The Unmanly Jeremy Clarkson

I was a big fan of the BBC show Top Gear. I’m not much of a car guy, but it was never really a car show. It was a comedy show based around cars. Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond make a fun team. They are a Mr. Bean version of the Three Musketeers. Their humor is refreshingly un-PC, which is why some think Clarkson was sacked last week.

I labour the point, chippily, sure – the BBC is still run by the white, liberal, upper middle classes. Not that Clarkson is a horny-handed son of toil, of course, either. But it did occur to me that the BBC has pretty much nothing left which could be considered, uh, Right. Clarkson was an exceptionally brilliant presenter (and will continue to be so elsewhere, one suspects), but whatever the rights or wrongs of this latest ‘fracas’, the BBC was uncomfortable with him. It wanted him out. It was torn a little by the fact that – again almost uniquely for a BBC star – he was genuinely popular, and popular with a section of the audience the BBC normally fails to reach – ie British people who are not PC neurotics. Yes, millions and millions and millions of people. But collectively it loathed his politics. And that is really why he has gone. And so who is left at the BBC who isn’t left?

That’s surely true, but you can’t go around punching subordinates. It is a failing of any man who cannot treat his inferiors with respect. I think big shots can be forgiven for being rude and difficult with the help, but there’s a responsibility to set a proper example. Still, I wish they could have found a way to work it out so the show could continue.

The whining about Clarksons dismissal, however, is a bit much. He punched a guy in the face for no reason. The other guy should have knocked Clarkson on his ass and Clarkson should have been man enough to accept it. It’s how men are supposed to settle these things. But, the star-subordinate thing does cloud the issue.

The relevant facts are these. Clarkson turned on his producer because there wasn’t a hot dinner waiting for him at the crew’s hotel. (Today’s celebrities, like yesterday’s aristocrats, expect their servants to anticipate their every appetite.)

He called Oisin Tymon a “lazy, Irish c***”. The abuse went on for 20 minutes, according to witnesses. Clarkson couldn’t stop, couldn’t leave Tymon alone. Finally he attacked him, and split his lip with a punch that left the 36-year-old with blood running down his face and needing treatment in A&E. The BBC inquiry suggested that Clarkson would have kept on hitting him, if onlookers had not intervened.

Most people – well, most men anyway – would have let the matter rest if Tymon had smacked Clarkson back. They would have been square, and that would have been that. However strong my impulse would have been to hold his coat, how could Tymon throw a punch? He was the subordinate and Clarkson was the aristocratic star. Tymon was too low down the light entertainment hierarchy to think about defending himself. According to the BBC report, Clarkson left Tymon thinking his career was over and he had “lost his job,” as if it was he who had been at fault.

Forgive me. I realise I shouldn’t go on about mere facts. The last thing the right-on PC Right wants you to do is concentrate on what happened. Instead, its propagandists say you should dismiss the evidence and head off into conspiracy theory.

I think the right answer here was for Clarkson to have apologized that the time and for the other man to have accepted it. That would have been the proper way to handle it. The fact that Clarkson preferred to let the BBC management adjudicate the matter suggests he is a man of low character. He was hoping to get away with it, simply because he is a star.

Still, I loved the show and I’ll watch again if it comes back.

Geeno Rocero is a Nut

By now it should be obvious that TED exists to give me blog material. They scour the earth looking for pseudo-intellectual airheads to prattle on about nonsense to the applause of barking seals in the audience. This time they found a tranny to say insane things for our entertainment.

I was assigned boy at birth based on the appearance of my genitalia. I remember when I was five years old in the Philippines walking around our house, I would always wear this t-shirt on my head. And my mom asked me, “How come you always wear that t-shirt on your head?” I said, “Mom, this is my hair. I’m a girl.” I knew then how to self-identify.

No, you were not “assigned” anything. Biology is not arbitrary. Your genetics make you a boy or a girl. You were born a boy and you remain a boy. You have chosen to mutilate yourself and dress up like a girl or you may have a mental disease. Either way, you are what your DNA says you are.

