Friday, June 15, 2012

But It's a Proud, Family-Owned Brothel

PPP: Sixty-six percent of Nevada Republicans support legalized brothels (same percentage as Democrats), but only 20% of them support same-sex marriage. Now that's some family values!

Obama Lets Them Work

In a bold new pronouncement, President Obama has decided to stop deporting most illegal immigrants who came to the US as children, don't pose a criminal or security threat, and either did well in school or served in the military. In other words, people who already are for all intents and purposes not just Americans, but Americans we're lucky to have.

Republicans were predictably outraged ("predictable" both because they substantively oppose immigration reform and because they're outraged at anything Obama does). Haley Barbour did warn his party-mates not "demonize" illegal immigrants, which likely means Haley Barbour is about to be bitterly disappointed.

We should be clear: This does not replace the necessity of the DREAM Act (it doesn't provide a path to citizenship, merely work permits), but it is a good first step at both humane treatment of these persons, and for strengthening America via their contributions to our society.

If Only Jews Were Dumber....

This year's Jennifer Rubin award for conservative Jews who hate American Jews goes to ... Barry Rubin! It's a Rubin-to-Rubin handoff!

Like Jennifer, Barry Rubin is trying to answer the vexing question as to why Jews support liberals like Barack Obama. His consternation over the question is in inverse correlation to its difficulty: Simply put, Jews are liberal. Take a voting bloc that's 90% pro-choice, 70% pro-gay marriage, 60% pro-union, and 66% in favor of tax hikes on the rich, (not to mention strong supporters of a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict -- unlike the Republican Party) and yeah -- tough nut for Republicans to crack.

But Rubin eschews the obvious "liberals prefer liberals" analysis in favor of basically saying Jews are a bunch of dupes
Propaganda: As highly educated and literate people, Jews are more heavily impacted by schools, universities, and mass media that are engaged in indoctrination or highly concerted efforts to campaign for Obama and his ideas. By the same token, Jews as a whole tend to give higher credibility to the fairness of media and academia.

Camouflage: The concealment of Obama’s radicalism and that of those supporting his ideology as supposed liberals plays into Jewish reverence for liberalism.

Obama’s persona: While the notion of Obama as a “Jewish president” is absurd, its appeal to some does in fact have a material basis. His image as an apparently highly educated, supposedly intellectual, superficially sophisticated, cosmopolitan personality fits with majority Jewish preferences.

Jews like superficial sophistication and faux-intellectualism (and weirdly are willing to view someone with a Harvard law degree as "highly educated"). But if only we weren't so literate and educated, we'd be less prone to base our opinions on suspect sources like "media" or "academia", instead favoring more credible ones like Barry Rubin, Glenn Beck, or the semi-literate ravings of local talk radio hosts.

You know your argument is in trouble when it basically boils down "the problem is Jews aren't dumb enough to dislike Obama."

(Rubin also talks a bit about Jews' relationship with race and racial issues. It's pretty garbled -- boiling down to "Jews have a compulsion to appear anti-racist" -- and not all that helpful. For a better discussion, read Eric Goldberg's The Price of Whiteness, reviewed by me here).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Quote of the Year

Sally Quinn's essay blaming the fall of bipartisanship on the lack of DC dinner parties (with a healthy dose of damn kids these days) is being roundly mocked by just about anyone. But Jon Chait takes the cake when he digs up a gem of what Quinn considered to be the good old days:
Washington writer Sally Quinn told of a 1950s reception where: “My mother and I headed for the buffet table. As we were reaching for the shrimp, both of us jumped and let out a shriek. Senator Strom Thurmond, grinning from ear to ear, had one hand on my behind and the other on my mother’s. As I recall, we were both quite flattered, and thought it terribly funny and wicked of Ol’ Strom.”

To which Chait sums up:
Once Washington was a happy place where a girl and her mother could be groped simultaneously in good fun by a white supremacist. Sadly, it has all been ruined by Kim Kardashian and Ezra Klein.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

And Yet Somehow They'll Survive

Wesleyan University has made some waves by announcing it is abandoning need-blind admission. In effect, this means it will give some amount of preference towards wealthier applicants (how much is probably indeterminate). In other words, affirmative action for rich kids.

