Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Obama Promotes Racial Discrimination in School Discipline

From the Daily Caller:
President Barack Obama is backing a controversial campaign by progressives to regulate schools’ disciplinary actions so that members of major racial and ethnic groups are penalized at equal rates, regardless of individuals’ behavior.

His July 26 executive order established a government panel to promote “a positive school climate that does not rely on methods that result in disparate use of disciplinary tools.”

“African Americans lack equal access to highly effective teachers and principals, safe schools, and challenging college-preparatory classes, and they disproportionately experience school discipline,” said the order, titled “White House Initiative On Educational Excellence.”

Because of those causes, the report suggests, “over a third of African American students do not graduate from high school on time with a regular high school diploma, and only four percent of African American high school graduates interested in college are college-ready across a range of subjects.”

“What this means is that whites and Asians will get suspended for things that blacks don’t get suspended for, “because school officials will try to level punishments despite groups’ different infraction rates, predicted Hans Bader, a counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Bader is a former official in the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, and has sued and represented school districts and colleges in civil-rights cases.

“It is too bad that the president has chosen to set up a new bureaucracy with a focus on one particular racial group, to the exclusion of all others,” said Roger Clegg, the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity.

“A disproportionate share of crimes are committed by African Americans, and they are disproportionately likely to misbehave in school… [because] more than 7 out of 10 African Americans (72.5 percent) are born out of wedlock… versus fewer than 3 out of 10 whites,” he said in a statement to The Daily Caller. Although ” you won’t see it mentioned in the Executive Order… there is an obvious connection between these [marriage] numbers and how each group is doing educationally, economically, criminally,” he said.

The order created a “President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.” It will include senior officials from several federal agencies — including the Departments of Education, Justice and Labor — which have gained increased power over state education policies since 2009.

The progressives campaign for race-based discipline policies also won a victory in Maryland July 24.

The state’s board of education established a policy demanding that each racial or ethnic group receive roughly proportional level of school penalties, regardless of the behavior by members of each group.

The board’s decision requires that “the state’s 24 school systems track data to ensure that minority and special education students are not unduly affected by suspensions, expulsions and other disciplinary measures,” said a July 25 Washington Post report.

“Disparities would have to be reduced within a year and eliminated within three years,” according to the Post.

The state’s new racial policy was welcomed by progressives, including Judith Browne Dianis, a director of the D.C.-based Advancement Project. “Maryland’s proposal is on the cutting edge,” she told the Post.

Dianis’ project is also a law firm that litigates race-related questions, and it gains from laws and regulations that spur race-related legal disputes.

“The combination of overly harsh school policies … has created a ‘schoolhouse-to-jailhouse track,’ in which punitive measures such as suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests are increasingly used to deal with student misbehavior,” claimed the group’s website.

This “is a racial justice crisis, because the students pushed out through harsh discipline are disproportionately students of color,” the group insisted.

The administration had previously advertised its support for the campaign to impose race-based discipline policies.

In February, Attorney General Eric Holder claimed that “we’ve often seen that students of color, students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and students with special needs are disproportionately likely to be suspended or expelled.”

“This is, quite simply, unacceptable. … These unnecessary and destructive policies must be changed,” he said in his speech, given in Atlanta, Ga.

Holder’s speech did not, however, include any evidence of discrimination toward any individual African-American student. For example, he offered no evidence that school infractions by African-American students prompt stiffer punishments than similar infractions by white, Hispanic or Asian students.

The progressive campaign to impose race-based rules on schools relies on various judges’ decisions, which penalize so-called “disparate impact” in hiring.

According to progressive lawyers, “disparate impact” may occur when companies or state and local governments hire and promote people at rates different from their percentage in the local population.

Because of judges’ decisions, juries can force companies and state agencies — such as city boards that hire police officers and firefighters — to pay heavy financial penalties to plaintiffs, even when hiring policies are recognized as color-blind.

When facing a disparate impact lawsuit, employers have to justify their hiring practices, for example, by showing that the job demands special skills possessed by relatively few members of a racial or ethnic group.

In 1997, however, the Seventh Circuit appeals court barred the practice of racial balancing in school discipline to avoid disparate impact lawsuits, said Bader.

Progressives say the “disparate impact” claims are supported by the 1964 Civil Right Act.

Critics, such as Clegg, say “disparate impact” law is used to trump popular and effective color-blind practices, such as civil-service tests by governments and employment-suitability testing by companies.

Another critic, David Rettig, head of the National Character Education Foundation, told The Daily Caller in February that apparently-disproportionate school discipline practices can be a reflection of local crime reports.

“Outside the walls of the school, how many of these kids are coming from not just dysfunctional homes, but homes that are not supportive of their children?” he told TheDC.
Of course, when it becomes difficult or impossible to discipline black students because of a quota of punishments, who gets hurt?

White students in suburban high schools? No. The vast majority of their students are white, and the black students are likely to be middle class, either because their parents live in the district, or because their parents particularly care about their education and have taken advantage of some transfer program.

