Were it not for my age, I’d be worried, but at this stage of the game I couldn’t give a flying you-know-what. Mind you, I have two children—a daughter and a son—both in their early 30s, and four grandchildren—two boys and two girls—some still in diapers, and that does keep me up at night.

And it should also worry anyone whose brain hasn’t been fried by too many hamburgers, asinine TV commercials, or Hollywood tripe, especially when Mark Zuckerberg speaks glowingly about artificial intelligence and his company’s ambitions to turn us all into zombies. Here it is in a nutshell: Are computers going to kill us all, or help us live forever? The canonical worry is that it is difficult—or perhaps impossible—to ensure that any artificial general intelligence we create will be aligned with human values.

Zombie humans like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, and their ilk insist that AI will be able to invent novel means of capturing carbon from the atmosphere, create better batteries, cure cancer, and make us all good-looking. (In the case of Zuckerberg I am certain it cannot.) The rising prowess of AI even has the Sammy Glicks of Hollywood worried. Soon it will be able to replicate actors, produce screenplays, and substitute for beauties such as Lily James and Keira Knightley. (Talk about a criminal act—we’ll have a world of Silicon Valley freaks but no Lily or Keira.)

“Yes, sports fans, what was once considered theoretical is now close to reality.”

Yes, sports fans, what was once considered theoretical is now close to reality. If you think today’s culture has gone to pot (pun intended), imagine a culture created by nonhuman intelligence—something like a Soros brain totally creating and controlling our lives. Female beauty would be among the first to go. Computer-generated females strutting in the first artificial intelligence Fashion Week will be something to behold. Not that today’s models exhibit more female pulchritude than the ones that are computer-made, but never mind. It has already taken place at Soho’s Spring Studios, with a full collection of fifteen to thirty looks, designed 100 percent virtually, with “models” strutting the runway. (When I was a young man, European buddies and I used to hang out at some of the runways, unsuccessfully trying to pick up the better-looking models, something I don’t advise any future Don Giovannis to try with the computer-made models.)

It seems that more than 1,000 technology leaders and researchers have urged artificial intelligence labs to pause development as they just might produce a Frankenstein model with profound risks to humanity. These people sound naive to me. Gates, Page, and their ilk care only about profits, and to hell with humanity. Hell, Gates did not even suspect that Jeffrey Epstein was a sexual criminal-predator, why would he be worried about the future of our grandchildren?

The tech community is made up of hard-nosed, extremely greedy, zombie-like men with a more-is-more approach who as a group will be very difficult to persuade to pause before it’s too late. The only way I see it is like in the first Frankenstein movie, the one with Boris Karloff. The mob sets fire to the place and the “thing” goes down in flames. (At least I think so, as I saw the film more than sixty years ago.)

So, do we all go over to Palo Alto and burn the place down, along with the previously mentioned human horrors? Or do we sit still like good American citizens and wait for the tyranny of technology’s blade to drop? Elon Musk, a good guy, is said to have fallen out with Larry Page, a baddie, because of the latter’s lack of concern for humankind when it comes to AI. I’m not surprised. Musk says that Page wants a digital superintelligence in hopes of becoming a digital God.

Again, nothing surprising here; freaks have a tendency to set themselves up as the Almighty, and why not? They deal with the great American public, the same public that recently looked open-mouthed at Dear Mama, the most watched series in FX history. This so-called true story was about the legacy of Tupac Shakur and his mother. She was a Black Panther who was also a cocaine addict. He was a rapper-criminal who was eventually killed by other criminals. Both mother and son loathed the police, which I suppose made them the legends they are. The great American public ate it all up and watched their story like never before. So why should Page worry about them?

Godlike AGI is a system with the ability to learn and evolve independently, and capable of responding to and manipulating its environment without the need for human supervision. This should ring danger bells to most intelligent human beings, but are those humans who watch and enjoy trash like Dear Mama qualified to supervise anything except, perhaps, their toilet needs?

T.S. Eliot once anguished about the wisdom we have lost in gaining knowledge. That was back in 1934. Now with all the info Google and other such scoops provide us with, just think of all the knowledge we’ve lost.

Is the white-black IQ gap shrinking in the United States?

Although many assume that the existence of sizable disparities in average IQ among the races simply must be “pseudoscience,” that different ethnicities average different levels of mental ability is one of the most overwhelmingly well-established findings of the social sciences.

Exactly why ancestral groups have varying IQs remains controversial, but the fact that they do is not disputed among the well-informed. A general rule of thumb among researchers has long been that whites and blacks differ in average IQ by about one standard deviation.

“Racial intelligence differences are real, large, crucial for understanding American society, and not going away anytime soon.”

For example, the 2001 meta-analysis by Roth et al. of 105 cognitive test studies with a sample size totaling over 6 million found an average gap of 16.5 IQ points, or 1.1 standard deviations.

IQ analyses are often performed with the benchmark norm for whites being set to 100 and a standard deviation of 15. Hence, if blacks averaged 85, that would mean that 84 percent of whites are smarter than the typical black. But it would also mean that one out of six blacks, or approaching 7 million these days, would be smarter than the median white.

It’s natural to be interested in whether the white-black gap has been narrowing over the generations. If the cause of the IQ gap is racism, then the obvious huge decline in racism over recent generations should have boosted black IQ scores relative to whites. Has it?

Note that it’s by no means impossible for better conditions to boost IQ, just as many populations are taller than in the past. In fact, around the world, raw scores on IQ tests tended to go up over the course of the 20th century (the now-famous Flynn Effect), requiring test publishers to toughen their scoring standards.

In general, though, the Flynn Effect drove up scores comparable amounts in most places around the world. However, some examples of sharply improved living standards boosting national average test scores relative to global averages have been observed; for example, relative IQs are up a lot, as is height, in South Korea over the past two generations. (Unfortunately, the birth rate of these taller, smarter South Koreans has dropped precipitously.)

Similarly, African-American athletes likely suffered in the increasingly distant segregated past from subpar nutrition and a lack of advanced training. My impression is that black players were not quite as outstanding combinations of speed and strength relative to whites within living memory.

At the 1956 and 1960 Olympics, the best American 100-meter-dash men, Bobby Joe Morrow and Dave Sime (the grandfather of speedy NFL running back Christian McCaffrey), were whites.

Or consider the two best ballplayers of the 1950s, back when baseball was still the leading sport, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. Statistics savant Bill James’ judgment is that the white center-fielder, while less durable, was even faster and stronger than the great black slugger and ball hawk.

This is not to say that mid-century blacks were small or weak, just that their current athletic dominance only became really clear later, perhaps in the late 1960s. That probably had something to do with improvements in the black standard of living and with the integration of teams from the 1940s onward.

On the other hand, the O.J. Simpson Era when blacks fulfilled their athletic potential was a long time ago. If black cognition was being held back for much the same reasons as black athleticism once was, we should probably be seeing evidence of it catching up lately.

Are black IQs going up relative to white IQs?

Perhaps slightly, due to elite immigration from Africa and increased numbers of part-black children with one white parent. For example, Barack Obama, who is a reasonably smart guy, is both the child of an African elite and of a white.

But the traditional gap between whites and descendants of American slaves with no recent white ancestry (for instance, Michelle Obama) appears to be about as large as ever in a lavish National Institutes of Health study of over 10,000 American children called Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (or ABCD) that recruited and extensively tested a nationally representative sample of 9- and 10-year-olds in 2016–2018.