Now a lot of you will be up in arms about how unfair this is to students of lower socio-economic backgrounds. But I think we need to look to another set of victims: the wealthy students themselves. As beneficiaries of affirmative action, we have to ask -- are they mismatched above their level? Does giving them special preferences stigmatize them, creating the soft bigotry of low expectations? I mean, even wealthy students who could get in without the "boost" are tainted by the policy -- everyone will be left wondering if they got in on the strength of their merit or their bank account.

These are the questions precisely no one will be asking, because the students are not racial minorities and thus there is no need to concern-troll about them. But since I'm guessing that, given the resources and knowledge base available to these applicants, they don't see attending Wesleyan as an exercise in self-sabotage -- well, maybe it isn't so bad for other people who benefit from affirmative action but aren't already advantaged?

Defending a Racist: The Drinking Game

You ever had a conversation with someone hell-bent on defending a racist (him/herself or someone else)? There are some predictable moves they'll make -- and by "predictable" I mean "virtually all of these conversations could track my anti-discrimination syllabus class-for-class". So I figured, if I'm going to be driven to suicide by these idiots, I may as well go down via drinking game. But let's be clear -- actually playing this game? Will kill you. Nobody's tolerance is high enough.

That said -- here are the rules! Note that I'm using "Black" as my stand-in minority group, but you can substitute pretty freely (Jews, gays, Latinos -- try it, it's fun!). And feel free to add your own rules in the comments.

* * *

"I don't have a prejudiced bone in my body." (1 sip)

"I asked him and he said he wasn't racist." (2 sips. But if he says "let's ask him and see if he admits he's racist," replace alcohol with juice because he's too naive to be older than 11 and you're in for a long night)

"I think he's really brave to even ask these questions." (1 sip)

"Oh there you go, playing the 'race card'" (1 sip, 3 sips if you haven't actually called the person racist yet, 5 sips if you haven't even spoken yet)

"So I guess anytime someone criticizes a Black man, it's 'racist'?" (1 sip)

"CRITICIZING AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IS NOT RACIST." (1 sip, 3 sips if nobody's arguing that all such criticisms -- as opposed to this particular criticism -- are. Which is to say, 3 sips).

"I'm not saying I agree with everything he says, but he makes some astute points" (1 sip to start, 2 sips if he won't say which things he disagrees with, 3 sips if he won't say which parts he agrees with, and down the bottle if the "astute point" is "Blacks were better off enslaved"/"Jews do run the world"/"gays are basically an armada of child molesters")

"But I have Black friends/family!" (1 sip) "...and they agree with me!" (another sip)

"Not every Black person agrees with you!" (1 sip)

"You're the real racist...." (1 sip)
".... for thinking about race so much" (1 sip)
".... for even thinking race is a thing" (1 sip)
".... for holding yourself out as different. Why do you think you're better than the rest of us, huh?" (down the bottle)

"You're just afraid of hard truths. Stop being so PC!" (2 sips)

"I'm just asking questions okay? Stop being so defensive!" (1 sip) ".... do you have something to hide?" (another sip)

"Oh, so I need a lifetime of study before I opine about your group?" (2 sips, but down the bottle if it would have taken less than an hour of "study" to know what was said was idiotic).

"It is true! I know because ..."
"... I read it on the internet" (1 sip)
"... my Black friend said so." (1 sip)
"... well, everyone knows that it's true." (3 sips)
[multiply drinks x2 if what's "true" is a well-known urban legend/conspiracy theory; x3 if upon being informed of that the response is "sure, that's what the Mossad wants you to think."]


"Who made you the knowledge/PC police? What makes you so sure you know what you're talking about" (1 sip if you're a member of the group under attack, and/or 1 sip if you actually do have an academic or professional specialty in the topic under discussion).