Gender has always been considered a fact, immutable, but we now know it’s actually more fluid, complex and mysterious. Because of my success, I never had the courage to share my story, not because I thought what I am is wrong, but because of how the world treats those of us who wish to break free. Every day, I am so grateful because I am a woman. I have a mom and dad and family who accepted me for who I am. Many are not so fortunate.

Humans do not have “gender” they have a sex, male or female. There’s never been anything mysterious about it because up until recent, we have not let crazy people rant like this in public.

There are people who swear they are animals or invisible. Are we supposed to pretend they are these things? Are we going to be required to say that Fred down the block is a giant gopher because Fred now identifies as a gopher?

A big theme of mine is how modern capitalism is all about socializing costs and privatizing profits. There’s a bit of that with the various crotch warriors and deviants. The cost of these delusions is forced onto the rest of us. That way Fred get to pretend to be a giant gopher without suffering the consequences for it.

Now matter how far you spread the costs, they never go away. They are always there. Even a rich society like ours can indulge in a limited amount of madness. Forcing the rest of us to go along with this poor persons madness is pushing those limits. Instead of maybe finding a medical solution to these delusions, we are hobbling the normal functioning of society to accommodate them.

The Final Rounding Up of the Christians

The always restrained and sensible Ross Douthat has a restrained and sensible response to the latest moral crisis over the sodomites. The equally sensible and restrained Ed Whelan has a response to that column. From what I can gather, the folks on the Right are racing to get out into the public their very best restrained and sensible opinions about the latest outrages from the Cult of Modern Liberalism.

As is always the case, the comments are where you find the interesting bits. This from the NYTimes is a good example:

Religious views about sexuality are inconsistent with the reality that gay people are human beings who deserve the same rights and privileges as other people. The fact that they are sexually attracted to their own gender is clearly biologically based. Gay people have been abused for centuries because of ignorance of biology, and because the majority of straight people, unable to imagine not being straight, assumed that the gay minority was in diabolical cahoots with the prince of darkness, or some other such theological nonsense.

When the religious view of the world congealed centuries ago, it did so based on many wrong assumptions that were the result of profound ignorance of the true origin and nature of human beings. We now know better, and a tipping point has been reached in which people suddenly realized that gay people were not perversions, but were our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and our families.

The answer to every question that Mr. Douthat asks is the same. No person, no gay person, no black person, no female person should be treated with disdain because of their biology. Those who might do so are acting out of ignorance. They will now have to experience the social pain and rejection they they’ve inflicted with impunity on others. They will lose their relevance, their dignity and their tax exemptions. They will become what they have abused and hated. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I will enjoy their pain. But I’ll get over it.

The person who wrote that echoes what was commonly said during the French Revolution about the aristocracy. The person who posted that would be perfectly fine with banning the religions they don’t like even if it meant killing the adherents. That’s always been the point of homosexual marriage, to give moral authority to the wrecking ball smashing through the churches.

You’ll note that “No person, no gay person, no black person, no female person should be treated with disdain because of their biology” explicitly leaves out white males. The person writing that could be male or female, black or white. It really does not matter because they have given themselves over to the cause so thoroughly, they no longer “identify” with their own biology. They are now The Borg.

The restrained and sensible people on the Right who post their replies to people like the commenter I quoted are going to a gun fight with the intent of talking the other side into surrender. It’s why we have gone, in a little over a decade, from “civil unions” to throwing people in jail for “treating the anointed with disdain.”

If you are a church going person, my suggestion to you is this. Disband your church and give up your faith. Run and hide. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, then you better get used to the idea of shooting back – literally. There’s no talking the other side out of their vision of the future, which does not include you.