This is a gold-standard project intended to be the biggest and best study of the teenage brain. The NIH recently ponied up an additional $290 million for the second seven years of the ABCD. Data sources utilized include the NIH Toolbox of cognition tests (an elaborate multi-hour state-of-the-art version of the traditional IQ test), full genomes, in-depth surveying of socioeconomic status, and five (count ’em) MRIs, one every two years from age 10 through 18.

Because the taxpayers are shelling out for the ABCD, it was intended to be operated on the “open science” model with the data broadly available. But that freedom is being squeezed because some scientists have lately used these huge new longitudinal databases to look into key questions of the age and found politically unwelcome answers. For example, tenured Cleveland State professor Bryan J. Pesta recently was fired after publishing a paper using the Philadelphia Neurodevelopment Cohort to examine the impact of racial admixture on IQ.

(To learn more about these new databases, read my 2021 column about a study of how white are self-identified blacks and how that correlates with IQ.)

At the Human Varieties blog last week, “Chuck” posted a summary of cognition scores from the ABCD by ethnicity.

He set the average score of children identified by their parents as non-Hispanic whites (and nothing else) to 100.0, with a standard deviation of 15.

On this metric, the 437 Asians and part-Asians averaged 105.1, which would be the 63rd percentile for whites. The 59 pure-blooded (non-hapa) northeast Asians (Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese) scored a spectacular 111.2 (77th percentile among whites), although that sample size is only modestly confidence-inducing.

(Note that these are parental identifications of their children’s race and ethnicity and not determined by genome analysis. But an earlier paper looked at parental identification compared to Ancestry.com-style genomic determination of race and didn’t find all that much difference in impact on IQ. The federal government’s system of racial self-identification tends to be good enough for government work.)

The 2,096 Hispanics had a mean IQ of 91.7, or the 29th percentile of the white distribution.

The 1,926 blacks scored 85.2, or the 16th percentile for whites: a 0.99 standard deviation gap.

So this 2016–18 black score is only a tiny bit better than the 20th-century rule of thumb of a one standard deviation (15 points) racial gap. Still, it might depict modest improvement from the 1.1 s.d. gap (16.5 points) cited by the more rigorous researchers in the past.

The black score is being slowly boosted by the growth in the numbers of three groups who aren’t core African-Americans (i.e., the descendants of American slaves). The 397 children who are identified by their parents as both black and white average 91.9 (29th percentile), the 57 black Africans 90.6 (27th), and the 46 black Caribbeans (e.g., Jamaicans and other non-Hispanics) 88.7 (23rd).

Still, these Hispanic-level scores suggest that immigration and intermarriage aren’t going to solve America’s racial gap in IQ problem anytime soon.

Worse, the 1,426 kids identified by their nonimmigrant parents as black, nothing else, and non-Hispanic (e.g., Michael Jordan and most other mainstream African-Americans) averaged only 83.0 (13th percentile). Seventeen points is a 1.13 standard deviation gap.

That’s not good: 83.0 is the lowest of the 28 ancestral groups listed by Chuck. (The second lowest is Black and Other Puerto Rican at 88.0.)

That 17-point gap might even be a little larger than that typically seen in the second half of the 20th century.

Why? One reason might be that in the second half of the 20th century, downscale blacks tended to have a lot more kids than upscale blacks. However, poor blacks stopped having so many more children than affluent blacks in the 1990s, so that dysgenic and/or dyscultural mechanism shouldn’t be as strong at depressing black scores going forward.

On the other hand, I think this white-black gap could be inflated somewhat by the white score being a little higher than is realistic due to a few factors pushing up the socioeconomic status and IQ scores of whites in the ABCD sample. In general, the white parents’ education levels struck me as higher than I expected.

One reason: Because kids were only recruited from school districts within fifty miles of one of the 21 research centers with MRI scanners, only 12.3 percent of the ABCD subjects are rural vs. 17.5 percent in national data.

Another potential issue is that 15 percent of the sample are twins because the human sciences love twins for all they can learn from comparing them. My impression is that at least among whites, twins tend to be more likely born to well-educated older mothers who delayed childbirth for career reasons and then had to undergo fertility treatments.

A third (but quite tiny) factor inflating white test scores is that Chuck’s analysis breaks out the 41 participants of North Africa and Mideast descent separate from whites: The NAMEs average 96.4.

So, these subtle factors might be expanding the white-black gap more than is real, although likely not by a sizable amount.

What should be done about racial gaps in IQ?

Progressives have this insane tendency to assume that if it really is true that blacks aren’t as smart as whites on average, then the only logical thing to do would be to murder all of our fellow black citizens in Treblinka-style death camps. Why? Because, they apparently reason, only Nazis, as they’ve so often said, think blacks have lower mean IQs, so if it turns out that the IQ Nazis are right, well, that means Hitler should be our role model.

Or something. You can never quite get liberals to articulate why they are convinced it would be the end of the world if there are racial differences in intelligence, other than that’s the ditch they’ve decided to die in and it would be embarrassing for them to turn out to be wrong.

My view is that the IQ gap is more like the sprinting gap, which helps explain much about the realities of sports (why are strong-armed African-American baseball players more likely to play right field than third base?) but is not, to say the least, a good reason to kill all the whites.

In reality, the main public-spirited step we can take regarding racial gaps in intelligence is to Raise Awareness: Racial intelligence differences are real, large, crucial for understanding American society, and not going away anytime soon. It’s something we have to live with. Just as the foot-speed gap doesn’t justify witch-hunting football coaches for being racist against white cornerbacks, the manifold effects of the intelligence gap don’t justify the current paranoid conspiracy theorizing about white racism.

Much of the madness of the 2020s, such as the post–George Floyd murder and car crash sprees and California’s reparations plans, is likely attributable to blacks figuring out that they weren’t going to catch up but that they could guilt-trip whites into paying reparations because whites have been disarmed of mentioning the IQ and crime gaps.

A new culture in which the basic truths of the social sciences are widely discussed would be a better one than what we have been saddled with in the present decade.

As nearly every standardized test is showing, our schools are doing an abysmal job teaching kids how to read or do math. In some cases, kids graduating from high school can barely read their diplomas.

But the schools are wildly succeeding with their climate change indoctrination program. When I speak to kids on high school and college campuses and ask what the greatest threat is to their generation, the answer isn’t China’s aggression. It isn’t a drug abuse problem that is becoming the leading killer of our children. It isn’t the failed schools or the corrupt government or the more routine violations of freedom of speech. It isn’t the $32 trillion national debt soon headed to $50 trillion. (I always remind the kids, I won’t be paying for this Mount Everest-sized debt burden. YOU will.)

No, they almost all raise their hands and moan that they are most worried about global warming or “climate change.” We are raising a generation with millions of Greta Thunbergs. A Daily Telegraph poll found that more than half of teenagers surveyed believe that the world “may end in their lifetime” because of climate change. No one has ever told them that the climate has been changing for as long as the planet has existed. They’ve apparently never heard of the ice ages. The earth has gone through centuries of warming — and that was before air conditioning, which the climate czars want to take away from us to combat warming. Figure that one out.

“We are raising a generation with millions of Greta Thunbergs.”

