day after day and realize that our elected representatives are simply incapable of reacting in any meaningful way to the enormous bloated monstrosity of federal government spending and the impending tidal wave of unfunded liabilities ($100 trillion? No one knows.) in our entitlement programs.

Obama, Reid, McConnel, Boehner, Pelosi... they are not just fiddling while Rome burns... they are more like Japanese mimes doing a Kabuki dance in an Hiroshima theater the night before the bomb dropped.  

Or, to be cruder, they are concerned about a pimple on this fellow's behind:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Scandalous, Immoral...

... and a lawsuit for antitrust conspiracy waiting to happen.   That's my conclusion after reading this article about the Ivy League's obviously intentional discrimination against Asian applicants by the great Charles Murray:

Ron Unz took the evidence of discrimination against Asians to a new level in a long article in the current issue of American Conservative, “The Myth of American Meritocracy.” As Steve Sailer has noted, Unz’s findings have received astonishingly little coverage. “Astonishingly,” because Unz has documented what looks very much like a tacitly common policy on the part of the Ivies to cap Asian admissions at about 16% of undergraduates, give or take a few percentage points, no matter what the quality of Asian applicants might be.That’s a strong statement, but consider the data that Unz has assembled.

From 1980 through the early 1990s, Asian enrollment increased at all the Ivy League colleges. It subsequently continued to rise at the schools with the lowest Asian enrollment, Dartmouth and Princeton. Elsewhere, Asian enrollment hit its peak in 1993 for Columbia and Harvard, 1995 for Cornell, 1996 for Brown and Yale, and 2001 for Penn. What’s more, Asian representation at all eight of the Ivies has converged on a narrow range. In the most recent five years, the average percentage of Asians in the eight Ivies has been 15.7%, and the difference between the highest and lowest percentage of Asians in the eight Ivies has averaged just 3.7 percentage points. Call it the 16±2% solution. The convergence of the Ivies is vividly shown in this figure, using Unz’s data.

Why is the conspiracy to limit Asians to 16% of spots in Ivy League schools a scandal?   Murray explains why:

National Merit Scholarship (NMS) semifinalists represent about the top half of one percent of a given state’s scores on the PSAT, the short version of the SAT. In 2010 in Texas, Asians were 3.8% of the population but more than a quarter of all NMS semifinalists; in New York, Asians were 7.3% of the population and more than a third of NMS semifinalists; in California, Asians were 11% of the high school students and more than 60% of NMS semifinalists. Nationwide, Unz estimates that 25–30% of NMS semifinalists in 2010 were Asians, far higher than their enrollment in the Ivies.

In the US Math Olympiad, Asians have grown from 10% of the winners during the 1980s to 58% in the 2000s. In the computing Olympiad, Asians have grown from 20% of the winners in the 1990′s to 50% in 2009–2010 and 75% in 2011–2012. Among the Science Talent Search finalists, Asians were 22% of the total in the 1980′s, 29% in the 1990′s, 36% in the 2000′s, and 64% in the last two years.

Murray concludes with this historical parallel:

... there’s no getting past the naked fact that students from an ethnic minority are now being turned down because they have the wrong ethnicity. It is exactly the same thing that Ivy League admissions officers did to Jewish applicants in the 1920s, when it was decided that too many Jews were getting into their schools. They too had a rationale for putting a quota on Jews that they too believed was justified. What I don’t understand is this: Why do we all accept that what the Ivies did to limit Jewish enrollment was racist and un-American, while what they’re doing to limit Asian enrollment is not even considered newsworthy?

Boy, would I love to get into discovery in a class action suit brought by Asian-Americans against the Ivy League.   It would be an educational exercise to start combing through the emails and correspondence and notes and internal memoranda of, say, Harvard's admissions department.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's As If They Planned It All Along

Here's a buried nugget about Obamacare:

Among the regulations being rushed out the door by the Department of Health and Human Services 32 months after Obamacare passed is a requirement that every plan in America be subject to a $63 fee. That $63 is part of a fund to subsidize people with pre-existing conditions, who are more expensive to cover but whose costs must be transferred to healthier individuals in the new system.

Reporting suggests the costs could hit 190 million health care plans held by individuals or provided by employers.
Here's what I think.   Just as Obama doesn't care if we go off the fiscal cliff -- he can blame the Republicans, win the House in 2014, and push through more liberal stuff thereafter -- he doesn't care if Obamacare screws up health insurance.   The more expensive and complicated it gets, the more companies will dump their plans, and the more people will have to turn to the government for their healthcare.   It's all a stealth way to get to the endgame of single-payer, federally-run healthcare for everyone.   Which will be the apotheosis of big government, and the end of any hope of getting back to constitutional limited government in America.