So who gets hurt? Students trapped in inner city schools with black student bodies, were faculty and administrators can’t maintain discipline.

On this issue, as on so many others, the race hustlers (who dominate the Obama Administration) are not representing the interests of blacks against whites. They are promoting the interests of thugs and punks against the interests of black students who want to work and achieve and move up in American society.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Anti-Gay? It’s Fine Coming From Pet Democratic Groups

From Mark Steyn, writing about the intolerance of the left in the face of comments from Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy opposing gay marriage.
Meanwhile, fellow [Boston] mayor Tom Menino announced that Chick-fil-A would not be opening in his burg anytime soon. “If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult,” said His Honor. If you’ve just wandered in in the middle of the column, this guy Menino isn’t the mayor of Soviet Novosibirsk or Kampong Cham under the Khmer Rouge, but of Boston, Massachusetts. Nevertheless, he shares the commissars’ view that in order to operate even a modest and politically inconsequential business it is necessary to demonstrate that one is in full ideological compliance with party orthodoxy. “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail,” Mayor Menino thundered in his letter to Mr. Cathy, “and no place for your company alongside it.” No, sir. On Boston’s Freedom Trail, you’re free to march in ideological lockstep with the city authorities — or else. Hard as it is to believe, there was a time when Massachusetts was a beacon of liberty: the shot heard round the world, and all that. Now it fires Bureau of Compliance permit-rejection letters round the world.

Mayor Menino subsequently backed down and claimed the severed rooster’s head left in Mr. Cathy’s bed was all just a misunderstanding. Yet, when it comes to fighting homophobia on Boston’s Freedom Trail, His Honor is highly selective. As the Boston Herald’s Michael Graham pointed out, Menino is happy to hand out municipal licenses to groups whose most prominent figures call for gays to be put to death. The mayor couldn’t have been more accommodating (including giving them $1.8 million of municipal land) of the new mosque of the Islamic Society of Boston, whose IRS returns listed as one of their seven trustees Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Like President Obama, Imam Qaradawi’s position on gays is in a state of “evolution”: He can’t decide whether to burn them or toss ’em off a cliff. “Some say we should throw them from a high place,” he told Al Jazeera. “Some say we should burn them, and so on. There is disagreement. . . . The important thing is to treat this act as a crime.” Unlike the deplorable Mr. Cathy, Imam Qaradawi is admirably open-minded: There are so many ways to kill homosexuals, why restrict yourself to just one? In Mayor Menino’s Boston, if you take the same view of marriage as President Obama did from 2009 to 2012, he’ll run your homophobic ass out of town. But, if you want to toss those godless sodomites off the John Hancock Tower, he’ll officiate at your ribbon-cutting ceremony.
As is often the case, liberals are entirely knee-jerk when one politically correct group (say, gays) is in opposition to a politically incorrect group (say, Christians).

But pit one politically correct group against another, and they become very inconsistent.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Online Liberals More Likely to Block People Who Disagree With Them

Liberals like to claim that they are open-minded and tolerant, but nobody besides liberals believes that. Indeed, liberals’ claim to be open-minded and tolerant is itself a form of close-mindedness, based on the assertion that other people are less tolerant than they.

But now we have a Pew Poll with fairly extensive information on people’s behavior on social networking sites (Facebook, etc.), including information on who has blocked or otherwise excluded people because they disagreed with their political opinions.

So who is more likely to block somebody somebody on the basis of their political opinions? Liberals, of course.

The absolute percentage of liberals who have blocked somebody (16%) does not look large. But then a lot of Facebook users sign on very infrequently, and a lot of others have Facebook friends who pretty much always agree with them, or friends who just don’t post about politics (perhaps because they are not very political). So 16% is probably a very large proportion of the the users who actually find political content that they dislike on Facebook.

The corresponding number for conservatives is 8%.

It’s possible, of course, that conservatives do a better job of “friending” only people with whom they agree. But at the minimum, this data fails to give any support to the notion that liberals are more open-minded toward diverse opinions and points of view.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ignoring the Evidence on Fracking

From the Associated Press:
PITTSBURGH (AP) — In the debate over natural gas drilling, the companies are often the ones accused of twisting the facts. But scientists say opponents sometimes mislead the public, too.

Critics of fracking often raise alarms about groundwater pollution, air pollution, and cancer risks, and there are still many uncertainties. But some of the claims have little — or nothing— to back them.

For example, reports that breast cancer rates rose in a region with heavy gas drilling are false, researchers told The Associated Press.

Fears that natural radioactivity in drilling waste could contaminate drinking water aren’t being confirmed by monitoring, either.

And concerns about air pollution from the industry often don’t acknowledge that natural gas is a far cleaner burning fuel than coal.

“The debate is becoming very emotional. And basically not using science” on either side, said Avner Vengosh, a Duke University professor studying groundwater contamination who has been praised and criticized by both sides.

Shale gas drilling has attracted national attention because advances in technology have unlocked billions of dollars of gas reserves, leading to a boom in production, jobs, and profits, as well as concerns about pollution and public health. Shale is a gas-rich rock formation thousands of feet underground, and the gas is freed through a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which large volumes of water, plus sand and chemicals, are injected to break the rock apart.

