Dear Gato,

The meeting went well. The remake business is thriving. It makes superb financial sense.

I never thought I”€™d say that. Then again, I never, ever thought I”€™d buy a condo in Rosarito. A high-rise apartment in a half-built development beside an infamously foul town twenty miles south of Tijuana. 

You recall Rosarito? We spent an endless thirsty afternoon there waiting on the man? Well, it also attracts American students on spring break. Students from southwestern schools, with budgets too small to fly someplace, they come in droves. The ocean is murky and hostile: no swimming. Instead: drinking. Overweight girls vomiting. Guys funneling alcohol down to the hotel floor below them. Skanky girls wanting it; only wanting it recorded on their phone video, their only condition. They”€™re dead serious about it. You know Girls Gone Wild? Well, these party animals have taken control of the means of production! The often illegal northbound traffic, passing Rosarito on Highway 1. One must accept the ever-vigilant, unsympathetic attention of the local police”€”and federales everywhere”€”a consequence of the crime or danger level. Nowadays nobody goes down there for the weekend.

At the entrance and exit to Rosarito there lies a roadblock, complete with guardhouses, high and low, and barriers which remain down at all times. Also spikes at the exit, designed to shred the tires of any car driving through unpermitted or merely in a hurry. 

It’s enough to make one feel terrorized. One small mistake, as happened to me, and your car is brought to an abrupt and painful stop. The awful sound of the car wheels”€™ metal hubs scraping the tarmac, sparks flying. The engine nearly has a heart attack. It’s especially painful if you”€™re driving a vintage automobile”€”in my case, a champagne-colored 1983 BMW 635CSi, AKA “€œthe shark”€ by those in the know.

“€œWhat is America without Mexico? It’s the yang to our yin.”€

The car was never the same, even with new wheels. That’s not all. With this mood of terror”€”it’s Homeland Security, only Mexican style”€”comes the entitled arrogance of men in uniform. The widespread corruption and exploitation of many who enter the recreational, yet fortified, zona of Rosarito. There’s no escaping, not without explanation. I guess the students and I had forgotten there was a serious war going on. It’s the war on drug cartels across Mexico, initiated by former President Felipe Calderon. A war more vicious than Iraq and Afghanistan combined. The death toll stands at nearly 100,000 narco-related murders since 2006, when the war exploded. Why would I want to buy a place here?

It seemed”€”it still seems”€”like the spell of death has seduced both soldiers and mercenaries working for the cartels, confronting the right of law with the redress of death. Choose between silver and lead, bribe or bullet. We”€™ve seen it on CNN but the reality is closer than we realize. A trusted source tells me the going rate for a hit in Guatemala is around $15. Human lives are bargaining chips in this war. Life is so cheap, they are counted in multiples. Look at the news stories. It’s always a massacre of many”€”of five, ten people”€”on top of the singular cases of disappearance. The erasure of all anatomical parts thrown in a barrel of acid and left for twenty-four hours. I”€™ve seen the videos. I advise you not to watch them.

The culture of death and vainglory is so repulsive and yet so powerful. It’s not for me to explore. Charles Bowden is the greatest commentator on the war raging on our border and occasionally spilling over onto US territory. Item: that jet-ski murder on the lake in Texas. One of Bowden’s chilling books, written with Noam Chomsky and titled Juarez: The Laboratory of our Future, examines the meeting of cheap labor, international corporate jurisdiction, crime, no policing, and the financial power and authority of the narcos. He tells how it is to live in the most dangerous city on the planet. In Juarez alone, over five thousand women have been murdered or have simply vanished without one of their cases being solved. In the global economy they don”€™t add up to much.

The USA is the biggest consumer, accounting for 50% of the global drug market. The global drug market is estimated at $500 billion a year. The trade counts for over 1% of total global trade. A country whose output exceeds 1% of global GDP qualifies as a macroeconomic force, some economists say. The economic output of drug trafficking is undeniable. Why isn”€™t it taxed?

