What is Your Data Set?

The Hebrew prophets appear to come in “good” and “bad” categories, their distinction earned by whether their prophesy panned out or not. It was said that the people had “itching ears.” A similar statement came from the Columbia School of Journalism in which the speaker said that people select a data set that suits their conclusions rather than making decisions based on data. One example of this selection of data sets deals with global warming. The problem is that the wrong data set can “win” and we all suffer regardless of our data set. In terms of the Biblical prophets, all of Israel goes into exile – not just the followers of the false prophets.

When the U. S. Supreme Court issued their opinion on Voter’s Rights in Texas, one set of data seems to have prevailed. The argument was that racial conditions in Texas no longer need federal intervention in voter’s regulations. My data set disagrees with that decision. I suppose it will take another Summer of Voter’s Registrations such as was experienced in Mississippi and Alabama. Jonathan Daniels was killed in that Voter’s Registration effort. Then there was the March on Washington. LBJ understood the data set calling for the Voting Rights Act. The current court imagines that “things have changed.” We will all have to suffer through the flawed decision and data set.

And then there was the ruling about campaign contributions. In a dissenting opinion Justice Breyer noted that during the 1996 election cycle the top fifty non-federal donors gave between $530,000 and $3,287,175. The 2000 election cycle had $498,000,000 contributed with the top fifty non-federal donors giving between $955,695 and $5,949,000. Senator Fred Thompson stated “You are not a player unless you are in the $100,000 to $200,000 range.” You cannot by a congressman’s ear for less. How sad! You cannot buy a congressman for less than $100,000. And look what you get for $100,000.

In the State of Michigan case dealing with Affirmative Action, Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy and Alito wrote “There is no authority in the Federal Constitution or in this court’s precedents to set aside Michigan laws.” In my humble opinion, that puts us back in the days of laws of segregation, Jim Crow, and a great many other “States Rights” issues I thought we had gotten beyond. Justice Sotomayor dissented, herself a proud benefactor of Affirmative Action, and tried to remind the court that race still matters. 56% of Michigan voters do not have precedence over the U. S. Constitution and the court’s precedents. They have for many years protected us from the tyranny of the majority. I guess we have a case of “differing data sets.”

I would call to mind the process of selection of justices. The President nominates and the Senate consents. The current majority are products of conservative Presidents and Senates. If you should want to change the direction of the court (and the prevailing data set), it starts with the election of Presidents and Senators. That includes “off year elections.”

To be sure the racial divide in this country is a complex one. Recently a riot broke out in Detroit when a white man accidentally hit an Afro-American girl who ran into the street. A number of Afro-American males beat the white man nearly to death until an Afro-American nurse with a .38 caliber pistol intervened, treated the girl, laid atop the brutalized white man, and said she would shoot the next man that struck the white man. There was an attempt to speak to the prejudice in the African-American community, but Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have remained silent. That silence and the ignoring of this two sided issue will lead to increased frustration and a return to the agonies of the 1960’s and 70’s.

It will do no good to say, “I told you so.”

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