Sebastian Gorka leaves a swampy Trump White House

On Friday, Sebastian Gorka resigned his position as Strategist and Deputy Assistant to the President in the Trump administration. It was the expected “other shoe” that dropped a week after Bannon left.

2017GorkaJpost

Gorka’s resignation letter expressed his dismay at the President’s failure to safeguard his policy priorities from the RINO GOP leadership and D.C. power-brokers. He wrote, “[G]iven recent events, it is clear to me that forces that do not support the MAGA (“make America great again”) promise are – for now – ascendant within the White House.” Regarding Trump’s recent speech announcing Trump’s policy reversal on Afghanistan, Gorka wrote, “The fact that those who drafted and approved the speech removed any mention of Radical Islam or radical Islamic terrorism proves that a crucial element of your presidential campaign has been lost… Just as worrying, when discussing our future actions in the region, the speech listed operational objectives without ever defining the strategic victory conditions we are fighting for.”

The last point of the quote is quite interesting because of the criticism leveled at Barack Obama for failing to delineate criteria for victory in Afghanistan. While Trump might reasonably argue that stating specific goals might compromise an efficient prosecution of war with ISIS or the Taliban, the same cannot be said of defining broader strategic goals.

The debacle in Charlottesville two weeks ago, and Trump’s initial lackluster condemnation of the alt-right, provided the last-straw pretext for Steve Bannon’s ouster. During the general election campaign, Bannon, who has never been associated with racism or ultra-nationalism, had boasted about providing the alt-right a platform on the widely-viewed Breitbart news and commentary site. Gorka has also been libelously tarred as “racist” by leftist political organizations and media, especially leftist Jewish media. As Michael Rubin reported in yesterday’s Washington Examiner,

“The Forward, a Jewish website and publication with socialist roots, purported to uncover a video affirming Gorka’s support for a Hungarian party subsequently accused of anti-Semitism. It subsequently emerged, however, that The Forward spliced the video to omit key portions in which Gorka warned against anti-Semitism or its flirting with anti-Semitic groups.”

The process to remove both Bannon and Gorka had been in place since the inauguration, when the RINO GOP leadership had placed their own in key cabinet positions. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is essentially the latest iteration of Bush 41’s James Baker III. Former GOP chair Reince Priebus was a clear establishment choice for Trump’s first chief of staff. Both National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Secretary of Defense John Mattis would have been as comfortable in a Clinton administration as in the current one. It would come as no surprise to learn that this was part of the quid pro quo for guaranteeing Trump an uncontested nomination at the GOP’s convention a year ago July. At this point, son-in-law and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner remains the only high-profile Trump loyalist cabinet figure.

Since the start of his presidential tenure, Trump’s advisory body on foreign policy was divided into the “globalists,” Tillerson, McMaster, and Mattis, vs. the “nationalists,” Bannon and Gorka. For the most part, Jared Kushner (, a liberal Democrat until Trump announced his candidacy,) fell in with the globalists. Over the years, Trump chided Obama and both Bushes for their military entanglements and failures. Key divisions between the globalists from the nationalists included policy on China, North Korea, Islamist radicalism, Iran, ISIS, Afghanistan, and Israel.

Throughout the general election campaign, Trump spoke like a “nationalist.” But Bannon’s original sin of courting the alt-right during the election, even though neither he nor Trump were alt-right, made him a liability as of Election Day. Now, Trump’s foreign policy team is exclusively globalist. An egregious outcome has been Trump’s acceptance of the Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran though he promised to abrogate the deal throughout the primary and general election campaigns. H.R. McMaster was a supporter of keeping Obama’s Iran deal intact.

One of the most divisive issues between Bannon/Gorka and the Tillerson/ McMaster/ Mattis was Israel. Bannon and Gorka are staunchly pro-Israel and urged the immediate move of the US embassy to Jerusalem. On this, he was blocked by Kushner. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster convinced Trump against recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, including the Western Wall. McMaster was behind the insistence that no Israeli official accompany the President to the Western Wall. Tillerson, on his flight to Israel, declared that he was on his way to “Tel Aviv, home of Judaism.” The Trump administration’s diplomats and foreign policy wonks have referred to promoting peace between Israel and “Palestine,” even though there is no, and never has been a, national entity called, “Palestine.”

The globalists prefer to court “moderate” Muslim regimes; as such, they tout the “Palestinian Arab” narrative in dealing with Israel. They will humor the Saudis in using Israel as a scapegoat to maintain their monarchies. A month ago, when Israel installed metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount following a lethal shooting attack on (non-Jewish) border policemen, McMaster declared the shooting “just another excuse by the Israelis to repress the Arabs.”

Bannon and Gorka openly used the term “radical Islamic extremism” to describe terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda. McMaster has largely prevented Trump from making any public mention of either Islam or Islamism. Like Bannon, Gorka also publicly focused attention on Islamic fundamentalism channeled into Islamist violence and terror.

The exodus of Bannon and Gorka leaves a bias in the administration’s foreign policy influence opposing the U.S.-Israel common interest. Many Trump supporters had hoped that Trump’s “outsider” status would present a breakaway opportunity. In Donald Trump they imagined an improvement in real support for Israel, over both the Obama and Bush administrations, and support for truly moderate, pro-western actors in the Middle East. At this point, however, Trump’s diplomatic and security chiefs seem bent upon making overtures to the terrorist leaders in the Palestinian Authority. As Trump re-activates American involvement in Afghanistan, he’ll seek cooperation from Islamic potentates who rely on the “Palestinian Arab victimization” narrative. It almost goes without saying that state department and national security elements will exert pressure upon Israel to make further concessions along the fruitless, endless, and meaningless “road map” – which always runs through the the D.C. swamp.