"I'm not saying racism is okay, but I understand it given that Black people do [whatever]." (1 sip)

"I don't have a problem with Black people. I have a problem with ...." (1 sip, but brace yourself)
"... their music, clothing, and culture." (1 sip)
"... the 80% of them who disagree with me." (2 sips)
"... institutions populated primarily by Black people." (3 sips)
"... the uppity ones." (down the bottle)


Some more:

"All I'm saying is how about a White History Month for a change?" (1 sip -- thanks Bill)

"You see racists behind every bush." (1 sip, add another if they accuse you of it being a hobby)

"Louis Farrakhan exists. Therefore...." (1 sip)
".... until you condemn him to my satisfaction, shut up." (2 sips)
".... racism is totally justified." (2 sips)
".... anybody who talks about racism is Louis Farrakhan" (down the bottle)
[x2 if Farrakhan is replaced with Jesse Jackson, x3 if he's replaced with Kanye West]

"So I guess Black people are perfect in every way?" (2 sips)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What's Not Being Said

Ta-Nehisi Coates is not the only one savaging a new study purporting to question whether the children of "gay parents" (very, very loosely defined -- see below) experience negative consequences (John Corvino shreds it in a very satisfying manner), but he gets extra points for stating something important in a more general sense: "Too often, people wave the flag of 'difficult truths' and 'un-PC' as though merely saying something unpopular is somehow a kind of thinking." It was something Coates also pointed out as a persistent weakness of Andrew Sullivan, and having just been informed by Johnny Argent about how "brave" Gilad Atzmon is for daring "to even question the value of Abrahamic brainwashing," it's worth reiterating.

Meanwhile, as to the study itself, I'm not an empiricist, so I have a simple rule of the thumb for appraising empirical studies. If I can spot the methodological flaws, then it's probably a pretty weak study. And here -- oh boy here -- do we have a doozy. Normally, when doing a study like this, you try to hold as many variables as possible constant. So if your control is the children of stable heterosexual couples, you compare them to the children of stable homosexual couples, and see what happens.

But here, the study takes on the one hand the children of "intact biological families", and pairs them against the children of anyone whose parents has ever had any same-sex sexual interaction, ever. Aside from the fact that this includes persons who remain in an intact biological family (capturing anything from a bout of college experimentation to a Ted Haggard-style drug-fueled prostitution binge), it by design doesn't standardize family settings -- it's an ideal heterosexual family paired against a cottage pie of gay (and not gay) life situations. That's the sort of gaping error that makes one wonder how this thing got past peer-review.

Everyday Citizens

The nation of Sweden tried an experiment with its official twitter feed: handing it off to a random Swede each week. Sounds like a fun, funky idea -- until one of them spent her week asking about those strange Jew-people she's heard so much about.

You know, say what you will about Americans, but we're smart enough to know in advance that a similar project with random American citizens would end in similar disaster.

Meanwhile, I am in agreement with those who say that the list of messages isn't hostile or anti-Semitic, just profoundly clueless. But still -- not exactly a shining moment. (Via WWPD).

Monday, June 11, 2012


Money is important in election. You can use it to fund local offices which can door-knock to promote your candidacy. A little more and you can purchase television ads, to persuade voters via the power of vague testimonials and grainy footage of your opponent. A little more than that, and you can use it to purchase your own television network and just have them promote you 24/7:
Former Gov. Linda Lingle (R) today launched her own cable television channel, which is dedicated solely to providing information about her Senate campaign and the issues facing Hawaii.

LL2012 can be found on digital channel 110 for Oceanic Time Warner subscribers. According to the cable company, this is the first time a U.S. political candidate has used a dedicated cable channel, the campaign said.

I don't even know what to say. My first question is how much material can she even have to fill up an entire channel? My second question is what are we coming to as a nation?

Via DK Elections.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pacquiao/Bradley: The Breakdown

A lot of nothing from me over the past few days (my mom came out to visit), so it's only fitting that silence with a post on topic you all love: boxing! Specifically, last night's Pacquiao/Bradley card.

