Friday, August 17, 2012

The (Proper) Focus of Our Objections

Recently a number of members have brought up the literal translation of the DoJ’s request for the “objection Letters,” noting, that according to the precise way the request is written, “the objection letters should probably be focused on objecting to the fairness of the awards and NOT the decision/judgment itself.”

And to be sure, that's an interesting point, and as I've read the guidelines, they could very well be interpreted to mean exactly that; "Assuming that the discrimination (against black applicants to the FDNY) charged is a given, what is your objection to this award?"

However such an interpretation is accepting a flawed assumption, like the physics problem that begins, "Assuming we have a perfect vacuum."

My own contention is that the premise (the decision/judgment) itself is so flawed as to render the award itself absurd.

It's like arguing, "Disregarding the fact that the cop's radar gun was broken, assuming the subject was speeding, do you disagree with the stated penalty?"

You see? IF I were to assume that "perfect vacuum" and were to ignore the cop's "broken radar gun," then I would have no issue with the awards or the punishments assessed, given of course, that I first accepted those flawed premises.

If it had been shown, for instance, that some applicants were given a test in a language they didn’t understand, or an exam significantly harder than other candidates and thus that group could be proven to have been demonstrably discriminated against, I’d accept the existing award as entirely legitimate, BUT the inconvenient truth here is that non-Latino blacks are the ONLY ethnic group OVER-represented by more than 10% their numbers in New York City’s population in the City's Municipal workforce (they are 23% of the population and 36% of the city’s Municipal workforce – an appx. 60% over-representation) AND, regardless of the overall level of educational achievement, the fact is inner city schools across the nation are funded significantly better than suburban schools around the country. Moreover, there is no demonstrable case of any actual “discrimination” against an ethnic group that has unprecedented preferences based entirely upon their skin color for over 4 decades!

There may well be an endemic culture of failure within certain communities, but there’s no evidence, nor indication that that is due, in any way, to any actual “discrimination,” neither overt, nor even non-intentional.

From my view, it's the SAME here. I’d have NO issue with the current award IF I assumed that the discrimination in question was proven. My SOLE contention is that such “discrimination” was NOT proven and the faulty premise it's based upon - the "disparate impact" premise that "ALL applicants come into this exam with equal abilities and equally prepared" (their own words) - is so patently ridiculous, so fatally flawed as to be self-evidently false.

Look, given "ALL applicants having an equal amount of ability and equal preparedness," renders testing itself meaningless. IF it's meaningless here in this job, which routinely requires life & death decisions, then WHY NOT for medical schools, law schools....judges.

From my perspective, it's the flawed premise that must first be addressed.

Against a New Apartheid....

The 1978 Bakke Decision had ostensibly ended the segregation of standards that some folks had tried to instill with Affirmative Action’s preferential policies throughout the 1970s.

After that decision outright quotas were legally banned, although through the 1980s and into the 1990s various apartheid-like schemes that sought to utilize racial preferences in lieu of quotas were challenged and scaled back.

Still, with each new challenge scaling back their uses, new schemes to utilize race to favor “protected races” at the expense of other races (most notably Asians and whites) came into play.

Much, if not ALL of this was/IS rooted in a “liberal” paternalism,” that sees blacks are innately incompetent and intellectually inferior and thus unable to compete with other races.

Moreover, this paternalism has no Party boundaries. The current lawsuit against the FDNY, for instance, was initiated by the G W Bush Department of Justice under then Attorney General Alberto Salazar.

In recent years all manner of Civil Service Entry level and promotion exams have been sued over “disparate impact” (differing outcomes between various ethnicities). In the case of the FDNY’s Entrance Exams, its written has been dumbed down to such a point (a 7th grade reading level) that it’s hardly a “test” any more.

Regardless, due to the significant “disparate impact” (more blacks do poorly than whites) the test has been sued.

BUT this is hardly an isolated example of this new apartheid. In Chicago, eleven Chicago police officers are suing the city over claims they were demoted from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s security detail simply because they aren't black.

According to published reports one Police commander told one of the plaintiffs that, "The color of your skin is your sin," when that plaintiff asked why he was being demoted and the black officers were not, according to the suit.

The suit, filed Monday (August 13th, 2012) in U.S. District Court in Illinois, contains some explosive accusations that the officers had their civil rights violated after Emanuel took office last year.

In another recent case, a federal jury ruled in favor of a former Las Vegas deputy fire chief Friday in his racial discrimination lawsuit against the city and his former supervisor.

According to that complaint filed in U.S. District Court, former fire deputy chief Ken Riddle had worked for the city of Las Vegas since 1978 and was fired in August 2006.

The jury found that his race was a "determinative factor" in his termination. Riddle, a white man, sued for damages, including lost income, employee benefits, emotional distress and mental anguish.

David Washington, a black man, was fire chief and Riddle's supervisor. The response filed by Washington and the city denied the charges.

Riddle's attorney Mary Chapman said the jury ruled in favor of Riddle and awarded him $365,000 in compensatory damages.

The jury also charged $25,000 in punitive damages against Washington, which according to Chapman, federal law only allows punitive damages to be awarded if malice is shown.