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Monuments, memories, and power

The debacle and outrage of Charlottesville, VA, is a week old and the after-tremors are ripping physical changes in the landscape. Statues and monuments are being removed, and dedicated public spaces and edifices are being renamed, on the basis of their historic associations with slavery and the Civil War. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? A lot of radio voices and TV talking heads seem to think it’s one or the other. Both perspectives are dangerously superficial.

ConfedStatueDown

About a year ago, Charlottesville’s elected municipal government decided to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. This past August 11-12, elements of the “alt-right,” anti-constitutional, nationalist-fascists, consisting of white supremacists, white nationalists, and ethnic fascists, held their permitted Unite the Right, with the statue removal serving as a context for them to express their racist epithets. Counter-protesters arrived to confront the alt-right. Among otherwise-peaceful counter-protesters were armed, violence provoking, left-wing fascist groups Black Lives Matter (BLM) and AntiFa.

This was not the first time the Charlottesville municipality decided to change its public space to express a rejection of Confederacy symbols. Over a year ago, the park in which the Lee statue sits was renamed from Robert E. Lee Park to Emancipation Park. Since then, and before last Friday’s Unite the Right rally and protest, the “alt-right” twice held permitted rallies in Emancipation Park without violent incident. None of the rallies had any effect on the renaming of the park and none prevented the decision to remove of the statue of Lee.

But three individuals died on August 12, including two policemen and a non-violent, 31 year-old woman, Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car, driven by white supremacist James Alex Fields, Jr., rammed a crowd of pedestrians.

The left has now seized upon the outrage to call for the removal of all monuments to figures related to the Confederacy and slave ownership. Implicit is the threat that groups like BLM and AntiFa will continue to demonstrate on the issue. Over the past week, statues and monuments have been removed, some legally and others illegally. Overnight, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh removed several Confederacy-commemorating statues and monuments, including one of Robert E. Lee. Annapolis removed the statue of Roger B. Taney, the chief author of the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which ruled that African-Americans, both enslaved and free, could not be American citizens. Protesters in Durham, N.C., illegally pulled down a statue of a Confederate soldier in front of the Durham County Courthouse – and a few were arrested for this act.

Mayor Pugh justified her unilateral decision to remove the memorials as measures to prevent violence started by BLM and AntiFa. If we take Mayor Pugh at her word, she is letting the intimidation by left-wing fascists. The alternative, of course, is that Mayor Pugh is using the excuse of left-wing fascist violence in order to bypass a process that might reflect the sensibilities of her constituent citizens. Either way, participatory citizenship in decisions of cultural expression in public spaces has been revoked in Baltimore. It is reasonable to assume that the same process is playing out in some cities throughout the United States.

Some voices, almost exclusively leftist, have called for comprehensive slavery-related monument removals and alternate-dedications, including some associated with historic figures like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, both of whom owned slaves. While there may be some merit to the argument that monuments commemorating those who took up arms to perpetuate slavery are anachronistic and disturbing, especially to descendants of slaves, there are excellent reasons to question the true motives of the left.

The left is not particularly interested in redressing the scars of slavery or racism. If it did, it would not venerate racist murderers like Che Guevara. If it did, it would not support brutal, anti-Western tyrants. If it did, it would not make common cause with Islamist regimes which practice slavery to this day. If it did, it would not align with the most misogynist cultures in the world, which practice honor killings of young girls and the murder of homosexuals.

Instead, the left thrives from manufacturing social injustices and expectations of unearned entitlements. One of the social injustices it would like to criminalize is offensive speech. While the left pushes an agenda of control over local historical artifacts in the public space, a step in forcing limitations on the Constitution’s First Amendment protections of speech. The left wants the United States to join other countries in outlawing what it defines as “hate speech,” which is a prime example of offensive speech that enjoys constitutional protection (as long as it does not constitute direct incitement to violence or lawlessness). The goal of the left is to outlaw and define all “offensive speech,” especially speech which contradicts leftist narratives. Control the rhetoric and the agenda, control the political outcome.

The left selectively ignore the reality that the Democrat Party, the political home of the American left, has, from the nation’s founding through the 1960s, been the party of slavery, Jim Crow, racial discrimination, and citizen subjugation. The early 20th century political forebears of today’s left, the progressivists, were steeped in both social engineering and racism. The prospect of leftist political correctness police dictating local choices of historical artifacts in the public space should be absolutely chilling.

On the other side, some conservative figures have come out in blanket opposition against the removal/alternative-dedication of Confederacy-dedicated edifices and spaces. The rationale is that the removal and alternate-dedication of these edifices and spaces erases the national memory, the telling of history, associated with them. Some commentators have gone so far as to say that such modifications would be analogous to destroying the remains of the Auschwitz concentration camp, which now stands as a testament to Nazi evil and barbarism.

But there is a significant difference between Auschwitz and a statue of Robert E. Lee. While it is located adjacent to the town of Oswiecim, Auschwitz does not sit in the middle of the town square or in a public park by a swing set. It is a pilgrimage site for people of all races and creeds, from all over the world. There are other precedents in which edifices and spaces dedicated to out-of-favor philosophies and regimes have been removed and changed. The mass removal of Nazi symbology from the public sphere – its relocation to museums and other repositories – has not impaired the historical scholarship of that terrible era.