A Post-Family World Cannot Survive

Bill Frezza has a must-read article up at RealClearMarkets.   I almost don't know what to do about this except cry:

If demography is destiny, democracy is toast-at least those democracies where citizens can vote themselves a living at someone else's expense. It doesn't take a mathematical genius to see that governments' addiction to intergenerational income redistribution is not sustainable unless someone keeps supplying babies at an accelerating pace.  
The root cause of the economic disaster that lies ahead is the kamikaze drive of democratic governments to displace the functions of the family, including the care of relatives in their old age. Since time immemorial, in every human society that ever was, and buttressed by social mores central to every religion ever practiced, children, grandchildren, and kin did what governments the world over now promise to do.

The burdens of providing for the aged used to begin when people could no longer care for themselves. The liabilities were dispersed, unenumerated, and owned by small groups of closely related individuals. These individuals owed their very existence to the elderly dependents who brought them into the world and nurtured them through childhood. The glue of duty, love, and reverence bound families together. Yes, families occasionally broke down, which threw unfortunates onto the mercy of charity. But isolated family failures never threatened to destabilize global economies.
Democracy changed all that. The burdens of providing for the aged are larger than ever thanks to the greater longevity that modernity accords. But the necessity and personal pride that drove the elderly to provide for themselves for as long as they could has been replaced by the invention of a universal "right of retirement" irrespective of an individual's means.

This "right" to stop working for the last 10, 20, or even 30 years of our lives is secured and supported through an electoral system under which politicians promise old-age entitlements in return for votes. The system subsists on coercive taxation, money printing, and borrowing from the future. Ballooning centrally owned liabilities are perched atop a demographic pyramid with a base that must continue growing to avoid Ponzian collapse.
The aggregate U.S. federal and state unfunded liabilities required to pay for all the entitlements promised by politicians past-namely Social Security, Medicare, and defined-benefit pensions for public employees-now exceed $100 trillion. Tomorrow's workers, including those yet unborn, have no particular kinship to the people who will be feasting on their paychecks.

Read the whole thing, as they say.

VDH on the Politics of Envy

Victor Davis Hanson describes the nature of "poverty" in America in today's article:

In the new climate of “fat cats,” “corporate jet owners,” “pay your fair share,” “you didn’t build that,” and “1 percent,” the more Americans have, the more they are envious of those who have more. One might have thought that the technological revolution, in combination with the welfare state, had redefined poverty altogether in ways that the fossilized entitlement bureaucracy could hardly grasp. Certainly, a Kia, an iPhone, and a big-screen TV do not disqualify one from the menu of American entitlements. That today’s earner or recipient of $35,000 in wages or entitlements has better appurtenances — in terms of computer power, phone, and car — than the $250,000 earner of 30 years ago means little. The point is not that the modern iPhone gives the poor man access to more knowledge than the entire RAND Corporation had 50 years ago, but that the contemporary RAND Corporation has more access than what an iPhone can provide, leaving its owner in relative terms still poor. That today’s Kia is better in many ways than yesterday’s Mercedes matters little — it is still not today’s Lexus. One of the great lessons in the age of Obama is that wealth and poverty will always remain relative. Happiness is now defined not as having the basics I need, but as ensuring that someone else does not have more. Obama has successfully appealed to the oldest and basest of human emotions — envy and jealousy, masked with the notion of enforced fairness — and for now they trump even the human desire to be free.

We've mentioned this before.   We are a strange country.   We often give poverty assistance to people who have cell phones, cars, flat screen TVs.   We give food stamps to people who are too often already fat.  Luxuries no king could aspire to even twenty years ago -- access to any movie ever made, any book ever written, any information anywhere on the globe -- are now accepted as birthrights, and yet we clamor for more, more, more.   The "rich" have more than we do, and therefore it is unfair.  

From a social justice perspective, do American liberals ever note that the amount of largesse they spill into the rich ghettoes of America (for they are rich, by comparison with the rest of the globe and the rest of human history) keeps us from providing greater aid to truly poor around the world?   Shouldn't the Catholic Church be leading a charge to dismantle a wasteful welfare state that simultaneously denies dignity to faux "poor" Americans while denying assistance to actual poor in Africa and Asia and South America?