The Great Realignment

It’s been obvious for a long time now that the American political elite is undergoing a transformation. In the post-war period, the threat of global thermonuclear war froze things in place for a generation or more. One party was the coalition of novus civis, the newly minted members of American society. They were led, of course, by patricians like Roosevelt, but the foot soldiers were the ethnics who had arrived in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The other party was for the patricians. These were the core Americans who were white, Protestant and identified with the old Anglo-Saxon order. This party was, of course, led by patricians, like Rockefeller. Bush and Lodge. Their foot soldiers were the middle-class burghers who dominated the merchant classes.

The sixties saw that come apart as the ethnics became prosperous enough to join the middle-class. Once the ethnics could afford a house in the burbs and send their kids to college, they started to re-think their membership in the Democrat party. Once it was clear that the Progressive wing of that party was ready to start shooting the ethnics, it was not a long walk to the GOP, which is what happened in the 1970’s. The Archies were chased off by the Meatheads.

That’s where things would have stood if not for the end of the Cold War. Fear of a nuclear holocaust forced both parties to police their worst elements. A general agreement in the political class was that dangerous or reckless men must never be in the White House. Kennedy took two in the hat before he could blow up the world and that was as close as anyone was willing to get. The presidents from Kennedy forward may not have been great, but they were not loose cannons or reckless men unwilling to abide by the rules.

That changed when the wall came down. Bill Clinton was and is a vulgar degenerate and quite possibly a sociopath. He was nominated and elected because everyone felt it was safe to indulge in our worst instincts. Similarly, George W Bush was just spite for knocking off his old man eight years prior. Obama was the end of a long Progressive cuckold fantasy about the solution to race problems in America.

This coincides with the changing roles of the parties. The Democrats are now a purely ideological party. They seemed to be wholly disconnected from the normal operations of a political party in a liberal democracy. Obama pushes forward with polices that are not only unpopular, but positively dangerous to the country. For instance, the Middle East is on the brink of a regional war entirely due to his polices, that do nothing to advance American interests.

Coalition parties are the natural home for the religious. That’s why the American model has worked. You could be a Christian and a Democrat or a Jew and Republican. Allegiance to a party was about policy preferences, not group membership. Ideological parties require complete fidelity to the ideology. You can’t be a Progressive, for example, and oppose abortion or sodomy. That’s why Christians have been purged from the Democrat Party over the last two decades.

Jews are about to face the same dilemma, but from a slightly different angle. First there is the issue of Israel. Obama and the Progressives are about to give them the South Africa treatment. You can be sure that the word “apartheid” will be bouncing around the fever swamps and into the liberal press. The Jews are about to be declared the black hats and Netanyahu will be Die Groot Krokodil.

The other issue is the fact they are white, at least from the perspective of the coalition of the dispossessed. The Progressive cult awards piety points based on one’s distance from the evil white man. The typical Jewish male looks like a garden variety white guy to everyone else in the cult. More important, they are closer than the Muslims so the choice is easy, as far as Progressives are concerned.

Its why, ultimately, ideological parties are bad for Jews. There’s simply no getting around the ethnic loyalty problem presented by Jews in an ideological movement. One can stop being a Catholic, a Christian or a Shriner. You’re born a Jew. It’s the only religion that is also an ethnic group. For ideologues, Jews can never be trusted because they can never fully break from being Jewish. As the old Bolshevik saying goes, a man cannot chase two rabbits.

It is tempting to think that the Jews will just follow Archie Bunker over to the GOP. Maybe that will happen. I know a lot of Jews who are repulsed by what they see from the Left. But that assumes the GOP itself is not changing in response to what’s going on with its dance partner. The evidence suggests the GOP is, at the minimum, been destabilized, even as it is the majority party now.

The American system has always worked on the basis of two parties representing competing coalitions. Those coalitions agreed on the big stuff. They disagreed on the small stuff and how best to administer all of it. For the first time we now have a party that explicitly disagrees on the big stuff. In fact, one party appears to be defining itself as explicitly un-American.

The struggles you see with the GOP trying to formulate a response to the behavior of the Democrats is what you would expect from people trying the old tactics only to see them fall flat. The software of the GOP is built for a different age to face a different opponent. That means the GOP will have to change to match the Democrats, but into what?