How much more proof do those who remain “undecided” about this issue need, before deciding that this IS about defending the principles of “Equality of Opportunity” (EVERYONE being judge by the SAME standards) and “Equality before the Law” (the very concept of “protected/favored groups violates this precept)?

This is not an area in which “reasonable people can agree to disagree,” this is about proponents of racial preferences INSISTING on an apartheid-like policy that discriminates against whites, Asians and puts high-quality applicants from ALL backgrounds at a distinct disadvantage.

It is imperative that all Americans of good faith and traditional values stand up to oppose this new apartheid, this modern-day segregation of standards, this misguided celebration of mediocrity.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Ideological Barriers to Communication....

I abandoned religion at a very young age.

I grew up in a Tammany Hall Democratic least on my paternal side.

I am open to any and all arguments pro or con on any belief I hold. I’ve worked with theoretical mathematics for much of my life and have always “let the numbers take us where they will.

I should be the perfect “liberal”/Leftist demographic, unfortunately, I’m resistant to indoctrination and I’ve always thought for myself.

As a result, I have always been and remain pro-freedom, and, of course, by “freedom” I mean individual liberty – which is NOT defined as “people doing what they want” (I decidedly DO NOT believe in that – “license”), but the grinding, ponderous burdens of full personal responsibility – that’s individual liberty, “as much freedom as you can bear...or pay for.” Therefore, for most of my life I’ve been pro-abortion (believing that an unwilling parent is at that moment also an “unfit” one as well), pro-economic freedom (free markets), pro-gun, pro-sexual liberation, etc., although I am open to any and all reasonable arguments against those positions.

With that rather wide spectrum of beliefs and given my background and locale (NYC is one of the most Leftist regions of the country), I’ve been in a position to hear people of both sides out and this is unfortunately what I’ve found; while any number of people Left and Right have challenged me on various issues, ONLY Conservatives (most Libertarians seem to be largely in agreement) have consistently made lucid, rational, fact-based arguments in their challenges and no matter how strongly we may disagree, they tend to remain civil and, are more likely to simply “agree to disagree."

While it seems that the primary thing my  fellow “liberals” (I call myself a “liberal” because I believe in freedom/liberty “across the board”) seem to take issue with are my economic views, many also have challenged my consistency on social issues and in that arena they’ve been even more vituperative

I’ll dispense with the benighted Leftist economic arguments, suffice to say, there has never been a successful socialist/Command economy and generally the freer the economy the more prosperous as well (see Hong Kong). I’ve always chalked Leftist economic intransigence to their general and overall lack of mathematical ability. Indeed Leftists tend to be overwhelming (nearly exclusively) Liberal Arts and Humanities majors.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say, BUT I have to admit, I DO tend to look askance at people who, “Can’t do Diffy Q (Differential Equations)."

It’s the few social issues where I disagree with leftists that have been the most contentious and that has surprised me because I’d have at least thought they could make rational arguments in THAT realm!

While I can reasonable discuss whether “life begins at conception” trumps my own view that “an unwilling parent is also an unfit one,” that is rarely, if ever the case when discussing any social issue, say guns, for instance, with fellow “liberals.”

Here are the facts about gun violence – those cities with the strictest gun control also tend to have the highest rates of gun violence, while those places where concealed carry permits are relatively easy to ascertain tend to have much lower rates of gun violence. Washington, D.C.’s gun violence has risen in the face of a virtual gun ban. The same holds internationally, where England has seen a steep rise in gun violence along with its stricter gun control and Australia is considering scuttling many of its gun control laws due to failure.

As John Lott has so carefully documented, more GUNS (in the hands of more law-abiding citizens) are the antidote to gun violence, just as surely as MORE technology is ALWAYS the answer to the problems we face due to technology!

Moreover, THANKFULLY, people with bad intentions, just as those with good ones, seem ALWAYS to “find a way,” as Julio Gonzalez proved, when he killed 87 people on March 25th, 1990, when he set fire to the Happy Land Social Club with less than a dollar’s worth of gasoline and a makeshift wick. I say “thankfully,” because such violence is an unfortunate cost of freedom, but certainly a cost worth paying.

One fellow “liberal” brought up the Fort Hood shooting, apparently unaware that the troops on that base had their guns locked away and that the first police officer on the scene that day was a female, who critically hesitated to drop Hassan Nadal from behind, allowing him to turn around and squeeze off a number of shots, severely injuring her before she could effectively return fire.

But in that fellow’s mind, that was a “good argument” for gun control.

Maybe that’s the problem – most arts and humanities majors, like most liberal arts majors don’t really concern themselves with the facts, or what they like to call “the minutia,” they prefer the emotional appeal.

UNFORTUNATELY, the “appeal” part of that is a very thin veneer indeed. Right beneath the surface is a festering rage that wants to shout out, “WHY DON’T YOU BELIEVE LIKE ME?! Who are YOU to think differently?!”

Perhaps the most glaring logical inconsistencies are found along the lines of what the Catholic Church calls “the reverence for life.”