Belgium Dreamiin'

Not quite the catchy title, but the same basic idea.   People are not automatons.   Economics is the study of human behavior in reacting to scarcity, incentives, disincentives, opportunities, etc., all within the context of human nature/self-interest.   People act.   They are not just going to sit and passively pay higher and higher taxes:

A Belgian mayor says famed French actor Gerard Depardieu has bought a home and set up legal residence in his small town, lured by the food, the people, the lifestyle — and lower tax rates than back home.

The Socialist government under French President Francois Hollande has infuriated many ultra-rich in France by presenting a 2013 budget that would tax top earners at 75 percent over the first €1 million of annual income. Belgium's top rate is 50 percent.

If you've lost Gerard Depardieu...

California Dreamin'

You can ignore the laws of economics.   You can pretend that human nature is not self-interested.   You can imagine that higher taxes won't change human behavior, as human beings adapt and take action to protect their wealth and enhance their own families' futures.   But facts is facts.   At the end of the day, reality always wins:

About 100,000 more people moved away from California in 2011 than relocated to the Golden State, according to the latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The trend can be explained, in part, in monetary terms. Even in an economic boom, the cost of living in California has increased, prompting people to move out, and, in recent years, unemployment in the state has skyrocketed.

So, where are these former Californians going?

The Census Bureau calculates that the most popular destination is Texas (58,992), a state that is luring California companies.

Hmmmm... the reporter at the NBC SoCal affiliate seems to have missed an obvious cause... California's state income tax is the highest in the nation, and Texas' is zero.   Think that has anything to do with why companies and individiuals might decide that a thousand mile move is worth it?

Orwell Alert!

George Orwell might be amused (and horrified) by this story:

Instability in Egypt, where a newly-elected Islamic government teeters over an angry population, isn't enough to stop the U.S. from sending more than 20 F-16 fighter jets, as part of a $1 billion foreign aid package.

The first four jets are to be delivered to Egypt beginning Jan. 22, a source at the naval air base in Fort Worth, where the planes have been undergoing testing, told FoxNews.com. The North African nation already has a fleet of more than 200 of the planes and the latest shipment merely fulfills an order placed two years ago. But given the uncertainty in Cairo, some critics wonder if it is wise to be sending more top gun planes.

“Should an overreaction [by Egypt] spiral into a broader conflict between Egypt and Israel, such a scenario would put U.S. officials in an embarrassing position of having supplied massive amounts of military hardware … to both belligerents,” said Malou Innocent, a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute.

Sort of like borrowing money from China to subsidize solar energy companies that go bankrupt and get sold out of bankrupcty... back to China.

Girl of the Day - Teri Garr

If you were a teenager in the 1970s, you saw Young Frankenstein, and if you saw Young Frankenstein, you remember the great Teri Garr, who turns 66 today:

It Isn't Rocket Science

In fact, if you got past the first week of Econ 101 when they talked about supply and demand, you know everything you need to know about why college tuitions keep rising:

Monday, December 10, 2012

File This Under "You Couldn't Write This Stuff..."

Truth is now stranger than fiction:

Wanxiang America, the U.S. arm of a Chinese automotive parts giant, won the bidding for a bankrupt Massachusetts-based lithium battery manufacturer that was once hailed as a cornerstone of President Obama’s quest for American dominance in electric vehicles and battery technology.

A123 Systems announced Sunday that Wanxiang would pay $256.6 million for all of A123’s technology, its manufacturing facilities in the United States and China, and its contracts with utilities seeking grid storage and automakers seeking batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles.

So let me get this straight.   The Obama Administration borrows money from China to engage in speculative investing in a "green energy" company, then, when the company goes bankrupt, it is sold, presumably for pennies on the dollar, back to China.   So China not only has all of the assets of the company, it still owns the debt that my children and grandchildren will have to pay off.

Wow, these liberals are really smart.   Or else the American voter is really dumb.

Bill Whittle on "Unserious People"

Bill Whittle seems like a nice guy, but he is scorching the earth with this video about the nincompoopery of the "fiscal cliff" talks.   Listen, and despair:

We Are All Michiganders Now

Herbert Stein once wrote, famously, that what can't continue, won't.   The ongoing, slow-motion collapse of the blue state model of government run by public-sector unions, private-sector unions, and their lackeys in the Democratic Party, is one such thing that can't continue, and therefore won't.   We can't afford it.   We can't afford the luxurious pensions for teachers and government bureaucrats, and companies can't afford to become benefit programs with productive enterprises as a sidebar.   General Motors died (it's a government-owned zombie now) when it became a retiree healthcare plan that only built cars as a hobby.  