History does not provide reasons to optimistic.

Our Grim Sterile Future

I saw this posted on on Maggie’s Farm yesterday. What struck me was the images. The future as imagined by our rulers is always the same. Lots of glass and stainless steel. Everything is mechanized and intimidatingly efficient. Most important, it looks better without people.

Imagine those white tile walls and floors marked up by the zig-zag graffiti of the local street gang. Think about the vibrant types lined up in the black hoodies and New York Knicks lids on sideways. The people who imagine these things certainly don’t think about it because in their imagined future, there’s no vibrancy. Everything is monochromatic. It’s Blade Runner after all the bad people have finally been removed from the gene pool.

That’s the thing about what has happened in these hotbeds of gentrification. Social movements arise in response to some problem, real or imagined. The systematic removal from sight of the unwanted by liberal white people is quickly followed by the creating of living space fit for their kind and not the other kind.

The weird fascination with white and stainless, I suspect, part of the subtext of gentrification. There’s also the Potemkin recreations of the glory days of urban life as imagined by modern Progressives. Central Square in Cambridge Mass has be refitted to look like late 60’s Berkley, the last time and place it was cool to be an urban white person.

As I said the other day, the ruling class is developing a language of their own. They are also creating a new aesthetic. The NYC subways will look like Logan’s Run, while the above ground shops will have an ersatz bohemian grittiness. Looming over all of it will be the glass and steel towers. Maybe that’s where they will mount the Eye of Soros.

Death Spirals

Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind

Cannot bear very much reality.

So said Eliot and he was certainly correct. Much of what we take for human culture is an elaborate defense mechanism allowing us to avoid facing the reality of our existence. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with it. Our species has carried on a good while now so there must be something of value to the trait. Still, it is not without its downside.

An example is in this story on US health care.

The Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell, the case challenging the Obama administration’s decision to award tax credits for health insurance sold through federally established exchanges, could turn on the question of whether a ruling that ends the tax credits on federal exchanges might cause something known as a “death spiral” in health insurance markets.

The good news is the answer is probably no, but the bad news is that’s only because the death spiral has probably already started.

A death spiral generally occurs when insurers are forced to raise premiums sharply to pay promised benefits. Higher premiums cause many of the healthiest policyholders, who already pay far more in premiums than they receive in benefits, to drop coverage.

When healthy policyholders drop coverage, it leaves the insurer with little choice but to raise premiums again because they now have a risk pool that is less healthy than before. But another premium increase means many of the healthy people who remained now drop their policies, too, and this continues until the only people willing to pay the now-very-high premiums are those with serious medical conditions.

Europeans, to their credit, have accepted the fact that the laws of supply and demand apply to health care, just as they do every other product and service. That means there must be a rationing mechanism. Europeans prefer their authoritarianism straight so they turn the rationing over the to the state. Americans can’t accept that supply and demand applies to health care so we keep inventing new crackpot schemes that promise to suspend the laws of nature.

Health care reached the point of diminishing returns about fifty years ago. 100 years ago America spent 3% of GDP on health care and people lived to about 60. Today we spend about 15% on health care and people live to about 80. A good portion of that increase in life expectancy is due to better food and less violence. It is axiomatic that as things like health care improve, the cost of further improvement escalates. The marginal return on investment declines.

This is true in all areas of human endeavor. The initial burst of productivity from the Internet was cheap. The phone lines existed and most Americans could read and write. As we have gone on, the cost of further productivity gains have escalated as new infrastructure has to be built out and new skills mastered. Again, this is phenomenon that social science has documented for a long time. Marx, while not framing it the same way, was talking about it in the surplus value of labor theory.

The fact is, we have about as much health care as we need. Until genetics begins to offer up solutions that reset the baselines, spending more on current health care is a negative investment. That’s the defect of the central planning model of Europe. There’s no hope for new technologies to reset the baselines and spur new high return investments. It’s why all the heavy lifting is done in the US these days.