The Marcellus Shale covers large parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia, while the Barnett Shale is in north Texas. Many other shale deposits have been discovered.

One of the clearest examples of a misleading claim comes from north Texas, where gas drilling began in the Barnett Shale about 10 years ago.

Opponents of fracking say breast cancer rates have spiked exactly where intensive drilling is taking place — and nowhere else in the state. The claim is used in a letter that was sent to New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo by environmental groups and by Josh Fox, the Oscar-nominated director of “Gasland,” a film that criticizes the industry. Fox, who lives in Brooklyn, has a new short film called “The Sky is Pink.”

But researchers haven’t seen a spike in breast cancer rates in the area, said Simon Craddock Lee, a professor of medical anthropology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

David Risser, an epidemiologist with the Texas Cancer Registry, said in an email that researchers checked state health data and found no evidence of an increase in the counties where the spike supposedly occurred.

And Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a major cancer advocacy group based in Dallas, said it sees no evidence of a spike, either.

“We don’t,” said Chandini Portteus, Komen’s vice president of research, adding that they sympathize with people’s fears and concerns, but “what we do know is a little bit, and what we don’t know is a lot” about breast cancer and the environment.

Yet Fox tells viewers in an ominous voice that “In Texas, as throughout the United States, cancer rates fell — except in one place— in the Barnett Shale.”

Lee called the claims of an increase “a classic case of the ecological fallacy” because they falsely suggest that breast cancer is linked to just one factor. In fact, diet, lifestyle and access to health care also play key roles.

Fox responded to questions by citing a press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that doesn’t support his claim, and a newspaper story that Risser said is “not based on a careful statistical analysis of the data.”

When Fox was told that Texas cancer researchers said rates didn’t increase, he replied in an email that the claim of unusually high breast cancer rates was “widely reported” and said there is “more than enough evidence to warrant much deeper study.”

Another instance where fears haven’t been confirmed by science is the concern that radioactivity in drilling fluids could threaten drinking water supplies.

Critics of fracking note the deep underground water that comes up along with gas has high levels of natural radioactivity. Since much of that water, called flowback, was once being discharged into municipal sewage treatment plants and then rivers in Pennsylvania, there was concern about public water supplies.

But in western Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority did extensive tests and didn’t find a problem in area rivers. State environmental officials said monitoring at public water supply intakes across the state showed non-detectable levels of radiation, and the two cases that showed anything were at background levels.

Concerns about the potential problem also led to regulatory changes. An analysis by The Associated Press of data from Pennsylvania found that of the 10.1 million barrels of shale wastewater generated in the last half of 2011, about 97 percent was either recycled, sent to deep-injection wells, or sent to a treatment plant that doesn’t discharge into waterways.

Critics of fracking also repeat claims of extreme air pollution threats, even as evidence mounts that the natural gas boom is in some ways contributing to cleaner air.

Marcellus air pollution “will cause a massive public health crisis,” claims a section of the Marcellus Shale Protest website.

Yet data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that the shale gas boom is helping to turn many large power plants away from coal, which emits far more pollution. And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency passed new rules to force drillers to limit releases of methane from wells and pumping stations.

Some environmental groups now say that natural gas is having a positive effect on air quality.

Earlier this year, the group PennFuture said gas is a much cleaner burning fuel, and it called gas-fired power plants “orders of magnitude cleaner” than coal plants.

Marcellus Shale Protest said in response to a question about its claims that “any possible benefit in electric generation must be weighed against the direct harm from the industrial processes of gas extraction.”

One expert said there’s an actual psychological process at work that sometimes blinds people to science, on the fracking debate and many others.

“You can literally put facts in front of people, and they will just ignore them,” said Mark Lubell, the director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior at the University of California, Davis.

Lubell said the situation, which happens on both sides of a debate, is called “motivated reasoning.” Rational people insist on believing things that aren’t true, in part because of feedback from other people who share their views, he said.

Vengosh noted the problem of spinning science isn’t new, or limited to one side in the gas drilling controversy. For example, industry supporters have claimed that drilling never pollutes water wells, when state regulators have confirmed cases where it has. He says the key point is that science is slow, and research into gas drilling’s many possible effects are in the early stages, and much more work remains to be done.

“Everyone takes what they want to see,” Vengosh said, adding that he hopes that the fracking debate will become more civilized as scientists obtain more hard data.
Liberals, of course, love to claim that conservatives are “anti-science” when they find conservatives wanting to teach intelligent design in schools, or being skeptical of anthropogenic global warming.

But liberals will quickly throw science under the bus when it interferes with their political agenda. This is most obvious when economics is concerned, but on a lot of other issues too.

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A Liberal Explains College Education

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Obama’s “You Didn’t Build That” Gaffe

Obama’s now famous “You didn’t build that” comment, which seemed to denigrate entrepreneurs, has been the subject of much comment. Marquette theologian Mark Johnson recently published an analysis of the statement. It’s excruciatingly fair-minded (we would be inclined to simply say that Obama doesn’t like business), but ultimately comes down against the president.