Anyway, these thoughts arise from reading Paul Rahe on Michigan's Hail Mary pass to enact right to work legislation that might, just might, curtail the power of the unions:

Michigan was once a union stronghold -- the capital of an empire controlled by the United Auto Workers. The private-sector unions are now, however, no longer what they were. They have strangled industry.

Wherever I have gone in Michigan, I have heard stories of plants closing and of jobs disappearing. The collapse of the auto industry was merely the final coup de grace. Other industries -- and there were many of them -- withdrew or simply disappeared long before the arrival of the Great Recession. The unions and the Democratic machine associated with them have also destroyed Detroit. It was once the fourth largest city in the United States; it was once the nation's wealthiest city per capita. Now the median price of a house is $10,000, and, where there were once two million residents, there are now fewer than 700,000. The state is changing character. In the last decade, it has lost 10-15% of its population.

What I do not know is whether Michigan is ready to be a right-to-work state. Its becoming one would give one hope that it might have a future. Absent a major turn-around, it will continue on a path that will lead it to look like West Virginia in 1955. But what is needed is not always possible, and I find myself wondering whether -- in a state that firmly backed Barack Obama and Debbie Stabenow -- there will not be a ferocious reaction to what Rick Snyder and the Republicans are now doing. John Kasich and the Republicans in Ohio got a comeuppance not long ago when they passed a far less radical piece of legislation aimed at curbing public-sector union power (and that alone). Will Michigan explode? Will the unions strike back with powerful effect?

I do not know. But this I do know: If Snyder and the Republicans succeed -- if they are as successful with their endeavor as Scott Walker and the Republicans in Wisconsin have been with theirs -- it will shift the national balance. The unions may be entrenched in California, Illinois, and New York. Those states may be lost. They may have to face bankruptcy before they can make a comeback. But if Michigan can free itself from this albatross by its own efforts in the current environment, then, there is hope almost everywhere else. Things are going to get hot in Michigan. It is a state that bears close watching.

We are all Michiganders now.   Whether a cold financial civil war between the productive private citizens and the non-productive public sector and its union cronies can occur without a hot civil war eventually breaking out in riots and murder and mayhem... that remains to be seen.   History does not tell many tales of civilizations that, in the midst of decline and unraveling, managed to pull themselves back from the brink.

Girl of the Dey (Pun Intended)

For people of a certain age, the Partridge Family was the bad soundtrack of our early teenage years.   The star, of course, was David Cassidy; it's hard to overstate what an enormous star he was in the early 1970s, easily bigger than Justin Bieber is now.   His "sister" on the show was played by Susan Dey, who later went on to star on L.A. Law.   She turns 60 today.   That's right, sixty.   Tempus fugit, as ever.   It is often mistranslated as "time flies"... but apparently its literal translation is "time flees."   So it does.


Bill Simmons, one of my favorite writers (and by that I mean that I would think he was a really really smart writer whether he was writing about basketball or the fiscal cliff), has a great article up on ESPN about Kobe Bryant.   Here's my favorite part:
I spent five hours with Bill Russell last week and thought of Kobe Bryant twice and only twice. One time, we were discussing a revelation from Russell's extraordinary biography, Second Wind, that Russell scouted the Celtics after joining them in 1956. Why would you scout your own teammates? What does that even mean? Russell wanted to play to their strengths and cover their weaknesses, which you can't do without figuring out exactly what those strengths and weaknesses were. So he studied them. He studied them during practices, shooting drills, scrimmages, even those rare moments when Red Auerbach rested him during games. He built a mental filing cabinet that stored everything they could and couldn't do, then determined how to boost them accordingly. It was HIS job to make THEM better. That's what he believed.

So when Russell mentioned a current star devouring his book and stealing that specific concept — then thanking Russell for the help — naturally, I expected the player to be LeBron James, Chris Paul, Steve Nash, maybe even Kevin Durant. Nope.

Kobe Bryant.

"Really?" I said incredulously.

And that's how I learned that basketball's greatest teammate ever held something of a soft spot for Kobe, someone who's battled more coworkers over the years than Chevy Chase. Russell enjoys his competitiveness, loves his work ethic, appreciates his respect for history, and over anything else, loves how he borrowed that scouting idea. No other player ever mentioned it to him. Just Kobe. Which didn't make sense to me. After all, Kobe regards his teammates the same way President Obama regards the Secret Service — these guys are here to serve and protect ME. Why would he need to scout them? What was I missing?