This brings me back to the supply and demand aspect. Rationing is best done by price. People want BMW’s more than they want Dodge Darts and that is reflected in the price. No everyone can have a BMW so the clearing price determines who gets a BMW. In the American health care system, this process is retarded by government intervention. The result is rising prices and diminishing services. That’s the real death spiral, the death spiral of the monopolist.

America has the greatest health care system on earth. It is super cheap, with lots of options and a high degree of customer satisfaction. It is called veterinary medicine. American pets get better health care that 95% of the world population for pennies. The reason is there are few barriers to suppliers so there are many options along the price curve. There’s also incentives to innovate. My Vet has world class lab equipment because it helps attract business.

But, we would rather pamper our pets and starve out children than accept the reality of the human condition.

The Great War Comes to the Middle East

Out of every hundred new ideas ninety-nine or more will probably be inferior to the traditional responses they propose to replace. No one man, however brilliant and well informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his society, for these are the wisdom of generations, after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history.

-Will and Ariel Durant

Reading about the collapse of the Middle East is depressing stuff. Of course, the collapse has been going on for some time. The latest phase is just a continuation of a process that started with the end of the Cold War, which provided a framework for the Arabs to define themselves as separate from the West without rejecting the West. Arab nationalism sprung up after WW2 and was a defining characteristic of the Mohammedan lands for close to fifty years.

The Cold War kept the lid on a lot of problems that we’re rediscovering. One is the fact that the national boundaries in the land of the Muslim are meaningless. The other is that the Mohammedan is incapable of living under anything resembling western style liberalism. Authoritarian rule by hereditary clans is the natural order. Saudi Arabia is the model, not the exception. That may take the form of military dictatorship (Egypt), theocratic dictatorship (Iran) or the palace system in the gulf states.

This reality has been impossible for American elites to accept. Egalitarianism, consumerism and materialism are the three legs of their religion. They looked out over the Muslim world and had the same reaction they get when thinking about Appalachia. The two decade war to set things right in the Muslim world have brought us to the point where region-wide war is the most likely outcome. Yemen is looking like the Balkans of the Persian Gulf.

This old article from the American Thinker offers some useful background.

What is happening in Yemen is symptomatic of the whole Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region. The population was semi-starved until oil production began in the 1980s, when oil production began and wheat imports rose to feed a population doubling every 25 years. The situation now is that oil exports will cease in the next couple of years, the capital is being besieged by rebel groups and Islamists of various types, and groundwater is close to complete depletion because of kat production.

Saudi Arabia has been ponying up to keep the Yemeni population fed. But a day will arrive when the Saudis will be sick of that, or there will simply be no administration on the Yemeni side to handle the aid. The Saudis are still building a 1,100-mile-long fence to keep the Yemenis out. Completion of the border fence will give the Saudis more options on when to stop feeding the Yemenis. The fate of Yemen is to break up into its constituent tribes and for perhaps 90% of the population to starve. That is more than 20 million people and it is likely to happen in the next few years.

The Dissident Right likes to blame the messianic spasm of the Bush years for what has gone wrong in the MENA and they have some points. Bush blowing up Iraq was a foolish decision. You never replace the known with the unknown. That’s what they did when they broke up Iraq. The unknown was an attempt to impose Western democracy on them. Instead they got a sectarian war that rippled through the Muslim world.

The true cause of that ripple is what American planners can never confront. In order to accept that the Arabs do not want and cannot accept the combination of egalitarianism, consumerism and materialism we call “liberalism” calls into the question the very nature of the western project. If “liberalism” is not universal, it is not perfect. If it is not perfect, it can be debated. If it can be debated, it can be rejected at home, as well as abroad. That’s simply impossible so the West refuses to accept the Arabs as Arabs.

The errors of the Bush years could have been patched over without going down this road. The Obama people could have backed a suitable strong man in Iraq, provided the means, money and weapons and then pretended he was just a proto-democrat. That would have allowed the region to fall back into a familiar pattern. Instead, they set off on a course that is strikingly insane. The results thus far are chaos in the Maghreb, particularly Libya. We have a breach with our only reliable ally in the region. Now, it appears our other allies are about to be swept away by Iranian backed lunatics.