I’m not here to argue about “the science” of global warming. What I do know is it’s only “settled science” because anyone who dares question the “experts” is written off as crazy or a quack. Meanwhile, the people who warned us about “the population bomb,” nuclear winter, mass starvation, running out of energy, global cooling and a future so polluted that everyone would have to wear gas masks in cities, are telling us to just trust them as they are busy at work erecting a multitrillion-dollar climate change industrial complex that revolves around our planetary savior — the windmill.

But scaring the bejesus out of our kids to score political points is a reprehensible practice. Our school kids are being terrorized with misinformation. This, in turn, is leading to all sorts of maladies, including a rise in teen depression, suicide, lower productivity and drug addiction.

Worst of all, we are seeing the opposite of a population bomb. We are experiencing one of the most severe birth dearths in American history. The birth rate is plummeting and no surprise. Who wants to bring kids into a world that will be uninhabitable in 50 years?

Psychologists are attributing these dysfunctions to a new syndrome called “eco-anxiety.” It’s a fear that Mother Earth is going to punish us in a brutal way — and very soon.

The irony of all this is that today’s children and teens are inheriting a living standard, a cleaner planet, and a level of goods and services and technologies and medical care that is far superior to anything anyone in history — even the richest kings and queens — had access to even 100 years ago. If kids think climate change is worrisome, they should try dealing with the bubonic plague, which killed one-third of Europe’s population, or polio or tuberculosis — or fending off barbarians or working 60 hours a week in a coal mine.

If my parents were part of the “greatest generation,” living through two world wars and a great depression, then this must be the psychotic generation. Are they to blame? No, we — their parents — are. We are the ones who have passively sat by as the Left turned our kids into neurotic Green New Dealers. Death to the machine. Turn the lights out. No more cars. No more flush toilets or washing machines. What’s next to save the planet? Euthanasia?

That’s what happens when you teach your children that they aren’t inheriting the earth, but a fiery hell.

Well, so much for last week’s experiment with a race-and-politics-free column about the entertainment industry; it landed with a thud so loud I checked my roof for Eric Clapton’s son (I did that joke years ago and it provoked a furious email from a deeply offended reader. So I’m repeating it…just for him).

From now on I’ll keep the movie ephemera confined to Substack.

Still, if you didn’t want a break from the typical Cole column, I did. I’ve been feeling of late like I’m in a rut. Every week, it’s as if I’m delivering a eulogy in a time loop. A funereal Groundhog Day. “Things are shit,” I write. Then I wake up and again I type “Things are shit.”

“Indians have booze, blacks have Democrats. Two suicidal tendencies, but the latter’s more like murder-suicide.”

One can argue that ruts are unavoidable for weekly columnists. Look at Townhall. If mine’s a loop of pessimism, theirs is the opposite. Week after week of Kolonel Kustardpie Schlichter and Larry “Is my new book cover really a black kid holding my disembodied head? Who the hell thought that looked good?” Elder telling you how we’re totally on the path to VICTORY!

Schlichter: “If we take James Gunn’s SCALP, we’ll end cancel culture! Oh, that didn’t work? Okay, then—if the Tennessee GOP legislators take the SCALPS of the insurrectionist Democrats, that’ll send the left scurrying! Oh, the Dems got their seats back? Uh…well…here’s a flag pin. WE WIN!”

Unz has a rut too: “It’s the Jews!” You’d think Unz readers would get bored with the repetition, but oddly enough the intellectually weakest—those who accept one-sentence answers to all of life’s questions—are also the most voracious blog readers, because without constant recapitulation they risk being alone with their thoughts (“Wait…could Jews really be behind everything? Oh no—creeping doubt! Click on Unz! Ah, sweet validation!”).

And when Unz isn’t blaming Jews, he’s rutting about wacky conspiracies (like taking Covid lab-leak theorizing to the next level by saying the lab was American not Chinese…something I mocked back in 2021).

Gateway Pundit? A fed-blaming rut. Everything’s a fed plot, everyone’s a fed shill.

Ruts, ruts, everywhere.

I was gripped by this existential crisis last week while reading a Substack piece in which the author (no need to name him) regurgitated my themes, almost like a checklist. And it made me realize I have a checklist—an eight-year rotating menu of themes—and I fear that makes me predictable. Others may be repeating me, but I’m repeating myself.

Take my long-running theme regarding black unsalvageables. There’s a percentage of black America that’s by and large unsalvageable (just a percentage, but one too sizable for most people’s liking), and the only remedy is quarantine, via ghettos (the ceding of certain urban areas, much like a reservation system) for those who’ve not yet broken the law and imprisonment for those who have. Now, I’ve repeated this theme time and again; I’ve made no new “discoveries” that alter my views (“holy crap—tricorns and Sowell books do cure thuggery!”).

Blacks are the bullet we caught; Indians are the bullet we dodged. And it’s because we dodged one that we caught the other. As I’ve stated time and again, America got so lucky with Indians, we became blindly, arrogantly full of ourselves, convinced that the total victory and painless aftermath of the Indian wars were somehow due to white skill or divine providence and not sheer luck regarding the genetics and character of the foe. Once the Injuns were broken and pacified, they just went away. A hopeless, finished people. No terrorism, no vengeance-fueled crime sprees. Thankfully, because of the Indian obsession with land and autonomy—their belief that what they’re owed is to be left alone on their holy dirt—America got to tuck them away in a drawer like frayed socks. The higher-functioning ones, the John Herringtons, could freely leave the reservations and join us. The rest could stay drunk and on welfare (sorry, libertarians, but paying a broken people to stay segregated is the best use of taxpayer money imaginable).

After the Civil War, as Indian pacification was going into overdrive, whites cockily thought that dealing with freed blacks would be just as painless. That’s why the original “24 acres” plan was for a series of black-only reservations. But it turned out that what Indians wanted when asked “Okay, what’ll make you happy?” was the complete opposite of what blacks wanted. Whereas Indians desired separation and autonomy, blacks yearn to be part of everything whites do, if not as equals, then superiors. In every profession, in academia, in movies, TV, and advertising, in all aspects of society, they scream, “If you’re there we must be there too. Love us. Include us. We hate you!”

And leftist Jews and whites, who oddly seem content to let 1.1 million Indians rot on reservations (perhaps because Indians are too weak, resigned, and damaged to serve as civilization-disruptors), have done everything in their power to do the opposite with blacks, to make sure there’s nowhere a white in America can go where they don’t see blacks, in person or in the media, and where they aren’t made to feel as though the concerns of blacks outweigh their own.

The “ghetto reservation” idea won’t work, can’t work, because blacks and leftists won’t hear of it. Again, it was sheer good fortune that the Indians’ only demand was “stay off our land, stay away from our people.” That was a blessing. That it happened once in our history was lucky enough. That anyone thought it would happen twice (especially with a physically healthier people) was foolish.

With Injuns, nobody has to worry about fixing them because they said “give us land” and we did, so, problem solved; out of sight, out of mind. Indians are the worst off of every racial/ethnic group in the U.S., but because they got their stupid demand and because generations of whites convinced themselves that somehow this was all that was needed for “justice,” nobody frets. But blacks are the Poochie of the races (Loud! Edgy! Proactive! In your face!), and because they’re always demanding a “fix,” Americans of every political, religious, and ideological stripe have floated cure-alls.

