December 29, 2007

My review of "Lawrence of Arabia"

Because no good movies get released in late August, I took the opportunity to review a classic DVD:

When your television dies, a trip to the home entertainment showroom, with its massed ranks of the latest monitors all displaying the same glorious nature documentary for convenient comparison shopping, will quickly convince you that your initial plan of buying a modestly larger replacement tube for $299 was a naïve delusion. How could you ever be satisfied with a pathetic 32" CRT, when the gazelles gamboling on the Serengeti are so luminous on a plasma set, so detailed on an HDTV, and so humongous on a 56" screen?

But when you bring your technological breakthrough home, you notice that you seldom actually watch nature documentaries. You mostly just watch people talking, and the thousands of dollars you spent isn't making David Letterman's interview of Richard Simmons any less depressing.

To postpone disillusionment, TV buyers should also pick up a grand movie on DVD. And what better than the two-disk version of "Lawrence of Arabia?" Unlike just about every other film you might buy rather than rent, you could watch "Lawrence" a second time.

Approaching its 45th anniversary, "Lawrence's" place in the pantheon is secure. Director David Lean, cinematographer Freddie Young, and composer Maurice Jarre complement a tremendous cast, especially Alec Guinness as astute Prince Feisal, the future king of Iraq, and Anthony Quinn as choleric Auda, the prototypical Big Man.

Often extolled as the film that must be seen in the theatre, "Lawrence" is actually better from your couch, because you can then pause it to look up whether Medina is north of Mecca or vice versa. (Inexplicably, there are no maps in the 217-minute war movie).

Moreover, but don't mention this to your cinephile friends, you can fast-forward through the second dozen times Peter O'Toole, as WWI archaeologist-warrior T.E. Lawrence, gallops his camel through the stark desert scenery he found so much more "clean" than damp and overgrown England. (Perhaps the British were better at empire than Americans have proven so far because it gave some of their best men the chance for fun in the sun that our West furnishes domestically?)

Movie critics today are obsessed with sniffing out the political implications of the latest releases, such as the suspicion that the sex comedy "Knocked Up" was insufficiently pro-abortion or that the Xbox mannerist Spartans of "300" were ancient Republicans.

Few attempt, however, to draw lessons from the handful of classic films that would reward serious analysis. Among its numerous virtues, "Lawrence" provides insight into America's quandary in Iraq by offering a vivid primer on what William S. Lind calls "asymmetrical" war.

In "Lawrence," regular warfare, with its drilling and decisive battles, is exemplified by the stolid Turkish infantry, while irregular warfare, with its interminable raids and retreats, is embodied in the mercurial Arab camel cavalry.

In the famous screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson, the British high command wants Lawrence to trick the Bedouin Arabs into enlisting as cannon fodder in the grinding British attack on the Ottomans at Gaza. Lawrence insubordinately devises a more culturally appropriate strategy for the nomads: "'The desert is an ocean in which no oar is dipped' and on this ocean the Bedu go where they please and strike where they please." They will harass the Turkish railway to Medina with hit-and-run attacks, avoiding the pitched battles, for which the tribesmen, no fools, wouldn't even show up.

In 1917, in the first two-thirds of the movie, Lawrence's insight works wonderfully. In the 1918 conclusion, however, though the British and Arabs win, the failures of irregularity become clearer. The victorious but still fractious clans can't competently manage the hospitals and waterworks of Damascus. Even before then, there are hints that irregular desert warfare is doomed by the new age of mechanized mobility. When the Turks can get their hands on enough German armored cars and airplanes, they negate the traditional Bedouin advantage in mobility and elusiveness.

Subsequently, it turned out that cultures that were good at regular warfare, like the Israelis and Americans, were also better at building and maintaining the tanks and planes that gave regular militaries the mobility of irregular warriors.

But history never ends; losers adapt. As Lawrence tells Omar Sharif's Sherif Ali, "Nothing is written." Now, after two easy victories in open country over Iraq's derisible regular army, America has bogged down in Iraq's urban jungles fighting countless irregular units that disappear into the alleys as Lawrence's mounted warriors vanished into the dunes.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Two tax-deductible days left!

The Sailer Panhandling Drive grinds on.

There are four ways to give me money.

First, through Monday, 12/31/07, you can make tax deductible credit card contributions here (click on the first "Make a Donation" button you come to on the screen); or fax credit card details here (please put my name on the fax); or you can snail mail checks made out to "VDARE Foundation" and marked on the memo line (lower left corner) “Steve Sailer” to:

VDARE Foundation
P.O. Box 1195
Washington, CT 06793

Second: You can send me an email and I'll send you my P.O. Box address.

Third: You can use Amazon. Just click here. The limit on the amount in a single donation via Amazon, for some reason, is $50.

Fourth: You can use Paypal, either by just using any credit card, or if you already have a specific Paypal account, you can use that. Just click here and fill in your credit card info on the left (scroll down to bottom left-center to go on) or your Paypal ID on the right. It works fine with the mainstream MS Internet Explorer browser.


My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Why America fell apart on 11/22/1963

One of the enduring mysteries of American history is why the The Sixties! didn't begin until the decade was almost 40% over. The general flavor of 1960-1963 was similar to 1954-1959, but then everything quickly changed. Many people who lived through that time have observed that the turning point was John F. Kennedy's assassination, but few have offered a cogent explanation of the precise mechanism.

In the new January 14, 2008 issue of The American Conservative, John O'Sullivan, who wrote about the failed 1981-1984 assassinations attempts on Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and Margaret Thatcher in his 2006 book The President, The Pope, and the Prime Minister, reviews James Pierseon's new book Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism. The review isn't online, but I'll quote from it:

"Piereson's first original (and brilliant) insight is his recognition that what transformed American politics was not the assassination itself but how it was interpreted.

"Kennedy was slain by a devout communist, one-time defector to the Soviet Union, and admirer or Fidel Castro who had kept in touch with Soviet diplomats after returning home from the USSR and was trying to re-defect to Cuba. A common-sense interpretation of the crime would have portrayed Kennedy as an anti-communist martyr of the conservative cause in the Cold War. Such a view would have made the Cold War -- rather than civil rights -- the central issue in U.S. politics... But such an account would have also been contrary to the emerging "spirit of the age," which dictated to commentators a very different analysis.