Part of this is due to the people in charge. Anyone who has watched a vibrant American city government do business knows the pattern. Today they have policy X. Tomorrow it is policy Y, which is contradictory to policy X. Every day is a new day with new plans, often in conflict of with previous plans. It’s big man government jammed into an Anglo-Saxon political structure.

Another aspect is the central defect of American Progressives. Their singular focus on reaching the promised land leaves a huge blind spot, which the rest of us call the past. They never ask why things are as they are. They just assume the current arrangements happened randomly and therefore they are free to re-arrange them in pursuit of current fads. It’s why their cult ends up murdering people. They can’t imagine why the people are not going along with the new scheme so they assume it is malice. What else could it be?

In the case of the Middle East, Team Obama started with a policy of reversing the Bush policy, because Bush was Hitler and bad so they had to reverse all that. That meant abandoning Iraq to the Iranians. Then it meant undermining the despots in the Maghreb. Of course, they ramped up our involvement in Afghanistan for no other reason than the Bush people did not want to do it. The result was six years of fighting for no reason.

Once they ran out of Bush polices to reverse, they set out to re-arrange the region as if they were starting with a blank sheet. They looked at the alliance of Israel, Saudi Arabia, the GCC and Jordan and decided this did not make sense to them. if they could start over, they would have an alliance with Iran as the regional hegemonic power, with Iraq as the second. Why this is preferred is unknown to me. Shia are the minority sect in Islam so maybe that’s the connection. It will be an alliance of the oppressed. Who knows?

The result is this all out push to make a deal with Iran, no matter the cost. So far the cost is a breach with Israel and Saudi Arabia. The general destabilization of the region is a direct result of America suddenly changing sides. The fact that the president’s team is acting with the consistency of the Detroit city council only adds confusion to the mix. As a result, we are on the brink of all out war in the region. The price of incompetence in the White House could turn out to be very high if the House of Saud is toppled or Israel strikes Iran.

The Math of Amnesty

The last amnesty was thirty years ago and has been shoved down the memory hole. You never hear pols talk about it. The press never asks about it, largely due to the fact they are too stupid to understand it. That and the lessons of the last amnesty reflect poorly on the current push to pass another one. Everything about American public life operates like a marketing campaign so the facts are flexible.

The most important lesson from that last amnesty is that the numbers presented by the government will be wildly underestimated. When it was passed, the pols said the high number for amnesty was a million. It turned out to be 3.2 million. This was not due to deception. It was ignorance. The people writing these bills rely on lobbyists who lie on spec. Just listen to the current presidential candidates talk and it is clear they don’t know the first thing about the topic.

There’s also the bias against frank talk. The political class is convinced they must lie to the public in order to avoid getting in trouble. It is not without merit. No one likes the bearer of bad news so if you’re in the vote getting business it is a good idea to avoid delivering bad news. Mass communications and modern behavior science techniques have us swimming in a sea of deception now, but that’s a topic for another day.

The point is we have a complicated subject that is not a lot of fun for the sensitive types who dominate our public debates. Add in the bias to paint a smiley face on everything and the only things we hear from our rulers are based on the best case scenario. Bearing that in mind take a look at some of the numbers in this Pew study.

In a reflection of changes in the overall economy since the Great Recession, the U.S. unauthorized immigrant workforce now holds fewer blue-collar jobs and more white-collar ones than it did before the 2007-2009 recession, but a solid majority still works in low-skilled service, construction and production occupations, according to new Pew Research Center estimates.

The size of the unauthorized immigrant labor force did not change from 2007 to 2012, but its makeup shifted slightly. The number of unauthorized immigrants in management or professional related jobs grew by 180,000, while the number in construction or production jobs fell by about 475,000, mirroring rises and declines in the overall U.S. economy. The share of all unauthorized immigrant workers with management and professional jobs grew to 13% in 2012 from 10% in 2007, and the share with construction or production jobs declined to 29% from 34%.