Which means that now everyone has a stake in black failure. The failure of the “black community” (and of course I’m not talking about individual blacks but the rot that persists among the unsalvageables) represents the failure of every presumptive cure. The welfare state, the free market, Christianity (conservative and liberal), Islam, patriotism, communism—no matter what your deal is, blacks have proved it doesn’t help.

That’s why whites will never give up. Giving up means your utopian cure, whatever it may be, has failed, and most people are loath to admit the failure of their most deeply held beliefs.

As “brave” as it seems to publicly talk about black crime stats, and as cool as it is to get a “ohwoweewowow” retweet from Elon Musk on the topic, there’s a risk in that strategy: Publicizing black crime stats only reinforces that there’s a problem that needs fixing. Sure, reading those stats might make a few extra whites more situationally aware on a dark street, but politically, those stats only lead to continued white obsession with “fixes.”

And hard remedies like ghettoization and imprisonment are out of favor, because if the only solution is “lock ’em away” (amputate the limb because it can’t be healed), by logical extension that means all other solutions have failed. The power of America! The power of Christ! Of Muhammad! Of Marx! Whatever you believe in hasn’t worked.

That’s why Soros “reformers” have been so successful; they’ve framed the black criminality problem as “locking them up is abdication, abandonment. We’re smart enough and good enough to find a true resolution!” Americans, even conservative and centrist Americans, respond to that challenge. There’s very little meaning left to being American, and whatever remains, whatever childlike “America is magic!” beliefs still exist in 2023, will be lost for good if we acknowledge that our most historical domestic problem is unfixable.

So yeah, repetition of black crime stats isn’t necessarily the bold move rightists take it to be; you’re just confirming the extent of the problem, thus prodding whites to keep experimenting with fixes.

Remember, Indians are more broken—economically, educationally, medically—than blacks, but nobody tries to fix Indians because nobody talks about Indians. The more you talk about a problem, the more you invite solutions.

Another risk: using blacks (and sentimentality about “foundational Americans”) as an argument against open borders. “Immigrants displace blacks, in neighborhoods and the workforce!” Well, the “great humanitarian” whites who’d never dream of wanting blacks swept out of their city because such a dream would be racist (and, again, would represent the failure of humane solutions) might be open to displacement if doing so made them feel like even greater humanitarians, greater Americans (immigration is our strength!), and greater Christians.

If, in the process of you being so great, the blacks in your city just so happen to slip out of sight and mind and you totally didn’t intend that and oh my God I’d never want such a thing but aw shucks it seems to have occurred anyway, darn it!—well, so be it.

Because what’s another oft-repeated theme of mine? L.A. is better with blacks gone and Mexicans in their place. Does that mean “open the border”? Of course not. I’m just stating a fact. By every metric—especially crime rates—L.A.’s much better now. Crime is still too high, but if you compare the murder stats from 1980s/1990s “black L.A.” to now, the reduction is breathtaking.

There are a thousand good reasons for closing the border, ending asylum, halting illegal and slowing legal immigration. But I’m not sure “It’ll keep blacks in your neighborhood!” is one of them.

Plus, such appeals will never move blacks in significant numbers to vote conservative. Indians have booze, blacks have Democrats. Two suicidal tendencies, but the latter’s more like murder-suicide.

Okay, I’ve cranked out another column. But everything I just wrote is merely a restatement of something I’ve already said over the past eight and a half years. You see my point about a rut? I don’t feel comfortable rewording myself over and over; from now on I’ll leave that to others. I’ll do my best to find something new, and at least semi-original, each week.

Readers have asked me since November to comment on L.A.’s mayoral race, and I haven’t yet. It was only last month, when former mayor Richard Riordan died, that I remembered how he won a majority of the Latino vote in 1997, a feat no L.A. Republican has been able to duplicate since. Indeed, so eager were Mexis to vote for Riordan that, for the first time in modern history, L.A. Latinos voted in greater numbers than blacks, and that wasn’t due to demographic shift—which hadn’t occurred yet—but enthusiasm.

Why’d that happen? Can it be duplicated? Let’s talk about it next week.

Netflix’s new pseudo-documentary Queen Cleopatra has now finally been released, having drummed up loads of free publicity via the simple expedient of misleadingly casting a black actress in the role of Cleo herself, thereby implying she was less Queen of the Nile, more Queen Latifah.

Gullible columnists (like me, right here, right now…) meekly served up acres of column inches, guaranteeing the show much higher viewing figures than it deserved. Lesson learned, Netflix’s forthcoming The Nelson Mandela Story starring Ray Winstone in the title role and Wesley Snipes as F.W. de Klerk has just been greenlit.

As previously detailed on Taki’s, the Egyptian government wasn’t best pleased about such “blackwashing,” accusing Netflix of “a falsification of history and a blatant historical fallacy,” as the real-life Cleopatra was probably of Greek-Macedonian descent, and so a tanned white Mediterranean type. To add insult to injury, the black actress cast to play Cleo, Adele James, was British, and therefore a de facto representative of Cairo’s former colonial-era masters: At least they didn’t cast Diane Abbott in the role.

“Lady Macbeth has no specific first name indicated in the cast list, but we can presume it was not secretly ‘Karen.’”

Infamy! Infamy! They’ve All Got It Infamy!
In interviews, James was open about the filmmakers’ motives for pretending Cleopatra was black: “It is political.” How so? “To be black or mixed-race or a non-white person in the world today, especially in the Western world, is a kind of political act in and of itself,” she huffed, with the haughtiness of an absolute monarch. If so, this by definition pushes being white in the West into a correspondingly political act too, one of either enforced submission toward, or resistance against, increasing cultural and political colonization by self-entitled black people from within. In other words, it’s an excellent way of sparking a low-level race war.

Just such a conflict was successfully fueled in Egypt itself, where a lawyer tried to get Netflix banned, and the government announced the funding of their own rival documentary, depicting Cleopatra in much more accurate racial terms (i.e., like Elizabeth Taylor smeared with tea bags).

This negative reaction, said James, just spoke to how much some Egyptians “would prefer to distance themselves from the rest of Africa,” which is to say, the sub-Saharan black portion of the continent; an understandable attitude, you may have thought, as Egyptians are clearly proud brown North African Arab types, not black Negroes. And, despite living in Britain, a majority-white country, don’t the likes of James wish to ostentatiously distance themselves from the vast mass of their own Caucasian countrymen by playing such racial games, too?

No, because black people can never be prejudiced, and any objection to James’ casting was “deeply rooted in racism,” unlike her own statements. Apparently, “the only people who will consider this [casting] radical” are modern-day plebs, and “it would not have been radical for her time.” How does this fit in with her previous specific assertion that it was a daring and overtly “political” act, then?

“To reduce her or any of us simply to our heritage or our race is very reductive,” James added, apparently arguing for the idea of color-blind casting—which, in this context, means black people being allowed to play whoever they like, whilst simultaneously decrying Laurence Olivier portraying Othello as an act of incredible Nazism. At least Larry bothered to rub some boot polish on to actually look the part first. James couldn’t even be arsed to give her own face a quick coat of Tipp-Ex.