At the municipal level, all decisions regarding commemorations should be up to the local citizenry. Over time, the focus of the public narrative changes and monuments come and go, making room for new objects of public attention. Some traditional and historic edifices should remain, but it is still up to the living to determine how the past should be remembered.

There is also the argument that some local Confederacy memorials were erected long after the end of the Civil War, during the first half of the twentieth century, under the influence of white supremacist sentiments more prominent and mainstream at the time. There is no reason why local citizenry should be prevented from removing them if they feel that the monuments still evoke racist sentiments. On the other hand, if those monuments no longer evoke racist sentiments, but rather remind of the injustices and human suffering of slavery, there is no reason why local citizenry should be forced to remove them.

At the national level, Americans should be wary of change in their historic commemorations. The left would like nothing better than to destroy the foundations of freedom and republican governing ethics championed by its Founders. As the left cannot present effective arguments or testimony to disparage the virtues of individual rights and limited government, it attacks the Founders. The Washington and Jefferson Memorials should stand, and their full histories, including the owning of slaves and the opposition of both men to the institution of slavery, should be taught warts and all. At the very least, such decisions at the national level should be made by the representatives of the people in the American Congress.

Most important, though, Americans must be vigilant and stalwart. Domestic enemies are engaged in attempts to destroy America from within, by eroding its framework of individual liberties and dividing its citizens. Americans must be stalwart in facing challenges to the American historic narrative which, while imperfect, has never been matched in history in its celebration and empowerment of the individual and fairness.

A Dayenu for firing H.R. McMaster


mcmaster_1000x667For those who have never attended a traditional Passover seder,
 Dayenu is a song that repeatedly praises God for the many things God did which made possible the Exodus of the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The Hebrew word “dayenu” (דיינו) literally means “it would have been enough for us.” Every line of the song relates something God and ends with the word “dayenu” sung repeatedly.

As applied to H.R. McMaster, during his tenure so far as National Security Adviser, he has either said or done things, each of which outrages anyone who has supported President  Trump’s declared foreign policy goals, including ending Iran’s nuclear ambitions and strengthening the relationship with Israel.

Here, then, is the Get-Rid-of-McMaster Dayenu:

  • He calls Israel an “illegitimate,” “occupying power.” Dayenu
  • He insists that a national entity called “Palestine” already exists.  Dayenu
  • He is the man behind Trump’s refusal to allow any Israeli official to accompany him to the Western Wall.  Dayenu
  • He called Israel’s installation of metal detectors at the Temple Mount, following the shooting deaths of two policemen at the site, “just another excuse by the Israelis to repress the Arabs.”  Dayenu
  • He, along with Rex Tillerson, are continuing the diplomatic sham of refusing to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem (including the Western Wall).  Dayenu
  • He is extending security clearance to Susan “Beghazi-was-about-a-YouTube-video” Rice, saying that Rice’s involvement in the unmasking of Trump officials in confidential conversations was no big deal.  Dayenu
  • He supports Obama’s Iran nuke deal.  Dayenu
  • He will not fire Obama holdovers, but did fire four pro-Israel, conservative analysts, including Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Derek Harvey, who ran the joint US-Israeli program combating the global operation of Hizbollah.  Dayenu

I welcome the help of any musicians who might arrange this information in the appropriate meter to match the Dayenu melody.

So, why is H.R. McMaster still Trump’s National Security Adviser? And why do Donald Trump and Jared Kushner declare that McMaster is pro-Israel? Perhaps Israel-haters in the Deep State are tenacious swamp creatures indeed.

#FireMcMaster

Google’s corporate assault upon reason: a warning from within

George-Orwell_2Has anybody at Google read George Orwell?

Presented below is an internal memo circulated among Google employees titled, “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” Composed by an as-yet-unnamed author working at Google, it has aroused a lot of controversy as it forcefully challenges the “diversity” virtue-signaling. It was first reported by Gizmodo, which labeled it “anti-diversity” and called it a “screed.” It is neither. As such, while I’ve included the link to its article at the bottom, I will not deliver this information by way of Gizmodo. The memo reveals and explains the assault upon reason, truth, and free thought being conducted within THE most powerful information channel in the history of the Earth.

Many parts of corporate America, including the corporate hi-tech community, march lock-step with the recent radical-left trend in some organizations to politicize and engage in partisan virtue-signalling. It is corporatist activism to curry favor with the politically correct.  The political correctness, in turn, operates to marginalize ideological disagreement and stifle dissenting argument against the current fashion in anti-reason, anti-freedom, anti-inquiry, anti-American groupthink. That some corporations would exploit fascist movements, in collusion with the enemies of liberty and free-market values, is not neither new nor unique.

This revelation emerges a week after Procter & Gamble released an outrageous marketing video that embraced identity politics and the Black-Lives-Matter narrative of “racist America.”

This trend must be confronted for exactly what it is: the extreme distortion, exaggeration, exacerbation, and shameless exploitation of social divisions for political and economic power. The left’s virtue-signalers are hailing this as “monumental,” but it isn’t. It is a mirror-image of corporate race-baiting against black and asian Americans that transpired until the end of WWII – also courtesy of the racist Democratic Party.

One of the biggest takeaways – the left’s “moralization” of diversity is a cynical lie. There is nothing wrong with people being diverse! There is also nothing inherently moral about artificially forcing diversity – of either culture or thought. It is the collective imposition of “diversity,” ignoring the merit of individuals, that leads to social tyranny.

