Archive for the ‘justice’ Category

Allegedly attorneys are lining up to defend Shazbot Fail, who failed in his attempt at setting off a car bomb in Time Square. Dennis Miller yesterday expounded on this saying (not his exact words, but the flavor) …   This is a career enhancer. It will put them in good standing with Eric Holder for future employment in the Justice Department.


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This is the number one reason I didn’t vote for Obama, the Supreme Court. His appointees will cause detrimental effects long after O is gone.


All legislation must at some point pass through all 3 branches of government (what were they again??). At the judicial branch, Obama will have the courts bent solidly leftward that many Constitutional tests will be ignored in favor of his agenda. The SCOTUS was a thorn in FDR’s side so much that he wanted to expand the court’s numbers in order to pack it in his favor. Obama has the luxury of aging justices that are ready to get out who know they will be replaced with other liberal minded folk.

I pray for the continued health of Justices Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito – and that the others hang on until O is out of office.

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We usually think we have a good common sense grasp on what’s fair and what’s not. Kwame Anthony Appiah points out that when it comes to tax policy, at any rate, that’s not so, as Thomas Schelling’s research demonstrates:

Would it be fair, do you think, to give poor parents a bigger credit than rich parents? Schelling’s students were inclined to think so. If the credit was going to vary with income, it seemed fair to award struggling families the bigger tax break. It would certainly be unfair, they agreed, for richer families to get a bigger one.

Then Schelling asked his students to think about things in a different way. Instead of giving families with children a credit, you’d impose a surcharge on couples with no children. Now then: Would it be fair to make the childless rich pay a bigger surcharge than the childless poor? Schelling’s students thought so.

But — hang on a sec — a bonus for those who have a child amounts to a penalty for those who don’t have one. (Saying that those with children should be taxed less than the childless is another way of saying that the childless should be taxed more than those with children.) So when poor parents receive a smaller credit than rich ones, that is, in effect, the same as the childless poor paying a smaller surcharge than the childless rich. To many, the first deal sounds unfair and the second sounds fair — but they’re the very same tax scheme.

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King v. Obama

Juan Williams contrasts the views of Barack Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Michael Goldfarb points out how amazing our current situation is:

What if I told you in 2004 that the Democratic party would run an African American candidate for president in 2008? I tell you National Journal will officially label this candidate the most liberal member of the United States Senate. This candidate will also have served less than three years in that Senate, with no executive, foreign policy, or military experience. Then I tell you that this candidate will lose the party’s primaries in Texas, California, New York, Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Oh, and his minister sounds like Louis Farrakhan, and actually pals around and gives awards to Farrakhan.

This is the situation the Democratic party finds itself in, and not only that, but the presumptive Republican nominee has the highest favorability rating of any candidate Gallup’s tracked in the last eight years.

My own take: Obama had the opportunity for a “Sister Souljah” moment.  He almost seized it. Indeed, he came very close, and I thought he was going to do it. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t push Rev. Wright away.

Similarly, he almost transcended traditional discussions of race. He sounded briefly as if he were going to upend the usual pattern by demonstrating a real understanding of the perspective of many urban white voters:

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition.

All this has it exactly right. So, what does Obama have to say to these voters?

Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends.

Wait a minute—didn’t you just imply that fear of crime is real and rational, and not to be dismissed as mere prejudice? So, why are these politicians exploiting fears?

Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Again, hold on—I thought the above concerns were supposed to be legitimate. But the commentators who share them are the ones guilty of dismissing legitimate discussions?

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many.

What? These are “the real culprits”? They have something to do with why children are bused long distances to inferior schools? With why some children get into the state university with scholarships while others with much higher grades and SAT scores are turned down, solely because of the color of their skin?

And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

Isn’t that what you’ve just done?

So, what do you want from the white urban voters who are concerned about these issues? What do you have to say to them?

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination – and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past – are real and must be addressed.

In other words—t**** s***.

That ought to go over well in Pennsylvania.

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Spitzer’s Boner

Eliot Spitzer has resigned as Governor of New York, giving the state its first African-American governor.

Michael Barone has reflections on the danger of selective enforcement when a law on the books generally goes unenforced:

When society has effectively legalized something that is still theoretically illegal, there is always the possibility of selective prosecution—targeting individuals who are in disfavor with someone in government. Selective prosecution is tyranny, and the possibility of selective prosecution is a powerful argument for legalization of the behavior that the society has chosen to condone.

I call this the Merkle problem. Fred Merkle was the youngest player in the major leagues in what may have been the game’s most exciting season. (Six teams finished within 1 1/2 games of the pennant.) On September 23, 1908, Merkle, first baseman for the New York Giants, was on first base after singling in the ninth inning of a game against the Cubs, sending Moose McCormick to third. Al Bridwell, the next batter, singled to center, scoring McCormick, and apparently ending the game. Merkle trotted to the dugout. Cubs second baseman Johnny Evers (of “Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance” fame) noticed that Merkle hadn’t touched second base, and called to the center fielder Solly Hofman to throw him the ball. With many of the 20,000 fans present storming onto the field, Giants pitcher Iron Man Joe McGinnity found the ball before Hofman could get to it and threw it into the stands. Evers got a new ball from umpire Hank O’Day and touched second. O’Day called Merkle out, negating the run (and depriving Christy Mathewson of the win; he had 37 others that year). Darkness prevented resumption of the game, which was declared a tie.

The Giants and Cubs ended the season tied. On October 8, therefore, the game was replayed, and the Cubs won 4-2.  The Giants fell back into a tie with the Pirates for second place.  Chicago went on to beat the Detroit in the World Series for its third straight series win.

Merkle’s “boner,” as it came to be known, wasn’t the rookie mistake it was later thought to be. There was a rule that a force out would negate a run scored before the out, just as there is today. But nobody before O’Day enforced it; Merkle’s action was routine at the time.

The general moral: having unenforced laws on the books is a recipe for controversy, selective enforcement, injustice, and personal disaster. That may be an argument for dropping the law, as Barone notes; it may also be an argument for enforcing the law or delineating more carefully circumstances in which the relevant behavior is prohibited.

Is Merkle’s boner analogous to Spitzer’s? (I’m so sorry.) I don’t think so, for at least four reasons. First, prostitution is not routinely practiced. It is tolerated by police forces with more pressing problems, but it remains a fringe activity. Second, Spitzer was a prosecutor who made a reputation partly by going after prostitution rings; it would be as if Merkle had previously been the chief enforcer of the forced-out rule. Third, Spitzer, as prosecutor and then Governor, was an official in charge of enforcing the laws, whatever they happen to be. At the very least, he needed to abide by those laws himself. Finally, prostitution is exploitation, incompatible with respect for the other party as well as self-respect. That it is mutual exploitation doesn’t change that.

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The National Association of Scholars has published a report on schools of social work throughout the country, finding that most are committed to ideological indoctrination rather than unbiased research: “Social work education is a national academic scandal.” Stephen Balch, NAS Director:

Defenders of the American university claim that the seriousness of the problem of political correctness has been greatly exaggerated by critics. There is, however, nothing subtle about political correctness in social work. It is the Jolt Cola of PC.

Social work is a field, perhaps, in which the line between advocacy and academic scholarship is subtle. But the line is nevertheless real. Social work, like medicine and engineering, is a practical field that has as its end not only understanding but doing. Just as medicine has as its goal health, we might expect social work to have as its goal helping people. But many in schools of social work understand what they do in a far more specific and contentious way. Barbara White, Dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin, objected to the report:

“We do not advocate any particular positions and definitely do not force them on our students,” White said. “Our profession is geared toward the issue of people working for justice and equality. And our responsibility is to serve the community.”

Justice and equality, notice, come first, and are the means to serving the community. What’s wrong with justice and equality? Nothing, of course, except that they are political concepts. People with different political ideologies construe them quite differently. There could be, and once upon a time were, courses in schools of social work that examined different conceptions of justice and equality without strong ideological presuppositions or biases. People used to feel responsible for arguing for the ideological positions they took against all comers. (I am thinking, for example, of Richard Lodge, former head of the Council on Social Work Education, whom I knew well.) But those days are long gone.

The Council for Social Work Education publishes a Code of Ethics that almost all schools of social work require their students to adhere to. It stipulates:

Social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. Social workers’ social change efforts are focused primarily on issues of poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice. These activities seek to promote sensitivity to a knowledge about oppression and cultural, economic and ethnic diversity.

Notice that poverty and unemployment are simply assumed to be forms of injustice. If I quit my job to write the great American novel, hike the Appalachian Trail, or pursue competitive tanning, that’s injustice? Note, too, the use of the loaded term ‘oppression’ and the ritual bowing to diversity.

The Code of Ethics continues:

Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice.

So, to be a social worker according to the CSWE, you need to engage in specific kinds of political action. The saddest part of the report discusses particular students who have left or been failed out of social work graduate programs because they opposed abortion, refused to lobby legislators to adopt certain left-wing policies, or analyzed social problems from a conservative point of view.

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