Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More on TIFs

From Talk to Tony, the left-leaning blog of Tony Palmeri, a link a free-market Reason Magazine piece on TIFs, the increasingly popular tax giveaway that local officials use to claim credit for economic development.

Palmeri prefaces his discussion of the issue with the following:
As a general rule, when elected officials, bureaucrats, and the corporate press get guarded and defensive about some program, there’s probably something wrong with that program. The best example is Tax Incremental Financing (TIF). In Oshkosh, criticisms of TIF can actually get a person red-baited. Back in June of 2002 the Oshkosh Northwestern editorial board picked on unnamed TIF critics whose criticisms were said to be “something like what Fidel Castro might be spouting on a parade espousing the value of communism in Cuba.”
We can assure him that we wouldn’t red-bait him on this issue. Others, maybe.

Among the many absurdities mentioned in the Reason piece is the following:
Until the 1990s, most states reserved TIFs for areas that could be described as “blighted,” based on criteria set forth by statute. But as with eminent domain, the definition of blight for TIF purposes has been dramatically expanded. In 1999, for example, Baraboo, Wisconsin, created a TIF for an industrial park and a Wal-Mart supercenter that were built on farmland; the blight label was based on a single house in the district that was uninhabited. In recent years 16 states have relaxed their TIF criteria to cover affluent areas, “conservation areas” where blight might occur someday, or “economic development areas,” loosely defined as commercial or industrial properties.

The result is that a TIF can be put almost anywhere these days. Based on current criteria, says Jake Haulk, director of the Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, you could “declare the entire Western world blighted.”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg where problems with TIFs is concerned.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Canada: The Wimps There Don’t Like Snipers Either

From an article by Mark Steyn in the Wall Street Journal, January 26, 2006; Page A10.

How the left-leaning former government, and left-leaning political culture in Canada can’t face the reality of war.
In April 2002, the Pentagon wished to confer the Bronze Star on five snipers from the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in Afghanistan for their service in . . . killing the enemy. Ottawa put the request on hold, relenting grudgingly only after the matter was made public. It seems the Canadian government’s main objection was a reluctance to let it be known that our military still, er, shoots people, and extremely accurately. The backs of our five-dollar bills celebrate the armed forces, but they’re all unarmed — peacekeepers, elderly veterans, etc.
These attitudes, of course, are present at Marquette, and seem to dominate the Office of Student Development and the Mission office.

Thus Marquette closed down a College Republican fundraiser for American snipers last February.

What does one say about people who claim to believe in Catholic teaching, but can always twist it to take a leftist position?

Spivak & Bice: The Anti-Blog Bloggers

One might think that Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnists Spivak and Bice don’t much like blogs. At least, if you look at their own blog, you will find them:
It sure seems that they don’t like blogs. Is this “the Mainstream Media strikes back?”

And is there anything wrong with that?

Not that we can see.

We bloggers have long assumed that the Mainstream Media inhabit a free fire zone. Can we object when they attack some blog content as biased, or inaccurate, or silly?

If we bloggers are the “watchdogs,” are they allowed to watch the watchdogs?

In reality, it is a sign of the growing power of blogs that Mainstream Media outlets think it worth covering (and sometimes attacking) them.

In terms of mere readership, this might be a puzzle, since no Wisconsin blog has a readership anywhere near the 200,000+ circulation of the daily Journal Sentinel, and the 400,000+ of the Sunday paper. Of course, these numbers have to be deflated due to the fact that nobody reads every article in the paper, nor anything near all the articles.

But consider the following figures (current as of today) for average daily visits:

The heavyweights:
  • McBride’s Media Matters — 1,035
  • The X-off Files — 1,025
  • The American Mind — 750
  • Sykes Writes — unknown
Mid-level blogs:
  • Jiblog — 103
  • Marquette Warrior — 469
  • Thoughtful Conservative — 94
  • Texas Hold ‘Em Blogger — 175
  • Eye on Wisconsin — 208
  • Fraley’s Dailytakes — 341
  • Free Will — 155
  • Wigderson Library & Pub — 212
  • Lakeshore Laments — 293
Top College Blogs
  • GOP3.COM: The Triumvirate — 300
  • Letters in Bottles — 172
Good blogs that deserve more readers
  • Office of Homeland Security — 45
  • Blog of Nate — 54
  • Lance Burri — 39
  • Leaning Blue — 71
How could such shoestring operations have such a considerable influence?

Quite simply, because blogs occupy a strategic place in a network of political activists and political junkies.

The readers may be few, but they care about what is being written — often because it is being written about them. And the readers are often strategically positioned to pass along information they find, whether they be radio talk show hosts, reporters for mainstream outlets, or just other bloggers.

It’s a bit like Fox News. While Fox beats up on the other cable networks in terms of ratings, compared to the broadcast networks their ratings aren’t that impressive. Average Joe and Janie are still likely to get their news from ABC, CBS or NBC just like their parents did 30 years ago.

While the flagship newscasts of those networks have lower ratings than they used to, they still have many more viewers than cable news.

But in the world of political junkies, Fox News is a big deal, because the junkies care a lot about news and watch cable news a lot. That’s why liberals obsess on the network, and conservatives love it.

So we bloggers can be happy that we are worth attacking.

One has to suspect that Mainstream Media types, in their hearts of hearts, would be happy if blogs just went away. But slowly they are beginning to learn to live with blogs, and indeed are being seduced by the timeliness and flexibility of the medium.

Madison Student Paper: Running an Ad From Holocaust Deniers

From Letters in Bottles:

. . . the fact that the The Daily Cardinal, the official student paper at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, ran an ad from a Holocaust denial organization.

(Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the ad.)

[Update:] This link now points to a later edition of the paper.

We aren’t as offended as Letters in Bottles is, and indeed think that at a public university this kind of thing is protected by the First Amendment.

Marquette, being a private university, can have stricter standards.

A few years ago, the Tribune staff got in trouble with the Administration for running an ad from a pro-abortion group. Quite a few people, including a lot of faculty, were up in arms.

Then, shortly after that, they ran an ad from an anti-Semite group. While the ad wasn’t overtly anti-Semitic, a bit of research would have shown that the sponsor was thoroughly disreputable. When the Tribune staff got into trouble over this latter ad, nobody much cared.

We were satisfied with the University’s actions in both cases, since Marquette (like any newspaper publisher) can have standards about what it will and won’t support, and whose money it will or won’t take.

We do think, however, that disreputable groups shouldn’t have the luxury of being the victims of violations of their free speech rights. We tend to sympathize with anybody who is being shut up, and these groups don’t deserve any sympathy.

Capital Flows from the Poor to the Rich

From Reuters, via USA Today, some hand wringing from bureaucrats:
DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) — Massive flows of capital from the emerging to the developed world are unsustainable and risk damaging both poor and rich countries, some of the world’s top finance officials said on Saturday.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said that the current global investment pattern was “profoundly abnormal” and in no country’s interest.

“It is not sustainable in the long run that the emerging world would finance the industrial world. It doesn’t correspond to the interest of the emerging world, neither to the interest of the industrialised world,” he said.

In a similar vein, Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said countries like his, one of the emerging stars on the global economic scene, were under threat.

“Global imbalances are deepening and that has serious consequences for developing countries like India,” he said.

The United States is currently seeing huge inflows of capital from the developing world, notably China, that are financing its current account deficit, bolstering the dollar and keeping long-term interest rates low though bond purchases.
Finding that capital flows from less developed to more developed nations would seem to violate basic laws of economics.

With capital, like everything else, diminishing marginal returns should apply. Where capital is scarce, modest investments should generate large returns.

(In the Third World, this usually involves exploiting cheap labor. For the economist, “exploitation” is not a bad word.)

As capital becomes more plentiful, the returns should decrease, as all the opportunities to invest for a large return have been exhausted.

So why doesn’t this economic logic seem to apply? Because politics intrudes.

While underdeveloped nations have opportunities for large returns on capital, investment there also involves large risk premiums. There may be chronic instability (many parts of Africa and the Middle East). Or current stability may seem tenuous, as it is obvious that the society must undergo a wrenching transformation (China or Saudi Arabia). Or a government that doesn’t respect property rights may be in power (Russia or Venezuela).

In all of these cases, investors are going to expect a larger return on capital than they would get in the United States. After all, if the expected return is equal, you are going to go with the safe investment.

So one way to interpret these capital flows is that “they” are “getting what the deserve” given their inability to create a proper climate for investment.

Unfortunately, the truth is often that the common people are getting hurt because of the irresponsible actions of elites. So we’ve got to be clear on who “they” are.

But in some cases, ordinary citizens are complicit, as when they elected Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

Either way, the free market will do what it usually does: punish economic folly, and reward economic prudence.

And the fussing and fuming from the “social justice” crowd at places like Marquette won’t change it.

Journal Sentinel On Attempts to Regulate Bloggers

From the Journal Sentinel, the story we knew would be forthcoming, on attempts to regulate bloggers.

