Friday, March 31, 2006

FISA Judges Support Bush’s Right to Wiretap

From the Washington Times, via the Office of Homeland Security:

A panel of former Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges yesterday told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that President Bush did not act illegally when he created by executive order a wiretapping program conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA).

The five judges testifying before the committee said they could not speak specifically to the NSA listening program without being briefed on it, but that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act does not override the president’s constitutional authority to spy on suspected international agents under executive order.

“If a court refuses a FISA application and there is not sufficient time for the president to go to the court of review, the president can under executive order act unilaterally, which he is doing now,” said Judge Allan Kornblum, magistrate judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and an author of the 1978 FISA Act. “I think that the president would be remiss exercising his constitutional authority by giving all of that power over to a statute.”

The article goes on to point out that liberal Democrats who think that Bush acted illegally in having calls from Americans to foreign numbers associated with terrorists tapped are not demanding that the surveillance be stopped.

Rather they are insisting on giving the President statutory authority to do it.

Which shows just how far out of the mainstream Feingold is.

Another Example of Classroom Indoctrination

From Right Off the Shore:

. . . yet another example of classroom indoctrination, this time at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
After talking about it from a minorities point of view, my white teacher handed out an article by a Peggy McIntosh entitled “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” You can read an excerpt of the article here. The gist of the article is that Peggy feels as though everything white people have attained in life can be attributed to our “white privilege.” She feels that everything from careers, to education, to societal standing is due to our “white privilege.”
Blogger Jenna concludes:
I was extremely offended by this article.

Nothing that I have attained or that has happened in my life has happened because I am white. I would doubt that my race was even a factor in anything. . . .

Peggy, however, decides to doubt my achievements, and every other white person’s, and instead chalks it all up to “white privilege.”
Not surprisingly, checking the Raynor Library reserves shows that this particular article is on reserve for Education 008, one of the two introductory Education school courses that appear to be little more than politically correct victim studies.

But of course an open-minded instructor might encourage critical analysis of politically correct texts.

We would welcome hearing from students who have been assigned this reading in their courses.

[Update:]

An e-mail correspondent sends the following information:
That white privilege piece was circulated among MU English TAs by the director of first-year English in years past. Much of McIntosh’s list has more to do with class (and speech, dress, or behavior) than race, but it passes for wisdom among the guilt-afflicted whose experience outside their own flock is basically nil.

[Further Update:]

Shark & Shephard has turned up an hilarious Eddie Murphy parody of the notion of “white skin privilege:” a routine titled White Like Eddie.

Hung Up by Islam


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Minister & Military Man Major John Krenson to Speak at Marquette

On college campuses, official attitudes tend toward a mushy pacificism. It’s not really different on the campuses of Catholic universities, where institutional bureaucrats lean to the left and give the impression that to be really Christian one must be a pacifist.

Of course they have been willing to make exceptions for Marxist guerrillas in Central America. And Palestinian terrorists. And insurgents fighting the apartheid regime in South Africa. And . . . well, you get the idea.

A more mainstream view is being presented by the College Republicans this coming Tuesday, when they bring Major John Krenson to campus. According to the group:
. . . Krenson describes how he has reconciled his service as an ordained minister with his military service as an armed combatant in the War on Terror. He speaks of his direct experience as well as from a theological perspective to describe the just war we are waging today.
The event is scheduled for Tuesday, April 4 from 8:00- 9:00 pm in Room 103 of Johnston Hall.

The College Republicans sponsored a standing-room-only discussion of school choice this past week.

This forthcoming event promises to be equally relevant and interesting.

Prof. Ryan Hanley: Political Philosopher & Bluegrass Musician

Marquette political scientist Ryan Hanley is, among other things, a Bluegrass mandolinist, and he’s going to be playing tomorrow at the 13th Annual Spring Bluegrass Festival.

The event is sponsored by the Milwaukee Area Bluegrass Music Association.

It’s at the Unitarian Church North, 13800 N. Port Washington Road, in Mequon.

Here is a map.

The Liberty Bluegrass Band (of which Hanley is a member) will play at 3:00, and gospel group Cream City (of which Hanley is also a member) will play at 6:00.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Minor Detail


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Jonah Goldberg on Campus Tonight

Award winning conservative journalist Jonah Goldberg will be on campus tonight at the Varsity Theater.

Time: 7-8:30pm.

The doors will open at 6:30pm, the speech lasts from 7-8pm, and a reception with dessert will last from 8:00 until 8:30pm.

It’s free!

A blurb from his agent says:
A popular speaker on college campuses, Goldberg is proof that reading and thinking about political, media, and cultural issues can be enlightening and entertaining at the same time. He is the 2001 winner of the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award.

Goldberg grew up on the liberal-occupied Upper West Side of Manhattan. He is a graduate of Goucher College, where he was one of the first men to attend the formerly all-women’s college. After Goucher, he taught English in Czechoslovakia, and was later a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, where he currently resides.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Americans Side With Israel

Hostility toward Israel is now fashionable among left-leaning elites. Liberal clerical bureaucrats in Protestant churches have been divesting their denominations of investments in Israel.

(These, of course, are the same denominations that have no problem with gay clergy.)

Here on the Marquette campus, the Administration has leaned strongly anti-Israel, paying for, programming and sponsoring virulently anti-Israel panels and presentations.

But as Jeff Jacoby explains in yesterday’s column:
America’s longstanding solidarity with Israel suits most Americans just fine, but it does set some people’s teeth on edge. Two of those people are Stephen Walt, the academic dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and political scientist John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, co-authors of a sour new polemic about the insidious “Israel Lobby” that manipulates US policy in the Middle East and dragged the Bush administration into war.

[Back in 2003] It was . . . Professor Edward Said of Columbia University . . . ranting: “Wherever you look in the Congress there are the tell-tale signs either of the Zionist lobby, the right-wing Christians, or the military-industrial complex, three inordinately influential minority groups who share . . . unbridled support for extremist Zionism.” A year earlier it had been South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, lamenting that “the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal” in the United States; no one dares oppose Israel “because the Jewish lobby is powerful — very powerful.”

But the truth is precisely the reverse. America’s loyalty to Israel isn’t engineered by a Zionist cabal that dupes American citizens and hijacks their government. US policy tends to align closely with Israel’s because Americans like Israel. They instinctively sympathize with Israel’s fight for survival in one of the world’s most dangerous neighborhoods. If public opinion weren’t robustly pro-Israel in the first place, the White House and Congress would be far less inclined to give Israel’s advocates the time of day. There’s a name for that phenomenon. It’s called democracy.

The American consensus in support of Israel is deep-rooted and durable. Polls show that it cuts across all ages and both sexes. The dread power of some “Israel Lobby” doesn’t explain it. So what does?

Four answers:

First, Americans recognize in Israeli society a modern liberal democracy — a country like their own, with vigorously contested elections, a free press, an independent judiciary, and a commitment to civil liberties and human rights that hasn’t flagged despite six decades of terrorism and war. With all its flaws, Israel has the freest and fairest political system in the Middle East. Israel’s Arab citizens are full-fledged voters — women as well as men — and are routinely elected to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. . . .

Second, Israel is an invaluable American ally — a stable and dependable base in a highly unstable part of the globe. From military R&D to world-class intelligence services, from a deepwater port to sophisticated air facilities, from hard-won counterterrorist expertise to a solid democratic culture, Israel brings assets to its strategic relationship with the United States that few countries can match. . . .

Third, American history is deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian soil, nourishing a special kinship between America’s Christians and the Jewish people. The founders of the American republic were deeply influenced by the Hebrew scriptures and believed that they, like the Jews of old, had been taken out of bondage by God and led by Him to a Promised Land.

Finally, Americans sympathize so strongly with the Israelis because both nations face a common enemy. Unlike Walt and Mearsheimer, who can find “no moral basis” for taking Israel’s side in its war with enemies bent on its destruction, most Americans make a clear moral distinction between suicide bombers and their victims. If Israeli terrorists were deliberately blowing up Palestinian school buses, if rabbis were blasting Arabs as “the sons of monkeys and pigs,” if it were Israelis who had danced in celebration on 9/11, American sympathies might not be so clear-cut. Most Americans are not confused, because most Americans understand what’s at stake.
The hate-Israel crowd pretends that support for the Jewish state comes only from Jews or from conservative Christians with arcane theories about the “end times.”

