Friday, November 21, 2014
A Quota on Punishment
The Obama administration is cynically politicizing education to depict black students as victims.
Under an implicit threat of losing their federal subsidies, the Minneapolis public schools have agreed to reduce the disparity in punishment of black students by 25 percent by the end of this school year, and then by 50 percent, 75 percent and finally 100 percent in each of the following years. In other words, there are now racial quota limits for punishment in the Minneapolis schools.
The Obama administration is cynically politicizing education to depict black students as victims.
By Thomas Sowell
If anyone still has any doubt about the utter cynicism of the Obama administration, a recent agreement between the federal government and the Minneapolis public schools should open their eyes.
Under the Obama administration, both the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have been leaning on public schools around the country to reduce what they call the “disproportionate” numbers of black male students who are punished for various offenses in schools.
If we stop and think — as old-fashioned as that may seem — there is not the slightest reason to expect black males to commit the same number of offenses as Asian females or any other set of students.
When different groups of human beings have behaved differently in all sorts of ways, in countries around the world, for thousands of years of recorded history, why would we accept as dogma that the only reason one set of students gets punished more than others is because the people who are doing the punishing are picking on them?
Politically — which is the way the Obama administration looks at everything — any time they can depict blacks as victims, and depict themselves as their rescuers, that means an opportunity to get out the black vote for Democrats.
On the surface, this may look like a favor to blacks. But only on the surface.
Anyone with common sense knows that letting a kid get away with bad behavior is an open invitation to worse behavior in the future. Punishing a kid for misbehavior in school when he is ten years old may reduce the chances that he will have to be sent to prison when he is twenty years old.
Other schools in other cities that have also caved under pressure from the federal government and agreed to lighten up on black kids who misbehave have reported an increase in misbehavior, including violence. Who would have thought otherwise?
Letting kids who are behavior problems in schools grow up to become hoodlums and then criminals is no favor to them or to the black community. Moreover, it takes no more than a small fraction of troublemakers in a class to make it impossible to give that class a decent education. And for many poor people, whether black or white, education is their one big chance to escape poverty.
The people in the Obama administration who are pushing this counterproductive policy are not stupid. They are political, which is worse. They know what they are doing and they are willing to sacrifice young blacks to do it.
This punishment issue made me think back to the eighth grade, when I was punished by being kept after school, more often than any other kid in the class — black, white, Hispanic, or whatever. I was bored in school and did various pranks to liven things up.
One day, after school, as I sat alone among the empty chairs in the classroom, the teacher said, sarcastically: “Well, here we are again, Sowell, just the two of us!”
“Good grief, Miss Sharoff,” I said. “If we keep staying in after school together all the time, people will begin to talk.”
“We will just have to live with the scandal,” she said, without even looking up from the papers she was correcting.
Thank heaven there was no Obama administration to exempt me from punishment. Who knows how I might have ended up?
Years ago, there was a study of a working-class community where there were black, Hispanic, and Italian kids, and where many of the cops were Italian. When a black or Hispanic kid broke the law, the police took him down to the station and booked him. But, if an Italian kid did the same thing, they reacted differently.
The Italian cop would take the Italian kid out into an alley and rough him up. Then he would take him home to his family, tell them what had happened and leave him there — where the kid could expect another beating, instead of the wrist-slap punishment of the law. Those cops understood the realities of life that politicians ignore. And they were doing a favor to their own.
— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2014 Creators Syndicate Inc.http://www.nationalreview.com/article/392934/quota-punishment-thomas-sowell
Thursday, November 20, 2014
The New York Times wants you to believe Team Clinton considers the midterms a win for her.
By Jonah Goldberg
In the old Soviet Union, Kremlinologists would read the state party newspaper Pravda not so much for the news it contained, but to glean what the commissars wanted readers to believe the commissars were thinking. The closest we have to that in America is the New York Times. Obviously, it’s not a state organ, and there are many fine journalists there, but it does play a similar role for the Democratic party, often reporting less on what Democrats actually think and more on what Democrats want readers to believe is the current state of Democratic thinking.