A key passage:
In 2003 a young man named Anthony Casalena was at the University of Maryland with a desire to build a website for himself that could be easily updated—a “content management system” (CMS), the tech-phrase is. He grew weary of the paltry offerings out on the Internet and decided to develop his own website-creation software, from complete and total scratch. The result was a web-publishing platform he called ‘Squarespace,’ whose existence he quickly shared with people he knew. He got the sense that his idea “had legs,” and so he sought some financial help to make it possible for him to develop his idea full-time. He went to his father for a $30,000.00 loan, and was able to use the funds to purchase hardware and infrastructure from private companies. He ran the product on his own—he was “tech support.”

In November of 2004 I was looking around for some help in my personal project of creating a website devoted to the academic study of St. Thomas Aquinas. I had learned computer programming, and had myself started developing a platform for my website (thomistica.net), but found the going hard, time-consuming, and possibly costly; besides, I need to teach and research on Thomistic theology. So I searched the Internet and saw some glowing reports in various forums about a brand-new product called “Squarespace,” where one could get a free trial website, and instant customer support: the answer to my prayers. I loaded up some test content on the site, grew to love its easy interface for web-publishing, and was almost tearful in my gratitude for how quickly this young man, Anthony Casalena, would respond to my support queries. I decided that I was “all in” on this new platform, and purchased a subscription to it. Since then, for both for my academic baby (thomistica.net) and my personal site (markfjohnson.net), Squarespace has been my home. Anthony has built this thing from the absolute ground up. Over time he added two employees, moved from Maryland to Manhattan, NYC, and managed the company with such frugality that it has been profitable since the beginning (thanks to the investment of his intellectual power, his sweat, and his father’s money—whom he has paid back, I’ve heard tell, manifoldly). In order to share his vision and guarantee the quality of his product he recently raised some venture capital funding, and used the money to hire more employees. Squarespace is now ninety employees large.

So please forgive me if I suffer consternation at the President’s ambiguous “somebody else built that,” for I can think of at least one person who deserves the lion’s share of credit for in fact “having built it.” Tony Casalena. And he now has ninety-plus employees (i.e., tax-payers, and wealth-coproducers) who daily “build it,” too. It may “take a village,” but the village is populated with individual people of all colors, shapes, and sizes, who work hard each day to make their way.

So, sorry. Tony Casalena did build that, or it.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Fight Gun Violence!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Democratic Politicians Creating the Country That Will Give Them Power

From Front Page Magazine:
Elections are won by demographics. No soup company blindly dumps cans of its newest “Turkey Coconut Bouillon with Nutmeg and Omega 3″ in Aisle 6 of the supermarket without testing to see what demographics such a hideous concoction might appeal to. Will the product appeal to lesbian single mothers, divorced Asian firefighters or eccentric Latvian millionaires? Politics is no different.

A political party has its base, definable groups who groove to its message, who eat up the red meat that its candidates toss their way. It has the demographic groups which will always vote for it and those who might swing its way. It knows them by race, gender, age, class, sexuality, home ownership and a thousand other statistical slices of the pie. It has those numbers broken down by states, cities and neighborhoods so that it has a good estimate of its chances in a given place and time based on the demographics of the people who live there.

This kind of information is helpful for winning elections– but showing up to play the electoral hand you’re dealt is for suckers. And by suckers, I mean conservative parties.

Breaking down the demographics is like looking at the cards in your hand. Once you’ve done that, the only remaining variable in a static game are your opponent’s cards. With election demographics, players can see all the cards everyone has. That makes the game static. Hands will inevitably be won or lost… unless you can draw some new cards.

The most obvious way to play the demographic Game of Thrones is with gerrymandered districts. A gerrymandered district is shaped to include a majority of the winning demographic leading to a nearly automatic victory for the party. It’s the political equivalent of stacking the deck.

Gerrymandered districts are of dubious legality, except when shaped to create a majority-minority district, in which case it becomes an obligation under civil rights laws. This stacks the deck, creating permanent sinecures for some horribly incompetent politicians and permanent seats for the Democratic Party.

But that is just a matter of rearranging the cards in the deck. What if you could bring in cards from outside the deck? What if you could change the value of some cards? Then you would be on the way to being the best cardsharp in Washington D.C. or London or Paris.

Sure you could win elections by creating a few gerrymandered districts, but you couldn’t win a country that way. To do that, you have to change the national demographics.

Suppose you were running our fictional soup company and you discovered that “Turkey Coconut Bouillon with Nutmeg and Omega 3″ isn’t popular with key demographics. The only people who like it are unemployed Pakistani immigrants, lesbian single mothers and divorced Asian firefighters.

Sure you could take a shot at putting out another flavor, but damn it, you like this one. And you also spent your entire advertising budget for the next three years promoting it, and thanks to your ad campaign, everyone now associates your company with “Turkey Coconut Bouillon with Nutmeg and Omega 3″. And if people don’t like it, then your company is doomed.