A Drum, a Drum, Blackbeth Doth Come!
But color-blind casting too now poses problems, given the deliberately induced racial neuroses of our times. Even when casting of historical roles is supposed to be color-blind, as with 2021’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, in which Denzel Washington played the title role, it can inevitably lead to ideologically motivated viewers projecting their own obsessive racial psychoses onto the roles, irrespective of what the original creators intended. According to Washington, his multiethnic Blackbeth ensemble was employed purely on talent, being “black, white, blue, green, or whatever,” thus empowering even members of Hollywood’s hitherto marginalized martian and Smurf communities.

Yet the actress hired as Lady Macbeth, Frances McDormand, was hideously white, leading one critic, Lyvie Scott of website slashfilm.com, to conclude that “in the hands of Washington and McDormand, the Macbeths’ relationship takes on an entirely new layer of subtext,” i.e., a completely imaginary one, conjured up by Weird Sister Scott herself. “It’s difficult to ignore the power imbalance—and the moral disparity—between a Black Macbeth and his white wife,” she wrote.

What Scott seems to mean is that Macbeth—hitherto played by Washington with “the relaxed, uncle-like approach that has endeared the actor to so many in his decades-long career”—would have been a lovely, cuddly person and would never, ever have murdered King Duncan without the destructive, tempting influence of his wicked whitey bitch-wife. Shakespeare implied similarly, of course, but never suggested this had anything to do with her being a white woman; because, in the original 1606 play, everyone involved was clearly white. Lady M has no specific first name indicated in the cast list, but we can presume it was not secretly “Karen.”

Black & White Cinema
If society is now hypnotized by CRT witches to see racial matters everywhere it looks, then by definition there can no longer really be any “color-blind casting” at all, as enlightened entities like Scott will automatically spot the “moral disparity” between any given white and black pairings on screen to the black character’s inevitable, unearned advantage, even if the two characters in question happen to be Idi Amin and whichever missionary he’s eating for dinner that evening.

Plus, if racially incoherent casting makes a left-winger react “positively” like this, what is to prevent a political opponent reacting in a negative, politically reversed fashion, too? Imagine a cinemagoing Grand Wizard of the KKK’s reaction to the emotive sight of a black Macbeth stabbing an elderly white man to steal his crown and property: “Is this a nigger I see before me? Probably, he’s involved in knife crime.”

This imagined antiblack reaction against Mr. Washington may be equally as spurious as the real-life antiwhite one against Ms. McDormand detailed above, but only one would be likely to get you thrown out of the cinema if you gave open voice to it whilst chomping your popcorn.

“Obviously we [the cast] are diverse,” Denzel Washington benignly told interviewers, but surely society was now “at a place” where such things “shouldn’t even be mentioned,” just taken for granted. With incredible naivety like that, you can see how his wife so easily managed to make him stab someone.

The Past Ain’t What It Used to Be
It is perfectly possible to create artistically worthwhile racial reimaginings of historical or semi-historical figures, as with Akira Kurosawa’s versions of Macbeth (Throne of Blood) and King Lear (Ran) set in feudal-era Japan—but they were aesthetic triumphs performed for purely artistic reasons, not bizarre efforts to persuade viewers the central figures had yellow skin.

Queen Cleopatra is completely different, being stacked with Afrocentrist (shit-)talking heads like Shelley Haley, a black Classicist who informs viewers that, when a child, her grandmother informed her that “Shelley, I don’t care what they tell you in school…. Cleopatra was black.” Based on what, precisely? The fact her grandmother thought Cleopatra was downtrodden, just like she was.

In an essay, Haley explains how the Gorgon Medusa was also black, even though she was a wholly mythological nonhuman monster with living snakes for hair, or maybe just some really nappy dreadlocks. Allegedly, Medusa’s “decapitation by Perseus represents the rape and cultural suppression of Africa by Europeans.” Do these solipsists really not see what they’re doing to Cleopatra also represents the “rape and cultural suppression of Arabs” to many outraged Egyptians?

According to fellow Netflix talking head Dr. Islam Issa, meanwhile, “Everyone can imagine her in their own way. I imagine her to have curly hair like me and a similar skin color.” Okay, I imagine her as looking like Grace Kelly with a swastika tattooed on her forehead. Is that acceptable?

Talk Crap Like an Egyptian
Woke Western history is no longer to be based on tedious things like actual facts, simply on flattering the imaginations of self-fellating black people. This can be seen clearly in an absurd NY Times op-ed, “Fear of a Black Cleopatra,” published on 10 May by two (white) U.S. professors, Drs. Gwen Nally and Mary Hamil Gilbert. Drawing on the innovative research performed inside Shelley Haley’s grandmother’s head whilst asleep in her school History class, they explained how, though the real Cleopatra may well not have been physically Nubian, nonetheless “Cleopatra was culturally black.”

Whilst Cleopatra did not actually have black skin, she was still black anyway, because she was “part of a culture and history that has known oppression and triumph, exploitation and survival.” Right. So she was actually Jewish, then? Or, today, a Western white man.

Pyramid Schemes
“The intersection of Cleopatra’s race and gender [not “sex,” note: This is the NYT] resulted in a form of oppression that cast her heritage and sexuality as particularly dangerous,” the authors continued. But Cleopatra wasn’t particularly oppressed, being, you know, Queen of All Egypt and stuff. Egypt had one of the greatest empires of the ancient world. It enslaved other people, including black Nubians from what is now Sudan.

Nevertheless, argue the authors, “Cleopatra’s experience was part of a history of oppression of Black women” anyway, and “Reclaiming Cleopatra as black and choosing to portray her now as a Black woman highlights this history.” That word, “Reclaiming,” is Ebonic English for “Pretending,” I think.

History is written by the victors, and the victors of our current culture wars are the racially motivated left. Still, if they ever change their minds, they could always play with people’s heads anew by saying Cleopatra was white after all, as proven by the fact her Evil Empire traded in black Nubian slaves from their civilization’s Deep South.

As always, the last word about Queen Cleo should go to that great black Nigerian playwright and poet, William Mbuemo Shakespeare:

Age cannot wither her,
Nor custom stale her infinite variety;
One week she’s Aryan,
The next week Nubian,
A perfect vehicle for racial piety.

The Week’s Most Rending, Bending, and Three-Day-Weekending Headlines

(Sung to the tune of “Nagasaki”)

George Soros and Pammy Price,
Wok an Asian like fryin’ rice.
Berkeley’s Nagasaki where the blackies smoke the cracky
Then they turn you into barbecue.

You take your baby to Boba World,
Now she looks like the napalm girl.
Berkeley’s Nagasaki where an angry wacky blacky
Will chicken teriyaki you!

As the 78th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki solemnly approaches, Berkeley, California, has decided to commemorate the occasion by making it legal to burn Asians to a crisp.

One evening in 2020, 49-year-old Brandon McGlone, a black gentleman with an extensive criminal history, walked the city streets announcing that he was planning to “set someone on fire” (the brilliant scholar was merely testing his new iteration of the traffic light, which replaces the “don’t walk” sign with an active flamethrower).

When McGlone couldn’t find volunteers willing to be immolated, he burst into a boba shop popular with Asian students from the nearby university, pulled out a can of WD-40 and a lighter, and turned a Chinese boy and his date into roast duck (they survived, much to the chagrin of local chefs who’d grown tired of dog).

When bystanders attempted to stop the incinerasian, Peter Panfry attacked them with a hatchet.

And now, Berkeley’s Soros-funded DA Pamela Price has declared, “Leave McGlone alone”; he’s been released.