When I grew up, George Orwell’s Animal Farm was a staple in educating young adults about the insidious tactics of totalitarians to manipulate both populist and partisan sentiments in the pursuit of power. Before condemning this memo as “anti-diversity” – and before its author is revealed and likely fired – Google employees and all free thinking people should remember the ominous declaration by the pigs in Animal Farm, as they solidified tyranny: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

This memo, and the battle for free thought, is of direct relevance to the shared core values of the Two Israels – values of individual reason and agency which comprise the foundation of the Hebrew Republic.

UPDATE: The author of the memo was revealed yesterday as James Damore. As anticipated, Google fired him. The company that declared itself a bastion of diversity would not tolerate a reasoned, coherent expression of dissent that exposed Google’s hypocrisy of discrimination. An outflow of misinformation by leftist, agenda-driven media immediately followed. The New York Times headlined its reportage of Damore’s firing, “Google Fires Engineer Who Wrote Memo Questioning Women in Tech.” Damore’s memo never questioned “women in tech.” He presented solid points that there are differences between men and women which affect how they function in tech companies. – JMJ

What follows is the memo in full.

Reply to public response and misrepresentation

I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can’t have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem. Psychological safety is built on mutual respect and acceptance, but unfortunately our culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber. Despite what the public response seems to have been, I’ve gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change.

TL:DR

  • Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.
  • This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.
  • The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.
  • Extreme: all disparities in representation are due to oppression
  • Authoritarian: we should discriminate to correct for this oppression
  • Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.

Background [1]

People generally have good intentions, but we all have biases which are invisible to us. Thankfully, open and honest discussion with those who disagree can highlight our blind spots and help us grow, which is why I wrote this document.[2] Google has several biases and honest discussion about these biases is being silenced by the dominant ideology. What follows is by no means the complete story, but it’s a perspective that desperately needs to be told at Google.

Google’s biases

At Google, we talk so much about unconscious bias as it applies to race and gender, but we rarely discuss our moral biases. Political orientation is actually a result of deep moral preferences and thus biases. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the social sciences, media, and Google lean left, we should critically examine these prejudices.

Left Biases

  • Compassion for the weak
  • Disparities are due to injustices
  • Humans are inherently cooperative
  • Change is good (unstable)
  • Open
  • Idealist

Right Biases

  • Respect for the strong/authority
  • Disparities are natural and just
  • Humans are inherently competitive
  • Change is dangerous (stable)
  • Closed
  • Pragmatic

Neither side is 100% correct and both viewpoints are necessary for a functioning society or, in this case, company. A company too far to the right may be slow to react, overly hierarchical, and untrusting of others. In contrast, a company too far to the left will constantly be changing (deprecating much loved services), over diversify its interests (ignoring or being ashamed of its core business), and overly trust its employees and competitors.

Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence. This silence removes any checks against encroaching extremist and authoritarian policies. For the rest of this document, I’ll concentrate on the extreme stance that all differences in outcome are due to differential treatment and the authoritarian element that’s required to actually discriminate to create equal representation.

Possible non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech [3]

At Google, we’re regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership. Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognizant of this, but it’s far from the whole story.

On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren’t just socially constructed because:

  • They’re universal across human cultures
  • They often have clear biological causes and links to prenatal testosterone
  • Biological males that were castrated at birth and raised as females often still identify and act like males
  • The underlying traits are highly heritable
  • They’re exactly what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective

Note, I’m not saying that all men differ from women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.

Personality differences

Women, on average, have more:

  • Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. Women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men (also interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing).
  • These two differences in part explain why women relatively prefer jobs in social or artistic areas. More men may like coding because it requires systemizing and even within SWEs, comparatively more women work on front end, which deals with both people and aesthetics.
  • Extraversion expressed as gregariousness rather than assertiveness. Also, higher agreeableness.
  • This leads to women generally having a harder time negotiating salary, asking for raises, speaking up, and leading. Note that these are just average differences and there’s overlap between men and women, but this is seen solely as a women’s issue. This leads to exclusory programs like Stretch and swaths of men without support.
  • Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance).This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs.

Note that contrary to what a social constructionist would argue, research suggests that “greater nation-level gender equality leads to psychological dissimilarity in men’s and women’s personality traits.” Because as “society becomes more prosperous and more egalitarian, innate dispositional differences between men and women have more space to develop and the gap that exists between men and women in their personality becomes wider.” We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism.

Men’s higher drive for status

We always ask why we don’t see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs. These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life.

Status is the primary metric that men are judged on[4], pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail. Note, the same forces that lead men into high pay/high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths.

Non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap

Below I’ll go over some of the differences in distribution of traits between men and women that I outlined in the previous section and suggest ways to address them to increase women’s representation in tech and without resorting to discrimination. Google is already making strides in many of these areas, but I think it’s still instructive to list them:

  • Women on average show a higher interest in people and men in things
  • We can make software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration. Unfortunately, there may be limits to how people-oriented certain roles and Google can be and we shouldn’t deceive ourselves or students into thinking otherwise (some of our programs to get female students into coding might be doing this).
  • Women on average are more cooperative
  • Allow those exhibiting cooperative behavior to thrive. Recent updates to Perf may be doing this to an extent, but maybe there’s more we can do. This doesn’t mean that we should remove all competitiveness from Google. Competitiveness and self reliance can be valuable traits and we shouldn’t necessarily disadvantage those that have them, like what’s been done in education. Women on average are more prone to anxiety. Make tech and leadership less stressful. Google already partly does this with its many stress reduction courses and benefits.
  • Women on average look for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status on average
  • Unfortunately, as long as tech and leadership remain high status, lucrative careers, men may disproportionately want to be in them. Allowing and truly endorsing (as part of our culture) part time work though can keep more women in tech.
  • The male gender role is currently inflexible
  • Feminism has made great progress in freeing women from the female gender role, but men are still very much tied to the male gender role. If we, as a society, allow men to be more “feminine,” then the gender gap will shrink, although probably because men will leave tech and leadership for traditionally feminine roles.