You could try to change people’s minds, or you could try to change the demographics to ones that favor your soup. To do that, you would have to bring in a lot of Pakistani immigrants, create a poor economic climate, promote divorce and homosexuality, and create some public sector jobs.

Luckily, no soup company can do that sort of thing. But governments can. That’s the neat thing about governments, if they want to change national demographics, bring in more immigrants, create more single-parent families and more unemployment, they can do all those things easily.

Suppose that your statistics show that unemployed people are more likely to vote for you than the employed. Then your goal would be to shift as many of those who ordinarily wouldn’t vote you from the ranks of the employed to those of the unemployed. And once they were on benefits, they might just come to support you, even though you were the one who maneuvered to deprive them of their employment. That sort of thing is childishly easy to do if you happen to have a government and a party with extensive partnerships with progressive non-profits and powerful think-tanks and foundations.

Say that workers in factories were 40 percent less likely to vote your way and 80 percent more likely to disapprove of your core “Turkey Coconut Bouillon with Nutmeg and Omega 3″ agenda, while only 19 percent of unemployed workers who used to have jobs in factories vote against you and only 56 percent of them are against your core agenda– and they don’t even care much about it anymore because their lives have been turned upside-down and they’re not sure of anything anymore.

There’s an easy answer. Just start shutting down factories on any pretext. Accuse them of pollution, increase their costs, tax, inspect them to death, and do everything you can to transform the domestic working-class that used to be your base, before you went too far left, into unemployed men sitting bitterly drinking beer while wondering what happened to their country.

Suppose that your soup is called Barack Hussein Obama. In a 2008 taste test, 39 percent of working- class white men chose your soup. But in 2012, only 29 percent are willing to choose your soup. That’s a problem, when people choose their government… but not a problem when governments choose their people.

If working-class white men are a problem for you, then you have to make sure that a smaller percentage of your electorate consists of white men who haven’t gone to college.

Can’t win elections with your current agenda in a country with the current makeup? Dream big, plan even bigger. Drag everyone you can into college, import the right sort of immigrants, make divorce as common as possible, kill jobs. Don’t start now. Start doing it forty or fifty years ago. Turn Leave It to Beaver into Modern Family and suddenly the liberals will stop looking like commie egghead freaks and the conservatives will start looking like square robotic freaks who keep talking about someone they call “God,” something they call a “Traditional Family” and something they describe as “Jobs.”

Bertolt Brecht wrote, “Some party hack decreed that the people had lost the government’s confidence and could only regain it with redoubled effort. If that is the case, would it not be simpler if the government simply dissolved the people and elected another?”

Brecht’s sarcasm is now literal truth. Western governments are dissolving their peoples and electing other peoples in their place. Democracy allows peoples to elect governments, but power also allows governments to elect a people.

The left has decided that it can win the demographic Game of Thrones by changing the demographics. The left changes the terrain, while the right keeps trying to fight on the new terrain. And the only way to do that is by going to the left. The right still wins elections, but the left is winning the war for the future. It is shaping the electorate demographics that favor it. To win the future, it doesn’t have to win every election; all it has to do is keep changing the demographics until either the right cannot have any hope of winning any more or until the right is so far left that there no longer is anything that can be described as an opposition.

Demographics is destiny. The left is reshaping countries to match its demographic targets. It is turning nations into one great gerrymandered district composed of populations that are more likely to support it. It is doing this using immigration, economics, social policy and every tool at its disposal. And if conservatives don’t start understanding the demographic game of thrones, then they will lose the war.
We could quibble with parts of this analysis. For example, the unemployed worker sitting at home is very likely to blame the incumbent president for his problems and vote against him, and one more abortion may mean one fewer Democratic voters (depending on whether abortion reduces overall fertility of a group, or merely delays the bearing of a set number of children).

And most Democrats don’t sit around thinking “we are happy when bad things happen because it helps us politically.”

But it is undeniable that Democrats favor the sorts of groups that vote Democratic. It’s also undeniable that Democrats don’t mind illegal immigration, nor welfare dependency, nor bearing children out of wedlock. In fact, they will insist that anybody who is against such things is a racist.

Thus, deep down, Democrats don’t much mind the unraveling of the moral fiber of America. It creates the kind of nation that benefits them.

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Obama Doesn’t Care

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Media Silence About Race Riots

From Thomas Sowell, writing in Front Page Magazine:
When I first saw a book with the title, “White Girl Bleed A Lot” by Colin Flaherty, I instantly knew what it was about, even though I had not seen the book reviewed anywhere, and knew nothing about the author.

That is because I had encountered that phrase before, while doing research for the four new chapters on intellectuals and race that I added to the revised edition of my own book, “Intellectuals and Society,” published this year.

That phrase was spoken by a member of a mob of young blacks who attacked whites at random at a Fourth of July celebration in Milwaukee last year. What I was appalled to learn, in the course of my research, was that such race riots have occurred in other cities across the United States in recent years — and that the national mainstream media usually ignore these riots.