Just a week earlier, several of Price’s prosecutors quit over her uncaring attitude toward the wonton violence directed by blacks against Alameda County’s Asians. She defended her decision in the McGlone case by saying, “Look, he only wanted to burn one Chinaman. But you know what they say—after you heat Chinese, an hour later you want more!”

Brandon McGlone: Ebola Gay, cooking up the Crepe of Nanking.

And while we’re in Alameda, let’s visit Dublin, California—named for the Irish immigrants who’d come to the state for the Gold Rush but then there was this bar, see, and by the time they sobered up the gold was gone.

These days the city should be called Dubrin, as it’s 53 percent Asian. And the Asians of Dubrin live much better than the Asians of Berkeley, because even though both are in the same county, a vast, densely forested wildlife preserve separates the two. It also keeps Dublin safe from the residents of Oakland, who prefer not to cross the wilderness, as mountain lions and bears will attack even if you call them racist.

Yet while Dublin is safe from blacks, it’s besieged by trannies.

“Athena” Ryan, a boy with long hair, was a mediocre high school track athlete who decided to declare trans so he could compete against girls. And all season long, he’s been wiping the floor with ’em. He’s even given interviews in which he boasts about how much better his ranking is since he stopped having to compete against males.

Wotta sport!

Last week, Ryan placed second in the 1,600-meter race at the CIF Meet of Champions (he would’ve won, but he stopped mid-race to flash the women behind him). Adeline Johnson, an actual girl who finished fourth (thus not advancing to the state championships) certainly didn’t feel like toasting Ryan with Mulvaney Budweiser. She gave a visible “thumbs down” from the medal podium, as Ryan stood next to her grinning like a guy who’s about to pull an “Izzard” in the girls’ locker room.

The meet attracted protesters who denounced the California Interscholastic Federation’s policy of allowing “athletes to participate in programs consistent with their gender most consistently expressed.”

According to the CIF, “I’ve been consistently saying I’m a girl since yesterday when I lost against other boys,” is all it takes to destroy the dreams of actual women.

Berkeley? Dublin? For female students in Alameda County, it’s a tough call.

By WD-40 flamethrower or tranny cheating, either way, they’ll lose face.

Last week was a banner one for “climate change” alarmists.

Accent on the “ban.”

First, the French did what they do best and surrendered, in this case their air travel, banning all short domestic flights.

Now do international; Daft Punk are planning a world comeback tour.

Meanwhile, looks like somebody owes Ron an apaulogy.

“Super-expensive private schools are facing an avalanche of lawsuits from parents upset that math, science, history, and literature have been traded for Trayvon, Floyd, Brown, and Neely.”

Back when Ron Paul was making a splash in the 2012 GOP primary, a cadre of his superfans made a “splash” of their own by declaring that they’d discovered a foolproof way to fight the menace of “chemtrails,” the toxins, cleverly disguised as normal airplane contrails, spread through the skies by Illuminati Deep-State Elders of Zion for reasons yet to be established.

And what did these foolproofers discover? Chemtrails vanish if you spray vinegar at them!

In a series of viral videos, legions of Paulsamics took to their backyards and rooftops spraying vinegar at the sky to cleanse it of chemtrails.

“Scientists” laughed. But no more! You know the old saying: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then they join you because there’s huge money in stupidity.” Yes, scientists have discovered that vinegar fights “climate change” (a.k.a. “chemtrails for government-funded PhDs”).

Last week, “experts” published a study claiming vinegar can “slow down or potentially reverse climate change while providing economic benefits to the industry from the sales of acetic acid products.”

The study was funded by the vinegar industry. Big Vinnie strikes again!

Perhaps a series of joint outings can be organized between chemtrail fighters and climate change warriors, where both groups can assemble somewhere very far from the rest of us and douche the sky until mankind is saved.

As reported last week by Bloomberg, super-expensive private schools are facing an avalanche of lawsuits from parents upset that math, science, history, and literature have been traded for Trayvon, Floyd, Brown, and Neely.

Bloomberg profiled Jerome Eisenberg, who spends $50,000 annually to keep his kid in L.A.’s exclusive Brentwood School, which has now rebranded as an “anti-racist academy,” jettisoning lessons of value in favor of daily instruction in how cold fries equal genocide. Eisenberg accuses the school of an educational “bait-and-switch”; his suit is pending.

Jin-Hee Lee of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund told Bloomberg that Americans must face their history of violence toward blacks. Then a black guy burned her face off with a WD-40 flamethrower.

The Bloomberg piece laments that “civil rights attorneys” are increasingly having to defend against parental lawsuits over racial brainwashing. Ben Crump, who doesn’t so much chase ambulances as carjack them, wishes schools would just keep quiet about indoctrination, so parents don’t find out.

Interestingly, Crump has his own thing he keeps quiet about. Several years ago, he and his then partner Daryl Parks represented a black man who was paralyzed from the chest down during a nightclub fight (he grabbed a responding officer’s baton and was subsequently tackled by police and security). Parks, on his website, brags about the fact that he and Crump won so much money from that case ($4.9 million), “The city raised the amount of parking meter fees to help pay the compensation.”

On his website, Crump features the exact same anecdote word-for-word, but leaves off the parking meter part. Neither Crump nor Parks name the locale, because if the black residents learn that they be payin’ more for parking because Ben Crump extorted the city, the great civil rights defender might just find himself staring at a WD-40 flamethrower.

CNN’s house akbar Christiane Amanpour is no fan of her network’s Donald Trump town hall. While giving a commencement speech to graduates of the Columbia (scare quotes) “Journalism School” (“good luck to the next generation of people who’ll ruin the life of some anonymous white guy caught on camera saying ‘nigger’”), Amanpour asserted that nobody should be allowed to “rant” on CNN unless their claims “reach the basic evidence level required in a court of law.”

Well, so long, Christiane! Good luck in your new job.

Because just a few days after her stunning and brave speech, Amanpour was forced to apologize on air for a claim that did not “reach the basic evidence level required in a court of law.” Last month, Amanpour reported on the cold-blooded murder of Israeli Jew Lucy Dee and her teenage daughters Maia and Rina, who were driving to a holiday retreat when they were ambushed and shot 22 times by Palestinian terrorists.

Amanpour, a.k.a. Intifada McGee, claimed that the mother and children were killed in a “shoot-out.” Which would mean an equal firefight on both sides, which is a lie (the mom and kids were unarmed). After a month of refusing to correct the record, last week “Yassma’am Arafat” finally admitted on air that she “misspoke.”

Outraged Israelis wondered how a reputable news org could employ someone who claimed that unarmed children were somehow equally matched against a squad of guerrillas with Kalashnikovs.

To which American whites replied, “Welcome to the party, putz.” After all, in the U.S. a 24-year-old black woman can murder an 8-month-old white baby, and the media will sympathetically report her defense: “The baby started it!”

Those are the rules these days. The darker the skin, the more your every act is “self-defense,” whether it be against teens in a car or a pugilistic baby who f—ed around and found out.

Meanwhile, if you have light skin and you actually do engage in self-defense, you’re Hitler.

CNN’s Trump town hall was an unwieldy, desperate ratings grab, but it has a long way to go to even be in the top hundred most foul excesses of that network.