But Jacoby is right. Mainstream Americans support Israel on the basis of mainstream American values. The politically correct clerics and academic lefties are simply advertising how far out of the mainstream they are.

Mixed Messages


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Monday, March 27, 2006

Marquette’s Arts & Sciences College: Repeating the Graduation Fiasco

Until 2005, the Arts & Sciences Graduation Ceremony was always a pleasant affair. As we described it in a post last May:
This afternoon ceremony has been an especial favorite of faculty, since they have an opportunity to say goodby to students, meet parents, and sometimes even pose for a photo or two. An informal ceremony, it always involved faculty and students forming up by department and marching to the stage behind a standard. Students would walk across the stage one at a time, get their diplomas (actually, diploma covers) and shake hands with the Dean. They would then leave the stage and shake hands with their department’s faculty, who would form a sort of receiving line. Within a few short minutes it was over, with faculty and students having time to socialize before both groups turned in their rented gowns and drifted away.
But in 2005, in response to the complaints of some parents, the ceremony was changed.

The new version has faculty and graduates all sitting together for about an hour and a half, listening to speeches, and then watching each and every graduate cross the stage and shake the Dean’s hand.

Afterward, the scene was a complete shambles.

The new version of the ceremony was universally unpopular with faculty. We panned it in a blog post at the time.

But according to a knowledgeable source in the Arts & Sciences College, the ceremony in 2006 will be essentially the same as in 2005. Same tedious proceedings. Same limited (almost to being nonexistent) opportunity for faculty to bid farewell to students.

The apparently reason is the belief that parents want this kind of ceremony. “That’s the recognition they want [for their kids]” our source said.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

San Francisco Faces: Tolerant vs. Intolerant

Here is the question: Which of the following is a young woman at a Christian youth rally, and which a leftist protestor opposing that same rally in San Francisco?






Both photos are from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, where you can find which face is which.

San Francisco: Intolerant of Christians

From the San Francisco Chronicle, an account of how a rally of Christian teens met an intolerant response in the city famous for intolerance.
More than 25,000 evangelical Christian youth landed Friday in San Francisco for a two-day rally at AT&T Park against “the virtue terrorism” of popular culture, and they were greeted by an official city condemnation and a clutch of protesters who said their event amounted to a “fascist mega-pep rally.”

“Battle Cry for a Generation” is led by a 44-year-old Concord native, Ron Luce, who wants “God’s instruction book” to guide young people away from the corrupting influence of popular culture.

That’s bad news to Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who told counterprotesters at City Hall on Friday that while such fundamentalists may be small in number, “they’re loud, they’re obnoxious, they’re disgusting, and they should get out of San Francisco.”

Luce didn’t flinch in the face of the counterprotest. The author, host of the “Acquire the Fire TV” cable television program and a President Bush appointee to a federal anti-drug-abuse commission, wants teens to find Bible-based solutions for the spread of sexually transmitted disease, teen pregnancy, drug abuse and suicide.

The villains, Luce said, range from the promiscuity and “sexualization” of young people on MTV and the popular online meeting hub MySpace.com to a corporate culture that spends millions trying to woo the under-21 crowd.

Battle Cry will try to bring them back to God through two days of religious rockers, speakers and the debut of what Luce called a Christian alternative to My Space.com.

“This is more than a spiritual war,” Luce said. “It’s a culture war.”
Just what is wrong with any of this?

Apparently, nothing aside from the fact that these folks are Christians.
Earlier this week, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution condemning the “act of provocation” by what it termed an “anti-gay,” “anti-choice” organization that aimed to “negatively influence the politics of America’s most tolerant and progressive city.”

Luce said it was the first time one of his events has been officially condemned.

Christian Gallion, a 15-year-old in town with his Assembly of God youth group from Humboldt County, shrugged off being called “fascists” by counterdemonstrators.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Gallion said. “It’s a beautiful city, and we don’t have anything against the protesters.”

His youth pastor had no interest in engaging in political debates.

“I’m not here to hate anybody,” Scott Thompson said. “This isn’t about Bush or gays or anything other than being here to worship together.”

That’s not how some liberal leaders saw it.

“Even if it is done by a Barnum & Bailey crowd with a tent and some snake oil, I think we need to pay attention to it,” said Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who authored the condemnation resolution. “We should not fall asleep at the wheel.”
Even in the story in the liberal San Francisco Chronicle, the contrast between the tolerance of the Christian youth and the bigotry of the activists and politicians in the city is obvious.

And the San Francisco leftists call other people fascist?

Yep, Way Short


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Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Wal-Mart for the Espresso Set

Small town newspapers can have good writers, and this seems to be true of The Lewiston Tribune, an Idaho paper with a writer named Michael Costello.

Costello takes a shot at the cultural elitism of the anti-Wal-Mart crowd, and scores a direct hit.

His article is here, but that’s not going to help you much, since you have to have a paid registration to see it.

Happily, Palousitics has reprinted it. Some key parts:
There has always been a taint of elitism wafting from the opposition to the construction of a Wal-Mart superstore in Pullman. Most of the time, the ironically misnamed Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development (PARD) concealed its snobbery behind concerns for local businesses, most of which did not ask for PARD’s protection, or in the form of complaints that Wal-Mart would not compensate its employees to PARD’s standards.

Never mind that those who choose to work for Wal-Mart would be deciding for themselves that the compensation was satisfactory. But knowing what’s best for you even if you don’t is central to elitism.

PARD even argued that Wal-Mart would harm the local branch of Shopko. Does anyone really believe that PARD cared in the slightest about Shopko’s fate?

But now it seems that Wal-Mart has adjusted its business model to satisfy the underlying concerns that animate its opponents. Once the Wal-Mart is built, the tweed-jacketed PARDners will probably be able to purchase $500 bottles of wine or belly up to the sushi bar and treat their palates to raw fish and seaweed. That’s because Wal-Mart has decided to modify what it offers within its walls to conform to the specific cultures of the communities it serves.

This should go a long way toward addressing one major concern of Pullman’s Wal-Mart opponents — that Wal-Mart would invite the “intrusion of undesirable social elements” into the community (see page 8 of the examiner’s report). While the wienies and french fries sold at the Lewiston store might satisfy that demographic’s tastes, PARDners will be satisfied with nothing less than croissant and bean sprout sandwiches, or spicy hummus and water crackers, washed down with a Starbuck’s green tea frappucino chaser.

That should keep those undesirable social elements from crossing onto PARD’s side of the tracks.

Indeed, Wal-Mart is reacting to elitists who prefer to buy identical items at higher prices from more prestigious storefronts. Certainly the proliferation of high-priced coffee shops in Pullman proves that to many it matters more where you are seen buying coffee than the contents of the cup itself. Otherwise, people would just buy a Mr. Coffee and an occasional can of Folger’s, as I do. From a quality standpoint, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is really quite ordinary, but patrons really want the checkout clerk to know that they are willing to pay much more than it is worth and because a small fraction goes to save rain forests, or something.

Similarly, Wal-Mart plans to sell high-end, brand-name high-definition plasma televisions as well as the standard, low-priced cathode-ray-tube models labeled “assembled in big hurry.” Even the look will be different. The standard Wal-Mart red, white and blue exterior will be replaced by two-toned brick and mortar look. Employee uniforms in these trendy, upscale Wal-Mart stores are to be khaki pants and polo shirts. Only Mao jackets would make PARDners feel more at home. Put Birkenstock sandals on the employees’ feet, and no one would ever guess that they came to Pullman from those undesirable social classes.

All Wal-Mart has to do now is place sofas and coffee tables in its book section and allow PARDners to read the New York Times free of charge.
The column isn’t entirely parody, since Wal-Mart has indeed opened a store in Plano, Texas designed to appeal to upscale Yuppie tastes.

Will that mitigate the hostility that the cultural elites feel toward the Arkansas-based retail giant? We will see.

Sign Honoring Fallen Soldier Defaced in Massachusetts

From the North Adams Transcript, an account of how a sign honoring a fallen Green Beret was defaced in the Massachusetts town of Cheshire.
He tried hard to contain his emotions, but the hurt and anger were visible on his face.

Louis Petithory was justifiably upset Thursday morning after it was discovered that someone had vandalized a sign placed on the Ashuwillticook Trail in memory of his late son, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel H. Petithory, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on Dec. 5, 2001.

The vandalized sign — one of three marking a stretch of the trail in honor of the Cheshire native — is located on the Cheshire/Lanesborough town line, roughly a quarter-mile south from Nobody’s Road in Cheshire.