Cards on the table time: I was watching with friends so I didn't formally score the fight. I thought Pacquiao won. Everyone watching with me thought Pacquiao won. But while I was watching I did not think it was the one-sided drubbing that HBO was making it out to be. And I recall six rounds (from memory they were 1, 5, and 9-12) where I thought to myself "I can see an argument for Bradley in that round." Does that mean I thought all of those rounds should have necessarily been scored for Bradley? Nope. Does it mean that I thought they were the only conceivable rounds one could have scored for Bradley? Not necessarily. But as I said, I still came out with the assumption and belief that Manny Pacquiao won the fight.

So what happened? Let's break down some possibilities. But before we begin, let's break down why it is we all think Pacquiao won the fight.

The case for Pacquiao

It's weird to have to defend a result that everyone thinks is correct. But it makes for a good starting point for looking at the Bradley apologias, and it's productive for me to run through in my head why I thought Pacquiao deserved the nod. So here it goes: The only punches of meaning were landing by Pacquiao (the straight left hand). He landed more punches and harder punches, generally a winning combination, while Bradley may not have landing a single meaningful punch all fight. While someone like Timothy Bradley is never going to stop trying, by the middle of the fight he did start to look desperate, coming in wild and winging shots. Pacquiao for the most part executed his game plan and got Bradley to fight his fight.

Nor was it the case that Pacquiao dazzled in some rounds but quietly gave away others. With the possible exception of the 11th, there was not a single round that Pacquiao didn't have a solid case for winning. One could plausibly argue that a Pacquiao shutout was more in range of what transpired than a Bradley decision.


This is always close to the lips of irate boxing fans. I'm always skeptical, possibly out of naivete -- I'm not close to the dark underbelly of boxing to know what "really" happens down there, so I blissfully tell myself corruption is a thing of the past (I also think it's easy enough for various cognitive biases to generally slant outcomes towards favored fighters without having to resort to corruption).

The corruption claims right now are centered on three points: (1) Unconfirmed accounts that Pacquiao was thinking of leaving Top Rank, and this was Bob Arum's way of punishing him, (2) The idea that Pacquiao was aging out and Top Rank wanted to launch a new, younger, American star in Timothy Bradley, and (3) The belief that this sets up a lucrative rematch between the two -- especially important given that Pacquiao was running out of credible opponents not named "Mayweather" or "Marquez", neither of whom Arum wants to work with.

In terms of Arum's response itself, I don't give much weight either to his fulminations about the sport being disgraced in the post-fight presser, nor his all-smiles presentation when talking to Bradley after the fight. The latter could be just politeness (Arum's not going to get in the face and scream at his own fighter right after the decision about the injustice of it), and the former is just basic political self-preservation given the popular reaction to the fight.

As I said, I tend not to think corruption is in play. But people are talking about it, and that's never a good thing.

Count to seven

On the other extreme from corruption, the simplest explanation for the result is that the judges found 7 rounds that they thought Bradley won. One interesting thing I've observed in reading the reactions to the fight is that while essentially everyone is saying "there are 3, maybe 4 rounds one could give to Bradley tops", there is widespread disagreement on what those rounds are. In fact, I've seen almost every round in the fight cited by someone or another as a "possible" Bradley round (in the course, again, of denying the possibility that he won more than 4). So if there's an argument to be made for all those rounds, well, string seven such arguments together and you have a Bradley win.

Is that "good" judging? Not necessarily -- I think the sour taste in our mouths comes from the sense that one has to reach to give Bradley these rounds, and one should not over and over reach to give the same fighter rounds. But it's there in a way that doesn't necessarily imply abject incompetence.

Upward mobility

Do you know what this fight reminded me of most when I was watching it? Bradley/Lamont Peterson. In that fight, Lamont Peterson fought hard, and well, and never looked like he was being blown out of the ring or anything. It's just that Tim Bradley was consistently better, and so was handily winning the fight. It seemed like the sort of fight that was obviously a Bradley win, possibly by shutout, but one in which shutout scores wouldn't really do justice to the effort put forward by the losing fighter. And I think that's what I lot of folks thought about this fight -- a convincing Pacquiao victory, but one in which he had to work harder than lopsided cards might suggest.