His death was front-page news in every newspaper in America, starting with The New York Times, and his demise also led the news on television. Long glowing tributes poured in, starting with Barack Obama confirming the man’s greatness. The commissioner of pro football, Roger Goodell, said that Jim Brown was the ultimate role model. As did LeBron James, the basketball player who shills for China when not busy calling America a fascist, racist state.

So what else is new? A very good black football player dies and is elevated to greatness by the color of his skin and by the usual suspects. Jim Brown was not the greatest ever, because he refused to block for teammates. He was almost impossible to bring down as a carrier. He played for nine seasons only and then retired to become a movie star, with so-so results.

“What all the news gatherers and TV hounds forgot to mention was Jim Brown’s propensity for beating the hell out of women.”

The past, needless to say, is tolerated in America only when it is useful. Things like slavery, if you know what I mean, or the beastliness of the Confederacy. What all the news gatherers and TV hounds forgot to mention was Jim Brown’s propensity for beating the hell out of women. Only one spoilsport, the greatest sportswriter in America, Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, dared to mention that rather embarrassing fact: “Brown had a predilection for criminally violent behavior.”

Oh yes, I almost forgot. He also beat up and sent to hospital a soul he was playing golf with, and I presume the victim was a man, as I cannot envision Jim Brown playing golf with a lady partner. The latter were reserved for rape and beatings. The best and only truthful sportswriter in America, Phil Mushnick: “ Brown was arrested half a dozen times, mostly on charges of hitting women.” He was also charged with rape, sexual battery, and assault, and later in 1999 he was jailed for a day or two for refusing to attend domestic violence counseling.

The media in America is almost as guilty as Brown by ignoring the criminal facts when black men or women are concerned. Do not despair, however. Education will prevail, and everything will be hunky-dory one day soon. Especially when blessed with teachers like professor Shellyne Rodriguez, late of Hunter College of New York. In a Hunter College hallway last week, the professor spotted some students handing out pamphlets whose message she did not agree with—pro-life. “Get the f— away from here, I’m going to wreck your f—— table,” she bellowed. She claimed that any pro-life message meant violence and triggered her students.

Then it got better. The next day a New York Post reporter knocked on her door and asked for comment. The good professor did not exactly exchange ideas with him. “F— you, get the f— away from my door, ask me a question and my machete goes to your f—— throat.” She by then had produced a large knife and held it at the newsman’s throat. The good professor also had some very nice tattoos, the most conspicuous being “FTP,” or “F— the Police.”

So, good readers of Takimag, do not despair. Heroes like Jim Brown and professors like Shellyne Rodriguez, both proud African Americans, will lead us to redemption and glory.

Whenever we have a national conversation about government debt, Democrats invariably respond that spending is not the reason the debt is now nearly equal to our national GDP. The real cause of our indebtedness, they inform us, is that taxes aren’t high enough and the rich don’t pay their fair share. From increasing the marginal tax rate to more than 70% for higher-income earners, to taxing 100% of income above $1 billion, to the president’s recent debt-ceiling plan, Democrats overflow with ideas about how to tax us more.

Not only do these ideas reflect incredible ignorance of economic reality, they’re also unlikely to have any meaningful effect on our debt levels and would surely slow the economy.

Let’s be clear: America’s debt problem isn’t the result of former President Donald Trump’s tax cuts. While I believe these tax cuts should have been offset by closing some of our many loopholes and reducing government spending, they didn’t cause our fiscal problems. The fiscal imbalance is not because of reduced revenues. Last year, federal revenue as a share of the economy was a full percentage point above the historical average.

“America’s debt problem isn’t the result of former President Donald Trump’s tax cuts.”

As the Cato Institute’s Adam Michel reminded Congress recently, “It’s new spending that drives the deficit. For example, President Biden has added about $5 trillion in unnecessary spending to the national debt. That’s more than three times the 10 year revenue reduction of the 2017 tax cuts.” Trump was no better. Before the pandemic, I often lamented ballooning budget deficits under the Trump administration. And there’s also plenty of justified blame for presidents before Trump.

Maybe more importantly, trying to reduce the deficit by raising taxes on the rich is unfair and ineffective. Rich people in America already pay a large amount of taxes. That is true regardless of whether you look at the total amounts they pay or relative amounts. That’s because the federal tax system is extremely progressive, even compared to European countries.

European governments pay for their large governments by taxing the middle class. Testifying before the Senate Budget Committee, Michel remarked that if the average middle-class taxpayer were to move to Europe, he would pay in taxes an additional $16,000 annually. The Tax Foundation meanwhile calculated that “If the U.S. taxed personal income in the same way that Denmark does, all income over $82,000 would be taxed at over 55%.”

But even if one assumes that Congress could extract much more revenue from rich people without hurting capital accumulation, investment and jobs, there still isn’t enough income earned by rich people to pay down next year’s deficit, let alone the deficits in the next 10 years. Besides, does anyone really believe that if Sen. Bernie Sanders and friends had their way, rich people would continue laboring and earning as much income as they do now?

This is all the more frustrating because we know how to get our debt under control. There’s an entire literature on the issue. It shows that countries that successfully reduce their debt-to-GDP ratio adopt fiscal-adjustment packages that consist mostly of spending restraints. On the other hand, countries that try to lower their debt with tax increases not only fail, but also experience larger and longer-lived recessions.

The belief that we can reduce the deficit by taxing more revenue also overlooks the actual spending behavior of politicians. Regardless of how they justify a tax hike, when politicians get their hands on more revenue, they often use it to spend more. The result is rising, not reduced, deficits. Economist Richard Vedder and his co-authors, for instance, found that in the 1980s, every $1 raised by additional taxes generated $1.58 of additional spending. This study was revised at least three times (in 1991, 2007 and 2010) and each time produced the same results.

Finally, changes in taxes, especially in marginal tax rates, have a broader and overlooked effect on the skills and earning power of workers, as well as on overall labor-market efficiency. A few years ago, Aparna Mathur, Sita Slavov and Michael Strain showed that in the long term, a more progressive tax system reduces the incentives to accumulate human capital. For instance, higher taxes on higher earners could incentivize a student entering medical school to become a pediatrician rather than a higher-earning surgeon. We need both, but that’s how shortages of surgeons are made.

Here’s the bottom line: Congress and the White House must reduce the deficit, and the only realistic way of doing so is by dramatically curtailing spending.

The ability of governments to get everything the wrong way round is so commonplace that it should no longer surprise us. It is as if they feared to solve a problem lest they should have nothing to do.

The Iraqi government is the latest of many to announce that it will henceforth abandon the U.S. dollar as a medium of transaction. The Iraqi Ministry of the Interior has said that anyone in Iraq using dollars will be subject to punishment.

I cannot predict where the current fashion for de-dollarization will end or what it will bring in its wake. I suspect it will be nothing good. If successful in the sense that the dollar ceases to be the reserve currency of the world, it will cause even more instability than there is at present, and stability, even when unfair, has its value. If it fails, it will increase resentment, never a motive of the best policy.

“However rotten or shaky the U.S. dollar may be, who would rather be paid in Iraqi dinars?”

The Iraqi government’s scarcely concealed hostility to the United States is, in a way, ungrateful; for it would not have been the government at all had it not been for that country’s intervention in their own. Saddam Hussein might well still have been in power without it, but whether this would have been a good or a bad thing is a question not straightforwardly easy to answer. The war ended two millennia of Christian life in Iraq, it killed a huge number of people, it liberated the Kurds, it brought an end to minority Sunni domination, it increased Iranian influence in the country, it caused immense economic damage. Saddam Hussein was a very bad man, a murderer, but he was not a religious fanatic, and the second war against his regime was conducted on a patently bogus pretext. It created lasting chaos, and I doubt that there are many who, if they could turn the clock back, would want the same policy to be pursued.