Where the violence is too widespread and too widely known locally to be ignored, both the local media and public officials often describe what happened as unspecified “young people” attacking unspecified victims for unspecified reasons. But videos of the attacks often reveal both the racial nature of these attacks and the racial hostility expressed by the attackers.

Are race riots not news?

Ignoring racial violence only guarantees that it will get worse. The Chicago Tribune has publicly rationalized its filtering out of any racial identification of attackers and their victims, even though the media do not hesitate to mention race when decrying statistical disparities in arrest or imprisonment rates.

Such mob attacks have become so frequent in Chicago that officials promoting conventions there have recently complained to the mayor that the city is going to lose business if such widespread violence is not brought under control.

But neither these officials nor the mayor nor most of the media use that four-letter word, “race.” It would not be politically correct or politically convenient in an election year.

Reading Colin Flaherty’s book made painfully clear to me that the magnitude of this problem is even greater than I had discovered from my own research. He documents both the race riots and the media and political evasions in dozens of cities across America.

Flaherty’s previous writings have won him praise and awards, but this book has been met largely with silence or abuse. However much ignoring the ugly realities that his book reveals may serve the interests of the media or politicians, a cover-up is a huge disservice to everyone else — whether black, white or whatever.

Even the young hoodlums who launch these mass attacks on strangers would be better off to be stopped now, rather than continue on a path of escalating violence that can lead to a lifetime behind bars or to the execution chamber.

The dangers to the nation as a whole are an even bigger problem. The truth has a way of eventually coming out, in spite of media silence and politicians’ spin. If the truth becomes widely known, and a white backlash follows, turning one-way race riots into two-way race riots, then a cycle of revenge and counter-revenge can spiral out of control, as has already happened in too many other countries around the world.

Most blacks and most whites in the United States today get along with each other. But what is chilling is how often in history racial or ethnic groups that co-existed peacefully for generations — often as neighbors — have suddenly turned on each other with lethal violence.

In the middle of the 20th century, Sri Lanka had a level of mutual respect and even friendship between its majority and minority communities that was rightly held up to the world as a model. Yet this situation degenerated over the years into polarization and violence that escalated into a civil war that lasted for decades, with unspeakable atrocities on both sides.

All it took were clever demagogues and gullible followers. We already have both. What it will take to nip in the bud the small but widely spreading race riots will be some serious leadership in many quarters and that rarest of all things in politics, honesty.

Race hustlers and mob inciters like Al Sharpton represent such polarizing forces in America today. Yet Sharpton has become a White House adviser, and Attorney General Eric Holder has been photographed literally embracing him.
Marquette, of course, has been implicated in this politically correct conspiracy of silence, refusing to reveal the race of offenders who have threatened and robbed people near campus.

None of this helps black people at all. It simply engenders cynicism about the media (which conceal important information) while being completely ineffective at convincing people that black youth are no more likely to commit crime than white youth. Everybody knows that is untrue, and it poisons the racial environment to have a class of people whose thuggish actions get special protection from powerful politically correct interests.

And of course, no progress can be made to solve the problem when people deny that there is a problem.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Gay Censorship Turned Back in Rhode Island

From Accuracy in Academia:
Rhode Island is a small state with a big censorship problem. Last week, high school junior Liz Bierendy was putting the finishing touches on a sketch for the hallway mural when an assistant principal stopped her. The design was too controversial, he insisted, because it included the picture of a married man and woman. According to the school officials, the image was offensive because it “may not represent the life experiences of many of the students at Pilgrim High School.” Liz’s idea was to show the life journey of a young boy to adulthood, ending with the scene of a husband, wife, and son with wedding rings over their heads. After the complaint of a single student, administrators ordered a custodian to paint over the offending section of Liz’s mural until she could find “alternative ways” to show the progression to adulthood.

The 17-year-old artist was as surprised as anyone by the school’s overreaction. “I hope I didn’t offend anyone,” she told local reporters. “I didn’t want to make anyone mad.” On the contrary, most parents are speaking out in Bierendy’s defense. “Political correctness is ruining America,” said one father. Even the local newscasters shook their heads and asked, “What isn’t offensive these days?”

Of course, the irony is that modern art has been the license for dung on the Virgin Mary, ants crawling on Jesus’s face, defecating nativities, Barbies dismembered in blenders—and traditional marriage is what shocks some people? Even more outrageous, those “alternative” unions the principal recommended aren’t even legal in Rhode Island! Liz’s representation of marriage was completely aligned with state law, which is what makes this incident so alarming. If this kind of viewpoint discrimination is tolerated now—in states that don’t even recognize homosexual relationships—imagine the censorship of an entire nation with same-sex “marriage!”

People wonder how the homosexual agenda could possibly affect them? Well, this is a perfect illustration. Americans are free to “love” whom they choose, but the freedom of religion, of expression, and speech cannot coexist in a culture that forces the public affirmation of homosexuality. Something has to give—and all too often, that something is traditional values. Fortunately for Liz, Superintendent Peter Horoschak felt enough blowback from the local community to step in. He overruled the school’s administrators and said it was time to let Bierendy “finish her vision.”
See more on the Huffington Post, where (oddly for a liberal outlet) the comments overwhelmingly support the mural.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Truth About Romney’s Taxes

When you are Obama’s campaign staff, and the liberal Washington Post takes you to task for a Tweet, you know you’ve messed up.