Philosophically, I don’t think we should do arbitrary social engineering of tech just to make it appealing to equal portions of both men and women. For each of these changes, we need principles reasons for why it helps Google; that is, we should be optimizing for Google—with Google’s diversity being a component of that. For example currently those trying to work extra hours or take extra stress will inevitably get ahead and if we try to change that too much, it may have disastrous consequences. Also, when considering the costs and benefits, we should keep in mind that Google’s funding is finite so its allocation is more zero-sum than is generally acknowledged.

The Harm of Google’s biases

I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more. However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices:

  • Programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race [5]
  • A high priority queue and special treatment for “diversity” candidates
  • Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for “diversity” candidates by decreasing the false negative rate
  • Reconsidering any set of people if it’s not “diverse” enough, but not showing that same scrutiny in the reverse direction (clear confirmation bias)
  • Setting org level OKRs for increased representation which can incentivize illegal discrimination [6]

These practices are based on false assumptions generated by our biases and can actually increase race and gender tensions. We’re told by senior leadership that what we’re doing is both the morally and economically correct thing to do, but without evidence this is just veiled left ideology[7] that can irreparably harm Google.

Why we’re blind

We all have biases and use motivated reasoning to dismiss ideas that run counter to our internal values. Just as some on the Right deny science that runs counter to the “God > humans > environment” hierarchy (e.g., evolution and climate change) the Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ[8] and sex differences). Thankfully, climate scientists and evolutionary biologists generally aren’t on the right. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of humanities and social scientists learn left (about 95%), which creates enormous confirmation bias, changes what’s being studied, and maintains myths like social constructionism and the gender wage gap[9]. Google’s left leaning makes us blind to this bias and uncritical of its results, which we’re using to justify highly politicized programs.

In addition to the Left’s affinity for those it sees as weak, humans are generally biased towards protecting females. As mentioned before, this likely evolved because males are biologically disposable and because women are generally more cooperative and areeable than men. We have extensive government and Google programs, fields of study, and legal and social norms to protect women, but when a man complains about a gender issue issue [sic] affecting men, he’s labelled as a misogynist and whiner[10]. Nearly every difference between men and women is interpreted as a form of women’s oppression. As with many things in life, gender differences are often a case of “grass being greener on the other side”; unfortunately, taxpayer and Google money is spent to water only one side of the lawn.

The same compassion for those seen as weak creates political correctness[11], which constrains discourse and is complacent to the extremely sensitive PC-authoritarians that use violence and shaming to advance their cause. While Google hasn’t harbored the violent leftists protests that we’re seeing at universities, the frequent shaming in TGIF and in our culture has created the same silence, psychologically unsafe environment.

Suggestions

I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don’t fit a certain ideology. I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).

My concrete suggestions are to:

De-moralize diversity.

  • As soon as we start to moralize an issue, we stop thinking about it in terms of costs and benefits, dismiss anyone that disagrees as immoral, and harshly punish those we see as villains to protect the “victims.”

Stop alienating conservatives.

  • Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently.
  • In highly progressive environments, conservatives are a minority that feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility. We should empower those with different ideologies to be able to express themselves.
  • Alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business because conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is require for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company.

Confront Google’s biases.

  • I’ve mostly concentrated on how our biases cloud our thinking about diversity and inclusion, but our moral biases are farther reaching than that.
  • I would start by breaking down Googlegeist scores by political orientation and personality to give a fuller picture into how our biases are affecting our culture.

Stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or races.

  • These discriminatory practices are both unfair and divisive. Instead focus on some of the non-discriminatory practices I outlined.

Have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.

  • Discriminating just to increase the representation of women in tech is as misguided and biased as mandating increases for women’s representation in the homeless, work-related and violent deaths, prisons, and school dropouts.
  • There’s currently very little transparency into the extend of our diversity programs which keeps it immune to criticism from those outside its ideological echo chamber.
  • These programs are highly politicized which further alienates non-progressives.
  • I realize that some of our programs may be precautions against government accusations of discrimination, but that can easily backfire since they incentivize illegal discrimination.

Focus on psychological safety, not just race/gender diversity.

  • We should focus on psychological safety, which has shown positive effects and should (hopefully) not lead to unfair discrimination.
  • We need psychological safety and shared values to gain the benefits of diversity
  • Having representative viewpoints is important for those designing and testing our products, but the benefits are less clear for those more removed from UX.

De-emphasize empathy.

  • I’ve heard several calls for increased empathy on diversity issues. While I strongly support trying to understand how and why people think the way they do, relying on affective empathy—feeling another’s pain—causes us to focus on anecdotes, favor individuals similar to us, and harbor other irrational and dangerous biases. Being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts.

Prioritize intention.

  • Our focus on microaggressions and other unintentional transgressions increases our sensitivity, which is not universally positive: sensitivity increases both our tendency to take offense and our self censorship, leading to authoritarian policies. Speaking up without the fear of being harshly judged is central to psychological safety, but these practices can remove that safety by judging unintentional transgressions.
  • Microaggression training incorrectly and dangerously equates speech with violence and isn’t backed by evidence.