Despite these shifts, unauthorized immigrant workers remain concentrated in lower-skill jobs, much more so than U.S.-born workers, according to the new estimates, which are based on government data. In 2012, 62% held service, construction and production jobs, twice the share of U.S.-born workers who did. The 13% share with management or professional jobs is less than half of the 36% of U.S.-born workers in those occupations.

Unauthorized immigrants made up 5.1% of the nation’s labor force in 2012, numbering 8.1 million who were working or looking for work, according to previously published Pew Research estimates (Passel and Cohn, 2014). But as this new analysis shows, they account for a far higher share of the total workforce in specific jobs, notably farming (26%), cleaning and maintenance (17%), and construction (14%).

Now, there’s no way of knowing the exact number of illegal aliens. Pew is estimating the numbers from Census figures. It’s not perfect, but it gives us a clue as to how many people will be seeking amnesty. If we assume that at least some of these people are married and some of those have children, the 8.1 million figure is the absolute low end. The final number will be higher, but how high?

The easy thing to do is look at the last amnesty. If they were off by a factor of three the last time, we’re looking at close to 25 million this time. The last time they based the one million figure on total illegal population, not just those working. That means the 25 million could very well be a low estimate as well.

Then we have the fact that amnesty will invite swarms of new immigrants. This is exactly what happened in the 80’s. The hint of it last summer resulted in the Children’s Crusade that saw thousands of kids brought over the border by slavers. Immigrants know the rules better than the government officials so they will not pass up a shot to bypass all the rules and get that precious green card and the welfare benefits that go with it.

Then there is fraud. The current system is designed to fail. If you try to work the system honestly, you will wait in line for a decade to get in the country. The vast complexity invites fraud from both sides. The immigrants want to game the system rather than wait in line. The hacks in the bureaucracy just want to push paper around without breaking a sweat. The result is lots of fraud.

My own sense is Bush will collude with Boehner and McConnell to pass an amnesty of some sort. They will have to couch it in different terms and tart it up with phoney-baloney enforcement language. The result will be the same. We will see 30-40 million foreigners handed citizenship papers by the end of the decade.

You better get working on your Spanish, esé.

Maximus! Maximus! Maximus!

San Francisco Sheriff’s Deputy ring accused of pit-fighting inmates

San Francisco sheriff’s deputy Scott Neu is accused of leading a ring of corrupt jail guards who coerced prisoners into gladiatorial combat with threats of rape and violence.

Neu serves at County Jail No. 4 at 850 Bryant St despite having settled claims that he raped a woman prisoner and two transgendered prisoners while working at the jail. He sports a tattoo reading “850 Mob,” believed to describe the name used by the corrupt deputies to describe themselves. At least four other deputies are implicated in the program of sexualized torture.

The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office had undertaken an investigation into Neu’s behavior, in cooperation with an independent private investigator, and had planned to issue their report only after the prisoners who came forward were released and safe from retaliatory violence. However, Neu had reportedly planned a fresh round of fights, leading to a hasty release of their findings.

Neu and his co-conspirators gambled on the outcome of fights. One fight pitted the smallest inmate in the jail against the largest, and the fighters say they were threatened with rape and beatings by the guards if they didn’t spar. Neu is also said to have coerced prisoners into training for the fights with threats of rape and violence. Neu has a reputation for sadistic practices overall, including making prisoners gamble to receive their food, clothes and comfort items. Even when prisoners won the games Neu forced on them with the red dice and the deck of cards he carried, he would sometimes take away their “winnings” and give them to other prisoners.

The Deputies’ Union attorney Harry Stern claims the Public Defender is making a big deal out of nothing. He says that the prisoners were encouraged to “wrestle to settle disputes about who was stronger,” and were “encouraged” to work out. He dismissed the entire affair as “little more than horseplay.”