Here is the Tweet:
“FACT: In 2010 and 2011, Romney paid less than 15% in taxes on $42.5 million in income—much less than what many middle-class families pay.”
A lot of factors go into the tax that people pay, and this is certainly true of Romney.

But what’s the bottom line?
The Obama campaign’s tweet relies on a very slippery “fact.”

Romney, by receiving much of his income in capital gains and dividends and giving millions of dollars to charity, is certainly able to keep his effective tax rate relatively low, especially compared to a wealthy person who earns much of his or her income in salary. But, even so, Romney still pays an effective tax rate that is higher than the tax rate paid by most Americans.
The Washington Post gave the Obama claim three Pinocchios.

We would say that’s a bit lax on Obama.

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Conservatives Are Happier

From the New York Times:
WHO is happier about life — liberals or conservatives? The answer might seem straightforward. After all, there is an entire academic literature in the social sciences dedicated to showing conservatives as naturally authoritarian, dogmatic, intolerant of ambiguity, fearful of threat and loss, low in self-esteem and uncomfortable with complex modes of thinking. And it was the candidate Barack Obama in 2008 who infamously labeled blue-collar voters “bitter,” as they “cling to guns or religion.” Obviously, liberals must be happier, right?

Wrong. Scholars on both the left and right have studied this question extensively, and have reached a consensus that it is conservatives who possess the happiness edge. Many data sets show this. For example, the Pew Research Center in 2006 reported that conservative Republicans were 68 percent more likely than liberal Democrats to say they were “very happy” about their lives. This pattern has persisted for decades. The question isn’t whether this is true, but why.

Many conservatives favor an explanation focusing on lifestyle differences, such as marriage and faith. They note that most conservatives are married; most liberals are not. (The percentages are 53 percent to 33 percent, according to my calculations using data from the 2004 General Social Survey, and almost none of the gap is due to the fact that liberals tend to be younger than conservatives.) Marriage and happiness go together. If two people are demographically the same but one is married and the other is not, the married person will be 18 percentage points more likely to say he or she is very happy than the unmarried person.

The story on religion is much the same. According to the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, conservatives who practice a faith outnumber religious liberals in America nearly four to one. And the link to happiness? You guessed it. Religious participants are nearly twice as likely to say they are very happy about their lives as are secularists (43 percent to 23 percent). The differences don’t depend on education, race, sex or age; the happiness difference exists even when you account for income.

Whether religion and marriage should make people happy is a question you have to answer for yourself. But consider this: Fifty-two percent of married, religious, politically conservative people (with kids) are very happy — versus only 14 percent of single, secular, liberal people without kids.

An explanation for the happiness gap more congenial to liberals is that conservatives are simply inattentive to the misery of others. If they recognized the injustice in the world, they wouldn’t be so cheerful. In the words of Jaime Napier and John Jost, New York University psychologists, in the journal Psychological Science, “Liberals may be less happy than conservatives because they are less ideologically prepared to rationalize (or explain away) the degree of inequality in society.” The academic parlance for this is “system justification.”

The data show that conservatives do indeed see the free enterprise system in a sunnier light than liberals do, believing in each American’s ability to get ahead on the basis of achievement. Liberals are more likely to see people as victims of circumstance and oppression, and doubt whether individuals can climb without governmental help. My own analysis using 2005 survey data from Syracuse University shows that about 90 percent of conservatives agree that “While people may begin with different opportunities, hard work and perseverance can usually overcome those disadvantages.” Liberals — even upper-income liberals — are a third less likely to say this.

So conservatives are ignorant, and ignorance is bliss, right? Not so fast, according to a study from the University of Florida psychologists Barry Schlenker and John Chambers and the University of Toronto psychologist Bonnie Le in the Journal of Research in Personality. These scholars note that liberals define fairness and an improved society in terms of greater economic equality. Liberals then condemn the happiness of conservatives, because conservatives are relatively untroubled by a problem that, it turns out, their political counterparts defined.

Imagine the opposite. Say liberals were the happy ones. Conservatives might charge that it is only because liberals are unperturbed by the social welfare state’s monstrous threat to economic liberty. Liberals would justifiably dismiss this argument as solipsistic and silly.

There is one other noteworthy political happiness gap that has gotten less scholarly attention than conservatives versus liberals: moderates versus extremists.

Political moderates must be happier than extremists, it always seemed to me. After all, extremists actually advertise their misery with strident bumper stickers that say things like, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention!”

But it turns out that’s wrong. People at the extremes are happier than political moderates. Correcting for income, education, age, race, family situation and religion, the happiest Americans are those who say they are either “extremely conservative” (48 percent very happy) or “extremely liberal” (35 percent). Everyone else is less happy, with the nadir at dead-center “moderate” (26 percent).

