Monday, March 16, 2015

The Farcical Ferguson Report

The NBA consists of 76 percent black players. But blacks are just 13 percent of the country. Clearly, the league engages in racial discrimination against whites. Silly, right? Well, this is exactly what the sleight-of-hand Department of Justice pulled off to find that the Ferguson Police Department engages in “implicit and explicit racial bias”!

The report insults anybody who’s ever studied the statistics – or logic.  The 105-page report concludes:

“Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs. This emphasis on revenue has compromised the institutional character of Ferguson’s police department, contributing to a pattern of unconstitutional policing, and has also shaped its municipal court, leading to procedures that raise due process concerns and inflict unnecessary harm on members of the Ferguson community.

Further, Ferguson’s police and municipal court practices both reflect and exacerbate existing racial bias, including racial stereotypes. Ferguson’s own data establish clear racial disparities that adversely impact African Americans. The evidence shows that discriminatory intent is part of the reason for these disparities. Over time, Ferguson’s police and municipal court practices have sown deep mistrust between parts of the community and the police department, undermining law enforcement legitimacy among African Americans in particular.”

The Washington Post immediately put out an article headlined “The 12 key highlights from the DOJ’s scathing Ferguson report.” Per the Post, the “scathing” statistic first listed is this: Ferguson is 67 percent black, but blacks comprised 85 percent of the traffic stops and 93 percent of the arrests. Incontrovertible proof that the Ferguson PD engages in institutional racism!

Reporters, in describing the Ferguson report, used adjectives that include “shocking,” “stunning” and “eye-popping.”

But if Ferguson’s numbers are “eye-popping,” what adjective applies to the New York City Police Department. New York City is 25 percent black. However, of the traffic stops, blacks comprise 55 percent. The statistical “gap” is 30 points. In Ferguson, as stated, the black population is 67 percent, but 85 percent of the traffic stops. The statistical “gap” is 18 points – far smaller than New York’s 30-point “gap.”

Why aren’t Messrs. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Eric Holder marching on Times Square?

The answer is that the liberal former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who governed for 12 years, defends the aggressive policing of the NYPD – and the resulting “statistical disparities.” Bloomberg says:

“Unlike many cities, where wealthy areas get special treatment, the NYPD targets its manpower to the areas that suffer the highest crime levels. Ninety percent of all people killed in our city – and 90 percent of all those who commit the murders and other violent crimes – are black and Hispanic. It is shameful that so many elected officials and editorial writers have been largely silent on these facts.

"Instead, they have argued that police stops are discriminatory because they do not reflect the city’s overall census numbers. By that flawed logic, our police officers would stop women as often as men and senior citizens as often as young people. To do so would be a colossal misdirection of resources and would take the core elements of police work – targeting high-crime neighborhoods and identifying suspects based on evidence – out of crime-fighting. …

"That the proportion of stops generally reflects our crime numbers does not mean … that the police are engaged in racial profiling; it means they are stopping people in those communities who fit descriptions of suspects or are engaged in suspicious activity.”

The National Institute of Justice is the research and evaluation agency of the DOJ. In 2013, the NIJ published its study called “Race, Trust and Police Legitimacy.” Unlike when responding to dispatch calls, police officers exercise more discretion when it comes to traffic stops. Thus, the supposedly “racial profiling” cops can have a field day when it comes to traffic stops, right?

But according to the NIJ, 3 out of 4 black drivers admit being stopped by police for a “legitimate reason.” Blacks, compared to whites, were on average more likely to commit speeding or other traffic offenses. “Seatbelt usage,” said the NIJ, “is chronically lower among black drivers. If a law enforcement agency aggressively enforces seatbelt violations, police will stop more black drivers.” The NIJ conclusion? Numerical disparities result from “differences in offending” in addition to “differences in exposure to the police” and “differences in driving patterns.”

President Obama, backed by research from the left and from the right, said, “Children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of school and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.”

Richmond, Virginia, is a city of 214,000, with a black population of 50 percent. Eighty-six percent of black Richmond families are headed by a single parent. Of Ferguson’s 67 percent black population, how many kids grew up in fatherless homes?

Whatever the answer, isn’t this a far more relevant statistic?



With unions politically weakened, Republicans launch blizzard of legislative attacks

It's not just Gov. Scott Walker. Republican lawmakers in statehouses nationwide are working to weaken organized labor, sometimes with efforts that directly shrink union membership. Walker's signing of right-to-work legislation in Wisconsin on Monday puts his defiance of organized labor even more at the center of his nascent presidential campaign. And the inability of unions to exact a price for the first round of legislation targeting them in 2011 is encouraging even more proposals to limit their power.

The Republican wave in the November elections left many unions nationwide looking exceptionally vulnerable. In West Virginia, a union PAC spent $1.4 million trying to keep the statehouse in Democratic hands but couldn't reverse the cultural trends turning the state red. Exit polls found that even union members were almost evenly split between the Republican and the Democrat in the major statewide race for U.S. Senate.

Now Republicans, in control of the state legislature for the first time since 1931, are taking advantage of their opportunity, pushing measures to expand non-union charter schools and scale back requirements that public projects pay higher, union-scale wages.

In Wisconsin, Walker beat back attempts to recall him after he signed a law limiting collective bargaining by public sector workers in 2011. His signature on the right-to-work law now makes Wisconsin the 25th state to ban contracts that force all workers to pay union dues. Both he and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who signed a right-to-work law in 2012 and was also opposed by unions, won re-election in November.