Anti-war graffiti

On the brown metal sign, the words, “oil,” “Bush,” “clan,” “Christian Crusade” and “w/out (sic) Good Education” had been written in black marker. The words were written in and around a phrase on the sign that read, “Made the ultimate sacrifice for his nation during Operation Enduring Freedom.”
Obviously, the vast majority of anti-war liberals would not do something like this. But still, it is an indicator of the hatred that festers on the left.

Concealed Carry Gun Law Passes in Kansas

From Lawrence Journal-World:

. . . news that the state of Kansas has approved a concealed carry law that would allow law-abiding citizens to carry guns after attending training and paying a fee.

The bill had been vetoed by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, but both houses of the Kansas legislature overrode the veto.

As the article notes:
The override ended years of political wrangling. Gov. Bill Graves vetoed concealed carry in 1997, and Sebelius in 2004.

This time, however, the veto didn’t stick.

[State Senate sponsor Phil] Journey said he thought that was because concealed carry had a track record of working in nearly every other state in the nation. Only Illinois, Nebraska and Wisconsin won’t allow residents to carry hidden guns.
Look for this to be an issue which costs the reflexively liberal Wisconsin Governor Doyle some votes in November.

There are quite a lot of those issues now.

Bon Appétit


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Friday, March 24, 2006

Homosexuality & Intolerance in Viroqua

From the Texas Hold ‘Em Blogger , the fact that school authorities in Viroqua, Wisconsin, cancelled a “diversity day” rather than allow Christian views and contrasting views about homosexuality to be heard. From the Vernon County Broadcaster:
Faced again with controversy over plans for a gay speaker, Viroqua High School officials have cancelled Diversity Day.

The event, held every two years since 2000 for juniors and seniors, had been set for Thursday.

Scheduled speakers included Hmong, Jewish, Muslim, American Indian, African, American, Latino, Buddhist, gay, physically disadvantaged and economically disadvantaged people.

But it was called off late last week after a legal group raised a potential challenge to include a formerly gay or Christian viewpoint.
As a conservative legal action group, the Liberty Counsel, explains:
After a school official stated that the viewpoints of Christians and former homosexuals would be excluded, a resident contacted Liberty Counsel on behalf of many other concerned Viroqua residents.

On March 9, Liberty Counsel sent a letter to the District Administrator, explaining that the censorship of the viewpoints of Christians and former homosexuals violated the Establishment Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection guarantee. Liberty Counsel sent another letter on March 14 to the District Administrator and Board of Education. Two days later, the District Administrator confirmed in a telephone call that Diversity Day had been cancelled.
In other words, the attitude of the liberals running the program was “if we have to include views we don’t like, we would rather just not have it.”

Gregg Attleson, a Spanish teacher who was on the planning committee explained the viewpoint of those pushing the event:
“Our students are not going to be living their lives out in Viroqua,” said Attleson. “They’ll be out and about in the world — in jobs, in the military, in the university — and they’re going to come into contact with people of different backgrounds. And we feel it would be real helpful for them in a nice safe place, like a high school, to have contact and be able to dispel some of the stereotypes.”
Note the arrogant and patronizing attitude that Attleson expresses.

Basically, it’s “our students are a bunch of hayseed hicks, and if we don’t enlighten them in properly politically correct attitudes, they won’t be able to function in the outside world.”

But of course, people like Attleson have stereotypes aplenty, and are only very selectively tolerant.

The politically correct “diversity” types aren’t at all tolerant of conservative Christians, nor big business, nor the Boy Scouts, nor smokers, nor military recruiters, nor Southerners, nor people who belong to the National Rifle Association.

They are tolerant of Muslims, but only because Muslim terrorists are at war with America. If that should stop, they will go back to their pre-9/11 pattern of being intolerant of Islam because of the way Islam treats women.
When committee members heard some wanted the ex-gay viewpoint presented, they contacted the homosexual couple who would be speaking. Bob and Kevin Gross, who are parents of five children in the Viroqua School District. were also presenters at the 2002 Diversity Day and were set to participate again.

Kevin Gross said the pair told the committee they would participate at the event, but not if confronted by the ex-gay speaker in the same room.

“We thought it was a little ridiculous that the idea was to put us in a room where someone else would talk about being able to be ‘healed’ of being gay,” Kevin Gross said.

The committee eventually decided the best course of action was to cancel the whole event.

“Non-positive groups were not what we were going for,” said Ellen Byers, an English teacher on the committee.

She said it was important to have homosexuals represented because a lot of misunderstanding exists about the issue and because Viroqua has gay students.

She said the day was not supposed to be about “proselytizing,” or alienating anyone.

“It’s ironic, because we’re trying to be tolerant and at the same time we might be accused of being intolerant,” Byers said.
In other words, all the presentations had to be “positive.” But “positive” was defined in liberal politically correct terms. It wasn’t seen as “positive” that a homosexual person might feel his lifestyle was wrong, and be able to change and conform his sexual behavior to his moral views.

Christianity wasn’t seen as “positive” although every other religion was.

So these “tolerant” liberal teachers might be accused of being intolerant because they try to exclude and silence certain viewpoints? And they are baffled by that?

Highly relevant here are the comments of Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon, who is addressing gay marriage, but whose observations apply to the whole politically correct agenda.
As much as one may wish to live and let live, the experience in other countries reveals that once these arrangements become law, there will be no live-and-let-live policy for those who differ. Gay-marriage proponents use the language of openness, tolerance and diversity, yet one foreseeable effect of their success will be to usher in an era of intolerance and discrimination the likes of which we have rarely seen before. Every person and every religion that disagrees will be labeled as bigoted and openly discriminated against. The ax will fall most heavily on religious persons and groups that don’t go along.
In places like Viroqua, people are willing to fight the fascists.

Wal-Mart and “Activists For the Poor”

Kevin Eldridge, a Marquette Law School student, sends us this e-mail:
A new Wal-Mart Store in Atlanta received more than 8,000 applicants for 500 jobs. This reminded me of the earlier fiasco in Chicago, where the city council blocked the building of a Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart was built one block from the city limits and 24,500 people applied for 325 jobs there. (By the way, all but 500 of those applicants had Chicago addresses.)

The article about the Atlanta Wal-Mart says that the detractors are “activists for the poor.” Two things come to mind at this mention:

(1) First, I’ve never seen such a disagreement between advocates and those they are ostensibly protecting and supporting. I might be guilty of malpractice if I were to advocate a position to which my client was so opposed.

(2) Second, you have to wonder about people who call themselves “activists for the poor.” They apparently think the following are bad for the poor: (a) jobs; (b) low-cost necessities; and (c) conveniently-located stores that carry these necessities (so the poor can have access and not have to take a bus/car). Apparently no job is better than a paying job with limited or no health care coverage.

Apparently, these “activists for the poor” would rather have us go the way of socialist France, where youth unemployment is at 23%, but the jobless are rioting against a law that will probably create more jobs by allowing at-will employment of young, unskilled workers for two years. At-will employment is the default in the U.S.

FEMA Doesn’t Know About Brick


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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Moonbat Left and the Anti-War Referenda

Jessica McBride does a fine job of tracing the moonbat leftist connections of the folks behind the anti-war referenda in various Wisconsin town and cities.

ABC News Executive: “Bush Makes Me Sick”

Via Drudge:

A leaked e-mail message shows John Green, who is Executive Producer of the weekend edition of “Good Morning America,” saying “Bush makes me sick.”

Of course, mainstream media types genuinely believe they can put their personal biases aside and produce a balanced product.

But of course they can’t.

That’s a Good Question


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Sacco and Vanzetti Guilty, NPR Finally Notices

We blogged about this way back in late December.

But now National Public Radio has noticed a major historical find: a document that shows that leftist author and “muckraker” Upton Sinclair knew that anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were guilty, but failed to ever say that because he feared for his standing among leftist intellectuals.

Sinclair biographer Tony Arthur admits that this was an ethical lapse, but says that Sinclair believed that the “larger truth” — the notion that American was a repressive society — justified letting people believe that they were unjustly convicted.

Arthur admits that Sinclair had a similar “ethical lapse” in the late 1930s and early 1940s, when he was slow to criticize Stalin.

All of which should serve as a warning about people who believe they are on the right side of history, and therefore can lie about smaller truths in the service of a “larger truth.”