"Before anyone knew the identity of Kennedy's assassin, his death was at once and widely attributed in media speculations to 'extremists' and 'bigots' on the Right. ... But that conviction hardly changed once it became known that the assassin was a communist. To be sure, the newspapers dug into Oswald's career as a defector very thoroughly. But the editorials and opinion columns, their television equivalents, and the comments of the liberal and cultural leaders repeatedly and passionately blamed the assassination on something called 'extremism,' which was disconnected from America in general and to the radical Right in particular. ... It soon became conventional wisdom that all Americans bore a share of the blame for the bigotry, intolerance, and hate that had struck down the president. John F. Kennedy in death became a martyr for the cause of civil rights -- a cause to which in life he had shown a prudent political coolness. ...

"Piereson's second great contribution is to establish that Mrs. Kennedy herself, in the very depths of her grief, was signally responsible for inventing and spreading this misinterpretation and lifting it to the level of myth.

... These questions were answered when Mrs. Kennedy learned that the lone Oswald had killed her husband. She tehn complained, "He didn't even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights. It had to be some silly little communist. It even robs his death of any meaning."

"Even before the misinterpretation had become current, she had intuitively grasped both its main features and the unfortunate fact that reality did not quite measure up to them. In her arrangements for the funeral and her selection of those speaking at the various memorial services, she ensured that the misinterpretation would be the dominant theme. Finally, by dictating to Theodore White the story that Kennedy had often ended his day listening to songs from his favorite musical, "Camelot," and by insisting that it must remain in White's article over the skepticism of his editors at Life magazine, she lifted the misinterpretation to the level of myth...

"Extended to the present, these trends have produced a cultural atmosphere in which the 20th-century political figures most admired by readers of Vogue and Vanity Fair would probably be Che Guevara and Martin Luther King. Observers attentive to purely political signs -- votes, laws, opinion polls -- were inevitably late to notice this cultural shift. But a woman of fashion, who was also politically knowledgeable, was able to sense it from the surrounding atmosphere. ...

"To their surprise, however, as the radicals [in the late 1960s] rushed forward with their battering rams, the liberals opened the gates and surrendered. How could they resist? If America had killed Kennedy, the liberalism was merely a smiley face painted on a System of racist and sexist oppression. ... For a decade or so after November 1963, liberalism and its institutions were convulsed by disputes, entering the maelstrom as pragmatic, patriotic, and problem-solving bodies, and emerging from it as perfectionist, utopian, anti-American ones, secretly anxious to punish the American majority for its sins rather than solve its problems."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

War Nerd on why the Kurds always lose

Gary Brecher writes in The eXile:

If the Kurds didn't enjoy being prey, they'd have tried sticking together once in a while. But in all of history no Kurd could ever stand by any other Kurd long enough to hold off all the hungry Arabs, Persians, Turks, Brits and other sand carnivores swimming around the Fertile Crescent.

Of course this is one of those smug pieces of advice people in high-GDP countries just love to give their neighbors across the tracks: "Why don't you people stop shooting each other—and mow your lawns! That crabgrass outside your place is making my retirement years a Hell on earth!" Once you've lived in a ghetto, and Kurdistan is one big, dry, cold ghetto, a junked-car backyard for Turkey, Iran and Iraq, then you understand real easy why it makes more sense to turn on your local rival, betray him to the occupiers, instead of making some noble common cause against the oppressor. It comes down to something even a Swiss or Swede can understand: jobs.

There's only ever been one job in Kurdistan: playing Wog Wrangler, rounding up your fellow wogs to sell to the Turks, or Persians, or Arabs. You can try selling them as cannon fodder—that's maybe the most common sales pitch—or you can convince the foreign oppressor that your neighbor is so dangerous that he ought to pay you and your cuzzes some of his Turkish or Persian or Arab gold to go round the varmint up and turn in his dangerous Kurdish head for the bounty. If you don't—if you have an attack of Kurdish patriotism and decide you'll stand up for your neighbor, all for one and one for all—he's definitely going to try collecting the bounty on you and all your male relatives.

That's the simple logic of living as a tribe without a state: if you don't cut a deal with the occupiers, your neighbour will and you won't like the fine print. In fact, you'll BE the fine print.

So when you're an occupied tribe, habits like telling the truth and minding your own business are lethal. The advantage is always going to go to the bitchiest, most lying-tongued little slandering pig in the village, the jerk who doesn't have a qualm about sucking up to the Turkish (or Persian or Arab) junior officer in charge of the local garrison and, after telling him how smart and handsome he is for a few hours, passing a secret warning about what a threat to the public safety you and your family are. And if the Lieutenant happens to feel grateful to the informer, maybe he wouldn't mind giving him your cow and that nice pasture behind your house, once he's had you and all your kin rounded up and shot.

Over time, a system like this will do a wonderful sped-up evolutionary job of cleaning out any leftover decency from the local population. Are you the kind of hardworkin' dude who puts in a good day in the fields, comes home to the family and doesn't bother anybody? Well, you're dead meat for the first snitch to catch the lieutenant's ear. You're Kurdish toast.

By the way, you can see that this kind of pattern holds for most occupied countries, like, say, Iraq. You can bet that the Iraqis who were the first to suck up to us, the most persistent and shameless at shining our shoes and selling us info, are exactly the same kind of slime. They're the same everywhere, and they always rise to the top after an invasion. It's a good reason not to invade unless you've already got your own intelligence, so you don't have to buy their bullshit. Which we didn't, of course. So you can imagine how many neighborhood scores we've helped settle. A lot of old wounds from Baghdad High School's playgrounds got settled that way, I bet: poor little four-eyed Ahmed got picked on by big bad jock Raheem, but little Ahmed studied his English, got a job as Coalition interpreter and the first interrogation he did, he didn't even bother listening to what the suspect was babbling about, he just translated it as, "He says there is a dangerous terrorist here named Raheem, a cruel boy who never picked me for volleyball—I mean, who is harboring terrorists, planning attacks, and must be killed immediately!"