The rape business is the great unspoken horror in modern America. The number of prison rapes of men is higher than all female rapes. It is a barbaric aspect of the prison system that is quietly and not so quietly tolerated. Think of all the times you’ve heard someone make a joke about a guy getting raped in prison.

The other aspect of our prisons that does not get mentioned is the guards. Most prison guards are sadists. Many are criminals. It’s the most obvious example of how poorly we handle the criminal class in America.

Managerial Meta Language

The only time I ever read David Brooks is when the usual suspects are cooing over one of his columns. Brooks fills the William Safire chair at the Times. That means he fills the role of non-liberal commenter, but always avoiding anything that may vex his paymasters. His job is to put a little shine on their otherwise dreary conventional liberalism.

Since most of what’s important has been ruled off-limits, Brooks has to root around for something about which he can write in a non-liberal way. I don’t think you can call Brooks a conservative. He’s more of a faculty lounge elitist. He may think his coevals are nuts, but he’ll take them over this guy any day.

Last week he had this up and for some reason people were discussing it. Here is the opening graph:

Several years ago, Doug Lemov began studying videos of excellent teachers. He focused not on their big strategies but on their microgestures: How long they waited before calling on students to answer a question (to give the less confident students time to get their hands up); when they paced about the classroom and when they stood still (while issuing instructions, to emphasize the importance of what’s being said); how they moved around the room toward a student whose mind might be wandering.

This is classic Brooks. He starts with a reference to some obscure guy tickling the feet of managerial class types. Then he touches on the high points so you believe he has spent a lot of time on the subject and then it is off to the usual stuff about the usual stuff. That means lots of catch phrases and new age word combinations.

The managerial class is adopting their own meta-language. I blame the MBA schools for most of it, but it has an internal momentum now. For example, later in the piece he writes:

Since it is easier to think deductively, most people try to turn cloud problems into clock problems, but a few people are able to look at a complex situation, grasp the gist and clarify it by naming what is going on.

Such people tend to possess negative capacity, the ability to live with ambiguity and not leap to premature conclusions. They can absorb a stream of disparate data and rest in it until they can synthesize it into one trend, pattern or generalization.

I have a 1% IQ and I have no idea what he is getting at, at least with any certainty. Maybe he means that some people are big idea guys and others are “make the big ideas work” guys. The phrase “negative capacity” is a phrase without meaning, at least in English.

We can all think of many other skills that are especially valuable right now:

Making nonhuman things intuitive to humans. This is what Steve Jobs did.

This is classic signalling. We’re suppose to believe that before Steve Jobs, we were all staggering around like zombies, banging into one another.

Purpose provision. Many people go through life overwhelmed by options, afraid of closing off opportunities. But a few have fully cultivated moral passions and can help others choose the one thing they should dedicate themselves to.

I’m at a loss as to what this is supposed to mean.

Opposability. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” For some reason I am continually running across people who believe this is the ability their employees and bosses need right now.

I doubt Brooks knows many plumbers or computer programmers. In fields where there is a tangible work product, holding the right answer in mind is what the boss needs right now.

Cross-class expertise. In a world dividing along class, ethnic and economic grounds some people are culturally multilingual. They can operate in an insular social niche while seeing it from the vantage point of an outsider.

Is it possible for someone to be more insular than David Brooks and his coevals at the Times? Even monks in a monastery mix it up with the hoi polloi more than the trust fund babies at the Times.

When I started this post, I was going to riff on the general crackpottery about new ways of thinking, but the weird use of language got me side tracked. If you are ever in a room with these people, it is like being the one zebra without stripes. But, that’s the point. You’re not supposed to feel like you belong unless you belong.

We are in the consolidation phase now. The managerial class is closing ranks and blowing the bridges and tunnels connecting them with the rest of us. If you find yourself on the wrong side of the river when the bridge is blown, you’re left behind. That’s why the people who read David Brooks read David Brooks. They need to know which way the herd is going. Maybe the Canadians have the right idea.