The dark side of Mexico draws one in all too easily. While intrigued by ancient Indian tribes, by traces of the Zapotec in the three valleys of Oaxaca, I admit the current narco spectacle is a joyless kind of voyeurism. The past, though, was just as violent. I can”€™t shake the feeling that violence past and present is connected in Mexico right now. The Aztec spirits are alive? 

Rosarito…it’s not Capri. Architecturally, it’s hideous. Hieronymus Bosch meets McDonald’s. Yet it doesn”€™t pretend to be anything other. And the locals”€”Nazis in uniform excepted”€”are cheeky and likable. They accept that they live in a place that’s somewhat ill at ease, be it for good times, for oblivion, or for escape. Don”€™t underestimate the archaic lure upon the North American psyche of “€œsouth of the border.”€ A fantasy of a different life, “€œdown Mexico way,”€ the dream of starting over. Much of this fantasy is a byproduct of movies. 

You might say the umbilical cord between Mexico and the USA was never completely cut. George Friedman”€”CEO of the controversial private intelligence company Stratfor”€”predicts a US-Mexican war starting in 2060. His premise bears on the question of secession and more so on the contemporary colonization of the USA by the Mexican people, reaching critical demographic mass by 2060. Mexico, already touted as having a high-growth economy, will strengthen its military and necessitate an assault on parts of the USA to flex Mexico’s muscle over any tensions between the two nations. 

The US wins, by the way. What is America without Mexico? It’s the yang to our yin. It’s hell in certain places, yes. Item: Juarez. Yet we can”€™t live without it. The late writer Roberto Bolaño focused thirty percent of his masterpiece, 2666, on those anonymous serial killings committed around Juarez. The novelist himself researched the unsolved cases as painstakingly as a detective. In so doing he grappled with the idea of Mexican evil”€”or, as he implies, the absence of good when confronted with evil.

Affirmative action: a beast no one dares kill “”€ From Jim Crow to Jim
Snow “”€ Gay trumps black in California “”€ Zimmerman “trial” witnesses
forget their lines “”€ Cracker trouble “”€ Ladies and gentlemen, the next
President of the United States! “”€ Death by political correctness “”€
Happy July Fourth, everyone!

James O’Keefe’s new book Breakthrough is a spine-tingling true-crime thriller about the quest for truth in the age of media obfuscation. I love reading Coulter and Mark Steyn, but they don’t get out much.

O’Keefe and his organization Project Veritas are out there on the front lines recording the corruption live. The book begins with James in jail wearing an orange jumpsuit and wondering what the fuck just happened. We soon learn that the James O’Keefe we’ve been spoon-fed by the media is not even close to the real person and that the things we’re told he did aren’t even close to what really happened. O’Keefe recorded events and released the footage in full to the public, yet he’s called a liar while his detractors make up stories about him that are accepted as fact. As usual, what you read in the paper is the opposite of what’s really happening. I recently interviewed O’Keefe, and here are ten misconceptions about Project Veritas’s renegade reporting. 

In 2008, James contacted Planned Parenthood and asked if he could donate money specifically to visible minorities in order to encourage their abortions. They said yes.
Detractors say: This was an isolated incident and immediately after the visit, the employee called his superiors.
James’s defense: “The ‘isolated incident’ defense is the most common one. So is the ‘low-level employee’ defense. In this case, they couldn’t use the latter because the vice president was on board. The truth is, Planned Parenthood was founded as a racist organization and it focuses on black areas. Founder Margaret Sanger was tied to the eugenics movement and said we need ‘drastic and Spartan’ measures to stop an ‘ever increasing army of undersized, stunted, and dehumanized slaves.’ She also said, ‘We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.’ All we did was show that things over there haven’t changed much.”

“The James O’Keefe we’ve been spoon-fed by the media is not even close to the real person.”

In 2009, James and Hannah Giles walked into various ACORN offices and asked for help setting up a brothel. They explained that he was a pimp and she was his bottom bitch.
Detractors say: They posed in ridiculous pimp and ho costumes for the press photos, but that’s not what they were wearing at the meetings with ACORN. Also, if James isn’t guilty of a crime, why did he settle out of court?
James’s defense: “First of all, who cares if I wasn’t wearing a fur coat during the tapings? What matters is ACORN tried to help me start a brothel. Their employees shouldn’t be one coat away from a bad decision. As far as settling goes, I tried to defend myself, but privacy rights are a very ambiguous area of law and it was looking like a million-dollar fight that would have cost me years in court. I cut my losses because I had no other choice.”