And here's a new War Nerd column on Paraguay's remarkable 1864-1870 war again Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay: "A Brief History of National Suicide."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Presidential Jeopardy

How many Presidential debates have been held this year? A quazillion? And how many have you, personally, watched? If you are like me, maybe half of one and three minutes of another.

Is this our fault? Well, of course it is. But, still ... couldn't the candidates try a little harder to make it interesting?

For example, one cause of voter cynicism is the suspicion that the candidates are complete ignoramuses on every topic on which they haven't been preprogrammed by their handlers. So, instead of having them stand around and semi-argue with each other, why not have them play Jeopardy instead, with the categories weighted toward history and current affairs.

Sure, the frontrunners wouldn't be likely to agree to it, but why not let laggards like Duncan Hunter and Dennis Kucinich volunteer for a match. They don't even have to be in the same party. Come on, you'd watch that, right? And once a Hunter-Kucinich-Paul Jeopardy match got triple the ratings of the last debate, pressure would mount on the big boys and girls to pick up their buzzers and fight.

Couldn't the match be rigged by producers who leak the questions to one candidate or another? Sure, but there are ways around that. The show doesn't have to write new questions -- it has tens of thousands of old questions, far too many for a candidate to study. All the producers would have to do is categorize old categories as Relevant, Middling, and Irrelevant with a weighting toward the Relevant, then have a random system that picks old categories moments before the show starts taping.

Randall Parker asks "Why stop there?"
Jeopardy is just a beginning. I have an idea for a reality TV show: Pair up Republicans and Democrats to survive in a wilderness setting. Let them choose each other. See who can best work in a bipartisan manner. Find out which pair can, say, figure out how to catch salmon without a fishing rod in a stream in Alaska. Or see which pair can build a raft to get off an island that is only a half mile from another island.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 28, 2007

"In the Valley of Elah"

Here's my full review from The American Conservative:

While often accused of imposing its political agenda on the public, Hollywood isn't organized to churn out topical movies quickly. Thus, only now, 54 months after the invasion of Iraq, is a major feature film about the war's impact premiering.

"In the Valley of Elah" is a modest-budget drama laden with luminaries. Oscar-magnet screenwriter Paul Haggis ("Crash" and "Million Dollar Baby") directs fellow Academy Award winners Tommy Lee Jones ("The Fugitive"), Charlize Theron ("Monster"), and Susan Sarandon ("Dead Man Walking") in a spare, somber, and moving police procedural.

"Elah" is based on the notorious 2003 murder of Spc. Richard Davis by his fellow soldiers shortly after their unit arrived stateside from combat in Iraq. At some point after a drunken brawl outside a strip club, Davis was stabbed 32 times. His comrades-at-arms then dismembered his body, burnt it, and hid the remains in the woods.

Working from Mark Boal's Playboy article, Haggis wrote the central role of the victim's father, a laconic retired Army sergeant, a former military policeman in Vietnam, for his mentor Clint Eastwood, but the 77-year-old told him he has retired from acting. So Haggis turned to 61-year-old Tommy Lee Jones, who, as his formidable performance in "Elah" demonstrates, is still very much in his prime.

In this fictionalized retelling, Jones receives a phone call from the Army that his son has gone AWOL. He immediately drives to the base to search for him, bringing his decades of experience finding soldiers on benders. Yet, neither the MPs nor the local cops are much interested in this routine disappearance, and they resent the father's imposing martial presence, his pants as sharply creased as his face, as a taciturn rebuke to their bureaucratic apathy.

When a hacked-up body is found in the brush, however, Theron, a city detective promoted from meter maid because (as her chauvinist colleagues repeatedly remind her) she'd been sleeping with their boss, admits that the old soldier is the superior sleuth, and forms a wary alliance with him. In a touching scene, Jones tells the single mother's young son a bedtime story of how the boy David fought the giant Goliath in the valley of Elah.

As a director, Haggis's strength is that he's not intimidated by his screenwriter's Oscars. Haggis edited out an hour of his own dialogue, making "Elah" far quieter than the brilliant but showy "Crash." Here, Haggis lets his superb cast carry the film through long silent takes.

For example, the morning after the corpse is sent to the coroner for identification, Jones is awoken by a knock on his motel room door. Outside is a soldier in full dress uniform. Having worn the same uniform to deliver the same message to other parents, the despairing father knows what's coming. For 15 seconds he struggles to prepare himself to receive the blow in the only way he knows, willing his tired body to stand at rigid military attention.

In a brief role, Sarandon is even better than Jones. Having lost her older son to a helicopter crash in training, she asks her husband, "Couldn't you have left me just one?" When he protests that he didn't tell their boy to enlist, she responds that their son couldn't have grown up in their home without feeling that he'd never be a man until he served. Jones has no answer.

While murders in most movies are the result of cunning conspiracies that can be satisfyingly unraveled, real-life killings like this one frequently transpire among drunk or drugged-up young men for motives that remain hazy (Davis's killer refused to testify), and might well turn out to be just plain stupid.

Into this vacuum, Haggis boldly ventures, theorizing that the soldiers were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder caused by guilt over their abuse of Iraqi civilians, war crimes that are inevitable due to the very nature of urban counter-insurgency warfare.

Perhaps, but Haggis isn't a strong enough visual director to make the flashbacks to Iraq sufficiently nightmarish. And do veterans really murder each other more than other young men kill their companions? Or is the Davis killing semi-famous because it was the kind of atypical man-bites-dog story that the press loves? Movies like "Elah" that are ripped from the headlines give the screenwriter too much of an excuse to leave in implausible events because, hey, it's a true story, so it's not my fault if it seems unrealistic.

Rated R for violent and disturbing content, language and some sexuality/nudity.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Why I like Mexico's anti-Americanism

I mentioned below how much more American press coverage the Bhutto murder in far-off Pakistan has gotten compared to the assassination of Colosio (who?) in nearby Tijuana in 1994, even though the events were fairly comparable.