Two days after the midterm Democratic Götterdämmerung, Team Clinton let it be known that it thinks the election was good news for it. “Midterms, for Clinton Team, Aren’t All Gloom,” proclaimed the understated headline in the Times.
“A number of advisers saw only upside for Mrs. Clinton in the party’s midterm defeats,” reports Amy Chozick. There’s no mention of any advisers seeing a downside. Indeed, a few sentences later, Chozick tells us there is a “consensus . . . among those close to Mrs. Clinton that it is time to accelerate her schedule.”
“In many ways,” Chozick continues, “Tuesday’s election results clear a path for Mrs. Clinton. The lopsided outcome and conservative tilt makes it less likely she would face an insurgent challenger from the left.”
Maybe it’s true that that there is a silver lining for Hillary Clinton in the shellacking her party took last week. Maybe her ineffective stumping for Democrats means nothing. Maybe a 17-percentage-point loss for putative Clinton Democrat Mark Pryor in Clinton’s home base of Arkansas is a blessing in deep, deep, deep disguise. Maybe the staggering indifference of the Democratic coalition of young people and minorities on display last week is proof that they are really just husbanding their voting energies for 2016. And maybe the fact that the “war on women” shtick proved as stale as a 1980s sitcom catchphrase is irrelevant for a candidate so invested in her gender.
But the notion that this monumental rebuke of Clinton’s party, and the administration she served in, amounts to an unambiguous Clinton win invites many to ask, “What you talkin’ ’bout, Hillary?”
You can always tell you’re being spun if the opposite facts would yield the same result. Does anyone doubt that if the Democrats Clinton vigorously campaigned for had held on to the Senate, the same people would be telling the New York Times that the election results were a boon for Clinton? If the midterm results are scaring away potential left-wing insurgents, why is Clinton Inc. expediting its schedule? Shouldn’t the lack of a challenger make it easier for Clinton to lay low for a while longer?
Not according to this alleged consensus among her brain trust.
Chozick quotes from a “Ready for Hillary” fundraising email: “Now more than ever we need to show Hillary that we’re ready for her to get in this race. America needs Hillary’s leadership.”
Ah, so at a time when an unpopular president — in profound denial about what the voters were saying on Election Day — is tarnishing the whole Democratic brand, it makes irrefutably good sense for Clinton to further merge her own brand with her party’s?
How will President Obama respond to the notion that Clinton must now assume the mantle of leader of her party, never mind the nation? What, exactly, can an out-of-work politician do that will actually provide tangible proof of her “leadership”? How will it help Clinton to distance herself from an incumbent president still popular among the base voters she will inevitably need in 2016? Frankly, I have no idea.
Although Obama and much of the media establishment are convinced that the midterms were a revolt against, variously, Washington, incumbents, gridlock, and/or obstructionism, the actual election returns were almost uniformly about throwing out incumbent Democrats, reelecting “obstructionist” Republicans, or electing a new generation of Republicans who vowed to stand up to Obama.
I think it’s obvious Democrats could use a fresh face or at least a politician more adept at navigating such problems. The consensus thinks differently — or at least wants you to think it does.
— Jonah Goldberg is a senior editor of National Review and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him by e-mail email@example.com or via Twitter @JonahNRO. © 2014 Tribune Content Agency, LLC
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
|Republicans More Informed Than Democrats, According to Pew Research|
|BY TIMOTHY H. LEE |
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 08 2014
Few traits better characterize contemporary liberals than their false sense of intellectual superiority.
We're all familiar with the clichés. Conservatives and libertarians who deviate from liberal articles of faith, from global warming alarmism to Keynesian economics to bureaucratized social engineering, are "deniers," unmoored from rationality and "settled science." Leftist author Thomas Frank captured that mindset with the title of his book "What's the Matter with Kansas?," asserting that Republican voters aren't even capable of aligning their votes with their supposedly self-evident best interests.