Okay, now, put yourself in the heads of the judges. For the first half of the fight, they're basically thinking the same thing we are: Pacquiao is winning, but not utterly dominating -- it's not like Bradley is out of the fight. So in their heads (even if subconsciously), when close rounds come up they're leaning towards scoring the bout in a way that matches their general instinct of Pacquiao in control but not walking of his man -- up 5-1 or 4-2 (I'm not saying this good judging practice -- I'm trying to make a psychological explanation for what's going on). And halfway through the fight, all three judges had Pacquiao winning (59-55 and 58-56 twice). I think if those scores had been announced after round six, none of us would have been bursting a blood vessel over it -- we'd say "okay, they found two rounds to give to Bradley."

Then we get to the second half of the fight, in which Bradley fought much better, and (more importantly) each round was better for Bradley than the one before. Judges start to see he's coming on strong, push a round his way. The next round is even better for Bradley than the one before, so you got to give him that one too. And again. And again, all the way down the back stretch of the fight.

The fact is that Bradley dominated the cards over the second half the fight -- he won 5 of 6 rounds on two cards and 4 of 6 on the third. Did he really win all those rounds? No. But you give him the first couple of rounds because the fight "feels competitive", then the next few because they were better than the ones you already gave him, then the last couple that he legitimately did win -- and suddenly you're holding a Bradley decision.

Again, I'm not saying "and thus, Tim Bradley legitimately won the fight". I'm trying to break down what I think might have actually gone on in the heads of three very experienced judges to make the result the way it was. This last story is the one that I think is most likely, and note what drives it -- not corruption, not incompetence, but not "judge each round individually" either. It's a set of cognitive biases that here happened to work strongly in Tim Bradley's advantage. That doesn't make it fair or right -- it makes it something to be attentive to.

* * *

The rest of the night

* Was the Randall Bailey/Mike Jones fight a microcosm of Randall Bailey or what? He does nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing ... BOOM right hand floors Jones. Then Jones gets up to control most of the 11th, before BOOM right uppercut obliterates him. It was a stunning one-punch knockout and further solidifies the legend of Randall Bailey as one of the all-time most concussive punchers in the sport. It is unreal the amount of power he packs in that one hand.

* Bizarre ending to the Arce/Rojas fight deprived us of what was shaping up to be a barn-burner. While I am quite willing to call the ending "freakish" as Lampley did, one of my friends watching argued against by pointing out that "a bolt of lightning is freakish. This fight ended with Arce being punched in the face, which is well within the realm of what I expected." Okay, touche. And rematch please?

* Guillermo Rigondeaux is so insanely good. It's not that Teon Kennedy is anything special, because he's not, but still five knockdowns in five rounds is pretty amazing. But more than that is how easy Rigondeaux makes it look -- he just gives off the impression he can do whatever he wants in there. The knockdowns themselves are less about raw, Randall Bailey-esque power and more just perfect timing and precision -- I don't know if I've ever seen a more accurate puncher. And on the rare occasions that Kennedy was able to force an exchange, that accuracy didn't go away -- Rigondeaux is blessed with an ability (shared by Pacquiao and Marquez, among others) to throw hard, accurate shots consistently in the middle of what look from the outside to be wild exchanges. He is the real deal, and I hope he gets a fight against the division's elite because I want to see him against the best.

* Max Kellerman was pretty dickish in his interviews tonight. It was annoying. But one thing I give Kellerman credit for when he's in the booth is that he does sometimes, quietly, try to derail Jim Lampley from running wild with "the narrative of the fight". That's one of Lampley's great weaknesses as a broadcaster, and while I've never heard Kellerman successfully convince Lampley to change his mind mid-fight, it's good for the viewers that we have a voice giving an alternative take.