Now I respect the Catholic Church’s and other major religious organization’s consistency on the issue – generally OPPOSING both abortion and capital punishment for the very SAME reason – that “reverence for all life.”

While I reject that “reverence for ALL life,” I too am logically consistent, in that I support both abortion AND capital punishment.

Most “liberals” and many Conservatives tend to be somewhat inconsistent on this matter. While most Conservatives tend to OPPOSE abortion and SUPPORT capital punishment, most “liberals” tend to SUPPORT abortion and OPPOSE capital punishment.

On that score, Conservatives seem much more able and therefore likely to make actual, reasonable and affirmative arguments for their position – “We believe in protecting the innocent (presumably unborn fetuses) and punishing the guilty.”

OK, there’s a logical thread that runs through there, but again, my primary argument on the former is, “Are we really “protecting” that unborn fetus by making sure it’ll be born into that unwilling, often chaotic and dysfunctional environment?”

Still, we can discuss such things amicably and even agree to disagree, BUT most “liberals” tend NOT to be able to defend exactly why they choose to support abortion for “convenience,” and NOT the death penalty for those who’ve committed even the most heinous crimes and been convicted on DNA evidence! There is no such logical thread for that runs along the track supporting abortion and opposing capital punishment and THAT is almost certainly why so few “liberals” even ever try to defend it reasonably. It’s very essence is a soft gooey overtly feminine and overly emotional argument.

I noticed this many years ago.

Milton Friedman flustered and befuddled opponents of free markets with unmatched wit and sparkling humor. NO one ever successfully challenged Friedman face to face.

Here, he devastates Phil Donahue, after Donahue thought he’d sandbagged him into defending “greed”;

Margaret Thatcher, like Ronald Reagan was able to articulate sound economic principles and make them plain for all to understand, like the time she excoriated a Labour Party House member with “You’d prefer to see the poor poorer, so long as the rich were less rich.”

Is it possible, perhaps, that Leftist arguments are so nuanced that very few (almost no one) can actually make those arguments?

That doesn’t make any sense at all.

Seriously, how come there’s never been a Left-of-Center Milton Friedman, or a Leftist Reagan or Thatcher?

I’ve come to believe it’s because few Leftists, if any, WANT to make such arguments. They take their own emotional arguments on “faith” and when confronted, react the same way many such faith-based believers do when challenged – rail against the challenger as a heretic, or as “ignorant” (for who wouldn’t take the same things they do on faith, if they weren’t ignorant?). Aren’t heretics and the woefully ignorant, especially those who revel in their ignorance “worthy of insult?”

Seriously, this is the ONLY thing that (at least to me) explains the Leftist penchant for insults over facts.

On that score, I have to note that I’ve witnessed many kind, “liberal” people jump into various discussions to defend insulting Leftists from personal attack, while never once addressing the often much more vituperative personal attacks, virtually always initiated by those they’ve defended.

That’s merely an observation that’s remained consistent over a long period of time, one which has fortified my belief that, as I’ve often said (for decades now) that I’ve observed that, “The vast majority of the most angry and revolting people I’ve met have been fellow “liberals.” While I’ve rarely, if ever encountered derision or even direct proselytizing from Conservatives, even “Conservative Christians,” I’ve encountered anger and insults over relatively minor disagreements with fellow “liberals.”

As an example, it is most likely the “Conservative Christian” who should find my views to be antithetical to their own, probably even more revolting than anyone else, and yet I’ve rarely had an insulting exchange with such folks. . .AND yet, the few relatively minor disagreements I’ve had with Leftists have nearly all resulted in virtual scorched earth wars. The ONLY possible explanation for that is that Leftist ideas are primarily “faith-based.”

There are only two ways of dealing with that, (1) accepting that, like everyone else, these folks have a right to their own faith and simply refrain from engaging them, OR (2) continue to engage such people, whenever possible, hoping that eventually they’ll at least one day be willing to hear another viewpoint with a more open mind.

I, of course, hold to the latter view.

You’d think that the idea SHOULD BE to try and make our arguments as persuasive as possible to bring others to our side, but for whatever reasons, “liberals” always tend to do a much worse job of that than do Libertarians and Conservatives. WHY is that?

Whatever the reason, it’s got to be the primary reason why “liberals” have never been more than half the number of “Conservatives” (currently there are nearly 2.5X as many Conservatives as liberals in the USA, according to Gallup) and Conservatives should probably be jumping for joy over that!

I’ve said this for a very long time, “IF you believe your neighbors are “the enemy” because they have an Obama, or a Bush, or now a Romney bumper sticker, then you are part of what’s wrong with America.”

That “team sports” mentality doesn’t fit politics and ideology well at all. If you can be made to hate a nazi, you can just as easily be made to hate the little old lady next to you in the supermarket aisle. WHY? Because you’re basing your hate on something you’ve read or watched on TV...your opinions have been molded by someone else with an agenda unknown to you.

It’s important that we don’t fall into demonizing our neighbors over minor issues like religion, gay rights, gun rights, etc. especially when there are so many other issues (economic, for instance) that SHOULD unite us.

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