Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Media distortion bears fruit as Harvard academic laps it up without checking

The following paragraph was written by Nancy Gertner, a retired US District Court judge, and a professor at Harvard Law School:
"Nothing prevents the Sanford police from critically evaluating Zimmerman’s account, as police do in so many situations, and concluding that it was contradicted by the girlfriend’s account, by 911 tapes of other bystanders shortly before the killing, that it makes no sense for Martin to start a fight since Zimmerman obviously had a gun in a holster, was substantially larger than Martin, since the encounter took place close to where Martin was staying and he was moments away from safety."

She's accepted uncritically the relevance of all those pretty media pictures showing Martin when he was about 12 years old. She really thinks that Zimmerman was the tall one -- when in fact Martin was 6" taller than Zimmerman.

What a clown she is! If that's what passes for proper judicial scrutiny at Harvard, we are all in big trouble. Anybody who appeared before when she was a judge and lost his case should take a screenshot of her original article above and use it to petition for a re-opening of his case.

I've got a question for the learned lady. What would she feel if she found the guy in the photo below looking down on her on a dark night?

Because that's a picture of the 17 year old 6'3" Trayvon Martin that Zimmerman encountered. And don't forget that it is she, not I who said that height is important.

The first time I saw the media pictures of Martin and then read his age I smelt a rat. Blind Freddy would know that a normal black male would be at or near full physical maturity at age 17 -- as Martin indeed was -- so why were they showing pictures of what looked like a 12-year-old kid? Easy answer: The whole thing is a media beatup designed to sell newspapers. And people lacking in critical thinking ability -- such as Harvard faculty -- fell for it hook line and sinker.

And if you think it's not a beatup consider the two cases below for contrast:

Shawn Tyson (above) was sentenced this week for murdering two white British tourists in Florida. No rallies against violence and no charges of racism. Tyson even referred to his victims as "crackers" so it was a clear hate crime.

Terry Moore, 32, was beaten this week by a mob of black males. Again, no rallies against racism; no public outpouring of support for the victim. Such black-on-White violence is the norm and only rarely makes it to anything but local headlines.



The Invincible Dogma

Thomas Sowell

A long-standing legal charade was played out again recently, when Federal Express paid $3 million to settle an employment discrimination case brought by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Federal Express was accused of both racial discrimination and sex discrimination. FedEx denied it.

Why then did they pay the $3 million? Because it can cost a lot more than $3 million to fight a discrimination case. Years ago, the Sears department store chain spent $20 million fighting a sex discrimination charge that took 15 years to make its way through the legal labyrinth. In the end, Sears won -- if spending $20 million and getting nothing in return can be called winning.

Federal Express was apparently not prepared to spend that kind of money and that kind of time fighting a discrimination case. The net result is that the government and much of the media can now claim that race, sex and other discrimination are rampant, considering how many anti-discrimination cases have been "won."

At the heart of these legal charades is the prevailing dogma that statistical disparities in employment -- or mortgage lending, or anything else -- show discrimination. In both the Federal Express case and the earlier Sears case, statistical differences between the mix of the workforce and the population mix were the key evidence presented to show discrimination.

In the Sears case, there was not even one woman who worked in any of the company's 900 stores who claimed to have been discriminated against. It was all a matter of statistics -- and of the arbitrary dogma that statistical disparities show discrimination.

Once statistical disparities have been demonstrated, the burden of proof shifts to the employer to prove his innocence, contrary to centuries of legal tradition that the burden of proof in on the accuser.

No burden of proof whatever is put on those who argue as if there would be a random distribution of racial and other groups in the absence of discrimination.

Happenstances may be random but performances seldom are. Most people are right-handed but, among major league hitters with lifetime batting averages of .330 and up, there have been 15 left-handed batters and only 5 right-handed batters since the beginning of the 20th century. All the best-selling beers in the United States were created by people of German ancestry. Anyone who follows professional basketball knows that most of the leading stars are black.

Some years ago, a study of National Merit Scholarship finalists found that more than half were first-born children, even in five-child families. Jews are less than one percent of the world's population but they won 14 percent of the Nobel Prizes in literature and the sciences during the first half of the 20th century, and 29 percent during the second half.

It would be no problem at all to fill this whole column -- or this entire page -- with examples from around the world of gross statistical disparities in outcomes, in situations where discrimination was not involved. But those who take the opposite view -- that numbers show discrimination -- do not have to produce one speck of evidence to back up that sweeping conclusion.

Human beings are not random events. Individuals and groups have different histories, cultures, skills and attitudes. Why would anyone expect them to be distributed anywhere in a pattern based on statistical theories of random events? Much less make the absence of such a pattern become a basis for multimillion dollar lawsuits?

However little evidence or logic there may be behind the belief that an absence of random distribution shows discrimination, there are nevertheless strong incentives for some people to cling to that belief anyway. Those who lag behind -- whether educationally, economically or otherwise -- have every incentive to think of themselves as victims of those who are more successful.

Those who want their votes have every incentive to go along, or even to actively promote that idea. So do those who want to see issues as moral melodramas, starring themselves on the side of the angels against the forces of evil. The net result is an invincible dogma -- and a polarized country.



They Don’t Know Us

Dennis Prager

Apparently, many liberals were disappointed in the administration’s performance before the Supreme Court. They felt that the government’s lawyer, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, did not respond effectively to the challenges of some of the conservative justices.

The editor of Commentary, John Podhoretz, offered an explanation on his magazine’s blog. “American liberals,” he wrote, “know their own language, but they don’t know the language of their ideological and partisan opposite numbers. ... Conservatives speak liberal, but for liberals in the United States, conservatism might as well be Esperanto.”