One legitimate reason for this could be that we really do meddle more in Pakistan than in Mexico due to Mexico's tradition of anti-Americanism that goes back at least as far as the 1846-48 war.

Personally, I like not being responsible for Mexico.

And it's not as if Mexico would be a better place if we had been allowed to meddle more. The most prominent example of American activism in Mexico in the 20th Century, Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson's conspiring in 1913 to oust the democratically elected president, mild-mannered Francisco Madero, helped set off the bloodiest portion of the Mexican Revolution. This suggests that we would have just made things even worse.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


The Sailer Panhandling drive trudges on.

There are four ways to give me money.

First, you can make tax deductible credit card contributions here (click on the first "Make a Donation" button you come to on the screen); or fax credit card details here (please put my name on the fax); or you can snail mail checks made out to "VDARE Foundation" and marked on the memo line (lower left corner) “Steve Sailer” to:

VDARE Foundation
P.O. Box 1195
Washington, CT 06793

Second: You can send me an email and I'll send you my P.O. Box address.

Third: You can use Amazon. Just click here. The limit on the amount in a single donation via Amazon, for some reason, is $50.

Fourth: You can use Paypal, either by just using any credit card, or if you already have a specific Paypal account, you can use that. Just click here and fill in your credit card info on the left (scroll down to bottom left-center to go on) or your Paypal ID on the right. It works fine with the mainstream MS Internet Explorer browser.


My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


In the wake of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, it's worth recalling that there are quite a few violent deaths of politicians that remain murky after many years.

For instance, in September 1996, a hot-headed opponent of then-Prime Minister Bhutto died following a half-hour long firefight with police in a posh neighborhood in Karachi. His name was Murtaza Bhutto, "the terrorist prince," and he was Benazir's estranged brother. Much to her dismay, her mother had sided with her radical brother against her.

CNN reported at the time:

"Benazir Bhutto's political opponents Saturday rushed to condemn her in the death of her estranged brother Murtaza, and a high court judge was appointed to investigate the bizarre gunfight that took his life in the posh Clifton Road neighborhood of Karachi.

"Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, in a speech in parliament, accused the government of "state terrorism" against its political opponents. Leaders of the Lahore High Court Bar Association in Punjab were quoted as describing Murtaza Bhutto's killing as a murder."

The more things change in Pakistan, the more they stay the same. Today, the Daily Times of Pakistan reports:

"RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday that the tragic death of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairwoman Benazir Bhutto was a result of state terrorism, according to Daily Times staff reporter Aamir Yasin. Addressing PPP workers at Rawalpindi General Hospital (RGH), where Bhutto succumbed to hre injuries, Nawaz said Benazir’s death would be avenged not only by the PPP workers but also by the nation. “The nation will take revenge of Benazir’s killing,” he said. “Musharraf government is incapable of controlling the situation and people are facing the result of his policies,” NNI quoted Nawaz as saying."

Likewise, General Zia, the man who had overthrown Benazir and Murtaza's father in 1977 and had him hanged in 1979, died in airplane accident in 1988 that also killed the U.S. Ambassador and an American general. According to Wikipedia:

"A common suspicion within Pakistan, although with no proof, is that the crash was a political assassination carried out by the senior arm of Pakistan Army, [1] American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or Soviet KGB. Other groups who have fallen under suspicion include the Afghan Communists and Shi'ite separatist groups operating within Pakistan."

You might think that would cover all the usual suspects, but Wikipedia goes on to list other rumored assassins, including Mossad, the Bhutto family, "and even the Ahmadi faction" (whoever they might be). Others point to Afghan fundamentalists, the Indian secret service, and Iran. There hasn't been any mention of Opus Dei's legion of albino assassin monks, but I saw "The Da Vinci Code," so I'm not ruling them out.

Barbara Crossette, the New York Times bureau chief in South Asia from 1988 to 1991, wrote in 2005:

Of all the violent political deaths in the twentieth century, none with such great interest to the United States has been more clouded than the mysterious air crash that killed President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan in 1988, a tragedy that also claimed the life of a serving American ambassador and most of General Zia's top commanders. The list of potential malefactors has grown as the years have passed, compounding the mysteries buried in this peculiar, unfinished tale. The one unarguable fact is that no serious, conclusive, or even comprehensive inquiry into the crash has been undertaken in the United States ..."
While Pakistan's current history is as luridly dynastic-homicidal as Shakespeare's history plays (or as India's current history), Mexico's isn't far behind. For example, in March 1994, the Mexican ruling party's presidential candidate, Luis Donaldo Colosio, was gunned down during a campaign rally in front of thousands of people in Tijuana. Colosio had been handpicked by President Carlos Salinas to succeed him, but he seemed to be leaning toward repudiating Salinas, a mirror image of how Bhutto seemed to be running against the dictator Musharraf, but was actually part of a complex plot by the Bush Administration to give Musharraf a more democratic facade by powersharing with Bhutto.

Salinas's government responded by advancing numerous conflicting theories about who dun it, leaving the citizenry too confused and cynical to focus their outrage on any particular caudillo. Colosio's killing remains much in dispute. (Here is a timeline put together by movie director and conspiracy buff Alex Cox of "Repo Man" and "Sid & Nancy" fame.)

This assassination was quite analogous to Bhutto's, but because it occurred just a few miles over the border from San Diego instead of on the other side of the world, it received far less coverage in the American press.

The previous year, Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo was shot 14 times at close range at the Guadalajara airport. Nobody has been convicted of the crime. The Salinas government blamed drug dealers, but much of the country blamed the government.

Salinas is trying to get Pope Benedict to clear his name in the slaying. The Catholic News Service reported last May:

"According to the reports, Salinas' objective is to have the unresolved crime not declared "a state crime" and to advance the idea that the cardinal's murder "was ordered by Freemasons and public servants of that persuasion" like the former interior minister, Fernando Gutierrez Barrios, who died in 2000."

So, that's another example of ... wait a minute ... Did that just say the ex-President is blaming Freemasons for killing the Cardinal? Why not the Knights Templar? Is this part of the publicity campaign for "National Treasure: Book of Secrets"?