(We obviously did not do brilliant investigative reporting to know this. The reporter, Lisa Sink, called us for comment when she was working on the piece.)

The story is very much pro-free speech for bloggers, either because Sink leans in that direction, or because she could find few if any people who didn’t see a threat in attempts to regulate bloggers.

Not only are we quoted saying that blogs are entitled to the press exemption that protects the Journal Sentinel and The Progressive from regulation, but three left-leaning bloggers agreed with us.

In one case, the statement was pretty bizarre. Bill Christofferson said that blogs should be covered by the press exemption. That’s fair enough, but Christofferson is the fellow who wanted to use the law to shut up Charlie Sykes when Sykes ran pro-school choice ads on his radio talk show. Yet broadcasters are explicitly covered by the press exemption.

Some good news cames from the State Elections Board:
The Wisconsin State Elections Board has never had to opine on whether bloggers are subject to campaign finance reporting but would probably regard them as news media, said the board’s executive director, Kevin Kennedy.

“This activity is sort of at the core of standing on the soapbox in the park,” said George Dunst, the board’s legal counsel.
But unfortunately, some people can be pretty slow on this issue.
The chairman of the state Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections, Rep. Stephen Freese (R-Dodgeville), said he believed not all blogs are regulation free.

“It depends on what their purpose is,” Freese said. “If the blog is created to advocate the election or defeat of someone, they should [be regulated]. If it is solely a newsgathering organization, then that’s much different.”
Freese needs to study some American history. As Wilson and DiIulio put it in their standard American politics textbook:
In the early years of the Republic, politicians of various factions and parties created, sponsored, and controlled newspapers to further their interests. . . . Naturally these newspapers were relentlessly partisan in their views. Citizens could choose among different party papers, but only rarely could they find a paper that presented both sides of an issue. (American Government, 9th Edition, pp. 252-253.
Nothing about the First Amendment, which was drafted and approved by the generation that set up a staunchly partisan press, exempts biased outlets or attempts to elect a certain candidate from protection.

And even giving government the power to decide what is biased, or what the “purpose” of a media outlet is, is dangerous.

(If a blog is actually set up by a political campaign or party, it can be regulated the way any other campaign activity is. That is, expenditures on a campaign blog have to be disclosed, just as expenditures on printing leaflets have to be disclosed. No government officials should ever be able to dictate what either the blog or the leaflets say, nor ever tell any campaign to spend more or less on one or the other activity.)

On the whole, this is good news for free speech in the blogosphere. Not only are both liberal and conservative bloggers on the side of the angels, but the regulators aren’t inclined to step into this briar patch.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Feingold: Not a “Maverick,” Just a Liberal

Jessica McBride points out that “maverick” Senator Russ Feingold, who has heretofore claimed that he would not oppose any presidential nominee merely on the grounds of ideology, is going to support an attempted filibuster against Judge Alito.

It seems that being a presidential candidate has caused Feingold to rise above principle.

The hard-core liberal/left base of the Democratic Party is arguably the greatest political asset the Republicans have.

A Democrat can pander to that base and win the nomination (and be crippled in the general election), or hue to the center and lose the nomination.

Which is not a hard electoral prediction about 2008. The Republicans have plenty of room to screw up, and events could favor the Democrats. But the handicap the Democrats face is clear.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Washington Post: Canadian Election a Defeat For Anti-Americanism

From the Washington Post:
ACCORDING TO his opponent, Canadian Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper exposed “an agenda really drawn from the extreme right in the United States.” He favored the Iraq war, opposed the Kyoto treaty on global warming, and is a social conservative to boot. He might just become — heaven forbid — “the most pro-American leader in the Western world.” His victory would — O, Canada! — “put a smile on George W. Bush’s face.” Despite all those scary warnings, Mr. Harper and his party won Canada’s election on Monday. That put an end to 12 years of increasingly incoherent and corrupt rule by the Liberal Party — as well as the cynical and irresponsible attempt of its leader, outgoing Prime Minister Paul Martin, to use anti-Americanism.

[. . .]

Mr. Harper can be expected to stop the self-defeating flow of bile [from Canadian politicians], to offer more cooperation on defense, and to seek to be heard on trade and border issues. If he is wise, Mr. Bush will make an effort to listen, and find compromises, as he did this month with Ms. Merkel. Foreign political leaders who stick to a platform of friendship and cooperation with the United States in the teeth of anti-American mudslinging ought to be visibly rewarded. As for Mr. Martin, perhaps he will be tempted again by the example of Mr. Schroeder, who has taken a job as an agent for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Does Hugo Chavez need another lobbyist?
And to state the obvious, the Canadian election is a defeat for anti-Bush Americans. Looking to Old Europe and leftist yuppies in Canada as some sort of moral and cultural arbitors, they can claim that American under Bush is somehow “out of the mainstream.”

These are the same people who fancy themselves “nonconformist” about a lot of things. So why it should be bad to be “out of the mainstream” isn’t clear.

But Bush doesn’t seem to be “out of the mainstream.” Between genuine pro-American sentiment and the fact that the U.S. is the single superpower whose views can’t be ignored on any important world issue, Bush is very much in the mainstream.

A Taste of the Liberal Blogosphere - 1

CNN Hiring Total Scum Lowlife Right Wing Psycho Glenn Beck.

Nice to see such tolerance of diverse points of view.

Foreign Leaders: It’s Fine to be Bush’s Buddy

An Act of Political Hygiene

By MARK STEYN
(From the Wall Street Journal)
January 26, 2006; Page A10

QUEBEC CITY — Remember the conventional wisdom of 2004? Back then, you’ll recall, it was the many members of George Bush’s “unilateral” coalition who were supposed to be in trouble, not least the three doughty warriors of the Anglosphere — the president, Tony Blair and John Howard — who would all be paying a terrible electoral price for lying their way into war in Iraq. The Democrats’ position was that Mr. Bush’s rinky-dink nickel-&-dime allies didn’t count: The president has “alienated almost everyone,” said Jimmy Carter, “and now we have just a handful of little tiny countries supposedly helping us in Iraq.” (That would be Britain, Australia, Poland, Japan . . .) Instead of those nobodies, John Kerry pledged that, under his leadership, “America will rejoin the community of nations” — by which he meant Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schröder, the Belgian guy . . .

Two years on, Messrs. Bush, Blair, Howard and Koizumi are all re-elected, while Mr. Chirac is the lamest of lame ducks, and his ingrate citizenry have tossed out his big legacy, the European Constitution; Mr. Schröder’s government was defeated and he’s now shilling for Russia’s state-owned Gazprom (“It’s all about Gaz!”); and the latest member of the coalition of the unwilling to hit the skids is Canada’s Liberal Party, which fell from office on Monday. John Kerry may have wanted to “rejoin the community of nations.” Instead, “the community of nations” has joined John Kerry, windsurfing off Nantucket in electric-yellow buttock-hugging Lycra, or whatever he’s doing these days.

It would be a stretch to argue that Mr. Chirac, Mr. Schröder and now Paul Martin in Ottawa ran into trouble because of their anti-Americanism. Au contraire, cheap demonization of the Great Satan is almost as popular in the streets of Toronto as in the streets of Islamabad. But these days anti-Americanism is the first refuge of the scoundrel, and it’s usually a reliable indicator that you’re not up to the challenges of the modern world or of your own country. In the final two weeks of the Canadian election, Mr. Martin’s Liberals unleashed a barrage of anti-Conservative attack ads whose ferocity was matched only by their stupidity: They warned that Stephen Harper, the Conservatives’ leader, would be “George Bush’s new best friend”! They dug up damaging quotes from a shocking 1997 speech in which he’d praised America as “a light and inspiration”! Another week and they’d have had pictures from that summer in the late ‘80s he spent as Dick Cheney’s pool boy.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Not All Applicants to the Philosophy Graduate Program Know Geography

From a post on LiveJournal.com:
It is about 10am on the last Friday of January and I am just chillin listening to some John Legend and Kelly Clarkson (she just has some great songs and a great voice) waiting till I have to go to ‘work.’ . . . I just got an email from Marquette University informing me that my application for philosophy graduate studies is complete and has been sent to the review board to determine whether I should or should not be accepted into the program. They gave me an ID number so that I could go online and check up on the status of my application. I am very anxious because Marquette is my top choice of graduate schools; the only thing I don’t like about the school is that it is in Minnesota! It is freakin cold up there!! I don’t know whether I could handle it if I got to go up there.
Happily, a background in geography isn’t a requirement for being admitted to the Philosophy graduate program!

Update: Ask Me Later recounts a similar experience:
When I was at Marquette I worked on the New Student Orientation Program. When taking a group of freshman around the city one day, a girl from Florida looked at Lake Michigan and asked, “Is that the Atlantic ocean?”

Anti-Alito Die-Hards

It’s too late, happily, but the anti-Alito crowd has not given up.

Check out, for example, this web page from People for The American Way.

When liberals are reduced to impotently blowing off steam in this way, it’s a good sign for America.