"Their examples were inspiring," said Victor Joecks of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank whose ideas for limiting labor power have been embraced by Republicans who have taken over that state's legislature for the first time since 1929. The message, he said, was, "Hey, this is possible, and it's better for the state, and the taxpayers appreciate it."

With many legislative sessions just beginning, nearly 800 union-related bills have been proposed in statehouses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

President Barack Obama expressed his concern about the latest Wisconsin move and the general assault on unions.

"It's inexcusable that, over the past several years, just when middle-class families and workers need that kind of security the most, there's been a sustained, coordinated assault on unions, led by powerful interests and their allies in government," Obama said in a statement Monday. "I'm deeply disappointed that a new anti-worker law in Wisconsin will weaken, rather than strengthen workers in the new economy."

A right-to-work bill passed the lower house of the Missouri Legislature, though it's likely to be vetoed by the state's Democratic governor. Indiana is also moving to eliminate requiring union-level wages on public projects. Nevada is considering a wide range of proposals, including legislation that would let local governments dissolve collective bargaining agreements in times of economic hardship. Illinois' new Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, signed an order prohibiting government unions from automatically collecting dues from members.

Even local governments are getting in on the action — several Kentucky counties are implementing right-to-work measures even though the state, with its House still controlled by Democrats, does not have such a law.

The proposals' sponsors say they want to save taxpayers money and create jobs. There is also a political consequence.

Labor provides Democrats with crucial cash and volunteers in campaigns, but its political value to the party extends even farther. Belonging to a union increases the odds of a voter supporting Democrats, and labor increases the participation of lower-income voters who tend to back Democrats, said Roland Zullo of the University of Michigan's Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations. "If you have more unions, you have higher rates of voting, especially in places that are poor," he said.

Much of the impact of new laws has come in the vote-rich rust belt, where Republicans hope states with whiter and older populations, such as Wisconsin and Michigan, will eventually side with them in presidential elections to counter the loss of states in the South and West with younger and more diverse populations. In Wisconsin, public-sector union membership shriveled after Walker's 2010 law and the proportion of workers in unions shrank from 14 percent to 11 percent. Hundreds of union members protested against the right-to-work legislation in the state capitol recently but admitted most were demoralized.

"People have lost faith," said Eric Gates, a union member from the town of Menasha, 35 miles southwest of Green Bay.

Michigan experienced the sharpest loss of union members in the nation in the last two years, when its right-to-work law went into effect, according to federal data. But union officials also trace the loss to another 2012 measure, which received less attention: a law declaring that 42,000 in-home health care workers were no longer eligible to be represented by a union. Unions were unable to overturn the measure at the ballot box.

"They're decreasing our ability to back supporters of our issues, whether they're Democrats or Republicans," said Marge Robinson, president of SEIU Health Care Michigan, which lost four-fifths of its membership as a result but still tries to communicate with many of the aides. "Even though we try to keep them as much engaged as possible, they're all on their own, they're not in an organization that works together."

In Ohio, where unions reversed an effort to eliminate collective bargaining by government workers, GOP Gov. John Kasich still cruised to re-election last year.

Union membership has been steadily declining since the 1980s, when it measured at 20 percent of all workers. In 2014, only 11.1 percent nationally belonged to a union. James Sherk, a labor economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the shrinkage in membership in Michigan may be due to trends other rather than the recent legislation. He noted that Democrats have joined Republicans on some measures that unions oppose, like pension reform and tougher standards for teachers.

If there's a bright side for labor, it's that things could be even worse. Given how many states Republicans control, Sherk said, there could be many more challenges to labor than have emerged.



Sen. Cotton's Letter to Iran Is Firmly Constitutional

After the Senate sent its letter to Iran explaining whatever deal John Kerry is currently negotiating would not be a lawful treaty, the Left and its "constitutional scholars" think the 47 senators should be tried for treason. In a White House petition, over 200,000 people said, "United States Senators committed a treasonous offense when they decided to violate the Logan Act, a 1799 law which forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments." And they actually think this petition will get legal legs.

Let's start with the Constitution, which says in Article II Section 2 that the president "shall have Power by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur."

John Yoo writes at National Review that Obama could make some kind of agreement with Iran, namely a sole executive agreement, which would only be binding with the Obama administration itself. He continues,

"But as a matter of constitutional law, the Cotton letter should be no more controversial than a letter that simply enclosed a copy of the U.S. Constitution (without President Obama's editing)." No, it is the Obama administration that is circumventing the Constitution, as even Kerry admitted that "we're not negotiating a legally binding plan."



Kerry's Hypocritical Indignation

Secretary of State John Kerry really wasn't happy with the 47 Senate Republicans who wrote a letter to Iran warning of the temporary nature of any deal with the Obama administration. Testifying before Congress Wednesday, Kerry said his reaction to the letter was "utter disbelief" because it "ignores more than two centuries of precedent in the conduct of American foreign policy."

He added, "During my 29 years here in the Senate, I never heard of -- nor even heard of it being proposed -- anything comparable to this. ... This risks undermining the confidence that foreign governments, in thousands of important agreements, commit to between the United States and other countries."

Funny that he's "never even heard of it" because an open letter to Iran restating the obvious hardly compares to Kerry's own record of going it alone on foreign policy. While he was in the Senate, he traveled to Nicaragua to meet with the communist Sandinistas and then returned home to shill on their behalf.

And let's not forget his most infamous moment: meeting with the North Vietnamese in 1970 and 1971 while still a Navy reserve officer. Few are now willing to bring up this treasonous behavior, but it's unbelievable hypocrisy for Kerry to attack this letter now.



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