Gutierrez Barrios, by the way, was the long-time head of the Mexican secret police. He was most famous in America for arresting and then freeing Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in 1956. Castro and Gutierrez Barrios enjoyed a warm lifelong friendship, although Communists in Mexico tended to disappear into Gutierrez Barrios's jails and stay disappeared. An interesting fellow, but Google doesn't have much supporting his link to the Freemasons.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 27, 2007

Us Steves gotta stick together

Reading Stephen Colbert's amusing Bill O'Reilly spoof I Am America (And So Can You!) was interesting because every few pages I'd think, "Wow, I could have said that!" Then every ten or 20 pages, "Hey, I did say that, although not as funny..." Finally, I got to the entire page devoted to cousin marriage -- which is a lot more common topic on this blog than in the rest of the media -- and realized that no doubt Colbert, or one of his writers, reads my website looking for inspiration.

There's no plagiarism whatsoever, just a fair amount of thematic overlap. So, a few percent of the bestselling I Am America is making fun of me!

I don't think I'm hallucinating egomaniacally because Colbert's book is quite similar in style to many of Dave Barry's books, but I've never had the faintest impression that Barry draws on what I've written.

I can't afford cable, so I've only seen Colbert (and O'Reilly, for that matter) a handful of times in motel rooms. If you watch him a lot, does his show regularly draw on my themes, or is it just his book?

By the way, Mr. Colbert, if you are reading this, did I mention that my panhandling drive is going on? I presume that you could use a tax deduction before 1/1/08.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 26, 2007

Don't you love these kind of omniscient headlines?

The Washington Post informs us:
Immigration Keeps Population from Declining in D.C. Region

Maryland and the District continue to lose residents to other places, but they make up for the loss by gaining immigrants, according to Census Bureau estimates to be released today. Virginia came out a little ahead in the give-and-take with other states between July 2006 and July 2007, but it grew much more through immigration. The three jurisdictions had a net population gain of less than 1 percent for the year.

Thank God that immigrants are arriving to assume the horrid burden of living in the Virginia-Maryland metroplex, allowing the natives to move to West Virginia and commute for three or four hours per day. Without immigrants, the Greater Washington metropolitan area would soon look like the set for "I Am Legend."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Almost makes you feel sorry for Jared Diamond ...

The NYT features an article by George Johnson called "A Question of Blame When Societies Fall" on cultural anthropologists' criticisms of Jared Diamond's last two bestsellers: Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse. It says a lot about why cultural anthropologists, who were so fashionable in the 1950s and 1960s, are almost universally ignored these days:

In an e-mail message, [Diamond] said that progress in any field depends on syntheses and individual studies. “In both chemistry and physics, the need for both approaches has been recognized for a long time,” he wrote. “One no longer finds specialists on molybdenum decrying the periodic table’s sweeping superficiality, nor advocates of the periodic table scorning mere descriptive studies of individual elements.”

For the anthropologists, the exceptions were more important than the rules. Instead of seeking overarching laws, the call was to “contextualize,” “complexify,” “relativize,” “particularize” and even “problematize,” a word that in their dialect was given an oddly positive spin. At some moments, the seminar seemed less like a scientific meeting than a session of the Modern Language Association.

Robin Fox, who wrote the book on Kinship and Marriage in 1967 during cultural anthropology's golden age, pointed out in 1989 that the field remains addicted to "ethnographic dazzle" -- overemphasizing cultural differences.

One reason is simple job protection -- just as English professors make familiarity with jargon-encrusted "theory" (i.e., bad writing) a prerequisite for being an English professor in order to keep out most of the people who love good writing -- cultural anthropologists hope to discourage outsiders like Diamond from writing about their field of study. Unfortunately, the public, rather than learning the vast heapings of minutia that cultural anthropologists emphasize, has just lost interest in cultural anthropology in general.

But there's another reason cultural anthropologists love ethnographic dazzle: political correctness. PC is essentially a fear of knowledge. The cultural anthropologists wallow in data and despise generalization and reductionism for fear that somebody might turn data into information, knowledge, and, God forbid, wisdom.

Ultimately, the anthropologists' annoyance comes down to Diamond not being politically correct enough:

Dr. Errington and Dr. Gewertz, who are husband and wife, work in Papua New Guinea, a treasure trove of ethnic groups speaking more than 700 languages. Dr. Diamond has also spent time on the island, where he first went to study birds.

Dr. Gewertz still bristles as she recalls picking up “Guns, Germs, and Steel” and seeing that it had been framed around what was called “Yali’s question.”

Yali was a political leader and a member of a “cargo cult” that sprung up after World War II. By building ritualistic landing strips and control towers and wearing hand-carved wooden headsets, islanders hoped to summon the return of the packaged food, weapons, medicine, clothing and other gifts from the heavens that had been airdropped to troops fighting Japan.

One day Yali asked Dr. Diamond, “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?”

Thus began Dr. Diamond’s tale about the combination of geographical factors that led to Europeans’ colonizing Papua New Guinea rather than Papua New Guineans’ colonizing Europe.

“We think he gets Yali’s question wrong,” Dr. Gewertz said. “Yali was not asking about nifty Western stuff.”

With more of the cargo their European visitors so clearly coveted, the islanders would have been able to trade with them as equals. Instead, they were subjugated.

What Yali was really asking, she suggested, was why Europeans had never treated them like fellow human beings. The responsibility and struggle of anthropology, Dr. Gewertz said, is to see the world through others’ eyes.

Actually, cargo cultists really were into nifty Western stuff. Some of the niftiest Western stuff is modern weaponry, which, if you own it and know how to use it, can keep you from being subjugated. Yet, the golden age of cargo cults in the Pacific came after the end of American occupations during WWII, when the American troops left and cargo stopped falling from the sky in parachute drops.