In 2010, when James was contacted by CNN, he decided to do a parody interview with them because he knew they didn’t take his work seriously anyway. (They called the first ACORN video “isolated” even though there were many of them.) He developed a scenario that included a yacht and champagne and was going to portray himself as a ridiculous playboy character for a laugh.
Detractors say: James O’Keefe planned to rape a CNN reporter and film the whole thing. He chickened out. It’s all listed in emails he sent back and forth to colleagues.
James’s defense: “What? Who would film themselves committing a rape? The emails never said that and for the record, I wasn’t happy about many parts of those emails. They were not my plan and I had no intention of doing anything more than waste their time à la reporters on The Daily Show. Not my greatest idea, but not even in the same universe as what the detractors say was going to happen.”

Also in 2010, James and members of Project Veritas went to a teacher’s union meeting and talked to teachers who were gloating about how hard it was for them to get fired. One said you’d have to be caught fucking a student and another said you’d have to say “nigger.”
Detractors say: Actors staged fake conversations.
James’s defense: “The journalists didn’t say they were journalists, but the teachers really did say those things and one of them was suspended after admitting it was her on the tape. They weren’t ‘fake conversations.’ They were undercover recordings. Unfortunately, once they call our guys actors, the whole thing is portrayed as a play.”

Also in 2010, James and three others from Project Veritas gained entry into the US Senator from Louisiana’s office claiming to be telephone repairmen. James had heard Landrieu complaining about Tea Party activists clogging her phone lines, and he wanted to catch her bad-mouthing her constituents off the record.
Detractors say: James broke into her office and tried to bug her phone lines illegally.
James’s defense: “I had no intention of bugging her phone lines but for the sake of argument, why is the mainstream media so worried about politicians’ rights? Why are they sticklers for the law all of a sudden? If you want to get into the specifics of what I legally did wrong, I told a receptionist I was waiting for someone when in fact I wasn’t. That was my crime. This was twisted into a situation where we have a federal judge pressuring the magistrate by filing a motion days before my sentencing, implying I could have killed a judge in the federal building. What nobody knows about this case is that the judge, Magistrate Daniel Knowles III, had the footage deleted so I couldn’t even defend myself properly. The legal community called the whole twisted case ‘highly unusual.’ All I wanted to do was catch her off-guard, but we were charged with entering a federal building under false pretenses and I got three years’ probation, which meant I was prohibited from leaving the state. Drug dealers are treated better for misdemeanors like that.”

John McCain may be the most treasonous man who ever lived.

McCain must contend with Hitler, the Marquis de Sade, Benedict Arnold, and others to claim this crown. But John surpasses them all.

Some believe Hitler betrayed his people by leading them into conflicts they could not win. But at least Adolf had the ambition (or excuse) of reunifying historic borderlands. There is no evidence he ever entertained serious notions of attacking South America, central Africa, or conquering the Arab world. Not so John McCain, who has called for military intervention in each.

John jokes we should “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” that Venezuela should be forcefully instructed in practicing democracy, and he fully supports any means by which America can exert destructive influence over central Africa.

“Judas betrayed the greatest man in history. McCain betrayed the greatest nation in history.”

McCain’s wife was notoriously captured on camera kissing and holding hands with another man at a rock concert. His second daughter actively promotes an anti-American regime. His youngest child is a foundling from East Asia. Thus John belies commitments to faith, family, and blood all from the seat of his own home. Is there greater treason? When a man cannot control his own household’s affairs it is of vital concern when he presumes to control a nation’s destiny. When he self-effaces his own genetic heritage it begs the question what he has in mind for the greater body of Americans.

Even worse is McCain’s history as a turncoat. Many who were in co-captivity with him in Vietnam claim he switched sides when his comfort demanded it.