Be open about the science of human nature.

  • Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.

Reconsider making Unconscious Bias training mandatory for promo committees.

  • We haven’t been able to measure any effect of our Unconscious Bias training and it has the potential for overcorrecting or backlash, especially if made mandatory.
  • Some of the suggested methods of the current training (v2.3) are likely useful, but the political bias of the presentation is clear from the factual inaccuracies and the examples shown.
  • Spend more time on the many other types of biases besides stereotypes. Stereotypes are much more accurate and responsive to new information than the training suggests (I’m not advocating for using stereotypes, I [sic] just pointing out the factual inaccuracy of what’s said in the training).

[1] This document is mostly written from the perspective of Google’s Mountain View campus, I can’t speak about other offices or countries.

[2] Of course, I may be biased and only see evidence that supports my viewpoint. In terms of political biases, I consider myself a classical liberal and strongly value individualism and reason. I’d be very happy to discuss any of the document further and provide more citations.

[3] Throughout the document, by “tech”, I mostly mean software engineering.

[4] For heterosexual romantic relationships, men are more strongly judged by status and women by beauty. Again, this has biological origins and is culturally universal.

[5] Stretch, BOLD, CSSI, Engineering Practicum (to an extent), and several other Google funded internal and external programs are for people with a certain gender or race.

[6] Instead set Googlegeist OKRs, potentially for certain demographics. We can increase representation at an org level by either making it a better environment for certain groups (which would be seen in survey scores) or discriminating based on a protected status (which is illegal and I’ve seen it done). Increased representation OKRs can incentivize the latter and create zero-sum struggles between orgs.

[7] Communism promised to be both morally and economically superior to capitalism, but every attempt became morally corrupt and an economic failure. As it became clear that the working class of the liberal democracies wasn’t going to overthrow their “capitalist oppressors,” the Marxist intellectuals transitioned from class warfare to gender and race politics. The core oppressor-oppressed dynamics remained, but now the oppressor is the “white, straight, cis-gendered patriarchy.”

[8] Ironically, IQ tests were initially championed by the Left when meritocracy meant helping the victims of the aristocracy.

[9] Yes, in a national aggregate, women have lower salaries than men for a variety of reasons. For the same work though, women get paid just as much as men. Considering women spend more money than men and that salary represents how much the employees sacrifices (e.g. more hours, stress, and danger), we really need to rethink our stereotypes around power.

[10] “The traditionalist system of gender does not deal well with the idea of men needing support. Men are expected to be strong, to not complain, and to deal with problems on their own. Men’s problems are more often seen as personal failings rather than victimhood,, due to our gendered idea of agency. This discourages men from bringing attention to their issues (whether individual or group-wide issues), for fear of being seen as whiners, complainers, or weak.”

[11] Political correctness is defined as “the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against,” which makes it clear why it’s a phenomenon of the Left and a tool of authoritarians.

 

More anti-Israel perfidy from Tillerson’s State Department

As any politically-savvy Israel supporter knows, Barack Obama’s State Department, and Obama personally, were hostile to Israel. They regularly adopted the “Palestinian Arab” narrative of occupation and the justification of the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea and Samaria (“the West Bank” in anti-Israel newspeak). During his 2016 presidential election campaign, Donald Trump marketed himself as a starkly different alternative to Obama – and by extension to Hillary Clinton, his opponent. Candidate Trump declared on many occasions that he would “tear up” Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran and move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the capital of that country.

President Trump has not fulfilled these campaign promises, a fact that has been the subject of previous blog posts. The “Two Israels” blog has also covered the anti-Israel influences of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Trump’s recent stopover in Israel, following his first trip to foreign soil in Saudi Arabia, was marked by disappointment. Trump insisted on visiting the Western Wall without official Israeli accompaniment – an outright insult considering the nature of the site – and Trump continued the policy of Barack Obama (and other presidents) in refusing to acknowledge Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

Yesterday, the State Department released its annual Country Reports on Terrorism for 2016. While terrorism is a critical subject for foreign policy, the report itself is also laden with political ramifications which steer American diplomacy and strategic efforts. The report’s treatment of Israel and the “Palestinian Authority” is remarkable in that its rhetoric is even more anti-Israel than have been previous reports released by Obama’s State Department, expressing or implying Israeli culpability for Arab attacks on Jews and commending the PA for its “anti-terror” efforts.

“While some PA leaders have made provocative and inflammatory comments, the PA has made progress in reducing official rhetoric that could be considered incitement to violence. Explicit calls for violence against Israelis, direct exhortations against Jews, and categorical denials by the PA of the possibility of peace with Israel are rare and the leadership does not generally tolerate it.”

The first sentence of this paragraph is laughable as a rhetorical disclaimer, essentially stating, “The PA has made progress in reducing its incitement… except for all of the incitement coming from its leaders… including its president, Mahmoud Abbas.” The second sentence constitutes a baseless, clearly refutable claim, if not a flat-out lie. One need only point out the official reaction of the PA to the stabbing murder of U.S. Army veteran and graduate student Taylor Force. The murderer, Bashar Masalha, was described by PA media outlets as a shahid, a martyr. It praised Masalha and described the victim as a “settler” even though Taylor Force was not a resident of Judea/Samaria and even though he was murdered in Tel Aviv, well within Israel’s internationally recognized borders. This is because all of Israel is labeled “occupied territory” by the PA in its communication to its Arab residents.

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Taylor Force’s terrorist murder was just one of many instances of incitement. Consider the official Fatah Twitter tweet celebrating the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemns Israeli “settlements” in Judea/Samaria as the main obstacles in the way of progress towards a peace agreement.