Of course, the real problem with Diamond's 2005 bestseller Collapse about how societies fall due to poor environmental management is the opposite of what the anthropologists are criticizing him for. What's noteworthy are the triviality of his examples. As I wrote in VDARE in 2005:

But "ecocide," while significant, is less important than Diamond implies. That's why he spends so much time on trivial edge-of-the-world doomed cultures, like the Vikings in Greenland and the Polynesians on Easter Island, rather than on more important collapses such as the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

Generally, homicide, not suicide, is the main cause of collapse. Societies get invaded and overwhelmed.

Diamond cites the disappearance of the Maya—but what about the Aztecs and the Incas, still going strong when the Spanish arrived? He points to the Anasazi Indians—but there were also the Cherokee, the Sioux, and countless others. He notes the Easter Islanders—but I counter with the Maoris, the Tasmanians, the Australian Aborigines, the Chatham Islanders (exterminated by the Maori), and so forth. He cites the Vikings in Greenland—but how about the Saxons in Britain and the Arabs in Sicily, both conquered by descendents of the Vikings?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Michael of 2Blowhards writes:

I've derived more knowledge, information, provocation, and entertainment from reading Steve in recent years than I have from looking at the NYTimes and The New Yorker combined. Let's keep Steve hard at work.

So, to be able to keep writing, I'm appealing to you once again to be generous.

There are four ways to give me money.

First, if you've been thinking, gee, I've had too much income in 2007 for tax purposes, do I have a deal for you! You can make credit card contributions here (click on the first "Make a Donation" button you come to on the screen); or fax credit card details here (please put my name on the fax); or you can snail mail checks made out to "VDARE Foundation" and marked on the memo line (lower left corner) “Steve Sailer” to:

VDARE Foundation
P.O. Box 1195
Washington, CT 06793

Second: You can send me an email and I'll send you my P.O. Box address.

Third: You can use Amazon. Just click here. The limit on the amount in a single donation via Amazon, for some reason, is $50.

Fourth: You can use Paypal, either by just using any credit card or if you have a specific Paypal account. Just click here and fill in your credit card info on the left (scroll down to bottom left-center to go on) or your Paypal ID on the right. It works fine with the mainstream MS Internet Explorer browser.

Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to get the link to Paypal working with the Firefox browser. If you know, please email me.


My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 25, 2007


Here's my full review from last summer in The American Conservative of the sci-fi movie:

On May 28, 1942, the U.S.S. Yorktown aircraft carrier, badly damaged at the Battle of the Coral Sea, squeezed into a Pearl Harbor dry dock needing an estimated 90 days of repair. But with four Japanese carriers steaming toward Midway Island, 1400 repairman swarmed over her, using so much electricity that Honolulu had to be partially blacked out. Two days later, the Yorktown sailed off to the decisive battle of the War in the Pacific.

On January 16, 2003, a chunk of foam broke off the Space Shuttle Columbia during liftoff. NASA engineers asked their managers to have a spy satellite scope out the damage, but the higher-ups assumed, wrongly, that America couldn't improvise a repair or rescue during the 30 days the crew could survive in orbit; so why bother? Two weeks later, the Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry.

During the golden age of science fiction in the middle of the 20th Century, the predominant plot -- the space voyage -- was essentially an updated sea story. (It's no coincidence that the greatest American science fiction writer, Robert A. Heinlein, who was born 100 years ago this summer, was an invalided U.S. naval officer.) Classic "hard" science fiction reflected the can-do culture of an era exemplified by the Yorktown repairs and going to the Moon in eight years.

We now live in a can't-do age, when merely building a fence along the border strikes our leaders as perhaps beyond our nation's capabilities.

"Sunshine" is a medium budget ($40 million) science fiction thriller with art house pretensions about eight astronauts on a last-chance-for-mankind mission to reignite the dying Sun with a "stellar bomb" the size of Manhattan. The movie falls uncomfortably between the grand heroism of the old sci-fi and the petty self-absorption of our reality television shows.

Granted, the physics of the premise are unworkable -- for one thing, it takes a half million years for light to jostle its way out from the dense solar core to the surface, so by the time we noticed anything was wrong with the Sun, it would be too late -- but, some of the film's conceptions of how much the freezing folks back on Earth could do if they had to are thrillingly old-fashioned. For instance, this bomb is humanity's final hope because "all the fissile material on Earth has been mined" to make it.

On the other hand, by 2057 NASA appears to have delegated personnel selection to a TV network. The crewmembers of Icarus II look great but display all the competence, cohesiveness, and cool-headedness of a losing tribe on Survivor. With the oxygen running out, they sit and debate whether it's morally justified to kill one person to save the entire species (uh, yup). "Sunshine" isn't quite as inane as last year's apocalyptic "Children of Men," which kept getting distracted from its plot about saving humanity from extinction to protest the plight of illegal immigrants, but it's close.

Only the crewcut engineer (Chris Evans, the Human Torch in "Fantastic Four") has the fighter jock personality you need when a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. As Murphy's Law sets in with a vengeance, he has the Right Stuff to lead his squabbling, dithering colleagues, such as the pretty-boy physicist (played by Cillian Murphy), who, for unexplained reasons, is the only one trained to set off the detonation.

"Sunshine" reunites Murphy with director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland. Together, they revived the zombie genre with 2002's "28 Days Later." Many critics are praising the derivative "Sunshine," presumably because it's fun for cineastes to play "Spot the Influence" of space and submarine classics such as "2001," "Solaris," "Alien," and "Das Boot."

In contrast, sci-fi fans will find their intelligence insulted by the careless plotting. In last year's "Thank You for Smoking," a tobacco lobbyist and a Hollywood agent conspire to have the heroes of an upcoming sci-fi blockbuster smoke in space:

Nick Naylor: "But wouldn't they blow up in an all-oxygen environment?"

Jeff Megall: "Probably. But it's an easy fix. One line of dialogue. 'Thank God we invented the... you know, whatever device.'"

The makers of "Sunshine," though, just don't care enough about science fiction to hire a script doctor to make the easy fixes.

"Sunshine," like too many films theses days, ends up being just another movie about movies, which "2001," for all its pompous flaws, definitely was not.