Update: We couldn’t resist using the anti-Alito web page to send a message to their list of liberal senators. But we “customized” the message to say something that People for the American Way wouldn’t approve of. It will matter not at all with regard to what happens in the Senate this coming Monday and Tuesday, but it was fun!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Left-Wing Professors at UCLA

From a UCLA conservative alumni organization, a list of particularly far-left professors at that school, with chapter and verse as to how they got on the list.

Obviously these aren’t all the far left professors at a place like UCLA, but only the most egregious. And liberal professors are the overwhelming majority.

We wonder what such a list from Marquette would look like?

Journal-Sentinel Working on Story About Attempts to Control Bloggers

Lisa Sink at the Journal-Sentinel is working on a story about attempts to control bloggers through the use of campaign finance laws.

In recent years, liberals have been trying to insist that when blogs support a particular candidate that is a “campaign contribution” that needs to be regulated by the Federal Elections Commission (in Federal elections) or the state Elections Board.

In reality, bloggers are a species of journalists. But “mainstream media” journalists aren’t keen to concede that. The press is exempt from campaign finance laws, or at least laws that stipulate who can say what about whom and when. (Media corporations are like other corporations where political contributions are concerned.)

It will be interesting to see how the liberal paper comes down on this issue.

Fr. Wild, Bigwigs Get Choice of Colas on Fifth Floor of Union

As Marquette students, faculty and staff are aware, bureaucrats on the business side of the University have given Pepsi Cola a monopoly on soft drink sales on campus.

You can’t get Coke anywhere on campus that students and faculty and staff go. Not in the Union cafeteria, not in the dorm dining rooms nor any snack bars around campus.

But it seems that not everybody has to have their choices limited.

When bigwigs are entertained on the fifth floor of the Union, they get a choice of Coke or Pepsi.

Marquette spokeswoman Brigid O’Brien Miller, in a response to our query, said the following:
Marquette University serves Pepsi products at all its events, in accordance with a university contract. On very unique occasions, at the request of a distinguished guest, a specific request for another type of beverage may be accommodated. However, this is a rare exception.
But just how rare are the “rare” exceptions? Miller, in response to a further query, declined to supply any additional information.

Julie Kuligowski, Event Management Coordinator in the Union, declined to comment when contacted by the Marquette Warrior blog.

But we have learned that these “rare exceptions” aren’t as rare as Miller implies. At Trustee meetings Coke and Pepsi are always available, and people at those meetings can take their pick.

We gather, although we don’t have specific confirmation, that Coke is always available at fifth floor events, but only at fifth floor events.

Apparently, students, faculty and staff are not “distinguished” enough to be allowed to drink whatever kind of cola they want to drink.

Lots of People Want to Work at Wal-Mart

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

. . . an account of how the opening of a new Wal-Mart store produced a flood of job applications.
Eighteen months after the Chicago City Council torpedoed a South Side Wal-Mart, 24,500 Chicagoans applied for 325 jobs at a Wal-Mart opening Friday in south suburban Evergreen Park, one block outside the city limits.

The new Wal-Mart at 2500 W. 95th is one block west of Western Avenue, the city boundary.

Of 25,000 job applicants, all but 500 listed Chicago addresses, said John Bisio, regional manager of public affairs for Wal-Mart.
What we have here is all too typical of American politics. The Chicago City Council responded to the leftist activists to keep Wal-Mart out of the city.

But what do ordinary people in Chicago think?

It seems they want to work at Wal-Mart.

And if they are like people (especially people with a modest income) everywhere else in the country, they want to shop at Wal-Mart.

And the cultural elitists and union activists hate that. Living in an egalitarian society, were mass preferences eventually prevail, is such a bummer.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Testing in Milwaukee’s Choice Schools

The issue of testing in the choice schools in Milwaukee has recently been a contentious issue, with Governor Doyle demanding a uniform state-dictated system of tests as a condition for lifting the cap on the number of children in the program.

This, in fact, seems to be a ploy to hobble the choice system rather than the result of a genuine concern for holding schools accountable.

Choice supporters, while resisting a state-imposed uniform system, have pushed for a rigorous evaluation of the system, done by social scientists.

What the choice proponents want is outlined in a document produced by George Mitchell, a long time supporter of school choice and a key figure in establishing the system in place in Milwaukee.

Germany: Immigrants Must Pass Political Correctness Test

From from the Shark and Shepard blog:

. . . the fact that immigrants to a German state must express politically correct social attitudes.
(Berlin) Under a new law that went into effect this week the state of Baden-Württemberg is requiring that Muslims applying to become German citizens take a cultural test to determine if they “are suitable.”

The test will seek their views on homosexuality and other issues such as bigamy and women’s rights. The exam will be on top of a federal test which includes language proficiency skills and a general knowledge of the country.

Prospective citizens must have resided in Germany for at least eight years and have no criminal record.

State officials said that the test will gauge an applicants “loyalty to German values.”

Those who pass the test and become German citizens could have it revoked if they are found guilty of homophobia or other crimes such as wife-beating.

Other German states have indicated they are looking at similar tests.

Critics say that the test is biased and discriminatory because it is applied only to Muslims. They say that if a test is to be given it should be administered to any applicant for citizenship.

Supporters of the test say that Muslims in general have shown hostility toward gays.

Both physical and verbal attacks against gays are a crime in Germany.
We would think that loyalty to “German values” would mean that you believe that the Aryan race is the Master Race.

But, as Shark and Shepard suggests, in today’s politically correct Germany, “you can no longer be a good German if you don’t give Brokeback Mountain at least three stars.”

But this raises some interesting questions about U.S. immigration policy. Shouldn’t we require that immigrants by loyal to “American values?” For example, the vast majority of Americans are Christians. Shouldn’t we require that immigrants be Christians, or at least suitably positive toward Christians?

And America is a capitalist nation. Should we not bar immigrants who have any socialist tendencies?

This is sounding better all the time!

But unfortunately, we don’t control our own borders, so this discussion is all moot.

But the good news is that self-selection among immigrants probably achieves much the same result.

Journal Sentinel Alumni: Shut Up Sykes & Wagner

Via McBride’s Media Matters:

. . . the fact that former employees of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (and the former Journal and Sentinel) have called for the silencing of local radio talk show hosts Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner, who often criticize the Journal-Sentinel.

Since Journal Communications, which owns the Journal-Sentinel, also owns WTMJ radio, in principle the station could fire Sykes and Wagner.
The Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee Sentinel, and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel alumni newsletter features an amazingly elitist and arrogant article penned by former staffers Ken Roesslein and Steve Maersch that bluntly calls on company management to shut up its talk radio hosts. Or at least ban them from criticizing those thin-skinned types over at the newspaper. They write:
“We are deeply concerned about the wave of criticism of the Journal Sentinel from personalities at WTMJ radio. Above all, we do not understand why Journal Communications tolerates criticism of its own newspaper from a station that is part of the JCI family, and, as such, part of the business in which many of us own stock.”
The lengthy diatribe, which, quite originally, also calls talk radio “sqwuakers from the right”, is actually topped off by an editorial cartoon of Charlie as a panting lap dog. A record player titled “radio claptrap” is blowing dollar signs at his face. The cartoon is titled His Master’s Voice, and they apparently dusted off old editorial cartoonist Bill Sanders to draw it. Humorously, in a piece topped off by a drawing of Charlie as a lap dog, they whine that he’s allowed to criticize them!!
Good point. Just why should the Journal-Sentinel be allowed to — as it often does — criticize radio personalities on stations which Journal Communications owns? Why is it the public affairs broadcasters, rather than the print journalists, who should be censored?

This is a striking example of the intolerance of liberal journalists. And it’s not as though criticism of the paper from Sykes and Wagner hurts the value of their stock. The good ratings that WTMJ gets inflate the value of their stock, and it’s likely that criticism of the paper from talk radio actually increases circulation and ad revenue.

The desire of some of the journalists to have Sykes and Wagner shut up is not news. The issue has come up at shareholders’ meetings.

One important point has to be made, however. The alumni group is not officially associated with the paper. The newsletter in question was not actually issued by the Journal-Sentinel, but by a group of independent ex-journalists.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Rooney Firing: Sexual Orientation Not the Issue

Former Marquette History professor John William Rooney has been in the news lately, potentially facing a French court for the theft of a document from a French archive.

Long before that particular issue arose, Rooney was forced out of Marquette. According to a reliable source close to the History Department during the time that Rooney left Marquette, Rooney was presented with a letter of resignation and required to sign it.

Rooney had been, for years before he left Marquette, openly and quite overtly gay. This has led to some rumors that his homosexuality was the reason he was forced out.

But according to another reliable source close to the History Department during the time that Rooney left Marquette his sexual orientation was not the cause of the de facto firing.

Thanks, Marquette Tribune!

Marquette Tribune columnist John Heiderscheidt has been kind enough to give us his “Shut the Hell Up” award in the current issue of the paper.

We are flattered.

We would like to thank our producer, and director, and the wonderful people who helped this production along from inception to completion.

And mom and dad!