What explains this odd pattern? One possibility is that extremists have the whole world figured out, and sorted into good guys and bad guys. They have the security of knowing what’s wrong, and whom to fight. They are the happy warriors.

Whatever the explanation, the implications are striking. The Occupy Wall Street protesters may have looked like a miserable mess. In truth, they were probably happier than the moderates making fun of them from the offices above. And none, it seems, are happier than the Tea Partiers, many of whom cling to guns and faith with great tenacity. Which some moderately liberal readers of this newspaper might find quite depressing.
The fact that psychologists have a little cottage industry producing studies showing that conservatives are bad people simply reveals the deep-seated liberal bias of the profession.

We recently, for example, saw a study showing that conservatives are more sensitive to threats than liberals. So terrible: conservatives see the world as threatening.

Then, surfing the web a few minutes later, we found a study bitching about the fact that conservatives are insufficiently threatened by global warming!

So it seems the categories can be gerrymandered to produce the results the psychologists want.

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Monday, July 02, 2012

Islamists Attack Mosque in Timbuktu

The name of the place is a metaphor for the very far extent of the earth, but something happening there is a very literal example of the evil of radical Islam. From the Guardian:
Five times a day for more than 15 years, Aphadi Wangara has led prayers at Sidi Yahya mosque in Timbuktu, one of three in the ancient Malian desert town. But the day after hardline Islamists attacked and damaged the 15th-century mosque, the softly spoken imam had no consoling words to offer.

“I prefer to keep my silence. What is in my heart cannot be said,” said Wangara, who is in his late 60s.

Barely 24 hours earlier, a group of Islamist militants had appeared outside the clay-coated mosque, armed with pickaxes and shouting “Allahu Akbar”. They broke down the entrance and destroyed a door locals believed had to stay shut until the end of the world. The militants, who belong to the al-Qaida-linked Ansar Dine, had already defaced mausoleums and tombs of local Sufi saints, prompting Unesco to declare Timbuktu an endangered world heritage site.

“There is a door that absolutely cannot be opened at the entrance of the [Sidi Yahya] mosque,” said Haidrata, a resident who gave only his first name. “We believe it is a profanity to open this door; it can only be opened on the day the world will end. The militants broke it down. They were shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’. When I asked them why, they said [it was] because they were being accused of destroying endangered monuments when they hadn’t done so – they wanted to show what they were really capable of.”

Ansar Dine and the Tuareg separatist MNLA movement say the local monuments and distinctive sun-baked mosques renowned for palm trees protruding from earthen walls, sprinkled throughout Mali, are idolatrous and contrary to their strict interpretation of Islam. Sanda Banama, an Ansar Dine spokesman, said the monuments were “un-Islamic”.

“In Islam, there are strict laws about the way and size in which tombs are built,” Banama said.

Ansar Dine, who have seized the northern two-thirds of Mali after a coup toppled the southern Bamako-based government, continue to control Timbuktu, residents said. “People are still leaving their houses to go to the market but they are scared,” said Fatima Sow, who fled to Bamako on Sunday as pickup trucks with Ansar Dine militants prowled the city. “A while back the militants whipped a couple who they said were fornicating before marriage.”

Almost 1,000 kilometres south in Bamako, a transitional government struggling to exert control over the vast territory amid violent demonstrations and counter-coup attempts has appeared powerless to stop the attacks. But the assault on the Sidi Yahya mosque has prodded festering anger among ordinary Malians.

“Everybody is absolutely frustrated; everybody is angry. Many of those people will be willing to take to the streets and push the government into doing something,” said Tiégoum Maiga, who is organising a march through the capital on Wednesday. “The government says it can’t do anything but people in Timbuktu are using sticks and stones to defend themselves.”

Cheick Oumar Cisse, a former culture minister and one of Mali’s most famous film-makers, said: “It’s good that these things are being labelled crimes but it is not even the worst thing these terrorists have done. In January they attacked and disembowelled 100 Malian soldiers and the international community said nothing.

“The more people denounce them, the more they will defy the international community to prove they are masters in their own territory. We hope the destruction will stop here, but these are people who are completely mad and incapable of being reasoned with.”

Ecowas, the economic community of west African states, is considering presenting a military plan to the UN security council as militant Islamists, already thriving on a “kidnap economy” operating out of the country’s northern desert, have flourished. Protests have also simmered for weeks as the key northern garrison towns of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal have fallen to Ansar Dine and other Islamist groups. In Gao a municipal councillor was killed last week by the group, residents said.

Officials said squabbles between the various groups also made dialogue difficult. “Basically, they all want power but are not agreed on how to go about it. That means new factions are emerging every day,” a Malian presidential aide said.

Thousands of Malians have flocked to neighbouring Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso, triggering a potential refugee crisis along its fragile borders. “There is absolutely no order in the north of Mali. Anywhere there is no authority and considering how vast the territory is, it’s very worrying for Mauritania, it’s worrying for the entire region,” a Mauritanian presidential official told the Guardian.

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