Monday, March 05, 2007

Senator Obama in Selma

When the Media Matters coverage is up, please let me know so I can link to it. Senator Obama paints with a wide brush America's diverse minority communities, a grave offense even more egregious than guilt by association! In Selma he said:
We've got 46 million people uninsured in this country despite spending more money on health care than any nation on earth. It makes no sense. As a consequence, we've got what's known as a health care disparity in this nation because many of the uninsured are African American or Latino. Life expectancy is lower. Almost every disease is higher within minority communities. The health care gap.

Nevermind that it makes perfect sense to one who's able to set aside preconceived notions in favor of a little empiricism.

The media watchdog should be focusing on how an Illinois' Senator strongly insinuated that the healthcare mechanisms in place for racial minorities in the US are inferior to those enjoyed by whites, when he meant to exclude Asians from his stereotyping!

Asian-Americans can expect to live more than six years longer than the average US resident can. They suffer from higher rates of tuberculosis and chlamydia than whites do, but fare better when it comes to AIDS, gonorrhea, lyme disease, and salmonella poisoning, to name a few. The Asian-American combined overweight/obesity rate is 37.1%. Whites come in as the runners-up, at a distant 57.8%. Obama should've strictly demagogued healthcare coverage rates, where Asians do better than other minorities but worse than whites.

With Jesse Jackson standing beside him, he sounded like Steve Harvey, heavy on the biblical references, comparing the white America of my grandparents to the Egyptian Pharoahs in Exodus, and mentioning on several occasions that he too was involved in the bloody trenches of the civil rights struggle.

I don't want to pick on Obama (if a sugar ant can pick on a celestial being). He conducts himself well enough as far as I can tell. He has the precarious job of trying to sell his credentials to the black community without souring his potential appeal to white voters.

A black class act is a rarity in the Democratic Party, where black politicans wisely leverage their racial composition to sell themselves as defenders of the 'community' (verbally, the racial adjective is usually left out)--communities that are usually majority-black. The African American face of the Democratic Party is seen by looking at Sheila Jackson Lee and Charlie Rangel, and at activists on the Democratic side like Jackson and Al Sharpton.

On the GOP side, black leaders are those people whom most middle class white Americans would be happy to call in-laws: Colin Powell, JC Watts, Clarence Thomas, Condoleeza Rice. Black leaders in the Republican Party must do the opposite of their brethren across the aisle, downplaying the race factor and the 'hood credentials, as their bases of support are overwhelmingly white.

That's not to pass judgment on blacks in either party. I'm focusing on veneer. Both strategies make Machiavellian sense. Obama's dilemma is that to have a chance at coming out on top in the Democratic primaries, he'll have to employ the tactics of black Democrats, as he did in Selma over the weekend. To win a year from November, on the other hand, will require the markings of the conventional black Republican, markings that he's enjoyed mostly without challenge thus far in.


Anonymous said...

"Nevermind that it makes perfect sense to one who's able to set aside preconceived notions in favor of a little empiricism."

What makes perfect sense? That African Americans and Latinos are uninsured? How does that make it any better for their chances of working their way up or increasing their productivity? Pronouns can make for confusing writing.

Your reliance on IQ statistics when that data is unreliable is very questionable.

What do Asians have to do with it? How can you expect Obama to be minutely specific when he refers to the healthcare gap facing minorities? It's common knowledge that Asian-Americans are the exceptional minority.

Overall I'm afraid your post made very little sense. I see no thesis to it.

crush41 said...


If Obama's inability to make sense of the current state of non-Asian minority health compared to the majority is taken as one stemming from a moralistic perspective, fine. But it seems to me that he is suggesting a sort of injustice, as if health is somehow being 'stolen' from blacks and Latinos. But the correlation between IQ and health is extremely rigorous at the international level, more so than virtually any other attributes I've looked at (including aspects of wealth and economic productivity).

As for Asians, I'm not sure they are trumpeted as the exception, whether or not they are 'known'. Certainly they make the majority-oppression thesis much less tenable, especially in the case of South Koreans, who've as a people have arguably suffered more than any other ethnic group in the US over the last century.

Anonymous said...

What I'm saying is that gathering data on IQ is horribly unreliable. I've never had an IQ test nor has anyone in my family yet you expect me to believe that you can estimate the IQ of a nation like Uruguay or Zimbabwe? How do you justify that?

crush41 said...


I don't follow. I've never taken part in an opinion poll, but I reference them all the time.

Estimated IQ correlates strongly with several different variables. It is more strongly related to infant mortality, for example, than is wealth and physicians per capita. In the US it is rigorously correlated to the murder rate. And so on. It is certainly useful.

Anonymous said...

All I'm asking is for a quick link demonstrating the validity of these IQ estimations. What sort of IQ tests are they using? What age are they testing people?

You can reference opinion polls but hopefully you don't generalize the results of those opinion polls across entire nations. Especially local polls. The problem is that these polls are: 1) never truly representative and random, and 2) biased in their methodology.

Note some of the criticisms of the book in Amazon:

"The data is based on *** HIGHLY *** inadequate samples.
Example: to establish the average Iq of 25,000,000 Canadians the authors base their values on ** ONE ** sample of ** 313 ** canadians aged ... 7 to 12 years (!) and taken in ... 1979 !!!."

Is that true? And if they had do that for an industrialized nation, what did they do for all the developing countries with far worse statistical data?

I'm highly dubious of your assertion that estimated IQ correlates more with infant mortality than wealth. GDP per capita is the single most important factor in infant mortality. Study historical series and you will clearly see that as GDP per capita rises, infant mortality drops precipitously. Whether or not IQ was rising over the period is very difficult to say.

crush41 said...


If the data collection methods are weak, but the statistical relationships are rigorous nonetheless, it strongly suggests that better data will reveal even stronger relationships. This is a basic tenet of statistics that is lost on those who only have a cursory understanding of the science.

I looked at PPP and estimated IQ. PPP correlates with infant mortality at .56. IQ and infant morality correlate at .84.

daveg said...

Please do not damage the term free market by associated it with the current US medical "system".