Let’s savor this honor sentence at a time
McAdams is a regular thorn in everyone’s side. Normally I would ignore it. Then the Tribune came under fire for the umpteenth time on his Weblog. This time it’s our ethics policy that has crawled up his rear.
My, my. We had the temerity to criticize the Tribune’s “ethics policy.”

And criticizing the media is entirely out of bounds.

Of course, not only was the policy criticized by us, but by the GOP3.COM blog (but that was probably predictable, being that it’s run by conservatives).

But then it was also criticized by the liberal Campus Tavern blog. Writing in the latter, Ryan Alexander said:
I still find this new policy completely asinine because it asserts that students in non-party affiliated student orgs as being on higher journalistic and ethical ground than those in College Democrats or College Republicans.

Does the Marquette Tribune feel that its writers are not capable of leaving their personal life out of their reporting?

If so, then the Marquette Tribune must not think much of the intellectual and ethical capabilities of its writers.
And Thomas Buttry, a member of the editorial board of the Tribune last year, informs us via e-mail:
The fact that the Tribune has gone to the length it has is a bit perplexing. If I were on staff I’d raise bloody hell, but, of course, I’m not anymore. In the Trib’s defense, the College Republicans and Democrats are making enough noise on campus to hamstring a staff member doing most any news beat. But I do have to say if this policy effects the Viewpoints, Marquee or Sports staff then it is inexcusable. People on Viewpoints staff are supposed to have viewpoints and politics has almost nothing to do with entertainment and general sports news.
But the Tribune can’t admit they simply goofed, and produced a bad policy.

Then we have this from Heiderscheidt:
Look professor, when we’re not down here burning American flags, holding “Pro-Abortion” rallies and hatching schemes to keep anyone with a conservative view 100 yards from the building, we’re producing a newspaper. See, down here we have to fact-check articles, copy edit articles and provide fair and accurate product. We can’t go liberal or conservative lampooning for the fun of it.
This shows a severe lack of understanding of media bias. The Mainstream Media (and the Tribune is the training ground for the Mainstream Media) aren’t biased because they try to be or intend to be.

They are biased because they see the world in one particular way, and can’t accept the legitimacy of other ways of viewing the world.

It’s not work to show a liberal bias. It’s work not to do so — to go to the effort to ask “are we in fact slanting this story in one particular way?”

The rant continues:
We can’t sit, take comments out of context and label people as liberals or conservatives without talking to them. Did he do any fact checking before labeling our managing editor?
Our sources say she is liberal. Do you dispute that?

And it won’t do to ask her and have her say she is a “moderate.” Everybody thinks they are “moderate.” Does she think abortion ought to be legal? Does she favor gay marriage? Does she favor stricter gun control?

We’ll make an offer: have her come around a sign an affidavit that she voted for Bush in 2004, or somebody besides Doyle in the last gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, and we’ll post a correction.

Sound fair?
I’m all for criticism. It makes us better professionals. But I won’t sit around and take any more abuse from a person who knows nothing about journalism. Do I come into your office and spout off about the standards of political science? No. Know why? Because I don’t know the first thing about it. Keep that in mind the next time you want to talk jive about journalism.
This is typical Mainstream Media elitism. You don’t know about journalism. Only we know about journalism. So (to quote Heiderscheidt exactly) “Shut the hell up.”

The truth is, journalists have few if any arcane skills and little if any arcane knowledge. A good journalist is an intelligent, resourceful and conscientious individual.

Journalism school training probably creates worse journalists, because is socializes fledgling reporters into the worldview of the Mainstream Media. They segregate themselves in Journalism courses and in places like the Tribune and develop a bunker mentality when criticized.

As if to show how insular the Mainstream Media are, Heiderscheidt says the following:
And by the way it’s “Pro-Choice,” not “Pro-Abortion.” No one is pro-abortion. Are you, “Anti-Freedom” because you won’t let a woman have the freedom to choose? Been to any “Anti-Freedom” rallies lately.
Heiderscheidt needs to tell us whether he is “pro-choice” about guns. Is he “pro-choice” about schools? Is he “pro-choice” about whether bar and tavern owners can set their own smoking policy?

If not, he’s not “pro-choice” at all, he’s just somebody who doesn’t think abortion is particularly bad. Those things he believes are particularly bad, he wants outlawed.

Has he ever referred to the NRA as a “pro-choice” organization rather than a “pro-gun” organization?

Our policy is to use “pro-abortion” and “anti-abortion” and not any of the euphemisms that people on either side want to use. The Mainstream Media, on the other hand, tend to label one side “anti-abortion” and the other side “abortion rights.”

What Heiderscheidt has given us is a window into the mind of the Mainstream Media — or at least the fledgling members at Marquette.

That mind is stuck in a time warp. It comes from a time when CBS, NBC, Time, Newsweek, the New York Times the Washington Post and the like sat atop the media pyramid, deciding what people should and should not be allowed to see and hear, and how conflicts should be interpreted.

This was before the pesky bloggers, malevolent talk radio and insidious Fox News challenged their supremacy. Instead of trying to adapt to the new media world, they dream of using campaign finance laws to shut up bloggers and talk radio, and laws against media concentration to neuter Rupert Murdock.

Their inability to adapt is their weakness, and an advantage for the alternative media.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Liberal Blog “Media Matters:” Keep Conservatives Off CNN

From Media Matters, an attack on Cable News Network for supposedly hiring Bill Bennett to replace outgoing conservative commentator Robert D. Novak.

Earlier Media Matters had called on CNN to fire Novak.
In December, we asked for your help in urging CNN not to renew Novak’s contract. Novak’s contract was not renewed, and CNN could have found another commentator to fill the vacancy — one who does not have a history of advancing conservative misinformation. But they didn’t. We need you to ask CNN to justify why they hired someone who has such a strong track record of conservative misinformation and inflammatory comments.
Of course, Bennett’s “misinformation” and “inflammatory comments” were simply viewpoints that the liberals at Media Matters disagree with.

They quote Bennett as having said “it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime . . . you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.”

They fail to put the comment into context, and explain that Bennett said such action would be “morally reprehensible.”

This one can be filed (like so much) under “liberal intolerance.” They really want conservatives, and especially those like the very articulate Bennett, shut up. They can’t simply say that “these are opinions we think wrongheaded.” They label them “misinformation” and “inflammatory” meaning they should be entirely suppressed.

Note that, despite a huge buzz in the liberal blogosphere, we can find no solid, confirmed report that CNN has hired Bennett.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Moderate Islam

From Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, a story about a Muslim who is a voice for reason and moderation in the Islamic world.
“I HAVE been called ‘Chrislam’ because I am so close to Christians,” Abdurrahman Wahid is saying. “When I was criticized by a certain Muslim preacher for not being harsh enough against the ‘kaffir’ [infidels] — for being too close to Jews and Christians — I told him to read the Koran again. Because when the Koran speaks of ‘infidels,’ it means idolaters,” not monotheists.

With 200 million residents, Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim nation, and Wahid — popularly known as Gus Dur — was not only its first democratically elected president but the longtime chairman of its largest Muslim organization, the 35 million-member Nadhlatul Ulama. A revered religious scholar who studied in Cairo and Baghdad, Wahid is a longtime champion of a moderate, progressive, and nonpolitical Islam. As a result, he has frequently clashed with militant fundamentalists whose growing influence, fueled by Arab/Wahhabi oil money, is undermining Indonesia’s traditional religious pluralism.
While Islamic extremism dominates the headlines, the great majority of Muslims continue to live their lives as devout, moderate and sensible people. While they may have some attitudes that differ from a majority of Americans (hostility to Israel, for example) and aren’t politically correct on issues of gender and sexuality, they are a source of hope in the war against Islamic Fascism.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Former History Professor John Rooney Forced to Leave Marquette

John William Rooney, a former member of the Marquette History faculty, has been in trouble with the law. According to the Journal-Sentinel:
In the late 1980s, a history professor from Marquette University named John William Rooney walked into the French National Archives in Paris and walked out with a copy of the 1814 Treaty of Fontainebleau, a woven paper with red wax seals and a green silk cord through which Napoleon Bonaparte agreed to give up the French empire and accept exile.

[. . .]

In 2002, a federal court in New York convicted Rooney of conspiracy to transport stolen property after his friend, Marshall Lawrence Pierce, put the treaty up for auction. Rooney was placed on probation and ordered to pay a fine. The American Embassy in France returned the document to the archives.
We have now confirmed, from a source close to the History Department during the time that Rooney left Marquette, that Rooney was in fact forced out. He was presented with a letter of resignation and required to sign it.

Since this was before his theft of the document was discovered, the theft was apparently not the cause of his de facto firing.

Karl Rove Behind Osama Tape?

Bush’s liberal enemies have noticed that stupid statements from Osama bin Laden are a political boon to the president.

So one logical conclusion is that the recently released tape is some sort of White House conspiracy to strengthen the president’s hand.

One doesn’t expect to see this sort of theory in the mainstream media. Yet it happened on CNN:
Just before reading e-mailed responses to his “Cafferty Files” question of the 4pm EST hour on Thursday afternoon’s The Situation Room on CNN, “How important is the new Osama bin Laden tape?”, Jack Cafferty proposed a conspiracy existed in the timing, one meant to help Bush justify his NSA wiretapping: “The last time we got a tape from Osama bin Laden was right before the 2004 presidential election. Now here we are, four days away from hearings starting in Washington into the wiretapping of America’s telephones without bothering to get a court order or a warrant, and up pops another tape from Osama bin Laden. Coincidence? Who knows.” One viewer endorsed Cafferty’s conspiracy theory: “It seems suspicious. Every time the Republicans get into trouble, bin Laden sends a tape. Is it possible bin Laden’s working out of the White House?”
Another viewer expanded on this theory:
Jon in Westchester writes, “Osama’s new tape is extremely important. Bush is desperate to justify illegal spying. You can’t suspend the constitution without screaming ‘terrorist threat.’ Besides, the Republicans need a major distraction from the Abramoff mess. Bush couldn’t stay in office without bin Laden.”
The liberal hate-Bush crowd can’t decide whether they want to paint the Administration as stupid, or brilliant but evil.

In this case, at least a fair number go with brilliant but evil.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Nasty Liberal Posts Cause Washington Post to Shut Down Blog Comments

When Washington Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell wrote a column where she pointed out that corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff directed money to both the Democratic and the Republican parties, readers didn’t like that.

As she explains, in a blog post that is still visible:
I’ve heard from lots of angry readers about the remark in my column Sunday that lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to both parties. A better way to have said it would be that Abramoff “directed” contributions to both parties.

Lobbyists, seeking influence in Congress, often advise clients on campaign contributions. While Abramoff, a Republican, gave personal contributions only to Republicans, he directed his Indian tribal clients to make millions of dollars in campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties.

So what was so terrible about her saying that? Apparently, she didn’t direct the blame exclusively at Republicans.

According to an Associated Press dispatch:

The Washington Post shut down one of its blogs Thursday after the newspaper’s ombudsman raised the ire of readers by writing that lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to the Democrats as well as to Republicans.

At the center of a congressional bribery investigation, Abramoff gave money to Republicans while he had his clients donate to both parties, though mostly to Republicans.

In her Sunday column, ombudsman Deborah Howell wrote that Abramoff “had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties,” prompting a wave of nasty reader postings on post.blog.

There were so many personal attacks that the newspaper’s staff could not “keep the board clean, there was some pretty filthy stuff,” and so the Post shut down comments on the blog, or Web log, said Jim Brady, executive editor of washingtonpost.com.

“We’re not giving up on the concept of having a healthy public dialogue with our readers, but this experience shows that we need to think more carefully about how we do it,” Brady wrote on the newspaper’s Web site. “There are things that we said we would not allow, including personal attacks, the use of profanity and hate speech.”
Some of the comments are archived here, and here.

Brady gave more detail in a post on the paper’s blog:
I think it goes to basic human decency. You may not like Deborah Howell or her column from Sunday, but like you, she’s a human being. She shouldn’t have to read people publicly calling her a “b****” or a “wh***,” and we’re certainly not going to allow that on our site. Does anyone out there really think that adds anything to the discussion? If you need to use that language to make your point, I’m sorry, you don’t have one. You want to critique the column, go ahead. You want to say we we wrong, fire away. You want to call one of employees a “b****” and a “wh***,” you should go somewhere else.
This reminds us of the hate mail we are used to getting after appearances on Wisconsin Public Radio. The liberal callers always insist that “Bush lied” about weapons of mass destruction, and we always insist that Bush did not lie at all.

So the hate mail comes. It’s where liberalism is these days.

It’s not all liberals, of course, and it’s not even a majority of liberals. But it’s too many, and the more “moderate” Democrats are too willing to accept it.

New York Times on Student Government’s Leftist Film Maker

The New York Times reviews the film “Why We Fight,” by Eugene Jarecki. Jarecki is the leftist film maker invited by Marquette Student Government to speak at Marquette. There is nothing wrong with that, but Jarecki was supposed to balance the leftist bias of the MUSG speakers program.

According to the Times:
. . . it is clear from the start of this agitprop entertainment that Mr. Jarecki has a very good idea why America has seemed so eager to pick up arms over the past half-century. Calvin Coolidge famously said that the chief business of the American people is business; 80 years later, Mr. Jarecki forcefully, if not with wholesale persuasiveness, argues that our business is specifically war.

[. . .]

One person’s politically convincing argument is another’s propagandistic screed, and whether you buy the film will doubtless depend on your existing beliefs. That said, even those of radical political persuasion might find it hard to accept Mr. Jarecki’s argument that American militarism is, underneath the talk about freedom and democracy, a simple question of dollars.

Imposing Standardized Testing on Choice Schools

From Eminent Domain:

. . . a discussion of Governor Doyle’s demand that private schools in the school choice system submit to a state-imposed system of standardized testing.

This might sound like a good idea — why not see how well kids are doing and make the information public?

But the notion is highly problematic. Eminent Domain quotes the following comment:
Requiring private schools to give state-selected achievement tests would have harmful effects on the participating private schools. Some private schools would have to give up the curriculum they have designed for their own students and teach the state-sanctioned curriculum instead.

That would kill the diversity and vitality of the private schools. Many state tests emphasize fuzzy math over traditional math, and stress the use of “culturally diverse texts” over traditional classical literature, a staple of many effective private schools.
Clearly, the bureaucrats in the State Department of Education, if allowed to dictate how schools will be evaluated, are likely to use their power to enforce their notions of political correctness.

Do the private schools fail to teach kids in junior high how to use condoms? They may be found to violate educational “standards.” Do religious schools fail to teach that gays are the victims of “homophobic” prejudice? Same thing.

In fact, at the college level, education schools in order to be accredited have to engage in politically correct indoctrination.

Not that education school faculties much mind this requirement.

Even if the testing doesn’t have a tendentious political agenda, it’s likely to be burdensome. The bureaucrats imposing the testing will likely have a “public school” mentality. They will care more about “standards” and “outcomes” and “assessment” and “procedures” than about actually teaching kids.

They will tend, in other words, to undermine the distinctive ethos of private schools.

Don’t parents looking for a school in which to enroll their kids have a right to know how effective the school is? And don’t parents with kids enrolled in the school have a right to know how their kids are doing?

The answer is simple: in a competitive market, all schools will be under pressure to show that they are effective, but there are different ways of doing that.

Schools may choose to administer some form of standardized test, but will be free to pick a test that reflects their educational goals and philosophy.

Parents will want to know how their kids are doing, but this might involve sitting down with a guidance counselor to discuss scores on standardized tests, or it might involve having parents review all their children’s graded assignments.

The key thing to remember is that public school bureaucrats will, either by design or because they don’t know how to think any other way, subvert the benign organizational culture of private schools.

Michael Moore Gives Voting Advice to Canadians

With a hat tip to our Canadian correspondent, the fact that Michael Moore is running scared of the Canadian electorate.

On the front page of his web site is the statement:
Oh, Canada — you’re not really going to elect a Conservative majority on Monday, are you? That’s a joke, right? I know you have a great sense of humor, and certainly a well-developed sense of irony, but this is no longer funny. Maybe it’s a new form of Canadian irony — reverse irony! OK, now I get it.
Later on in the statement, he says:
First, you have the courage to stand against the war in Iraq — and then you elect a prime minister who’s for it. You declare gay people have equal rights — and then you elect a man who says they don’t. You give your native peoples their own autonomy and their own territory — and then you vote for a man who wants to cut aid to these poorest of your citizens. Wow, that is intense! Only Canadians could pull off a hat trick of humor like that. My hat’s off to you.

[. . .]

These are no ordinary times, and as you go to the polls on Monday, you do so while a man running the nation to the south of you is hoping you can lend him a hand by picking Stephen Harper because he’s a man who shares his world view. Do you want to help George Bush by turning Canada into his latest conquest? Is that how you want millions of us down here to see you from now on? The next notch in the cowboy belt? C’mon, where’s your Canadian pride? I mean, if you’re going to reduce Canada to a cheap download of Bush & Co., then at least don’t surrender so easily. Can’t you wait until he threatens to bomb Regina? Make him work for it, for Pete’s sake.
Just what is an American leftist to do when the Canadians fail to play their role as quasi-socialist pro-gay anti-American folks?

First you get the voters in Iraq turning out in large numbers to democratically elect a government, and now it looks like the Canadians may not play the role that American liberals ordained for them.

That’s the problem with this silly “free elections” business.

Jessica McBride: Liberals Want to Shut Up Blogs, Talk Radio

It’s a topic that we have frequently addressed, but Jessica McBride has a splendid article on attempts of liberals to censor talk radio and blogs.

She joins the blogswarm that has resulted from the rash attack of Bill Christofferson on Charlie Sykes. Sykes had the temerity to run a spot ad for school choice that included the voices of inner city black kids pleading for the right to continue in their choice schools.

Christofferson said this was some sort of illegal corporate contribution to a lobbying effort.

But McBride also discusses attacks on talk radio in Madison and Washington State.

In both cases the claim was made that when talk radio promotes a cause they are engaged in illegal lobbying or making some sort of campaign contribution.

In Washington, prosecutors went after two talk show hosts.

And in Congress, Democrats have sought to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, which would require all broadcasting stations to match each conservative host or viewpoint with a liberal viewpoint. While this might sound “fair,” it would never be used to require that liberal newspapers (who aren’t subject to the doctrine at all) balance each liberal editorial with a conservative editorial. Nor could it touch broadcast outlets when they claim to be “reporting” news, but do so in a slanted way.

It is, quite simply, an attempt to gut conservative talk radio, while leaving the bastions of liberal bias (broadcast networks, liberal newspapers, news magazines like Time and Newsweek) entirely alone.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Liberal Bill Christofferson: Wanting the Law to Shut Up Political Speech

From the Texas Hold ‘Em Blogger:

Liberal Democratic activist Bill Christofferson wants to use campaign finance laws to shut up a pro-school choice commercial that has aired on Charlie Sykes morning talk radio show.

Christofferson’s argument is as follows:
Sykes is airing it on his program. He’s posted the script and audio on his weblog.

It has no disclaimer, because, he tells WisPolitics, no one is paying for it.

Actually, that’s not true. Journal Communications, and its Journal Broadcast Group, which owns WTMJ radio, is paying for it.

It is a corporation running free issue advertising on a bill that is in the legislature.

If that sounds illegal, it’s because it is. State law does not allow corporations to run issue or political advertising, although in some instances it allows them to contribute to groups that do, like Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

Sykes says the commercial is simply “an element of my show.”

But it’s not, and it’s not the same as parody commercials Sykes or Mark Belling have run making fun of Tom Ament or other elected officials.

This one is a real, honest-to-goodness issue ad that is trying to affect legislation and — not incidentally — do some damage to Gov. Jim Doyle, whom Sykes despises and wants out of office. The campaign for governor is already underway, which is a relevant fact as well.

Do you think Journal Broadcast lawyers reviewed and signed off on this spot? I would be amazed if they did, since the station is running an issue ad for free on taxpayer-owned airwaves. The Journal Broadcast Group does not own the airwaves; it is licensed by the government to use them.
So Christofferson wants to interpret the Sykes spot as a “corporate contribution” from Journal Communications.

But Journal Communications owns the Journal-Sentinel. Is a Journal-Sentinel editorial a campaign contribution?

If the Journal-Sentinel runs a biased story on school choice, is that “issue advertising?” Suppose a newspaper goes off on a full-blown crusade attempting to “influence legislation” — as the Chicago Tribune did on the issue of the death penalty?

Now Christofferson and the Journal-Sentinel would probably argue they are engaged in “journalism” and that government shouldn’t censor that.

But isn’t Sykes engaged in journalism? Not in the view of the Mainstream Media, since he doesn’t think like they think. But let’s say he’s engaged in “entertainment.” Do they want entertainment censored? Should the Speech Police be all over The Daily Show if it attacks one politico or another?

Thus liberals always get tangled up when they call for censorship of speech they don’t like. They have a hard time coming up with a definition of what can be shut up that is specific enough to allow them to shut up their enemies, with no collateral damage to their friends.

But they keep trying, wanting blogs stiffled, for example. And shutting up campus speech they don’t like.

Milwaukee School Choice Ads

On the School Choice Wisconsin web site, some excellent TV and radio commercials urging Governor Doyle to back off of his hostility to school choice in Milwaukee.

College Democrats Invite Eugene Kane to Campus

Via GOP3.COM:

“Achieving Racial Justice in 21st Century America”

Come hear Eugene Kane of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel address this most important of topics!

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006
7:30 p.m.
Ballroom B, Third Floor
Alumni Memorial Union (AMU)

Sponsored by the College Democrats of Marquette University

The only thing that’s a bit tacky about this is that it is scheduled on the same evening as the President’s State of the Union address.

We’ve blogged on Kane, and while we think he too often sounds like a race hustler, he has something worthwhile to say every so often. But we don’t think that he’s actually going to have much of a positive role in “achieving racial justice.”

Still, were we on campus, we would be tempted to see Kane, and then watch the President on videotape.

Forthcoming PBS Series on Socialism

In spite of the fairly frequent liberal bias of PBS, the forthcoming show “Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Scoialism,” looks like it’s going to be good.

The key figure behind the content of the show, Joshua Muravchik, has long been a strong anti-communist.

So far as we can find, the show is not currently scheduled to air on the Milwaukee PBS stations (WMVS and WMVT).

Of course, we are all anti-communists now. Some of us have always been anti-communists.

But many, especially among professors, journalists and intellectuals fell for the scam.

Indeed, academia being what it is, some still hold on to the hope. They deserve the life of irrelevance that history has meted out to them.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Marquette Student Government’s Anti-Iraq War Speaker

When Student Government wanted to placate conservatives on campus who complained about the leftist tilt of its speakers program, they invited a “conservative” speaker who in fact is a leftist opponent of the Iraq War.

The speaker, a film maker named Eugene Jarecki, appeared on The Daily Show this past Monday.

Jarecki does not come across as a bigot or an ego-maniac like Michael Moore, but his mind seems to somehow exist in a 1960s time warp.

He complains that “this society is so militarized,” and implies that we would have plenty of money for other worthwhile purposes if we didn’t spend so much on the military.

But in reality, defense spending has become, over the last 35 years, a smaller and smaller share of the Gross National Product.
With the U.S. defense budget headed north of $400 billion a year, and accounting for nearly half the military spending on the planet, you’d think that records were being broken. Well, they aren’t. As a percentage of GNP, military spending continues a decline that has been going on since the 1960s (when, because of the Vietnam war, defense spending was 10.7 percent of GNP). That went down to 5.9 percent of GNP in the 1970s and, despite a much heralded “defense build up” in the 1980s, still declined in the 1980s (to 5.8 percent.) With the end of the Cold War, spending dropped sharply again in the 1990s, to 4.1 percent. For the first decade of the 21st century, defense spending is expected to average 3.4 percent of GNP.
But Jarecki doesn’t seem to know this.

He’s a film maker, after all. He doesn’t have to worry about things like hard data.

And he doesn’t much worry about logic. He gives, as an example of the “militarization” of American society the fact that he saw “a lot of older ladies working in those arms plants, pushing bombs around.”

This is supposed to be terrible. But just why? Are we supposed to believe that the defense industry needs more age and gender discrimination?

The Wisconsin Ethanol Mandate — the Case Against

JJ Blonien, Editor of the Wisconsin Conservative Digest, has put together a list of “talking points” on the ethanol mandate that a variety of special interests are pushing in the state legislature.

We haven’t fact checked the whole thing, but we know that the only possible justification for mandating a more expensive fuel that gets worse gas milage would be to reduce pollution.

Yet the Sierra Club isn’t impressed by the environmental arguments. In Pennsylvania, for example, the Sierra Club’s Clean Air Committee issued the following statement:
A summer 2003 paper published in Natural Resources Research 12(2): 127 134. June 2003 describes the problem with ethanol production precisely, “. . . studies suggest that the $1.4 billion in government subsidies are encouraging the ethanol program without substantial benefits to the U.S. economy . . . Subsidized ethanol production from U.S. corn is not a renewable energy source.”

Bob Barkanic, former DEP Deputy Secretary for Air, Recycling & Radiation, in a March 6, 2002 speech before the PA 21st Century Commission said that Pennsylvania should “. . . not trade off dependence on fossil fuel for dependence on large Midwestern agricultural concerns.”

It should be noted that Pennsylvania is already a net importer of corn; i.e., at this time, Pennsylvania does not grow enough corn to satisfy current needs for human food production and livestock feed. Fuel ethanol production would remove available livestock feed resources.

Ethanol production is inefficient with 29% more fossil fueled energy needed to produce a gallon of ethanol, than is available in that gallon of ethanol for energy use. The raising of corn increases soil erosion, depletes soil nutrients and uses more herbicides, pesticides and nitrogen fertilizers than any other crop. Ethanol evaporates easily, causing increases in summertime ozone smog pollution in higher population areas, such as Philadelphia, Lancaster, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. Ethanol blended with gasoline is more volatile (evaporates more easily) than gasoline with other additives, and ethanol blends combined with other gasoline in the vehicle gas tank can be more volatile still, putting significantly more pollution into the air. Ethanol blends also increase VOC emissions from gasoline, one of major necessary components that combine to create polluting ground level ozone smog.

The state of Wisconsin reported in 2002 that offensive odors will be expected to result from production and will be in evidence from ½ mile to 1 mile from the source. So severe was the problem that they recommended and required an “Odor Mitigation Plan” for a proposed facility. Production causes pollution byproducts to be emitted into the air & include carcinogenic formaldehyde and acetic acid, and methanol, a federally classified hazardous pollutant. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on May 4, 2002 that EPA had issued a letter to the ethanol industry’s trade group identifying problems with plants releasing air pollutants in quantities many times greater than originally measured, with the problem being common to “. . .most, if not all, ethanol facilities. . .” In the air, ethanol itself will break down into highly toxic constituents (acetaldehyde and peroxyacetylnitrates [PAN] ), and Pennsylvania has yet to assess the effects of public exposure.

Ethanol has been evaluated for the effect of its use here in the northeast United States; ethanol degrades quickly in the environment and is therefore of concern because:
  • At higher concentrations, ethanol can make other gasoline components more soluble in groundwater;
  • In gasoline spills, ethanol can delay the degradation of other more toxic substances; and
  • Ethanol can cause gasoline to spread out laterally over greater distances as a layer on top of the water table.
  • The breakdown of ethanol in surface waters could potentially result in the consumption of significant quantities of dissolved oxygen and could result in fish kills, jeopardizing the local tourism industry;
  • Due to ethanol’s higher solubility, current treatment technologies such as adsorptive filters will not be effective;
  • The hazard potential for ethanol in drinking water is higher compared to other oxygenates from gasoline that leak into groundwater and drinking water systems, because of irreversible damage possible from repeated high level exposures.
There are health effects:
  • ethanol itself will break down into highly toxic constituents (acetaldehyde and peroxyacetylnitrates [PAN] ), and Pennsylvania has yet to assess the effects of public exposure.
  • Air toxics and ozone precursor pollution emissions into the air will increase if ethanol replaces current oxygenates in gasoline.
When both free market people and environmentalists agree on something, it’s pretty likely to be true.

Scott Walker Visits Marquette

From the Scott Walker Campaign, a good opportunity to see and talk to the candidate.

What: Meet and Greet with Scott Walker, candidate for Governor
When: 8:00 pm this Wednesday (January 18)
Where: AMU Room 227

Milwaukee County Executive and Marquette alumnus, Scott Walker, will visit the Marquette campus this Wednesday to speak with students about his campaign for Governor and to listen to your ideas. The event will take place at the College Republican meeting in AMU Room 227.

We hope to see you on Wednesday! If you have questions, please call us at (414) 298-2006. Thanks!

-Students for Walker Team

Bogus Photo on Front Page of the New York Times

In the wake of an attack made by American Predator drones on a village in Pakistan where a top terrorist leader was thought to be hiding, and New York Times ran a photo it identified as:
“Pakistani men with the remains of a missile fired at a house in the Bajur tribal zone near the Afghan border.”
In reality, the photo featured an artillery shell, and not the remains of any American missile.

No U.S. forces have fired any artillery rounds anywhere near that village.

The Times has now corrected the caption.

Does this show a political bias? At first blush, it appears to be mere incompetence, but we have to wonder whether the Times editors weren’t excessively credulous toward a photo that showed children, and an old man, and might seem to vividly illustrate the fecklessness of the American military.

At a minimum, the Times editors are frightfully ignorant of matters military.

Update: Marquette Tribune Conflict of Interest Policy

We recently reported about the Marquette Tribune’s new “conflict of interest” policy that bans members of the College Republicans and College Democrats from staff positions.

Today we reached Jen Haberkorn, now a reporter for the Washington Times and (during the 2004-2005 school year) Editor of the Marquette Tribune.

We reported that the issue of whether a member of the College Republicans came up

. . . during the 2004-2005 school year in connection with a Tribune reporter who was a member of the College Republicans. This reporter informed Jen Haberkorn, then Editor, of the affiliation, and Haberkorn saw no problem with it.
Haberkorn insists that she did indeed dislike the idea of a Tribune reporter being a member of a partisan organization and “didn’t want [the reporter] to be a member of both [the Tribune staff and the College Republicans].”

However, in the absence of any written policy, Haberkorn didn’t feel she had a basis for raising the issue.

This implies that the prohibition on College Republicans and College Democrats being on staff wasn’t concocted merely for the purpose of excluding a Republican, although the fact that a College Republican was on staff appears to have been a catalyst for formalizing the policy.

There was a clear understanding that no reporter should report on an organization of which they are a member.

We asked Haberkorn about other activist organizations such as JUSTICE, the Gay/Straight Alliance or Students for an Environmentally Active Campus. Was the understanding that they were allowed to be on staff?

She responded that this “wasn’t an issue” and the Tribune “didn’t have anything like that happen.”

On this issue, the new policy doesn’t appear to be a mere codification of well-established understandings, but rather a case where some people made some judgment calls.

Campus Opinion

Not surprisingly, both the GOP3.COM blog, and the liberal Campus Tavern objected to the policy.

Campus Tavern headlined their article “The Thought Police Strike Again.”

The author, Ryan Alexander, disagrees with us that the policy singles out the College Republicans. But he goes on:
I still find this new policy completely asinine because it asserts that students in non-party affiliated student orgs as being on higher journalistic and ethical ground than those in College Democrats or College Republicans.

Does the Marquette Tribune feel that its writers are not capable of leaving their personal life out of their reporting?

If so, then the Marquette Tribune must not think much of the intellectual and ethical capabilities of its writers.
Alexander then proceeds to list practical difficulties with the policy. Is a Tribune reporter forbidden to merely go to the meetings of the College Democrats or College Republicans? Is the reporter allowed to give money to a political party, candidate, organization, or cause? Party giving would seem to be ruled out, but if a reporter can belong to the Gay/Straight Alliance presumably the reporter can contribute to the Human Rights Campaign. But if so, how is this somehow better than contributing to the Democratic Party?

GOP3.COM is likewise disturbed by the implications of the policy.
Why is it okay for a campus news reporter to be a member of GSA and at the same time cover a gay marriage debate, yet a sports reporter could never belong to College Democrats?

Why is it okay for the social justice reporter to be a member of JUSTICE and cover the SOA [School of the Americas] trip, yet an arts and entertainment reporter could not belong to the College Republicans?

[. . .]

And what about the religion reporter — in order to maintain the first principle, can your religion reporter not attend Mass or Lutheran Campus Ministry or any other group that he might cover? And if that’s so, isn’t not attending any church an expression of preference in and of itself?
Are Partisans Evil?

The assumption behind the policy seems to be that while it’s OK to be a member of an issue group, being an actual partisan — making it clear you favor the Democrats or the Republicans — is somehow suspect.

This is questionable in the extreme.

In our experence, members of JUSTICE are on average to the left of the College Democrats. Members of Students for Life are (at least on the abortion issue) going to be more monolithic than the College Republicans.

Being a partisan like the writers for the GOP3.COM and Campus Tavern blogs, seems to us a good thing. You have to learn to be a team player. You have to learn to compromise and seek accomodation with people on the other side.

You learn not to say certain kinds of things because it hurts the interests of the party (admittedly, Howard Dean hasn’t gotten this point, but other Democrats certainly have). While partisanship doesn’t imply pristine lack of bias, it does imply a degree of self-restraint and responsibility.

But What Is the Point of the Rules?

It is true that rules like this are common in real-world journalistic organizations. But why is this so?

Rules like this are designed not to prevent bias, but to conceal the fact that there likely is bias. If a bunch of Journal-Sentinel reporters were observed participating in a local pro-abortion demonstration, people might look critically at abortion stories in the paper.

And we wouldn’t want that, would we?

Daniel Suhr has an excellent point when he writes:
In the end, I’ll take openness and full disclosure over certain preferences masked by a controlling policy any day.
Indeed, why not ask staff members how they vote, what political organizations they belong to, and what causes they have given money to?

And list that on the staff page.

But doing that might create pressure for news organizations to have real diversity (as opposed to politically correct “diversity”) among their staffs.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Tribune “Conflict of Interest” Policy Appears Aimed at College Republicans

The Marquette Tribune has a new policy on “Conflicts of Interest” dictating standards for Tribune staff, just finalized.

Some of the provisions are benign enough. For example, reporters are not to accept gifts from sources, nor even potential sources. Sports reporters are not to accept tickets to games (beyond the press credentials needed to cover the event).

But the most significant, and the most questionable, aspects of the policy concern what organizations Tribune staff can belong to, and kinds of stories they can report on. The documents reads as follows:
In fitting with the Tribune’s goal to be as ethical and professional as possible, the Tribune will henceforth require that its staff members be prohibited from the following activities:

1. Participating in a political campaign of any kind, including Marquette Student Government.
2. Public displays of political/partisan support or opposition, including signing petitions.
3. Membership in any organization that:
a. is or was included in your beat if you are or were a reporter
b. is or was included in a beat on your desk if you are an editor
c. is not necessarily aligned with a specific partisan organization but may collaborate with such organizations or take a lobbyist role (Gay/Straight Alliance at Marquette has established itself as strictly educational organization, so that is acceptable).
d. is partisan and/or political
These include organizations at all levels: student, local, regional, state, national and international.