“Equality in Education” Panel on Tuesday

From Marquette University News Briefs:
How can the achievement gap be bridged among Wisconsin students? How can we be sure that each child is getting the quality education he or she deserves?

Find out what experts from both ends of the political spectrum as part of the “Equality in Education” panel sponsored by the College Republicans at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the AMU, 227. Panelists include Gerard Robinson, senior fellow at the Institute for the Transformation of Learning; Deborah McGriff, chair of the Black Alliance for Educational Options; Peter Blewett, education professor at the University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee; Dennis Oulahan, president of the Milwaukee Teacher’s Education Association; and Leah Vukmir, chair of the Assembly Education Reform Committee.
Kudos to the College Republicans for presenting a balanced panel.

Of course, they have every right to present a panel promoting the Republican pro-school choice position. But this one ought to be more interesting and ought to draw a wide audience.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sounds a Bit Lenient

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North Korea: Killing Disabled Newborns

Via Modern Commentaries, the fact that a defector from North Korea to the South claims that newborns with any kind of visible defect are killed immediately.

It seems to be the Brave New World of “perfect” people who have no defects.

One word of caution: this is from a defector, with no corroboration that we can find at the moment. Defectors have been known to tell stories they think their new hosts want to hear, or correctly recount things that are true but not as typical as they make out. It is being run by Reuters, which is reputable enough, but hardly perfect.

That women in North Korean prison camps have been forced to have abortions, or had their newborn infants killed, is well documented:
Women who have become pregnant in China are especially targeted in detention. According to a number of reports from those detained with such women, all women found to be pregnant by a Chinese man are taken for forced abortion. North Korean officials say that they do not want any ‘Chinks’ and make derogatory and insulting comments about sleeping with Chinese men. . . . Witnesses spoke of women detained with them who were pregnant being taken away and coming back without their baby, complaining of the heartbreak, pain and abuse of having a forced abortion. One witness described how she personally saw a prisoner giving birth to a baby and the nurses cutting the umbilical cord and then smothering the baby with a wet towel.
Of course, if this report about North Korea is accurate, is it really that much worse than the United States, where a large number of babies are aborted when thought to have Down Syndrome?
While the live birth rate of babies afflicted with Down syndrome has remained steady in recent years, studies have shown the abortion rate of Down syndrome babies is estimated at 80 to 90 percent when prenatal screening reveals the possibility or probability for the condition.

Past studies have shown that the prenatal diagnosis of the unborn child with Down syndrome has resulted in high rates of abortion with at least one study showing medical professionals often pressure woman to abort.
So just how is it that we are more civilized than North Korea?

Jewish Students Go Public About Marquette’s Anti-Israel Bias

In yesterday’s Marquette Tribune, an Op-Ed piece by two Jewish Marquette Law School students taking the University to task for a consistently pro-Palestinian anti-Israel position:

This issue hasn’t been what speakers have been allowed to come to campus and speak. The issue has been the programs set up and/or cosponsored by Marquette itself.

The examples they give have been covered extensively right here.

First was the 2005 Arab Heritage Celebration. The events, many sponsored by the University Ministry, MUSG and the Office of Student Development, demonized Israel and made excuses for Palestinian terrorism.

The second was a September 2005 program sponsored by Manresa titled “Jews of Conscience.” Again, the panel was virulently anti-Israel. The implicit definition of “Jews of Conscience” was “Jews who are anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian.” Pro-Israel Jews, apparently, are thought not to have a conscience.

Finally, on March 2 Soup With Substance featured a hard-left anti-Israel speaker named Julie Enslow to talk about how “The Israeli Occupation Intensifies.” Enslow is a hard leftist who helped organize an event in honor of Cindy Sheehan on the Milwaukee lakefront. She doesn’t see Iran’s nuclear program as any sort of real problem. But she does want the U.S. to give up all nuclear weapons.

What do the two Jewish students, David Cherner and Brenda Yaskal, think of all this?
Our concern is not that Arab Awareness or Islam Heritage should be banned from campus. Students have a right to promote certain viewpoints, and while we may disagree with them, our interest in having an open-minded campus outweighs our disagreement. However, as Jewish students and members of the greater-Milwaukee Jewish community, we are truly disappointed with the Marquette administration for endorsing those viewpoints.

We feel that the university is marginalizing Jewish students by endorsing such one-sided events and future sponsorship of such events will only reinforce our concern that Marquette chooses not to abide by its own mission statement. More importantly, we believe that sponsorship of such extreme events will isolate the student body from being properly informed about the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Good points, all.

This issue gives one the distinct impression that key people in Manresa, the Office of Student Development and the University Ministry are:
  1. Hard leftists, who have to be careful when they deal with issues like abortion and “gay rights,” but who can give their leftist attitudes free rein when the Palestinian issue is concerned, or . . .
  2. Politically correct “diversity” advocates who want to placate Muslim students (and somehow don’t care about Jewish students), or . . .
  3. Anti-Semites who are hostile toward Israel and the Jews.
If somebody has a better explanation, we would like to hear it.

It’s clear that some explanation is needed for the consistent hard-left anti-Israel bias that Marquette has shown.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Canadian Election Laws: A Lot Like Wisconsin’s

Somebody voting who isn’t qualified to vote because of lax election laws.

Sounds like Wisconsin, right?

Well, it happens in Canada too.

Via our Canadian correspondent, the following from The Toronto Star:

Student investigated for voter fraud

American student, 21, exposed flaws of Elections Canada

Cast ballot using hydro bill and U of T card for identification

Mar. 21, 2006.

Elections Canada is coming down hard on an American student who tested voting rules and found they were too lax.

For his efforts, Peter Cunningham, 21, is now in hot water and under investigation by the Commissioner of Canada Elections.

In a Star article published on Jan. 25, the University of Toronto student, who’s from Michigan and in the country on an international student visa, said he was able to vote in the 2006 federal election because officials at the polling station never asked for proof of his citizenship or age. Under the Elections Canada Act, eligible voters must be Canadian citizens and 18 years old.

Cunningham wasn’t on the registered list of electors when he went to the poll in Trinity-Spadina. He said he was allowed to vote after presenting his student identification card and a hydro bill with his address that showed he lived in the riding.

In the article, Cunningham said his test proved that the rules for registration “are too lax,” and the potential for fraud “immense.”

The article doesn’t show any evidence of massive fraud.

But in Canada, as in Wisconsin, the suspicion of fraud and the temptation to fraud are problems worth fixing.

Self-Marginalizing Anti-War Protestors

Via Eminent Domain, a particularly unappealing bunch of photographs of an anti-Iraq War protest held in San Francisco on Saturday.

Steve of Eminent Domain offers some good advice to the protestors, including:
Dress for Success: While the combination of the Moscow Hockey League Tee and the print shirt that appears to be from the Cosmo Kramer collection is unique, I don’t think it presents a good image. Do not wear anything with Che Guevara’s mug on it. Do not wear anything that has the words “fuck” and “Bush.” Do not wear anything that is dirty. Do not wear any kind of “costume.” This protest is supposed to be serious business about an important political issue, right? Then don’t dress like you’re at Fantasy Fest. Wear something neat and clean.

Ditch the cliches: No bongos. No drumming of any kind. Absolutely no dancing, especially you white people. I was at a protest at UWM a few years ago that included all these elements. Most of the “dancing” could’ve easily been mistaken for a grand mal seizure. Again, this is supposed to be a serious political event, not a chance to shake your ass to a bad drum beat. This city is full of clubs where you can do that if that’s what you want. No “hey, hey, ho, ho” chants. No chants period. They all sound the same, and they are rarely clever. They are usually shrill, annoying, and likely to piss off anyone in earshot. Stick with non-vulgar, legible signs and a serious attitude.
The glory days of 60s political protest ain’t comin’ back.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Gay and Lesbian Jewelry Ad on Anti-Gay Marriage Blog

From Shark and Shepherd, whose chief blogger Rick Esenberg has consistently opposed gay marriage, an ad for “GLBT” (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered) jewelry!

(An image of the ad is to the right. It may or may not still show when you click through to the blog.) The page linked to is here.

Has the gay lobby hacked into Esenberg’s blog?

Should Esenberg be embarrassed?

Not really. What Google Ads is doing is simply looking for certain keywords on his blog. When it sees “gay” (for example) it puts up an ad from an advertiser who has paid to have the ad shown on pages with “gay” subject matter.

And Google has no idea whether the page consists of sober arguments against gay marriage, or a list of the gay leather bars in Cleveland.