No doubt smoldering hatred of the United States and national pride played a large part in the Iraqi government’s decision to forbid the use of the American dollar in all internal transactions, whether in private or in settlement between companies. But like fine words, hatred butters no parsnips. The Iraqi government joins a long list of governments down the ages that have tried to improve, or at any rate control, whole economies by decree.

The government is reported to require traders to sign a pledge to use only the Iraqi dinar in their activities. If they break their word, they will be punished.

It is perfectly obvious that, humans being what they are, this will only make life in Iraq even more uncertain than it already is. It will most certainly enrich some. To tell people that they must not use the dollar but must use the dinar instead is like telling them they must believe in Jesus. It is like trying to reduce a housing shortage by rent control or, as in previous times, correct a shortage of bullion by clipping coins or reducing their content of precious metal.

This does not mean that the U.S. dollar is above reproach when it comes to deserving confidence; but in these matters it is all a matter of relative trustworthiness, and confidence is not generally increased by making it compulsory. However rotten or shaky the U.S. dollar may be, who would rather be paid in Iraqi dinars, or Argentinean pesos, Sudanese pounds, Somali shillings, than in American dollars?

Getting hold of the wrong end of the stick is a human and not just a governmental propensity. One of its advantages, psychological though rarely practical, is that it encourages the ascription of blame to others, especially when one is oneself to blame, wholly or partly. And finding someone to blame is in turn an important and reassuring mental process, for it suggests that there is an easy solution to a complex problem: Get rid of the blameworthy people and all will be well. Blame reassures us that causes of unpleasant events are under human control.

It is all within our experience that this is sometimes the case. Someone may truly be trying to poison us by putting arsenic in our food, and removal of that person from the vicinity of our kitchen would obviously be advantageous to us. But usually, things are more complicated. Causes come in cascades, and we isolate the one we want to blame in order to preserve our own blamelessness.

I used sometimes to be asked for my opinion in a medical case in which death had avoidably resulted. Who was to blame? Officially, that was not the question: I was asked to find only what had happened, not who was to blame. But the enquiry always had what literary scholars call a subtext, namely the need to find the guilty party.

If fault could not be denied, if failing could not be hidden, if the shortcomings were too egregious, organizations such as hospitals then tried to ensure that blame was fixed at the lowest possible level of the hierarchy. This was done by a simple means: by searching for the laid-down procedure that was not followed to the letter, for example a form that was not filled when, according to procedure, it should have been. This was the buried treasure that inquiries always sought, with the implication that, if only the form had been filled in, if only procedure had been followed to the letter, all would have been well and the deceased would not have died. Apart from that unfilled form, everything was perfect, and the person who failed to fill the form was the one responsible for the untoward death (by the time this was concluded, that person had usually, and luckily, moved on, so that no such unfortunate outcome could ever occur again—till the next time, of course).

But in reality, there had been incompetence or error from top to bottom, cascading down from the chief executive like a mountain stream. Blaming the lowliest person who had failed to follow procedure was to the hospital what de-dollarization is to Iraq.

Theodore Dalrymple’s latest book is Ramses: A Memoir, published by New English Review.

Now that we know Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is running for president (along with several others whose names I can’t remember), I have a helpful primer on what NOT to do as president.

I base this advice on the conduct of the most inconsequential president in U.S. history, Donald Trump. With the exception of the judiciary — something neither he nor Jared saw a way of monetizing, thank God — Trump’s entire presidency can be summarized as: obnoxious tweets, followed by immediate and complete capitulation.

The problem with the Trump diehards is that they’d read the bad-ass tweets, pump their fists, but then wander off, never bothering to find out what happened next. Here’s what happened: Trump surrendered. Over and over and over again.

“Trump surrendered. Over and over and over again.”

There were so many surrenders that The New York Times had to keep coming up with new synonyms for “loser”: “Trump Gives Ground,” “Trump Backs Off,” “Trump Drops,” “Trump Accommodates Democrats,” “Trump Seethes,” “Trump Signals Defeat,” “Trump’s Surprise Retreat,” “Trump Confronted by a Loss,” “The Biggest Surrender of His Presidency,” and so on.

In his first two years in office, Trump had a Republican House and a Republican Senate — he could have done anything! Let’s see how he fulfilled his signature promise to build a wall, as told in tweets and headlines.


“… (if) the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be! #BuildTheWall” — Trump tweet, April 24, 2017

“Don’t let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL. It will get built and help stop drugs, human trafficking etc.” — Trump tweet, April 25, 2017

New York Times Headline, April 26, 2017: “Wall ‘Will Get Built,’ Trump Insists, as He Drops Funding Demand”


“If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall … One way or the other, we’re going to get that wall.” — Trump at Phoenix rally, Aug. 22, 2017

“I think everybody knows this president isn’t somebody who backs down.” — White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, Aug. 23, 2017

Months of negotiations and studly tweets (Jan. 4, 2018: “We must BUILD THE WALL, stop illegal immigration,” etc. etc.) led to this:

New York Times headline, March 22, 2018: “Spending Plan Passed by Congress Is a Rebuke to Trump.”

“Rebuke” is putting it mildly: The bill expressly prohibited Trump from building a wall and, for good measure, also blocked the hiring of thousands of new Border Patrol agents.

But Trump bounced back with more masterful tweeting!

“I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill (because) … the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded.” — Trump tweet, March 23, 2018

Then, the very next day …

New York Times headline, March 24, 2018: “Trump Seethes, but Signs Bipartisan Spending Plan”

True, Trump had given away the store, but look at what he said while signing the Don’t Even Think About Building a Wall bill:

“I looked very seriously at the veto. I was thinking about doing the veto.”

Not only that, but he vowed, “I will never sign another bill like this again — I’m not going to do it again.”

You’ll never guess what he did again.


“I want to know, where is the money for Border Security and the WALL in this ridiculous Spending Bill, and where will it come from after the Midterms? Dems are obstructing Law Enforcement and Border Security. REPUBLICANS MUST FINALLY GET TOUGH!” — Trump tweet, Sept. 20, 2018

Months of negotiations finally ended with …

“Trump Signs Bill Reopening Government for 3 Weeks in Surprise Retreat From Wall” — The New York Times, Jan. 25, 2019

Surprise! By then, 41 newly elected House Democrats had been sworn in, and there was no hope of getting a wall or anything else through Congress.

How does a Republican president get buffaloed like this by a Republican Congress? Reagan enacted his entire radical agenda (and won the Cold War) without ever, not once, having a Republican House and Senate.

It wasn’t only Trump’s wall that followed the obnoxious tweet/face plant trajectory. It was everything. Tweeting “LAW & ORDER!” as the country went up in flames; retweeting #FireFauci while never daring to remove King Anthony from his throne; spending months tweeting about “Rocket Man,” then staging a theatrical meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un — to accomplish what exactly?

I’ll need another column to even begin to capture the horror of this wasted presidency.

Gov. DeSantis, I’m pretty sure I don’t need to tell you this, but please don’t do any of that.