At various times, much to other prisoners’ chagrin, McCain has denied being interrogated by Soviet agents. But documents released in 1991 show McCain was engaged in approximately twenty interviews with communists where he was described as “exceedingly cooperative.” Evidence also indicates McCain made approximately thirty-two propaganda tapes for the North Vietnamese. No other soldier seemed to crumble to such an extent or with such evident zeal.

Many family members of those McCain (and fellow veteran John Kerry) heartlessly abandoned to lifetime incarceration in fetid jungles view these Senators as similar swine. While long suspected by those with experience on Capitol Hill, it is now beyond doubt that McCain conspired with other politicians to suppress, obfuscate, and destroy evidence that numerous American servicemen were held in Vietnamese captivity as late as the 1980s.

For loved ones of genuine heroes whose great mistake was having faith in the United States and its representatives, that pain and frustration is unimaginable. To know your kin is in a prison and the very people appointed to return them home willingly conspire with the enemy to hide that knowledge is a huge betrayal of public trust.

Not content with sacrificing dozens and perhaps hundreds of naïve and decent youth to unremitting torture and their families to the purgatory of never knowing their ultimate fate, McCain is now doing the same to millions of American civilians. His policies will turn his nation into one enormous armed camp for its people, driving all peaceable citizens behind locked gates in suburban communities.

What was that quote about London and being tired of life? Or that flickering ecstasy of a long-ago memory of being drunk at dawn and watching people going to work? Surely not at my age and in the year 2013, but there you have it. You can go home again; Thomas Wolfe had it all wrong. I felt at home all last week, both at Loulou’s at 5 Hertford Street and on Gerald Road in deep Oxfordshire.

Let’s start with Gerald Road, where the Bismarcks gave a Pugs dinner to celebrate Bob Miller’s 80th birthday. Bob is the duty-free billionaire who—surprise, surprise—is as nice, down-to-earth, and sporty a man as he is rich. We took the annual picture: The three oldies (Bob, George Livanos, and myself) were seated up front, while youngsters such as Edward Hutley, Leopold Bismarck, Princes Pavlos and Nikolaos of Greece, Roger Taylor, Arki Busson, Tim Hoare, Nick Scott, and Roger Taylor were standing above us. There was a boat-shaped cake, as Bob is a very good and record-holding yachtsman, lots of exotic drinks, and then the gray dawn was upon us. (I did see the sun, but it was in Switzerland before coming over here.)

“You can go home again; Thomas Wolfe had it all wrong.”

Later on in the day, having chosen to flame out rather than rust out, I managed to stagger to our annual lunch, a stone’s throw from Elizabeth Street where our oldest member, Sir Christopher Lee, was holding court. He is now 91, has been in more than 200 films, and is far more lucid than I could ever be. After I had a very liquid lunch and made some not-so-articulate efforts at speechmaking, Sir Lee got up and was applauded by strangers.

Getting reacquainted with a bed was a pleasant surprise later that afternoon, and the next thing I knew I was back at Loulou’s and my old friend Robin Birley’s lifesaving club. I call it a lifesaver because like his old man, Robin knows how to hire the perfect staff. I was giving dinner to Aliki Goulandris, my daughter Lolly and her boyfriend Andy, and his beautiful sister Sacha.

Then came the most pleasant of surprises. Nando, the walking death machine who was Annabel’s doorman for forty years and is now retired, tanned, and healthy at 85 years young, heard that I was dining at Hertford Street and came down from Ealing to see me. We reminisced throughout dinner about when Tim Hanbury hijacked a bus full of Japanese tourists while the driver was out having a pee in Berkeley Square. We recalled the Formula 1 driver and I who outdrove the chasing fuzz and to whom Nando swore we had never left the club. (“The automobile must have been stolen, sir.”) Once again up came the dawn and my little Lolly was begging me to “Go home daddy, you’re starting to look green and I’m worried.”

Back in January I drew some parallels between the Civil War whose 150th anniversary is upon us and the lesser conflicts that disturb our domestic peace nowadays. I quoted Senator Mason describing the former as “€œa war of sentiment and opinion by one form of society against another form of society.”€ I argued that our present-day wranglings over issues such as gun control, homosexual marriage, immigration, and race are a continuation of that “€œwar of sentiment and opinion”€ by other means. Call it the Cold Civil War.