Further, it’s not clear Esenberg has any objection to gays and lesbians buying whatever kind of jewelry they want.

As trivial as this is, something very like this created a huge uproar when videos of black civil rights heros were found to be offered in packages with “Planet of the Apes” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” on the Wal-Mart web site.

[Update]

Since starting this post, the ad has been replaced with one leading to a Christian web site. There is no telling what it will show when you hit the site.

But since it’s a great site, give it a try.

Freudian Slip?

From Marquette University News Clips for March 20, 2006, one of the headlines, about a column dealing with President Bush’s program of wiretapping domestic phone calls to overseas numbers associated with terrorists reads:
NSA Surveillance is abuse
But in reality, the headline in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reads:
NSA surveillance isn’t abuse
Seems they got it backwards!

The column, from blogger Rick Esenberg (of Shark and Shepherd), is an excellent brief rundown on the law surrounding the issue, and a rebuke to Senator Russ Feingold, who has asked that Congress censure the president over this issue. Esenberg concludes:
Despite Feingold’s claim that we have been misled, we know that some in Congress have been informed of the details, and few, if any, are calling for the program’s suspension. There has been no serious attempt to pull its funding.

In other words, even those who want to criticize the president for the program don’t want him to stop.

Some on the left are ga-ga over how our “maverick” has “spoken truth to power.” While there is certainly room to debate the legality of the NSA program, attempts to, essentially, brand the president as a criminal constitute not debate but demagoguery.
The notion that Feingold is somehow anything other than a quite conventional politician trying to pander to the Bush-hating core of the Democratic Party is not just questionable.

It’s laughable.

[Update]

Esenberg treats the legal issues in greater depth on his blog.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Racial Purity in Iceland

Via Mudville Gazette, the abstract of an article that appeared in the Journal of Cold War Studies, Volume 6, Number 4, Fall 2004, pp. 65-88:
The 1951 U.S.-Icelandic Defense Agreement paved the way for a permanent U.S. military presence at the Keflavik base in Iceland, an outpost that played a crucial role in U.S. strategy during the Cold War. The article explores two gender-related aspects of the U.S.-Icelandic Cold War relationship: the restrictions on off-base movements of U.S. soldiers, and the secret ban imposed by the Icelandic government on the stationing of black U.S. troops in Iceland. These practices were meant to “protect” Icelandic women and to preserve a homogeneous “national body.” Although U.S. officials repeatedly tried to have the restrictions lifted, the Icelandic government refused to modify them until the racial ban was publicly disclosed in late 1959. Even after the practice came to light, it took another several years before the ban was gradually eliminated. Misguided though the Icelandic restrictions may have been, they did, paradoxically, help to defuse domestic opposition to Iceland’s pro-American foreign policy course and thus preserved the country’s role in the Western alliance.
One might say that this is ancient history, but then we have this from a 2004 NPR broadcast:
One of Iceland’s most enduring symbols is called Fjallkonan, or the Lady of the Mountain. And, like almost every Icelander, the Lady of the Mountain is white. When the editor of Iceland’s Grapevine Magazine decided to pose a black model in the traditional Lady of the Mountain costume, no one in Reykjavik would rent one to him. The magazine’s efforts to find the costume instigated a national conversation on immigration and race. NPR’s Scott Simon talks with Grapevine editor Valur Gunnarsson.
It’s also possible to listen to the audio of the entire story.

It would be nice to report that Iceland is becoming more tolerant and open, but unfortunately, the trend is not toward tolerance and openness but rather toward enforced political correctness.

For example, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a 2001 meeting on the International Convention on the Elmination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Some of the comments regarding Iceland at the meeting included the following:
5. With regard to article 4 of the Convention, section 180 of the General Penal Code made it a punishable act for a business or service operator to refuse to sell goods or services to a person on grounds of nationality, colour, race or religion. Section 233 (a) made it an offence to attack a person or group of persons in public by mockery, slander, insult, threats or other means on grounds of nationality, skin, colour, race or religion. Article 74 of the Constitution provided for the dissolution of associations whose purposes or methods were unlawful, a provision that would undoubtedly be applicable to an association advocating racial discrimination. The authorities were concerned, for example, by the activities of the Association of Icelandic Nationalists, a small group of young people who believed in the superiority of the Icelandic race and opposed any mixing with other races. They propagated their ideas mainly through an Internet Web site. Although the public response had generally been one of censure and disparagement, the authorities took the threat seriously. A recent interview in a major Icelandic newspaper, in which the leader of the group had made degrading comments about coloured people, had led to a heated public debate, particularly regarding media responsibility, and Parliament had discussed whether article 233 (a) of the General Penal Code had been violated. The Director of Public Prosecutions was considering whether to take action and a police investigation would probably be initiated.
And further:
9. Mr. LECHUGA HEVIA (Country Rapporteur) welcomed the adoption by Iceland of sections 180 and 233 (a) of the General Penal Code. Article 74 of the Constitution, which protected freedom of association, provided for the dissolution of associations considered to have unlawful objectives. But article 4 of the Convention made no mention of unlawful objectives; it required States parties to condemn all propaganda and all organizations based on ideas or theories of superiority of a particular race, to declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial hatred and to declare illegal and prohibit such organizations. According to the Icelandic Human Rights Centre, no public official or politician had made any statement concerning the activities of the Association of Icelandic Nationalists mentioned by the delegation. Article 4 was a key provision of the Convention and strict compliance with its letter and spirit was essential.
This entire picture, unfortunately, is all too typical of the culture of Old Europe. Racism is all too prevalent, but freedom is something they don’t seem to understand.

So they lurch between racism and enforced political correctness, either embodying racism in their laws, or outlawing mere racist speech. And quite frequently, doing both at the same time.

John Kerry’s Plan to End Terrorism

From ScrappleFace:
Kerry: U.N. ‘Food for Oil’ Plan Could End Terrorism

(2006-03-06) — Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, in a landmark speech Sunday on the global dynamics of terrorism, said a ‘strong United Nations,’ working with ‘moderate Muslim leaders’ could save the world from terrorism if the West stops propping up Arab kingdoms by purchasing oil.

The senator proposed putting the French in charge of U.N. military operations, appointing a member of the Hamas Palestinian government to head the U.N. Human Rights Council, and “transitioning the Arab Middle East from an oil economy to an agricultural one, where lush, green acres replace the sand stretching out so far and wide.”

“Some say that terms like a ‘strong U.N.’ and ‘moderate Muslim leaders’ are oxymorons,” said Sen. Kerry. “But that’s what they said about Democrat principles, liberal values and progressive think-tanks.”

Friday, March 17, 2006

Scary, Scary


Click on image to enlarge

Ann Althouse and Gay Marriage

Via Sykes Writes, the fact that Madison Law School blogger Ann Althouse has tried to defend gay marriage, but rejects polygamous marriage.
Charles Krauthammer says legalizing gay marriage paves the way to legalizing polygamy:

In an essay 10 years ago, I pointed out that it is utterly logical for polygamy rights to follow gay rights. After all, if traditional marriage is defined as the union of (1) two people of (2) opposite gender, and if, as gay marriage advocates insist, the gender requirement is nothing but prejudice, exclusion and an arbitrary denial of one’s autonomous choices in love, then the first requirement — the number restriction (two and only two) — is a similarly arbitrary, discriminatory and indefensible denial of individual choice...

To simplify the logic, take out the complicating factor of gender mixing. Posit a union of, say, three gay women all deeply devoted to each other. On what grounds would gay activists dismiss their union as mere activity rather than authentic love and self-expression? On what grounds do they insist upon the traditional, arbitrary and exclusionary number of two?

If Krauthammer has been writing about this subject for 10 years, it boggles the mind that the obvious distinction has not yet dawned on him.

Legal marriage isn’t just about love, it’s an economic arrangement. Having the state authorize your union is not the same thing as having your friends and neighbors approve of you and your religious leaders bless you. It affects taxes and employee benefits — huge amounts of money. A gay person with a pension and a health insurance plan is incapable of extending those benefits to his (or her) partner. He (or she) can’t file a joint tax return. That’s not fair. A polygamous marriage, however, puts a group of persons in a position to claim more economic benefits than the traditional heterosexual couple. That doesn’t appeal to our sense of fairness.
It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Althouse that giving economic benefits to couples that are likely to produce children is good public policy.

The tax exemption for children (which happens to be available to homosexuals who have custody of children) is just one example.