During 2016, the PA continued to pay stipends to Arab terrorists who attacked and killed Jews. The PA continues to dedicate public structures and streets after terrorists and killers.

Further on, the report states,

“Continued drivers of violence included a lack of hope in achieving Palestinian statehood, Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount, and IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive.”

So, the State Department under Trump appointee Rex Tillerson believes the violence is Israel’s fault. Jewish construction in a tiny part of the Jewish historic heartland constitutes a driver of violence. The few instances of violence perpetrated by Jews in Judea/Samaria are openly condemned by the vast majority of Jews there, in stark contrast to the 60% polled Judea/Samaria Arabs who support deadly attacks on Jewish civilians. But Jewish settlement is fingered as a driver of violence. And then there is the Temple Mount. Militant Arabs have for years used the Temple Mount as a staging area for hurling stones down upon Jewish worshipers praying in the Western Wall plaza. But the presence of Jews visiting the Temple Mount, who are outrageously denied the right to even move their lips silently lest it be construed as prayer, constitutes a driver of violence. No, Mr. Tillerson, the driver of violence is the womb-to-tomb indoctrination among Arabs throughout the Middle East, and particularly in the PA, advocating the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea/Samaria and from the entire land of Israel.

This State Department report is on Trump. He has had 6 months to clean out the rat’s nest of anti-Israel, anti-western, anti-American hacks, who enjoyed so much bureaucratic cover under John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. If Donald Trump was serious about cleaning out the D.C. swamp, including Foggy Bottom, then he must stop letting the tail wag the dog, and establish clear American-interest values and foreign policy vision in his Department of State.

Trump slides on Jerusalem

Trump national security adviser H.R. McMaster telegraphed Trump’s sellout of Israel during today’s press briefing explaining Trump’s upcoming visit to Israel, with his specific plan to visit the Western Wall.

The pain starts with the question at minute mark 7:00. McMaster: “No Israeli leaders will join President Trump to the Western Wall.” Theme of visit:”to connect with three of the world’s great religions.” NOTHING ABOUT THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE UNIFICATION OF JERUSALEM!

At minute mark 11:25, McMaster is asked directly whether the Western Wall is part of Israel. His answer: “That sounds like a policy decision,” and then he underscores the need for coaxing Muslim participation in the war against ISIS.

This does not bode well for Israel. Going back on his promised embassy move was just the start; Trump may use the visit to pressure more concessions out of Israel. American supporters of Israel, especially the pro-Trump variety, should be calling Trump on his backsliding regarding Israel.

On the other hand, if Trump really is a friend to Jerusalem, then it’s on him to show H.R. McMaster the door.

Mixed Blessings

23 January 2017   Michael Jaffe

[UPDATE: Five weeks after writing the original version of this essay on January 23, I spoke with Rabbi Fred Raskind by phone about his participation at the Inaugural Prayer Service. Some of my notes on the conversation appear in the Postscript at the end of this article.]

A good life is impossible without a sense of gratitude for God’s blessings; popular sayings and religious meditations wisely urge us to count them. Yet blessings conveyed with human mediation can be strange things.

On Saturday morning, President Donald Trump launched the first full day of his administration by attending the Inaugural Prayer Service at the National Cathedral. The interfaith service included clergy from Catholics, Protestant, Greek Orthodox Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Native American persuasions.

Perhaps because this year’s prayer service occurred on the Jewish Sabbath, the only representatives of a Jewish denomination were from the Reform Jewish Movement. As such, given the Democratic Party partisanship of the movement’s leadership, the service showcased a cleric, Rabbi Fred Raskind, affiliated with a denomination that has consistently expressed political hostility toward the incoming president.

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Reform Rabbi Fred Raskind,  National Prayer Service, 21 January 2017

As one would hope, the participants mostly sought God’s blessings of wisdom, integrity, prosperity, national unity, and peace to accompany the tenure of the new president. However, Rabbi Raskind’s invocation included a curious element that might have been perceived as somewhat partisan.

Raskind recited in Hebrew from Melachim I (I Kings), Chapter 3, Verses 5-12. The English translation provided to attendees in the event program – and on the Inaugural Committee’s web site – read as follows:

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask, what shall I grant you?” Solomon said, “You dealt most graciously with Your servant my father David, because he walked before You in faithfulness and righteousness and in integrity of heart. You have continued this great kindness to him by giving him a son to occupy his throne, as is now the case. And now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David; but I am a young lad, with no experience in leadership. Your servant finds himself in the midst of the people You have chosen, a people too numerous to be numbered or counted. Grant, then, Your servant an understanding mind to judge Your people, to distinguish between good and bad; for who can judge this vast people of Yours?”

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. And God said to him, “Because you asked for this—you did not ask for long life, you did not ask for riches, you did not ask for the life of your enemies, but you asked for discernment in dispensing justice—I now do as you have spoken. I grant you a wise and discerning mind; there has never been anyone like you before, nor will anyone like you arise again.”


Reform Rabbi Fred Raskind, 2017 National Prayer Service

The scriptural selection in its entirety was a fitting and thoughtful choice for the occasion. The passage stresses the need for a critical trait, “a wise and discerning mind,” in the holder of the highest office in the greatest, most powerful country in the history of mankind.

After finishing the Hebrew recitation – to an audience of which almost nobody spoke Hebrew – Raskind recited in English, while apparently gazing directly at Donald Trump, only the second half of Verse 12, “there has never been anyone like you before, nor will anyone like you arise again.”