Here are some recent battles and skirmishes in the Cold Civil War.

Immigration. This is the big one”€”the Gettysburg of the conflict. If conservatives lose this one, we shall eventually lose the war, though it will take longer than the 21 months from Gettysburg to Appomattox.

In my January piece, I described the combatants as “€œtwo big groups of white people who can”€™t stand the sight of each other.”€ That gets most of it, but the liberal elites who control the commanding heights in our culture”€”the Tutsis in our Tutsi-Hutu sectional conflict”€”willingly open their ranks to blacks and Hispanics who share their values. A Barack Obama, a Vernon Jordan, and a Sonia Sotomayor can be elevated to elite status.

“€œTo keep non-elite blacks happy in clientage, their Designated Victim status has to be affirmed from time to time.”€

The passive voice is indispensable there, though. This elevation is something that happens to selected nonwhites because white elites want it to.

The other party to the conflict, the patriotic conservatives”€”the Hutus”€”are pretty solidly white. Their ancestors were the founding American population, mostly from Britain, supplemented by the pre-WWI European immigrants.

If you subtract out the Tutsi elites and their hangers-on and postulants, who are about 30 percent of the population, and the Hutu whites, who are about 45 percent, you are left with 25 percent non-elite blacks and Hispanics, whose status is essentially that of Tutsi clients. That is, they can be farmed for votes to support elite projects, receiving in return welfare benefits, government jobs, “€œaffirmative action”€ preferences, and Designated Victim status.

The elites”€™ aim in the current immigration skirmish is to diminish the second percentage by increasing the third.

Since the welfare and preferences are paid for in part by taxes on Hutus, and since the work of blacks and Hispanics doesn”€™t create much value, the long-term outcome of this strategy is problematic. The thrill of outwitting and crushing the hated, despised Hutus is, however, great enough to banish thoughts of the long-term from Tutsi minds.

Paula Deen. If you”€™re still not clear about my usage of “€œHutu”€ here, check out Ms. Deen. The Southern accent; the fried-lard recipes; the tan-from-a-bottle; the heartfelt Christianity; the embonpoint; the teary, I-have-sinned-and-beg-forgiveness apology”€”Ms. Deen is as Hutu as the Talladega infield.

The lady lost her TV show and product endorsements because she admitted in a court deposition to having said “€œnigger.”€ Tutsis don”€™t say “€œnigger.”€ Low-class blacks say it a lot, but nobody cares about that so long as they show up at the polls to vote for Tutsi candidates.

This is a much smaller thing than the immigration struggle”€”a mere skirmish. It does, though, illustrate elite values”€™ complete dominance in the media and in business, as well as the glee with which elites humiliate Hutus who step out of line.

George Zimmerman. To keep non-elite blacks happy in clientage, their Designated Victim status has to be affirmed from time to time. The psychic satisfactions of that status are very sweet; so much so that when the white Hutus fail to live up to their duties as oppressors, incidents have to be fabricated.

For somewhere a long way from anywhere, Nanga Parbat is a pretty lively place. The five-mile-high peak rises from a syntaxis, a center of compression where folding rocks collide and steam spits from its sides as Earth’s ninth-highest mountain rises heavenward as fast as the continents can slide.

Last Sunday, that slow tectonic violence gave way to another kind. A dour platoon of Sunni militants known as Junood ul-Hifa stormed across one of the world’s most idyllic landscapes to slaughter a sleeping party of Ukrainian and Chinese mountaineers.

“€œThe object is to get to the top of the world, not the bottom of the Punjab.”€

Blame it on the drones. The attack occurred on the mountain’s west side facing Diamar, a valley on the far side of the Indus that’s a week’s walk and a cultural world away from the Fairy Meadows that roll along a two-mile-high shelf on Nanga Parbat’s northeast slope. Those Elysian Fields look down on the Raikot glacier on one side and up to the Olympian heights of the peak that fills the southern horizon. To get to them you have to climb out of the Indus Valley. After a hair-raising morning on the Tattu road it takes the rest of the day on foot or horseback to climb up through the pines to emerge into an idyll straight from a Persian miniature. Polo is played where the game was born, in front of a mountain twice the size of the Matterhorn, mirrored in a glacial lake.