Rated R for violent content and language.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

My review of Shelby Steele's "A Bound Man"

America's newest holiday tradition is enjoying a book review on newsprint by me, as exemplified by my 12/25/05 review of Tim Harford's Undercover Economist in the New York Post, my 7/03/07 review of John Lott's Freedomnomics in the Washington Times, and my 12/25/07 review of Shelby Steele's A Bound Man in the W. Times.

Here's the opening:

The rise of Obama

December 25, 2007

By Steve Sailer - One Democratic presidential contender has an inherently fascinating family history: Not only does our largest minority group furnish most of his ancestry, but he was also raised in the capital of a foreign country of enormous importance to America.

And yet, little attention is paid to the stalled campaign of Bill Richardson, even though the governor of New Mexico is three-fourths Hispanic and grew up in Mexico City. Instead, Barack Obama, who, as he made sure to tell us in the opening words of his famous keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention, is half-Kenyan and half-white, has cornered the market on Ethnic Electricity.

Whether pro or con, white Americans are simply more interested in blacks than in Latinos. And, over the decades, white sentiment has grown increasingly favorable. Indeed, Mr. Obama has a plausible shot at riding strong early showings in virtually all-white Iowa and New Hampshire to the nomination.

Of course, Mr. Obama is also a more intriguing personality than the mundane Mr. Richardson. The senator's 1995 autobiography, "Dreams from my Father," displays more artistic merit than perhaps any other book written by a recent presidential hopeful.

Thus, the timing is perfect for Hoover Institution literary critic Shelby Steele's terse but remarkably insightful "A Bound Man."

The horse-race forecast in the subtitle isn't what's important. Instead, the former English professor, who, like Mr. Obama, has a black father and a white mother, delivers an intimate and authoritative analysis of how the polite Mr. Obama appeals to white Democrats in the same fashion as Sidney Poitier, the gentlemanly 1960s movie star, and why black voters are less enthusiastic. [More]

Here's a Time essay by Steele summarizing his book.

And here's my much-denounced article on Obama from the March 26, 2007 issue of The American Conservative, "Obama's Identity Crisis," which reached conclusions virtually identical to Steele's.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 24, 2007

"Gone Baby Gone"

Here's my full review from The American Conservative:

With The Sopranos wrapped up, there's a general feeling that the Italian mafia has finally been exhausted as grist for movies and TV. What Hollywood needs now is a new favorite crime-prone immigrant group, of which there is no shortage of candidates.

Here in Los Angeles, the more dismal murders -- such as one teenager shooting another over graffiti-tagging rights to an alley -- are committed mostly by the usual suspects. In contrast, the colorful capers that Quentin Tarantino or the Coen Brothers would find cool, the seemingly brilliant schemes that somehow go awry and end in a bloodbath, are perpetrated mostly by white newcomers from either the Middle East or the ex-Soviet Union: Armenians, Israelis, Persians, and the like.

Yet, Hollywood seems instead to be falling in love with an ethnic group that has been here even longer than the Italians: the Irish. Working class white Boston, where killings, while rare, frequently remain unsolved, has been the setting for the recent Oscar-winners "The Departed" and "Mystic River."

Now, failed leading man Ben Affleck (perhaps most notorious for bombing in "Pearl Harbor"), who won a screenwriting Oscar a decade ago with his best friend Matt Damon for their movie about a Boston prole, "Good Will Hunting," has returned to his roots. He has co-adapted and directed "Gone Baby Gone," a detective thriller by Mystic River novelist Dennis Lehane set in Boston's grimy Dorchester neighborhood.

Well, Dorchester is not exactly Ben's roots. He, personally, was born in Berkeley, California and was raised in Cambridge, which is just like Dorchester, if Dorchester were home to Harvard and MIT. Like Damon and so many other younger stars, Affleck is from the artsy-lefty upper middle class. (The clearest exception to this trend is Dorchester-born ex-thug Mark Wahlberg, who was electrifying in "The Departed.")

This modestly-budgeted film noir about neighborhood private eye Patrick Kenzie trying to unravel the kidnapping of the four-year-old daughter of a cocaine addict single mom hinges, like "The Maltese Falcon," on the snoop's devotion to his profession's ethics. Affleck's direction is a bit choppy and the plot eventually becomes either bafflingly complex or nonsensical, but the overall impact is strong. "Gone Baby Gone" is hardly "The Departed," but it's more watchable than "Mystic River."

Affleck assembled a fine cast, with old reliables Morgan Freeman ("Million Dollar Baby") and Ed Harris (astronaut John Glenn in "The Right Stuff") as the cops. The role of the detective's girlfriend / partner doesn't make much sense (this is the fourth novel in Lehane's series, so presumably their implausible relationship was explained earlier), but it provides Affleck an excuse to point the camera at the most adorable starlet of the moment, Michelle Monaghan ("Kiss Kiss Bang Bang").

As the private eye, Affleck cast his own younger brother, making this the second straight movie starring Casey Affleck that I've reviewed (he also played "the Coward Robert Ford" in "The Assassination of Jesse James"), and that's plenty.

Film noir detectives have traditionally been world-weary types, such as Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum, but Casey, a small youngster with a pinched baby-face, looks like he's trying detective work because he's not sure he's mature enough yet for law school. Casey is perfectly fine in both films, possibly because he gets a lot of real life practice at the main demand of these roles: acting peeved and perturbed when nobody takes him seriously.

Casey is also the brother-in-law of Ben's wife Jennifer Garner (Alias) and his own wife's brother Joaquin Phoenix ("Walk the Line"). Would he be starring in movies without all these connections? Golden Age Hollywood was intensely nepotistic in the executive suites, but the modern industry is more nepotistic in the above-the-line jobs, because power has migrated from the head office to whomever is raising the money. Ben Affleck's famous name was responsible for scraping together the $19 million for "Gone Baby Gone," so he got to cast his baby brother.

Surprisingly, Hollywood nepotism is seldom fatal to films, because its beneficiaries, like Casey Affleck, are almost all at least competent. Why? Let's do the numbers. If, say, one percent of all adult Americans have the natural talent to be a movie star, director, or screenwriter, and maybe ten percent of them try to make it in the business, well, that's still 200,000 people to choose among! So, among that qualified 0.1 percent, it's whom you know that counts.