One might object that we give the benefits of marriage to couples that are not (by choice or inability) going to have children. Yet Althouse inadvertently provides the definitive refutation of that argument:
The law doesn’t assess how much two people love each other. Two persons of opposite sexes can marry for all sorts of reasons. If there were a device that could look into their souls and measure their love, we wouldn’t accept the outrageous invasion of privacy it would take for the government to use it.
Yet it would also be an outrageous invasion of privacy for government to demand of heterosexual couples that, to have the benefits of marriage, they have to prove their ability to procreate, and also swear to their intention to procreate.

Given that fact, simply assuming that heterosexual marriage involves procreation is more than justified.

Althouse thinks it’s unfair for a homosexual to be denied benefits that would be available to a heterosexual spouse, but draws the line at having more than one heterosexual partner get benefits.

But it’s absolutely normal for health insurance to cover however many children one might happen to have. A yuppie couple that doesn’t want children gets no benefit while a devout Catholic couple that has a dozen children gets a very large benefit.

And of course, nothing prevents a man having a wife and also a mistress or two or three. But under the current marital regime none of the extra women have any legally defined protections nor claim to benefits.

How About Incest?

Consider the following, from Jeff Jacoby:

Allen and Pat were lovers, but a Wisconsin statute enacted in 1849 made their sexual relationship a felony. The law was sometimes used to nail predators who had molested children, but using it to prosecute consenting adults — Allen was 45; Pat, 30 — was virtually unheard of. That didn’t deter Milwaukee County Judge David Hansher. Nor did the fact that the couple didn’t understand why their relationship should be a crime. Allen and Pat didn’t “have to be bright,” the judge growled, to know that having sex with each other was wrong.

He threw the book at them: eight years for Allen, five for Pat, served in separate maximum-security prisons, 25 miles apart.

If this had happened to a gay couple, the case would have become a cause celebre. Hard time as punishment for a private, consensual, adult relationship? Activists would have been outraged. Editorial pages would have thundered.

But Allen and Patricia Muth are not gay. They were convicted of incest. Although they didn’t meet until Patricia was 18 — she had been raised from infancy in foster care — they were brother and sister, children of the same biological parents. They were also strongly attracted to each other, emotionally and physically. And so, disregarding the taboo against incest, they became a couple and had four children.

When Wisconsin officials learned of the Muths’ relationship, they moved to strip them of their parental rights. The state’s position, upheld in court, was that their “fundamentally disordered” lifestyle made them unfit for parenthood by definition. Allen and Patricia’s children were taken from them. Then they were prosecuted for incest and sent to prison.

So incest is “fundamentally disordered” but homosexuality isn’t?

By what criteria?

Having a large and vocal lobby on most college campuses isn’t a suitable criterion.

It’s probably true that Nature prefers exogamy, for good genetic reasons.

But then Nature prefers heterosexuality, since Nature wants procreation.

And invoking genetics against incest smacks of eugenics, which after all is defined as “a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed.”

Certainly, Althouse’s argument that one should be allowed benefits for one partner and no more has no force against the Muth’s claim.

Conclusion

Ann Althouse is far from being your standard leftie academic yahoo, but on this issue she seems to be engaged in the politically correct project of legitimating deviant sexual patterns that happen to be politically correct, while failing to apply her logic in a consistent way.

Paul Craig Roberts: Formerly Reputable Conservative Goes Around the Bend

From Frontpage:
Quick – what columnist alleged in an article Thursday that President “Bush intends to attack Iran and that he will use every means to bring war about?” That Bush has used “bribery and coercion” to block “every effort to bring the dispute to a peaceful end”? That “in order to gain a pretext for attacking Iran,” he and a “‘black opts’ [sic] group will orchestrate [an] attack” on U.S. soil?

One would never expect to hear the author is “chairman of the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, former contributing editor for National Review, and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury” under Ronald Reagan. That progressively unhinged man is nationally syndicated columnist Paul Craig Roberts.

In a delusional column entitled “Iranophobia,” posted yesterday’s on LewRockwell.com, Roberts related “[o]ne of the more extraordinary suggestions” he had heard of how President Bush will develop this “pretext” to nuke Tehran:
a low yield, perhaps tactical, nuclear weapon will be exploded some distance out from a U.S. port. Death and destruction will be minimized, but fear and hysteria will be maximized. Americans will be told that the ship bearing the weapon was discovered and intercepted just in time, thanks to Bush’s illegal spying program, and that Iran is to blame. A more powerful wave of fear and outrage will again bind the American people to Bush, and the U.S. media will not report the rest of the world’s doubts of the explanation.
He concluded:
Reads like a Michael Crichton plot, doesn’t it?

Fantasy? Let’s hope so.
Even on the far-Left, such theories would be unwelcome. Although Kurt Nimmo (a critic of DiscoverTheNetworks.org) and others have claimed for years that Bush secretly plans to pre-emptively decimate Iran, none have publicly claimed he would kill Americans as a pretext. The only detail Roberts omitted was whether Bush was doing the bidding of the Freemasons, the Illuminati, the British royal family, or the Vatican.

Not only is this irresponsible slander, it’s not even a new conspiracy theory. Last August, an internet rumor campaign claimed the Bush administration would set off a nuclear device in the port of Charleston, SC, during a military exercise, and use the backlash as to attack Iran. One of its promulgators was Webster Griffin Tarpley, who wrote an “unauthorized biography” of George H.W. Bush with Lyndon LaRouche’s house historian, Anton Chaitkin.
What does one say about somebody like Roberts? Perhaps only that people who once seemed sane enough sometimes turn absolutely wacko.

[Update]

Peter DiGaudio, the Texas Hold ‘Em blogger, has noticed Robert’s slide into Moon Battery also.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Hillary & Wal-Mart

From Right off the Shore, the fact that Senator and 2008 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has is in a bit of a bind for having been on the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart, a firm the Democratic Party’s leftist core despises. According to the Associated Press:
NEW YORK - With retail giant Wal-Mart under fire to improve its labor and health care policies, one Democrat with deep ties to the company — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton — has started feeling her share of the political heat.

Clinton served on Wal-Mart’s board of directors for six years when her husband was governor of Arkansas. And the Rose Law Firm, where she was a partner, handled many of the Arkansas-based company’s legal affairs.

Clinton had kind words for Wal-Mart as recently as 2004, when she told an audience at the convention of the National Retail Federation that her time on the board “was a great experience in every respect.”

But in recent months, as the company has become a target for Democratic activists, she has largely steered clear of any mention of Wal-Mart. And late last year, Clinton’s re-election campaign returned a $5,000 contribution from Wal-Mart, citing “serious differences with current company practices.”

“The interesting question is not just Hillary Clinton’s history at Wal-Mart, but why it’s delicate for her to talk about Wal-Mart,” said Charles Fishman, author of “The Wal-Mart Effect,” a book on the company’s impact on the national economy. “Plenty of Democrats denounce Wal-Mart, but there are also plenty of people who need it, love it and rely on it.”
Consider the bizarre irony here.

The Democrats have long claimed to be the party of the poor and the working class.

And Wal-Mart is the archetypal poor and working class business, catering to a customer base that doesn’t have the luxury of being fashionable, and needs to buy cheaply.

But those people aren’t the real base of the Democratic Party. The real base is the affluent cultural elitists.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

But We Still Have Too Many

Click on image to enlarge

MATC Rips Off Taxpayers

Columnist Bruce Murphy is a liberal, but sometimes he can sound pretty conservative about people throwing around the taxpayer’s money like nobody worked hard to make it.

He, for example, has been quite skeptical about TIF (tax incremental financing) districts to subsidize development. He was particularly unhappy about a plan to subsidize Manpower, Inc. to move from Glendale into the center of Milwaukee’s downtown.

Now posts a story, long overdue in the Milwaukee media, about the amount of money faculty at Milwaukee Area Technical College make.

Discussing a spat between MATC President Darnell Cole and faculty union president Michael Rosen, he notes that:
One thing the union has built is a pretty good level of pay. Take Rosen himself. A public records request shows he earned $118,425 last year. Not bad for an economics instructor at a two-year college.

The standard load for MATC teachers is five courses or 15 hours of teaching a week (plus preparation time and office hours). Rosen teaches an “overload” of courses during the year and also earns more by teaching in the summer. Over the years, contractual negotiations have jacked up the pay for “above load” work and for pay to part-time instructors. In essence, MATC pays the same for part-time teachers as it would for full-timers to take on more classes, which leaves no incentive to hire part-timers.

The end result is a system where the average full-time instructor earns $91,000. All those above this average are teaching above load. On average, this leaves an MATC instructor earning about $23,000 more than a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor and about $13,000 more than a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor.
Of course, the teaching load (ten courses per year) is double that at Marquette, and two and a half times a typical load at UW-Madison.

But if that is such a crushing teaching burden, why do MATC faculty seek to make more money teaching even more classes on an overload basis?

Also, the publishing expectations at MATC are essentially zero, while being substantial at Marquette and UWM, and even greater at Madison.

Then there is the fact that virtually the entire faculty at four year colleges have Ph.D. degrees, while that credential is relatively rare at MATC.

What we seem to have is the all too typical case of unionized public sector workers getting pay and benefits well above what prevails in the competitive sectors of the economy.

Bubba Don’t Change


Click on image to enlarge

This feature may not be reproduced or distributed electronically, in print or otherwise without the written permission of uclick and Universal Press Syndicate

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Wal-Mart/Blogger Story — Winding Down

It was a hoot while it lasted, but the story about the Wal-Mart campaign to cultivate sympathetic bloggers by sending them tips and leads, broken right here two days ahead of the New York Times, is winding down.

The blog Crazy Politico’s Rantings has been following it, and has posted a two part roundup of reaction. Here is part one, and here is part two.

Finally, web oriented Ad/PR site Adotas has published its own take on the story. Like everybody outside the hard left, they could see nothing sinister about the Wal-Mart campaign:
Try as he may, [Times reporter] Barbaro could not villanize Wal-Mart in this case. They followed in the wake of a number of companies who have used interaction in the blogosphere to promote the advantages of their product, such as General Electric, Cingular Wireless, and Microsoft with the Xbox 360, simply carrying the strategy a bit further to encompass the promotion of their entire brand image. Edelman must be credited with both the effectiveness of the campaign as well as an uncompromising compliance with ethical standards.
And further:
The fact is, bloggers are just beginning to experience the same barrage of corporate PR that other journalists have dealt with, and indeed relied upon, for many many years. Press releases and corporate mailings have always been a huge part of a reporter’s sources, but that doesn’t mean their intrinsic slant has to make its way in to the story.
And that’s the only sensible conclusion.

Jimmy Carter Wants U.S. to Lose U.N. Vote

Via the Guide to Midwestern Culture, a story about former President Jimmy Carter wanting the United States to lose a vote in the United Nations. According to the New York Sun:
President Carter personally called Secretary of State Rice to try to convince her to reverse her U.N. ambassador’s position on changes to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the former president recalled yesterday in a talk in which he also criticized President Bush’s Christian bona fides and misstated past American policies on Israel.

Mr. Carter said he made a personal promise to ambassadors from Egypt, Pakistan, and Cuba on the U.N. change issue that was undermined by America’s ambassador, John Bolton. “My hope is that when the vote is taken,” he told the Council on Foreign Relations, “the other members will outvote the United States.”
What exactly was the issue?
The topic was the ongoing negotiations on an attempt to replace the widely discredited Geneva-based Human Rights Commission with a more accountable Human Rights Council.
The Human Rights Commission is notorious for counting among its membership the most notorious regimes on the planet, including the Sudan, China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe.

Carter went on to attack the religious convictions of President Bush, and the State of Israel:
Asked yesterday about his views on religion, Mr. Carter said, “The essence of my faith is one of peace.” In a clear swipe at Mr. Bush’s faith, and to a round of applause, he then added, “We worship the prince of peace, not of pre-emptive war.” Mr. Carter then went on to attack American Christians who support Israel.

He also reiterated his known view that most of the problems in the Israeli-Arab front derive from Israel’s settlement policies and its building of a defensive barrier in what he insisted on calling “Palestine.”
For a long while, when Carter was simply building houses for Habitat for Humanity, we classed Carter with Herbert Hoover as an inept president who had a distinguished ex-presidency.

But more and more, Carter looks like an inept president who has been a downright sordid ex-president.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Washington Post, Michael Barbaro and the Blogger/Wal-Mart Flap

Howard Kurtz’ column is out, and under the title “Blog Wars” it discusses Michael Barbaro’s recent story in the New York Times and how we scooped Barbaro.

We got an e-mail from Barbaro, asking to discuss some of the posts on The Marquette Warrior, saying he couldn’t reveal what the subject of his story was, and asking us not to publish the e-mail.

We didn’t publish the e-mail, but we immediately inferred what the story was about, and checked with a colleague in the Journalism Department to ask whether we were obligated to conceal the fact that Barbaro was working on a story. The colleague assured us we were not.

Which makes sense. Any reporter is required to abide by restrictions a source places on information, if there is an implicit or explicit agreement. For example, a source might say “I can tell you about that, but only on background.”

But an unsolicited e-mail plopping into one’s mailbox is a different matter.

Kurtz doesn’t seem to show any “mainstream media solidarity” toward Barbaro, and gives us bloggers ample opportunity to express our views. He quotes us correctly as saying:
“This isn’t really news. Wal-Mart is simply doing with bloggers what flacks have been doing with broadcast and print media for decades.”
We forcefully insisted to Kurtz that Wal-Mart has not subverted anybody, since all the bloggers in question were pro-business and pro-Wal-Mart long before the company’s PR person (Marshall Manson) started e-mailing us stuff. Kurtz’ article accurately quotes us on that.

He also quotes Brian Pickrell of Iowa Voice and Bob Beller of Crazy Politico.

But Kurtz’ apparent bottom-line (being the last quote that he uses) is from Richard Edelman, CEO of the PR firm that represents Wal-Mart.
“We encourage all our clients to reach out to the blogosphere. It should be part of any smart communications program.” Bloggers, like journalists, “do not need to disclose their sources,” Edelman says, “but they should attribute specific content to a company or another blogger if used verbatim.”
Sensible. And exactly the standards that apply to more traditional journalism.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

“The Vagina Monologues:” Marquette Can’t Get Its Story Straight

The recent Journal-Sentinel article on the refusal of Marquette to allow “The Vagina Monologues” to be performed on campus contained some interesting nuggets of information, notwithstanding that it was run literally weeks after the story broke right here.

The interesting and disturbing thing is the timeline.

According to the Journal-Sentinel:

In a Jan. 11 written response, Wild’s assistant Steven Frieder told the Cardinal Newman Society said the play would never be performed.

“Our Division of Student Affairs recently denied approval to a student who wanted to stage a reading of the play, and, as has been the case here, is not prepared to give anyone approval to do so in the future,” Frieder said in a letter to the organization, which was excerpted on its Web site as a sign of victory.

The statement, which was highlighted on a Marquette student’s blog called GOP3.com, inspired a mix response.
Yet on January 17 Dominique George, President of JUSTICE talked to the Office of Student Affairs about performing the play.

On the basis of that conversation, on January 19 she submitted an official Event Registration form, and on January 26, a letter to Dean McCarthy, pleading the case.

Only after considerable back-and-forth, on February 14, was the request rejected, in a meeting between Fr. Andrew Thon and JUSTICE members.

JUSTICE President Dominique George told the Marquette Warrior Blog that the whole time she “had the impression that it might happen.”

So, if the University had decided by January 11 that the play would not be allowed on campus, why was JUSTICE allowed to believe that it was being given serious consideration?

On February 13, we sent the following e-mail to Brigid Miller, Director of University Communication.
Hi, Brigid,

Since your office sent out the following link as part of “News Clips” I assumed the information is correct, and that “The Vagina Monologues” can’t be performed on campus.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06041/653262.stm

But a question or two?

Who exactly made this determination?

When and how did the issue come up?

I wasn’t aware that the issue arose at Marquette, so I would appreciate a little background.

Thanks, and take care.

John

We never got a reply.

Daniel Suhr, of the GOP3.COM blog apparently sent a similar inquiry, and also got no reply.

So the question is simple: why was JUSTICE being given the idea that their proposal was being given serious consideration when in fact the issue had been decided?

And who was the “student” who wanted to give a reading, since at the time the letter was written, JUSTICE had not even applied to do such a thing?

It appears that either: (1.) there was an absurd lack of communication between the Fr. Wild’s office and the Office of Student Development, or (2.) for difficult to fathom reasons, OSD was unwilling to tell JUSTICE that their proposal never stood a chance.

George was given the impression that the Frieder statement, of which she was aware, was somehow not definitive, and had not gone through “proper channels.” Given that Frieder is Wild’s right-hand man, that would not be plausible.

Perhaps the University will now be forthcoming.

CBS News “Public Eye” on Wal-Mart/Blogger Flap

Currently on the CBS News Public Eye web page, a column by Vaughn Ververs on the supposed “scandal” concerning the fact that Edelman PR executive Marshall Manson passed pro-Wal-Mart tips and leads along to sympathetic bloggers.

Ververs isn’t impressed that this is at all scandalous. He points out that this is what flacks have always done. When mainstream media outlets demand that bloggers disclose mere tips and leads, they are demanding a form of disclosure that they have never ever practiced.

And, Ververs doesn’t say but should have: would never demand of any outlet that was unfavorable toward Wal-Mart.

Perhaps more interesting, however, is this:
In a less-noticed New York Observer article this week, Edelman C.E.O. Richard Edelman talked about how the decline of trust in the MSM has combined with the power of blogosphere has empowered his industry:
“In a world where we don’t have a belief in a single source, you don’t have a Walter Cronkite anymore. P.R. is the discipline on the rise,” said Richard W. Edelman, president and chief executive of the public-relations firm Edelman.

“P.R.,” he said, “plays much better in a world that lacks trust.”
More:
“It used to be I would schmooze you and I was your flack,” said Mr. Edelman, whose firm netted about $260 million in 2005. “Today, if we want to get a message into the public’s conversation, we just make a post on a blog. If The Wall Street Journal goes after a client, we don’t have to accept that anymore. Let’s post the documents we gave The Journal; let’s show the interviews the newspaper decided not to show.

“You’re not God anymore,” he said.
And that’s what the mainstream media don’t like.

They have lost their status as monopoly gatekeepers.

Combine that with the fact that many bloggers are conservative, while the mainstream media are liberal, and you have a recipe for resentment. This is substantially offset by the mainstream media fascination with blogs. But it’s never entirely absent.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Liberal Anti-Wal-Mart Blogger: I Get E-mails From Wal-Mart Watch

The anti-Wal-Mart leftists are trying to spin the fact that PR people working for the retailer fed tips and leads to pro-Wal-Mart bloggers as somehow sinister.

But now a liberal blogger has addressed the relationship he has with the anti-Wal-Mart activist group Wal-Mart Watch.
Questions are beginning to come my way about the relationship between this blog and Wal-Mart Watch. They’re very friendly, thank you very much. In fact, I have a new book review posted on their blog now. Yet I think I speak for everybody here when I write that if you want to discuss the impact of Wal-Mart on America, we’ll be very friendly towards you too (whichever side you happen to be on).
He goes on to note that he is on the mailing list of Wal-Mart Watch, but claims he only gets the same e-mails that everybody can sign up for.

He makes no mention of ever acknowledging that he has used these in his posts. He tries to say his relationship with Wal-Mart Watch is different since:
Read the correspondence between Marshall Manson and the blogger who Jeff links to below, and you’ll read Manson try to spin his conservative audience like a top.

In short, Wal-Mart Watch trusts bloggers, as well as the public, to think for themselves. Wal-Mart doesn’t.
Stop the presses! Public relations types try to spin the information they put out!

Does he actually believe that pro-Wal-Mart bloggers can’t separate spin from fact?

Probably so.

John McAdams: Flaming Liberal?

The story of Marquette’s refusal to allow “The Vagina Monologues” to be performed on campus finally came out in the Journal-Sentinel yesterday.

This after:

January 26 — The GOP3.COM blog breaks the news that Marquette has announced a policy of not allowing it to be performed on campus.

February 15 — We break the story that leftist student group JUSTICE has asked for permission to perform the play, and been turned down.

Februray 25 — The Marquette Tribune finally gets around to running a story on the issue.

So the Journal-Sentinel didn’t exactly scoop anybody on this. Not only were they scooped by the Marquette Warrior Blog, they were scooped by the Tribune!

We get quoted in the story as saying, with regard to the banning of the play: “This makes us look exceedingly silly. . . .”

That’s, unfortunately, out of context.

In a rather long (30-40 minute) conversation with Megan Twohey, we insisted that so long as Marquette’s policy is not to allow the presentation on campus of something at odds with Catholic teaching, “The Vagina Monologues” should be banned.

We did say that, when Marquette gets into the business of deciding what is and what isn’t consistent with Catholic teaching, the university looks silly.

What we had in mind was the University’s banning of the Adopt-a-Sniper fundraiser staged by the College Republicans last spring.

If Marquette could back off and decide that speakers and presentations can happen on campus without the University endorsing them, that would get the institution out of the morass of trying to pass on every event that any student organization might want to stage.

New York Times Wal-Mart/Blogger Story a Bust With Public Relations Professionals

When Michael Barbaro wrote about the fact that the Edelman PR firm had been feeding tips and leads to sympathetic bloggers, he tried to imply that this was somewhat sinister.

But few bloggers agreed with him.

And even other mainstream media outlets (like Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post) didn’t get real exercised about something that amounted to nothing more that taking traditional PR tactics into the blogosphere.

Public Relations people agree with Kurtz. From Shel Holtz writing in WebProNews, describing what he told CNBC:
First, I was asked to explain the approach Edelman and Wal-Mart took.

This was a blogger relations effort. An Edelman representative approached bloggers who might be inclined to support Wal-Mart’s perspective. These bloggers were offered occasional emails containing information about which they might be interested in writing. These emails were sent to the bloggers who agreed.

These bloggers were asked to use the information to write their own posts and not to reproduce them verbatim. However, a couple of the bloggers did run the emails word for word. Since a blog should reflect the author’s voice, not somebody else’s, I pointed out that when quoting somebody, bloggers should disclose the source. (I always do.)

Next, I was asked about bloggers’ independent voice and whether this type of blogger relations effort somehow manipulated or corrupted the blogs in question.

I don’t believe the integrity of these blogs was compromised at all. The bloggers weren’t paid and there were no conditions attached to their agreement to accept the Edelman emails. They could choose to run any, all, or none of the stories. They could offer their own analysis and even disagree if they chose.

The posts these bloggers wrote were not the end of a conversation, but the beginning. Their readers could offer comments and other bloggers could write, positively or negatively, about the posts on their own blogs. In effect, Edelman was helping Wal-Mart initiate a conversation on the blogosphere.

I pointed out that the mainstream media-also independent-routinely uses press releases, interviews, and tips from companies and their PR agencies without disclosing the source of every fact. . . . I also pointed out that the anti-Wal-Mart blogs were undoubtedly getting information from labor unions and other anti-Wal-Mart sources.
Readers can view the video clip on Holtz’ own blog.

The Barbaro story, in other words, was all spin and no beef.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

That’s Academia


Click on image to enlarge

“Vagina Monologues” on Channel 18 Tonight

This is short notice, but look for a story on Marquette and “The Vagina Monologues” on Channel 18, Milwaukee, tonight at 9:00 p.m.

Brokeback Tribune

An excellent post by Daniel Shur on the GOP3.COM blog shows how Tuesday’s Marquette Tribune went all out pushing a “gay rights” agenda.

The stories are all biased, and three of them in one issue is the trifecta of liberal bias.

Consider these nuggets:
  • Story One: “Ignorance breeds injustice,” said Jess Cushion, a junior in the College of Communication and president of Marquette’s Gay/Straight Alliance. “I applaud DePaul for taking the step to fuel acceptance of the lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual community by educating people about discrimination and hate that homosexuals endure on a daily basis.”
  • Story Two: “According to a statement from the Vatican, homosexuals and gay supporters can’t be ordained,” she said. “We need dialogue. We need to talk about this. How does Marquette feel? How does human dignity play into this? How can the Catholic Church respect human dignity and then turn around and discriminate?”
  • Story Three: Ankerson said she has reason for optimism based on the results of a November 2004 poll conducted by Action Wisconsin, a liberal organization that works toward ensuring equal rights. The poll showed that between 60 percent and 65 percent of Wisconsin residents support civil unions.
Story Three did have a sentence by Dan Maciejewski in support of the Marriage Protection Amendment, and a couple of supportive sentences from Wisconsin State Representative Mark Gundrum, but that was all.

This is an example of what happens when the staff of a student newspaper lacks intellectual diversity. It’s not that they try to be biased. It’s just that they just can’t see both sides.