Two decades ago, the sons of the Mir of Raikot, some of whom have summited the mountain, began turning a cool summer pasture first into a polo field, then a campground, and eventually a lodge for those who come to climb or merely marvel at a magic mountain whose meadow fairies outrank Titania and Oberon, and as pagan demigods are as much persona non grata in the bloody minds of the Taliban as infidel tourists.

This magic mountain’s problem is that, though a long way from anywhere, it’s rather close to Afghanistan. A century ago the Taliban’s Deobandi predecessors turned a gimlet eye on the “€œKalash”€ valleys to the west, which clung to vestiges of the old-time religion from which both the Greek pantheon and the Hindu gods descend”€”when Kipling was a cub reporter in Lahore, Nanga Parbat overlooked “€œKafiristan.”€

Since then the religious pluralism of the Raj has disintegrated, and the fundamentalists”€™ definition of “€œkafir”€ has broadened well beyond ultramontane idol worship. Down in the Indus Valley at the mountain’s foot, the ladies in our party had stones thrown at them for appearing bare-armed to cool their heels in the river.

While the identity of the killers is still being sorted, among those assaulted was a local mountain guide, one of the famously hospitable Dards, an ancient and indigenous people whose language antedates Sanskrit, and whose deeds figure in the Mahabharata“€”a hundred generations ago, these were the go-to guys for the sacred weapons of the Vedic wars.

In the three millennia since, the Dards”€™ religion has gone with the flow. They were Hindu when Herodotus asked after them as the Dadicae, Zeus-fearing Gandharans in the expeditionary wake of Alexander the Great, Buddhist when the White Huns came tearing through the neighborhood, and Islamic after the Muslim conquest of the 14th century.

Some, like the Dards of Darchik, Garkon, and Da, have faded by gradual intermarriage or been erased from history by abrupt ethnic cleansing”€”the Talibs reserve their fiercest antipathy for Muslims with whom they religiously disagree. This means trouble for the northernmost mountain people in the arc from Kashmir to the Pamirs whose ancestors became Shia, or Ismaili”€”Hunza is where the Aga Khan’s great-grandfather took refuge from Wahabi and Deobandi wrath two centuries ago.

In America’s fifth year of having a black president, the five Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices had an opportunity on Monday to abolish racial and ethnic preferences for violating the 14th Amendment’s requirement of “€œthe equal protection of the laws.”€ But they were unable to pull the trigger and so they merely sent the case back down to a lower court while recommending stricter scrutiny.

Will the Five live long enough to have another chance to get their courage up? An actuary could calculate the odds. (Scalia is 77, Kennedy 76, Thomas 65, Alito 63, and Roberts 58.) I suspect the chances aren’t that high.

Few have mentioned that the affirmative-action non-decision interacts deleteriously with the Schumer-Rubio bill that would boost immigration. The great majority of amnestied illegal aliens and new immigrants brought in under the bill, plus their descendants unto the seventh generation, would be eligible for racial or ethnic privileges.

These benefits are a zero-sum game that, mathematically, have to come out of the hides of the legally unprivileged such as non-Hispanic whites. As the number of Hispanic beneficiaries rises, the burden on non-Hispanics also rises.

It’s bizarre that immigrant groups”€”who chose to come to America, warts and all”€”are recipients of affirmative action. Indeed, it’s so inexplicable that virtually nobody attempts to explicate it. Even more strangely, opponents of ethnic preferences have largely failed to attack this indefensible salient. (Likewise, the quotas angle goes almost unmentioned in the immigration “€œdebate”€ such as it is.)

“€œIf the government stops counting by ethnicity, then ethnic preferences immediately start to fall apart.”€

Instead, everybody wants to argue over whether or not African Americans should benefit from quotas and disparate-impact lawsuits as compensation for slavery. I”€™ve been following these debates for 40 years, but they don”€™t seem to make much progress, just as the performance gap between whites and other races hasn”€™t changed much over those four decades.