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Reform Rabbi Fred Raskind, National Prayer Service, 21 January 2017

This was a curious pronouncement. It would have seemed more appropriate – and inspiring to all who attended – for Raskind to have recited in English all of Verse 12, which reads, “I now do as you have spoken. I grant you a wise and discerning mind; there has never been anyone like you before, nor will anyone like you arise again.”  Why did Raskind leave out the key point of granting King Solomon a “wise and discerning mind?”

In the scriptural context of the passage, the phrase, “there has never been anyone like you before, nor will anyone like you arise again,” is directed only to King Solomon. Applying it to another defies the essence of the statement. Even if we conceptually stretch the context, evoking the uniqueness of Donald Trump did not comport to the humble petitions to God which unified every religious presentation at the national prayer service. What should – or would – those in attendance, and observing electronically around the world, take away from Raskind’s choice of messaging in its application to Trump on this occasion? I can think of two inferences which readily come to mind.

The first is that Rabbi Raskind recited that last phrase of the passage in English simply because it was the last phrase. But then why did he not recite in English all of Verse 12 (, adding 15 words, a mere five seconds), mentioning King Solomon’s desire for wisdom and understanding, thereby distilling the passage into a meaningful recap?

The other possible inference was that Rabbi Raskind’s parting English message produced in some listeners a redirected, political meaning. “There has never been anyone like you before, nor will anyone like you arise again.” Donald Trump’s election was an unprecedented aberration and nobody with the negative qualities attributed to Trump, whom the Reform-Jewish Movement’s leadership has repeatedly berated, will again attain the presidency. Such an inference might resonate among those on the left, and among the partisan leadership in the Reform-Jewish Movement, who have expressed extreme antipathy for Donald Trump before and after his election to the highest office.

In the absence of Raskind’s own explanation, any assumption of purpose in his choice of wording is, of course, conjecture. [Note: please see “Postscript: 1 March 2017” below regarding my notes on my conversation with Rabbi Raskind subsequent to this article’s original posting.]

Rabbi Fred Raskind was not the first person approached by the 2017 presidential inauguration committee to speak on behalf of the Jewish faith at the national prayer service. Before Raskind, Reform Rabbi Ari Plost, the spiritual leader at Congregation B’nai Abraham of Hagerstown, Maryland, was asked to perform the blessing. Plost declined the honor and explained why in his article in the Washington Post three days before the inauguration. In that article, Plost explained that his refusal was based on his own personal commitment to diversity and tolerance. Though he did not address Trump explicitly, one could reasonably infer from Plost’s comment that he considered Trump’s presidency incongruent with these values.

In addition to subsequently being offered the same opportunity to participate in the Inaugural Prayer Service, Fred Raskind was Ari Plost’s predecessor as spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Abraham. One might consider that both Raskind and the vocally anti-Trump Plost apparently satisfied the sensibilities of the same congregation in Hagerstown and both affiliate with the same anti-Trump religious denomination (, whose leadership objected a year ago to AIPAC’s invitation to then-primary-candidate Trump to address their 2016 conference). Given this context, a listener might reasonably infer a negative implication regarding Trump from Rabbi Raskind’s parting English words to his English-speaking audience, “There has never been anyone like you before nor will anyone like you arise again.”

The decision to invite Rabbi Fred Raskind to address the Inaugural Prayer Service fell under the purview of the U.S. Senate’s Joint Congressional Committee On Inaugural Ceremonies. This bipartisan committee comprised Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-WI), Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Postscript: 1 March 2017

I spoke with Rabbi Fred Raskind by phone today about his participation at the Inaugural Prayer Service. Regarding his choice of parting quote, Rabbi Raskind explained that, on the day of the event, he was directed by the inaugural committee to limit his address to the Hebrew text because of time constraints. Even so, Rabbi Raskind said he felt compelled to add something in English for his audience, and he chose the text he recited because it was the last line of the scriptural passage; “There has never been anyone like you before nor will anyone like you arise again.”

When I suggested that some might interpret the line as stated as something negative and ominous, Raskind replied that the line could be inferred as negative, positive, or neutral. He mentioned, as I described in my original article, that the event program provided audience members with English translation of the entire passage. I further suggested that reading the complete final verse, the additional fifteen words with the reference to “a wise and understanding mind,” would have provided a more positive, less ominous, and less ambiguous message. Raskind replied that this was a possibility, but that it too might have been misunderstood by the audience. I asked whether a request for wisdom and understanding might possibly have been construed as a negative; Raskind replied that, indeed, it might have been so construed.

I asked Rabbi Raskind if he disagreed with Rabbi Ari Plost’s decision against participating in the prayer service. Raskind stated that he did not disagree, even though he himself had decided otherwise.

Raskind further stated that on the day of the service he had observed the “women’s protest” and that he had agreed with some of the points of the protesters, even though the language of some of the signs was “rough.” He stated that he had also observed Republicans “giddy” with the feeling that their views had been validated. He reconciled these observations with the conclusion that everybody made their points peaceably, that they all wanted to be heard, that this was the beauty of America. He also observed that not everyone was willing to listen.

An experienced pulpit clergyman chooses words carefully to provide his flock with a refined message that is clear and powerful; even more so when addressing an audience that is not his regular flock, not even belonging to his denomination. Were one so inclined, the chance to briefly invoke a wish that an incoming president might be blessed with wisdom and understanding – so conveniently referenced by the chosen Hebrew scripture – would seem to have been almost too good an opportunity to have passed up.