Rated R for violence, drug content, and pervasive language.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

Updated: Now with working Paypal! The Panhandling Drive Rolls On

Merry Christmas!

I'm happy that I can no longer say that you can't read anything like what you see here anywhere else. There's nothing I'm prouder of than that others have taken up the challenge of writing realistically about the human world.

Still, when you add up the numbers, you're getting a pretty good deal:

Over the course of 2007, I've written 732 blog postings here (averaging maybe 400 words each?), about 50 articles (1,500 words?), 22 movie reviews for The American Conservative (exactly 735 words) along with a half dozen longer AmCon articles. All in all, it's probably approaching 400,000 words of mine annually that you get to read, sooner or later, for free. (And then there are maybe 5-10,000 emails, and lots of miscellaneous stuff here and there).

So, to be able to keep up writing for you, I'm appealing to you once again to be generous.

There are four ways to give me money.

First, if you've been thinking, gee, I've had too much income in 2007 for tax purposes, do I have a deal for you! You can make credit card contributions here (click on the first "Make a Donation" button you come to on the screen); or fax credit card details here (please put my name on the fax); or you can snail mail checks made out to "VDARE Foundation" and marked on the memo line (lower left corner) “Steve Sailer” to:

VDARE Foundation
P.O. Box 1195
Washington, CT 06793

Second: You can send me an email and I'll send you my P.O. Box address.

Third: You can use Amazon. Just click here. The limit on the amount in a single donation via Amazon, for some reason, is $50.

Fourth: You can use Paypal, either by just using any credit card or if you have a specific Paypal account. Just click here and fill in your credit card info on the left (scroll down to bottom left-center to go on) or your Paypal ID on the right. It works fine with the mainstream MS Internet Explorer browser.

Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to get the link to Paypal working with the Firefox browser. If you know, please email me.

Thanks. I appreciate it, deeply.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

December 23, 2007

"Eastern Promises"

Here's my full-length review from The American Conservative of the Golden Globe-nominated "Eastern Promises:"

"Eastern Promises" is a violent, sentimental, and efficient Russian immigrant mob movie with an overpowering star performance from Viggo Mortensen (the King in "The Return of the King") as Hollywood's favorite kind of hero, the dangerous man with a heart of gold. He plays the new chauffeur of a London-based Russian mafia family trafficking in sex slaves from the Old Country.

Veteran art house goremeister David Cronenberg considerately telegraphs each grotesque throat-slitting far enough in advance that I could close my eyes until it was over, except for one naked knife fight in a Turkish bath that must have gone on even longer than the similar scene in "Borat."

Cronenberg's most popular film with the public was 1986's "The Fly," with Jeff Goldblum as a mad scientist sprouting bristly black fur due to an experiment gone terribly wrong. In contrast, critics adored Cronenberg's 2005 action movie with the pretentious title, "A History of Violence." Cronenberg cast as the small town nice guy who isn't whom he seems the half-Danish Mortensen, along with the uber-WASP William Hurt (a step-grandson of Henry and Clare Booth Luce) as his Philadelphia mafioso brother who pulls him back in. (Exactly which Philly crime family was left vague: perhaps the notorious Anglo-Scandinavian Main Line Mob?)

The implausible casting was a nudge to rapturous critics to overinterpret this dopey little shoot-em-up not as a normal gangster flick, but as a profound anti-Bush allegory about the unspeakable violence that underlies American history etc. etc. …

Unfortunately, "A History of Violence" seemed perpetually a bit off, as if Cronenberg had never been to a small town. I saw it at a $3 theatre and the low-budget Saturday night crowd gave it the raspberry, hooting at its phony twists.

Cronenberg's latest crime family thriller collaboration with Mortensen, "Eastern Promises," is a sizable improvement. It might be almost as preposterous as "A History of Violence," but its less familiar setting amidst Russians in London makes it easier to enjoy than Cronenberg's clankingly inept vision of middle America.

"Eastern Promises" raises politically incorrect questions about why we would want so many newcomers that immigrant mafias have become inevitable. Cronenberg explained his opposition to immigrants failing to assimilate to the New York Times:

"At its worst, it’s you come and you live there, but you live in a little ghetto of your own culture that you brought with you. I suppose that’s happening in the States with the Spanish language. Can multiculturalism really work?"

"Eastern Promises" asks whether the West needs, in particular, quite so many foreign pimps to lure naïve blonde adolescents here from Eastern Europe with promises of singing jobs, only to rape them, hook them on heroin, and enslave them in brothels here? (Steve Knight's script is so hostile to the immigrant criminals that he makes Putin's secret policemen the good guys!)

Mortensen possesses what Cronenberg calls "very Russian cheekbones," and he has the "flathead" look of a post-Soviet goon down perfectly. In truth, Mortensen exudes so much star power that he overwhelms his role as a nobody who recently showed up in London from somewhere vague in the Urals. Luckily, the supposedly wily old crime lord never wonders why this confident, competent, and commanding 40-something man with an air of innate nobility needs an entry-level job.

Meanwhile, the supporting plot line, with Naomi Watts ("King Kong") as a nice English midwife, makes only symbolic sense as a metaphor for the Hobbesian decay spread by immigration. When a comatose 14-year-old Russian prostitute dies delivering her baby, the midwife pockets her diary, hoping to deduce who the baby's grandparents are. (Apparently, perhaps due to National Health budget cuts, the job of legally identifying unknown babies has been delegated to random hospital staffers to have a go at in their spare time.) Displaying formidable powers of bad judgment, she asks a courtly Russian restaurant owner, who happens to be the godfather pimp himself, to translate it.

When she realizes who her translator is -- and that he knows she knows -- instead of calling Scotland Yard for protection, she arranges a meeting with his chauffeur, bringing along her aged uncle and mum as bodyguards. Evidently, in the spirit of the "vibrant" globalized London -- O brave new world! -- she's forgotten that boring old England spent 800 years developing rule of law so that the English wouldn't have to form their own family mafias just for self-protection from other mafias.

Rated a very hard R.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer