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Wood On Ogbu


The big Supreme Court decision on affirmative action is coming, so the question of admissions preferences and “diversity” will soon be on everyone’s minds. I’ve already recommended Peter Wood’s, Diversity: The Invention of a Concept as the best treatment of this issue. Wood’s book is by turns, hilarious, biting, extraordinarily thoughtful and thought-provoking. You can find my extended discussion of it here. (And if you don’t believe me, have a look at the reviews posted at amazon.) Anyone with an interest in the question of affirmative action and diversity who has not already bought Wood’s book has grievously erred.

Now Peter Wood has come through again with an incisive review (originally published in Boston University’s, Journal of Education) of an important new book by John Ogbu. Ogbu is the anthropologist who first reported the phenomenon of black school kids refusing to work hard for fear of “acting white.” Now Ogbu has put out a careful ethnographic study of black students and black families in the wealthy Shaker Heights district of Cleveland. Ogbu finds that children of wealthy and highly educated black families in a liberal, prestigious, and fully integrated school district still seriously underperform whites. The evidence points strongly to a cultural explanation for the gap. Ogbu’s cultural argument is powerful–even explosive. Yet Ogbu is sensitive to the potential controversy, and to some extent plays his argument down. Wood shows clearly what the real argument and implications of Ogbu’s book are. Reading this piece by Wood, I felt that all the claptrap about affirmative action, diversity, “institutional racism,” etc. had been swept aside and I was finally looking squarely at the problem at the heart of this great national controversy–-the problem no one wants to talk about.

Well, of Course



The Viking Kittens Are Back


And quite disturbingly, they are at The Gay Bar! (Gay Bar! Gay Bar! Gay Bar!…. great that’s stuck in my head now).

Turn volume down — but not off — if you’re at the office.

Web Briefing: January 28, 2015

Michigan Deception, Con’T


Yesterday on The Corner, picking up on a column by Linda Chavez, I wrote about an apparent act of deception by the University of Michigan in the affirmative action case currently before the Supreme Court. Michigan appears to have deliberately held back crucial data that contradicts and undermines the report on which it bases its claim that “diversity” is so important a plus for all students that reverse discrimination is justified. Jonathan Adler then, rightly, put up a post linking to Michigan’s denial of the charges. I have since contacted Curt Levey, the Director of Legal and Public Affairs at the Center for Individual Rights, which is sponsoring the plaintiffs in the Michigan case, to get his answer to Michigan’s denials.

According to Curt Levey, of the Center for Individual Rights, “The University of Michigan did provide the plaintiffs in the affirmative action lawsuits with an executive summary of its 1994 study that revealed the negative effects of achieving diversity through race-based admissions. However, the University refused the plaintiffs’ request for the data sets underlying the 1994 study and the related expert report of Michigan professor Patricia Gurin, which was submitted as evidence. Thus, the plaintiffs were denied an opportunity to do their own analysis of the data. But the larger point is this: Michigan based its national pro-affirmative action crusade on supposedly groundbreaking research proving the educational benefits of diversity. Yet the university never publicly disclosed the existence of its own contradictory research.”

So the upshot is that while the University of Michigan may not have technically violated the law, they have shown profound bad faith through a massive sin of omission. Their famous, controversial, and highly touted research report “proving” the benefits of diversity has been contradicted all along by their own internal research. Yet until Chetly Zarko brought the matter to public attention with his May 16 Wall Street Journal piece, Michigan succeeded in effectively burying the truth in an obscure and unpublicized legal document. The title of the important new analysis of the Michigan data by Robert Lerner and Althea Nagai tells the story, “Diversity Distorted: How the University of Michigan Ignored Inconvenient Data in Order to Sell Diversity to the Courts and the Public.” So I believe that my initial claim still stands. If the Supreme Court affirms Michigan’s affirmative action policies, even if no law has been broken, the decision will have been tainted.


Meltdown Continues


The NYT stuff isn’t stopping. I’m beginning to rethink my support for Bragg. See Todd Purdum’s email is pretty revealing. And Andrew Sullivan’s continuing his exploratory surgery — sans anesthetic — of the NYT’s festering wounds.

She Couldn’t Be Stopped


Grandma Goldberg has posted the first picture of Goldberg: The Next Generation.

The Original Blair




I just remembered today: I once was an uncredited stringer for The New York Times. It was nine years ago, and I was living for the winter in St. Francisville, La. I wrote a couple of freelance stories for the Baton Rouge Advocate about a dispute involving a Yankee landlord, a venerable plantation, and a poor black Baptist congregation the landlord was trying to force off the property. The story caught fire somewhat in the national media, and I called the Times’ Atlanta bureau to see if I could interest them in it. I did a day’s worth of reporting for Peter Applebome, then the Times’ Atlanta correspondent, who flew in the next day. He spent a few hours in town, interviewed some folks, then left. He wrote a beautiful story, and used some of my material. I think the Times paid me for my stringer work. I got no byline, but didn’t expect one. With that in mind, I think Rick Bragg is getting something of a raw deal here. The Times’ policy on using uncredited stringers to supplement the reporting of its stars may be a bad one, but it predates Howell Raines or Rick Bragg.

Johns Hopkins University


I just got an email from a student at JHU and it dawned on me I never hear from or about Hopkins. It’s weird because I went to college in Hopkins shadow and so I’m pretty attuned to noticing its name etc. But I almost never hear from students there, never hear about campus shenanigans there. It’s a great school but it’s kind of invisible at the same time.

Rock The Vote




Re: Rock The Vote


Oh……how I loathe Rock the Vote. I despise it — and the whole youth politics “movement” — in every sense and have for years and years. Forget issue advocacy, which they’ve really always been about. Even their arguments for actual voting disgust me. The whole choose or lose schtick implicitly said that young people should get in the game before the country stole their slice of pork, their entitlement, their grab at the cookie jar. It created a whole cosmology of generational grievance which said that being young was as ideologically binding as being black or gay or some other team on the identity politics left, when it should have been arguing that being black or gay etc shouldn’t be ideologically binding either. Indeed, more than any other demographic, young people should be taught to think about the good of their country as a whole. They shouldn’t be indoctrinated into seeing the government as a first-come, first-serve, get it while you can all-you-can-eat buffet. That was always the message of Rock the Vote, Lead or Leave and the vast majority of Gen X hucksters who used generational stereotyping to make bogus liberal arguments and advance their own careers.

Bleeding Heart Conservatism


Rock Their Votes


Conservatives have long suspected that Rock the Vote, an MTV-oriented outfit that pushes youth voter registration, had a political agenda. Now it’s official. The National Journal reports that Hans Riemer, head of the organization’s new Washington, D.C. office, said Rock the Vote “is moving aggressivle to carve out a role as an issue organization that takes a stand on policy issues for young people.” Apparently it is not enough for young people to vote — they have to vote the right way.

Beyond Ken Clarke


Somebody who is a lot smarter than Ken Clarke is Iain Murray (“the Barry White of statistical analysis” : Jonah Goldberg). He’s opposed to a referendum for a number of perfectly respectable reasons including fears that any question will be rigged in favor of the ‘constitution’ (he’s right about that, I suspect) and concerns about the precedent (even if there is a ‘no’ vote) it may set. He’s correct in the sense that the EU’s mandarins rarely take no for an answer – both the Danes and the Irish were subjected to what were essentially repeat referenda after their electors gave the ‘wrong’ answer. Despite that, the case for a referendum remains compelling – not least for the impact a ‘no’ vote would have on the rest of the EU.

Iain is also a little too sanguine about the UK parliament’s ability to withdraw from the ‘constitution’ once it has been signed. He’s right that under English constitutional theory (some readers might now like to move on to the next post) no parliament can irrevocably bind a successor, but this is the sort of theoretical point that I used to sleep through at university. As a legal matter, for example, parliament could repeal the legislation under which, say, India was given its independence, but so what? Kipling wannabes are likely to be disappointed by the results. The key point is that legal theory cannot ignore political reality – the more entangled the UK becomes in the federalizing project, the more difficult, if not impossible, it becomes to extricate it. Iain sees the EU as a ‘tangled web’ (true) with the ‘constitution’ as a spider (also true). Contrary to what he says, however, the UK is not the wasp that stings the spider and flies away, it is the fly.

Meanwhile, away from the drama of insect and arachnid metaphor, yet another guy who is smarter than Ken Clarke, journalist Stephen Pollard, has entered the fray. His last sentence says it all:

If power ultimately resides in the people, the people who grant MPs a temporary lien on that power for five years at a time, then only the people can decide whether or not to hand it over for good

Why should Americans care about all this? Because the more the UK becomes trapped in this mess, the more Europe loses its most eloquent voice for the free market, the nation state and, yes, friendship across the Atlantic.

Abortion and Cancer


The offending LA Times story does disparage the Texas abortion counseling laws. At the same time, the story does accurately summarize the scientific consensus on the alleged link between abortion and increased risks of breast cancer. In short, the apparent increase in breast cancer cases is too small to be reliably distinguished from statistical noise. Of course, this rarely stops major newspapers from trumpeting scientific studies alleging to find cancer risks from all sorts of substances based on equally questionable findings. If the LA Times is serious about addressing bias in its reporting, it will approach environmental cancer scares with the same level of skepticism.

Ken Clarke


Kenneth Clarke, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, he claims, a supporter of the Conservative Party, has now weighed in on the debate over the EU’s ‘constitution’. He’s opposed to a referendum and annoyed with the newspapers that have had the effrontery to suggest that the UK should have one. “The trouble, ” he whines, “with British politicians is that they are too frightened of the newspapers.” The trouble, it seems, with Ken Clarke is that he is not frightened enough of British voters. He suspects that, given the chance, they would vote down Diamond Giscard’s constitution, and so he doesn’t want them to have that chance – and he’s prepared to tell them so.

Hell Freezes Over


“I’m trying to pick my jaw up off the floor,” says an L.A. journalist friend who passes along this May 22 memo that Times editor John Carroll sent to some staffers:

To: SectionEds
Subject: Credibility/abortion

I’m concerned about the perception—and the occasional reality—that the Times is a liberal, “politically correct” newspaper. Generally speaking, this is an inaccurate view, but occasionally we prove our critics right. We did so today with the front-page story on the bill in Texas that would require abortion doctors to counsel patients that they may be risking breast cancer.

The apparent bias of the writer and/or the desk reveals itself in the third paragraph, which characterizes such bills in Texas and elsewhere as requiring “so-called counseling of patients.” I don’t think people on the anti-abortion side would consider it “so-called,” a phrase that is loaded with derision.

The story makes a strong case that the link between abortion and breast cancer is widely discounted among researchers, but I wondered as I read it whether somewhere there might exist some credible scientist who believes in it.

Such a person makes no appearance in the story’s lengthy passage about the scientific issue. We do quote one of the sponsors of the bill, noting that he “has a professional background in property management.” Seldom will you read a cheaper shot than this. Why, if this is germane, wouldn’t we point to legislators on the other side who are similarly bereft of scientific credentials?

It is not until the last three paragraphs of the story that we finally surface a professor of biology and endocrinology who believes the abortion/cancer connection is valid. But do we quote him as to why he believes this? No. We quote his political views.

Apparently the scientific argument for the anti-abortion side is so absurd that we don’t need to waste our readers’ time with it.

The reason I’m sending this note to all section editors is that I want everyone to understand how serious I am about purging all political bias from our coverage. We may happen to live in a political atmosphere that is suffused with liberal values (and is unreflective of the nation as a whole), but we are not going to push a liberal agenda in the news pages of the Times.

I’m no expert on abortion, but I know enough to believe that it presents a profound philosophical, religious and scientific question, and I respect people on both sides of the debate. A newspaper that is intelligent and fair-minded will do the same.

Let me know if you’d like to discuss this.


Michigan’s Responses


The University of Michigan has strongly challenged charges that it held back preliminary data on the impact of affirmative action in higher education. (See here, here, and here.) It is also my understanding that the plaintiffs in the Michigan affirmative action cases have withdrawn any claims that the Michigan failed to disclose relevant documents during the discovery process, and therefore the relevant documents would have been available to the plaintiffs prior to any Freedom of Information Act request. It does not appear that any of this undermines the Lerner-Nagai critique of the Gurin studies, however.

Yep, Raines Is Colorblind



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