I have argued this point for many years. In my book to be published later this month ("Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph"), I argue that the left is a victim of its own brainwash. How could they not be? All they hear, see and read from childhood on, from elementary school through graduate school, on TV and in the movies, are leftist ideas.

Yet this is not true for conservatives. One would have to grow up in a silent monastery not to be regularly exposed to liberal and leftist ideas.

For 30 years, I have had leading left-wing thinkers on my radio show, and I continue to be shocked at their lack of awareness of conservative arguments. About two years ago, for example, I asked one of the most powerful Democratic members of Congress -- a major force behind every tax increase -- what tax rate he thought might be too high. He replied that he had not given it thought. I asked a leading liberal writer who maintained that all American wars since World War II had been imperialist if he thought the Korean War was also imperialistic. He replied that he didn’t know enough about that war to respond.

After interviewing leftists, liberal listeners frequently ask me why I don’t invite the best liberals on to my show.

The answer is that I have had some of the best liberals on my show. They just don’t tend to do well when challenged by thoughtful conservatives.

That may be why the majority of influential liberals refuse to go on conservative talk radio or to debate conservatives.



Economic “Recovery” Is Slow and Weak Due to Obama Administration Policies

Usually, after the economy suffers an unusually severe recession, it bounces back in an unusually rapid recovery — what some economists and others refer to as the “rubber-band effect.” But not now. Despite the huge worldwide fall in GDP in 2008-09, the economy has experienced only a weak recovery, with fewer people employed in America today than when President Obama took office. “At this point in the typical post-World War II recovery, the economy was growing at an average pace of nearly 5 percent. The Obama recovery has managed just over 2 percent.” As James Pethokoukis notes in the New York Post,
A Federal Reserve study from late last year looked at the behavior of recoveries from recessions across 59 advanced and emerging market economies during the last 40 years. The Fed found, to no great surprise, that recoveries “tend to be faster” after severe recessions, such as the one we just had. . .The deeper the downturn, the more robust the rebound — unless government messes things up.

For example, during the 1981-82 recession, output fell by 2.7 percent and then rose by 15.9 percent over the next 10 quarters (at an average pace of 6.0 percent). During the Great Recession, output fell even more, by 5.1 percent. But during the 10 quarters since, total economic output is up only a paltry 6.2 percent. Score one for Reaganomics.

But what about the depressing effect of Wall Street’s near-death experience back in 2008 and 2009? Well, that same Fed study found that bank or other financial crises “do not affect the strength” of subsequent recoveries. . .[What] might explain half of the Obama recovery’s underperformance versus the Reagan recovery. . .? Maybe we can attribute that to policy differences.

While one president cut long-term marginal tax rates, the other tried a massive burst of federal spending. One empowered private enterprise; the other empowered government.

Obama administration policies are preventing more jobs from being created. Obamacare is causing layoffs in the medical device industry, and is preventing some employers from hiring and from making the investments needed for new jobs and expanded operations. The Dodd-Frank law backed by President Obama has also wiped out jobs and driven thousands of jobs overseas. Recent EPA rules will wipe out hundreds of thousands of jobs. Andrew Stiles describes ten job-destroying regulations from the Obama Administration.

Another job-killing regulation is the Obama administration’s recent demand that trucking companies employ alcoholics as truckers rather than assigning them to less safety-sensitive positions — a demand that will lead to costly lawsuits against trucking companies by accident victims, and thus may discourage people from setting up new trucking companies. Another impediment to hiring is the Obama EEOC’s current practice of suing some employers who consider applicants’ arrest records and criminal convictions in hiring. If you were thinking of starting a new business, wouldn’t you be less likely to do so if you thought you would have no freedom as to whom you could hire, and no freedom to consider someone’s dangerousness or the content of their character before hiring them? (Economists say that requiring employers to ignore criminal convictions actually increases minority unemployment). The EEOC is also stepping up its attacks on certain employers who use merit-based criteria for hiring, like requiring a high-school diploma. And it is seeking to impose hiring quotas based on disability on the 200,000 employers who receive federal contracts — that is, the nation’s principal employers.

Contrary to his campaign promise of a “net spending cut,” Obama has substantially increased government spending. Legislation passed under the Obama administration has also required states to increase their spending, and incur large unfunded mandates that will lead either to increased state budget deficits or substantial state tax increases. The $800 billion stimulus package contained so-called “green jobs” funding, 79 percent of which went to foreign firms, effectively replacing American jobs with foreign green jobs. A recent biofuel program actually wiped out jobs rather than creating them as intended, while costing taxpayers a lot of money.

As Terry Catchpole noted earlier in The New York Times, Obama administration policies have wiped out jobs at companies like his:
Two years ago our executive communications company had 17 employees. Today it has seven . . . like many small businesses, we are dependent on big businesses as customers. And the big businesses that we would ordinarily depend on to become clients are sitting on their cash, because they are deathly afraid of an Obama administration that has been hostile to business . . . They have no idea where the administration’s next attack is coming from, and how much it is going to cost them to defend. So businesses do not spend money; they do not hire my company; and we cannot hire back those 10 good people we had to let go.




SCOTUS approves strip searches for minor offenses: "The routine strip search of those accused of minor offenses does not violate the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures whenever the detainee is to be housed within a general jail population, the US Supreme Court ruled on Monday. In a 5-to-4 decision, the high court said that officials at a jail or prison facility do not need individualized suspicion that a detainee is concealing a weapon or contraband before conducting a visual inspection of the most private areas of a person’s body." [The Bill of Rights takes another beating]

CA: Federal court upholds ban on racial, gender discrimination: "California’s ban on using race or gender as a factor in college admissions survived another legal challenge Monday when a federal appeals court upheld the law passed by state voters more than 15 years ago. ... In October, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on whether race-based affirmative action programs are legal."



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