There's only one problem.
The actual, objective sociological evidence continues to demonstrate that the opposite is true. Republicans routinely prove themselves more knowledgeable than Democrats.
The left-leaning Pew Research Center provides the latest example.
Each year, Pew conducts its "What Do Americans Know" survey, which tests respondents on a series of questions. This year, the topics included the federal minimum wage, the territory occupied by ISIS, the Ukraine, Common Core educational proposals, fracking, where the Ebola virus is centered, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the U.S. poverty rate, where Shiite Muslims outnumber Sunnis, who chairs the Federal Reserve, where the federal government spends most and the U.S. unemployment rate. Unsurprisingly, older adults demonstrated greater knowledge than their younger counterparts, as did better-educated respondents.
But buried at the bottom of the survey report lies the subject heading "Partisan Differences in Knowledge," which itemizes each question and the percentage of Republicans, Democrats and Independents who answered each one correctly.
So how stark were the partisan knowledge differentials?
Out of 12 questions asked, Republicans outperformed both Democrats and Independents on 10. The differences were most pronounced on the questions regarding Common Core, fracking and where Shiites outnumber Sunnis, where the percentage of Republicans answering correctly outpaced Democrats by double digits. But Republicans also outperformed Democrats on questions centering on the federal minimum wage and the Fed Chairwoman, even though she's a Democrat appointed by Obama, while the minimum wage is Democrats' favorite wedge issue this election year to try to keep Harry Reid (D - Nevada) as the Senate Majority Leader.
Democrats only outscored Republicans in naming the primary Ebola outbreak location and the federal poverty rate, but only by 2 and 5 percentage points, respectively.
That obviously amounts to a lopsided Republican advantage in knowledge. But take a look at how Pew attempted to soften the findings:
"Differences in news knowledge across partisan groups are relatively modest, though Republicans tend to do somewhat better than Democrats overall. Republicans are 16 points more likely than Democrats to answer the Common Core question correctly (58% vs. 42%). And 57% of Republicans identify the oil industry as a primary driver of growth in North Dakota, compared with 42% of Democrats. On other issues, such as the unemployment rate, there are hardly any differences in news knowledge between Republicans and Democrats. Just 38% of Republicans and 34% of Democrats know that the unemployment rate is currently closest to 6%. Many Americans overestimate the current unemployment rate: 27% say it is closest to 9%, while an additional 18% think the rate is closest to 12%."
Think about that for a moment. Imagine two football teams playing 12 head-to-head games, with one winning 10 and the other 2. It would be preposterous for a sportswriter to describe that differential as "relatively modest," or that the team winning 10 of 12 games performed "somewhat better" than the team that lost 10 of 12.
This year's results parallel surveys from previous years, so it's not as though it should have come as an unwelcome surprise to the left-leaning Pew.
In 2012, Republicans outscored Democrats on 11 of 12 items. Yet in that instance Pew also described Republicans' performance as "somewhat better" than Democratic voters. In the 2011 Pew survey, Republicans outperformed Democrats on every single one of 19 questions, and in 2010 Republicans tested better than Democrats on 10 of 12 questions, with 1 tie score and Democrats testing better on just 1.
Moreover, those who find these consistent results disagreeable cannot simply dismiss them as unique to Pew.
In 2010, as just one example, The New York Times conducted a survey on Tea Party supporters, and the results surely jolted editors and readers alike. Under the headline "Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated," The Times conceded that Tea Partiers were more likely to possess a college degree than their opposition by a 23% to 15 % margin, as well as to have obtained a graduate degree by a 14% to 10% differential. Tea Partiers were also more likely to have "some college" while less likely to have not completed high school (3% versus 12%).
These objective, real-world results won't surprise many conservatives and libertarians. By now, we're well accustomed to such things as reciting the lack of global temperature increase going back almost two decades now, even while liberals unfamiliar with such facts claim fealty to "science."
Denial among media and entertainment leaders remains curiously stubborn, but reality must set in at some point for them as well.