But then, the most popular clashes tend to be the least resolvable. Baseball’s All-Star Game has been going on since 1933, for instance, and you might think that by now they”€™d have figured out whether the American or National League is better. But they keep playing the damn thing. You might almost imagine that the All-Star Game isn”€™t a serious quest for a permanent solution, that it’s actually distracting entertainment intended to perpetuate itself. The last 35 years of the Supreme Court arguing over quotas for blacks has been similarly diverting and unserious. It’s a perennial hot-stove topic that occludes more relevant questions such as immigration policy.

It’s common sense that if you don”€™t like racial preferences, then don”€™t make the problem worse by letting more people into the country who qualify for them. But common sense is suspect nowadays.

We live in an era when rational thought is checkmated by the phrase “€œAll we have to do is….”€ If you point out, as Jason Richwine did, that on average, the children and grandchildren of illegal immigrants don”€™t do well enough in school to get jobs that pay enough to shoulder much of the tax burden, it’s considered a crushing rejoinder to say, “€œAll we have to do is fix the schools.”€

Back in the last major Supreme Court decision on collegiate affirmative action in 2003, Sandra Day O”€™Connor airily opined that she figured all this unpleasantness over the achievement gap would be soon be gone:

We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.

After all, George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy had just gotten together to outlaw the achievement gap. Their No Child Left Behind Act mandated that by eleven months from today, all races had to perform with equal proficiency on school achievement tests. Mission accomplished!

Well, here we are 40 percent of the way through O”€™Connor’s quarter of a century and it turned out that the most effective idea anybody came up with for closing the gap was cheating.

Similarly, on the rare occasions when anybody points out that increasing immigration worsens the burdens on unprivileged white Americans, the response is: “€œAll we have to do is end affirmative action!”€

Well, the Supreme Court has had plenty of opportunities, going back to the Bakke case of 1978. As readers of a certain age might recall, in Bakke the Supremes outlawed “€œracial quotas”€ but approved “€œracial goals.”€ Not surprisingly, nothing changed other than semantics.

Supposedly clever alternatives to quotas have often proved even worse. For example, to get more black and Hispanic firemen, the city of Chicago lowered the passing score on the fire department’s hiring exam to the fifth percentile among white test-takers. Then, it just picks randomly among test-passers. I don”€™t live in Chicago anymore, but that’s a frightening way to hire the guys who are supposed to save your life.

Why is it that summers used to last so much longer back then? School would be out in early June and by the time the horrid month of September rolled around, it seemed as if three years had passed.

What fun it was to be young during summer. No homework, no need to stay in shape, no starving oneself to make weight for wrestling, girls galore at the country club and on the beach, softball on the public lawns of Greenwich, CT, and soccer on the lawns of Vouliagmeni, east of Athens, where Greek ship owners parked their yachts”€”sailing boats, that is.

The first man to own a gin palace was Aristotle Onassis, who had a Canadian frigate converted, and it all went downhill from there. Youth never worries and takes its fun whenever and wherever it can get it; hence one didn”€™t worry about being locked up in boarding school until it actually happened. (Now, in old age, I worry about something unpleasant months before I have to go through with it.)

“€œWhat fun it was to be young during summer.”€

How quickly and easily one fell in love during those long summer days and nights, and”€”thank God”€”how even more rapidly one fell out of love when something more exotic came along. I”€™d say on average there were three to four major romances during those unending summers”€”with each one starting “€œfor life and forever after”€ until the inevitable happened. Time seemed to go so slowly that I am now embarrassed at how little a bite at cherry I had with all that time my hands.

The first time I ever kissed a girl was during a hot summer evening. Her name was Marina. She was eleven and I was twelve. Then came Margo, Isla, and Mary. (Then came September and the kissing had to stop.) Amazing how 64 years later I don”€™t only remember their names but exactly what they looked like. I”€™m sure that they wouldn”€™t recognize me now, and vice-versa.