4. Discussing personal political views in a public forum, including the Internet (anything that past, current, or potential sources have access to).
According to Andrew Johnson, Editor of the paper, these provisions flatly rule out any member of the College Republicans or College Democrats being on the staff. He says that “people know that these groups have a political agenda.”

But what about other political activist organizations?

Tribune staff are welcome to join such organizations, so long as they don’t actually report on the organization. According to Johnson reporters can be members of the leftist student organization JUSTICE, and the policy explicitly lists the Gay/Straight Alliance as an “OK” group to belong to.

Students for an Environmentally Active Campus is also an “OK” group.

The notion that these groups don’t have a political agenda, or are not known to have an agenda, is absurd. JUSTICE is to the left of the College Democrats. Consider the following blurb from their web site:
Currently JUSTICE is actively involved on many events on Campus. We are orgainising [sic] a social justice conference (teach-in) for November. During November we also go to the Ignatian Family Teach-In and SOA (School of the America’s [sic]) protest. We bring in many speakers throughout the year and work with many other organisations [sic] on campus to create programs that serve to educate and empower others about social justice issues.
The School of the Americas protest is a throwback to the Cold War (and the losing side in the Cold War, at that), and the “teach in” mentioned was hard left. JUSTICE has also been responsible for events such as an entirely one-sided forum to attack the “Warriors” nickname in December of 2004, and a speech from a priest who not only opposed the current Iraq War, but was an apologist for Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The positions of the Gay/Straight Alliance and Students for an Environmentally Active Campus speak for themselves.

Suppose a Tribune staffer belongs to an activist group. They are not allowed to report on the group itself (the policy is clear), but are they allowed to report on issues relevant to the group?

For example, we asked Johnson whether a member of the Gay/Straight Alliance would be allowed to report on a debate on gay marriage, and he said there is “no problems concerning a gay marriage debate.”

We then asked him whether a member of Students for Life could cover a debate on abortion. He said this was “probably” not a problem. In other words, there might be a problem. A few minutes later, he called back to say that, contrary to what he first said, there would be no problem with a Students for Life member covering an abortion debate.

Of course, one has to wonder why, since he initially and wholeheartedly said the gay marriage issue could be covered by a member of the gay lobby group, he had initial reservations about a member of the anti-abortion group covering an abortion debate.

Apparently, he had to think about it a while before he concluded that both groups needed to be treated the same.

This issue arose during the 2004-2005 school year in connection with a Tribune reporter who was a member of the College Republicans. This reporter informed Jen Haberkorn, then Editor, of the affiliation, and Haberkorn saw no problem with it.

Yet when this reporter applied, in the Spring of 2005, for a position on the 2005-2006 staff, the reporter was subjected to a job interview that focused almost entirely on the College Republican affiliation. The interviewer, now the Managing Editor, is a liberal whose views appear to have heavily influenced the entire process.

The reporter was denied any of his or her top three choices of an assignment, and offered a less prestigious assignment, which, due to work conflicts, could not be accepted.

At the beginning of this past fall semester, one student who was a member of the College Republicans, and one who was a member of the College Democrats joined the Tribune staff. Both were told they would have to resign their membership in the partisan organizations.

The College Republican left that organization to remain on staff, while the College Democrat resigned from the College Democrats but then joined both JUSTICE and Student for an Environmentally Active Campus.

A Liberal Bias on the Tribune?

This issue shows how a subtle, but nonetheless real liberal bias operates to exclude conservatives from journalistic organizations.

A College Republican affiliation that last year’s Tribune editor saw as not being a problem was raised and used against a reporter wanting a job on the 2005-2006 staff.

While the College Democrats and College Republicans are excluded from the staff, members of other (mostly leftist) activist organizations are welcome. And they can even report on issues on which their organizations have taken a stand.

And the Tribune editor has to think for a few minutes before he can decide that members of Students For Life have the same rights members of the Gay/Straight Alliance.

As is usually the case with the Mainstream Media, nobody is scheming to exclude conservatives. But the liberals who dominate consider conservatives to be oddballs of some sort, whose affiliations are questionable, and whose presence can cause “problems.”

The practical effect is to make Mainstream Media organizations — and the Tribune is certainly our junior version of the Mainstream Media — alien territory for conservatives.

Wisconsin School Choice in the Wall Street Journal

While for many years Wisconsin got national attention for its path-breaking social reform in the areas of welfare and education, we now, under a Democratic governor, are in the news for resistence to reform.

See John Fund’s article in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Dental School Blogger Story in the Badger Herald

The story continues to have legs, although coverage in student papers is necessarily delayed due to students being off campus and out of school when it broke.

But here is Madison’s Badger Herald story on the Dental School blogger.

It’s pretty good, although the reporter said the student’s comments toward a professor were “shockingly negative.” She must be easily shocked. And she failed to mention that the professor was not named.

But she’s right on in discussing the PR flack stuff that Marquette put out on the case:
. . . according to a statement released by the university, the Marquette School of Dentistry will continue to “emphasize the importance of the highest standards of professional conduct expected of its students as they prepare to enter the practice of dentistry.”

However, these precise standards of conduct are not specifically outlined. Many believe this has caused debate over what exactly is and is not permissible in relation to free speech.
Enforcing well-defined standards of conduct is one thing. But when the standards aren’t well defined, their “enforcement” is just an arbitrary exercise of power.

Marquette Student Government Leftist Film Maker on Daily Show

With a hat tip to our colleague Janet Boles, the news that Eugene Jarecki, film maker of “Why We Fight” will be on the Daily Show tonight.

He’ll probably be the 2nd or 3rd segment.

Marquette Student Government is bringing him to campus, supposedly to provide some conservative balance for the leftist tilt of the MUSG speaker series.

But in fact, he’s a hard leftist.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

More on Leftist MUSG Speaker

The Office of Homeland Security has more on Eugene Jarecki, leftist anti-Bush anti-Iraq War film maker that MUSG is bringing to campus, claiming that he provides some balance to the left-leaning slate of speakers that Student Government has sponsored.

As blogger Joseph Kastner makes clear, Jarecki provides no balance at all.

One of the most revealing things Kastner has turned up is an interview with CTV in Canada were Jarecki pontificates:
There’s a growing sense among people that the wars we fight seem to be driven more by profit than by principle. And it’s that very shift in the public psyche and in our perception of our own role in the world... The film is called Why We Fight. It doesn’t answer the question “Why We Fight,” but it asks the question “Why We Fight.”

. . . I don’t look to blame any single public figure right now for the situation in which we find ourselves is that to do so would be to have institutional amnesia. It would be to forget the past and to forget the path by which we got to a place where a George Bush is possible, a Bush administration is possible, a war in Iraq. So senseless and so at odds with international norms of decency and collaboration among nations is possible. So, in order to understand the roots of that you’re only looking at a symptom if you focus on one particular administration or another, one leader or another.
The committment of MUSG to balance and fairness in its speakers program is highly questionable. It appears that leftist administrators in the Office of Student Development, and leftist students in Student Government are just doing what comes naturally to them.

Kim Jong Il, Zarqawi Protest Belafonte’s Bush Remarks

From Scrappleface.
(2006-01-09) — North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il today lashed out at former entertainer Harry Belafonte after the ex-celebrity, in Caracas to express his support for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, called U.S. President George Bush “the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world.”

“What does Belafonte know about tyranny?” Mr. Kim told the reporter at a rare news conference. “He lives in a country that lets him travel overseas, stand with a socialist dictator and slam his own president. Does Harry Belafonte thinks he’s qualified to rate the tyrants?”

Meanwhile, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, decried Mr. Belafonte’s “ignorant remarks” and invited him to visit Baghdad or Ramadi “to see who’s the greatest terrorist in the world.”

“I can assure Mr. Belafonte,” said Mr. Zarqawi, “that his visit here will be a short one. Daylight come and he want to go home.”
The motto of the Scrappleface site is “News Fairly Unbalanced. We Report. You Decipher.”

Prof. Chris Wolfe’s Book is One of the “Top Books on the Constitution”

Robert Bork was the conservative judge who, when nominated for the Supreme Court, had to endure the sort of attacks that have become common whenever a Republican president nominates a conservative judge.

He has produced a very short list of the “Top books on the Constitution,” and on the list is Marquette Political Science Professor Christopher Wolfe’s The Rise of Modern Judicial Review.

Contrary to the nonsense that most students are fed about a “living Constitution,” Bork and Wolfe insist that the Constitution is interpreted to enact the policy preferences of activist judges.

It’s not that the document “grows” and “changes.” That’s a dishonest use of the active voice. The Constitution is changed (passive voice) by judges who very much want to put their policy preferences into effect.

Liberal scholars don’t seriously disagree with this. They may argue that it’s good, or that it’s inevitable that judges put their policy preferences into effect (which is belied by principled judges who do rule that laws they dislike are Constitutional). On that, see Justice Black’s dissent in Griswold.

People like Wolfe and Bork clearly have the intellectual upper hand, so much so that defenses of judicial activism carry the taint of outright intellectual dishonesty.