Yes, as the song says, “€œSummertime/And the livin”€™ is easy,”€ with those haunting Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee, and Joni James songs. Edward Hopper’s masterpiece Summertime depicted a beautiful and shy young woman standing on some steps with her hat shielding her from the sun.

Those were the golden-haze years after the war, when baseball was played in flannels, players flung themselves on guard railings without pads to catch a fly ball, pitchers went nine innings, and there was no trash-talking in pro or college football. Every man, rich or poor, wore a suit and a hat and took his hat off when a lady entered an elevator. Taxi drivers spoke English”€”Brooklynese, actually”€”and were either Jewish or Italian, with a few Greeks thrown in for good measure. They wore caps, were extremely polite, and most of the yellow cabs were Packards with jump seats. Fifth Avenue went both ways and Harry Truman used to walk up and down it early in the morning without the Secret Service. When in New York, he lived at the Carlyle. Through the mist of time and nostalgia I now imagine summers where doors were left unlocked, children played in the streets, crime was nonexistent”€”at least where I lived”€”and people really did look out for each other.

Sarah Palin can”€™t raise your taxes. She can”€™t send your children to war. Yet almost five years after her failed bid to occupy Number One Observatory Circle, Palin’s Pavlovian effect on rabid liberals (and not a few conservatives) is only slightly diminished.

I don’t quite understand this phenomenon, but then again, I wouldn’t. I’ve written before about my stubborn, stupid affection for the ex-non-Veep, an affection as irrationally tribal and primitive as others’ hatred of her.

Come to think of it, it’s one thing that so-called progressives and I can agree on in this supposedly “divisive” era:

Sarah Palin annoys all the “right” people.

Witness the reaction last week when Palin took a poke at Jeb Bush’s blunt assertion that America needs more Mexican immigrants because they “are more fertile,” a fact some of us view as more of a bug than a feature.

“€œThe Census Bureau just reported that for the first time in American history, deaths among white Americans now outpace the white birth rate.”€

Addressing the same conference the next day, Palin”€”a mother of five “€”said, “I think it’s kind of dangerous territory…to want to debate this over one race’s fertility rate over another. And I say that as someone who’s kind of fertile herself.”

If your reaction to that demi-quip is “So?” or “LOL,” then you obviously aren’t a columnist for the Washington Post.

Kathleen Parker is, but she clearly isn’t familiar with the ancient journalistic “rule” that “three is a trend.” Her latest column, inspired by Palin’s throwaway line, began with the proclamation, “Distilled to a slogan, politics of late goes something like this: ‘I’m more fertile than you are.’”

Parker’s only other evidence that “fecundity is emerging as the best argument for public office, policy or even citizenship” comes from former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s surgically enhanced lips.

Trying to shoo away pesky questions from a conservative reporter about the Gosnell trial, Pelosi huffed that as “a mother of five children” and a “practicing and respectful Catholic,” the topic of “abortion” was “sacred ground.”

(Dear Nancy: Abortion was never actually declared the eighth sacrament”€”that was just a Flo Kennedy joke.)

And, yes: Nancy Pelosi does have five children, just like Sarah Palin.

Yet oddly enough, those children have never been the punch line of Louis CK or Bill Maher jokes. Neither has amateur gynecologist Andrew Sullivan shown the slightest interest in Pelosi’s uterus and its issues and tissues.

Revealingly, those three men are all fixated on one of Palin’s children in particular: the one with Down syndrome. I’ll leave it to more qualified individuals to diagnose their strange obsession with this cute, harmless tot in part because trying to analyze it myself gives me the creeps.

Most liberals, especially the gay ones, are plum disgusted by Palin’s fecundity in general (while ignoring Pelosi’s).

Note the unreserved expressions of disgust in the comments beneath almost any article about the Duggar family of television’s 19 Kids and Counting fame. If you think you can stand it, check out the 300+ responses to this notorious SFGate article entitled, “God Does Not Want 16 Kids / Arkansas mom gives birth to a whole freakin’ baseball team. How deeply should you cringe?” Not a few of these tolerant, peace-and-love Obama voters fantasize about Mrs. Duggar’s death, hopefully before she can reproduce again.